Sunday, February 2, 2014

Law, Legislation and Civil Liberty – Freedom of Association – Boundaries on Association

The enlightenment finds its roots in the desire for freedom, it is nearly trite to say “freedom” now, people have heard it to many times; many are so convinced they have it in Canada, and the west in general, they are apathetic about preserving what they do have. As a person of Scottish lineage, I have a genetic predisposition for “having my own way”, “having your own way” is a good thing and is the basis for liberty. So when I encounter societal circumstances that seemingly ignore the foundations of liberty and the laws that support liberty, I become very concerned.

Freedom of association permits choice in association – it is a simple concept really – there is a group, they gather or associate for reason X, they have tenets XYandZ and rules 1 through 10 – the “group” communicates the above and the free person decides if they want to be a part of that group or not. The individual has the RIGHT to set boundaries on their association with others, that is to say, if a group has as a practice breaking their members leg as an initiation, the individual can say I want to avoid having my leg broken – then the “group” has to respect that and the “group” can then to refuse “membership” should they choose to.

In Canada we have rebuked all forms of conscription, we had a little at the close of WW2 – after that we have never had conscription – in fact the Canadian government has been sympathetic to Draft Dodgers from the United States. So for the past half century, we, in Canada have held as a value the rebuke of conscription in to the military or any other government institution. If this is true of Government, it most certainly extends to commerce or extra-legal organizations. It is a perverse circumstance that in Canada with a legally expressed rebuke of conscription, that Canadian institutions can be turned on the citizenry to displace, conscript or otherwise curtail the liberty of a citizen.

We have a Charter of Rights and Freedoms that is the preeminent document for the direction of human interface in Canada, when “groups” conduct themselves in discord with this document we are adrift, we are then governed by massed marauders operating exterior to the government as opposed to government – there is a very real danger in that – as Teddy Roosevelt said “behind every ostensible government, there is a government of men with no allegiance to the people”. I have no idea who Teddy may have been referring to, but this quote seems to indicate he was privy to the existence of “groups” in society. This is in no way a nihilistic statement toward civil society, on the contrary, I am eager to enlarge civil society – I am suggesting that civil society’s need to be careful – be civil so as to avoid sowing the seeds of their own destruction; strong assaults on individuals will drive individuals to governments. Civil Society has a choice, subordinate itself to government and effect change through legislation, or risk turning our daily lives in to a power play where skullduggery and ruthlessness determine who gets what.          

When the government extends power to an individual to execute a mandate, and that individual uses that power to effect actions exterior to that mandate (perhaps for example direct a person to adhere to a groups wishes), that is an abuse of power. When this occurs regularly enough it “corrupts” government, that is to say, that there is a lack of fidelity between legislation and the actions of the governing. Intent – good or evil – if it moves one to the misdirection of state power, is corrupting – as I like to say to my friends, “what they can do for you, they can do to you”.  

Association has as a base element a consenting participant, the only means by which to determine the presence or absence of consent is through dialog – in the absence of discourse there can be no consent granted nor interpreted. Consent requires explicit dialog peculiar to the subject matter at hand; parables, metaphors and the like are ineffective in garnering consent – they are simply to easily misunderstood or they are administered by the simple and/or simplistically interpreted.

A human being is a composite of temperament and culture; it is a rare thing that cultural nuances get recognized even with in the same social group, cultural variations are finely tuned and emanate from as fine a  point as family in as broad a context as society. If as a group your interest is to draw on all that cultural variation has to offer, you must have a degree of acceptance inherent in you organizational modalities, if homogeneity is your goal, then a thousand flowers will never bloom – you will collide with the reality of all attempts at suppressing the individual and a gray mediocrity will ensue.

This is Canada, we committed some ideals to paper, they will remain mere words on a page unless we choose to conduct ourselves in accord with them. It is a concern that I witness daily, the blatant disregard for the laws and values set out in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 
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