Editorial for the week of April 16, 2016–Political Correctness, Alberta Style

The federal NDP passed a motion to talk about the Leap Manifesto. (They also punished Thomas Mulcair for failing to fall on his sword by sticking one right between his shoulder blades, but that’s a different column.)
You may have noticed—it was in all the papers.
Wait. That’s not quite accurate. Responsible news sources had the story right: they told us that the NDP passed a resolution to talk about Leap. The rest of the hysterical stew were…well…hysterical. Like Gil McGowan, AB Federation of Labour leader, who went off like a cranky rocket about “Toronto” and “ivory tower” and “dilettantes”; and Brian Jean, WildRose Party leader, who invoked his standard ‘us vs them’ divide and angrily called it “radical anti-Alberta”. And a lot of political pundits said the NDP was finished as a party that could win a national election.
All because the NDP said they were going to talk about something! It was instant red-lined rhetoric and amped up outrage, equating ‘discussion’ with ‘endorsement’ while predicting end-of-times-like disasters galore. At least, Premier Notley had a reasonable response–she decried the manifesto, but not the fact that people wanted to talk about it.
But in Alberta’s political climate, you can’t talk about anything that displeases anyone. Every single person has something they hate enough to try to shut someone else up. So, the opportunistically sensitive yell ‘racism’ if you deplore slaughter in the name of a ‘religion of peace'; and the terminally truculent will stagger up to any microphone they can, jackboots at the ready, in order to deride discussions of a future where fossil fuels are irrelevant.
Come on!
We need to have mature discussions about the issues that face this world!
Regardless of what we think about peaceful people practising their religions peacefully, we have to admit that the butchery perpetrated in the name of Islam is a Bad Thing and that political persecution of peaceful people by religious zealots has to stop. That more than half of British Muslims believe that being gay should be punishable by law is not just troubling–it indicates a wide, nasty streak about to corrode a relatively welcoming society, so recently wrested from the vicious clutches of the righteous Christians that persecuted Oscar Wilde just a hundred years ago.
We need to talk frankly about this.
And, regardless of your level of love for Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein, denying discussion of unconventional ideas is not just political correctness run amok, it’s a terrifying example of how far public discourse has progressed down the road to Gulag Chic.
And we definitely need to talk frankly about this!
Albertans used to be brave enough to talk about anything—politically correct or not. Not anymore.
All sides are guilty, too.
Yet, the only way things improve is by people working to make things better–blind devotion to dogma won’t do it–and the work starts with talking.
So, if you genuinely believe that we’re handling the planet perfectly, use your inside voice and put on your grown-up pants and say so. Don’t hide behind kindergarten stupidities like “religion of peace” and “airplanes can’t run on solar power” as if those are clincher arguments. They’re not.
It would be stunning if religions really did cause peace, but since they all state that theirs is the only ‘true’ religion, they discount the others, making them fair game for fanatics. Religions are culpable.
And it would be fabulous if our cars ran on wishes and our furnaces could burn broken promises, but until they can, we need to talk about how to stay alive on a planet with finite amounts of clean air and water. Maybe the plane has to use fossil fuel, but our furnaces don’t? It’s just possible that mixed-source energy generation will be better for sustaining life than the old-fashioned way of burning stuff up and dumping crud into the only air we have to breathe. Maybe.
The Noisily Outraged shouldn’t get to stop the rest of us from talking about these things.

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