Ed Driscoll

Riding The Culture War's Tiger

Ezra Levant explores the strange case of Montreal’s “Bar Le Stud”:

Pete Vere sends me this interesting case study of the wild animal biting madly. A Montreal gay bar, Bar Le Stud, told a woman named Audrey Vachon that she wasn’t allowed in — it was a men-only establishment, and had been happily operating that way for eleven years. Then the human rights commissions got involved, and Bar Le Stud has copped a plea bargain. We don’t know the details of how much money Vachon got paid or — and you know this was part of the deal, it usually is — the kind of “sensitivity training” that Bar Le Stud’s staff have to undergo.

A gay bar — like a straight bar, like a Christian church — has age-old rights that long pre-date our fads of “human rights”. Bar Le Stud has property rights, which include the right to exclude people. They have freedom of association. They have contractual rights. Strangers have no “right not to be offended” by them. They have no “right” to come onto their property, to change the purpose of Bar Le Stud, and to interfere with its peaceful practices. But now they do.

Misguided gay rights activists — like Darren Lund, and even Richard Warman — have used the bludgeon of human rights commissions to batter down the real rights of others. But they have laid down precedents that, in this case at least, are being used against gays.

It doesn’t happen often, because conservatives, and straights, and Christians, aren’t as active as their opponents in the grievance culture that Canada’s HRCs foment. And, of course, even if they were, the grievance-activist bias of HRC staff would probably dismiss those complaints.

But that can only last so long. As Mark Steyn pointed out in his last Maclean’s column, Adolf Hitler didn’t invent Germany’s censorship laws, nor did he write the emergency powers provisions that the Nazis abused. They were all written by the liberal Weimar Republic.

Leftist and ethnic-identity activists have loved the HRCs because they have usually picked on those groups’ enemies. But the dangerous precedents have been set, and everyone’s rights are at risk, as Bar Le Stud has found out.

What we accept as the current definition of the culture war may look like a blissfully calm warm-up phase a decade or so from now. Consider the implications of a news story such as this, particularly if, as seems likely, such stories become more and more commonplace.

Update: Ezra concurs with my take, and notes: “Even if they don’t believe in free speech or property rights for their opponents, liberals should protect the concepts for themselves.” Read the whole thing, as they say.