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Mayor of Calgary, Alberta Plans to Use Street Harassment Bylaw Against Drag Protesters
The creation of the queer morality police
On February 10, Calgary mayor Jyoti Gondek held a press conference to announce that the city’s street harassment bylaw would be used against drag protesters, essentially creating a religious police force for the priestly drag queen class.
The announcement was in response to the postponement of two events—an on-ice drag show and a performance by DJ Gaysnakes—that had been planned for Chinook Blast, a Calgary winter festival.
Organizers claimed that “planned protests” of the events had prompted safety concerns but did not cite any specific reasons for these concerns.
Gondek herself explained that she was invoking the bylaw to deal with the “hateful messages” outside of such events. In other words: to deal with speech that she doesn’t approve of.
She made this point quite clear at the press conference:
“What you don’t have the right to do is use hateful language in a public space to make people feel unsafe and uncomfortable and unwanted. That can’t happen. So, what we are planning to do is use our street harassment bylaw to ensure that anyone who is communicating hate at an event like this is not able to do so.”
Drag queen Karla Marx, the co-organizer of the drag show, also told the Calgary Herald that the decision to postpone the events was simply due to “fear of protests” and the fact that there was no way to keep the protestors from gathering.
I have sympathy for organizers who have to deal with protesters at their events, but that doesn’t change the fact that Canadians do, or at least did, have a right to protest.
You’ll excuse me if I roll my eyes at the fact that the rainbow brigade is getting a very mild taste of its own medicine. Events critical of gender ideology in Canada always have to deal with protestors, sometimes even violent ones. One event was recently shut down by protestors who went as far as to storm the stage.
But, when protestors want to voice their disapproval of events that push queer theory and gender ideology on children, they are deemed “hateful,” and hateful people don’t get to exercise their rights.
Gondek had been arguing for a stronger response from the city towards anti-drag protestors since January 17. She was spurred on by a January 15 protest of an all-ages drag brunch at Calgary’s Rec Room.
Never mind the fact that the roughly 30 protestors were outnumbered by about 100 counter-protestors.
Never mind the fact that the police did their job, maintained a heavy presence of about 20 officers, created barriers between the two groups, and described the situation as “relatively peaceful.”
Despite the fact that this all happened as it should in a free society and despite the fact that both sides were allowed to come and express themselves, Gondek believes that only one side needs to have the street harassment bylaw used against it.
And let’s talk a bit about this bylaw. The Street Harassment Amendment to Public Behaviour Bylaw came into force on June 1, 2022. It carries a fine of $500 for harassing another person in a public space (which includes any space that the public has access to, like sidewalks, libraries, and restaurants).
But what does this mean, exactly? Well, the bylaw quite leniently describes “harassment” as:
Communicating with a person in a manner that could reasonably cause offence or humiliation, including conduct, comment, or actions that refers to the person’s:
race/colour/ancestry/place of origin
source of income
gender/gender identity/gender expression
and includes a sexual solicitation or advance.
Communication that could cause offense or humiliation is a shockingly subjective metric by which to dish out a $500 fine.
While there are endless potential issues with this bylaw, let’s consider it from an angle pertinent to this discussion. Would it be considered “harassment,” for example, to wear a t-shirt that proclaims the definition of “woman” as “adult human female”?
And, since we are on the topic of protests, would it be considered “harassment” to protest the presence of male rapists in women’s prisons, as I did on the streets of Calgary, where I also live, roughly a year ago?
If the bylaw had been in effect, could I have faced a $500 fine? It is not a stretch to see this as a possibility, as many people are offended and might even claim to feel humiliated by my stance.
I expressed my concerns to my mayor on Twitter, pointing out that the bylaw and her planned use of it are authoritarian in nature.
I was promptly blocked.
While Gondek arrogates the power to fine lawful protestors, she still doesn’t think that’s enough. At the same press conference where she made the announcement, she also expressed a desire for the province to step in and lower its threshold on what constitutes “hate speech” and “hate crime.”
Gondek didn’t spare a moment to ask who gets to decide what is and isn’t “hateful” or which groups’ feelings of discomfort and offense are to be given precedence.
But we know the pecking order. Gondek and others like her will bring out their new morality police to help make the men in wigs and dresses feel “comfortable” and “wanted” as they read to children.
Somehow, I don’t think that women who want to speak about or protest for our sex-based rights will receive the same welcome. In fact, something tells me we would be the ones getting fined.
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