Ret. Judge Paul Staniszewski Espouses Clear Hatred

By: Contributor · February 25, 2009 · Filed Under Civil Rights, Law School, Legal Reform · 5 Comments 

Paul Staniszewski was a graduate of  Osgoode Hall in 1954.  He practiced law for 13 years until he was appointed as a federal judge in 1967.

Several law school scholarships were set up in his name at Windsor and Osgoode.

Now Staniszewski wants to ban minorities he dislikes from receiving the awards.  Obviously the schools have rejected the idea.

But if he feels this strongly about it, what does that say about the potential for animus and bias by members of the bench that feel the same?

Update

Both law schools are rejecting Staniszewki’s request.

York spokesperson Alex Bilyk said,

A comment like that is unacceptable, but it’s really a moot point because once endowments are established, it continues to serve the students for whom they were established.

Upon reflection, I’m sure the judge realized this type of request is not in line with Canadian norms.

However, Staniszewki repeated similar comments from his home last night.

Some law students are questioning whether the schools should even consider having the scholarships available after his comments.

Comments

5 Responses to “Ret. Judge Paul Staniszewski Espouses Clear Hatred”

  1. Fazal on February 26th, 2009 12:14 am

    The issues that such a reaction from a person who has been entrusted to uphold the law and sat in judgment of its application is in itself appalling.

    Given the “NO COMMENT” response from York University seems to lend to the notion that Mr. Staniszewski’s request is being given consideration, the question than arises how many scholarships provided by York University or other Universities have “Special” conditions which restrict students eligibility based on Race, Religion, Gender, Age, disability or other restrictions which limit students from having a fair and equal opportunity at education. These institutions are funded by all of our taxes and all of us should have an equal and fair opportunity to be eligible for all that a University has to offer including Scholarships, Awards, Bursaries, Financial Assistance or any other assistance.

    I would encourage you to pursue this matter, we as a society need to deal with some of these social demons, which seem to elude our conscience when we point fingers at other nations for intolerance.

  2. blaw on February 26th, 2009 12:42 pm

    Yeesh. Perhaps a first year law student could draw a Venn diagram for the distinguished jurist with one very large circle representing “Muslims” and one very small circle representing “terrorists / extremists / fundamentalists”. It’s tricky stuff, for sure.

    Sadly, there seem to be a fair number of people that can’t distinguish the two, or worse, fully believe that all Islam is fundamentalist, and all Muslims at heart violent and bent on destroying civilization.

  3. Emilia Liz on March 2nd, 2009 6:25 pm

    I wrote a commentary on this case.

    The Staniszewski Affair: The Freedom to Discriminate?

    My hometown of Windsor, Ontario is not a particularly happening place. Overshadowed by the American metropolis of Detroit across the river, Windsor has little crime but not much excitement either. In the past few days, though, the city has found itself in a firestorm of controversy after a retired judge there by the name of Paul Staniszewski ordered that several scholarships he established at the University of Windsor and York University (his alma mater) not be given to Muslim students. This stipulation is, in his own words, a “tit for tat” for the beheading of a Polish engineer in Pakistan by the Taliban. Staniszewski’s statements have raised a wave of public commentary, with some supporting the judge, others condemning him, and still more expressing decidedly mixed feelings. The two universities themselves have refused to comply with his request, calling it discriminatory and even illegal.

    The judge’s logic does seem somewhat warped. The average Muslim student on a Canadian college campus is probably far removed from the people who killed the engineer in Pakistan. A fair number of these students might actually be embarrassed by the Taliban’s actions. If I were a Muslim myself, I would almost certainly be offended by Staniszewski’s decision. By the same token, I would be upset if my daughter, as a Christian, were denied a bursary on account of people like Fred Phelps, the American Baptist minister who pickets funerals of gay men with signs reading “God Hate Fags.” (By the way, I find Phelps disgusting and harmful to the reputation of Christianity as a whole). One wonders who would qualify, or disqualify, as a Muslim in Staniszewski’s eyes. Could a student who was raised in the Islamic faith but later fell away from it or, better yet, embraced another religion – in particular Staniszewski’s religion, which I presume is Roman Catholicism – access his scholarships? Would a former Muslim who had since become an atheist or agnostic be required to openly denounce his or her faith of upbringing in order to apply for one or more of these bursaries?

    The point has been made that many existing scholarships by their very nature discriminate against certain classes of individuals. For example, scholarships set up specifically for girls or Native Canadians automatically exclude male and/or Black/White/Asian students. On the other hand, there is the issue of motivation. Most people who earmark bursaries for female or Native students do so out of concern that women and Aboriginals are being short-changed by the Canadian educational system, not out of hostility to men or non-Natives. Judge Staniszewski’s acts appear to be spurred solely by anger towards Muslims. (It must be said that as a member of a profession that prides itself on its impartiality and rationalism, Staniszewski’s emotionalism does not strike me as especially judge-like.) It is the explicitness rather than implicitness of Staniszewski’s exclusion to which many, including the above-mentioned universities, object.

    In the end, I would agree with a number of observers that Judge Staniszewski has the right to do what he wants with his own money, regardless of his reasoning. I would add that the universities also have every right not to go along with his request. At this point the best course of action would be for Staniszewski to withdraw his scholarships from the institutions in question and, if he wishes, set up a similar bursary on his own. While this solution might not make everybody happy, it would be the most effective way to preserve both Staniszewski’s individual freedom to act according to his own conscience and the universities’ obligation not to engage in discrimination against any particular category of students.

  4. Steve on March 3rd, 2009 5:14 am

    Emilia,

    Your case commentary is obviously not a legal one, or if it is, there is a lot of legal analysis missing from it.

    As I’m sure you know, programs that seek to ameliorate discrimination in society under s. 15 have been upheld by the courts. A scholarship that specifically sought to support Muslim law students (which does not yet exist in Canada) would not be considered discriminatory, but one that deliberately excludes them would.

    However the analysis does not end there. Staniszewski’s proposal is no less discerning than a person who may have had a bad experience with one man and therefore sought to exclude all men. Muslims have no reason to be embarassed by the Taliban than you do; it’s a sufficiently broad and diverse group encompassing 1/5 of the world’s population. No, what is surprising is that a former member of the bench would express some complete ignorance about Canada’s largest religious minority.

    Staniszewski does not in fact have a right to do anything he wants with his money. He certainly does not have the right to promote hatred.

  5. Emilia Liz on March 3rd, 2009 10:51 pm

    I actually asked my brother, a lawyer, to give me some feedback on this essay, but he hasn’t had a chance to yet (I know from him that practising law is a literally a full-time job and at least a half, especially if you have a family).

    Just a clarification: I am not saying that Muslims should feel embarrassed by the Taliban’s actions, just that some of them might feel that way. As a Christian myself I am embarrassed by Fred Phelps, because I am sure many people look at him and think he represents my religion. Of course rationally I know I shouldn’t be, but I am.

    I would also like to make it clear that I don’t approve of Staniszewski’s actions. I commend the universities for not complying with his request. But I think if such is the case, he should simply withdraw his funding from the universities in question.