Friday, July 31, 2009

Why PFOX is Clueless

Apparently, according to PFOX, a picture of RuPaul wearing a suit implies that he's gone straight, or at the very least, given up drag.

Those of us with a more grounded understanding of reality know that neither is true. RuPaul's online biography is pretty clear - he's a gay man that happens to do drag.

Let me be abundantly clear here - drag itself is performance art. It tells us nothing about the performer's personal gender identity or sexual identity. Above all, it should not be confused with the broad range of identities that are called transgender. A drag performer may be transgender to some degree or another, but it is not a given; and not all transgender people engage in drag.

The fact that RuPaul continues to host a couple of shows on television - presumably in drag - is a good clue that drag is still very much a part of his life.

The unfortunate part of PFOX's apparent assumptions is that they are incorrectly associating drag with someone's gender and/or sexual identity. No doubt, they then infer that because someone is a "former drag queen", that they have "accepted their god-given body" (or whatever rubric is in fashion among the ex-gay industry when it comes to talking about gender variant people). They will, inevitably extrapolate this same logic to the transgender community as a whole, and in doing so will get it horribly wrong - quite possibly at the risk of causing some unfortunate souls some serious harm in the process.

PFOX, along with the rest of the "ex-Gay" industry would like us to all believe that we can "overcome" and "be heterosexual" (sadly missing the point entirely where transsexuals are concerned). They see someone in a suit that they only ever saw in performance costume, and they assume that he's "gone straight". It's a sad statement about how little they truly understand about those that they claim to be trying to help.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Typical Harper

I'll give him this - he's nothing if not predictable.

Election would harm the economy

“We do not need another round of political instability, another round of elections. We need Parliament to focus on the economy. That's what the government is doing and obviously that is what I would encourage the other parties to do as well.”

Uh huh. Let's talk about instability, shall we? The last time things got a little too hot in Parliament for PMSH, it was last November when he hid behind the Governor General's skirts to avoid a confidence vote he thought he would lose; or perhaps, we should look at the the election he called in September of 2008 - fully two full years before his own "fixed election dates" law would have obliged Elections Canada to hold a ballot.

Now, we see the Con$ repeating their same old pattern - running about announcing half-baked and unrealistic spending plans, and lying to the public about promises they have yet to enact, and pandering to their extremist base - all in the name of satisfying PMSH's overweaning desire to hang onto political power.

Contrary to Mr. Harper's prognostication, an election won't undermine the economy. It doesn't work that way - it never has. He's just scared of being accountable for his own actions.

Mr. Harper's own hyper-partisan style of politics is half of the reason that he's stuck in the polls. He doesn't get it - and he never will. Canadians expect something better than he's been providing from our political leaders. Harper is so focused on sniping at his opponents and setting things up so he can snipe some more that he has no idea how to govern a nation. What we've seen the last three and half years is a government that stumbles from crisis to crisis, bumbles about on the world stage like a scrawny adolescent at a body builder contest.

To borrow from the Conservatives own campaign slogan a few years ago:

Canada Deserves Better

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Stephen Harper - Lying To Canadians

PMSH is busy exhorting Canadians to take advantage of a home renovation tax credit that hasn't been put before the House of Commons yet.

"There has never been a better time to renovate your home," Harper said.

The Finance Department intends to introduce the HRTC as a bill later this year.

Wait a second ... Harper wants us to spend, spend, spend ... on the assumption of a tax credit that doesn't exist yet? One that the government hasn't bothered to put before Parliament?

Once again, we find our Prime Minister lying to Canadians, for nothing more than "gaining political points" ... and he doesn't give a damn how many Canadians he screws over doing it.

No doubt, he's looking for a way to dissolve parliament again this fall - no doubt by trying to concoct some odious piece of omnibus legislation that will contain the HRTC legislation along with something that Harper knows that the opposition can't let past.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Buh-Bye Kory

Somehow, I don't think anyone in Canada missing Kory Teneycke's shadow on the national stage overly much.

While Teneycke might have been an improvement over Sandra Buckler - that's only because he would talk to the media from time to time.

From my perspective, he's just another piece of what's really wrong with Ottawa these days. As part of the message planning and delivery team for PMSH (who holds the real responsibility in many dimensions), it's been Teneycke who has overseen the last few rounds of "attack ads" out of the HarperCon$, and his participation in that cycle has done little except drag Canada's political discourse to new depths.

No ... Mr. Teneycke's departure will be no great loss for Canadians.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Wingnuts Howl

Apparently, the residents of Outer Wingnuttia that write for Lifesite are unhappy about the Court of Queens Bench ruling regarding Marriage Commissioner Orville Nichols.

As a public official, she said, Nichols is obliged to perform civil marriages according to the statutes in the Marriage Act, which allows same-sex "marriages." "I am sympathetic to the argument that a public official acting as government is at the same time an individual whose religious views demand respect," she wrote. "However, a public official has a far greater duty to ensure that s/he respects the law and the rule of law. A marriage commissioner is, to the public, a representative of the state. She or he is expected by the public to enforce, observe and honour the laws binding his or her actions. If a marriage commissioner cannot do that, she or he cannot hold that position."

This is pretty much what I have been saying since day one. The marriage commissioners are secular officials, not religious officials. This is an important distinction. I hate to think what some would experience if the concept of civil servant suddenly included the right to not serve someone in the public because you "disagreed" with some aspect of their life - real or perceived.

As for the Saskatechewan marriage commissioner story, it is just another of numerous confirmations that court decisions and legislative changes in favour of "equal rights" for homosexuals consistently result in denial of fundamental rights for those who oppose homosexuality (rather than homosexual persons themselves). This is dangerous stuff that cannot but lead to great harm to any society that allows it to continue.

Wait a second. Your "fundamental right" to oppose homosexuality? That's like my fundamental right to oppose religious stupidity. Religiosity is a personal right, and nobody has a right to project their beliefs onto others. Equal rights for homosexuals does not infringe upon religious freedoms - not unless there is a "right" somewhere to treat others as second class citizens based on that religion. Religious beliefs however, when enacted as public policy, do have a nasty tendency to abrogate equality rights - whether we are talking about women's equality, or GLBT rights.

There Are Some Things Lipstick Won't Improve

In this case, it's the Conservative's latest attempt to paint themselves as "moderate" and "diverse".

Apparently, they have formed a Native Caucus.

The new Tory aboriginal caucus will be chaired by Winnipeg South MP Rod Bruinooge and also includes Health Minister and Nunavut MP Leona Aglukkaq, Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River MP Rob Clarke, Saint Boniface MP Shelley Glover, Quebec Senator Patrick Brazeau and B.C. Senator Gerry St. Germain.

Hmmm...Bruinooge ... I've heard that name before... but where? Oh right - he's the chair of the "Pro Life Caucus" - that secretive bunch that wants to revoke a woman's autonomy - and won't (except for Rod Bruinooge) admit to their membership. But wait, there's more. Remember a "massive poll" the Wingnuts were trumpeting about last year? Yeah, so do I. Not only was the poll itself obviously bogus, but the company that did the poll was run by Bruinooge's brother.

So ... now the HarperCon$, who have consistently lied to Canadians about their policy and objectives, and what they really represent want us to believe that they are a nice, inclusive little club. Isn't that nice?

For the natives in Canada, I'd review the fate of the Kelowna Accord in the hands of the Conservatives; not to mention the complete lack of meaningful action on the part of the sitting government to move beyond the archaic terms of the Indian Act at all.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

There Is No Honour

In killing your family.

One of the great oxymorons to be imported from abroad is the notion of Honour Killings. While the case now unfolding in Montreal is not yet understood to be a "mercy killing", the charges laid today speak to that very pattern. I was fairly certain when the car was found that the murderers who perpetrated this act had to be close to the victims.

The murder of a family member - no matter the reason - is, under Canadian law, murder. There is no concept in our laws of "honour killing" that makes it somehow a lesser act - in fact arguably, these are among the most premeditated of murders - ones where the victim is known to their killers, and the killer has the luxury of time to plan and execute their deed.

Tragically, it most often seems to be the women of these families who are murdered by outraged fathers or brothers for some perceived infraction of the rules.

There is no honour to be had in killing your sister or your daughter...or a brother or son, come to that. So what if your sister "dressed inappropriately", or perhaps had the misfortune to be raped? Killing her won't address either problem - nor does it restore (or create) any honour. Instead, the perpetrator demeans themselves even further and enters the ranks of our most reviled of criminals - the murderers.

Nobody's honour is "restored" by killing a family member; and in reality, the killers themselves demean not only their families, but themselves. Never again will they walk in our society as a trusted member; forever more they will be seen with fear and mistrust - for not only did they take a life, but they took the life of their own family.

I'm all about respecting the diversity of people and cultures we have in this country. But respect does not mean that I have to remain silent about things happening on Canadian soil that violate Canada's laws. This is one "cultural practice" best left behind when you come to Canada, for there is no profit in it - ever.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Wow - Like You Couldn't See THAT Coming

As predictable as can be, I see that the TheoCon$ who have control over the federal Con$ervatives have decided that anything with the taint of "Teh Gay" is suddenly unacceptable.

A gay and lesbian arts festival that was told it met all government criteria under a new tourism stimulus program learned Tuesday it was rejected for funding.

The news arrived at Montreal's Divers-Cite a few weeks after tension swept the Conservative caucus over funding for Toronto's Pride week, and just days before the beginning of the event.

The directors of Montreal's Divers-Cite had actually sprung to the defence of Stephen Harper's government earlier this month, telling The Canadian Press that the Conservatives had never treated them differently. Some in the gay community attacked them for their comments.

They had submitted a bid under the new Marquee Tourism Events Program for $155,000 to add performers and promotion to this year's $2-million event.

Ummm, yeah guys - if you haven't figured it out yet, the TheoCon$ are happy to take your defense of them, and they'll still try to punish you for your "licentious lifestyle".

When he phoned to check on the bid Tuesday, Mr. Girard says he was told by a senior bureaucrat that the $100-million program had received so many requests, the government simply had to make a choice.

Right. Fine. In light of the recent demotion and public humiliation of Diane Ablonczy, it's time for the government to come clean and prove their claim. Otherwise, I'd put better than even odds that the wingnuts have been screaming loudly, and this is a response by a government scared of alienating their extremist base.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Jimmy Carter Speaks ...

You listen: Here

For all that Carter was treated some serious derision as a president, in his post-presidential years he has been a voice of sanity on many subjects - and once again he speaks out and makes far more sense than most.

H/T: Antonia @ Broadsides

Sunday, July 19, 2009

US Hate Crimes Deliberations

The lies, intellectual dishonesty and political philandering around the so-called "Matthew Shepard Act" in the United States continues apace. I haven't paid much attention to the bill itself - a lack of time mostly - my own life has been filled with its own priorities that have consumed my energies.

However, it's Sunday, and I have a few minutes to spare and I was just reading the semi-funny, outright ridiculous tripe posted on Lifesite about this legislation.

The first complaint is the cry of "no fair" from the Rethuglicans because the Democrat majority has attached it as an amendment or rider to a defense spending bill:

"Those of us who oppose this legislation - and it is important legislation - will be faced with a dilemma of choosing between a bill which can harm, in my view, the United States of America and its judicial system and a bill defending the nation," protested Sen. John McCain, who denounced Reid's tactic as an "abuse of power."

Now, in general principle, I actually agree with the Republican complaint here - I don't like the way that unrelated topics get tacked on to significant bills in the US legislative system. It has always struck me as a fundamentally dishonest way to get things done.

That said, during the Bush II era, it's not like the Rethuglicans didn't engage in precisely that tactic themselves - repeatedly. There were many times where more noxious legislation was tacked onto legislation that the house would have to pass or risk stalling the business of government entirely.

I won't say that I am sympathetic to the Republican plight here - the tactic in question has been in place for years, and seems to be one the ways that the US legislative process works. I may not like the tactic, but it's a fact of life.

Critics have warned that the bill has a chilling effect on religious free speech against homosexuality, pointing out that similar laws in other nations have facilitated the prosecution of Christians who speak against homosexuality, particularly in Canada and the United Kingdom. More importantly, they charge, "hate crimes" laws violate the guarantees of equal protection under the law by creating preferential classes for justice.

The number of outright falsehoods and bogus comparisons in this is beyond ridiculous.

First of all, The statement about "chilling" religious free speech is provably false. In Canada, there has not been a single religious speaker charged under Sections 318, 319 of Canada's Criminal code.

It is also important to recognize that civil rights in general exist in a state of tension with one another. I have discussed this concept many times before on this blog. It remains ridiculous to me that the argument continues to be made that there is some religious "freedom" to be exercised in "speaking out against homosexuality". Since when did religious freedom override the right of an entire subgroup in our population to live their lives in relative peace? The religious are free to "disagree" with homosexuality all they like - just as I am free to disagree with some particular religion all I like. In neither case is there a right to demand that the members of either be treated as lesser citizens.

"'Hate crimes' laws contradict the 14th Amendment to the Constitution and create unequal justice by elevating some groups of victims at the expense of others," said Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America. Wright pointed out that under the proposed law, "Victims who engage in homosexual, transgender, or other sexual behavior get special treatment over victims who are military officers, police officers or veterans," such as the military recruiter who was slain in June by a Muslim convert at a shopping mall in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Hmmm...really? Let's consider a few factors here. First of all, Ms. Wright (ironically, probably the first time in ages that CWA has had a female spokesbot) is only partially correct. In many parts of the US, killing a police officer is an automatic ticket to Capital Murder charges. Period. Regardless of the circumstances. This has been the case for years. While I don't know if there are similar statutes regarding military personnel, that's irrelevant - there are already "tiers" of severity in the justice system.

Second, last I checked, there isn't an ongoing epidemic of people deciding to go "roll a cop" or "kill a queer" on a Saturday night. For GLBT folk, this is a common and well-placed fear. Killings like Matthew Shepard's, or for that matter Brandon Teena, are far too common; less dramatic crimes like beatings, vandalism and organized harassment are more frequent.

The use of hate crimes statutes is pretty rare. Only in the most egregious of cases is there enough evidence to suggest that there is a hate crime. Canada's Hate Crimes statutes have been on the books for several years, and have only been exercised a handful of times. In general, there are other, civil law remedies that are far more effective in dealing with the kinds of abusiveness that I will politely call "group slander".

There is also, in my mind, quite a difference between murder and murdering someone because of who they are. To return to CWA's bogus argument about a military recruiter's murder for a moment. The recruiter works for the military - that's what he does. It's his career. However, he can go do a different job if he wishes to. GLBT people are attacked for something that in general they are unlikely to be able to change. (and until someone shows me some actual credible long term follow up of "ex-gay" therapies, I will stick with that position)

However the Senate version of the "hate crimes" bill does not yet reconcile with the House version, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Act, which alarmed conservative lawmakers as the bill fails to define or restrict the term "sexual orientation." One Democratic representative heaped praises on the bill for granting heightened federal protection for all 547 "paraphilias" or sexual aberrations documented by the American Psychological Association.

547 Paraphilias? Really? Wow - I'm going to have to go and review my copy of the DSM IV - because I only recall a handful of sexual paraphilias listed in there. In fact, the DSM IV TR specifically describes 8 specific categories of paraphilia, and one additional category to provide a diagnostic category for other, rarer paraphilic interests that may be encountered in the course of progress.

It does not describe 547 paraphilias per se. Additionally, the only paraphilia that would be covered under any hate crimes statute per se (and at that only indirectly) is formally labelled "Transvestic Fetishism", which may be coincident with some forms of GID. (As I understand it, many crossdressers engage in crossdressing for a combination of reasons, and few are absolutely fetishistic in nature)

In the context of hate crimes, it is important to recognize that the language of sexual paraphilias does not appear in them, nor does it seem to me that the language of the legislation I'm familiar with could be twisted to include most paraphilias - especially those that are known to be damaging or destructive to other, non-consenting parties.

Ironically, as this summary shows, getting the tar kicked out of you for your religious beliefs is already a protected category under existing US hate crimes legislation. (So much for CWA's "special category" lies - unless they are willing to admit that religion is very much a special category before the law already).

The ongoing squawking about including GLBT people in hate crimes legislation is nothing more than the religious right wingnuts demanding that the state protect the industry that they have spawned in their blind hatred of GLBT people. Whether one considers CWA, Americans for Truth Against Homosexuality, MassResistance or for that matter Focus on the Family, all of these organizations exist and depend on their ability to raise fear about GLBT people in the public in order to justify their existence.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Quick, Into the Wayback Machine!

I don't believe the latest dropping out of the HarperCon$. Susan Delacourt has the story.

As if I needed more evidence to reinforce my opinion that the knuckle draggers are in control of the HarperCon$, we find the "Honorable" Helena Guergis creating a program that basically is built around resurrecting the neanderthal notion that sexual violence is a function of how girls dress (and, apparently by extrapolation, that males are simply unable to control themselves).

Talk about stepping back into the dark ages. What's next? Rape defences along the lines of "but your honor, she was dressed provocatively!" coming back?

Do we really have to keep these idiots around?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

So, You've Reviewed All Those Cases Minister Kenney?

So, Mexicans and Czech citizens will need visas to travel to Canada now.

Why? Because Mr. Kenney has himself worked into a lather because he feels that there are too many refugee claimants coming from those two countries:

Ottawa placed the restrictions on citizens of Mexico and the Czech Republic to counter a rising number of travellers who claimed refugee status in Canada rather than return home.

In the first three months of 2009, 3,648 Mexicans and 653 Czechs claimed refugee status after arriving in Canada – many of the Czechs are said to be from that country's Roma minority.

Okay. Your point, Mr. Kenney is what? You can prove that all of these claimants are not legitimate refugee claimants? Or do you just think that they aren't?

Or ... is this just more Conservative mendacity coming to the fore, and instead of solving the real problems, you just want to punish those that you consider to be the source?

Jason Kenney has since said that we need to "reform" our refugee system:

“When we raise with our partners in foreign countries the issue of false asylum claims, or large flows like we've seen from Mexico and Czech Republic, they turn the discussion back on us, and say, ‘Your system is inviting this kind of abuse. And you need to fix your system,' ” Mr. Kenney said.

He wouldn't say what he has in mind to speed up the system, but noted Britain's 2004 changes as an “interesting reference point.”

Britain fast-tracked asylum claims from countries considered generally safe, to discourage false claimants from those countries by deciding their cases quickly, and sending home those rejected.

Uh huh. Sounds like more of the Conservative "get tough on crime" BS. Punitive measures taken against people on the assumption of wrongdoing instead of actually engaging due process and making sure that things are resourced in a way that the system can deal with the demands.

This business of "it's the fault of our system" is smoke and mirrors - it's an attempt by the minister to deflect attention away from the egregious and unnecessary travel restrictions which have tones that only neo-nazis and skinheads would approve of.

If there are real problems with the immigration system, Mr. Kenney and the rest of the HarperClones should start enumerating how they intend to address these issues, instead of taking precipitous and punitive actions against other nations.

Mr. Kenney is musing about adopting some approaches that Tony Blair attempted in Britain in 2004 ... but he's avoiding committing to any sensible dialogue of what he intends to do. Once again, we have the HarperCon$ doing meaningless grandstanding without presenting any kind of meaningful policy that Canadians can discuss.

Harper is eroding Canadian democracy and values one issue at a time - and in a manner that is uniquely destructive to Canada.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

That Was Smooth?

Oh. My. God. You know the bar has been lowered when Harper's performance at the G8 summit is described as "smooth".

Mind you, that assessment is coming from the Asper-controlled Calgary Herald - so I'm not exactly hopeful for unbiased journalism here.

Says the Herald:

Stephen Harper’s visit with Pope Benedict XVI could have capped a triumphant diplomatic and political foreign excursion — if not for his disastrous partisan attack on rival Michael Ignatieff, a political analyst said Sunday.

Ummm...not to mention his utterly ridiculous statements about Parliamentary Budget Officer Ken Page's comments (which Darryl Raymaker quite nicely skewers here).

Of course, the Herald makes it clear that Harper's been playing - as always - to his base:

“I expressed my deep appreciation for the Holy Father’s moral and humanitarian leadership as an advocate of human dignity, peace and religious liberty, and for the spiritual leadership he provides to Catholics in Canada and throughout the world.”

How the current Pope can claim any "moral authority" is beyond me. Among the most egregious things the Church has ever done - conceal its child-molesting priests by moving them about as the heat started to get turned up - was reinforced by then Cardinal Ratzinger in 2001. That policy is contained in this document. Some moral authority, there.

But then again, as we know from Harper's behaviour to date, he's not overly interested in truth and reality either.

I will disagree with Darryl Raymaker in one key respect - Inspector Clouseau was an amusing character on television...Harper is anything but amusing.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dear Honda:

I've never understood why you dropped the Civic hatchback in the '90s. (Other than the mid-90s version got excessively boring). I was in Europe recently, and saw the Hatchback styling you have over there.

Frankly, the current Civic sedan/coupe in North America is a yawn - it's grown to the size of the '98-02 Accords, and the styling just doesn't do it for me.

The European hatchback, on the other hand, is one of the best looking designs I've seen come out of your studios in recent years:

* Pictures from Honda's UK website

With hatchbacks re-emerging as a style of car that more fuel conscious North American consumers will consider, it strikes me that it's a good time to make the Civic what it has been renowned for - a small, practical car that's good looking and fun to drive.

When I saw the Civic HB in the skin, my first thought was "There's a hatchback I'd consider buying".

Friday, July 10, 2009

24 x 7 Campaigning ... Foot, meet Mouth

Harper just couldn't help himself, could he?

During the news conference, Mr. Harper attacked Mr. Ignatieff, saying he was irresponsible for comments he allegedly made about Canada's position within the Group of Eight industrial nations. Mr. Harper was basing his criticism on a fragmentary quote supplied to him by a staff member before the news conference began. The quote, uttered by an academic, that Mr. Ignatieff is alleged to have said suggested a new configuration of the world's big powers to replace or augment the G8 might leave Canada out.

“Mr. Ignateff is supposed to be a Canadian,” Mr. Harper said. “I don't think you go out and float ideas like this that are so obviously contrary to the country's interest and no one else is advocating them.”

Mr. Harper, you're on the world stage - leave the petty, partisan politics at home. You have embarrassed not just yourself and your party, but Canada and Canadians by trying to make your appearance on the world stage another campaign stop.

But, there is something to be said for giving Harper enough bait that he embarrasses himself at such a high level:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has apologized to Michael Ignatieff for questioning the Liberal Leader's support for Canadian international interests, saying he based his attack on a quote Mr. Ignatieff never uttered.

“During that press conference, I attacked Mr. Ignatieff for some things he had allegedly said about Canada and the G8,” Mr. Harper said this afternoon at a wrap-up news conference of the Group of Eight major industrial nations.

“This was not a quotation of Mr. Ignatieff. I regret the error and I apologize to Mr. Ignatieff for the error.”

That's as close to an apology as Canadians will ever see out of this Prime Minister. Unfortunately, he hasn't apologized to his peers in the G8 for trying to use it as yet another campaign moment, nor has he apologized to Canadians for making the entire nation look like a bunch of rubes.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Of Bibles, Marriage and Overactive Imaginations

In the wake of Diane Ablonczy's recent faux-pas that has likely terminated any chance of ascending the ladder of Stephen Harper's cabinet, I find this little turd floating in bowl of the internet.

It appears to be an attempt to justify opposition to gay marriage because ... well, apparently men are beasts if they aren't in the company of women:

Homosexual male culture is the way it is because it centers upon encounters between men and men alone. Everything that's most animalistic about men when they are not in the company of women has an excellent opportunity to emerge to the fore.

Ummm...sure. Right. Somehow, this doesn't quite mesh with any of the gay couples that I have known, but then I won't say I'm wildly familiar with their bedroom encounters.

But, beyond the blithe suppositions that the author starts with about gay male behaviour, it's what he posits will happen if the US allows gay marriage.

... But then he goes on to describe the rest of his lifestyle, which is not exactly domestic. I'll spare you, but one detail caught my eye.

I had previously assumed that in his "marriage" he and his boyfriend are monogamous. Not so. Savage writes about how he would like to detail their adventures but his "boyfriend" vetoes the idea.

What was I saying about those tenets of sexual adventurism? Oh yes, that they may please Dan Savage and many other gay men. Sexual sterility goes inevitably with their lifestyle. Even in a "marriage" like Dan's, monogamy isn't expected. And there's no necessary limit on lurid public expressions.

Monique, don't you see? Girls and women were hurt by males with increasing and heartbreaking frequency as the Sexual Adventurist Code of Values was progressively adopted since the 1960s as the norm among heterosexual males. No, we didn't need homosexuals to teach us these things. It was old fashioned heterosexual adventurism. Many women are still paying the price.

Well, let's just think about this for a moment. Sexual promiscuity in men has been met with a nudge and a wink for centuries - going back to the earliest recorded civilization. Among the Romans, the men of the house bedding slaves, the neighbor's wife and whomever else happened to be convenient was tacitly accepted - mostly because it meant that there was less chance of a woman being perpetually pregnant. An early, and crude form of family planning, but planning nonetheless.

Of course, since the 1960s, what has happened is that women have started to assert that they have a say in whether or not they want to have sex, and when they want to bear children. Something that has long offended the holier-than-thou crowd.

But there's a real problem with the writer's implicit assertions. First, he seems to believe that men are incapable of managing their sexual desires. This is blatantly false, and as has been pointed out in numerous sexual assault trials where the defense tried to claim that they "couldn't help themselves" because of how the victim was dressed, an line of reasoning that is simply insulting to both men and women.

But now gay activists want society's seal of approval on their lifestyle, and it is, on average, far more extreme in its adventurism. And you think that will not encourage heterosexual men and boys to keep on hurting women as they do now, or worse? If homosexual males treat each other that way, with their activity officially endorsed by the government, why can we heterosexual males not relate to you, heterosexual women, in a similar fashion?

Wait a second, here. How can you possibly make such a leap with any intellectual honesty? Let's just consider something for a moment. Homosexual couples have been a visible and tacitly accepted part of our society since the 1960s. To the best of my knowledge, the rates of domestic violence have not substantially changed; and if he is referring to subjects like marital breakdown, well, I don't think you blame that on the homosexuals somehow.

Imagine a man and a woman, of impeccably heterosexual tastes, with an open marriage on the Dan Savage model. Every woman with a brain in her head knows that in such a relationship, she's likely to be the one who gets hurt.

Ummm...I hate to point this out, but heterosexual couples have engaged in "swinging" for a lot longer than a few decades. It may have been quietly hushed up, but rest assured that it went on. This is perhaps the great irony of the entire construct of marriage - it creates a set of boundaries and rules for people to live by, and the first thing that half of them seem to want to do is find ways around those rules. (and don't get me started on the delightful church practice of "indulgences" and other ways to sidestep supposed scriptural prohibitions!)

No, sorry, but blaming homosexuals for the infidelities and abuse that happen in heterosexual relationships is simply stupid.

However, the article's author in a subsequent writing goes on to describe women as sluts. Well, I suppose it fits into whatever weird idea of relationships the author has. Sadly, I think he's spent to much time with his nose buried in scripture, and not enough time looking around the world and reveling in the diversity that resides here.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

There Goes Ablonczy

I'd say that Diane Ablonczy's career in Harper's cabinet is toast:

Federal Tourism Minister Diane Ablonczy has given up responsibility for overseeing a major stimulus fund that sparked controversy in Conservative Party ranks after it gave $400,000 to a Toronto gay pride celebration in mid-June.

Conservative MP Brad Trost, a critic of the Pride Week grant, is suggesting that the Harper government stripped Ms. Ablonczy of responsibility for the fund as a punishment.

If you want more of what Trost said, it's here - on Lifesite News - a "backdoor source" for the PMO to signal to the religious right wing without most of the population picking up on it. (I had seen the Lifesite article a couple of days ago, but I consider Lifesite so biased that I waited for a more credible source to pick up the story as well)

Trost's statements in the Lifesite article are telling - as they give us a pretty good idea how much influence and/or control the fundagelicals have in Harper's government:

Speaking to from his riding office in Saskatoon today, the 36-year-old Conservative said, "The pro-life and the pro-family community should know and understand that the tourism funding money that went to the gay pride parade in Toronto was not government policy, was not supported by - I think it's safe to say by a large majority - of the MPs. This was a very isolated decision."

Trost also hinted that Minister Diane Ablonczy, who was responsible for the funding, lost the file as a consequence of the embarrassment to the Party. Protesting more than once that there was no "official connection," he said, however, "it should be noted that the file has been reassigned to a different Cabinet Minister since that announcement was made." He added, "The whole tourism program and funding for major tourism events is being reviewed."

Trost claimed that "almost the entire Conservative caucus" including "most of the Prime Minister's Office were taken by surprise at this announcement."

"It shouldn't be deemed to have been a change in Party policy," he said, adding, "Most of the caucus is still strongly pro-traditional marriage."

Ablonczy was one of the few reasonable members of the Reform/Alliance band. You can pretty much guarantee that she will be quietly banished to the backbenches. If Harper could afford to lose the vote in the House of Commons, I'm sure he'd turf her out of caucus as well - he hasn't exactly shown himself willing to forgive mistakes.

From the Toronto Star:

But in his criticism of his colleague, he did not mention his government funds Saskatoon's Pride parade. The Saskatoon Diversity Network received $9,000 from Canadian Heritage this year for last June's Pride Festival.

So ... Trost's interview was for what purpose, precisely?

More Dog Whistles Out of Edmonton

So, Premier Stelmach finally said something about his direction yesterday.

A defiant Alberta premier broke ranks with some of his own senior cabinet ministers Tuesday, declaring that, under his watch, taxes will never increase to help the government escape from its multibillion-dollar deficit and a deepening fiscal hole.

One day after some of his most trusted ministers said both tax hikes and program cuts are needed to redress the province's revenue crunch, Premier Ed Stelmach said his government won't hike personal or corporate taxes, and vowed never to adopt a provincial sales tax.

This is another dog whistle moment - to the extreme right wing base that now seems to have control over the Alberta PC's. It's a signal that under Stelmach, the government is going to get axed down to as small as he can make it.

It shows a disappointing lack of vision and wisdom on his part though. He has just shackled himself to only surviving on existing revenues - by far the majority of which are coming in from a natural resources sector that has been pummeled in recent months.

Stelmach has just taken so many tools off the table, that his government's ability to respond to the economic situation we see today is reduced to two things: borrowing money and cutting services. That's it.

It's a sacred cow in Alberta that we will never have a provincial sales tax. When times have been good, that's been feasible for the government to get away with, and it plays well at the ballot box. What Stelmach, and others, fail to recognize is that a Sales Tax would go a long ways to stabilizing the revenues that the Alberta Government sees.

Unfortunately, Stelmach is playing to his base - he has been more blatantly since the April budget, and it's going to get a whole lot worse in the coming months. Especially when the leadership of the governing party isn't even willing to consider all of the tools that are available to him in addressing the current situation.

Stelmach's approach is going to make the recession in Alberta lot worse, and a lot deeper for longer in short order - purely so he can shore up his support within the party.

Talk about a government being past its "best before" date!

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Harper and Ignatieff In Calgary

Ugh ... one of the things I hate about Stampede is that every 2 bit politician seems to think that it's the most wonderful opportunity to come around campaigning.

Harper hasn't helped his case any - not with what he said, or the latest round of attack ads.

Frankly, to infer that opposition to "mandatory minimum" sentences has anything to do with support - or lack of it - for certain varieties of criminals is simply cheap politics on Harper's part. Mandatory minimum sentencing does little in the long run except put more people in jail for longer - the US "War on Drugs" has used precisely this tactic only to achieve the highest incarceration rate in the western world.

The Liberal Leader said the ads, which blast the Bloc for voting against a law that would impose minimum sentences in child trafficking cases, further divide the country.

“I'm in politics to defeat the Bloc Quebecois with real arguments rather than slurs and vicious ad hominem personal attacks,” Mr. Ignatieff told a cheering crowd.

The Conservatives have also run attack ads that criticize Mr. Ignatieff for spending much of his adult life outside the country.

Mr. Ignatieff said there's plenty to criticize about the federal Tories without stooping to attacks on anyone's character or patriotism.

I think Ignatieff's right on this one. The politics of character assassination and slurs are something that Mr. Harper has imported from George W. Bush's America, and quite frankly, it's something that Canadians should walk away from. It does none of us any good, and we deserve better from our politicians than what Mr. Harper has delivered.

Mr. Harper also portrayed his government as trying to get tough on crime but being shackled to the actions of “the three parties of the left.”

Think about this for a moment. Harper's been pretty careful to only introduce the least odious aspects of his legislative program while he's governing with a minority, and he's whining about being "shackled" by the opposition? Just what would he be doing if he had a majority? I suspect it would be bad - bad for Canada, bad for Canadians. As far as I can tell, the Reform "base" is still firmly in control of the HarperCon$, and there's nothing about that political movement that is good for Canada as a whole.

Harper has demonstrated a lack of understanding about human rights, the obligations of the government to its citizens - at home and abroad, fiscal management and accountability. How many more chances does this buffoon want?

Friday, July 03, 2009

Harper, Military Salutes and other Corruption

As if I needed another reason to think of Stephen Harper as a complete ass.

Dave over at TGB points out the arrogance and disrespect that our Prime Minister has shown for Canada, Canadians, and our system of government on Canada Day.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Lies, Damned Lies and Lousy Research

I'm a little late coming to this story - others have covered it before me, mostly because I haven't had time to give it the analysis it so richly deserves.

Entitled Legalizing Deception: Why “Gender Identity” Should Not be Added to Anti-discrimination Legislation, this article from Catholic Exchange comes as no real surprise, given the utterances from Pope Ratzinger.

However, this article is sufficiently awful as to deserve being examined in some detail. Superficially, it almost appears to have been researched fairly well and only on closer inspection do the problems with the foundations become apparent.

Such legislation is designed to give legal protections to those who reject the sex they were born with and want to be publicly accepted as the other sex -– the so-called ‘transsexuals,’ ‘transgendered,’ ‘gender queer,’ transvestites, and others. Such persons deceive themselves, deceive others, and are being deceived by mental health professionals and surgeons. The public is being deceived by the media and activists into believing that so-called ‘transsexuals’ were born with biological problems that are remedied by surgery and that it is possible to change your sex.

As an opening thesis, this sets the tone for the rest of the argument - essentially it is the often used claim that the transsexual is "deceiving" others. It also takes a gratuitous swipe at the treatment professionals that assist transpeople with the challenges that they face.

Let's see what else they have to say, shall we?

One lie leads to another. A clearly male person presents himself in public as a woman. He has had surgery and hormone treatments to perfect his impersonation and he demands that we pretend this makes him a woman. He wants us to use female pronouns when speaking of him and to allow him to use the ladies’ restroom. He also wants to change his birth certificate and driver’s license. While some persons who present as the other sex are obviously not the sex they pretend to be, others are able to deceive their sexual partners without informing them of their true sexual identity.

Persons who present themselves in public as the other sex say they need such protections because they are afraid of violence. This fear is real. When someone is deceived — particularly in such a personal matter has the sex of an intimate partner or potential spouse — anger is an understandable reaction. Violent acts can never be condoned, but if such legislation is passed those who have been deceived will be denied any legal recourse and the deceivers will be portrayed as victims.

If one were to blithely accept the thesis that transsexuals are "deceptive", this tautology makes sense. However, that is precisely the kind of reasoning that the defense in the Angie Zapata case tried. This "blame the victim" logic is wrong - no matter the circumstances. It has been tried repeatedly over the years, whether we are talking about rape, gay bashing or trans bashing.

However, the author is just warming his audience up at this point, before delving into his attempt to render transsexualism irrelevant or invalid as a condition. To do this, he turns to a particularly debatable bit of hypothesis:

Some males are autogynephiles, who began in adolescence to engage in paraphilic transvestite fetishism. A paraphilia is a sexual attraction to something other than another person. In this case a man is sexually aroused by to the image of himself as a woman.

The whole notion of autogynephilia is the invention of Anne Lawrence and Ray Blanchard. I know that Anne Lawrence self-identifies as autogynephilic, and she has written extensively about the concept. Many in the transsexual community disagree strongly with the very notion of autogynephilia - especially as a broad diagnostic notion.

My own thoughts on the idea have undergone some changes recently. I don't accept the idea as describing all transsexuals - it may describe a subset of those who seek transition and surgery, but I doubt that it describes very many. However, as a conversation I had a couple of weeks ago revealed, the notion of autogynephilia should not be used to exclude someone from access to surgery, since the post-surgical results for these people is generally positive. In other words, even if a transsexual is autogynephilic, that is far from fully describing the situation that individual is dealing with. (This conversation was with someone in the research/treatment community, and he had some very interesting things to say)

Those who are obsessed with the idea of being the other sex often resist therapy. They refuse to look at the psychological reasons for their desires. Some mental health professionals, frustrated by their inability to treat this disorder and concerned about their clients’ obvious dysphoria, are willing to go along with this deception. They give in to their clients’ demands and recommend a surgical solution to what they as therapists know is a mental health problem. They deceive their clients into believing that a “sex change” is possible.

The “sex change” surgeons know they can’t change a persons’ sex, they can only create a non-functional appearance of the other sex, but they also know they will be well paid for their skill and so go along with the deception.

These paragraphs grossly malign the treatment professionals who work with transsexuals. It characterizes them as "giving up" or worse being in it "just for the money". This is a gross misrepresentation of a group of professionals who came up with the WPATH Standards of Care, which are so carefully structured to ensure that the right steps are being taken.

Transsexuals are not typically resistant to therapy, but transsexualism in general doesn't respond to the therapy techniques used for other conditions such as OCD. There's decades worth of evidence for this. One cannot even call it an obsession and be correct in understanding what is going on.

This is not atypical when someone writes about transsexualism without actually understanding the condition itself, or worse, has a political agenda firmly rooted in perpetuating ignorance.

Lawrence also points out that when autogynephiles are not accepted as the sex they want to be they can be vulnerable to narcissistic rage, which is defined as the “disproportionate, compulsive pursuit of revenge that seeks to obliterate both the offense and the offender.”[6] ...
If you want to understand the full potential of such wrath, consider the case of John Michael Bailey, whose book The Man who would be Queen provoked retaliation from a small group of persons who didn’t like being labeled autogynephiles. They used the Internet to make outrageous accusations against Bailey, attacking his children, trying to turn colleagues against him, and to have him fired from his job.[8] Attempting to connect two, dramatically unrelated topics in this kind of manner is beyond irresponsible.

First of all, Bailey was castigated for publishing a book based on arguably awful research.

The broad base of the transgender community is rightly upset by that book, and seriously question both the validity of Bailey's work as well has his motives. Far too many people who have read Bailey's book have concluded that it doesn't describe their experience of being transsexual to accept it as being even remotely descriptive of the condition overall.

Lawrence applies the following clinical description of narcissistic rage to Bailey’s opponents:

…need for revenge, for righting a wrong, for undoing a hurt by whatever means, and deeply anchored, unrelenting compulsion in the pursuit of all these aims… There is utter disregard for reasonable limitations and a boundless wish to redress an injury and to obtain revenge… The fanaticism of the need for revenge and the unending compulsion of having to square the account after an offense…The narcissistically injured… cannot rest until he has blotted out [the]… offender who dared to oppose him, to disagree with him.

Even if only a small number of autogynephiles are prone to narcissistic revenge, they could cause incredible harm to anyone who speaks the truth. They would see injury everywhere, file complaints, and institute lawsuits.

Has Anne Lawrence interviewed even a reasonable number of the people outraged by Bailey's book? That isn't a clinical description, it's conjecture. In this, I respect Ms. Lawrence's choice to defend someone whose work she respects. However, I do not think that it is even remotely reasonable to make such projections without actually doing some kind of sensible study of the people you are attempting to describe.

The laws adding “gender identity” to anti-discrimination legislation would allow men and women with serious psychological disorders, some of whom are prone to narcissistic rage and revenge to use the law to persecute business owners who are attempting to protect the privacy of customers in restrooms and locker rooms.

Oh yes, the "freak in the locker room/washroom" argument. This is nothing more than a sadly inadequate attempt to excuse discrimination and bigotry. While Ms. Lawrence has connected Narcissistic Rage to non-passing autogynephiles, I think that such a connection is at best debatable. I would like to see some population studies to investigate such claims. For now, I think it's important to note that the diagnostic criteria for Gender Identity Disorder make it quite clear that such a diagnosis should only be made in the absence of other significant disorders.

Further, most transsexuals are considerably better able to cope with adverse situations after transition than before. Also, the article is attempting to falsely characterize transsexuals as unstable and suffering from serious mental illnesses beyond their gender identity issues. Again, this is rarely the case, and the diagnostic criteria in the DSM IV TR safeguard against such situations.

And it gets worse. In some places, at age 11 these children who think they are the other sex are given puberty-blocking hormones so that secondary sexual characteristics do not appear. Then they are given hormones proper to the other sex, so that at age 18 they can be surgically mutilated. In other words, the entire educational, psychological, and medical establishment is conspiring to see that these children never receive proper treatment. There is no research on the long-term effects of these hormone treatments on developing the bodies and brain. Do we really believe that 11-year-old children have the judgment necessary to decide to permanently surrender their sexual identity and reproductive potential?

Worse? Obviously the author has no idea that the Endocrine Society has drafted treatment guidelines for transsexual persons - based quite strongly on the WPATH Standards of Care I referenced earlier.

... and yes, an 11 year old in the early stages of puberty (Tanner Stage 1 or Stage 2), may well have more than enough awareness of their inner gender being at odds with their body. Far too many transsexuals report awareness of something being awry long before any social gender awareness would have started to develop to ignore. While not all youth who experience cross-gender identity become transsexuals as adults, the interesting thing about the puberty stalling drugs is that once they are taken out of the picture, puberty can proceed normally (if a few years late, perhaps)

The interesting counter point is that even though a smaller fraction of childhood GID patients go on to pursue GRS as adults, the author has failed to note that by far the majority used to end up living as gay males. (At least in Dr. Richard Green's study). What would happen with these individuals if they had the option to transition during their formative teenage years? We do not know yet, but I suspect that we will find out in the years to come.

Sadly, the author of the column at Catholic Exchange appears to have gone out to find literature to support his preconceived notions about transsexuals, rather than bothering to educate himself about the topic as a whole. In doing so, his article rests almost entirely upon the heavily disputed works of Bailey, Blanchard and Lawrence.

To be perfectly honest, I would like to think that Anne Lawrence would be horrified to find her work being used in such a ham-handed manner to justify denying transsexuals protection from discrimination.

The Cass Review and the WPATH SOC

The Cass Review draws some astonishing conclusions about the WPATH Standards of Care (SOC) . More or less, the basic upshot of the Cass Rev...