On Thursday, Canada Customs, that wonderfully-democratic institution of unelected bureaucrats, decided that Canadians weren't capable of deciding whether Pastor Terry Jones, whose congregation held a Quran burning in March 2011, was worth listening to. This is the same institution that led a discriminatory moral crusade against LGBTQ bookstores Little Sister's and Glad Day Bookshop back in the 1990s, and just recently, prevented a PG-rated movie from being brought into the country, because it was destined to be played at the LGBTQ-focused Inside Out Film Festival. They have a long history of overstepping their authority, and today's denial of entry for Terry Jones is just another case of censorship at the hands of unelected and unaccountable government officials.
As for Terry Jones, I don't have a very high opinion of him, and I don't really care for what he has to say. Would his words constitute hate speech? Perhaps. If so, Canadian law allows us to hold him accountable for what he says while he's here. But that's a very different proposition than deliberately holding him up at the border based on what he might say, and refusing Canadians the right to make that determination for themselves. I believe that it's much harder to discredit a silenced voice than it is to legitimately criticize an outspoken bigot, and it simply empowers him further by making him feel victimized for his opinions.
However, by taking the choice away from Canadians to decide what they're capable of hearing and evaluating for themselves, Canada Customs has done our country yet another disservice. Unfortunately, that's exactly what they've been doing for decades, and this Canadian, for one, is sick of it.
Canada Customs, stop treating Canadians like children, and give us the respect and courtesy of letting us evaluate things for ourselves. Your job is not to tell us what we can or cannot read, or can or cannot hear; your job is to ensure that duty is paid on imported goods and that banned substances are stopped at our borders. Please stop taking it upon yourselves to police our thoughts and minds, and get back to policing goods and commodities like you're supposed to.
This post originally appeared on the author's website, www.MsNikkiThomas.com.
Pakistani journalists shout slogans during a demonstration against the killing of a local journalist in Karachi on October 2, 2012. (ASIF HASSAN/AFP/GettyImages)
Pakistani demonstrators march during a protest in Karachi, on September 30, 2012, against the anti-Islam film. (RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/GettyImages)
Hafiz Saeed, leader of Pakistani religious group Jamaat-ud-Dawa, left, delivers a speech during a protest against a film insulting the Prophet Muhammad, in Lahore, Pakistan, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
Pakistani supporters of religious group Jamaat-ud-Dawa, hold placards during a protest against a film insulting the Prophet Muhammad, in Lahore, Pakistan, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012. (AP Photo/K.M. Chaudary)
Pakistani Islamist activists shout anti-US slogans during a protest rally against a US-made anti-Islam film and the publication of blasphemous cartoons in France, in Lahore on October 1, 2012. (Arif Ali/AFP/GettyImages)
Pakistani supporters of Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat beat with their shoes a representation of a U.S. flag with an image depicting U.S. President Barack Obama, during a rally to protest against a film insulting the Prophet Muhammad, in Karachi, Pakistan, Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)
Follow Nikki Thomas on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MsNikkiThomas