This is Nathan Rambukkana: Obey him!

 

Meet your new overlord. This is Nathan Rambukkana.  As an Assistant Professor at Wilfrid Laurier University, he came to public attention this weekend by confirming in the most clear manner that Jordan Peterson is right. In an article that Christie Blatchford can do so well, it appears that he was part of a board of three that grilled a teaching assistant under his supervision for daring to show a youtube clip of Jordan Peterson, who was debating Nicholas Matte on whether  Bill C-16 would compel speech, that is, cause people to use the pronouns that a transgendered person requires his/her/zir’s interlocutor to use.

 

“She was told that after she showed the five-minute video clip, “one student/many students” — the group refused to say how many students were unhappy because that information is deemed confidential — complained that she had created “a toxic climate.”

Spunkily, she asked if she was supposed to shelter students from controversial ideas. “Am I supposed to comfort them?” she asked at one point, bewildered, and said it was antithetical to the spirit of a university.

Rambukkana then informed her that since Bill C-16 was passed, even making such “arguments run(s) counter” to the law.

I will leave that provocation aside for a moment in order to let Prof.Rambukkana identify his work:

Specifically, my research addresses topics such as digital intimacies, the relationship of intimacy and privilege, hybridity and mixed-race identities, the social and cultural aspects new media forms, and non/monogamy in the public sphere. It is situated disciplinarily at the nexus of communication and cultural studies; methodologically within discourse analysis; and draws theoretical energy from a wide range of sources such as feminist, queer, postcolonial, and critical race theories; semiotics, affect theory, event theory and psychoanalysis.

I invite the curious to pursue Prof. Rambukkana’s utterances further on his professional website. His personal musings are found at Complexsingularities.net

The issue I dwell upon is not the outrageous nature of the affront to free speech and liberal values that is constituted by the behaviour by Rambukkana and his two colleagues.

The question is: is he right? Have entire lines of thought been criminalized in Canada by C-16?  The answer is no, not yet, but the practical effect of Bill C-16, which deals with gender identity and gender expression is already seen in the assertions of Professor Rambukkana.

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Does the effect of Bill C-16 criminalize the use of a pronoun a person does not favour? According to Brenda Cossman, of  the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, it does not. What this argument appears to rest on is an ambiguity in the use of “criminal”. Something may not attract criminal procedures and penalties (think about the Alberta Human Rights  Commission, Ezra Levant and the Islamic speech issue)  and yet involve years of punishing process and compulsion though not be, in strict terms, a “criminal” prosecution.

Says Brenda Cossman:

“Non-discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression may very well be interpreted by the courts in the future to include the right to be identified by a person’s self identified pronoun. The Ontario Human Rights Commission, for example, in their Policy on Preventing Discrimination Because of Gender Identity and Expression states that gender harassment should include “ Refusing to refer to a person by their self-identified name and proper personal pronoun”. In other words, pronoun misuse may become actionable, though the Human Rights Tribunals and courts. And the remedies? Monetary damages, non-financial remedies (for example, ceasing the discriminatory practice or reinstatement to job) and public interest remedies (for example, changing hiring practices or developing non-discriminatory policies and procedures). Jail time is not one of them.

The second thing that the Bill does is add the words “gender identity or expression” to two sections of the Criminal Code….

It will add the words “gender identity and expression” to section 318(4) of the Code, which defines an identifiable group for the purposes of “advocating genocide” and “the public incitement hatred” It joins colour, race, religion, national or ethnic origin, age, sex, sexual orientation or mental or physical disability.

Finally, Bill C-16 also adds “gender identity and expression” to section 718.2(a)(i) of the Criminal Code dealing with sentencing for hate crimes. The provision provides that evidence that an offence is motivated by bias, prejudice or hate can be taken into account by courts in sentencing. The list already includes race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation or any other similar factor.”

At this point I need to point out that, although Cossman carefully describes the effect of C-16 on freedom of expression, the Act is already taken to mean, by the like of Prof. Rambukkana,  that a point shall not be argued – not just the use of a pronoun, but an entire train of thought on how students need to be exposed to debate about whether transgendered rights might result in compelled speech.

Those who argue in recondite legal articles about the limits of free speech need to carefully consider what happens to laws when they are interpreted in daily life by faculty committees and other sources of authority, especially those who have an interest in suppressing discussion.

Jared Brown, in another interpretation of C-16, from a point of view more favourable to the principle of free speech, takes a different view.  The text of the federal act on this matter was copied from earlier Ontario legislation to the same effect. Hence what Ontario’s Human Rights Commission says about the wording is relevant.

Thereafter, the [Ontario Human Rights Commission] OHRC clarified its policy by creating a Question and Answer on gender identity and gender expression which seeks to define these terms, and to set out that the refusal of a person to use the chosen/personal/preferred pronoun, or deliberately misgendering, will likely be discrimination.

What this means is that if you encounter a person in a sphere of human activity covered by the Code, and you address that person by a pronoun that is not the chosen/personal/or preferred pronoun of that person, that your action can constitute discrimination.

Further, in the event that your personal or religious beliefs do not recognize genders beyond simply male and female (ie. does not recognize non-binary, gender neutral, or other identities), you must still utilize the non-binary, gender neutral, or other pronouns required by non-binary or gender neutral persons, lest you be found to be discriminatory.

It is the OHRC policy requirement that persons must use the pronouns required by the portion of transgendered individuals making that demand that constitutes compelled speech.

Brown also points out that failure to comply with a finding of the Ontario Human Rights Commission could entail

– requirements to communicate or publish an apology or a publication of the facts of the case and the resulting order;

-non-defamation or gag orders (to refrain from making further offending statements);

-non-defamation publication bans (to refrain from printing further offending statements);

– orders to undertake sensitivity or anti-bias training.

As Brown points out, you can go to jail for contempt of one of these orders, indefinitely.

Rule 60.11(5) of the Rules of Civil Procedure (Ontario) confirms that where the court finds a person in contempt, they can order imprisonment for an indefinite period, in addition to fines and other remedies.  Further a judge can issue a warrant for the arrest of any person against whom a contempt order is sought.

 

Thus while C-16 does not deal with criminal law as its central point, its provisions affect the interpretation of hate crimes, which are criminal in nature. Moreover, if the offence is tried under provincial Human Rights laws, going to jail for refusal to use some person’s desired pronouns for their particular sexual status, and facing years of litigation, a fines, constitutes compulsion.

The Bill also creates the atmosphere of ideas wherein the not too clever can assert that entire avenues of discourse are now illegal. As has Professor Rambukkana.

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The incipient totalitarian nature of the views being propagated at our universities ought to concern those who endorse a liberal education. You may seek to convey your views to Professor Rambukkana. Be polite.

nrambukkana@wlu.ca

T: 519.884.0710 x4346

The iron mask is coming down. This debate is not, as the left asserts, about respect, dignity and equality. This is about causing masses of people not to speak what is on their minds, and that is the iron mask. It is the hallmark of the totalitarian regime, and it is here now.