Mark Steyn uses flagrant transphobia to undermine “flagrantly islamophobic” accusation.

It is often the case that differences in political views are not just different opinions on isolated issues, but the underlying assumptions and worldviews are very different.

Beginning with the assumption that all Muslims are participants in a global conspiracy to take over the Western world, Mark Stenyn had argued in a Maclean’s article that the alleged plan will succeed because Muslims’ average birth rate is higher than the average birth rate of non-Muslim Caucasians. Four Osgoode law students called his article “flagrantly islamophobic” and filed a human rights complaint against Maclean’s for not publishing a counter article from their perspective.

Attempting to ridicule the activities of Canadian human rights commissions, Mark Steyn refers to a human rights complaint against a plastic surgeon who refused to perform labiaplasty on transwomen. The article he cites by Margaret Wente includes disparaging descriptions of transwomen’s bodies:

During the lunch break, I had a sandwich with Michelle. Her gestures were feminine. But up close, she looked more like a guy than a girl.

She had a man’s big hands, big teeth, broad-bridged nose, and coarse facial skin.

This, of course, is irrelevant to the case, but serves to demonize and dehumanize the complainants. In her introduction of Michelle, Wente ridicules Michelle’s height and voice, and doubts her female identity because she had fathered children:

First up on the witness stand was Michelle Boyce, a statuesque 38-year-old with a lush cascade of curly black hair and the breaking voice of an adolescent male. She described herself as intersex – someone who’d been born with both ovaries and a penis. Although raised male, she said she’d always thought of herself as a woman (despite the fact that in her 20s, she had married and fathered two children in the customary way).

Why does the fact that Michelle Boyce fathered children cast doubt on the claim that she had always thought of herself as a woman? It is quite probable that Boyce married and fathered children because she was raised as a male and was in the closet at the time due to tremendous social pressure. It is also possible that Boyce is a lesbian or bisexual. However, these possibilities do not seem to cross Wente’s mind, and this fact is introduced as if it was a self-explanatory contradiction to Boyce’s professed gender identity. There is no contradiction in Boyce’s narrative, but Wente sees contradiction due to her ignorance and false assumptions.

Other assumptions in Wente’s article include the assumption that labiaplasty is a frivolous operation for vanity, that discrimination against transwomen with respect to labiaplasty is not ‘real’ or ‘important’ discrimination, and that the lawsuit is self-evidently absurd.

Mark Steyn quotes Wente:

Well, he was rude. He said hurtful things and hurt her feelings. The hearing has now adjourned for a few weeks, in hopes that further mediation may find a way to soothe them.

Over lunch, Michelle told me that the demeaning treatment by Dr. Stubbs “had a profound effect on the rest of my life.” After that, she became a full-time activist. Today she has a government-funded job investigating the health status of the transsexual population.

and he comes to the conclusion that Boyce got the government job because her “feelings were hurt” as a transsexual:

My feelings were hurt by being denounced as a “flagrant Islamophobe”, but I’m unlikely to get a government job out of it.

It is quite possible that Boyce got the government job because she is the most qualified person for the job, but Steyn apparently cannot see that possibility. Steyn also appears to confuse the right to labiaplasty with compulsory labiaplasty:

On the other hand, I’ll be grateful if the commission doesn’t order me a compulsory labiaplasty.

Human rights commissions investigate human rights complaints. Steyn does not think that the Osgoode law students’ complaints deserve investigation, and attempts to discredit human rights commissions by bringing up a human rights complaint regarding discrimination in transwomen’s access to labiaplasty. However, in doing so, he reveals his prejudice against transgender people and an underlying hostility towards minority groups and their viewpoints.

Posted in ^None of the above. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Comments Off on Mark Steyn uses flagrant transphobia to undermine “flagrantly islamophobic” accusation.

When Muslims cry “freedom of speech!” … opponents cry “freedom of speech!”

Four Muslim, law students from Osgoode Hall Law School at Toronto’s York University filed a Human Rights Complaint against Canada’s Maclean’s magazine on December 4th, 2007. In a Maclean’s article titled “The future belongs to Islam” published in October 2006, Mark Steyn had argued that Muslims will eventually take over the Western world. The Osgoode law students, on March 30, 2007, had asked Maclean’s to “publish a response to Steyn’s article from a mutually acceptable source.” Maclean’s refused, allegedly claiming that they “would rather go bankrupt,” which resulted in the law students filing the Human Rights Complaint.

Here is an interview with one of the law students, Khurrum Awan:

When the interviewer asks Khurrum how to strike a balance between human rights and free speech rights, the Osgoode law student responds:

I don’t think that this issue is about freedom of speech versus minority rights. This is really about the right of communities to participate in our national discourse on issues that relate directly to us. […] We just simply want to extend free speech to make it more inclusive of the communities in question. And if we do that, we don’t have to, you know, get into this false trade-off that we always assume that somehow free speech and minority rights — or free speech and multiculturalism — are somehow diametrically opposed.

What is ironic is that while many of the critics of the Osgoode law students criticize them for suppressing freedom of speech, the Osgoode law students claim that they are filing the Human Rights Complaint on behalf of freedom of speech (i.e., the right to publish a counter article in Maclean’s). While many critics accuse the Osgoode law students of censorship, the Osgoode law students feel that they themselves are being censored.

Read the rest of this entry »