Tuesday, April 12, 2011

There's something strangely fascinating about the Falun Gong stories coming out of Vancouver these days. I'm sure it's damn annoying for everyone coming to the Chinese consulate to have to deal with Falun Gong protesters every day, but it's unsettling to think that the City of Vancouver is prepared to side with China on this long-standing human-rights issue and ban the protesters. Here's what the Vancouver Sun's Pete McMartin has to say.
The issue has many similarities to the abortion debate: two polarized groups, both very certain that they are in the right, fighting for control over the piece of sidewalk out in front of some building that represents the issue (abortion clinics in one case, the Chinese consulate in another).
But B.C. manoeuvered very carefully on that issue. The "bubble zone" law prevents protesters from setting up within 50 metres of the entry of an abortion clinic.  The reason the law was able to sustain a free-speech challenge was because the courts ruled that a woman's right to medical treatment trumps freedom of speech.
How do you make that defence in the Falun Gong case? As irritating as it must be for the Chinese consulate to have to deal with protesters outside every day, I have to think it pales beside the right of the peace-loving followers of a religion to protest the killings, assaults and harassment that plague their peers in China.

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