We all, at various times, are forgetful. One of my recent memory lapses found me in my branch library sans reading glasses. The librarian could not comply with my request to borrow a pair since she did not want to break the law. The law is taking very good care of me, I thought, and does not want me to assume the risk, minor as it may be, of becoming infected by used reading glasses. At the same time, I remembered how that library’s acquisition department rejected a book of mine, recommended by an enthusiastic third party, because it contained potentially harmful anti-choice ideas. The book was pro-life (which presupposes the exercise of choice), and that was enough to censor it. A second book of mine, which a Catholic wire service praised as the most eloquent defense of life to appear on the scene, was rejected by another Ontario library as “trouble.”
I felt that both libraries might be over-stepping their bounds in the interest of protecting their readers from thinking. Perhaps the works of Hemingway, Shakespeare, Tennyson, Milton, and Dante should be removed from the shelves lest they infect the minds of susceptible readers. Thinking can be a dangerous activity.
Is Big Brother really looking out for us Canadians, and doing so ultra-conscientiously? That’s a good question. A palliative hospice in British Columbia has been ordered by the government to allow euthanasia, or MAiD (Medical Assistance in Dying). In response, Irene Thomas Hospice has presented the case that euthanasia is incompatible with the palliative care it offers. That being the case, I wondered if the patients would be safeguarded against donning used reading glasses and reading any of my books.
In order to preserve its mandate and not provide euthanasia for its patients, the hospice has indicated its willingness to forgo $750,000 in pubic funds rather than allow sick patients to be put to death. Killing is not a form of caring.
George Weigel has coined the phrase “ideological silos.” It is an apt expression. The ideology that reigns in one area may be completely different than one that rules in another. Canada is becoming more and more a country of arbitrary and contradictory ideological silos. In one silo people are over-protected; in another, they are prematurely put to death.
On January 10, 2020, the British Columbia Court of Appeals ruled that a 13-year-old girl is old enough to consent to testosterone injections and the use of puberty blockers against her father’s objections. The girl, referred to as AB, wanted to transition to a boy. She was troubled over her parents’ separation in 2013 and suffered from depression. On at least four different occasions she attempted suicide. She also went through a “lesbian stage.” The father, known as CD, argued that health care providers—notably, long-time “queer” activist Barbara Findlay—were promoting his daughter’s transition,. CD has, it would seem, reasonable grounds for stating that AB is “very vulnerable” and that AB lacked the “mental capacity and emotional maturity” to make a decision that could have lasting and irreversible effects.
A Swedish study back in 2011 followed 324 sex-reassigned persons (191 male-to-female, 133 female-to-male). It reported that the long-term outcome of such treatments resulted in life-long psychological trauma and increased suicide. The suicide rate in these patients was 19 times higher than that among the general population. Nonetheless, what is known in the scientific silo may not feed what is going on in the gender re-assignment silo. Each silo has its isolated autonomy and, therefore, does not fertilize any other silo.
Canada could use a unifying philosophy. Reason has a universal quality and thereby provides the hope of a consistent ethic. But reason has been overshadowed by the power of ideology. Most doctors want to exercise their moral conscience. But the LBGTQ brigade is fearful that by respecting conscience some people would be denied gender re-assignment treatments. Should judges presume to be wiser than parents in raising children? Should the medical profession subordinate itself to the desires of their patients? Should minor children be shielded from science, parents, and common sense?
The difference between philosophy and ideology is that the former is for everyone while the latter is compartmentalized in a way that makes social unity impossible. The co-existence of ideological silos promises endless legal battles and innumerable frustrated parties. This is not a happy prospect. It results from trying to please contradictory constituencies while disregarding the basis for social unity, which lies in justice, fairness, and realistic reasoning. Catholics, however, are obstinate creatures and refuse to be contained in the ideological silo which the government has assigned them.
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