Friday, December 31, 2010

You Have Got To Be Kidding

Since when has child abuse ever been considered "normal"???

In his traditional Christmas address yesterday to cardinals and officials working in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI also claimed that child pornography was increasingly considered “normal” by society.

“In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorised as something fully in conformity with man and even with children,” the Pope said.

“It was maintained — even within the realm of Catholic theology — that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a ‘better than' and a ‘worse than'. Nothing is good or bad in itself.”

... and this is coming from the organization that rails against GLBT people as "unnatural" and "objectively disordered", and condemns the use of condoms even when life threatening diseases are involved? I believe the correct term here is "hypocrisy".

Religionist Distortions Of Reality

Now that the website "No Apologies" is entirely under Tim Bloedow's control, it seems to rapidly be spiraling into self-parody, with headlines for stories that have NOTHING whatsoever to do with the actual story and snide little comments at the beginning of the stories which completely misrepresent things.

Consider the following:

Is Christopher Hitchens about to become a Christian?

The real story is a repost and link to Mr. Kissinger, Have You No Shame? posted in the National Post - a column authored by Mr. Hitchens, and expressing outrage at some of Henry Kissinger's acts during the Nixon years.

Posted at the top of the story is a particularly vile bit of snide commentary:

As a die-hard atheist, Christopher Hitchens should have total moral ambivalence, much like the author of the grotesque article on cannibalism printed on the facing page from Mr. Hitchens’ article in the National Post yesterday. (both were reprinted from Instead, he sounds remarkably like a Christian with his moral outrage against Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under U.S. Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Maybe Mr. Hitchens will yet become a Christian before he dies.

The assumption - and I've seen it expressed many times - is that someone who isn't explicitly "Christian" can't possibly have morals or a moral compass since they do not cleave to the rules dictated in Christian scripture. The assumption itself is quite ridiculous, since there are a lot of people who are not religious in the first place, and in general they aren't any more or less morally upright members of society than their religious peers. Being an atheist does not make one amoral as well - one doesn't need the guidance of scripture to figure out how to treat your fellow human beings with respect and dignity, a little bit of simple observation in society usually works just fine.

Then there's this little headline: Incest by IVF? – Teenager helped lesbian aunt’s partner conceive

As usual, there's several levels of distortion here. First is the use of the term incest. Apparently the author of the headline thought it would be clever to confuse incest with consanguinity.

The definition of incest is quite simple:

1. sexual intercourse between closely related persons.
2. the crime of sexual intercourse, cohabitation, or marriage between persons within the degrees of consanguinity or affinity wherein marriage is legally forbidden.

Consanguinity is a little harder to pronounce, but pretty straightforward to understand:

1. relationship by descent from a common ancestor; kinship ( distinguished from affinity).
2. close relationship or connection.

In the actual story, the issue (if there was one at all) might be one of consanguinity, since IVF doesn't involve sexual intercourse to the best of my knowledge.

Guess what? Unless the Aunt's partner was a fairly close blood relation, chances are that there is no issue with the consanguinity laws either.

In short, there is no real issue here - although an attempt has been made to associate what actually happened with incest, with all of its accompanying taboos.

Lastly, we find this more blatant distortion: “Transgender” activist demands total acceptance despite huge freedoms

The real story Film about transgender dad banned after director refuses to cut scenes comes from Thailand:

Thailand’s film board has banned a movie about a transgender father struggling to raise two children, a move the director says highlights the conservative side of Thai society despite its freewheeling reputation.

Let's examine the degree of distortion between what the NoApologies headline says and implies and the real story for a moment.

(1) The word Transgender is placed in quotes. The implication is that the author of the headline is trying to suggest that the notion of transgenderism is fictitious.

(2) The use of the word Activist falsely implies that a transgender person who does something that gets into the public sphere is doing so for political reasons.

(3) The overall headline itself implies that transgender people should be happy with the freedoms that they already have, and that pointing out where there's still room to improve the situation is somehow unacceptable.

Lastly, I think it's important to point out that this story itself isn't really all that much different than the recent CBSC ruling about McVety's television show. Apparently it's "okay" to censor the work and words of transpeople that you want to marginalize, but not okay to limit the speech of someone like McVety. Frankly, I think it's a case of "pick one" - you can't have it both ways. Either free speech is an absolute with no limitations, or it has limits - and it applies to everybody.

I haven't seen the film in question myself, so I won't comment on its content specifically.

However, coming back to the original point, the headline that NoApologies put on this story has little, if anything, to do with the actual story itself.

Lifesite's news headlines are bad enough as a rule, but they usually have something to do with the actual story. In the last month or so, NoApologies has slide below the already low bar set by Lifesite ... and is becoming almost laughable.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Harper's Incremental Destructiveness

Anyone who has been paying attention to Stephen Harper's government since 2006 should be paying attention to two articles that have appeared in the newspaper in the last couple of days.

The real threat to health care reform

This article spends a great deal of time talking about how the Republicans in the US go about undermining things like health care reform. Mostly, it's a matter of going after it by starving the program for resources.

Albertans will be quite familiar with these tactics, having observed the provincial government undertaking the same basic approaches for years.

Which brings me to this article:

The dismantling of Canadian democracy promotion, brick by brick

The Harper government followed with a promise in its Throne Speech in 2008 to create “a new, non-partisan democracy promotion agency … to support the peaceful transition to democracy in repressive countries and help emerging democracies build strong institutions.” Whether or not Canada needs a new agency to do this while many already exist with similar mandates is a topic of much debate. But the idea of making Canada a leader in democratic development abroad was welcome by all in this field.

This noble new foreign policy direction was short-lived. Instead of building up and strengthening Canada’s democracy support architecture, our government has been systematically dismantling it.

The Canadian International Development Agency’s Office of Democratic Governance, which channelled much of Canada’s democracy funding, was disbanded. The Department of Foreign Affairs’ Democracy Unit was folded into the Francophonie and Commonwealth division.

This is but a singular example of how the HarperCon$ have spoken out of one side of their face while singing a very different tune out the other side. Unlike the Roman God Janus which guarded doorways from both sides, the HarperCon$ are "guarding" from one side; and attacking from the other.

As pointed out here, HUMAN RIGHTS – 1, CHRISTIAN RIGHT – 0, Harper is also attacking Canada's institutions which support our democracy:

A Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) decision on Friday reinforced the application of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms just as Stephen Harper is doing his best to erase the whole notion from the political map. His recent assault on the Canadian Human Rights Commission is a case in point. Harper summarily closed CHRC offices in Vancouver, Toronto and Halifax. The three offices accounted for 70 per cent of all federal human rights complaints to the CHRC in 2008.

From this Canadian's perspective, we are living under the rule of the singularly most destructive government we've ever seen. I wish I knew where the opposition parties were hiding.

This Is Pretty Much Sacrilege In Alberta

It's about time that someone started to discuss a sales tax.

I've said for years that Alberta's government needs to examine its cash flow realities and adapt to the current situation. For far too long, we've been living in a fiscal lala land where the notion of a sales tax has been taboo - in spite of the reality that just about every other jurisdiction on the continent has one.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Theocracy - It's Not Just A Word

Over at his "Christian Governance" website, we find Tim Bloedow expounding upon what he believes Theocracy means - it would be funny if he wasn't so serious...

1. Theocracy means the rule of God.

Actually, Theocracy means a bit more than just "the rule of god", as a quick look in a dictionary shows us:

1. a form of government in which god or a deity is recognized as the supreme civil ruler, the God's or deity's laws being interpreted by the ecclesiastical authorities.
2. a system of government by priests claiming a divine commission.
3. a commonwealth or state under such a form or system of government.

I think it is rather important to pay attention to the last part of the first clause of the definition the God's or deity's laws being interpreted by the ecclesiastical authorities.. In short, it boils down to government by a ruling class of clergy. Let's not lose sight of this, since it becomes quite germane to the discussion of what's wrong with the concept of theocracy in the first place.

2. God rules over all of creation, therefore, theocracy is a fact, regardless of who believes in it or accepts it.

3. Theocracy does have implications for civil governance and human society, but it pre-exists as a concept over and larger than civil government.

Really? Unless you have some irrefutable proof of a specific metaphysical being actually existing (and not being just an idea embedded in unprovable legend), I don't think it's reasonable to say that there is a "fact" here. It exists as an accepted common notion among those who accept the idea of a god, but hardly stands up to scrutiny as a rational fact.

Rationally speaking, one can look at Iran as a theocracy, and that is a fact today. However, let's be equally clear about something - Iran may be a theocracy, but it is unproven that the metaphysical being alleged to be at the head of that theocracy actually exists outside of legend. In short, Iran is being ruled by an unelected, unaccountable ruling class of clerics.

4. Most people who say they oppose theocracy do so because the term conjures up images of a totalitarian government and a rigid moral order that reflects the imposition of a minority on the whole society.

5. That is exactly the experience of Canada and other Western nations under the tutelage of the humanist religion. And the majority of our citizens seem content to let it unfold even if they disagree with it. This despite the fact that we know how these humanist/atheist experiments turn out: the former USSR, Hitler’s Germany, the People’s Republic of China, North Korea, etc.

Let's go a little further in dissecting Mr. Bloedow's claims here, shall we?

First of all, let's address his claim that Secular Humanism (at least I presume that's what he's referring to when he uses the term 'humanist')

Secular Humanism is a secular philosophy that espouses reason, ethics, and the search for human fulfillment, and specifically rejects supernatural and religious dogma as the basis of morality and decision-making. Secular Humanism is a life stance that focuses on the way human beings can lead happy and functional lives.

Secular Humanism is distinguished from various other forms of humanism. Though Secular Humanism posits that human beings are capable of being ethical and moral without religion, or God, that is not to say it assumes humans to be inherently or innately good. Nor does it present humans as "above nature" or superior to it; by contrast, the humanist life stance emphasises the unique responsibility facing humanity and the ethical consequences of human decisions.

The term "Secular Humanism" was coined in the 20th century, and was adopted by non-religious humanists in order to make a clear distinction from "religious humanism". Secular Humanism is also called "scientific humanism". Biologist E. O. Wilson called it "the only worldview compatible with science's growing knowledge of the real world and the laws of nature".[1]

Fundamental to the concept of Secular Humanism is the strongly held belief that ideology—be it religious or political—must be examined by each individual and not simply accepted or rejected on faith.[2] Along with this belief, an essential part of Secular Humanism is a continually adapting search for truth, primarily through science and philosophy.

In short, Secular Humanism is not a religion. It is a philosophical perspective used to analyze the world and human experience of it. Religions generally work on the assumption of something being 'divinely inspired/guided/whatever'. To refer to Secular Humanism as a religion is to distort the reality.

Next, what Bloedow refers to as failed secularist states were and are totalitarian regimes. Their official (and whether Nazi Germany was atheist is decidedly murky indeed) atheism is in many respects secondary to the actual success or failure of the state. China, for all of the things it may criticized for, is a state currently undergoing significant change and as the world's second largest economy can hardly be called a failed state.

Similarly, for all that Iran is one of the most brutal regimes in the world - especially if you are female, homosexual or non-muslim, it is not a failed state. It has a robust economy and is a significant political and economic power in the region. We should never lose sight of this.

However, from the perspective of Canadians, Iran represents a great deal of what can go horrendously wrong with the practical implementation of theocracy. Among other things, the very concept that a woman's testimony in court bears only half the weight of a man's is deeply problematic, not to mention the recurring issue of women being stoned to death for adultery - based entirely upon some cleric's interpretation of "God's Law". Let us not lose sight of the impact of this kind of harshness upon the people who live under the thumb of a theocracy.

The issue isn't one so much of whether we are talking about a theocracy or other form of government, rather it is the likelihood of the government descending into totalitarianism. Oppressive government tends to evolve when those in control of the levers of power believe that there is some absolute that must be maintained.

6. Considering how tolerant Canadians are of totalitarianism, Christians shouldn’t feel the need to distance themselves from the language of Christian government and theocracy, despite the myths about these ideas being oppressive.

Let's talk about oppression for a moment, shall we?

Oppression typically happens to minority populations within a larger society. After all, short of military force, it is pretty hard to oppress the majority population in a society. In democracies, for the most part, oppression is result of an interesting phenomenon better known as 'The Tyranny of The Majority'. (which is a key reason for the existence of things like human rights law in the first place - something which Bloedow rails against elsewhere.

The problem is that what Bloedow calls 'totalitarianism' is really just the normal process of rights existing in tension with each other - and in the last fifty years or so, the balance has shifted away from providing unfettered rights to discriminate based on religiously derived proscriptions.

Further, Bloedow's position here ignores the key observation that has been at the core of civil and human rights law since the Civil Rights Movement took hold in the United States. This observation is that the 'will of the majority' can, and does, do great violence to minority groups within that broad fabric of civilization. Much of the civil rights push in the latter half of the 20th century is focused on undoing the harms done by limiting the participation of minorities in the public sphere.

7. Biblical theocracy refers to the rule of God through His law, not the rule of God through any particular person, and God’s law applies to all of life, so we need to understand how God’s law addresses a particular area of life in order to exercise God’s rule – theocracy – there.

Here's where theocracy gets well and truly messed up. Just how is anyone supposed to believe that there is a single, correct, interpretation of scripture? Christianity alone has hundreds, if not thousands, of individual sects, each claiming to know "the real answers".

This means that we come down to theocracy being driven by a bunch of clerics who happen to have a particular understanding of scripture. In short, it is all but guaranteed to degenerate into a form of totalitarianism as the clerics in power become comfortable with having the power without being directly accountable to the people. (one doesn't have to look too far for this kind of unaccountability - take a look at the Vatican)

Offhand, I'd put good odds that there are a lot of Quebecois who might still remember the Duplessis era, and the fallout from that - a good object lesson in how theocracy - in this case indirect - can go very, very awry.

8. Biblical theocracy advocates decentralization, balance of powers and shared leadership in every area of life. Organizational centralization is contrary to God’s law in family, church and state. Biblical theocracy leads to political models that reflect the principles of division of authority and diffusion of power.

Does it really? Or is this just Bloedow's personal interpretation? I'm inclined to believe the latter. If Bloedow's claims were the generally held understanding of scripture, it's extremely hard to imagine how the theological/political entity of the Roman Catholic Church emerged in the first place - with all power devolving ultimately to the Pope. Frankly, I suspect that Bloedow is actually arguing for a more libertarian approach to government because it is convenient to him ... and he doesn't want to be bothered understanding issues such as the 'Tyranny of the Majority' would be amplified in such a situation. (and possibly to his detriment, given that overall levels of religiosity in Canada have been on the decline for decades)

9. God, and God alone, sovereign. Every human authority is exercised under God; all human power is delegated from and by God.

Again, as with the statements made in section 2 of his position statement, Bloedow is assuming the existence and accountability of a metaphysical being. I'd like to point out that English Kings (and other Monarchs as well) used to rule "by divine right" - claiming that their power was derived from God. Those not so familiar with how that turned out are urged to spend a little time studying the history that led up to the creation of the Magna Carta which started the process of unwinding the arbitrary powers that English Monarchs claimed as "divine right".

Thanks, but no thanks. I see no reason to repeat one of the darkest times in human history. The concept of "god's law" is unaccountable to the people who are affected by it, and it is subject to interpretation by an elite class who will be even more unaccountable to the people than our current day polticians. Politicians can be contacted, lobbied and persuaded - and outside of Alberta - voted out of office. Metaphysical beings? Not so much.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Well, Isn't This Special?

Those who have had dealings with Alberta Health on issues related to mental health have known for years how parochial our government can be. In yesterday's Vancouver Sun, we learn that the government is using a diagnostic coding scheme from 1975 ... and it was out of date then!

Alberta’s current diagnostic codes were last updated in 2005, the same year that British Columbia removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders and four years after China did so.

In Alberta, homosexuality still falls under the heading of Mental Disorders: Sexual Deviations and Disorders. It is at the top of the list and is followed by bestiality, pedophilia, transvestism, exhibitionism, transsexualism, disorders of psychosexual identity, frigidity and impotence.

Neither Zwozdesky nor Alberta Health and Wellness spokesman Howard May could explain why Alberta’s diagnostic codes have not been revised.

“These are not Alberta’s codes, they were developed by the World Health Organization, under international guidelines, and are in use in many provinces,” May said.

Asked why Alberta’s current codes are based on the 1975 ICD-9 and not on the 1990 ICD-10 that drops homosexuality from the list of mental disorders, May said in an email: “The codes are extremely complex. It would be a vast undertaking to change them.”

"A vast undertaking"??? WTF? Horsefeathers. Even if it is a large amount of work, it is a gross injustice to Albertans that our health care system has chosen to remain in the dark.

It also explains why Alberta's approach to funding GRS prior to 2009 looked like one of the Gender Clinic programs out of the 1970s in terms of the hoops that it insisted transsexuals jump through - and was dramatically out of step with the Standards of Care that HBIGDA/WPATH publish. (like them or not, they do represent an evolving protocol).

iberal MLA Laurie Blakeman first raised the issue in the legislature in 1999.

“It’s just so wrong, it’s sickening,” she said. “Here we are in 2010 and the Conservatives are still living in 1950 ... I still hear some of them talk about how this is a ‘lifestyle decision.’ ”

[Note:] CBC Radio is reporting that Alberta is changing its position on the listing of homosexuality this morning - I'll be watching to see if I can find a confirming article for this. [Update 17:30] Here it is

H/T: Commenter "SB"

Sunday, December 19, 2010

US Senate Votes To Repeal DADT

The US Senate has voted to repeal the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy which prohibited GLBT people from serving openly in the US military.

Welcome to the 20th Century, America. (Assuming that Obama actually signs this into law)

Of course, the wingnuts screaming about religious liberty and America's moral decline.

The argument that this will somehow damage the military is simply a red herring. Canada, and many other NATO allies have long had openly gay servicemembers, and it hasn't negatively affected the capabilities of the military in any of those countries.

As for it "ending religious liberty" in the US military, I don't see that at all. It perhaps limits the ability of the screaming whackjob religionists to point at GLBT servicemembers and demand that they be fired from their jobs, but since when was it ever reasonable to fire someone for their sexual identity?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Putting Don Cherry In Perspective


I thought I had said all I ever wanted to say about Don Cherry. But lately, the man has morphed into Glenn Beck in sequins, out to prove that he who shouts loudest is always right. It's always the same thing: the rage, the name-calling, the complete absence of reason

... and I just love the last line:

So put that in your pipe and smoke it, Don. Just don't get ashes on the pink jacket. Liberace's ghost wants it back.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Charles McVety ... Martyr?

Last week, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council made public a ruling on a series of complaints about things McVety had said on his program

Predictably, this week, we find him playing the martyr card, instead of taking responsibility for his own actions.

McVety has fired back at the ruling against his TV show, singling out the head of broadcasting council.

"We should not have Mr. Ron Cohen, a bureaucrat, tell me what my opinions can be and what my opinions can't be," McVety said.

A statement on the show's website referred to the broadcasting body as "thought police" that launched "a vicious attack against Word TV," it said.

"Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of speech, opinion, press and religion," the statement continued., Mr. McVety, nobody is telling you what your opinions can and cannot be. The issue has more to do with how you present them ... somehow, it seems that lies and blatant distortion are seen as a bad thing...

Let's go take a look at the decision itself:

Errors of Fact: Human Rights Tribunal “Conviction” Rates

In dealing with both the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) and the Alberta Human Rights Commission (AHRC), host McVety has either carelessly or purposefully misled his audience when he referred (in both cases) to the “one hundred per cent conviction rate” of both regulatory bodies. The Panel assumes that the host was, on that basis, attempting to impugn any decision emanating from those tribunals as unfair, biased, distorted and unworthy of the public’s trust. Leaving aside the host’s mistaken (and judgment-laden) use of the words “convict” and “conviction” in this context, whatever his motivation, his allegation of an undisputed, unmarred “conviction” record is incorrect and misleading to Word TV’s viewers.

In the case of Alberta, the decision record of the AHRC was, to pick the three years prior to the December 2009 broadcast, as follows: in 2007, three complaints were upheld and five were dismissed; in 2008, five were upheld and six were dismissed; and in 2009, two were upheld and two were dismissed. In other words, of the 23 Commission/Tribunal decisions in that period, 43% were sustained and 57% were dismissed. This is far from the 100% McVety had posited, and constitutes a serious distortion of the facts.

In the case of Ontario, the decision record of the HRTO is not dissimilar. In 2007, six complaints were upheld and three were dismissed; in 2008, seven were upheld and 27 were dismissed (of these, 21 could be characterized as procedural or jurisdictional dismissals, but they were dismissals nonetheless); in 2009, for reasons unknown to the Panel (likely procedural or administrative), the number of decisions jumped significantly; however, a review of a random block of 78 of these resulted in seven complaints upheld and 71 dismissed. As in the case of the AHRC, this is very far from the 100% McVety had posited, and constitutes an equally serious distortion of the facts.

In short, McVety lied to his viewers - and not just a small lie, but a gross distortion of the facts.

Errors of Fact: The Criminalization of Commentary

The single most egregious and misleading assertion by host McVety was his November 8 assertion that, in his words, “it is now a crime to speak against homosexuality. Yes, I said a crime. Bill C-250 went through our Parliamentary system and made it a crime for anyone to speak against sexual orientation.” That is wrong. All Bill C-250 did was to add to the list of protected categories of identifiable groups in Sec. 318(4) (namely, “any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion or ethnic origin”) and, by reference, Sec. 319(1) and 319(2) of the Criminal Code, the words “or sexual orientation”. In other words, the substance of the Criminal Code provisions dealing with the advocating of genocide and the public incitement of hatred remained unchanged. Moreover, it must be borne in mind that Bill C-250 only renders the genocide and hate provisions consistent with the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada, which, nearly ten years before, had read “sexual orientation” into Sec. 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in its decision Egan v. Canada [1995] 2 S.C.R. 513, in which Mr. Justice La Forest stated:

I have no difficulty accepting the appellants’ contention that whether or not sexual orientation is based on biological or physiological factors, which may be a matter of some controversy, it is a deeply personal characteristic that is either unchangeable or changeable only at unacceptable personal costs, and so falls within the ambit of s. 15 protection as being analogous to the enumerated grounds. [Emphasis added.]

In any event, it is not a crime to merely “speak against” homosexuals, or members of any of the other groups identified in Sec. 318(4). Crimes are a serious matter. In order for Sec. 319 to be invoked, an accused must be found to have intended, in making the offending statements, to incite or promote hatred, or must have had knowledge that making the statements would have created a substantial certainty that hatred would be promoted. It cannot be forgotten that, as the Supreme Court said in R. v. Keegstra [1990] 3 S.C.R. 697,

The word "hatred" further reduces the scope of the prohibition. This word, in the context of s. 319(2), must be construed as encompassing only the most severe and deeply felt form of opprobrium. [Emphasis added.]

On the issue of freedom of expression itself, the Court also stated in that decision:

Section 319(2) of the Code does not unduly impair freedom of expression. [...] This section does not suffer from overbreadth or vagueness; rather, the terms of the offence indicate that s. 319(2) possesses definitional limits which act as safeguards to ensure that it will capture only expressive activity which is openly hostile to Parliament's objective, and will thus attack only the harm at which the prohibition is targeted. [...] [W]hile other non-criminal modes of combating hate propaganda exist, it is eminently reasonable to utilize more than one type of legislative tool in working to prevent the spread of racist expression and its resultant harm. To send out a strong message of condemnation, both reinforcing the values underlying s. 319(2) and deterring the few individuals who would harm target group members and the larger community by communicating hate propaganda, will occasionally require use of the criminal law. [Emphasis added.]

It is the view of the Panel that the host’s statement that “it is now a crime to speak against homosexuality” is factually incorrect and misleading to the audience. It is a gross distortion of the serious reason for the creation of a protection in the criminal law in order to give effect to the Parliamentary goal of prohibiting the incitement of hatred against identifiable groups. Any broadcaster may disagree with the adoption of such a criminal remedy by the Government, but, once adopted, no broadcaster ought to distort its meaning or effect. It would be correct to assert that “it is now a crime to incite hatred against homosexuals” (in the circumscribed conditions of the Section); it is not correct to assert that “it is now a crime to speak against homosexuality.”

Yet another point where McVety has lied to his audience. My, we're doing well here, aren't we?

Let's move along to how McVety chose to portray the proposed changes to Ontario's Sex Education curriculum.

Mis-characterizations: What the Curriculum Teaches Children

The host is, as noted above, entirely free to disagree with the proposed Government curriculum changes favouring openness and diversity. That would be fair enough, but apparently not far enough to suit him. He has characterized the school issue in the following way on the January 17 program: “All of these sexual practices to be taught to our children in our schools. When we send little Johnny and little Jane to school, [it’s] not to learn to be homosexuals and lesbians.” He then attributes the curriculum modification proposals to “an activist group”, whose members “have an insatiable appetite for sex, especially with young people.” There is not a shred of evidence offered in support of this clearly excessive characterization of the Government’s motivation and the alleged criminal practices of the proposers of the curriculum changes. On the January 24 episode, he again refers to “this activist, homosexual activist agenda.” Overall, the McVety comments go a considerable step beyond those dealt with by the Prairie Regional Panel in CKRD-AM re Focus on the Family (CBSC Decision 96/97-0155, December 16, 1997). That Panel said:

While Focus on the Family is free to describe the homosexual lifestyle as sinful, as did Life Today with James Robison [see CHCH-TV re Life Today with James Robison (CBSC Decision 95/96-0128, April 30, 1996)], the program under consideration here has gone much further. It has treated support for the movement as “flimsy” and has disparaged that support (see, for example, the dismissal of a study authored by a gay activist with the general statement that “like all gay science, it really has very flimsy foundations”). Moreover, it has attributed to the gay movement a malevolent, insidious and conspiratorial purpose, a so-called “agenda”, which, in the view of the Council, constitutes abusively discriminatory comment on the basis of sexual orientation, contrary to the provisions of Clause 2 of the CAB Code of Ethics.

In sum, the Panel finds that the characterization of the revised curriculum as one designed to teach homosexuality is utterly wrong. The proposed curricular revisions are intended to teach tolerance. McVety is entitled to disagree that such teaching of tolerance should be tolerated but his twisting of the purpose of the revisions is wrong-headed, unfair and improper.

Hmmm...let's see, twisting things and distorting the facts. Last I checked, that's yet another form of lie - and no better than any other lie.

Perhaps we should look at the nature of his characterizations of Gay Pride parades ...

Mis-characterizations: Gay Pride Parades

The Panel notes that the Gay Pride events, including the parades associated with Pride Week, have become quite mainstream. This hardly means that homosexual activities are, or need be, everyone’s cup of tea. Once again, the Panel has no difficulty with the broadcast of a critical position regarding the funding of LGBT events, but the constant accusation of “sexual perversion” levelled at the parades, the labelling of the parades as “sex parades”, and the argument that advertising for Pride events promotes sex with children (and specifically “there’s boy, young boys and young girls and you can do whatever you want with them”) and “underage people” are disparaging and unacceptable. The latter is another important recurring implication, if not an outright accusation in the dialogue between host McVety and his guest Brian Rushfeldt, namely, that gays prey on young boys and girls, on “underage people”. McVety may not like homosexuality. That is his entitlement, but to leave the totally unsubstantiated impression that gay and lesbian adults have a predilection toward young, underage people is insidious and unacceptable.

In all, the Panel finds the McVety mis-characterizations as excessive, inappropriate, disparaging, and abusive and consequently in breach of the Human Rights Clauses of both Codes, as well as Clauses 6 and 8 of the CAB Code of Ethics. It also considers that, given the central role that the manifestation of gay pride plays in the LGBT world, the immediately preceding comments constitute a derision of the traditions and practices of that community, and hence a contravention of Clauses 6 and 3 of the Equitable Portrayal Code.

My goodness, yet another lie perpetrated by misrepresenting the facts and distorting things.

I'm positive that Mr. McVety must have done all these things in error. Surely a man of the cloth such as he couldn't have forgotten what Scripture has to say about lying?

Exodus 20:16 "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour."

Leviticus 6:2 "If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the LORD, and lie unto his neighbour in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or hath deceived his neighbour;" ... 6:6 And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD, a ram without blemish out of the flock, with thy estimation, for a trespass offering, unto the priest:
6:7 And the priest shall make an atonement for him before the LORD: and it shall be forgiven him for any thing of all that he hath done in trespassing therein.

I'm just guessing here, but I don't imagine Mr. McVety sacrificed a ram for each of the shows in question...

Proverbs 12:22 "Lying lips are abomination to the LORD: but they that deal truly are his delight."

Proverbs 13:5 "A righteous man hateth lying: but a wicked man is loathsome, and cometh to shame."

Now, Mr. McVety, before you go running off at the mouth about the evilness of others, I suggest you take a long hard look at what your oh-so-precious scripture says about what you're about to say when you sit in judgment over others.

For the rest of the population, you might want to think twice before taking anything McVety says about Bill C-389 seriously.

Remember That Obscure Concept Of Due Process?

The Harperites are busy erasing it.

Remember Mr. Abdelrazik?:

Under a UN Security Council resolution, Ottawa has the power to punish anyone who provides Abdelrazik with material support.

Even if he got a paycheque, he couldn't withdraw funds from his bank account. After a court battle, he won an injunction that allowed him limited monthly withdrawals from his credit union account.

Both CSIS and the RCMP have acknowledged they have no evidence against Abdelrazik. He was exonerated of any ties to al-Qaida by the Sudanese Justice Department in 2005.

But efforts to have his name removed from the list have been unsuccessful. The federal government and other authorities have continued to apply the sanctions.

Does anybody else see something horribly wrong here? We have a man whose life is being constrained not because of a crime he committed, but because his name got on some arbitrary list somewhere and the agencies of government involved have refused to remove his name from it - in spite of having absolutely no evidence to support the allegations that got his name on the list in the first place!

Someone please explain to me how this is even remotely related to the concept of justice - much less the more ill-defined terms of "security" in the post-9/11 world, where our government seems to have decided that "security" means invading people's lives without cause and casting suspicion upon all in the name of extending the government's invasion into our lives.

North America is starting to sound a lot like the stories we used to hear coming out of the old Warsaw Pact countries.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The HarperCon$ and Rights

The HarperCon$ love to spout off about how they're really about preserving human rights and liberty.

However, actions speak far louder than words, don't they? Consider the agreement they are secretly negotiating with the United States which will no doubt give the American government unprecedented access to your personal data.

The communications strategy for the perimeter security declaration – which the document says will be unveiled in January, 2011 – predicts one of the biggest potential critics will be the federal privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart. That’s because the deal is expected to increase the amount of data exchanged between law enforcement and other government authorities in both countries.

Hmmm...really? This is protecting Canadians from just what threat? Oh right - those evil terrorists that are under every rock and behind every questionable package that goes across the border.

Raiding personal information and violating basic privacy and mobility rights by slapping people on "no fly" lists is not an answer to the issues raised by terrorism. Anybody with even the teensiest bit of awareness has to have figured out that slapping names on lists without evidence or even the slightest ability to appeal does very little except make it difficult for civilians to travel. It does nothing to make Canada more secure - any more than a government sanctioned groping before you get on the plane does.

Then we come to Harper's latest golden boy - recently elected MP Julian Fantino. It seems that Mr. Fantino doesn't like the Charter of Rights and Freedoms very much.

Fantino won southern Ontario's Vaughan riding, ending a 22-year Liberal hold on the seat. He brings tough-on-crime credentials to politics after a 40-year policing career, views he shared in a televised interview on CBC Wednesday night.

"In some cases, the Charter has been exploited and the rulings that have followed have, in fact, benefited some criminals, absolutely," Fantino said.

"The Supreme Court of Canada and other court rulings are trying to change some of the misinterpretations that have been given as to the reason, the purpose, and the mechanisms of the Charter."

Uh huh ... in other words, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms makes it a little more difficult for Fantino to be judge, jury and executioner. How delightful.

When challenged on his statements, Fantino dismissed the criticisms as "hug a thug" thinking. No, Mr. Fantino, it is not "hug a thug" - it's called an equal, just society - and as much as it may frustrate you that you can beat the tar out of whomever you choose, that's too bad. Canada's charter forms the foundation for a lot of our law, and it's pretty damned clear that we all have rights that have to be respected by both other citizens and the government.

Meanwhile, except for 5 Conservative MPs, the entire CPoC caucus has voted against bill C-389 which would recognize the legitimacy of transsexual and transgender people in Canada., this party has people like Fantino in it who complain because the law means that everybody has rights that have to be observed, is busy negotiating a secret agreement with the United States to hand over still more information about Canadians to a foreign power, and when given the opportunity to address a legitimate rights issue, votes against it.

This hardly speaks of a government which has any idea what civil rights and liberties really mean, does it?

So, while Harper sings to his supporters, we might just want to consider

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Don Cherry: A Study Of What's Wrong With Political Discourse In Canada

So, "right wing" politics in Canada took another turn towards the shrieking insanity of the so-called "Tea Party" in the US this week. When Don Cherry gave a speech at Toronto Mayor Rob Ford's inauguration/swearing in/whatever you call it, he said the following:

In a rambling speech meant to introduce the new mayor, Cherry touched on media articles that have criticized him in the past "because I go to church" and "because I honour the troops."

The former NHL coach, now a commentator, told Ford that was the type of criticism he will face as mayor.

"This is what you'll be facing, Rob, with these left-wing pinkos. They scrape the bottom of the barrel."

In closing, Cherry said Ford would be "the greatest mayor that this city has seen — and put that in your pipes, you left-wing kooks."

It seemed at least some of Cherry's remarks were directed at members of council — those who have been critical of the new mayor.

Along with recent comments in Michael Coren's column, we get a very clear picture of what's really wrong with political discourse in Canada:

Also, why the New York Times, among others, refused to print the climategate leaks as they were “gathered illegally,” but so relished printing the WikiLeaks information.

The answer, of course, is as apparent as a liberal’s hypocrisy. The climategate e-mails showed some of the zealots behind the global warming industry to be dishonest and malicious, and so discredited the left.

Fundamentally, it comes down to the supposed "conservatives" on Canada's political right have dragged discourse about how Canada should be governed, and where we are to go as a nation in the next few years into the mud pits of name calling and jingoism.

The discussion is no longer about policy and direction, it's about invective and who can cut down their opponent with the most vicious one-liners. Accusations of hypocrisy are common; discussions of facts and evidence have been replaced by not just spin, but blame dodging and name calling.

Don Cherry is not a problem in his own right - he is merely a symptom. The problems are far more fundamental than he is ever likely to attempt to understand.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Tough On Crime? Not So Much ...

So, instead of actually walking the walk, we find that the HarperCon$ are busy hamstringing police:

The Harper government has once again delayed implementation of regulations that police say they need to quickly trace guns used in crimes.

The government quietly posted a notice last Tuesday -- one day before the firearms marking regulations were to have come into force -- disclosing that implementation has been postponed until Dec. 1, 2012.

This is the third time the Harper government has delayed the regulations, which were created by the Liberal government in 2004 and were supposed to go into effect in April of 2006.

The government has also deferred for another two years regulations governing the possession and use of firearms at gun shows.

I see ... so instead of doing something which would make it easier for police to do their jobs and actually create safer communities, the HarperCon$ are busy hamstringing them while trying to push through ever more extreme laws that will cost Canadians billions of dollars in the coming years.

The latest deferrals are being applauded by gun enthusiasts, who hope the regulations will be repeatedly put off until such time as Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives win a majority and can scrap them altogether.

Oh ... well, of course. Doesn't that make sense? They're busy pandering to their base again. While they busily try to court more votes in their quest for a majority government, the HarperCon$ are actually creating an environment where criminals have an easier time of things. Hmmm...whose votes are they really courting?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Bill C-389: A Rational Perspective

Unlike the insane paranoid shrieking of Canada's religious right wingnuts, today's editorial in The Globe and Mail has some very intelligent things to say.

Transsexual and transgendered individuals expose the shortcomings of our narrow categories. Because they trouble this vision of male and female, they have been “socially erased,” to borrow a term from Concordia Professor Viviane Namaste. The result is a serious dearth in understanding concerning trans identities and everyday experience.

This lack of understanding can take on many forms, from workplace discrimination to physical, emotional and sexual violence. The lack of education concerning the existence of trans people and their various societal contributions has a significantly negative impact on this demographic. Many trans people, especially transsexual women from visible minorities, struggle to gain access to education, employment, health care and essential social services. As a result, many trans persons are placed at high risk of impoverishment, illness, homelessness and violence.

... and ...

Mr. McVety’s use of the language of pedophilia, and other forms of sexual predation, criminal opportunism and violence within female-specific spaces serves as a perfect example of the pathologization, criminalization and fear-mongering that continues to mark the lives of those within the trans communities.

There's more, and it is well written. Read It

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Who Will Replace Duckett

I won't miss Duckett as head of Alberta Health - the man guided AH down a path where it has gradually crumbled while he has built up the edifice of the "superboard" under Liepert's direction.

There's not much to miss about a man who has overseen the degeneration of Alberta Health into needing critical care.

Unfortunately, I don't think Stelmach and company are going to do anything much about it. Duckett was the obvious fall-guy in recent weeks, and the 'cookie incident' is little more than the pretext to terminate him.

With Dr. Sherman evicted from the PC caucus for blowing the whistle on the incompetent management in AH, and by inference in the Minister's office and the Premier's offices as well, Duckett ousted, I'm sure that "Steady Eddie" thinks he's got things settled down and can go back to dismantling Alberta Health in peace.

Albertans should take note that the instigators of the fiasco we face today haven't paid a price for what they've done. Liepert is still in cabinet, and in spite of cuts made a couple of years ago to supposedly focus resources in key areas, Alberta Health is still in a pretty nasty crisis state, with emergency room waiting times getting longer and longer; and it gets harder and harder to find a family doctor in Alberta.

As much as Duckett's departure won't be met with many tears, I don't expect to see any real improvements in the near future - not until we have a party in power that understands the value of investing in public health.

Monday, November 22, 2010

It's Called Shooting The Messenger

Not smart, Mr. Stelmach. This morning's lecture telling Albertans to "settle down" on the health care issues, followed by what you did to the messenger in your own caucus.

Dr. Sherman is not the problem - the problem exists right smack in the midst of the government you are responsible for, Mr. Stelmach.

Things weren't in great shape before Mr. Liepert became the minister responsible, but they have taken a distinct turn for the worse since he created his "superboard". Although Gene Zwozdesky is more moderate than Liepert, the fact is that things have continued to deteriorate.

In firing Dr. Sherman, you have shown Albertans that you are more willing to shoot the messenger than to take actual actions to resolve problems. Chastising Albertans for their very real concerns about access to health care tells us you are very, very out of touch with the lives of real Albertans.

Mr. Stelmach, you have neither the vision or wisdom of Peter Lougheed, nor do you possess the baffling charisma of Ralph Klein. How many votes have you just alienated?

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tim Bloedow On Transgender Day of Remembrance ... Wrong Yet Again

Over at "No Apologies", we find the erstwhile Tim Bloedow spouting off about the wrongness of yesterday's Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Given where the article was posted and the author, I didn't exactly have high expectations for either accuracy or reason - Bloedow still managed to come in below the already low bar of my expectations.

Maybe some of these adults are predatory beasts who want to groom and desensitize youth and children to be their victims. Perhaps they are simply fools. But what a tragedy that on any day, let alone Universal Children’s Day, another group of sex activists wants to celebrate their confusion and a perversion that many say is a threat to children.

I'm sure that the choice of November 20 was a deliberate snub to Children's Day, Tim. More likely, it happened to intersect with someone's calendar, and it's not like International Children's Day is exactly a top draw in everybody's consciousness - frankly this writer wasn't even aware of its existence.

As for confusion and perversion, we'll come back to giving those assumptions the walloping they so richly deserve in a few words...

In Canada this “transgender” movement is now being championed by a piece of federal legislation, Bill C-389, that would put protections against discrimination for “transgendered” people into the Canadian Human Rights Act and into the Criminal Code. Yet another example of normalizing, protecting and affirming something destructive and repugnant.

Really, Mr. Bloedow? Would you care to enumerate precisely how being transgender is destructive? Can you cite peer reviewed studies that actually substantiate those kinds of claims? Somehow I doubt it.

As for being 'repugnant', well, that's your own value judgment Tim - your welcome to it - it's all yours. But, being trans is a little like sex - if you don't like it, you don't have to partake.

Some men who feel that they are women want to be able to use female bathrooms, but women walk in and see a man in their bathroom and file complaints or call the police. They don’t know if the guy is a sick pervert who wants to rape them, or a harmless “transsexual.” Of much greater concern, then, is the prospect of people’s little girls facing such an experience in a public bathroom.

Let's get one thing clear, Mr. Bloedow, Bill C-389 doesn't change the rules where bathrooms are concerned. Transgender people have been using the bathroom appropriate to their presented gender for decades now. Guess what? Nothing bad has happened to others in the same bathroom - in fact I don't think there is a single documented case of a transwoman playing predator in the bathrooms anywhere. As I pointed out back here, the kinds of predators you are really worried about aren't transgender, nor do they typically dress up as their prey.

Ironically, most transwomen are quite unremarkable - and don't attract attention at all. Unfortunately, because of ignorant fearmongers like yourself Mr. Bloedow, it is those who are in the middle of their transitions who face the greatest dangers when using bathrooms outside of their residences.

Homosexualists and other sex activists play down these concerns despite the heavy preoccupation with sex that they demonstrate and the lack of restraint exemplified in the sex activist sub-culture with filthy websites and demands that prostitution be decriminalized and that public sex be tolerated. Who is going to trust the spokesmen for this Movement when it comes to the security of our children in public bathrooms?

Wow, let's try stringing together a raft of unrelated topics, shall we? First of all, Mr. Bloedow, if you want to play that little game, let's consider another facet of the world. Why should anyone take the guidance of so-called "Christian" religious leaders seriously on matters of sexual morality when churches have acted to conceal and protect the sexual predators who are in the clergy?

More seriously, you've got more lurid imaginings in your mind about other people's sexuality than the people you are condemning often do. Get your mind out of the gutter and out of other people's sex lives. Nobody's bothering you about yours - much less what they imagine of your sex life.

As indicated in my initial comments above, those who think they are “transgendered” are also tragic victims. They are not transgendered. They are confused. They are lost. They need the guidance and help from real men and real women. They need protection, including by the law, from those who would sexually, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually abuse them by affirming them in their confusion.

I don't normally use foul language on this blog, but I'm going to make an exception.

Fuck You, Tim Bloedow. You arrogant little ass.

That statement, all by itself, makes it abundantly clear that you are among the most ill-informed, ignorant human beings on the planet when it comes to the issues you are writing about. How dare you dismiss the lived experiences of so many human beings!

Contrary to your arrogant pronouncements, transsexuals are NOT in the least bit confused (nor are other transgender people). To put this in perspective, I refer you to the following words in the DSM IV:

Insistence by a person with Gender Identity Disorder that he or she is of the other sex is not considered a delusion, because what is invariably meant is that the person feels like a member of the other sex rather than truly believes that he or she is a member of the other sex.

Is that not clear enough for you? Or are you incapable of understanding that other people who have actually studied and tried to comprehend transgender/transsexual people have reasoned far beyond your pithy little sound-bite claims?

If there is anything abusive in this world, Mr. Bloedow, it is the constant need for transpeople to call your BS out for what the ill-informed, bigotry that it truly is. You might very well represent the best possible reason for Bill C-389 yet - aside from the physical abuse and murders that transsexuals face in their daily lives that inspired TDOR in the first place.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dear Pope Ratzinger: WTF?

How utterly, ideologically blinded can you possibly be?

Pope Benedict XVI says in a new book that condoms can be justified for male prostitutes seeking to stop HIV, a stunning turnaround for a church that has long opposed condoms and a pontiff who has blamed them for making the AIDS crisis worse.

Okay ... that's sort of a step in the right direction - at least the Pope seems to be acknowledging that condoms do have an effect on the spread of HIV. However, to limit the use of condoms to male prostitutes is stunningly short sighted.

Condoms have the same effect for women, but it would seem that under this Pope, women are not considered important enough to protect from STIs. Does this man think that women do not get infected by STIs? Or is it just that fertilizing an egg is so much more important than the risk of a life-shortening disease like HIV/AIDS? Has he not clued in yet that the vast majority of Catholics in developed countries ignore him entirely on the subject of birth control? Not to mention the moral vacuity of his insistence that women must always take the risk of not just pregnancy but also of STIs? (I would argue that it is an immoral act to demand that someone take such risks without their full knowledge and consent regarding the consequences)

The double standards and misogyny that are so clearly embedded in this Pope's theology are disappointing to see in this day and age.

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Today is the 12th Transgender Day of Remembrance.

TDOR exists to remind us of the violence that so many transgender people face in their day to day lives - the price paid for being true to themselves in a world where being transgender is seen as threatening.

The TDOR 2010 update has revealed a total of 179 cases of reported killings of trans people from November 20th 2009 to November 19h 2010. The update shows reports of murdered or killed trans people in 19 countries in the last year, with the majority from Brazil (91), Guatemala (15), Mexico (14, and the USA (14).

Cases have been reported from all six major World regions: Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Europe, North America, and Oceania. As in the previous years, most reported cases were from Central and South America, which account for 80 % of the globally reported homicides of trans people since January 2008. In 2008, 97 killings were reported in 13 Central and South American countries, in 2009, 136 killings in 15 Central and South American Countries, and in 2010 so far 122 killings in 12 Central and South American Countries. The starkest increase in reports is also to be found in Central and South America, e.g. in Brazil (2008: 59, 2009: 68, January-November 2010: 74), Guatemala (2008: 1, 2009: 13, January-November 2010: 14) and Mexico (2008: 4, 2009: 11, January-November 2010: 12). The data also show an alarming increase in reported murders in Turkey in the previous years (2008: 2, 2009: 5, January to November 2010: 6).

... and people wonder why Bill C-389 is important?

Is violence and murder not reason enough?

Friday, November 19, 2010

When Will He Learn?

So ... it seems that Ezra Levant has lost yet another libel suit against him.

You would think that after so many libel suits where he has either lost outright, or settled out of court (e.g. the Ghitter case), he might have learned to express himself in more reasonable terms. Some people never do learn, though.

H/T: BigCityLib

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Baying At The Moon

I see that Chuck McVety has opened his yap on Bill C-389.

“As adults, we can handle these things,” Mr. McVety said. “But my daughter turned 13 on Saturday, and I don’t want some guy showering beside her at the local swimming pool.”

The worst-case scenario, he said, would be if someone like convicted killer Russell Williams, who photographed himself dressing in women’s lingerie, could demand protection under human-rights legislation after being found in a gender-restricted space. “That would absolutely horrific.”

That was entirely predictable from the alarmists like McVety. First of all, I don't know of a single case where a violent rapist like Williams has been transgender - if someone would care to show me evidence of such a case, I'd like to see it. Williams was a violent murderer whose behaviour is closer to that of a rapist than it is to any transsexuals I have ever known.

As Bill Siksay points out, McVety is being a twit:

“I think this is Mr. McVety being his alarmist best, once again, when it comes to an issue of human rights, equal rights, for minorities in Canada,” he said. “There is nothing in this bill that will change our understanding of appropriate behaviour in public washrooms or in gendered spaces.”

Anyone who believes they have been a victim of voyeurism or inappropriate sexual contact in a public space can report the matter to the people who manage that space, or to the police, Mr. Siksay said.

Bingo. The fact is that transgender people who use a gender appropriate washroom aren't likely to do anything untoward. Like everyone else, transgender people use the washroom for basic bodily functions. You're more likely to find stray politicians soliciting in the men's room than a crossdressing predator in the ladies room.

Think about it for a minute - sexual predators are all about power and violence. Chances of such a person being willing to make themselves appear feminine in order to get to their prey is just about zero - that would make them their own prey, and the cognitive dissonance that would induce would be crushing to the very drive that makes them predators.

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Response To Genesis 1:27 In The Bill C-389 Discussion

In recent weeks, I've seen a lot of biblical arguments about transgender people in response to Bill C-389. Almost inevitably, these arguments start off by citing Genesis 1:27, which reads as follows:

1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

In particular, the last phrase male and female created he them gets cited to support a claim that there is no such thing as a 'woman in a man's body'. (which is a gross oversimplification of what it means to be transsexual - but that's a topic for another post)

First of all, let's look closely at the logical structure of the sentence:

male and female

Please note the use of the word 'and' to join the words male and female together into a singular subject. Anyone who has at least taken a first year college course on logic will immediately recognize that AND is a logical conjunction - only true when both sides of the equation are true. This different from a logical "OR", where either side may be true, and one could argue that the authors actually intended what logicians call an "Exclusive OR" had Genesis 1:27 read "male OR female" in that critical clause.

So ... let's take a look at the evidence before us, shall we?

In the physical world, we have the following broad categories of human physical genders:

a) Males
b) Females
c) Intersex

If I treat the AND of Genesis 1:27 as joining two exclusive categories together, I must conclude that either c) doesn't exist, or that there is an enormous logical error in the statement - since the intersection of two mutually exclusive categories is the empty set. Worse, I find the entire notion of "God doesn't make mistakes" is suddenly in a whole lot of jeopardy, isn't it? After all, if God doesn't make mistakes, then why do we have people around who are not distinctly male or female, but somewhere in between? Not to mention the whole notion of the Bible being the 'inerrant word of God' is similarly in jeopardy when confronted with this reality.

However, if I treat this as a logical conjunction, then in order for the statement to be true, we all must be a combination of Male AND Female.

But wait, you say - how can I possibly say that a Male is partially Female? There's plenty of evidence for it, actually. Let's start off with sex hormones. Both Males and Females produce Testosterone, and both Males and Females produce Estrogens - the proportions are naturally quite dramatically different, but there is a nominal amount of each in either body. Further, drawing on the Intersex issue a bit, we know that there are bodies out there which are indeterminate - either obviously, or chromosomally. There are (albeit rare) Female bodies with XY chromosomes.

Taking this physical reality in, it seems that the only reasonable interpretation of the sentence that preserves the notion that God never makes mistakes is one that says that we are all in fact a combination of Male and Female attributes.

In other words, in order for God to have made Man AND Woman in his own image, God must in fact be both, and furthermore, that phrase out of Genesis must be read as an admonishment to us that Male and Female are not mutually exclusive categories.

Genesis 1:27 DOES NOT read as follows:
1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male OR female created he them.

It reads:

1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male AND female created he them.

So, how does this apply to the Transgender/Transsexual narrative? Quite simply, actually. Given the amount of physical evidence that there can be a myriad of variations between Male and Female, it is hardly a great leap to recognize that there are inevitably going to be equally dramatic psychological variations as well. There is no reason whatsoever to believe that brains and personalities are going to be delightfully regular and consistent when we already know that bodies may well vary so much in the first place, is there?

Lastly, if one turns to an interpretation that is logically consistent with the wording used, as well as the evidence that is available to us in the world, then the concepts of 'inerrancy' in scripture, as well as 'God doesn't make mistakes' cease to be issues at all - something which dramatically simplifies the entire discussion, n'est ce pas?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Why The WAP Is Doomed To Be Another Reactionary Party

I won't go into a deep analysis of Danielle Smith's bio in the Globe and Mail - readers familiar with the 'fend for yourself' world of Ayn Rand's 'Atlas Shrugged' should have a pretty good idea what she's about already.

However, she said one key thing that tells me that the WAP is doomed to be overrun by the social conservatives that are in its midst:

Ms. Smith believes they can: “There is a tension, but I believe that part of being a libertarian leader is allowing for MLAs to be able to express themselves freely on issues,” she says.

If her party is elected, she said she would hold “citizens referendums” on “morally contentious” issues at the community level to settle disputes.

“I don't think there would be that many of them,” she says.

Really? She thinks that there's a possibility for quiet coexistence with the wingnuts, it seems. I hate to point it out, but that isn't the case. The shrieking insanity of those who would legislate on issues of 'moral conscience' doesn't have room for either rational discussion or compromise. "Live and let live" is not in their lexicon. Live and let live (or laissez faire) politics of the libertarians is anathema to the social extremists. Unfortunately, it tends to degenerate into a 'tyranny of the majority' situation which ends up diminishing the ability of minorities to participate fully in society.

Unless Ms. Smith chooses to become a more decisive, and clear, leader on these matters it is only a matter of time before yet another party in this province is overtaken by the unreasonable extremists.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Alberta's Bill 17 - Alberta Health Act

I'm not even sure that some key aspects of this legislation are sustainable under Canada's current legal frameworks.

In particular, I'm looking at sections 10 and 11 of the legislation, which appear to be an attempt on the part of the government to prevent Albertans from seeking redress in the courts should the Health department do something egregious:

Proceedings not subject to review

10 A decision or action of the Minister, the Health Advocate or any employee or agent of either of them shall not be questioned,
reviewed or made the subject of a proceeding in any court by application for judicial review or otherwise
, and no order shall be made or process entered or proceedings taken in any court by way of injunction, declaratory judgment, prohibition or mandamus or otherwise to question, review, prohibit, restrain or compel the Minister, the Health Advocate or any employee or agent of either
of them.

11 No action lies against the Minister, the Crown in right of Alberta, the Health Advocate or any employee or agent of any of them for anything done or omitted to be done by that person in good faith while carrying out that person’s duties or exercising that person’s powers under this Act or the regulations.

Just thinking out loud here, but this looks distinctly like Alberta is trying to exempt itself, and its actions under this act, from judicial review and scrutiny. Further, they are trying to take away from Albertans, the right to challenge the government's decisions with respect to Health Care.

Given that within the constitution there are guarantees access to the courts for redress, one might suspect that Sections 10, 11 of the proposed Alberta Health Act are in fact in violation of Canada's Constitution and Charter of Rights:

24. (1) Anyone whose rights or freedoms, as guaranteed by this Charter, have been infringed
or denied may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction to obtain such remedy as
the court considers appropriate and just in the circumstances.

There is another question that we should be asking ourselves. Why is it that the government feels a need to attempt to exempt its decisions from scrutiny? Just what has the government got up its sleeve that it putting in place an obvious legal obstacle to challenging its decision making in this arena?

Sunday, November 07, 2010

I Was Afraid This Might Happen

In my travels through the web this afternoon, I found that one of Canada's more notorious anti-gay extremists has begun associating the images of Colonel Williams with transgender people as a whole by adding Williams' pictures to his posts on Bill C-389.

Okay, Whatcott's off his rocker to begin with - it's not like he has a track record of sane and reasonable public utterances. That's not the issue here - it's the linking of a violent psychopath's actions to transgender people as a whole. Unfortunately, the media's coverage of the Williams court proceedings was so lurid and vivid that it is hardly surprising that Canada's wingnuts would pick up on this as a reason to fight against Bill C-389. (Mercedes has a great summary of what Bill C-389 is really about on her blog)

However, let's be clear about one thing - Col. Williams is closer to a rapist than he is to the broad spectrum of people who are transgender.

Yes, there are aspects of Williams' crimes which involve cross dressing, but most important is that those crimes ultimately involve control and violence aimed at their victims. This is not typical of transgender people in any way shape or form.

The media has unfortunately published the most lurid pictures of Col. Williams, and in doing so given those who are most hostile to transgender people as a whole another club to use against that population.

Even if Col. Williams was a closet crossdresser before he started on his crime spree, he hardly stands as a representative of crossdressers - the vast majority of whom are perfectly peaceful people who never commit a violent crime of any sort. Col. Williams turned down a path to becoming a violent man. We may never know precisely what led him to that place, but it is unlikely that it had anything to do with crossdressing.

(as an aside, there are plenty of serial murderers out there who got some kind of sexual thrill out the underwear of their victims ... they are still serial killers - and as such live in a class all of their own)

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Mr. Ignatieff - Are You Listening?

If not, you should BE READING:

They say taxes are too high. We should say there are more important things to tackle right now than reducing taxes for rich people.

They say they'll give everyone some of their money back. We should say paying for tax cuts by running deficits is theft from our children.

They say it's time to sell off and privatize schools, hospitals and public services. We should say there are some important things best done together – like good public education for our kids and good health care no matter how big your wallet is.

They say it’s “time to stop the gravy train.” We should say good idea! Let's stop the gravy train – starting with the insiders, rich tax cheats, speculators, and all the other geniuses who wrecked the world economy and put millions out of work, while pocketing the bailout money.

It's time to fight fire with fire. Come out swinging, and keep swinging. I find it amazing that it was a Liberal government that brought Canada's systemic deficit under control in the 1990s - after two terms of Mulroney's government spending us into debt; and today we have a Conservative government again ... spending us into debt. Meanwhile the Con$ are the ones who call the Liberals the 'tax and spend party' ... is anybody else noticing the irony here?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Accountability ... Harper Style - Part XVI

From Canada's Auditor General:

The price tag for two types of military helicopters has doubled to $11-billion because the Department of Defence low-balled estimates when seeking approval even when it knew that planned design changes would hike costs, Ms. Fraser’s office reported Tuesday.

She also faulted Defence and Public Works for sole-sourcing the Chinook helicopter without properly justifying a decision to skirt a normal competitive process. “What we found in the audit is troubling,” Ms. Fraser said in her report.

Why am I not surprised?

Those processes for competitive bids exist for good reasons - and it's not just about "getting the lowest price". Single source purchases typically mean a very cozy relationship between purchaser and vendor. In the case of government purchases, that also means that the public accountability is less than ideal.

That the HarperCon$ are so eager to jump into single source, non-competitive bid contracts with military suppliers means that not only are the costs going to be higher for Canadians, but we have very little reassurance that Canadian tax dollars are being used to maximize value in making these investments.

I would hope that no one is assessing that as low risk,” the Auditor-General said of the F-35 project as she answered questions on her fall report that sharply criticized Defence purchasing.

The whole business really makes me wonder just whose pockets are being lined by discrete envelopes of untraceable cash?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Margaret Wente on Calgary's Mayoral Election

To be honest, I never expected to see Naheed Nenshi's name plastered all over media across Canada and around the world.

However, in today's Globe and Mail, Margaret Wente's column is particularly amusing as she contrasts Calgary's recent election with Toronto's mayoral race.

Torontonians have a bad case of election deficit disorder, and no wonder. We’re having temper tantrums as we try to figure out who’s the least worst choice to be mayor. Is it Rob Ford, the charmless blockhead whose single idea is to cut every dollar of wasteful spending? Or is it Furious George Smitherman, who rammed through the worst energy policy that Ontario’s ever seen? It’s a tough call. Things are so bad, people are longing for the halcyon age of Mel Lastman.

Then she comes around to Naheed Nenshi's run in Calgary:

What’s great about Naheed Nenshi isn’t that he’s brown and Muslim – although he is a powerful symbol for a city that has become surprisingly diverse. What’s great is that he loves his city and has actual plans to make it better.

Which pretty much summarizes why I voted for Nenshi. After the last nine years of "Build Another Road Bronconnier" and one of the most divided, dysfunctional councils I have ever seen, I wanted someone with a vision and some ideas about how to realize that vision. Nenshi provided both - in spades.

Torontonians have always thought of Calgary as a hick town, full of rednecks in cowboy hats and oil guys chowing down on range-fed beef at the Petroleum Club. Their idea of “change” was to elect Ralph Klein. Their idea of “the arts” was horse paintings and their idea of “diversity” was a spaghetti restaurant. We were supposed to be the progressive, diverse, cosmopolitan city that the whole world held up as a model for the future. But now we’re likely to get a mayor who’ll make Ralph Klein look like a world-class sophisticate.

Ouch! Nice shot, Ms. Wente - perhaps after breaking the mold and electing Nenshi, maybe Calgarians will consider voting for something other than "the same old, same old" in other elections? One can only hope.

Starting on Monday, the hard work begins. Naheed Nenshi has put forth a bold vision for Calgary, and I suspect it will be a long time to make it all happen. However, if he can start laying the groundwork over the course of 2011 (after cleaning up the dreadful state of Calgary's budget - which the previous council left in a complete mess), he'll have done well. I wish him luck.

Monday, October 18, 2010

More Ward 14 Shenanigans

Good grief. Now we get a little more of the nonsense that has been campaigning in Calgary's Ward 14.

Between supposedly bogus robocalls, and letters of questionable veracity attributed to Chandler's PGIB organization this has been one of the most ridiculous election campaigns I've ever seen.

I've received robocalls with someone claiming to be Paul Hinman endorsing Richard Dur; and now we hear of similar calls being making representations on Jason Kenney's behalf.

If these robocalls are in fact bogus, then it seems to me that there is a libel suit or two in the offing.

On the other hand, Kenney doesn't seem to be too terribly bothered by the idea of someone using his name without permission (if that's really him writing in the comments section at the Herald's website). While I respect his right to have and express an opinion in the civic election, I have a great deal of difficulty with the idea of doing so via a robocall endorsement.

Having an opinion and expressing it (on or off the record) is quite different from agreeing to the use of that opinion as part of someone's campaign materials. (granted, I don't exactly have a love affair with being called at all hours by automated devices vomiting someone's pre-recorded messages into my ear to begin with) The former isn't going to be much more than a comment; the latter speaks to active engagement by an elected official in what should be a completely separate, discrete election - and can be construed as interference.

I'll be quite blunt - I will not vote for candidates who are daft enough to think that I will be swayed to vote for them based on the expressed opinion of another elected politician.

As for Minister Kenney's denials, colour me skeptical. While there are campaigns in Ward 14 who would no doubt stoop to falsifying an endorsement just to call another candidate's credibility into question, I won't exactly call Kenney's denials convincing either.

H/T: Big City Lib

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Dehumanizing ...

Over at No Apologies, we find one of the usual suspects wringing their hands over how a gay teen's suicide is going to be "used against" christianists.

... If the storyline is correct, however, we must assume that Tyler killed himself out of shame over his lifestyle and behaviour. If this is the case, he will – courtesy of the media – be forever remembered as the gay kid who killed himself after a video of the embarrassing act became public. The victimization of Tyler Clementi and the Christian community has only begun. Tyler’s choice has been warped into a weapon and planted in the hands of those the media likes to tarnish with the sobriquet “homophobe”.

Yes, someone who commits suicide makes a choice. No question about it. But to claim that such a choice occurs in a vacuum is an attempt at dissociation - especially coming from the denizens of "No Apologies".

Here's why. GLBT youth suicides are more often than not a result of continuous harassment at the hands of others. Often their tormentors are other youth, but not always - it's not unusual for GLBT folk (youth and adult) to be harassed by adults as well.

One might want to begin by asking just where youth get the idea that it's acceptable to be abusive of GLBT people in the first place? Much less how they justify carrying such behaviours forward into their adult lives.

The short answer is that there is a very vocal, if marginal, population that is vehemently opposed to GLBT people having any rights at all in society. Whether you look at postings on No Apologies, Lifesite News, One News Now or the frothing insanity of Peter LaBarbera's Americans For Truth Against Homosexuality (AKA "AFTAH"), there are lots of sources spewing a constant message that GLBT people don't deserve to be equals in society.

The messages themselves are nothing new - it's the usual moralizing drivel derived from a flawed understanding of scripture; accusation of mental or physical illness, licentiousness and so on.

However, when these messages are out in the public sphere for all to see, it doesn't exactly take a lot to understand that youth pick up on the underlying themes and act out on them. Youth, in general, will tend to act out in a much more visceral manner than adults will for a variety of reasons.

Combine this with the fact that teenagers will generally torment the hell out of anyone who is different - visibly or behaviourally, and you have an unsurprising reality that GLBT people end up on the receiving end of some pretty vicious bullying.

Whether we are talking about the events around Tyler Clementi's suicide, Chloe Lacey, Stacy Lee or Angie Zapata it doesn't matter. All of these cases have their roots in a constant message that being GLBT is "wrong", and therefore these people are disposable.

So, where does this leave the hard-line christianists that continue to perpetuate a hostile message in society? With a shared responsibility. Individually, none of them can be held directly responsible in these situations. However, they have an indirect responsibility because it is their teachings which contribute to the atmosphere that allows for bullying and violence to be done to GLBT people in the first place.

Borrowing from a propaganda tactic that the Nazis perfected in the lead-up to WWII, the language used is designed to render an entire population of people as "the Other" - removing from them any vestiges of being human. Replacing individual humanity with a shared "evilness" makes it very easy to justify mistreating individuals.

GLBT people have an immense struggle to come to terms with themselves simply because their sexual and gender identities fall outside the normative status that the majority fall into naturally. When we combine this with a social environment where harassment is encouraged (sometimes tacitly, sometimes explicitly), it is no real surprise that some give up hope entirely and take their own lives.

While we cannot hold the christianists wholly responsible in these tragedies, like the bystander in a beating who cheers on the thugs, they hold a certain degree of culpability. Theirs is the repeated message of hostility and dehumanization aimed at GLBT people, and the implications and impact of those messages cannot be overlooked.

Note: I use the term "christianist" not as a broad reference to all who profess to be Christian, but as an explicit reference to those whose persistent distortion and misrepresentation of others is used as a political argument for denying legitimate rights, freedoms and protections in law for people.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Harper Has Made Canada A Pariah

In spite of protestations to the contrary from the PMO, Canada losing the vote for a UN Security Council seat belongs entirely to Harper.

Harper is the man who snubbed the UN gathering on climate change for a photo-op, not to mention avoiding the World HIV/AIDS conference in 2006.

It's not like Harper has exactly engaged with the UN since the day he stepped into 24 Sussex - in fact, he's probably been single handedly the most destructive PM for Canada's image on the world stage. Whether it has been his ongoing upbraiding and insulting of China at every turn, or the race-baiting and fearmongering the HarperCon$ have been playing at home, none of this is secret to the outside world - and I find it hard to imagine that these have not played into this latest embarrassment on the world stage. (Not to mention the awe-inspiring attendance at his recent address to the UN assembly ... )

[Update 13/10/10]
Consider the following quote:

Mr. Harper's office wasted little time assigning blame for the disappointment, placing it at the feet of Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff.

“I would say a big deciding factor was the fact that Canada's bid did not have unity because we had Mr. Ignatieff questioning and opposing Canada's bid,” Dimitri Soudas, Harper's communications director, told The Canadian Press.

“That was a factor that played ultimately against Canada because people outside of Canada were saying, ‘Well, Germany and Portugal have a united front, their opposition and their governments seem to be fully, 100 per cent behind this bid.’

Basically, what the HarperCon$ are claiming here is that Ignatieff has far more power and influence than the Prime Minister himself does. That being the case, it's clearly time for Harper to step aside.

[Update 15/10/10]
One more summary of all the pissing matches that Harper has gotten into on the world stage.

Surely Canada did not expect China — with whom the Harper government got off to a very poor start in its first mandate — to be enthusiastic about its bid. No amount of fence-mending on the prime minister’s part can change the fact that he initially led the least China-friendly Canadian government in decades.

And then what about Russia? Over the past four years the Conservative government has repeatedly framed it as a potential aggressor — literally poised to invade Canada’s airspace at the drop of a hat — the better to justify its military spending choices.

One can also wonder whether, having just locked horns with Canada over a transaction tax at the recent G8/G20 summits and lost, France was inclined to go an extra mile on its behalf at the UN.
Moving on to North America, the decision to impose a visa requirement on Mexican visitors to Canada has not endeared it to that country. Moreover, since 9/11, Ottawa has spent as much time trying to stand apart from Mexico in security-concerned Washington as consolidating its links with its NAFTA partner.

Finally, Canada does not support the quest of emerging powers such as India and Brazil for a permanent seat on the Security Council; in a vote based on national self-interest it would have been naive to expect support from either quarters.

... and Harper wants to lay the blame for losing our bid for a security council seat at the feet of Michael Ignatieff???

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...