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Wellness: Enough with the false equivalencies | Darryl Singer

Tuesday, September 21, 2021 @ 9:19 AM | By Darryl Singer

Darryl Singer %>
Darryl Singer
As lawyers we are trained to argue based on actual facts and within the current state of the law. So, it is forgivable when I see non-lawyers using illogic, misconstrued facts, conspiracy theories and false analogies, all for the purpose of making their point. We have seen this on both the left and the right for the last five years when it come to politics. We now see it daily from those who are opposed to vaccine mandates, mask mandates or lockdowns.

Leaving aside for the moment that at least one of those things needs to happen in order to eventually stop the pandemic, I understand the frustration of individuals who are fed misinformation and/or have genuinely held beliefs but are unable to truly explain why. Lawyers, however, are another story. We are trained to know the difference between an actual argument and nonsense.

Lawyer Rocco Galati has recently brought a class action against the government for lockdowns, mask mandates and vaccine issues. I have read his Statement of Claim. I think the case will fail. But he is taking the fight to where it belongs — a court, where it will be decided not based on emotion or personal belief but based on the law (and it will be inevitable that science will play into the eventual decision one way or another). That said, I respect Mr. Galati for taking on the government so that those who are opposed to masks, lockdowns and vaccines will have their voices heard, likely all the way to the highest court in the land. What I cannot respect are lawyers and paralegals, trained in arguing cases, using their social media to parrot conspiracy theories and to traffic in false equivalencies.

One recurring theme in particular kept me up late into the night writing this, such was my level of anger. Many people on social media, including more than a handful of legal professionals I know, have been equating the mask mandates, lockdowns, and now vaccine passports, with Nazi Germany. As a Jew, I am highly offended by the reference to the Holocaust. It is impossible in any historically factual basis, to equate what is happening in Canada now with what happened in Eastern Europe between 1939 and 1944. To do so trivializes what actually happened. Any Canadian with even a rudimentary grasp of history from elementary school understands that what we are experiencing is not Nazism, nor is it communism or dictatorship. But one need not even go that far back to understand that. One need only look around the world right now to realize that we do not live in anything akin to a Nazi regime.

In Afghanistan on the day I am writing this, women holding a peaceful protest in the name of their right to be educated and hold jobs (and to leave the house on their own) were beaten on order of the governing party. Others have already been killed for such views. I read the same day on BBC that the Chinese government has now banned from the airwaves “effeminate” (by which they mean gay) men as well as any political content the government deems inappropriate. It is not that long ago that Canada took in thousands of Syrians who were escaping from the clutches of their own government. And we all know about North Korea, where your own neighbours can have you “disappeared” should they rat you out on suspicion of being somehow non-compliant with the whims of the leadership (and non-compliant means whatever the dictatorship wants it to mean on any given day). None of these countries have legitimate justice systems, presumptions of innocence, habeus corpus, or fair trials. In not one these countries can you sue the government. In fact, you cannot even publicly complain about the government in those countries without risking imprisonment or even death.

In Germany during the Holocaust, the Jews were marked with tattoos not so business might know who was vaccinated against a rapidly mutating and deadly virus. Nor were they marked for public health and safety reasons. Rather, the Jews were marked so the Nazis would know whose property to take away, who to ghettoize into one corner of the city, but mostly so they could not escape death when the Nazis decided it was time for them to be carted off to the camps. The numbers tattooed on their arms were an inventory for extermination purposes.

The Jews of Germany did not have the right to protest in front of police stations and government buildings at all, let alone with a police presence to protect them. The Jews could not challenge the constitutionality of the Nazi edicts in the courts. The Jews could not rise up at the next election and run their own candidates or vote out the government of the day. While social media did not exist, certainly newspapers, flyers and books did. And those written by the Jews were either burned or banned. There was no way for them to write about their plight for all the public to see.

So, to those who think the government has gone too far, be thankful you live in a country where your very rights to protest, to publicly speak and write anti-government screeds, to challenge the government in court, are not only allowed but are embedded in your rights. Just don’t make the mistake of using false equivalencies to make your point.

Darryl Singer is head of commercial and civil litigation at Diamond & Diamond Lawyers LLP in Toronto. The views expressed in this column are his own.

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