As many of you know, I am a right-wing kook. I do not tend to favor left-leaning policies, though I have a greater tolerance for mushy-headed distributivist tendencies than I usually let on.
That said, both the provincial NDP and Liberal parties here in BC have gone through sudden leadership turnovers this Fall. A bit of dirty laundry was aired during the Liberal's veangance for Glencoe, but the NDP disclosed a lot more of their internal workings in the process of disposing of Carol James.
That Gary Mason report on the timeline of Ms. James' downfall is useful background reading, but by far the most interesting story I've read is the one told by BC NDP éminence grise Corky Evans. I commend the entirety of his open letter to your attention. Read it; I'll wait.
I'd like to pull out a few sentences from Mr. Evans' letter that clarified my philosophical differences with the NDP. They refer to an incident in which yellow scarves were worn by supporters of Carole James at the Provincial Council meeting. Evans says here that NDP staffers withheld scarves from known critics of Ms. James. (It was assumed, in the news reports I read, that the caucus dissenters had refused to wear them; the truth isn't crucial for this essay.)
"The meeting opened, as they all do, with a reading of the Party’s Harassment Policy."
The BC NDP site is pretty good at exposing one to info about Carole James, but doesn't appear to have a copy of this harassment policy. However, I've found the text online, I think. Not an official NDP source, but looks reasonable.
Let me start by saying that I support the right of the NDP, as a voluntary-membership organization, to have whatever rules of conduct they desire. Live and let live! Let a thousand flowers bloom!
And with that said, I'd like to quote the core of their harassment policy:
Harassment or discrimination happens when a comment or action occurs that is known or ought to have been known to be unwelcome or offensive...Harassment or discrimination can be based on many grounds including but not limited to...political belief [and many other specific grounds]...
The NDP is a political party. I think that arguing about unwelcome or offensive political beliefs is a working definition of the purpose of party conventions. I am a little bit confused.
But you know, there's a lot of well-meaning but functionally dead language in harassment policies. I'm sure they don't really mean that in practice, one could be subject to discipline for offensively asserting a political position. That's just my crazy-pants right-wing kookiness jumping to a highly uncharitable conclusion.
"If I, or any of us, had had our wits about us, we would have responded by pointing out that the scarves, themselves, constituted Harassment of the worst kind."