Antifa Pass

The Council of Canadian Europeans notes the recent tactics of Antifa on the UBC campus. This will also be in the next Cantandum, but my comments turned into a blog post.

We’re seeing a lot of this lately. It’s the same old story. Two professors tried to give a talk and Anitfa showed up to stop it. Same thing in Copenhagen recently with the Scandza forum. This business about the police not enforcing the law with respect to the Antifa, Extinction Rebellion, and the Progressive Left generally, is not going away because we complain about it. The police have allegedly been told to hold off, often with excuses about respecting freedom of peaceful assembly or expression or some made up ‘right to protest’. Civil order be dammed.

This is an example of where a valid legal interpretation makes absurd results. In Canada, such rights are protected under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. See section 2. The Charter only protects those rights against government (Canada and the provinces) or government actors (municipalities and the police, for our purposes). So, the argument goes, the police should not interfere with an Antifa or Extinction Rebellion protest because to do so breaches the Charter. However, where Antifa acts as a bunch of thugs to coerce other private actors, the Charter does not apply to protect the rights of their targets. That’s a private matter, and the only relief they can get is to ask the police to stop Antifa, which the police cannot because…Charter. This is an argument I see in the press and from protesters.

This is just wrong. First, the Charter right is for ‘peaceful’ assembly. Watch that video in Hamilton where a disabled senior citizen was blocked and called ‘Nazi scum!‘ No ‘peaceful’ happening there. It’s funny, but section 1 says the rights in the Charter are subject to “…reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society”. One would expect that the right to peacefully assemble means no unreasonable attempts to inhibit others freedom, such as blocking rush hour traffic in major cities for your Extinction Rebellion protest. (Note in the pictures that the police are protecting the protesters, as if people just trying to get to work, or their kids to school, are the real danger. Never mind those people pay the taxes that the police rely on for funding.) Parties are always happy to trot out the section 1 limitation when justifying some violation of the Charter which benefits them, but when it could work against them they just ignore it.

It might turn out that politicians realize that cracking down on this nonsense will get them votes from the Silent Majority. Or, Antifa could turn out to be the useful idiots that install the next totalitarian regimes in our nations. Or, something in between, like the Weather Underground. Regardless, other tactics are going to have to be found to prevent Antifa and others from shutting down dissident events in the immediate future. I wish I had some advice to give in that respect, other than moving underground. Feel free to complain to your local politicians and police departments of course, but don’t expect much to change.

Magic

I’ve recently come to see the practice of law in a different light. Lawyers are wizards. They say magic spells, and the truth is altered, the weight of facts changes, and circumstances otherwise fictional are magically deemed to exist. People must obey the resulting order.
Take for instance, matrimonial property law in Alberta. On divorce the couple’s property is deemed to be held equally by each partner (although this can be altered by agreement). Was this the agreement they signed up for? It depends, as the law in this area changes every once in a while, so the state of the law when you got married is likely not what it is when you get divorced. But somehow, we sign a few documents and (sometimes) say a few phrases before a judge (the meaning of which may as well be Latin for the clients hearing them), and the statute magically realigns property ownership in an instant. It’s like watching a Harry Potter movie (Harry Potter and the Praecipe to Note In Default gets my vote).
Not married? Don’t worry, most provinces have rules which apply to common law relationships as well. In Alberta, if you sleep with your room mate regularly, you may be magically deemed to be in a common law relationship.
Suppose you fall through the cracks. The Supreme Court of Canada came up with the remedy of Constructive Trust to make sure the disadvantaged (perhaps) spouse (deemed to be) gets their fair share (also deemed) of property held by the other partner. (The Australian High Court had very unkind words about Canadian Law on this particular point.)
The whole saying magic phrases does not bother me so much. English (and subsequently Canadian) common law became complicated with many abstract concepts, so I’m not surprised by the esoteric jargon. But I am concerned that the law seems to spend a great deal of time deeming things to be the case which otherwise, in fact, simply are not. And creating legal fictions which both sides to the dispute would never agree was the case.
See, in the old days, clients used to come to lawyers looking for a proper, fair and just determination. Now, the language has shifted, and clients come looking for what they can get. It used to be about redressing wrongs by common long-standing and well tested standards. Now it’s about what I can get (or get away with). More and more, what you can get is determined by statute, not common law. And so to me, (outside of pure contract disputes) the law has become about wealth redistribution at the behest of the state.
I’ve digressed, but I’m not sure where. This comes up because William Briggs had a post on an argument against the multiverse (put short, a consequence of some interpretations of quantum mechanics). I’m a big nerd when it comes to physics. But I’m troubled by the state of that science today. Loop quantum gravity or string theory, all the proponents sound like wizards to me. There are over a dozen different interpretations of quantum mechanics.

To the uninitiated, it would all sound fantastic, especially because there is no apparent way to prove what they are saying is true, even the more simple concepts. Who has a double slit experiment they can just whip out to demonstrate wave particle duality? How about a 280 character explanation of the measurement problem? Such things do not exist.

I think the problem of magicianship in physics is simply a sign they do not really understand quantum mechanics, and so they do not have an actual theory yet, and are floundering about in a sea of possible interpretations.

We likely need to wait for the next Einstein or Heisenberg to come along and sort it out (it might be a while…Newton’s Principia to Einstein’s general relativity took 219 years). But magicianship in law…that’s a problem. Law is supposed to be based in reality. Gather the facts, ascertain the issues, determine the applicable law, apply, and provide a conclusion. Rinse and repeat as needed on appeal. But what I see is predetermined conclusion…twist facts, issues and laws to accommodate.