Sunday, August 14, 2022

The Freedom Convoy, the Charter, and the constant shifting of goalposts.

It is immensely tiring to listen to truly stupid people argue about Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms while being simultaneously unable to understand the simplest logic imaginable. Let me demonstrate.

Many, many stupid people, in defending the three-week siege and occupation of Ottawa, are making the claim that the Charter gives them the unfettered right to have done that. "It's in the Charter," they howl, "it guarantees an absolute right to protest in any way we want, however, we want, whenever we want, wherever we want. So there!"

And here's the problem -- that's not what the Charter says, as you can see in the very first paragraph the qualification that those rights are subject to reasonable limits [emphasis added]:

1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

Now you would think that would be the end of the argument but, no, these same loonbats almost immediately snap back with, "Sure, but those limits and restrictions weren't reasonable!"


That screeching you hear is the sound of goalposts being moved.

Note well how, after losing the original argument, said loonbats suddenly reframe their argument. The original argument was that the Charter absolutely, unequivocally, unconditionally permitted the "Freedom Convoy" to set up shop in downtown Ottawa -- no limits, no restrictions, nothing. Complete freedom.

Then, as soon as you point out the obvious limits and restrictions spelled out in the Charter, the argument pivots to, "Well, OK, but the response was overkill, and those limits weren't reasonable!"

But that's a different argument, isn't it? Quite simply, if you want to argue that how the government dealt with that sad collection of racists, bigots, white nationalists and insurrectionists was unreasonable, sure, go ahead, you have every right to make that argument; you might even make a compelling case. What you can't do is simultaneously argue that there were no limits or restrictions whatsoever. 

In short, if you want to argue that the Freedom Convoy had Charter rights to do everything they did, you're wrong. So stop conflating those two arguments -- anyone who does that is either dishonest, or appallingly stupid. Stop it.

JUST TO DRIVE THIS POINT HOME, because sometimes people aren't quite sure what I'm trying to get across, the sleazy tactic used above is to make one argument, have it refuted instantly, then immediately transmogrify that into a different argument as if you're still arguing the same point, whereupon you would go back and claim victory for the first argument; the proper strategy to deal with stuff like this is to ask your opponent to clarify precisely what argument he's making and force him to stick with that.


A: "The Charter guarantees the freedom to protest any way we want. Period."

B: "Well, no, it doesn't, read the first paragraph about the government's right to impose reasonable limits on stuff."

A: "But those limits weren't reasonable!"

B: "Whoa, whoa, whoa ... you started out by arguing an unfettered right to protest no matter what. Now you've changed direction and seem to accept that there can be limits, you just don't think those limits were appropriate here. So which argument are you making, the first or the second? Pick one."

And that's how you do it.

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