The case for the seeing-eye horse

What if a blind man with a guide dog had taken on a Muslim bed-and-breakfast owner?

The case for the seeing-eye horseWhat’s new in the exciting world of Canadian “human rights”?

Well, the other day Kelly Egan of the Ottawa Citizen reported the story of a gay bed-and-breakfast owner allergic to dogs who got hauled in for “mediation” by the “Human Rights” Tribunal of Ontario after he turned away a blind man with a Seeing Eye dog. Douglas McCue, 68, of the CornerStone B & B in Perth, Ont., suffers from acute sinusitis aggravated by exposure to canines. Ian Martin, a blind diabetic, responded with a lawyer’s letter and a demand for compensation that started at two grand and quickly escalated into five figures.

As a notorious homophobic disablist, I don’t have a dog in this fight. Unfortunately, neither did Mr. McCue. After “mediation,” he cut the plaintiff a cheque for 700 bucks and expressed his “sincere regret,” which is to say it was entirely insincere but mandated by the state. And then he closed his bed and breakfast. No longer will Ontario vacationers face the scourge of caninophobic homosexual innkeepers.

Perhaps Mr. Martin could buy the CornerStone from Mr. McCue and run it happily as a non-discriminatory B & B celebrating the diversity of Canada’s guide-dog mosaic. At least until a litigious imam shows up and complains to the HRTO that having to put up with a filthy mutt wandering round the dining room is grossly offensive to him as a Muslim, and that as tolerant progressive Canadians we need to send a strong signal to Islamophobic blind hoteliers.

After all, why does he need a dog? Earlier this year, Mona Ramouni, a blind Muslim from Dearborn, Mich., began taking her seeing-eye horse on the bus with her. Dogs “violate ritual purity,” a spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations explained to the Chicago Tribune. So Cali, a three-year-old miniature former show horse who started training with Miss Ramouni last November, is the perfect compromise, acceptable to Muslims, the blind, and dog-fearing gays alike. A “human rights” tribunal genuinely committed to “mediation” would surely have ordered the government to replace all guide dogs with publicly funded seeing-eye horses by the spring of 2010. The superfluous pooches could be retrained as guard dogs at the new detention facility for equinophobic bus drivers.

A few months back, at an appearance in Ottawa with my fellow free-speech campaigner Ezra Levant, I conceded that, as a couple of right-wing blowhards, we did not make very fetching victims, and that, if you were casting this thing for maximum public appeal, you’d ditch Ezra and me and replace us with David Suzuki and Margaret Atwood. But the truth is that most of the victims of the Canadian “human rights” racket are very appealing. Mr. McCue isn’t an extremist nut like yours truly: he’s a nice gay. What did he do to deserve being put out of business by the government of Ontario? What did Gator Ted, the Burlington bar owner in the interminable investigation into the “human right” to smoke marijuana on someone else’s property, do to merit his years in Ontario “human rights” hell? Or John Fulton, the St. Catharines fitness club owner who expressed misgivings about letting a pre-op transsexual (i.e., still flying the old meat and two veg) use the ladies’ shower because his female clients might not be comfortable with it. Two years on, the plaintiff is now a full-blown plaintifette, having relocated to Ottawa and ditched the wedding tackle en route, and the “human rights” regime remains determined to do the same, metaphorically, to Mr. Fulton: cut his nuts off.

Let’s take it as read that, as the Ontario “Human Rights” Commission made clear in its drive-through verdict in the Maclean’s case, I’m a hater. Hate is my business. Hate is my middle name. Hating is where I’m at. I love to hate and I hate to love. “Hate-monger, hate-monger, mong me some hate,” I trill to myself in the mirror every morning. So, when Barbara Hall, Chief Commissar of the OHRC, decides to catch my eye, I couldn’t be happier, or hatier.

But Gator Ted and Douglas McCue aren’t in the hate biz. They’re not even mildly “right-wing.” They’re just fellows trying to keep their heads down and make a living. For years John Fulton co-sponsored the annual St. Catharines AIDS walk. Does that sound like some frothing Steynian homophobic bigot? Well, a fat lot of good the LGBT outreach did him come the day the “human rights” enforcers showed up to ruin his life. Put yourself in the shoes of these defendants: a guy wants to smoke medical marijuana on the premises of your restaurant. Do you refuse and get plunged into a “human rights” nightmare? Or do you string along with his hitherto unknown “human right” and get sued when the trucker sitting on the bar stool next to him fails his drug test? Do you decline to let the pre-op use the ladies’ changing room and get a “human rights” complaint? Or permit the Big Swinging Dick to have the run of the shower and get a whole bunch of other suits from his outraged female members? Do you rebuff the Seeing Eye dog and lose your business? Or do you let him in and lose your clientele? (Mr. McCue keeps hypoallergenic bedding in his guest rooms for some of his regulars, and, as I understand it, gay men are more prone to sinusitis.)

The reality is there is no correct answer to any of the above: as I said a couple of weeks back, tyranny is always whimsical. Which is exactly how the social engineers of the “human rights” nomenklatura like it. Because it legitimizes the state as the only valid mediator of social relations. And so in the cause of invented rights of near parodic absurdity, a profoundly wicked “human rights” apparatus is happy to destroy utterly the lives and livelihoods of blameless individuals.

The Ottawa Citizen’s report on Mr. McCue’s travails was headlined “When two rights go wrong,” although what followed never quite spelled out what rights were at issue here: the right to vacation while blind vs. the right to inn-keep while gay? The Citizen’s headline writer didn’t seem to mean anything more than that the two parties both belonged to approved victim groups. At which point the whole “human rights” racket starts to fall apart. It used to be simpler: Jews vs. neo-Nazis? Muslims vs. Steyn? Gays vs. Christians? Easy calls all. The last time gays, B & Bs and the “human rights” commission were in the news was a couple of years back, when Dagmar and Arnost Cepica closed their bed and breakfast rather than comply with a P.E.I. HRC ruling that they rent the room to a homosexual couple. We all knew who to root for back then: obviously if the uptight squaresville Christian couple are that hung up on the godless sodomites going at it like the clappers in their premium rental unit they shouldn’t be in the B & B business at all.

What goes around comes around. But, in the dog-bites-gay case, the upshot seems to be that persons with sinusitis no longer enjoy the human right to run a B & B. Which may not seem a big deal, but is certainly at odds with the “human rights” establishment’s deference to say, Micheline Montreuil, the transgendered lawyer and serial plaintiff against the Canadian Forces and other transphobic putative employers. But what it ultimately portends is the death of “public accommodation,” the concept by which the state claims the right to regulate what goes on in your health club or restaurant. As many readers point out, we homophobic Islamophobic haters are a dying breed: any day now I’m bound to keel over from a massive stroke, and thereafter gays, Muslims and Seeing Eye dogs will gambol and frolic in harmony throughout the peaceable kingdom. Yet the shifting hierarchies of multiculturalism are not too hard to discern: in Britain, an educational establishment gung-ho about forcing the kindergartners of evangelical Christians to be taught the joys of same-sex marriage crumbled in nothing flat when Muslim parents in Bristol objected. If it’s a choice between Heather Has Two Mommies or Heather Has Four Mommies And A Big Bearded Daddy Who Wants To Marry Her Off To A Cousin Back In Pakistan, bet on the latter. Any gay couple or blind man with a Seeing Eye dog who takes on a Muslim bed-and-breakfast proprietor will get short shrift from the “human rights” commission. The OHRC is currently champing at the bit to force gay altar servers on Ontario Catholics. At the local mosque, no imam need worry about such state encroachments on religion.

The “human rights” bureaucracy has had a grand run sticking it to Christians and other unfashionable groups. The internal contradictions of the rainbow coalition will prove harder to negotiate.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.