(1) Lives Are Being Lost Due to Big Tech Censorship of Conservatives
(2) China’s extensive influence operations in Canada
(3) Texas Governor Issues Executive Order Banning Vaccine Mandates
(4) Vaccine Mandates Infringe on Canadians’ Charter Rights: Legal Experts
(5) How Hatred in the Name of Equality Is Deemed Virtuous
(6) Academic Study Critical of Lockdowns Largely Ignored by Media
(7) On COVID, Courts Have Taken a Side [they’re not impartial]
Lives Are Being Lost Due to Big Tech Censorship of Conservatives
by Mark Tapscott, Epoch Times, Oct. 12, 2021
Censorship of videos and written posts on major social media outlets about successful treatments of victims of the CCP virus—also known as the novel coronavirus—are causing people to lose their lives, according to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.).
“Everything to do with COVID has been most troubling because the internet could have been used so helpfully, so powerfully, by allowing doctors to disseminate their practices of medicine,” Johnson told reporters during a virtual news conference hosted Tuesday by the Media Research Center (MRC) and the MRC blog Free Speech America (FSA).
“I remember doctors doing videos out of New York recognizing that ventilators weren’t working. I remember a couple of doctors out of California talking about how they were treating COVID with repurposed drugs and those videos were taken down, they were censored,” Johnson said.
“As a result, the only thing we’ve done in terms of Covid is what the NIH tells us to do,” he added, noting that the NIH Guidelines have recently added information on monoclonal antibodies.
“But the guidelines throughout the 18 months of the pandemic while 700,000 Americans lost their lives without treatment, they could literally do nothing, go home, afraid, isolated, you get sick enough, go to the hospitals where they heard ‘we’ll see if we can save you at that point in time.’ That violates every principle of medicine I’ve ever heard of which is early detection means early treatment and better results.”
As an example of such censorship, Johnson said an impassioned opening statement of testimony by Dr. Pierre Kory on the treatment potential of ivermectin received 8 million views before it was censored by YouTube.
“Now we are dealing with censorship regarding the benefits of natural immunity because for whatever reason the powers that be, the COVID gods, want the vaccine in every arm,” Johnson said.
“So they are censoring the deaths [following vaccination] being reported on VAERS, over 16,000, at least 5,200 of those are within day one or two, and 750,000 adverse events, and nobody can talk about it,” he said. “This is affecting our healthcare system, it’s affecting doctors ability to save lives, we don’t know how many thousands of people lost their lives because of this censorship.”
Johnson was referring to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), co-managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.
Rep. Greg Steube (R-Fla.) joined Johnson during the news conference and said “we have a former President of the United States, who is banned on social media platforms, while the Taliban, the Iranians and other terrorist outfits can use those same platforms freely, just to highlight the hypocrisy and the politicalization of these platforms.”
Steube is the chief sponsor of a legislative proposal in the House that would address the social media censorship issue by reforming Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that currently protects the platforms from libel litigation.
Steube said his proposal would “surgically address this, it wouldn’t do away with Section 230,” and he noted that he disagrees with President Donald Trump, who wants an outright elimination of that provision.
“That would not be a good course of action because if we did away with it completely then your startups like Rumble and Parler, the more conservative sites, would just not be able to take advantage of that protection early on,” Steube said.
Steube said his bill provides a “market dominance test” that would only be applied “to the big actors and if they violate your First Amendment rights, it creates a private right for a cause of action that would enable you to sue, or a business, to sue those companies that right now are completely barred from any type of liability for their actions.”
Brent Bozell, MRC’s Founder and President, said “we have to ask ourselves if the democratic system can exist when only one side is allowed to have a voice in the public square. That’s where we’re headed and that’s how dangerous this is.”
Bozell said MRC’s FSA project has documented more than 2,900 examples of conservative speech being censored on social media. Among those, 59 involved “accidents” or “mistakes” against conservative political figures, while only one could be documented against a liberal Democrat.
The 2,900 examples are available for public analysis via FSA’s CensorTrack database.
Heartland Institute President James Taylor pointed out during the conference that Section 230 is primarily intended to address public concerns about sexual violence and obscenity.
“The supposed protections Big Tech has to censor material, that section, Section 230, is explicitly titled ‘To Protect Against Offensive Material.’ None of the examples cited in the law deal with political censorship,” Taylor said.
China’s extensive influence operations in Canada: Report
by Noe Chartier, Epoch Times, Oct. 20, 2021
Comprehensive Report Reveals the Extent of China’s Global Influence and Propaganda Operations
The Chinese regime’s influence operations in Canada are extensive and pervasive, according to a detailed report released by a French military-affiliated think tank.
From stifling dissent to influencing policy, media and education to manipulating information and using local organizations, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is using its entire toolbox to influence Canada and Chinese nationals, according to the report, Chinese Influence Operations: A Machiavellian Moment.
While Canada has yet to respond effectively to these threats, the report says, France has made a shift in its mindset toward the Beijing regime, leading it to write the 640-page report, published in September by the Institut de recherche stratégique de l’École militaire (IRSEM), a think tank funded by the French Ministry of the Army.
“In summary, awareness in France of the risks posed by Chinese influence is sharp and growing since 2019, with a clear acceleration in 2020-2021. It is in this context of ‘French awakening’, which now seems irreversible, that this report will be published in September 2021,” write authors Paul Charon and Jean-Baptiste Jeangène Vilmer.
The Chinese embassy in France said it was “scandalized” by the IRSEM report, which deals with the CCP’s expanding influence in the world and its propaganda operations. The embassy called the report “a pure and simple operation to stigmatize China” and a threat to current relations between France and China.
China’s interests in Canada lie “first and foremost in its Chinese diaspora, which is home to a large number of real or perceived dissidents,” the report says. One of the regime’s priorities around the world is to stifle defenders of Tibetans, Uighurs, Falun Gong, Taiwanese independence and Chinese democracy, and this struggle is also being waged on Canadian soil, the report says.
Canada is also a target because of “its proximity in all respects to the great American rival; its membership in military (NATO) and intelligence (Five Eyes) alliances of great interest to Beijing; the fact that it is an Arctic nation, an area of growing interest to China; its image as an exemplary liberal democracy, making it a symbolic target; and the fact that it is a middle power, minimizing the potential consequences,” the report said.
The report highlights numerous instances of the CCP’s attempts to silence dissent and groups in Canada that it persecutes at home.
For example, the Chinese consul general in Toronto was convicted in 2004 of defaming a local Falun Gong businessman. In 2006, a Chinese embassy diplomat’s visa was not renewed when it was revealed that his main task was to track down and harass Falun Gong practitioners in Canada.
Counter-demonstrations to disconcert opponents of the regime are also “systematic and aggressive,” according to the report, which gives the example of Chinese missions mobilizing groups against pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. People of Chinese descent who demonstrate against the regime in Canada may also be surreptitiously photographed and their photos sent to China, which can lead to their arrest if they try to return, or to pressure or intimidation of their families.
Chinese dissidents are also victims of smear campaigns and intimidation, the report says. One example is the case of author Sheng Xue, who came to Canada after the Tiananmen Square massacre. In 2012, one month after receiving the Diamond Jubilee Medal from Queen Elizabeth II, Sheng Xue was elected president of the Federation for a Democratic China. She immediately became the target of a smear campaign, with rumors and doctored images of her circulating on social media. The report says the campaign succeeded in causing considerable damage to the Federation’s members, which eventually led to its breakup and Sheng Xue’s resignation.
Constant surveillance of dissident communities, cyberattacks, visa denials and identity fraud (CCP agents send irrational messages to elected officials in the names of those they want to discredit) are other tools Beijing uses in Canada, according to the report.
The report’s section on political influence operations in Canada opens with a comment by former Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) director Richard Fadden to the CBC about foreign-influenced politicians, which drew strong reactions in 2010.
“There are several municipal politicians in British Columbia, and several cabinet ministers in at least two provinces, who we believe are at least under the general influence of a foreign government,” Fadden said.
That “foreign government” is none other than China, and one of the ministers was later identified as Michael Chan in Ontario, the report said, based on information from the Globe and Mail.
While politicians of Chinese origin are being closely monitored, the report says, Beijing is using a variety of methods to entice others, such as offering trips to China.
Again citing the Globe and Mail, the report notes that between 2006 and 2017, Senate and House of Commons parliamentarians took 36 trips to China, many of which were funded by the Chinese People’s Institute of Foreign Affairs, an arm of the CCP’s United Front Work Department. Used to build pro-CCP alliances around the world, one of the United Front’s missions is to gather intelligence on elites and organizations and attempt to influence them.
Former Liberal MP John McCallum took C$73,300 worth of trips to China between 2008 and 2015, with the bill paid by the Chinese government or pro-Beijing groups in Canada.
McCallum went on to become minister of immigration and then Canada’s ambassador to China, a position from which he was removed in 2019 after providing arguments in defense of Huawei CFO Meng Wangzhou, who was facing extradition to the United States on fraud charges.
The report describes Beijing’s influence at the municipal level, as well as interference in federal elections. In the recent 2021 election, Conservative candidate Kenny Chiu, who was seeking re-election in the British Columbia riding of Steveston-Richmond East, was targeted, losing some of his electorate.
Chiu said his former supporters suddenly ignored him, which was reflected in the ballot box when he lost his seat to liberal Parm Bains.
During the election, Chinese state media also published articles hostile to the Conservative Party and its leader Erin O’Toole, who has taken a strong stance against the CCP.
Media under control
The IRSEM report says that in Canada, “almost all Chinese-language media are controlled by the CCP,” with the exception of Epoch Times and its media partner NTD Television.
“This means that Chinese immigrants who speak little or no English or French have relatively little exposure to democratic and liberal values and are not likely to change,” the report says, noting that some have lived in Canada for a long time but still have the same communist mentality as in China.
The report shows that the issue of CCP influence in education is multi-faceted. It presents data showing that over 20% of foreign students in Canada are Chinese. The problem is that “some of these students are working for Beijing,” the report says.
These students can help shape attitudes toward the CCP on campus by pressuring dissenting voices or professors, and can also send stolen academic research to China, the report says.
The report quotes CSIS Director David Vigneault as telling major universities in 2018 that “CSIS assesses China as the most significant and clear challenge [to human espionage] targeting Canadian universities.”
The report also discusses Confucius Institutes (CIs), the Beijing-led language and cultural centers that cling to all levels of educational institutions. Among the notable incidents mentioned was the decision by New Brunswick Education Minister Dominic Cardy to cancel his province’s CI contract. “Beijing was using our school system as a conduit to extend its influence,” he said in justification of his decision.
The National Post reports that Cardy was visited by the Montreal-based Chinese consul general about the cancellation of the IC contract. The consul said the cancellation would jeopardize trade between New Brunswick and China. Mr. Cardy was not deterred. New Brunswick cancelled the program in elementary and middle schools in 2019 and will do so in high schools by 2022.
Limited response from Ottawa
The report says the federal government lacks the political will to counter Chinese manoeuvres on Canadian soil.
“Despite recurring warnings from CSIS and numerous cases revealed in the press, political resistance – essentially a propensity to perceive China as a partner rather than a threat – remains strong in Canada,” the authors write.
Following the release and departure from Canada of Huawei CFO Meng Wangzhou on Sept. 24, and the simultaneous return of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who had been arbitrarily detained in China for nearly three years, Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau said the country was now taking a four-pronged approach to China: “co-exist,” “compete,” “cooperate” and “challenge.
Following Garneau’s announcement on the China policy front, former Canadian ambassador to China David Mulroney commented on Twitter,
“Don’t expect a sea change from people who until recently advocated full engagement. What’s wrong with our foreign policy isn’t just about one or two tweaks. And the urgent issue now is domestic: China’s influence and interference in Canada.”
While the IRSEM report identifies many facets of Beijing’s influence in Canada, it does not address the influence of the China lobby.
On October 6, Mulroney said on Twitter that “Canada’s China lobby is trafficking in three powerful lies: the moral equivalence of Canada and China, the demonization of the U.S., and the denial of the China threat. It plays on our progressive guilt, our North American vanity and our unwillingness to do or dedicate anything to defend ourselves.
Nor does the report mention the capture of elites in Canada – wealthy and powerful Canadians who collaborate with Beijing to promote the regime’s interests and influence Canada’s policy choices regarding China.
“This illusion is the result of an extraordinarily successful ‘elite capture’ campaign mounted by CCP organs,” he writes.
“The campaign has generated an excessively benign and unsuspecting attitude toward Beijing and the CCP among Canadian political, official, academic and business decision-makers. This has allowed CCP organs to influence Canadian policy, gain access to Canadian resources and proprietary technologies, take almost total editorial control over the Chinese-language Canadian media, and be able to send Ministry of State Security agents to Canada to intimidate Canadian citizens whom Beijing considers to be dissidents.”
Jonathan Manthorpe told Epoch Times that he believes the French report is “an impressive piece of work.”
“As for the Canadian section, IRSEM’s editors have done a thorough job of reporting the studies and assessments of all Canadians who have been warning for years about influence and infiltration by Chinese Communist Party agents,” he said.
Four days after the release of Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor, the Canada-China Business Council (CCBC) hosted a webinar on China’s 14th Five-Year Plan (FYP) to help Canadian companies navigate the changing Chinese economy and “seize upcoming opportunities in the Chinese market.”
Both Canada’s Ambassador to China, Dominic Barton, and China’s Ambassador to Canada, Cong Peiwu, offered their thoughts.
A description of the event states that “Canadian companies that can contribute to China’s new goals are likely to prosper; those that cannot may face a more challenging operating environment in the years ahead.”
A report produced by CCBC and Trivium China states that “ensuring ‘economic security’ is a key theme of the 14th FYP.
A summary of the report notes that “the policy horizon for Canadian companies [in China] is becoming more complicated” but nevertheless suggests that “companies should seek to structure their business operations in China in line with Beijing’s policy objectives.”
One of the founding members of the CCBC, which was established in 1978, is Montreal-based Power Corporation, a multi-billion dollar financial services company. In his book, Manthorpe describes Power Corp. as “the primary guardian of [Canada’s] official relations with China.”
If this is an example of elite capture on the corporate side, the phenomenon is also tangible on the political side. The Meng case showed how former high-ranking political figures tried to influence the debates.
The IRSEM report notes the June 2020 effort by 19 former parliamentarians and high-ranking diplomats, including two former foreign ministers, who sent an open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling for Meng’s release. “Complying with the U.S. request has strongly opposed China,” the signatories wrote, adding that Meng’s release would allow the return of Mr. Kovrig and Mr. Spavor.
Texas Governor Issues Executive Order Banning Vaccine Mandates
by Mimi Nguyen Ly of Epoch Times, Oct. 12, 2021
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Monday issued an executive order that bans vaccine mandates by any entity, including private employers, in the state.
“The COVID-19 vaccine is safe, effective, and our best defense against the virus, but should remain voluntary and never forced,” Abbott said in a statement upon issuing the order.
The executive order (pdf) states, “No entity in Texas can compel receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine by any individual, including an employee or a consumer, who objects to such vaccination for any reason of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19.”
“I hereby suspend all relevant statutes to the extent necessary to enforce this prohibition,” Abbott wrote in the order.
He also added the issue as an agenda to the third special legislative session which is currently convened until Oct. 19, to give lawmakers the opportunity to pass a law to similar effect.
“The executive order will be rescinded upon the passage of such legislation,” Abbott wrote.
President Joe Biden in September issued a directive to compel private companies with over 100 employees to have their workers be vaccinated or tested weekly. Once in force, companies face $13,600 in fines per violation.
At the time, Abbott called Biden’s move “an assault on private businesses” and said that “Texas is already working to halt this power grab,” joining more than a dozen states in resisting the mandate.
The text of Abbott’s latest executive order, GA-40, reads, “in yet another instance of federal overreach, the Biden Administration is now bullying many private entities into imposing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, causing workforce disruptions that threaten Texas’ s continued recovery from the COVID- 19 disaster.”
It adds, “countless Texans fear losing their livelihoods because they object to receiving a COVID-19 vaccination for reasons of personal conscience, based on a religious belief, or for medical reasons, including prior recovery from COVID-19.”
The governor noted in his executive order that the Texas legislature “has taken care to provide exemptions that allow people to opt out of being forced to take a vaccine for reasons of conscience or medical reasons.”
Abbott previously in June signed into law a measure that bans government entities and private businesses from requiring proof of COVID-19 vaccination as a condition for service or entry. Businesses that don’t comply with the law will not be able to enter any state contracts and will be ineligible to receive a grant.
A previous executive order Abbott signed in April did not cover private businesses with regard to vaccine passports.
Federal Vaccine Mandates Infringe on Canadians’ Charter Rights: Legal Experts
by Isaac Teo, Epoch Times, Oct. 8, 2021
The vaccine mandate that requires federal employees from core public services to be fully immunized against COVID-19 has constitutional issues that implicate the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, an Ontario lawyer says.
“There are several sections of the Charter of Rights that are implicated by mandating vaccines, generally speaking,” said Ryan O’Connor, a Toronto-based litigator who specializes in areas such as employment and appeals, and also advises clients on matters involving federal and provincial legislation.
“The first is Section 7 of the Charter which protects an individual’s right to liberty and security of the person, and the second and most pertinent section would be Section 15 of the Charter, which protects individuals from discrimination and that requires equal treatment of individuals before and under the law.”
In announcing the mandate on Oct. 6 in a joint press conference with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said federal employees have until Oct. 29 to be fully vaccinated or face being “placed on administrative leave without pay as early as Nov. 15.”
The new policy will impact over 267,000 employees of departments that fall under “core public administration” including the RCMP, Correctional Services of Canada, the Canada Border Services Agency, and many other federal services.
The vaccine mandate applies to both full-time and part-time employees regardless of whether they are working from an office, from home, or are stationed overseas.
“I think the federal government is creating a real, very significant legal issue for itself,” says O’Connor.
“With respect to imposing a mandate for individuals in the public service who work from home, there’s no conceivable reason why would it be a term of a public servant’s employment to be vaccinated if they work entirely from home.”
He points out that a large portion of public servants have been working from home throughout the course of the pandemic, and it stands to reason that they can continue to do so.
“So to say a vaccine mandate is a condition of employment for someone working from home, and then ultimately putting them on unpaid leave or terminating them, that’s going to give rise to lawsuits with respect to severances if the person is not unionized, and grievances if the public servant is unionized,” O’Connor said.
“They’re really putting themselves in a situation where they can be exposed to grievances and lawsuits.”
Trudeau said on Oct. 6 that enforcing the mandate is “about keeping people safe on the job and in their communities.”
“Because when it comes to keeping you and your family safe, when it comes to avoiding lockdowns for everyone, this is no time for half measures,” he said, while announcing a similar vaccine mandate for domestic travel by plane and rail.
O’Connor says he doesn’t believe the vaccine mandate “has anything to do with public health and public safety.”
“If they were doing this for public health reasons, perhaps they would consider ensuring that individuals be tested before they enter the workplace. If they were doing this for public health reasons, then they would not require public servants who work from home to be vaccinated against the virus that causes COVID,” he said.
“The crux of the issue here is, it’s more about politics than it is about public health, and that can be problematic from from a legal perspective when these mandates and potential unpaid leaves and terminations get challenged.”
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms, a non-profit legal firm, said if a law is passed by Parliament or by way of Order-in-Council on the vaccine mandates, “which are still announcements at this stage,” then the mandates can be challenged in court.
On Oct. 7, the Justice Centre issued a statement slamming the federal mandates, with a focus on the travel aspect of the measure, saying it means that “unvaccinated Canadians will lose their right to move and travel freely within Canada, their right to leave Canada, and their right to earn a living and participate in society without discrimination.”
Staff lawyer Allison Pejovic said the centre is “profoundly disturbed” that the mandates will prevent unvaccinated Canadians from leaving the country.
“Such a mandate is an egregious and unacceptable infringement of Canadians’ constitutionally protected mobility rights. There is no scientific justification for this,” she said in the statement.
John Carpay, president of the Justice Centre, questioned the scientific basis of the vaccine mandates.
“Governments throughout history have used the notion of ‘science’ to support their policies, along with various appeals to public health, safety, security, morality, and so on,” he said.
“No government will violate human rights without putting forward a good-sounding justification, such as the war on terrorism, communism, online hate, drugs, or a nasty virus.”
The Justice Centre fears that the mandates will be extended, noting that although two doses are accepted as full vaccination under current federal and provincial requirements, “this may soon change to requiring three, four and more injections to maintain one’s legal status as ‘fully’ vaccinated, as has been demonstrated in Israel and the Netherlands.”
How Hatred in the Name of Equality Is Deemed Virtuous
by Theodore Dalrymple, Epoch Times
It’s curious, and perhaps not coincidental, that those who search out and seek to punish so-called hate speech haven’t yet turned their attention to expressions of class hatred.
It’s curious because class hatred and its associated policy, economic egalitarianism, were probably responsible for as many deaths in the 20th century as racism, if not more.
I don’t want to make a precise calculation as to which was worse between class hatred or racism, because I recall what Dr. Samuel Johnson replied when asked who was the better poet, Samuel Derrick or Kit Smart.
“Sir,” Johnson said, “there is no settling the point of precedency between a louse and a flea.”
I don’t expect that the inquisitors of hate speech will call for class warriors to be banned from expressing themselves on social media or anywhere else anytime soon. Some hatreds, then, are deemed respectable, even praiseworthy, and the expression of them, even to the point of incitement, is considered to be the manifestation of a good or pure heart.
The deputy leader of Britain’s left-leaning Labour Party, Angela Rayner, recently said during a meeting, with regard to the governing Conservative Party: “We cannot get any worse than a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, absolute vile … banana republic, vile, nasty, Etonian … piece of scum.”
Rayner later stated that she had held herself back a little.
But it’s he or she who draws attention to an evident truth, rather than someone whose words seethe with insult and crude insensate loathing, who’s held to be guilty of hate speech — because hatred in the name of equality is regarded as generous…
We can’t get worse? I have no great regard for the antics of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who seems unprincipled, inconstant, boastful, vainglorious, and incompetent in my view, but to say that we can’t get worse seems to demonstrate a pitiful ignorance of history that’s rather worrying in someone who might one day hold high office.
Weren’t Hitler, Stalin, or Pol Pot (to name only a few) just a little worse than Johnson? Even as an emotive insult, however, Rayner’s words seem to indicate not merely a lack of restraint, but also a worrying lack of command of the English language: For example, scum doesn’t come in pieces, although it does, almost by definition, rise to the top.
However, literary criticism isn’t my main concern here.
It’s the depth of hatred and resentment expressed in Rayner’s words that worries me and the evident absence of hesitation in giving vent to them.
Contrary to the hydrostatic view of emotions such as hatred, they tend to increase rather than decrease through venting. The view that if an emotion isn’t expressed openly it will do incalculable damage to a person is one of the “gifts” of psychoanalysis to the world.
As a prisoner who had just murdered his girlfriend once told me, “I had to kill her, doctor, or I don’t know what I would have done.”
Suffered some frustration, perhaps.
Rayner was criticized for what she had said, but she defended herself by claiming that this was her habitual manner of speaking: as if she couldn’t conceive that she might do wrong, as if her only criterion of rightness was what she herself had done.
Although what she said was, in my opinion, horrible, I don’t think that she should be punished for having said it or prevented legally from ever saying anything similar again. Freedom of speech is freedom of speech, not gentility, decency, or even intelligence.
Her words were imbued with infinitely more hatred than those of, say, someone who merely points out that a transgender woman isn’t a real woman, for the latter, far from being an expression of hatred, is perfectly compatible with sympathy for such a person.
In a sense, it’s a prerequisite for such sympathy, insofar as it recognizes the inevitable psychological discomfort of anyone in such a position.
But it’s he or she who draws attention to an evident truth, rather than someone whose words seethe with insult and crude insensate loathing, who’s held to be guilty of hate speech — because hatred in the name of equality is regarded as generous, despite its record of mass murder rivaled only by racism.
But the problem with modern redistributionism is that it’s founded much more upon hatred of the rich or fortunate than it is upon love of the poor or unfortunate.
Those who hate in the name of equality believe themselves to be, and are frequently believed to be, virtuous because they supposedly value justice.
But two things need to be pointed out. First, if equality is based on identity or even similarity of outcome, rather than equality before the law, then there could be no greater injustice than equality, at least if justice is the distribution of reward according to what one deserves.
Naturally, deserve is a complex and difficult concept, but real egalitarians wish to eliminate it completely in their desire that all should have prizes and the same prizes at that. However, if reward is disconnected entirely from deservingness, much, most, or all meaning in life is eviscerated, for the reward will be the same whatever you do. Why, then, even try?
It’s curious, and perhaps not coincidental, that those who search out and seek to punish so-called hate speech haven’t yet turned their attention to expressions of class hatred.
Second, however, is the fact that while justice is desirable, it isn’t the only thing that’s desirable, and sometimes must yield place to considerations such as charity, kindness, and humanity.
An utter wastrel may well deserve to starve, considered in the abstract, because of his constant and repeated feckless behavior, but we shouldn’t let him starve because our humanity won’t allow it.
As Hamlet put it, “Use every man after his desert, and who shall ‘scape whipping?”
Thus, the fact that inequality isn’t in itself unjust doesn’t dispose altogether of the question of how equal in outcome a society should be, even leaving aside the question of the loading of the dice in some people’s favor and against others and how far the dice may in practice be loaded fairly.
A society in which only a tiny proportion of the population deserves, by their efforts, to enjoy the better things in life is certainly conceivable, but we shouldn’t care to live in such a society, however just it may be. But the problem with modern redistributionism is that it’s founded much more upon hatred of the rich or fortunate than it is upon love of the poor or unfortunate.
Hatred is an incomparably stronger political emotion than love. In the worldview of redistributionists such as Rayner, it’s more blessed to take than to give, which is why taxation is an end in itself for them, irrespective of its effect upon the economy and society as a whole.
It also has the great advantage, from their point of view, of conferring great power on those who levy it, namely themselves. All power corrupts, but the desire for power corrupts even before it’s ever achieved.
Theodore Dalrymple is a former psychiatrist and prison doctor. He lives in France and is the author of numerous books.
Academic Study Critical of Lockdowns Largely Ignored by Media, Professor Says
by Noe Chartier, Epoch Times, October 13, 2021
An academic working paper released in the spring outlining the failures of pandemic lockdown policies has been largely ignored by media, says its author.
Douglas Allen, an economics professor at Simon Fraser University, says his study went viral after he posted it in April and he received positive feedback, leading to interviews on podcasts in Canada, the United States, Europe, and Australia. Even a few politicians reached out, he says.
But as far as media goes, his study received little attention. Aside from The Epoch Times, “no major media outlet contacted me,” Allen says.
The Toronto Sun did publish an article based on Allen’s findings in April, and former independent MP Derek Sloan mentioned the study to the Kingston Whig-Standard after he was arrested for attending church in April in Aylmer, Ont., in defiance of the lockdown.
Allen also published a column in the Financial Postin June outlining his findings. But that is essentially the extent of press coverage in Canada.
Titled “Covid-19 Lockdown Cost/Benefits: A Critical Assessment of the Literature,” the study was officially published on Sept. 29 in the International Journal of the Economics of Business.
The lack of coverage was probably something Allen predicted, as he wrote in April that despite the “overwhelming” amount of research papers on COVID-19—40,000 in a year—“the ubiquitous media, public health, and political response to the pandemic has been one-sided, incomplete, and almost unchanging over the past year.”
“Furthermore, when research results contrary to the official government response were shared on social media, they were often pulled from social media platforms. As a result, for average Canadians the public media and official public health news conferences have been the only source of Covid-19 information,” he wrote.
Based on his examination of over 100 COVID-19 studies, Allen assessed that “it is possible that lockdown will go down as one of the greatest peacetime policy failures in modern history.”
“Over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been no public evidence that governments around the world have considered both the benefit and cost sides of their policy decisions,” he wrote.
Allen highlights that most of the early research on lockdowns only examined their benefits without looking at the costs, and many used faulty models and made assumptions that proved to be wrong.
“Early in the pandemic the Neil Ferguson et al. model appeared to drive many lockdown decisions and was widely covered in the media,” he wrote, referring to Imperial College of London (ICL) professor Neil Ferguson and his March 2020 report, “Impact of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to reduce COVID-19 mortality and healthcare demand.”
Ferguson predicted widespread death if lockdowns weren’t imposed.
“The Ferguson et al. model was spectacularly wrong; off by factors of 5.88 to 14.71,” Allen wrote regarding Ferguson’s prediction of the number of deaths from COVID.
“Problems with the ICL model were pointed out immediately,” he wrote, such as an overly high transmission rate, an overly high and not age-dependent infection fatality rate, hospital capacity assumed to be fixed and unchangeable, and the assumption that individuals would not change their behaviour in the face of a new virus.
No Benefit From Lockdowns
Before addressing the costs of lockdowns, Allen highlights a number of studies documenting their lack of apparent benefits.
He cites a study by Christian Bjørnskov, professor of economics at Aarhus University in Denmark, that states: “Comparing weekly mortality in 24 European countries, the findings in this paper suggest that more severe lockdown policies have not been associated with lower mortality. In other words, the lockdowns have not worked as intended.”
Also cited is the work of John Gibson, professor of economics at the University of Waikato in New Zealand: “Lockdowns are ineffective at reducing Covid-19 deaths. Variation amongst counties in the United States, where over one-fifth had no lockdown, shows no impact of lockdowns. Specifically, one cannot reject the hypothesis of zero difference in deaths between lockdown and non-lockdown counties.”
On the costs of lockdowns, Allen explains that research has “lagged that of the benefits, and even still is incomplete and piecemeal because there are several critical issues which will take time to sort out.”
Some research has focused on the loss of gross domestic product (GDP) caused by lockdowns. A paper published by the Cambridge University Press in July 2020, which Allen says underestimated the costs and overestimated the benefits of lockdowns, still concluded that “the costs of the three-month lockdown in the UK are likely to have been high relative to benefits, so that a continuation of severe restrictions is unlikely to be warranted.”
There are also far-ranging human costs, such as lost educational opportunities, with low-income families suffering more than others, and an increased risk for children’s mental health. Other costs are increased deaths expected from unemployment, increased deaths from overdoses and other deaths of despair, increased domestic violence, lost non-COVID-19 medical service, and loss of civil liberties.
These impacts cannot be measured the same way as COVID-19 cases and deaths, Allen notes.
“In light of the nature and measurement problems associated with the costs of lockdown, as of July 2021 no true, standard, cost benefit study has been conducted,” he wrote.
To arrive at some conclusion regarding overall costs, Allen presented an alternative cost/benefit methodology using years of life lost due to lockdowns that was put forward by Bryan Caplan, professor of economics at George Mason University. According to Allen’s calculations, the “reasonable conservative case” is that the cost/benefit ratio for Canada is around 141, meaning the cost of lockdowns is 141 times greater than the benefit.
The Epoch Times contacted the provincial health departments of Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia seeking comment on their lockdown policies and whether, in light of Allen’s study, they would impose lockdowns in the future. None of the provinces responded by press time.
Allen does not have high hopes his research will have an impact on policy.
“I do not think my report will matter,” he told The Epoch Times. “I think we are in a bad political equilibrium where politicians cannot admit they made a mistake. Hence they must continue to double down and insist on restrictions until they can finally declare victory and that they saved our lives.”
On COVID, Courts Have Taken a Side
by Bruce Pardy, Epoch Times, Oct. 11, 2021
In early September, a Saskatchewan judge did a startling thing. The father of a 12-year-old girl had applied for a court order allowing his daughter to be vaccinated against COVID-19 over the objections of her mother. Justice M.T. Megaw of the Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench granted the order, concluding that vaccination was in the best interests of the girl and could proceed without her mother’s consent.
While to some, that outcome may itself seem contentious, the curious part happened along the way. The judge’s conclusion was not based on evidence about the girl’s risks from the virus and from the vaccine. Instead, he rejected the need for evidence on these questions at all, and took “judicial notice” that the virus posed a serious and significant health risk to children like the 12-year-old, and that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination was safe and effective for her to receive.
Within our adversarial system of law, the burden of proving a fact generally lies upon the party alleging it. If you claim that it rained on Tuesday, you will need a witness to testify that it did. No witness, no finding of rain. Without evidence, no court can conclude that the alleged fact is true. However, some facts are so obvious and uncontentious that having to prove them would be silly and a waste of judicial resources. The sky is blue. The Earth goes around the sun. Of such facts the court may take judicial notice, a narrow exception to the general rule.
But judicial notice is not meant to apply to the very issues that are in dispute. In the Saskatchewan case, the girl’s risk from the virus and her risk from the vaccine were facts on which the outcome of the case depended. Instead of assessing competing evidence on those questions, the court jumped the shark.
“I am able to conclude without the necessity of any specific proof,” reads the decision, “that the possibility of contracting the Covid-19 virus poses a serious and significant health risk to people generally, including children and adults. … I conclude I am able to take judicial notice that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination is safe and effective for use in people, including both adults and children. I form this conclusion by taking judicial notice of the vaccine approval process in Canada and the approval by the health authorities of this particular vaccine.” COVID vaccines are safe for 12-year-olds like the sky is blue.
[NB – Except that in the case of children, who have a 99.997% recovery rate from Covid-19, it’s malpractice to give them the Pfizer jab, inasmuch as it has an 86% risk of adverse events, based on clinical trials; of course, the judge was not interested in hearing facts. He must be a political appointee and careerist who knows how to please the powers that be. In other words, Justice M.T. Megaw is not interested in justice.]
Judges lack training in everything but the law, which is not their weakness but their strength, for it frees them from specialized predispositions that burden experts. Judges can be neutral in cases about COVID rules, the theory goes, not because they know about viruses and vaccines but because they don’t, and therefore must make their findings exclusively on evidence brought by the parties. For a court to decide disputed facts about novel viruses and vaccines without regard to evidence is by no means unprecedented but nevertheless remarkable.
The Saskatchewan court is not alone in its embrace of the official COVID narrative. Decisions from around the country have reflected similar dispositions. For instance, in December 2020, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench dismissed an application for an injunction against COVID-19 restrictions, holding that the lack of evidence of their scientific basis was irrelevant.
In May 2021, the Nova Scotia Supreme Court granted the provincial government an injunction to prohibit protests about COVID-19 rules, characterizing protestors as willfully blind and having “a callous and shameful disregard for the health and safety of their fellow citizens.”
In June, the Federal Court concluded that any deprivation of liberty arising from compulsory quarantine for airline travellers was consistent with “principles of fundamental justice.” Therefore, quarantine was not a violation of the Charter right to liberty, much less an unreasonable limit on that right. The Court compared the COVID pandemic to being at war, and observed that during a war, governments are entitled to demand sacrifices from their people.
Also in June, the Ontario Superior Court granted a restraining order against three churches from holding services, and noted that if necessary, the court could and should take judicial notice of a COVID-19 pandemic. The court did not explain what might make it “necessary.” To date, the scientific basis for COVID lockdowns, quarantines, masking, and vaccine mandates has not yet been subjected to full scrutiny in a Canadian court.
On COVID vaccines, “safe and effective” has been the unanimous message from health officials, medical regulators, universities, and governments. In June, Toronto Mayor John Tory echoed advice from the city’s medical officer of health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were interchangeable, effective, and safe for everyone over 18 years.
Three weeks after the Saskatchewan decision, in testimony prepared for a hearing of the Toronto Board of Health, Kelly Brown, an independent investment and data analyst, using data from Toronto and Ontario health authorities, showed what officials did not want to hear—
that COVID vaccines do pose risk and are not equally “safe and effective” for everyone. Young men carry a risk for myocarditis, Brown pointed out, including a statistical chance of 1 in 3,800 for 18- to 24-year-old males receiving two doses of the Moderna vaccine. Healthy members of this cohort, according to the same statistics, have an almost non-existent risk of death from COVID. This kind of evidence is not relevant to whether 12-year-olds should receive a vaccine?
Two days after Brown’s testimony, the Ontario government recommended that 18- to 24-year-olds receive the Pfizer vaccine rather than Moderna due to the higher risk of heart complications.
In the meantime, for similar reasons, Iceland has stopped giving the Moderna vaccine to anyone.
Courts should be neutral, disinterested, and uninformed. On COVID, as on any other contentious subject, a little learning outside the courtroom is exactly what should not occur.
Bruce Pardy is executive director of Rights Probe and professor of law at Queen’s University.