Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Alberta Votes Day 23: Born this Way

Above: Surely Allan Hunsperger sees the slippery slope this picture represents

I think it's safe to assume Wildrose candidate Allan Hunsperger's $1,000 "good conduct bond" is as good as gone:

Wildrose candidate Allan Hunsperger wrote about his views on homosexuality on his blog in 2011. Hunsperger, a minister with The House church in Tofield, suggested if gays and lesbians continue to choose their sexual orientation they will suffer in the afterlife: “You will suffer the rest of eternity in the lake of fire, hell.”

Hunsperger suggested that for their own sake, gays and lesbians must be made aware of the imperative to change, and not simply accept who they are, as singer Lady Gaga suggests they do. “Accepting people the way they are is cruel and not loving!”

It's not uncommon for crackpots to make it past candidate vetting in all parties. In recent elections, we've seen "progressive" candidates dropped for everything from white supremacist writings to unwelcome bouts of nudity.

I think most voters accept this and, in a leader-driven political climate, these incidents rarely shift votes outside of the riding in question. The difference this time is that Danielle Smith has stood by her man, refusing to drop him as a candidate - or even to condemn what he said. The Hunsperger saga therefore isn't about the quality of the Wildrose team, but about the values of the Wildrose leader.

It's all very nice for Danielle Smith to tweet about how she will "represent all Albertans regardless of their race, religion, gender, politics or sexual orientation" and that "rights are rights are rights". But surely she can see how "representing all Albertans" doesn't include promoting the notion that certain Albertans will "burn in the fires of hell" due to a lifestyle "choice".

Because that's what Smith is doing. In our system, if you want to run for office with a party logo next to your name, that party must approve you as a candidate. Leaders not only give this approval, they promote local candidates by linking to their websites, speaking on their behalf, and offering financial support. They do this because they believe these candidates share their party's values. No one expects the leader to agree with every candidate on every issue, but at the very least Smith's support for Hunsperger shows she doesn't view his position as reprehensible - which it is.

Smith will do doubt continue to smile and say she's pro-choice and pro-same sex marriage, and that she won't legislate on social issues. I believe her. But politics is also about values, and Smith's defense of Hunsperger tells us more about her values than anything she has said this campaign.

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  • The reason Redford does not say anyhting on this is that Ted Morton [and other PC's] holds the same views. She said basically that it is the party that sets the standards on these divisive issues and that is what is expected of her party.

    Correct me if I heard wrong on this.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:41 a.m.  

  • Sure, everyone has the right to believe as Hunsperger does, but will people want someone like that representing them?

    I think Smith has taken that one step from the sublime to the ridiculous.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 10:48 a.m.  

  • Here is Morton's view, and comment:


    I guess the PC's should not have votes also.

    The Libs have a fairly good platform, yet when one mentions tax increase in Alberta they will not get the votes.

    Besides, though they are different, the name Liberal is a swear word like Trudeau in Alberta -- too bad.

    I emailed them several times, that if they changed their name, they would have a lot more seats.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:58 a.m.  

  • The value is, as I see it, that she believes that they can agree to respectfully disagree, and that's one I can get behind.

    I don't actually see the problem with stating that gay people will "burn in the fires of hell". Who cares, it's a bunch of made-up nonsense from two millennia ago. He's not in any way remotely urging people to send them to that fire prematurely.

    There is no actual harm intended from the pastor's words. It's nothing more than a tsk-tsk (with sufficiently grave "consequences" in the afterlife that make it sound so much worse than it is).

    So Smith has said that the party, while she is leader, will not legislate on contentious moral issues. Hunsperger has some pretty silly views, but they're not hateful, and they're not criminal. And, they won't be tolerated (if one believes Smith, which I do) in the crafting of legislation.

    There's nothing about Hunsperger's silly views that makes him unsuitable to run for office. Smith has not called for his resignation, I assume, because there are no grounds upon which to do so. I hope he loses in the election, of course, but I don't particularly want a party to drop a candidate every time they say something that isn't lockstep with their policy. No inidividual is likely to agree with all tenets of the party, and that's fine.

    It is much more refreshing and confidence-building for a leader to say, "yep, we've got some diverse views here and neither I nor the party platform agree with them." It's honest. The alternative is to have a leader attempt to save face by firing a candidate for holding a view that disagrees with them. That's little more than optics and brand protection, and does not endenger confidence. Smith has shown by her very actions that she is open and tolerant by tolerating someone with silly (though neither hateful nor criminal) beliefs.

    By Anonymous John, at 12:32 p.m.  

  • New Wildrose Slogan; "We won't legislate on social issues, we'll just see you burn in hell".

    By Anonymous Glen, at 1:19 p.m.  

  • John - Interesting comments, but I would argue that Hunsperger's opinions ARE hateful.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 1:31 p.m.  

  • Glen - LOVE IT!

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 1:32 p.m.  

  • Smith has shown by her very actions that she is intolerant by tolerating someone with intolerant and hateful beliefs.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:02 p.m.  

  • John, those opinions frighten members of the community he attacked.

    And for absolutely no reason whatsoever.


    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 2:23 p.m.  

  • Smith is also not concerned about why Ron Leech says he's the best candidate for his riding:

    "I think, as a caucasian, I have an advantage. When different community leaders such as a Sikh leader or a Muslin leader speaks they really speak to their own people in many ways. As a caucasian I believe that I can speak to all the community."

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:06 p.m.  

  • Have you read Dante? Or the Bible? Anyone who is actually serious about their religion believes that those who don't are misguided at best and damned to hell at worst.

    I'm not getting into Sikh heaven because I cut my hair and don't wear a steel bangle. I'm not being reborn on a higher level according to Hindus because I like beef. I'm coming back as a disturbingly low level insect according to Jains because I eat potatoes, carrots, and garlic (amongst many other transgressions).

    According to Orthodox Jews, G-D will look askance at me because I eat treif, carry on the sabbath, wear mixed fibres, and many, many others.

    Any seriously religioyus person, especially a religious leader, has to believe these things. I don't care. Grow the hell up and learn what TOLERANCE actually means. Our culture has demonstrated the value of religious toleration - the catholics believe the prods are going to hell, the prods believe the catholics are going to hell, but they can all be in government.

    Secular "progressives" should heed this history and tolerate people who believedifferently than they do. But you don't. You're horribly intolerant of anyone who does not precisely follow your line of the day. Immature and dangerous, but then progressives have been dangerous ever since they were sterilizing "undesireables" and saying "one is too many" to Jewish WWII refugees.

    By Anonymous hey, at 4:30 p.m.  

  • I hate Kevin Bacon, and believe that when he dies, he will rightfully fry on a giant frying pan in the sky for all eternity.

    However, that doesn't mean I would be unable to represent Kevin Bacon (or other constituents), so long as I didn't seek to legislate my deeply held moral beliefs.

    I think hey's interpretation of the statement is correct. If you think the Bible is literally true, then you probably think homosexuals are headed for a lake of fire. Obviously, it is a politically stupid statement, but not on the order of say, Larry Spencer who advocated criminalizing homosexuality.

    The standard in politics should be tolerance, not acceptance.

    By Anonymous hosertohoosier, at 2:50 a.m.  

  • By Blogger 5689, at 9:43 p.m.  

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