“The good of the many outweighs the good of the few or the one” —Mr. Spock, Star Trek II
|Tyranny of the minority is a human right
April 16, 2000
“Most illogical”—that’s what Mr. Spock would doubtless say if asked to apply his famous Vulcan logic to the advertising contretemps at TransLink.
The fcuk clothing company entered into a routine $10,000 contract with TransLink to have advertisements run on city buses, but because of a complaint from one bus driver—not “some drivers” as the Vancouver Sun reported—TransLink pulled the ads. Even though the company’s marketing department vetted the ad, TransLink allowed itself to be intimidated by one peeved employee.
Logically, the employee had no case, and TransLink would have been within its rights to ignore his complaint. Each fcuk ad consists of a picture alongside a jumbled sentence that playfully mimics the apparent dyslexic orthography implied in the company’s four-letter logo.
Cheekiness and wit aside—the ads have won awards and are extremely popular—the company name is entirely legitimate. The name is an abbreviation of French Connection United Kingdom, and as such is no different from DKNY (Donna Karan New York) or YSL (Yves Saint-Laurent).
Under normal circumstances, the driver in question would have been told to grow up and act like an adult, but we do not live in normal times. Nowadays any perceived grievance from a minority complainant, no matter how infantile, idiotic or irrelevant, is treated with the utmost seriousness.
As TransLink spokesman Ken Hardie explained, the driver considered the ad to be a form of workplace harassment. Under the law, a bus is deemed to be a workplace every bit as much as an office is. So, just as any humourless, hypersensitive harpy can demand that a co-worker tear down his poster of Miss December—no matter how remotely visible it may be to anyone else in the office—the driver could demand the fcuk ad be removed. The fact that the driver works inside the bus is beside the point. Hardie said the driver felt “harassed” each time he walked around the bus. Boo hoo!
Still, the question remains: why did TransLink wave bye-bye to $10,000 in legitimate revenue for no good reason? Hardie said TransLink opted for pre-emptive capitulation rather than stick to its guns and risk a costly legal battle. His explanation is both illuminating and appalling: “On balance, we felt that the Human Rights Commission would likely uphold the complaint.”
He could well be right. The Human Rights Inquisition routinely violates logic, common sense and even an accused’s civil rights, but it will bend over backwards to ensure that a complainant is given every possible assistance. It’s as if the other side’s point of view didn’t matter. The Donald Dutton case is a prime example of how the human rights apparat actively prejudiced the rights of the respondent (Dutton) so that a complainant could win, even though she provided no credible evidence of wrongdoing.
The fcuk case is precisely the sort of claim that the Inquisition loves to champion, so you can hardly blame TransLink for caving in. That’s why Hardie’s explanation is so appalling. How can any of us claim to live in a democracy when a person or company willingly gives in to intimidation because it doesn’t trust the justice system?
The problem lies in the rigidity of our human rights legislation, which destroys the necessary tension between majority and minority rights. Without that tension, justice becomes absolutist. In B.C., an activist mentality has so skewed justice in favour of individual and groups rights that a “majoritarian” defendant like TransLink knows that it’s screwed if it has to appear before the Inquisition.
We’re brought up to think that respect for minority rights is a hallmark of a tolerant society—it is, but we forget that minorities can be just as tyrannical as majorities. In fact, because minorities are more cohesive and organized than the majority, their abuses of power are more repressive. A good example are the Bolsheviks in pre-revolutionary Russia.
By rights, this tiny band of radical socialists should have been annihilated, but dedication, organization and leadership led them to victory. Afterwards, they imposed a militant order and intimidated into silence anyone who challenged the new “truth.” Today’s absolutist jargon —“harassment-free workplace” and “zero tolerance”—is directly analogous to slogans like “enemy of the people” and “capitalist stooge.”
Not even the most polished dissembler could make the case that the Inquisition is unbiased in matters of discrimination. Rather than risk certain defeat, complainants now internalize the bias and act accordingly.
Self-censorship is the most pernicious form of censorship because it’s hidden. When it happens in plain view, as in the case of Little Sister’s bookstore, or a journalist who dares challenge vested interests, the public can see the censorship, and react accordingly. When people willingly censor themselves, they acquiesce to intimidation, thereby condoning the injustice. When this happens, we can no longer can claim to live in a free society.