BILL McQUARRIE PHOTO Have some thoughts about Bill McQuarrie’s latest North Island Rising column? Email editor@northislandgazette.com and we will publish your thoughts online and in print.

North Island Rising: The Charter of Rights has your back, but what about consequences?

“there is an implicit understanding that is not covered in the Charter”

Has your partner ever asked for an opinion that is difficult, if not dangerous to respond to honestly? Questions about how that new dress looks, or what you think about the moustache that was supposed to go at the end of Movember; those kinds of questions, the ones requiring a fair degree of tact.

They are, as experience has taught us, not the harmless, off-handed questions they might appear to be. Yet, if you want to cross that bridge of tactless responses, you can and do so knowing that our Charter of Rights has your back.

Our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees your right to think anything you want, believe in anything that catches your fancy and express an opinion, even an opinion about that dress or that beard.

However, there is an implicit understanding that is not covered in the Charter. It is called consequences and many an argument about having the right to say anything you want, omits this crucial accountability piece to the equation.

Let’s suppose for a moment that you believe your boss and the entire management team couldn’t lead a walk around the block, let alone a company. You express your opinion at the monthly team meeting with something like: “You people, with your fancy MBA’s know nothing. It’s your kind that are giving this company a bad name!”

The likelihood of you making it to the next monthly team meeting is at best slim. Hopefully though, with all this unexpected and newly acquired spare time, you’ll be able to get a better understanding of the relationship between your rights and your consequences.

Speaking one’s mind may be momentarily satisfying but the results may outlive that brief sense of satisfaction.

Don Cherry is a recent example of ignoring consequences. Yes, he had the right to say what he did but sometimes it is best to engage one’s brain before one’s mouth. He didn’t and like those before him, he paid the price.

In the abstract one can debate the age-old question; is it okay to (falsely) yell FIRE in a crowded theatre? However, I think the real-world, personal interactions we face every day are a more honest opportunity to discuss what freedom of expression is really about.

When do hurtful words and the right to say them supersede decency, tact and common sense? Why is there a need to replace diplomacy and constructive dialogue with hate disguised as a freedom?

When we exercise our freedom of expression, we are not granted immunity from the consequences of those words or our actions. And holding the Charter out as one’s license to say those words is not justification. It does not make bad words righteous or a shallow and callous phrase virtuous. Held up to the light of day, they are still nothing more than a lame and implausible attempt to justify the inexcusable.

The ideals behind freedom of expression and the wars that have been fought to maintain that right, were sacrifices made for a higher ideal than gutter talk.

Bill McQuarrie is a former publisher, photojournalist and entrepreneur. Semi-retired and now living in Port McNeill, you can follow him on Instagram #mcriderbc or reach him at bill@northislandrising.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Telegraph Cove Resort will open June 1 to self-contained campers only

Washrooms, showers and all other amenities will remain closed for now

Hardy Bay Seniors’ Centre doubling down to build community during COVID-19

The volunteer-run group is cooking meals and checking in on isolated seniors

Three weekly direct flights from Port Hardy to Vancouver starting June 1

Direct between Bella Bella and Vancouver not resuming at this time

UPDATE: Local taxi company applying to opertate north island bus route

Waivin’ Flags Taxi wants to operate Route 5 between Cambpell River and Port Hardy

Change in service: Port Hardy is switching from bi-weekly garbage pick up to weekly schedule

The cost for the weekly garbage pick up service is an additional $30.12 annually.

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of the world of summer sports

In a typical year, there are plenty of summer sporting events and tournaments held across Canada

Surrey mayor’s party under fire for ‘sickening’ tweet accusing northern B.C. RCMP of murder

Mayor Doug McCallum says tweet, Facebook post ‘sent out by unauthorized person’

Father’s Day Walk Run for prostate cancer will be virtual event this year throughout B.C.

The annual fundraiser for Prostate Cancer Foundation BC has brought in $2.5 million since 1999

Dr. Bonnie Henry announces official ban on overnight kids’ camps this summer

New ban comes after talking with other provincial health officials across the country, Henry says

Senior man in hospital after unprovoked wolf attack near Prince Rupert

Conservation officers are on site looking for the wolf

VIDEO: NASA astronauts blast off into space on SpaceX rocket

Marks NASA’s first human spaceflight launched from U.S. soil in nearly a decade

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

PHOTOS: U.S. cities brace for increasing unrest over police killing of George Floyd

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has fully mobilized the state’s National Guard

$200,000 Maybach impounded after ‘L’ driver caught excessively speeding in Vancouver

Meanwhile, the supervisor sat in the passenger seat, police said

Most Read