Op Ed: Anti-Social democracy
Is free speech being trampled?
Photo: Barry Neufeld
seems to be mad over the SOGI issue. Barry Neufeld is mad; the
people who elected him are mad; the majority of the SD33 School
Board are mad and former BCTF president Glen Hansman is mad.
Behind the minor Subdeacon in the Antiochian (Greek) Orthodox Church and School Board Trustee is just an average guy with resolve. Nothing unheard of even in today's society. What Neufeld and the community are looking for is true leadership not moral or political bias. Obviously, people have their own view of what their level of morality and political correctness is. The issue is textured and has a few layers, but the only thing this sham has done is to make people mad.
Hansman, who was head of one of the largest public sector unions in BC with 45,000 members, has been relentless in his smack talk aimed at Neufeld.
He used everything in his power to come down hard on the dapper trustee. Most people would have folded their cards after the first speed bump, but like Donald Trump, Neufeld's a fighter. War was declared on Neufeld by political opponents long before he even started his reelection campaign.
Instead of seeing a man with high spiritual values, Hansman sees evil and has sought to demonize and humiliate Neufeld in the face of the community. There's no crime here yet Neufeld's being treated like a criminal.
Hansman came across with a myopic viewpoint that didn't make sense because there's no legitimate reason to ban Neufeld from working at full capacity in his duties as an SD33 trustee. Both sides have worked fiendishly against the other to justify their means, but why try to erase the glistening track record of a man with 25 years of great work on the School Board and dedication in the community with the single stroke of the pen?
Hansman's not right because Neufeld is wrong. At times Neufeld's comments on social media hit a wrong note with some people but we live in a free world with free speech.
The issue revolves around what's
called an anti-SLAPP suit. SLAPP
meaning it's a strategic lawsuit against public participation—a
lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics
by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they
abandon their criticism or opposition.
The SLAPP suit is setting legal precedents in Ontario and should come to conclusion in the spring. It looks like instead of waiting to hear what went on in Ontario courts, the BC judge wanted to set the precedent in a suit of this nature himself and hijacked Ontario's glory steamrolling over Neufeld's case at breakneck speed.
"There’s a big access to justice issue here, plus of course freedom of speech which doesn’t really exist if the consequences of public comment can include open season of malicious vilification by left wing activists," said Neufeld's lawyer, Paul Jaffe. "Barry is brave enough to publicly criticize something he feels is damaging to school kids and, then, fights back on the accusations of promulgating hate speech being excluded from schools saying; “there’s no way he should be allowed near children. Fortunately, there are good grounds for appeal."
For a quarter of a century, Neufeld's
shown leadership through his interaction with school kids who looked
up to him for leadership. Denying Neufeld is denying SD33 kids that
leadership. The fallout's hamstrung Neufeld on his duties.
There's no compelling evidence that Neufeld should be stopped from continuing his full duties a trustee normally has.
When the court case failed it seemed the judge cut Neufeld to pieces and handed back his carcass. Jaffe says rejecting Neufeld's case is another indication of how politicized the courts have become.
"This “balance of interests” test
towards the end of the judgment is appalling. Aside from the false
dichotomy raised by the judge. This SLAPP test empowers a judge to
stop an action because, for example, Hansman’s right to defame
Neufeld trumps Neufeld’s right to a trial," he said.
"Favouring Hansman’s right to defame over Neufeld’s right to a day in court is entirely political and another example of damaging social justice activism in the courts," said Jaffe.
Hansman marched ahead undeterred with supposed democracy at his side. His opinion laid out fluid definitions consisting of defamatory remarks which should not preclude or deprive Neufeld from his duties as a School Board 33 trustee–but they did.
Hansman, an openly gay man, clearly
corrupted and abused his power by insisting Neufeld not come into
contact with school kids over his Anti-SOGI views. Hansman struck at
the heart of democracy by forcing his will, not only Neufeld
directly, but on the majority of Chilliwack residents who voted for
Hansman acted like his views were above the law.
Neufeld didn't betray the trust placed upon him as claimed by Hansman. In fact, the community should celebrate Neufeld for taking on a system that Hansman set up.
Hansman corrupted the entire process
of fairness with non-majority principles. His principles takes us to
a place the majority would rather not be using "slander" and scare tactics to do
We're living in a period of agitated passion and rage fuelled by anonymity and a culture of hate on the internet. Irrelevant comments by people who are supposedly politically correct. What's so social about social media?
Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
Contrary to what progressive Liberals think, chat rooms and bulletin boards like Twitter aren't reflective of what the community thinks. Superficial, oversized font potshot remarks with exclamation marks on a screen mean nothing. There's more to thought then Twitterfication. Not everyone is a poster brain. But Hansman doesn't feel it's necessary to think outside text box fields.
Hansman thinks he's written Neufeld's obituary instead the former BCTF presidents' legacy has set a very dangerous precedent for the future.