Family, School, and Society: The Riots in England and Vancouver Demand Consideration of the Roles of All Three


It was a shock, shortly after returning this summer from a visit to England that included London, to view the scenes of violence and mob rule that played out on the television screen and the news sites of the computer. How little we can tell in a casual visit about the state of society in the countries we visit—even when we have friends and family in a country! London seemed a peaceful multicultural society, and the English village seemingly remains an oasis of serenity. Of course we knew of urban riots and the degeneration of sections of society as evidenced by binge drinking and other signs. But there was no hint of the violence and mayhem that was to break out this summer, and evidently even the authorities there had no suspicion of such imminent large-scale disorder.

In the wake of that disorder, there has already been no lack of theorizing by a wide variety of pundits, from those who blame everything on poverty to those who would blame only a small sector of society. Neither of these explanations seem adequate. Evidence points to people from many sectors of society being caught up in the violence. And to excuse the rioters on the basis of poverty is to deny personal responsibility and to ignore the evidence that sheer greed played an important part in the events. Those motivated by poverty might be expected to target food stores, but not outlets selling electronics. Flat-screen TVs may be desirable but hardly a priority for the hungry. Poverty is a legitimate cause for concern, but it is no excuse for the violence seen on the streets of English cities.

Whatever the immediate motivations behind the widespread violence, surely it is obvious that there has been a break-down of family life and, we suspect, some failure of the school as an institution that ought to help reinforce a sense of order and morality.

While on holiday we had some sense of shame in learning of the Stanley Cup riots in Vancouver. And surely those riots in our own province demand that we ask similar questions as to the role of family and school.

There is throughout the western world a culture that emphasizes greed for material things and the need for constant entertainment, but fails to recognize the need for personal responsibility. Parents in their families, and secondarily the schools, need to consciously combat this culture (or sub-culture). Parents and schools need to work together to instil those values which are essential to strong family life and a strong society. As we approach the beginning of a new school year, parents need to ask themselves how their children’s school experiences are likely to influence their sense of moral values, and seek to make choices for their children’s education that recognize the important influence of the many hours their children spend at school.

E.S.H.
(Aug., 2011; article published first in the July-August, 2011, British Columbia Parents and Teachers for Life E-Mail Bulletin)



Welcome and Introduction

Welcome
Welcome to "SocialConservatives.ca," a site that has as its purpose defining and finding ways to defend, conserve, and restore the best of Canada's social heritage.

This site has a number of essays, which we hope you will find of interest. Preceding the essays are topics for general comments. We hope you will respond with thoughtful remarks on these comments, and feel free to comment on the essays also.

Comments may be edited for brevity or good taste, or removed, as seems necessary to the editor. Lively but civil discussion and varying viewpoints are encouraged.
Introduction
What is a social conservative? Surely in the Canadian context it means one who regards as still valuable the ideals that have traditionally been regarded as central to the welfare of our society. Those who are socially conservative in Canada might be regarded as radical were they to promote their ideas in another society, such as Saudi Arabia. It makes no sense to commit to social conservatism out of a belief that whatever is past is best. It makes a great deal of sense to commit to it out of conviction that we have had in our heritage traditional ideals which are still valuable and which can be implemented in our present-day society. Social conservatism needs to be distinguished from mere fiscal conservatism. Social converatism will deplore the waste of public financial resources, but it will not make the achievement of national wealth an aim to be divorced from the goal of enabling that wealth to benefit the people as a whole. The term "social conservative" might be used for one who holds to particular ideals but has no concept of promoting them in society at large. But on this website we are concerned primarily with those who see social conservatism as something which needs to be supported for the benefit of society as a whole. Thus we are concerned with the role of government, which is capable of either supporting or undermining the foundations on which society has been built.
Unfortunately, those who have wished to eliminate certain foundational concepts which are part of our heritage have sought to change them, often, not so much by argument as by manipulative propaganda. This propaganda has persuaded many people that those traditional ideals are no longer of value to our nation. The success of these propagandists has had a lot to do with the fact that Canada has become a place where many politicians see as suicidal the public defence of the most basic principles of morality.Politics, it has been said, is the art of the possible. Politicians are basically concerned with how much it is possible for them to accomplish. Some politicians, once elected, do little more than test the current winds of public opinion and cast their votes in parliament accordingly. Others act as leaders, and help to form public opinion. But in any case, the success of the elected member of parliament is limited by the state of the public mind. The state of public opinion is determined by a host of factors, such as the messages received from the news media and from a variety of influencers. In fact, we all function to a greater or lesser degree as formers of public opinion.Those of us who are social conservatives have been inclined, often with some justification, to blame the politicians for the erosion of our societal foundations. But of course we cannot blame only the politicians, who, in a democracy, are limited in what they can achieve by the climate of public opinion that we all contribute to.If Canada is to be saved from its current plight where one after another its moral foundations are eroded and swept away, those who are capable of inflencing public opinion must make the most of the means at hand to do so on behalf of the ideals of our social heritage. This brings us to the purpose of this website. We hope that this site may be part of the beginning of a campaign to promote social conservatism in Canada. If the public can be brought to see that the welfare of our country depends on the restoration of basic moral principles, then our political leaders will have the ability to restore the health of our nation. We do not seek to establish some sort of theocracy, where an elite group of people dictate the details of personal lives. Rather we would like to see established a country which will honor principles that have been recognized over the centuries by people of many faiths. A nation whose people have that respect for those basic principles can be expected to choose leaders who will exercise the power of government in a way that supports those principles. May that be so in our nation of Canada! --Ted Hewlett, editor of SocialConservatives.caPermission to republish the above essay, or a portion thereof with adequate context, with credit to the source, is given.Essays posted on this website are freely contributed by the authors. Permission to republish an essay must be obtained from the author, unless an author's note already gives permission. At any rate, any conditions laid down by the author should be respected. We will endeavour to pass on to authors any requests to republish sent to us in readers' posts. Opinions stated in essays posted on this website do not necessarily coincide in every particular with those of the website editor. (If any two human beings agree on everything, that is a good sign at least one of them is not thinking.)

Special Features

The intention of adding this "Special Feature" section to this website is to have at the beginning of the website an essay or a news item or other feature which will stimulate thought and discussion about a current issue or about one which needs to be considered more deeply. Those submitting comments on this section of the website should mention the title of the particular feature they are commenting on, since the special feature may be expected to be changed from time to time.

A Political Candidate's Thought-Provoking Article on Abortion
It is not the intention of the editor of this website to promote any particular candidate or any one party during the election campaign period that Canada is going through this spring of 2011. But it is lamentably infrequent that a candidate in an election publishes a comment which is thoughtful and which says something that is not a run-of-mill comment of the partisan sort. So it seems worthwhile to publish the following comment by Mike Schouten, Christian Heritage Candidate for South Surrey-White Rock:

Location, Location, Location

In Canada where you live might determine if you live.

There are locations in our country where it is not safe to be, where the law offers no protection.

A fetus located in the womb has no protection under Canadian law. It can be aborted at any time through the nine months of pregnancy.

Yet when it changes location and travels a few inches out the birth canal, it is suddenly recognized as a precious little person.

How can a change of location make someone a person? Do you become more human (or less) when you move from one room to the next? How can where you are have any bearing on who you are?

Medical advances (see below) make it possible to take a fetus completely out of its mother, treat the child, and then place it back inside mom to continue developing until it comes to term.

Under our present law, this child is recognized as a person when it leaves its mother’s womb but stops being a person when it returns inside.

This is nonsense.

We need laws that protect all babies… wherever they live.



The results of studies and procedures concerning fetal surgery are being published more regularly and medical professionals like Dr. Joe Leigh Simpson, are very excited about this “step in the right direction” concerning fetal health. Dr. Simpson is an obstetrician and geneticist at Florida International University, who wrote an editorial that accompanied the research published in the New England Journal of Medicine , into the benefits of performing fetal surgery designed to improve the mobility of babies diagnosed with spina bifida.

Dr. Darrell Cass, co-director of Texas Children’s Fetal Center is the corresponding author on a study documenting the first successful cases of open fetal surgery to treat fetal lung malformations in the Southern U.S. It is because of these advances that what were, ” previously a grim diagnosis is now operable and there is hope for these babies to lead a healthy life”, said Dr. Cass.



Links to News and Comments of Interest on External sites:
(Inclusion of these news items and comments does not indicate approval or disapproval.)
"President Obama's Refusal to Defend Marriage
"Setting aside the president’s personal opposition to DOMA and the history of his contradictory positions on marriage over the years, yesterday’s announcement ostensibly reduces the legal interpretation and enforcement of the United States Constitution to but two people:
President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder."
"How Said Musa's Case Got Attention"
"A Red Cross employee has captured international attention after being imprisoned and sentenced to death in Afghanistan for converting to Christianity."
"President Obama deflects when confronted with Planned Parenthood Corruption"
"China Flexed Its Muscles with US as Biggest Creditor: Wikileaks"
"Video Friday Five: Former Planned Parenthood Director Abby Johnson"
"Was Maurice Vellacott Right About Abortion?"
"Catholic group reports death of Chinese underground bishop Leon Yao Liang at 87"
"US 'Sold its Birthright' by Ignoring China Human Rights Abuses for Economic Gain: Report"
"Barbara Kay: The end of the gender wars"
"The Status of Women Must be Abandoned: An Egregious Use of Taxpayers' Money"
"Biological Explanation: How Abortion Causes Breast Cancer"


Opposition to Obama’s Health-Care Plan: Appropriate or Misdirected?

Conservatives in the United States are generally opposed to what they believe are Obama’s health-care plans. It seems to this observer (who, admittedly has not had time to examine the matter in as much detail as he would like), that some of the opposition is definitely misdirected. As a result, from a socially-conservative point of view, the real dangers are in danger of being ignored, and an opporunity has been give to besmirch legitimate opposition to health-care measures that are objectionable.

Equating Obama’s administration to a Nazi regime and the like adds more heat than light to what should be a sharp but logical debate. Disseminating rumors which appear to be of dubious validity and treating those rumors as established facts does not help the debate either.

It seems to me that a nation with the wealth of resources of the United States should be able to ensure a reasonable level of health-care for all citizens. What is needed to achieve that level is a matter for debate: a debate that should take into account the negative tendencies of government beaurocracies to be wasteful and to accumulate inordinate power.

Whatever health-care plan the citizens of our neighbours to the south choose should take into consideration the shortfalls of national systems already in place in other countries, including the sometimes unconscionable wait-times that some Canadians with painful conditions such as broken hips have had to endure.

One of the things that pro-life groups in the United States need to do is to make sure that abortion is not one of the procedures paid for by the nation. Another thing to insist on is that absolutely no health-care money go to counselling for or providing euthanasia.

A coalition of a very large number of groups in the U.S. is concentrating on ensuring that abortion is not promoted by any new health-care plan. The coalition has taken the name “Stop the Abortion Mandate.”


Credit Where Credit is Due
If we have been critical of the apparent dismissal of certain concerns, it is only right and fair that we draw attention to evidence we see of the present Conservative government's attention to other concerns of socially-conservative Canadians.

Of course, the emphasis on allowing parents a freer choice as to the care of their children is one policy which was evident from the beginning of this government's mandate, and contrasts favourably to other parties' advocacy of a one-size-fits all take-it-or-leave it day-care plan.

The raising of the age of sexual consent, a long-overdue measure to make it more difficult to exploit the young, is one accomplishment that is a great credit to this government.

The measures I have mentioned point to one hopeful fact: The present Conservative government in Canada is more favourable to socially conservative issues than is any other party represented in the House of Commons (though we recognize that some individual non-Conservative members deserve credit also).

Latest Action of BC College of Teachers Against Chris Kempling Highlights the Perilous State of Freedom in Canada

February, 2008

The British Columbia College of Teachers, in its latest act of harassment, has again cited Dr. Chris Kempling for conduct unbecoming a teacher. Their list of complaints is a revelation, not of Chris's wrongdoing, but of the totalitarian attitude this body, which like the human rights commissions and tribunals which have lately come into prominence, functions as a kind of court without having the limitations placed on it which a "real" court would have.
Chris writes: They have cited me for participating in a CBC radio interview where I quoted the Bible saying that homosexual behaviour is a barrier to salvation, for contributing an essay discussing the philosophical differences between social liberals and social conservatives (published in the Calgary Herald on December 29, 2003), for publishing a scholarly article in a German family journal on the topic of homosexuality, for offering orientation change therapy as part of my private counselling practice and mentioning this in a radio interview, and, incredibly, for "knowing" that an article written by Christian Heritage Party leader Ron Gray in support of me was posted on the party's website. They also cited me for being "the local representative of the Christian Heritage Party.
As we have said before, the action taken against Chris Kempling is significant because it represents a threat to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, political freedom, and the freedom of the educational system. It should be a warning to Canadians of all stripes who value our national heritage.

Please read Chris Kempling's letter on the BC Parents and Teachers for Life webpage entitled "Standing Up for the Threatened Rights of a Free Society. Then consider what you can do to help. Right now, we can think of at least two things we can all do. Write on behalf of Chris and talk up his case with friends and acquaintances likely to be supportive of him when they know his story. And, to the extent that you are able, donate to the fund which has been set up primarily to help him. To encourage this, we reproduce immediately below the directions for sending him financial help:

I Don't Have to Respect Your Viewpoint
By Ted Hewlett
More mischief is wrought by the inaccurate use of words than we can easily imagine. Take, for example, the little phrase "I respect you viewpoint, but . . . ," when the speaker or writer goes on to make it clear that he actually disagrees with the viewpoint because it is founded on false premises or results from false reasoning. How is it possible to respect such a viewpoint? What most rationally-thinking people really mean when they use that phrase is that they respect the person apart from his viewpoint.

The words "I respect your viewpoint, but. . ." have become so common that they have almost become an obligatory means of expressing goodwill towards an opponent in an argument. Yet the careless use of the phrase probably reflects one of the most basic flaws in today's thinking. Those who want to repress all moral judgments are wont to accuse those making such judgements of not respecting those who differ from them, and they can make this accusation plausibly because of society's habit of equating respect for a person with respecting his viewpoint.

The sloppy thinking implied in the phrase in question is responsible for the fact that those engaging in homosexual behaviour are so easly able to get away with accusing those who disagree with such behaviour with hating them. The perhaps unstated argument goes, "You do not respect my viewpoint, therefore you do not respect me. Therefore you hate me." The thinking is about as logical as saying that because one disapproves of behaviour associated with alcoholism one hates alcoholics.

One way to clarify discussions in our society is to clarify our words and therefore to clarify thinking. Since clear thinking helps the thinker to arrive at truth, those who value truth should, of all people, be champions of clear expression.



Orville the Outcast
By Stephen J. Gray
[Now only at the article's author's blog at http://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2009/03/orville-outcast.html .]



The Myth of Trade Union Democracy
[Now only at the article's author's blog at http://www.oocities.org/graysinfo/tradeuniondemo.html .]

Discussion of Current Issues and News and Articles from the BC Parents and Teachers for Life Website and Other BCPTL Publications

The purpose of this page is to comment on current issues raised in the public scphere as well as to provide a place for active discussion of issues raised and news given on www.BCPTL.org --the website of British Columbia Parents and Teachers for Life. Please indicate in your title which issue or which piece of news you are responding to, for example by using a title such as "Comment on the article "[Give the title of the article.] In responding to another person's comment, use a title such as "Response to [name or pseudonymn of person you are responding to] on "[title given by that person]"

We Should Abhor Some Actions But Not Hate People

(Recognizing a Distinction between People and Actions

Most people by now have heard of the Arkansas school board member who on Facebook expressed the wish that homosexuals should die. His truly hateful outburst deservedly resulted in demands for his resignation, and, expressing regret for his statements, he did give up his post.

Statements like his, and the actions of the members of a tiny church in the U.S.A. who infamously parade signs like “God hates fags” at funerals are rightly to be condemned by right-thinking people.

On the other hand, we have had many examples of pro-homosexuality activists who characterize as hateful any criticism of their behaviour or of their attempts to use the schools as instruments to portray that behaviour in a favourable light.

It seems to this writer that the Arkansas school board member and his ilk and the homosexual activists mentioned are both examples of people who confuse two very different things: the strong dislike or abhorrence of an action with hatred for those engaging in the action.

Among Christians it is often stated that we should “hate the sin and love the sinner.” These exact words are not found in any particular verse, but the idea intended runs through the New Testament.

We do not need to bring in Christian teaching to recognize that it is entirely possible and indeed logical to disapprove of and even abhor what someone is doing and at the same time wish for their welfare. The wife who sees her husband descend into alcoholism and is seemingly powerless to stop him certainly can and often does still love that person, but abhors what he does and “hates” the forces that drag him down. (Of course it may be the husband who sees alcoholism drag down his wife.)

The parents who agonize over the hold that drugs have on their children frequently love their children to the point of being torn by distress, but they may truly be said to hate the actions that led their children to drug dependence.

One could go on and on, but the occurrence of love for the person and hatred for an action which characterizes them is so frequent as to make us wonder at the seeming perversity of those who state or imply that it is impossible. When people do go from hatred of an action to hatred of the person it may be the result of emotion blinding reason or overcoming a person’s better impulses. (Perhaps the English language is at fault here. Perhaps we need a different word for “hatred” when the object of hatred is a person, and hatred when the object is an action. There are synonyms for “hate,” but all those that come to mind can be used for a strong feeling against either a person or an action.)

In the light of the confusion--and sometimes, perhaps, the deliberate conflation-- of ideas with regard to the word “hate,” we need to exercise particular care when we speak against a certain behaviour or against propaganda to normalize it. For example, we need to make clear, when we are opposing homosexualist propaganda in the schools, that we are opposing it because of the harm it can do to students. People, no matter what their actions, are not defined by those actions. As long as we are in this world we are potentially capable of change, and so are those around us. Recognizing this should prevent us from dehumanizing others as in the sad case of the Arkansas school board member’s reprehensible comments.

[This essay was previously published on the British Columbia Parents and Teachers for Life website at www.bcptl.org .]
October, 2010

Mr. Harper and Social Conservatism

One thing that both Stephen Harper’s supporters and opponents probably agree on is that he is a very intelligent prime minister. He is clever, and repeatedly he has surprised the media with his political savvy.

His very cleverness, though, makes it impossible to write off the failure of his government’s marriage motion as some kind mistake due to lack of political acumen. In fact, his already demonstrated political acumen is leading an important segment of what were his supporters to suspect that the motion’s failure was actually planned, or at least welcomed by the Prime Minister.

A great many social conservatives, who were already looking askance at his stand on social questions, now feel they have been taken for a ride. Technically, he can claim he has fulfilled a promise by putting before parliament the motion worded "That this house call on the government to introduce legislation to restore the traditional definition of marriage without affecting civil unions, and while respecting existing same sex marriages.” But the fact that the motion dragged in the matter of civil unions and affirmed existing same-sex marriages gave an out to those Liberals who claimed to support traditional marriage but did not wish to vote against their party.

The fact that Conservative members failed to turn out in decent numbers for the debate on the motion, and the fact that discussion was ended so soon, suggests that the government was anything but enthusiastic about reversing the Liberals’ endorsement of same-sex unions as “marriages.”

Mr. Harper’s statement that the marriage-definition matter is now resolved permanently as far as he is concerned reminds us of his statement that the matter of abortion is not a live issue (or words to that effect).* Where has Mr. Harper been? Does he really underestimate to that extent the determination of those who would defend marriage? Perhaps he also underestimates their intelligence and thinks that they will still regard him as an ally.

The immediate political effect of failing to present and back a viable motion for the restoration of the traditional definition of marriage may be to Mr. Harper’s benefit. He can now carry on with measures of fiscal conservatism and not have to defend any highly controversial and politically-incorrect socially-conservative measure. But the long-term effects may not be so favourable to Stephen Harper. It is true that many social conservatives may feel they have nowhere else to go but the Conservative Party. But, as a Conservative Party worker remarked to me, Mr. Harper may not always be the leader of the party; and he is not the whole party. One strategy that socially-conservative members of the Party may adopt is to cut off as much as possible their financial support for the national party and direct that support towards the re-election of those Members of Parliament who have stood up for social-conservative principles. Then too, there is the option in the future of working for the nomination of Conservative-Party candidates who will support those principles which have been foundational to our society, enabling them to replace those who have ignored or undermined those principles.

Then there is the other—unfortunate—effect of people dropping out of the process altogether. This would be unfortunate for Canada, but the result may also be unfortunate for Mr. Harper. He may see a large segment of his party lose their enthusiasm for supporting a government which fails to support much of what they stand for.

There are those who will work actively for other options: for example, joining the Christian Heritage Party, which they may never have seen as a viable alternative, but which has always supported moral principles. In the long run, there may even be a split in the Conservative Party, bringing the situation full-circle to one where we have two “conservative” parties, as when we had the Progressive Conservatives and the Reform and then the Alliance.

Mr. Harper and others who have ignored the social conservatives in the party may think they have been clever, but in the end they may find that this kind of transparent cleverness has negative consequences. Those too often taken for granted may well decide that they do have options, and options which may not be to the taste of Mr. Harper and those who are supporting him in his present course.

Ted Hewlett, December 8, 2006

Endnote:

* See “Conservative Leader Harper Vows to Shut Down Abortion Debate in Canada's Parliament,” LifeSite, January 17, 2006, at
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/jan/06011707.html

General: Share Your Thoughts on Abortion and Euthanasia

How do you think the pro-life movement can awaken the conscience of Canadians to the evil of induced abortion? In what ways have pro-lifers succeeded in Canada and how have we failed?

Share your thoughts with other pro-lifers on these and other topics related to abortion.

So-called mercy-killing without punishment has taken place in Canada. It may be only a matter of time before the next attempt to legislate the legalization of euthanasia. We have an opportunity to alert Canada to the true nature of euthanasia. How can we best do this?

Contribute your thoughts. You may help to shape a strategy to deal with the threat of euthanasia