Imagine that your local MP rises in the House of Commons to deliver a member's statement. The sort of acknowledgement normally reserved for important cultural days, outstanding individuals or remarkable community groups.
To your surprise, the MP reads statements from a constituent that are nothing but a tirade of violent, racist misogyny, while directing a vile mix of intimidation and libel at individual people. I hope you would be rightly shocked and appalled that such awful hate propaganda was being delivered by a government representative.
Recently in Toronto, a board of review began hearings to determine if hate propaganda like what I just described should be delivered to unwitting people's homes by way of a Crown corporation.
Last year the minister responsible for Canada Post, Judy Foote, issued what is known as a prohibitory order under the Canada Post Act to stop delivery of a disgusting hate rag known as Your Ward News by Canada Post carriers.
A lone copy of Your Ward News has manifested on Ryerson bulletin board, unsurprisingly stapled in a fashion that makes it difficult to read. pic.twitter.com/anr8Kzph4B
— Mathew Iantorno (@mattiantorno) March 20, 2017
It is still being distributed either by private companies or volunteers instead of by Canada Post.
Your Ward News is dangerous hate propaganda that, up until last year, was being delivered to the homes of people in Toronto and communities as far away as Niagara Falls. It used racist slurs on every page; included images meant to demean or intimidate women; its publisher has called for the legalization of rape; and, in a particularly disturbing piece of Photoshop work, Your Ward News has depicted opponents in Nazi gas chambers. Think of it as the National Enquirer for skinheads, and you have the right idea.
— Christine Koserski (@chris_koserski) April 25, 2017
We live in a free society, people are able to hold whatever disgusting, indefensible opinions they see fit. Defenders of Your Ward News say this is a free-speech issue, and their rights are being denied. They are completely wrong on both counts.
First, it isn't a free-speech issue. Hate speech is not protected as a free expression of ideas, nor should it be. Targeting any group with this sort of malicious hatred is dangerous because it can and does lead to violence in the real world. The reason you can't yell "fire" in a crowded theatre is that people can and will get hurt. Willfully cultivating hatred against specific groups has the same effect, and is not protected, either.
Hate speech is not protected as a free expression of ideas, nor should it be.
Second, no one's free speech is being denied by Minister Foote's decision. The publishers are free to post their malignant beliefs online, or print up copies of their filth and hand them out themselves -- as they continue to do. The minister's decision simply means that Canada Post will not be doing the distribution for them.
Canada Post is a Crown corporation and belongs to all the people of this country. In any healthy democracy there are going to be debates over what government should and should not support. This is not one of those instances.
Liberal MP Judy Foote. (Photo: Chris Wattie/Reuters)
There can be no debate over forcing government to provide logistical support for hate propaganda to be dropped into the homes of unsuspecting families. It is wrong, dangerous and cannot be allowed to continue.
As a country we would not accept an MP delivering remarks that target groups and individuals with unmitigated hate. We should not accept it coming from another government representative -- a Crown corporation -- either.
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Even teens with the same identity -- be it racial or gender -- can be guilty of bullying and discrimination. Ontario's Ministry of Education defines bullying as "a form of repeated, persistent, and aggressive behaviour directed at an individual or individuals that is intended to cause (or should be known to cause) fear and distress and/or harm to another person's body, feelings, self-esteem, or reputation."
Social media can be a platform for bullying to continue even after school is out. Cyber bullying occurs when young people take malicious actions online. through chat rooms, email, social sites and instant messaging.
"You don't need to go into full confessional mode, but have fun with it, if that helps. Or be perfectly honest," Author Jonathan R. Miller said. Miller pens e-books with multi-ethnic characters and themes. You don't have to talk about all the nuances of your family tree every time you're asked about your background, He said. That can be exhausting. Find something that works for you personally.
"I like the word 'mixed' because it's a messy word, and in my experience growing-up mixed is exactly that," Miller said. He suggests that it's important to allow yourself to truly wrestle with questions of identity in environments you consider safe.
If you are struggling with your identity, you don't have to tell the whole world, but confide in a friend that you trust. Having someone to confide in is important. "If you can, find someone who you can talk to about your most honest, ever-evolving, often-messy answer to the question, "What am I?" Miller said.
"Maybe you don't have anyone trustworthy to talk to honestly about your experiences. Write about them. It helped me, sometimes, to get those out," Miller said. It may not make a lot of sense initially and it might feel uncomfortably personal, but write. Keep a journal, write short stories and rename the characters, try your hand at poetry -- whatever feels best.
"You are likely being told at different times, more or less, to hurry up and get off the fence, pick a side and get on with it," Miller said. It's not necessarily a bad thing to be unsure of who you are, even if your peers seem to have their acts together, he said. Teenage years are discovery years. Miller also quoted author Rainer Maria Rilke: " 'Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. ...live in the question.' That's good advice. Difficult to follow, but good."
When it comes to mixed heritage, "you don't have to be 'both' or 'other' or 'all of the above' all of the time. Sometimes the only way to figure out what you are is to choose one thing and be it for a while," Miller said. Explore how it feels to fully embrace a single aspect of your identity, for short period of time. See "what stick and what slides off." It's simply learning, Miller said.
"I can't tell you how many multi-racial people I've met who have chosen a single race or ignored race entirely and been perfectly content with the decision. A biracial friend of mine used to tell me, 'I'm black and white, yes, but I'm black. Period,' " Miller said. He said he knows many people have chosen to identify with only one aspect of their multi-background, while others have embraced the blend.
Find creative ways to occupy your time, Miller said. Join a group or do an activity (with others) where you are empowered to be who you are, instead of having to act how others think you need to be in order to fit in.
Take pride in your ethnic (culture, colour or religion) heritage. You have no control over your heritage, and you can't change that fact that this is who you are. So embrace it and learn as much as you can. "You may feel like it would be an insult to your heritage to embrace one aspect of yourself above the others, but trust me, it wouldn't be. This is important: it is not your job to uphold, with perfect equity and grace, all of the elements that went into your making," Miller said.
"Often they're the 'gatekeepers' that decide whether you're 'in' or 'out.' But what you can do is have a ready answer for the 'charges' they level against you. Whether you use humour, earnestness, or self-righteous anger, it helps to have your defense lined up and ready," Miller said. Sometimes people think all the "members" of their cultural or ethnic community must behave, dress and think a certain way. But as an individual, you can do whatever you want and find your own identity.
Follow Andrew Tumilty on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AndrewTumilty