Sunday, March 27, 2005

Who is "Peter Rempel" and how can he be such a moron?


Did you ever have one of those days where you're just not on top of your game intellectually? You're a bit fuzzy, it's hard to concentrate and, after a while, you start thinking, man, I am seriously dense today. We all have those days and, sometimes, it's hard not to think that maybe, just maybe, we're not as smart as we like to think.

Have no fear though because, no matter how bad a day you're having brain-wise, you can always be grateful that you're not as stultifyingly stupid as Peter Rempel. And who is Peter Rempel? Let me introduce you.

In my regular rounds of my Canuck blogger friends, I ended up here, where Jonathan pointed out how the Conservative Party of Canada just doesn't cotton to all that fancy-schmancy legal mumbo-jumbo in Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- I'm assuming they're just not fans of stuff with big words in it or something like that.

Anyway, I'm reading the comments and, from what I can tell, poor Jonathan has his own attack Shih Tzu -- his equivalent of the late, not so great "Dizzy Gillespie", some jaw-droppingly ignorant wanker named Peter Rempel. As evidence of the above, let me walk you through the salient portions of the comments section to show you what I mean. Early in the comments section, Rempel writes (and, I swear, I am not making this up):

Give me a f**king break. Would Canadians not have these rights without the Charter? Have you ever heard of the Bill of Rights? The common law?

Does the Charter guarantee rights of the kind you describe. Sure, but they're redundant, because everyone agrees on them anyway. The Charter is a useless scrap of parchment.

Now, see if you can follow the logic here. Rempel, in running down the Charter, appears first to admit that, yes, the Charter does guarantee some pretty important basic rights but he simultaneously claims that those very same rights are also guaranteed elsewhere, making the Charter redundant and a "useless scrap of parchment". Let's make sure we remember this precise claim for what is to follow, shall we?

Blogger Jonathan, being an order of magnitude smarter than Mr. Rempel and actually knowing what he is talking about, responds:

... Yes, the Charter is the only document which secures those rights as legally enforcable for Canadians. [Emphasis added.]

Ignore for the moment any corroborating evidence that Jonathan supplies, just focus on the fact that he is clearly disagreeing with Rempel. And Rempel's response in a subsequent comment, in which he first quotes Jonathan's claim:

"Yes, the Charter is the only document which secures those rights as legally enforcable for Canadians."

Yes.....big deal...

Sit back and savour the indescribable stupidity of Rempel's response. To recap:
  1. Rempel claims "A".
  2. Jonathan disputes "A".
  3. Rempel, in response, admits that "A" is, in fact, completely wrong but that it's no big deal.
Should you be surprised at this type of rhetoric? Not really. I sure as hell am not since, in fact, I wrote a piece almost two months ago on the trials and tribulations of arguing with the right-wing wankerhood. You can read it here and, in particular, let me draw your attention to what I proposed as the right-wing wanker's "four stages of debate":
  1. Unreasoning embrace of nonsensical position.
  2. Redefinition of basic terms to suit the argument.
  3. Unexpected change of subject to avoid impending defeat.
  4. Sudden admission of error, accompanied by insistence that this whole thing is no big deal.
That last point look familiar? Why, yes, yes it does, and to think I was prescient enough to have written it back in February.

Can I call it or what?

13 comments:

jedwards said...

and your point is?

sorry, couldn't resist :)

PR said...

Wow, are you ever moody. I suppose I can't blame you for being cynical; being a Canadian sort of necessitates that, eh?

But, really, couldn't you at least let someone know when he or she has been subjected to such a barrage of criticism? You people are so utterly lacking in class sometimes.

PR said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mike Brock said...

I'm sorry, but Mr. Rempel was actually correct in mentioning that prior to the Charter of Rights and freedoms, there was a Bill of Rights. In fact, the law is still on the books.

The bill received royal assent on August 10th, 1960.

I quote from section one of the Canadian Bill of Rights:

"t is hereby recognized and declared that in Canada there have existed and shall continue to exist without discrimination by reason of race, national origin, colour, religion or sex, the following human rights and fundamental freedoms, namely,

(a) the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property, and the right not to be deprived thereof except by due process of law;

(b) the right of the individual to equality before the law and the protection of the law;

(c) freedom of religion;

(d) freedom of speech;

(e) freedom of assembly and association; and

(f) freedom of the press."

CC said...

Writes Mr. Brock:

"I'm sorry, but Mr. Rempel was actually correct in mentioning that prior to the Charter of Rights and freedoms, there was a Bill of Rights. In fact, the law is still on the books."

In that case, I'm confused -- if Mr. Rempel was correct, why did he retract his original claim? If you return to the original link, Jonathan Dursi disagrees with Rempel, writing:

"Yes, the Charter is the only document which secures those rights as legally enforcable for Canadians."

To which Rempel replies (and I quote):

"Yes.....big deal. Do you really think that, if the Charter were repealed or if we had to rely upon a non-constitutional bill of rights or (gasp) the common law, governments would suddenly legislate in favour of baby-roasting, enforced domestic service by women, workplace discrimination against gays, etc. etc.?"

In short, Rempel is obviously now agreeing with Dursi. Why would he do that if he believed his original position?

Mike Brock said...

I don't give a damn whether or not Peter Rempel retracted his position. It was factually correct, and I refer you to the Department of Justice's website: http://laws.justice.gc.ca/en/C-12.3/28981.html

PR said...

God, is your understanding of this debate really this thin? Jon said that the Charter is the only document which guarantees many of these rights. Obviously, the public opinion which ensures against baby-roasting if the Charter were repealed is not a document. I didn't retract that or any of my other opinions.

You obviously have no idea what you're talking about when it comes to the Charter and constitutional law.

CC said...

(Sigh.)

OK, boys and girls, let's follow along as your friendly neighborhood CC gives a lesson in remedial thinking to a couple of dimbulbs. (Man, I do not get paid enough to teach special education.)

Writes Mr. Brock, in a spectacularly infantile display of irrelevance:

"I don't give a damn whether or not Peter Rempel retracted his position. It was factually correct, and I refer you to the Department of Justice's website:.."

Ah, but as people who can actually read English will note, I was not taking issue with Mr. Rempel's claim. I was making fun of the fact that he completely backtracked on his initial claim, as everyone can read above. Now, why is this a crucial distinction?

There are generally two ways to refute someone's argument. The first is to show that the claim being made is false, and that requires doing some homework, researching the topic and so on. That's certainly one way to do it.

The alternative is simply to point out obvious self-contradictions on the part of the speaker. Let me illustrate with an example that even Messrs. Rempel and Brock might be able to understand.

Say Mr. Rempel claims that same-sex marriage is a bad idea because it will cause the disintegration of Western society and moral values and blah blah blah ... you know the drill by now.

If I wanted to refute just that claim, I'd have to do some research into the correlation between same-sex marriage, the divorce rate, perhaps homelessness and so on.

But let's say Mr. Rempel were to claim that same-sex marriage, on the one hand, would cause catastrophic damage to society and yet, on the other hand, there's really no need to legitimize same-sex marriage because hardly anyone would take advantage of it and we'd be modifying Canada's basic charter of rights for an insignificant number of people.

You can see, I trust, how those two statements contradict one another -- that SS marriage will have a tremendously devastating impact on society and yet, simultaneously, it will have almost no effect whatever.

Note carefully that, in this second case, you don't need to do any research into the actual effect. It is sufficient to merely point out the logical inconsistency of the claimant and leave it at that.

And this is what I was doing with our dear Mr. Rempel. Read the article again. Slowly. Particularly the part where I write explicitly:

"Ignore for the moment any corroborating evidence that Jonathan supplies, just focus on the fact that he is clearly disagreeing with Rempel."

at which point, shortly thereafter, I emphasize my argument with a 3-item list specifically pointing out Mr. Rempel's internal inconsistency, with no reference to whether his initial claim is correct or not.

Now, how much clearer can I make this? And if you need a beginner course in rhetoric and critical thinking, I charge by the hour.

PR said...

The above could simply be read as a justification for intellectual dishonesty (although I hesitate to use the word "intellectual" in reference to this clown, even with dishonesty attached).

Jon said that the Charter is the only document that protects certain rights. I agreed but pointed out that other things can protect rights, like a public concensus against many of the things the Charter prohibits. I did not contradict myself, I did not backtrack. You misunderstood the terms of the debate.

Are you getting this, or do I need to illustrate it with sock puppets?

empirecookie said...

Actually, what you said was that "the Charter is a useless scrap of parchment", which doesn't seem to be the same thing as agreeing that the Charter is the only document that protects certain rights (speaking of "intellectual" dishonesty). And if it is so useless (i.e good for nothing, inconsequential), why would you get so worked up about it? Just ignore it and go back to playing with sock puppets.
It is true that the Bill of Rights pre-existed the Charter and is still in force, but it is false to say that Canadians have all the same rights under the Bill of Rights or the common law as they do under the Charter. Anyone who seriously believes that knows nothing about constitutional law. The Bill of Rights is only a statute. While it expresses some nice sentiments, in practice the Bill of Rights was (and is) good for practically nothing. Of course, that's probably why conservatives don't mind it, but hate the Charter.

CC said...

Mr. Rempel writes:

"The above could simply be read as a justification for intellectual dishonesty (although I hesitate to use the word "intellectual" in reference to this clown, even with dishonesty attached)."

There's a significant difference between my intellectual dishonesty and your illiteracy. You might want to go back to the sock puppets until you're ready to debate with the grownups.

At this point, I'm moving on. I have bigger fish to fry.

Anonymous said...

Your discussions make me uncomfortable and undermine my self esteem. I'm going to lodge a complaint to the Human Rights Commission about you.

PR said...

And Cynical Canadian, the coward that he apparently is, dodges and heads off to fry bigger fish.

Bye bye, coward.