Pharyngula

Canadian bluenoses

Those Canadians have got a few prigs running things up there, and they’ve apparently trying to pass some laws to slap down those darned naughty artist types. There’s just one line from the sour old prude that’s worth mentioning, the rest is the usual noise.

A well-known evangelical crusader is claiming credit for the federal government’s move to deny tax credits to TV and film productions that contain graphic sex and violence or other offensive content.

Charles McVety, president of the Canada Family Action Coalition, said his lobbying efforts included discussions with Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day and Justice Minister Rob Nicholson, and “numerous” meetings with officials in the Prime Minister’s Office.

“We’re thankful that someone’s finally listening,” he said yesterday. “It’s fitting with conservative values, and I think that’s why Canadians voted for a Conservative government.”

I’d like to make a distinction here.

“I will not watch movies with graphic sex scenes” is a good moral value; it’s defining a standard of behavior for yourself. If McVety, Day, and Nicholson wish to abstain from watching movies with sex, then that’s fine. Personally, I am unperturbed if someone else wants to watch porn, as long as they don’t force me to watch it too, and I think that’s a reasonable value as well.

Conservative values don’t seem to have anything to do with personal standards, at least as they are expressed by politicians and the media. “You will not watch movies with graphic sex scenes” is not what I would consider a moral good. It’s the imposition of values on someone else, not yourself. There really are only two possibilities here: 1) McVety, Day, and Nicholson already do not watch movies with graphic sex scenes, in which case this law causes them no hardship and they can’t be said to be acting for their own good; or 2) McVety, Day, or Nicholson do watch movies with graphic sex scenes, in which case they are hypocrites imposing a standard on others to which they do not adhere themselves.

We’ve been living with “conservative values” here in the US for a long time now, and they rarely seem to have anything to do with a social good, or with people actually setting exemplary moral standards for themselves. It’s always about narrowing experiences, constraining others to a single permissible range of behaviors, and punishing others outside your domain of accepted social norms.

You know, it is possible to be a liberal, progressive sort of person who doesn’t do any of the “bad” things that conservatives detest — who doesn’t drink to excess, use addictive drugs, or gamble, who is faithful to a single spouse and doesn’t spend time on pornography or prostitution. That people don’t do those things is not the distinguishing characteristic of conservative vs. liberal at all. The real difference is that conservatives take sanctimonious pleasure in requiring everyone else to be just like their ideal, and seem to be less interested in measuring up to their own standards themselves than in demanding that others do so; liberals are people who put first priority on abiding by their own standards, and a second priority on allowing others to live their lives as they see fit.

Comments

  1. #1 MH
    February 29, 2008

    Conservative values? I wonder if Charles McVety would praise the Saudi Arabian authorities? They are the real conservatives and we all know what a utopia that nation is.

  2. #2 Brownian, OM
    February 29, 2008

    unless you think Debbie Does Dallas ought to be available at your local elementary school?

    Well, they should have some exposure to the classics.

    In Canada, we’ve always been a little paternalistic about the arts, figuring that if the government won’t pay to support our local talent, no one else will either. (Ah CanCon. Where would would Gowan be without it?)

    It’s partly a response to living next to the elephant.

  3. #3 David Marjanovi?, OM
    February 29, 2008

    How would the libertarians fit into this liberal vs. conservative dichotomy?

    On the liberal side, where they belong. Where else?

    Keep in mind that things like import tariffs are conservative values.

  4. #4 Sinbad
    February 29, 2008

    much art simply wouldn’t exist without the NEA, for example.

    I think such government subsidies are a bad idea whether it’s an alleged artist or corporate welfare. If an artist can’t find support for his/her art, too bad. Moreover, much of the crap funded by the NEA makes a pretty good case that a lot of the money is going to poseurs looking to feed at the government trough rather than to the real artists.

    but if you want to talk about that, it’s the organizations themselves that pervert their own missions to garner a chunk o cash for themselves.

    Which is exactly my point, whether it’s artists or religious organizations.

    again, you are comparing apples and oranges.

    Your saying so doesn’t make it so, especially since you don’t even try to support the claim. Censorship is a necessary fact. The question is merely when and how.

    Well, they should have some exposure to the classics.

    Touche’.

  5. #5 Mike Haubrich, FCD
    March 1, 2008

    Government arts funding here rarely pays for the whole thing, at least so far as films go. Offhand, the excellent werewolf movie “Ginger Snaps” was partly funded by government money. I think a lot of Cronenburg’s early stuff was, too.

    Eastern Promises was funded in part by TeleFilm. I would imagine that McVety would have a problem with providing funding. It has naked guy wrestling with blood, and K9 sex with prostitutes.

    Both elements are key to the story, and neither of them would I consider pornographic. So, who’s going to step in and say that this movie should not have gotten any money from the government?

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