Essay: Progression of rights and equality

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  • Subject area(s): Human rights essays
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  • Published on: January 14, 2019
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  • Progression of rights and equality
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Within the following sources, there is a discussion on the progression of rights and equality embedded within a democracy. More so, the difference of opinions that take place when discussing the innovation of laws passed such as, Bill C-16 and parts of section 13 of the Human Rights Act. Each source is working to identify the contrary attitudes on Bill C-16 and gender equality to an extent. I agree with the sources that hold somewhat of a common belief that citizens should be cautious when it comes to the modification of the features of life believed to be simple in the past, such as the use of pronouns. Fairness can have many meanings, regardless of what it may mean it is important.
In terms of democratic fairness, political equality does indeed play a huge role in reaching a democracy that is civil and objective. However, political equality is not the only attainable principle when considering ways to reach democratic fairness. Equality is frequently linked to fairness, with that being said, Bill C-16 includes gender identity and orientation in the Canadian Human Rights Act. Every Canadian citizen is obligated to respect the rights of his or her fellow citizens, now the one in question when bearing in mind that all citizens should be thought about as equal are the vast majority that do not fall under the “gender fluid” body of citizens. (Snow, 2017, p. 341). As a result of the extensive pro-gender-neutral citizens, one-sided actions have taken place, for example, a twenty-two-year-old teaching assistant at Wilfred Laurier University was restrained by faculty for screening a debate on gender and pronouns. The faculty argued that the teaching assistant “created a toxic climate” for the students attending the lecture by exposing them to Peterson’s arguments. The freedoms we have as Canadian citizens allow us to have easy access to express our opinions and speak freely in order to bring about change in a society. Freedom of speech is essential to a democracy so by punishing the twenty-two-year-old teaching assistant for the choice of lecturing material is undoubtedly a discriminatory action. Granting that the bill itself aims to create greater equality for all, issues have arose where the bill itself has done the complete opposite for those who do not agree with the adjustment of pronouns within society.

In Canada, we are promised specific political rights as Canadian citizens along with the civil rights held by everyone in Canada. Particularly, as Canadians we have the right to express ourselves and form our own opinions, the right to freedom and equality are necessary and indispensable. Peterson argues that some of the things that he says in his lectures may now be considered illegal, as a personality psychologists he has gathered knowledge of how and why women and men differ, psychologically speaking. By placing barriers on what an individual can say and creating somewhat of an anxiety towards what is now considered as free speech, Bill C-16 itself becomes hypocritical to those again who do not fall under the spectrum of gender fluid and/or transgender. When considering the citizens who do not wish to wonder what the correct pronoun of someone who biologically and physically speaking looks like a male or female, based on education gained previous to the advanced diversification of pronouns. (Pilon, 2017, p. 114). It can be argued that Bill C-16 is essentially asking citizens to disregard past education on what differentiates a male from a female. The key role of a citizen is to participate in public life, they are obligated to become informed about public issues. Citizens should not support a political party or belief because they are pressured to do so. Peterson like all other citizens, has the right to his own opinion and legally speaking there was no laws broken by speaking freely on a topic of discussion he does not agree with.

At first glance to be able to create laws that seem to be as simple as asking someone what their preferred pronoun is, for exchange of greater equality seems like a little price to pay for equality within a society. However, when analyzing Bill C-16 we have to look at the sub categories of equality so that we are able to better understand fairness and equality for all individuals in a democracy. (Kirkup, 2019, p.97). The issue with Bill C-16 lies within the fanatical individuals who fail to recall the cultured ways of the past. Psychologically speaking there is a term called openness, which means experiencing the areas used to describe personality in the Five Factor Model. Peterson touches base on the significance of openness, where he expresses that his field of study suggests that men hold a higher intellect and women in turn hold higher esthetics which gives reason as to why for example women read more fiction and men read more non-fiction. (Donnellan, 2017, p.3). On the grounds of educational preferences in a university setting, we are able to choose what interests us and the extent of knowledge we prefer to advance our interests to. (Pilon, 2017, p.111). With regards to said aspects, if as Canadian citizens who are motivated to pursue diplomas or degrees in what our interests and beliefs connect to within an educational environment, demanding a change in perception after acquired apprehension with our initial views can be seen as improper to some degree.

Rights are exercised in political and legal settings, which in turn have impacts on society. Citizens speak up about what they would prefer the government to do for them as well as hand out approval to the government actions that they consider proper. In Canada we have formal-legal institutions of government, what makes them formal is that they are made by a constitution. These formal-legal institutions formalize policies and laws for a society, when laws are reinforced the feedback from citizens allows for change and improvement. (Cossman, 2018, p.41). A democracy holds more strength when it’s citizens grow into active members of a political party of their choice. By doing so, citizens are able to put into use their freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, that is protected under The Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Bill C-16 holds many valid arguments that can be disputed both ways, necessarily part of what it means to be a Canadian is to be accepting of others and have others accept you in return. When breaking down the assumptions of inequality due to the misuse of pronouns and analyzing the obvious facts of genetics, historically speaking those who are not entirely for Bill C-16 hold accuracy in their claims. (Pal, 2011, p.2). Although equality and fairness in freedom of speech are crucial in a democracy, it is important to critique both sides of the debate.

The truth is there is no outlined plan for equal rights and freedoms; there are emotions, belief systems and individual core moral values that need to be taken into consideration within any movement of this type. Forcing citizens to fit into this mold of what opposes their beliefs manipulates the ideology to fit their perception of their world. One thing that is made clear is that in order to achieve equality change in actions must take place in order to do so. The change in the actions of all citizens, so with that being said those who are for Bill C-16 should be more accepting of those who do not wish to change their understanding on pronouns, to the extent of possible restriction of already established knowledge. To me, aiming to forget the facts of biology is somewhat like creating an entirely new meaning of what gender itself really is, while disregarding what we have been taught for majority of our lives.

Government has access to revoke protections that they believe are not necessary. So in all, considering that the court is careful when separating the principle from any debate citizens hold the role to speaking up when they feel the need for change. Peterson argument against Bill C-16 generally explains the historical, biological and psychological perspectives of personality linked within gender. There is a gap between the individuals who strictly believe that the use of these advanced pronouns are a must and those who believe that the traditional way is the only valid way. (Mullender, p. 4). Finding a balance between these two sides is where the most equality will be seen in my opinion. By combining both perspectives on pronouns, and considering both sides of the debate we are able to instill fairness to a different degree.

In summation, I agree with the argument against sections of Bill C-16 made by Professor Peterson, of the University of Toronto specifically stating that biological and psychological aspects of a natural gender division does occur in society in a real world illustration. Society continues to change from a day to day basis, however the biological factors of life should not be left in the dark when advancement in use of new pronouns comes to surface. Change is inevitable, and it is our duty as citizens to make waves and gain attention to make the balanced changes we all want to see politically.

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