Interesting stuff 2016-11-07

Here’s what I found interesting this week.

Somebody had the bright idea of casting Othello – a black guy – as a white woman. Needless to say, it backfired. The National Post reports that the choice was seen as “oppressive.”


Stupid, yes, but I’m not sure “oppressive” is quite the right description of that decision. I think this is yet another reminder of the fact that we have started to play very fast and very loose with the definitions of words. Real oppression against blacks would entail something along the lines of prohibiting them from enrolling in the school, for instance. This is not oppression, just stupidity.

Next year perhaps they’ll consider doing a play on Hitler’s life, starring a Jewish woman as Hitler.

In a victory for religious freedom and, frankly, good old fashioned common decency between people who disagree with each other, The BC law society’s attempt to have Trinity Western School’s laws program blacklisted because TWU has the audacity to expect its students to (can you believe this) exercise sexual restraint!

The horror!

Sexual intimacy is to be confined to the marriage of a man and a woman, so any other form of sexuality is to be avoided. Although not specifically mentioned, homosexuality clearly does not fit the template.

Surprisingly, nobody was up in arms because TWU was equally opposed to heterosexual couples sleeping together before they got married which, it seems self-evident, is a much larger percent of the population than homosexuals. If TWU is “discriminatory” against homosexuals then surely it is equally “discriminatory” against that much larger population segment as well. Yet the unfair “discrimination” that they would be subject to doesn’t seem to show up on anybody’s radar.


Interestingly, the decision of the appeals court wasn’t even close; it was unanimous. According to the Post, the judgment reads,

“A society that does not admit of and accommodate differences cannot be a free and democratic society — one in which its citizens are free to think, to disagree, to debate and to challenge the accepted view without fear of reprisal,” says the 66-page judgment.

“This case demonstrates that a well-intentioned majority acting in the name of tolerance and liberalism can, if unchecked, impose its views on the minority in a manner that is in itself intolerant and illiberal.”


Speaking of a well-intentioned majority acting in the name of tolerance and liberalism imposing its views on the minority, the drama surrounding Jordan Peterson continues. The Toronto Sun had a couple of interesting articles. The first giving us a bit of a heads-up about where this is headed. Hint, it won’t stop with Dr. Peterson, and it certainly won’t stop with the transgender movement.

The second is an op-ed stating that the Toronto Sun stands with him. For what that’s worth. I think it would be much better of his colleagues and students stood with him, but I guess you take what friends you can find when you’re in a situation like his.

It’s a strongly worded, and refreshingly unCanadian, op-ed that should be read by all who care about the right to question whatever happens to be politically correct this week.

If Dr. Peterson gets fired, he’ll be in good company. The Heterodox Academy ran a quick “pop quiz” to see if you could guess which of the following three academics lost their job.

  • Professor A said:  “If they say that … you shouldn’t be warned to prepare yourself psychologically for that, that somehow that’s coddling, those people are lunatics.”Professor A also said that people who deny the existence of microaggressions are“idiots.”  
  • Professor B wrote: “F**k those a**holes, seriously.” [But without the asterisks.] When criticized for this remark, he wrote: “I PROFOUNDLY regret not using much harsher language and saying what I really think of anyone who uses their religion to promote homophobia.”
  • Professor C wrote: “Identity politics on campus have made an infirmary of the whole, damn campus. Let’s face it: every room is like a hospital ward. What are we supposed to do? I can’t deal with it — it’s insane.” He also said: “What if Trump triggers a few hundred thousand liberal totalitarians to jump out of their dorm windows? one can only hope.”

Any guesses?

They say money can’t buy you happiness, but losing your income can apparently rob you of happiness. The CEO of the Calgary Counselling Centre is reporting that mental health issues are seriously on the rise in Alberta.

As with the drop in oil price and all the associated layoffs, there is further bad news,

Stress and anxiety are flooding our community. Rates of depression, suicide and mental illness are rising.

But, she reports some very good news as well,

The good news is that depression is highly treatable. In fact, it’s the most treatable of all mental health problems, and the faster you seek help, the faster and better the results.

I’ve heard the same thing from another psychologist I know; depression is one of the most easily treatable mental health issues out there. If this is your problem, get help. It is available, and it can be effective.

Although I consider myself more or less “conservative” I must confess that I find at least a little discomfort with the title. The problem is not with that title, the problem comes with accepting any title, because in today’s world the accepting of a title can often effectively pigeon-hole a person into an extreme caricature that they do not really accept. For instance, in this review of a book by John McMillian,

McMillian makes the case that the never-ending struggle in political economy has been to find the right mix of centralization and decentralization. If power becomes too centralized, then it will become oppressive and destructive. Yet, without centralized power, local tyrants emerge, injustice proliferates, and warring factions square off, sending society into chaos. In this sense, political economy is a polarity to be managed, not a problem to be solved.

I like that way of framing the discussion. I really like it.

If anything I would definitely like to see taxes lowered and the power of the central government reduced. But I’m not opposed to government. I’m not opposed to taxes. Both of those are essential. Any nation would fail without a sufficiently strong government, and that government almost certainly requires at least some taxes to operate.

But when one accepts the label “conservative” one is typically assumed (in my experience) to be anti-government and anti-taxes. Hardly! I’m just convinced that the current level of taxation, and the current level of the government’s power is out of balance. It is too big, and it does too much for us, robbing us of the opportunity for personal discipline and the growth that entails.

But without an alternative frame of reference, I just stick with the title “conservative” and hope I have enough opportunity to do coffee with people to discuss the issues in person. In-person discussions are one of the key ingredients necessary to get past the pigeon-holing, polarizing, “debates” that define so much of these discussions these days.

By the way, the best quote from that article is truly brilliant,

We don’t need fewer arguments today; we need less stupid ones.

Couldn’t agree more. And for the record, I see some pretty stupid arguments from both sides of the political spectrum, so I’m not merely pointing to the political left.