The “right to see your face” is bullshit

For the second week, Québec’s idiotic Bill 62 has dominated Canadian news, and I have had to listen to dumb “arguments” in support of it.

This article is a companion piece to the article I wrote last week. There’s a curious symmetry, too. Last week the issue was people casually tossing away fundamental rights; this week the issue is people inventing non-existent rights.

I honestly don’t know where veil ban supporters get their talking points from; maybe I’m just not reading enough bathroom graffiti. This one might be based on something Québec Premier Philippe Couillard said as part of the Québec Liberals’ half-assed “strategy” to defend the bill:

We are in a free and democratic society. You speak to me, I should see your face, and you should see mine. It’s as simple as that.

Naturally, Couillard doesn’t explain what being in a free and democratic society has to do with seeing people’s faces. Are we to conclude that blind people don’t enjoy the same freedoms or democracy as sighted people? As for you speak to me, I should see your face, and you should see mine; it’s as simple as that, I have to wonder if Québécois are entirely comfortable with a Premier who apparently doesn’t know how a telephone works.

[Comedy and tragedy masks used to symbolize drama or theatre.]
To supporters of Québec’s Bill 62, this doesn’t symbolize drama, it symbolizes human rights violations.

But to Couillard’s credit, at least he hasn’t (to my knowledge) tried to argue that seeing someone’s face is a right.

That’s right, there are people who have tried to argue that either the government or individual people have a right – and let me stress that even more, a right – to see people’s faces.

I had a thread all ready to link to where I managed to get a veil ban supporter to assert plainly that the right to see other people’s faces is a fundamental human right – their words. Unfortunately, our brave defender of free speech must have realized how much of a twit he sounded like, because he deleted the entire thread. I couldn’t find any archives of it either, which is a bummer.

But while its a chore and a half to get a veil ban supporter to clearly admit they believe something that silly, the implication is almost universal. They will dance around the assertion with what they think is the grace of a rhetorical Baryshnikov – integrity and intellectual courage are not qualities you’ll find associated with defences of Bill 62 – so you have to pay close attention not just to what they’re saying, but also to the implications of what they’re saying. But if you can stick out wading through all the bullshit, you will eventually spot this particular turd.

On Halloween night, will millions of Canadians’ “right to see faces” be violated by trick-or-treaters?

I struggle to wrap my head around even the idea that there might be such a thing as a right to see someone’s face. So a masked hero is violating the rights of the people they save by not showing their face to them? Is that what’s happening, and we just let them get away with it because they did a good deed? If doing a heroic deed gives one a pass for violating the rights of the rescue victim, does that mean it would be okay for an unmasked hero to respond to the rescuee’s thanks with, “You’re welcome, <insert relevant slur here>!” Or perhaps to grope them sexually? Can they hero violate any right of the rescuee they choose, or does it only work with the right to see people’s faces?

It’s . , should I brace myself for a barrage of violations of my right to see people’s faces, as wave after wave of human rights abusers knock on my door and say “trick or treat”?

Perhaps I should I follow the example of Québec, and refuse to give out any treats until the kids show me their faces.

It says a lot about the sad state of education that Canadians think rights are things that can be either casually discarded, or made up on the spot. That there is no mention of a right to see someone’s face mentioned anywhere in the Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, or the writings of any expert on human rights should go without saying.

Last time the takeaway was: Don’t throw your rights away thoughtlessly. This time the moral is more subtle, but no less important:

If you think rights can be invented on a whim, then you are indicating that you don’t take rights seriously… which will bite you in the ass, because if you don’t take rights seriously, you can’t expect anyone to take your rights seriously.

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