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

On Coded Language and Political Policy

In the last few years, coded language has become a significant factor in how political parties present themselves.  This is especially preva...