SIO12: Is the Left to Blame for Trump’s Muslim Ban?

But first I have to offer a correction on the Jordan B. Peterson episode. He said in other interviews that he would use she and he appropriately for trans people but not any other pronouns. I made it sound like he wouldn’t do so. I apologize for getting that wrong. I explain my thinking on this, as well as point out how frustrating it has been for people to try to dismiss my entire message based on one point of misunderstanding.

After that, I cover Trump’s executive orders so far, and in particular the Muslim ban. Is it the same as Obama’s act from 2011? Are liberals responsible for it? Find out what I think and see if you agree or disagree!

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32 Replies to “SIO12: Is the Left to Blame for Trump’s Muslim Ban?”

  1. On bill c-16: I don’t mean to nitpick, but I think there is an important distinction to be made. You said “this bill doesn’t ::just:: apply to you and me on the street,” when in fact this bill doesn’t apply to you and me on the street at all. It applies to employers, landlords, and people providing a generally accessible public good or service (i.e. college professors). It is designed specifically to prevent people in positions of power from using that power as a weapon against trans-people.

    Also, this bill is an amendment to the Canadian Human Rights act, which has been in place for 40 years. As far as I can tell this is identical to the US civil rights act, which has been in place for over 50 years. These acts already have limits on what employers, etc, can say when addressing subordinates, so people who said that speech should never be limited seem to be uneducated, or only care now that these protections apply to trans people too.

      1. Yes it does apply to the “man on the street”. Two comics in comedy clubs made fun of people one a lesbian, another a kid with a disease and both were brought in front on the Human rights tribunal. That tribunal cost them 100K in legal fees and there is no counter measure to sue your accuser if you win because they accuser is not the plaintiff the Human Rights Tribunal is.

        The human rights tribunals have expanded, the original idea was to go after employers and people in power abusing that power over minorities. That is no longer the case.

        I didn’t listen to the episode because I am worn out on the issue.

        1. If you’re really burnt out on a topic, then just stay out of the conversation. Don’t go around spreading half-truths and misinformation.

          Since you didn’t mention specifics, I’m going to assume I found the correct stories:

          Mike Ward made a joke about Jeremy Gabriel, a disabled kid who is well-known in Canada. He was sued under the Quebec human rights charter for violating Gabriel’s right to “dignity, honour and reputation.” Since the case was brought under the Quebec charter, not the Canadian charter, it really has nothing at all to do with the discussion at hand. However, this IS an interesting contrast to the near absolute freedom of speech we have in the US.
          http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/mike-ward-comedian-human-rights-tribunal-1.3689465

          Guy Earle was sued for violating the Canadian Human Rights act, but the details of the case are much less benign than you let on. At a comedy club, Earle repeatedly harassed a woman for being gay and at some point even physically assaulted her. From the HuffPo article on the case:

          ‘Justice Jon Sigurdson noted in his ruling that comedic expression may be protected, even when it’s in poor taste.
          But he noted: “Here the conduct and expression in question was not part of any performance per se, it was not a response to hecklers in the audience, and it was coupled with physical abuse. The comments by Mr. Earle were some distance from the core values underlying the freedom of expression.”‘
          http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/06/21/guy-earle-lesbian-rant-lorna-pardy_n_3480602.html

          1. So what you are saying is this doesn’t apply to justcemployers and landlords. Thanks for making my point.

          2. I have talked about these cases at length before but the details were not relevant to the point being made which is C-16 doesn’t apply just to employers and landlords and people in power. It applies to everyone. There are other cases that I could have dragged out as well like the bar owner brought to the Tribunal over not allowing a medical marijuana smoker to smoke in and around his bar. This change will affect regular people because C-16 makes changes to the clause that the Tribunals have jurisdiction over.

            The Earle case the violence was in response to her throwing a drink in his face which is a violent act in itself. She also went to the side of the stage after the performance to further hostilities. Just to get the facts straight.

            But the point was to tell people this is not what Thomas is presenting. A real possibility is a case where a comedian asks, “hi ma’am, what’s your name and what do you do?” Person replies, “I’m a zer thank you very much.” The comedian goes off on a bit making fun of 75 pronouns, which the person views as an attack on them and Human Rights case. This is not a pie in the sky scenario, this is a real thing that could happen to a real person, not an employer or landlord but just some comedian making a social commentary about this topic.

            Should people be protected from harassment in the workplace, of course. Should people in a public forum be able to make fun of stuff, of course. The whole point of Mike Ward’s joke was there should be no sacred cows and everything should be open to ridicule. I agree with that. I do not like speech restrictions. But I do find it funny that those that want to restrict speech also condone violence to do it.

          3. In the Guy Earle case, he was harassing a person in a discriminatory way while providing a generally accessible public service. That is one of the kinds of people covered under the law. The details are relevant here, because neither case proves what you claim it does. The bar owner case is the same way- it’s someone providing a generally accessible public service.

            I’ll admit that I don’t know the details of the Earle case, but even if the woman was completely in the wrong, and the judge made a bad ruling, it still does nothing to prove the point you were trying to make. The fact is that bill C-16 does not apply to random interactions on the street.

            Maybe the tribunals have gotten out of hand- I have seen no evidence of this, but I really don’t know. And the fact that the first two examples you provided were so weak indicates that maybe Canada isn’t the Orwellian dystopia you say it is.

          4. Couple of things. Thomas keeps saying this applies only to employers and landlords and people like that. The three cases I have pointed out apply to people outside that window and since Thomas knows this to be true he is lying to his audience. You keep moving the goalposts for some reason and I’m not sure why. I can bring a dozen other cases that went before the tribunal that were not people in power. That was my only point, Thomas is misrepresenting how the law will affect Canadians.

            In the court system it’s not going to be comedians and people like that charged. But here in Canada we have the courts and the tribunals. Two different systems and the Earle case was in the tribunal not the courts so there isn’t really a judge. You can read up on the differences at your leisure.

            You have consistently projected positions to me that I have not made.

            There has been discussions about preachers at Yonge and Dundas possibly being brought to the tribunal for the things they are saying, literally on the street.

            So you can agree with this or not but C-16 and the greater clause it affects does govern everyone. The tribunals were designed for forcthe purpose Thomas talks about but have long ago crossed the line into other areas.

          5. The two cases you mentioned that fall under the Canadian Human Rights act are applied to people providing a generally accessible public service (i.e. bar tender and comedian at a restaurant). That is the third class of people covered under the CHRA, which is what c-16 is amending. The other case you pointed to was under the Quebec charter, not the CHRA.

            I’m not moving the goal posts. In my original comment I stated “It applies to employers, landlords, and people providing a generally accessible public good or service (i.e. college professors).”

            You really don’t need to provide dozens of examples, just one case of a person not in one of the groups listed above being fined by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.

            I’m not even saying that the cases you presented had good outcomes- all I’m saying is that they don’t illustrate the point you are trying to make.

            What positions have I projected onto you?

          6. Comedians are not providing a service, they are performing in a club. The party being “sued” is not the one providing the service, that would be the owner of the club. The speaker should be protected under free speech to say what they want to say.

            Are you saying that if the same performance happened on the street the wronged party would have no recourse? I really think under these rules a comedy show on the street by a street performer would fall under the same rules.

            The Mike Ward case may have been heard in Quebec but they used the national rules as a reason to find him guilty. Everything I have read on it points to the national law not Quebec law.

          7. A)A comedian at a restaurant is absolutely providing a generally accessible public service

            B)Earle was the MC, not just a comedian, making him the host of the event

            C)The restaurant owner was sued along with Earle

            D) (from http://vancouversun.com/news/comedian-dinged-for-homophobic-rant-loses-constitutional-challenge-to-human-rights-code) “The challenge focused on a single section of the Human Rights Code, which reads:

            8(1) A person must not, without a bona fide and reasonable justification,
            (a) deny to a person or class of persons any accommodation, service or facility customarily available to the public, or
            (b) discriminate against a person or class of persons regarding any accommodation, service or facility customarily available to the public because of the race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation or age of that person or class of persons.)”

            E) And finally, after all that, this challenge was under the B.C. Human Rights Code NOT the Canadian Human Rights Act, which means that this case is IRRELEVANT to bill c-16.
            http://www.courts.gov.bc.ca/jdb-txt/SC/13/10/2013BCSC1079.htm#_Toc359248746
            This is the judgement from the BC supreme court appeal, which is where the judge I quoted earlier made his decision.

            On the Mike Ward case (from the article I cited above):
            “More specifically, there are three sections of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms at play.
            Section 3 guarantees, among other things, freedom of expression. Section 4 establishes our right to “dignity, honour and reputation.”

            Section 10 is about equality, and says we can’t be deprived of our rights because of certain social or physical characteristics. Several are listed, including race, colour and — key to this case — disability.”

      2. I’m pretty sure you added a “just” at one point. Although I commented before I listened to the whole episode, and you laid it out more clearly toward the end.

  2. Maybe Harris is doing you a favor by not responding to you. When an ant goes padding across my desk, the kindest, most humane thing I can do is ignore it. If I do anything about the ant, regardless of my intentions or motivations, the ant is likely going to come out the worse for it. Maybe the kindest thing Harris can do is let you go your own way without getting squished by accident or otherwise.

    1. If the ant points out a huge error on your spreadsheet as it walks across the table you don’t ignore the ant just because it’s an ant. If the ant makes a valid point, listen to the ant.

      1. I was simply being hilarious, of course, but if Sam Harris has the tens of thousands of reader/listeners that Thomas says he has, then he probably has hundreds (at least) who disagree with something he’s done or failed to do. If he responded to each of them, he wouldn’t have time to eat or take a piss or record the next villainous podcast.

  3. My only speculation in regards to the claim of being “charged with a hate-crime for criticizing someone’s outfit” (assuming he’s not just real bad at hyperbole) is that maybe he’s the type of person who would say “that’s an ‘interesting’ outfit” whenever he notices a trans-student wearing something atypically gendered, is asked by someone not to be a fucking weirdo about trans-students’ clothes, and then deliberately misses the point and cries to his patreon supporters about being oppressed when all he did was make one little comment about fashion.

    Also, I wanted to mention something that occurred to me in response to one of the voicemail messages. I agree that feeling uneasy about gender neutral pronouns is probably an issue of privilege, and that from a position of privilege, being asked to make any kind of accommodation can feel like an injustice, but I think it might be helpful to recognize the extent of the accommodation being requested.

    Beyond being asked to “remember a few new words,” people are being asked to respect someone else’s right to determine their own gender identity (although, I think you’re right to note that the law really doesn’t even require this, just that they don’t explicitly disrespect it when in a position of authority), and more importantly, to defer to that other person’s determination rather than their own opinion.

    It occurred to me when the caller proposed that metaphor and stressed being able to see the person’s hair (i.e., make the determination about whether or not they were “really” a blonde), that what they are being asked to give up is not just the ease of responding to physical signifiers of sex without further thought, but also the right to determine others’ gender based on physical sexual characteristics, and the right to have their conceptions about gender validated by society.

    Essentially they are being asked to recognize that someone else knows more about their own body/experience/identity, and that if there’s a disagreement, they don’t get to decide who’s right.

    I suspect this is why so many people consider it magnanimous to be “willing” to use either he or she, or even they or ze, so long as it’s understood that they are being “open-minded” and that what’s being asked of them is kind of weird.

    I’m not sure if there’s much practical value in this insight, but to the extent that it might help explain why so many people seem so entrenched on this issue, I figured I should share it. Then again, I don’t put it past a certain vocal minority of privileged assholes to be deeply aggrieved at the suggestion that they remember two more words.

      1. Shit. Sorry. I thought you were asking that rhetorically.

        The most common I’ve seen proposed is xe and xyr, but in practice, I don’t know anyone who didn’t prefer they and their.

        Or names. People seem to like when you use their name.

        1. “They” and “their” have an implied (if not literal) plurality built in that makes them awkward to use in many instances.

          Using someone’s name repeatedly tends to single them out and call special attention to them which can be interpreted as ridicule or even condemnation, especially when others are not similarly referred to. Pronouns are a “softer” way, if you will, of referring to others.

          When you’re talking about new (to everyday usage ) pronouns like “xe” and “xir,” where does the undereducated over-privileged white guy like myself go for pronunciation guides? I imagine that people are going to be nearly as incensed if we fail to pronounce their pronouns properly as if we refuse to use them. Is the “x” pronounced as a “z?” If so, why not use “z” to avoid introducing extra confusion? Transliteration often leaves me in the dust: “if you wanted it pronounced that way, why the hell didn’t you write it that way?” When I see a name like “Xiulan,” the current heroine of the 9 Chickweed Lane comic strip, I say “zhyoo-lahn” with the zh pronounce as the “s” sound in “measure” or the trailing “g” sound in “garage,” but that’s an assumption on my part. There are pages and pages on the interwebs concerning the proper pronunciation of Mandarin words. Oh, shit. Xiulan is Cantonese from Hong Kong, that could further complicate things. You probably get my point, though. If you don’t provide precise definitions, usage rules and pronunciation guides, you’re going to get no sympathy from people stumbling over new pronouns you’ve neglected to tell them about.

          The lexicographers over at Merriam-Webster tell me that they do not dictate or police English usage; they simply report it. So, usage is going to have to start somewhere and then become common enough for M-W to feel the need to include it in the lexicon. I’m not sure how you start something like that, but I am sure that if you’re not concise and consistent about it, it’s going to fizzle on the launching pad.

          As entertaining as this is, it is all SO moot. I was just listening to Terry Gross who had a Ms. Posner on who has a leaked draft of an executive order that is going around Washington which would take the teeth out of all of the recent pro-LGBT court decisions and perhaps even reach back and nullify large tracts of civil rights legislation by allowing anyone to discriminate against anyone else by claiming it was their religious right to do so. Essentially, if you claim your behavior results from your religious beliefs, you can’t be touched.

          Viva Il Duce!

          1. That executive order is disheartening. On a fitting note, one of the websites I read while double-checking whether it was xe or ze (you’re not wrong about there being a learning curve), the example they used about people coming to accept strange new terms was the movement that introduced “Ms.” when referring to women.

            As far as pronunciation guides, google is a thing. More practically, it’s probably all right to wait until someone lets you know they have a preferred pronoun, and then just follow their lead.

            I agree that “they” and “their” are slightly more awkward, but it’s not like other pronouns don’t have awkward syntactical applications. If you’re trying to talk about three men using only “he,” you’re going to have a rough time (e.g., “he took his ice-cream, so he hit him, and he cried”).

            I think what is important though is that, as it relates to this law, the amount of awkwardness involved in using “they” is not considered to be an unreasonable burden.

          2. They is okay as long as they make it clear that that’s what they want. Leaving us guessing is nothing more than divaship and that’s going to get you rejected.

            Yes, we could get used to new pronouns, but they have to be used often and consistently, like Ms. I know maybe eight gay people. I am told I have two trans-gender relatives, but I’ve only ever met one of them. Nobody I know has any problem with traditional English pronouns, so my opportunities to practice are going to be sparse. It could take a while to catch on.

    1. I feel like he was making a slight appeal to humor with the ‘choice of outfit’ comment. Using an intentionally peculiar word choice to refer to the presentation aspects of the bill

  4. Your argument about the Muslim ban being the left’s fault completely misses the argument that is being made.

    The point being made is the left refused to tackle the terrorism problem on any level. They should have taken the lead and owned that issue. This was the point Harris and Maher were trying to make before Batfleck interrupted and proved the left incapable of owning the issue. So the right came up with their horrible solution to counter the left’s solution of not acknowledging a problem existed. This is the left’s failure and you should have tackled that point, but you didn’t and I do not know why. When did you start shying away from the real positions people hold?

    After the Paris attacks Noah does a fantastic diatribe on this very topic. It’s on the Scathing Atheist YouTube channel. Go back and listen to it. It is called Je Suis Paris and it is almost 15 minutes long. At about 11 minutes in he hits this point home. He calls the ban then, over a year ago.

    1. But that’s just not how things work. The right will never be satisfied with the left’s solution to this. Here actually tell me this: what is a policy choice the left needs to make on this? And follow-up, do you see that as making any difference to Trump voters?

      1. I don’t care about Trump voters you do not need to appeal to them, you can appeal to the millions of voters that voted Obama and did not vote for Hillary. You can start there. Who cares what the right is satisfied with, we need to do what is right and inspire people to join us.

        The fact is there was no choice on this issue because the left refuses to live by liberal values. The left needs to acknowledge that Islamic terrorism is indeed Islamic. The left needs to push back on the countries that treat women as second class citizens in their own legal systems and stop doing business with them. There are certain lines we should not cross when it comes to our principles. Our policy towards the middle east countries needs to be one of compassion and with strict rules on entry.

        The regressive left has lost this issue to the GOP because they refused to see the issue for what it is. So instead of having a reasonable immigration policy in the US I can’t bring my family to Disney World because they were born in the wrong country.

        The liberals have been begging those on the left to get on board and the left has just called us racists and islamophobes. So in the absence of no alternative people elected Trump if this was an issue they cared about because there wasn’t another choice.

        Half the electorate did not show up, so you do not need a single vote from them to turn the results, there are 120 million non voters that you can try to convince. You are arguing like Eli now, in this black and white world where you have to convince people who are hard right to join you. There are real options beyond the converted.

        Stephen Harper tried to make Niqabs an issue during the last Canadian election and there are many who say that issue turned the election in Trudeau’s favour. Trudeau had the liberal position on Niqab’s in that the government should not tell women how to dress. It was an unpopular position at the time but Trudeau stuck with it and won in a landslide.

        1. That “who cares what half the country thinks” attitude is precisely why we have Mussolini’s little brother in the White House right now. If you don’t bring everybody with you, those you leave out are going to start letting the air out of your tires and putting rocks in your path because they don’t view your interests as their interests. The left got so narrowly focused on bringing along some fairly small minorities that we forgot about the larger minorities. And the majority? Forget them. they can take care of themselves. Which is exactly what they did.

          1. Trump voters are 25% of the country not half. There is another half that didn’t even pick a side.

            If you are a person that thinks banning people is a good idea there is little reason to engage with you. That should literally be a 30 second conversation to change that view. It’s in the same vein as people thinking it’s ok to punch people for saying words.

            Your average Trump voter is not the person you need to reach out to, they don’t matter because there are enough other people to reach out to that you can easily turn the tide without engaging with the person that doesn’t even know the difference between Arabs and Persians. We don’t need them.

          2. I’m not for banning anyone. And neither are the Trumpettes, for that matter. They are for sticking their finger in the eye of the political left. Did you see who got banned? Nobody from a country where Trump has business interests is banned, regardless of their religion. 94% of the “Muslim terrorists” who have committed crimes in the US came from countries that are not banned. The ban has nothing to do with Muslims or terrorists it has to do with getting a rise out of you, sticking a finger in your eye and vanquishing you, your sensibilities and your ideas.

            Look at Trump’s statements, endorsements and allegiances over the last few decades. The guy has no political views as such. He views himself as a great man who must be revered by all. He was just able to ride the “abused Bubba,” the “take America back,” and the “make us into Ward and June Cleaver again” factors into the White House. And we let him by nominating the only person in North America who was less electable than he was.

            And there’s nothing we can do about it. We’re stuck for eight years. I say eight years because the far left is still stuck in the mindset that produced the Hillary Clinton campaign. If there are elections in 2020, we democrats and progressives will make all of the same mistakes we made in 2016 because we are hellbent on proving it wasn’t us who lost the election, it was those assholes out there who refused to vote just because our candidate stunk.

            We don’t need to reach out to Trump voters. We can’t reach them from here. They are in power. They control everything. All of the people we can reach from here are under the same boot heel that we are under.

      2. ‘But that’s just not how things work’

        It seemed to be how thing worked out on November 9th.

        Seriously, all this dude, and Sam Harris et al, are saying is that dishonesty from the left leads people concerned with the issues not being discussed to the right.

        It’s something many people have been saying for years, and is coming to fruition more and more with each populist victory across the landscape of the west.

        You’re moving the goalpost by asking Dan here to expound upon a particular policy, and discuss what will appeal to more traditional right-wing voters.

        the right is justified in rejecting then lefts strategy when it is essentially nonexistent. ‘But what was in those cartoons?’ ‘White male senators who refuse to enact stricter gun control laws are to blame for the Orlando night club attack’

        For christs sake man… Get over it. Listen to that diatribe.

  5. Hi Thomas,

    I wanted to comment on the voicemails you played in this episode.

    To the first caller’s comment, about non-gendered pronouns, I think there’s a point there. There would be nothing wrong with calling everyone “they/them”, for example (or some new set of pronouns, if necessary). And we can get info about sex and sexuality from a better source than a person’s pronoun (because “he” doesn’t tell me if you’re straight, gay, bi, asexual, or whatever – at best, it gives me a decent clue as to what your genitals probably look like and which ones you probably prefer yours to mesh with, but it’s far from definitive).

    I’ve heard, but not really reliably confirmed, that some languages lack gendered pronouns already – Mandarin being the example I’ve been given a few times. According to Wiki, there is a *written* distinction between masculine, feminine and neuter, but none in the spoken language.

    Regardless, I don’t know why we couldn’t get along just fine with gender-neutral pronouns for everyone, because *most* of the time we’re using it as a shorthand for someone we’ve already identified in the conversation (“I saw Sally at the shop the other day. She was buying a cat” – what value does “she” offer over “they” in that type of sentence?). We could explicitly describe a person’s gender on the odd occasion where it actually matters (“Yeah, I’m seeing someone new – their name’s Sam… Oh, they’re a woman”). Not to be crude or insulting to anyone, but we already do exactly that for other animals – “I have 200 head of cattle, 10 bulls and 190 cows” (we even specifically designate castrated males – “steers”, for cattle).

    To the third caller (Ryan, I think). First off, the hair colour analogy as you present it kind of misses the point. If someone with light hair insists you say they have dark hair, they’re asking you to ignore a biological reality (they have dark hair) – and refusing to do so might be justified (although you might humour them, as you wish!). But the trans pronoun issue is the other way around – they’re *telling* you the psychological reality of their gender identity (because you can’t *see* gender – you need to be told) and, if you refuse to use their chosen pronoun, you’re insisting on ignoring that reality in favour of your own interpretation based on their outward appearance (which may have little or nothing to do with their gender).

    But, turned around a little, I actually sort of like the hair colour analogy as an argument *for* using preferred pronouns. My sister-in-law is a brunette – but you’d never know that, given that she bleaches her hair weekly or something. You have to look at 20 year old photos to find out that fact – I’ve never even noticed a dark root! So, she is a brunette who identifies as a blonde – and would ask that you call her blonde, not brunette, even if her schedule lapsed and she grew some dark roots. Just like a trans man is a biological female who is psychologically a man (I hope I’m saying that right!), and would ask you to address him as such. You don’t *have* to refer to my sister-in-law as a blonde, but she’d be justified in telling you where to go if you didn’t; and I think it’s likewise for the transgender person. Either way, you’d be ignoring the person’s actual mental and/or physical characteristics in favour of your own interpretation – which seems pretty rude, at best.

    Thanks for the thoughtful discussion, Thomas! Thoroughly enjoyed it as always.

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