Canadian politics, Consevatives, politics, Stephanie Dion

Pay off Dion’s debts?

I’ve seen the following posted on Rabble enough to start believing it: Dion will instruct Liberals to either vote with the Conservatives or to continue taking vacation days until his considerable debts are repayed. According to this Star article, Dion’s leadership campaign still owes in excess of $300,000, and will not be debt free any time this summer.

So I propose the following, as a voter tired of the monkey games the Liberals are playing in the house, and the free ride the Conservatives are getting: Let’s start a movement to repay Dion’s debts! Let’s make it clear that the movement is being pushed by a group that considers both he and his party incompetent. A grassroots movement that we should call “do your fucking job, you corrupt bastards”.

Although, maybe we should wait until Elections Canada has a chance to sort out the legality/illegality of the Con’s massive in-and-out scheme, first.


Science Alert!

Just a quick note to make you aware that the collected writings of Charles Darwin have been made available online here.

Finally, the Interweb is being used for something sensible

Canadian politics, censorship, christians, Consevatives, entertainment, politics, religion, religious right, willful blindness to absurd extremes

I Don’t Know Art, But I Know What I Hate…

Call it Old Politicians Fucking (up). I am still shocked and angered by the fact that nobody from the opposition parties felt an omnibus tax bill was important enough to actually read. Forget Conservative office raids, forget wishy-washy leadership, THIS is the true scandal, THIS is what allowed a travesty like Bill C-10 to get as far as it has, and THIS is why the electorate are disengaging and declining to participate in our democracy. If the people we elect don’t care, why should we?

My vitriol this morning, in addition to that I have already expressed on C-10 and its paternalistic supporters, comes from a Globe & Mail article on the Bill, indicating that the bible-thumping wingnut who has become its spokescretin thinks the ‘protection’ offered by C-10 “may not go far enough”.

Forget the fact that this idiot couldn’t convince me the sky was blue, let alone the fact there is an invisible guy living there, watching everything I do, how and why would anyone believe this person had anyone’s best interests at heart? Anyone who tries so hard to impose their view of morality on the world is selfish, immature and arrogant.

This in particular is rich: A group led by evangelist Charles McVety says a contentious proposal to withhold tax credits from TV shows and films deemed pornographic may not go far enough because the majority of Canadians do not want to fund those types of productions. (Emphasis mine)

I’m sorry, what? Did I miss a meeting? How can anyone know the opinions of the majority of Canadians on an issue like this? I’d love to see the sample size on that ‘scientific’ study. I am always troubled by individuals who claim to represent a majority opinion without any evidence to back it up – hell, right now, the government in power is one that was not supported by the majority of Canadians – the ‘First Past the Post’ system has pretty much guaranteed that. The largest group of yahoos wins, whether or not they receive the majority of the votes. That, plus citizen disengagement has, quite frankly, trapped us in the system of government we deserve. Our failure to learn from this has doomed us to repeat the cycle over and over again.

But, I digress. I will leave the politics to my esteemed colleagues.

I am a film buff, so I have during my lifetime seen some things on screen that I have found offensive, for one reason or another. I have seen things that shocked me, and in one case, I actually stopped a film 15 minutes in because I couldn’t stand looking at it any longer (it was quite a popular and well-liked film – my own personal feelings won over popularity). At no time, however, did I feel that the filmmaker shouldn’t have been able to make the film in the first place. I am a grown-up, I do not object to sexual content in movies (in context, to aid the flow of the narrative, not so much with the “Pizza Man!” wow-chicka wow-wow), and, as I have indicated, I have mastered the apparently rare art I like to call Turning Off The TV, a talent or skill related to Not Going To The Film. I don’t particularly like excessive violence, and I am not a big fan of the “Torture Porn” genre of films like Saw or Turistas, so I just don’t go to them, simple as that.

Artistic expression is by nature subjective, it expresses the feelings and attitudes of the painter, the writer, the filmmaker, etc. The images or ideas transmitted by works of art in any form are received subjectively by the viewer or reader, who reacts to it positively or negatively based on the feelings evoked by the experience. You either like or dislike a certain piece of art based on your reaction to it, not based on a set of objectified standards – there are always reference points or comparisons that can be made, but even those are subjective, and dependent on the viewer. In the ideal case, a work of art is ‘successful’ or lauded or just accepted based on the subjective opinions of a group of people.

Canadian films have a reputation of being boring – from that standpoint, they are the perfect reflection of our society (sorry, cheap shot). We are people that relate, that argue, that have sex, that make mistakes and pay for them. The films created by Canadians have more emotional depth than most countries’ output. It’s not to everyone’s tastes, but there are examples of completely exceptional films being made here that would stand up to comparison with anything Hollyweird has to offer – Bon Cop, Bad Cop comes immediately to mind. Brilliant and funny, with people that relate to one another in believable ways. If Canadian films are successful, or not, it is because the audience that discovers it has an emotional connection with it, and is able to identify with it. Identifying ‘Canada’ or ‘Canadians’ through our films is probably easier than identifying an ‘Indian’ through the films of Bollywood or an ‘American’ through the output of a Los Angeles suburb.

I do not have the right to suppress someone’s creative expression just because I don’t like it. I agree with Kevvyd on a lot of musical choices, for example, but not all of them. I am not in any position to dictate what is desirable in music, film, sculpture, etc. I do not have the right to break into people’s homes and steal movies I do not think are acceptable from my subjective standpoint (well, there go my plans for the weekend). It is a simple matter of respect for the opinions and emotions of other human beings.

The imposition of a narrow, state-sponsored or state-approved view of art has been attempted before, and in fact disappeared along with the regimes that did so – Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. The provision of tax credits is not supposed to be an indication of support of an individual director’s ‘vision’ or of the subject matter of a film. It is a recognition that art is an indispensable and inseparable part of culture, and that Canadian art in the form of film needs support to encourage the survival of whatever vestiges of unique Canadian culture exist after the continuous onslaught of American cultural domination. On a practical level, the credits also recognize that film productions put significant amounts of funds back into the Canadian economy.

Basically, here’s the thing: Nobody has the right to tell you (or me, or anyone) what ‘culture’ is or should be. In particular, nobody with a particular hidden (or not so hidden) agenda should be able to decide what is and what is not acceptable (I am excluding child pornography or that involving violence, naturally – that’s a whole ‘nother minefield). Imposing a view of morality on artistic expression is an attempt to shape a culture to fit your own insecure needs. If we allow our Canadian identity to be hijacked by narrow-minded, pompous jerks who think they know what’s best for us, well, we are no better than those who looked the other way when the Taliban tried to reshape the world in their image (by eliminating images, paradoxically). I am shamed and disappointed by Parliament, and those who claim to have all the answers. This is what our country is supposed to be fighting against.

I can think of one book that needs to be banned right now. It’s called the bible, and I find it offensive. It’s full of violence, incest and racism, and demands that I do not show respect for (or outright destroy) others who do not think the way I do. That sounds like hate speech to me.

general silliness

I Don’t Not Understand Perfectly, Thank You.

I’m intrigued by the concept of the fake fraud. Does that mean the activity is legitimate?

I understand what the point is here, but for goodness’ sake, could the CBC proofread their headlines once in a while?

Another proud example of genuine imitation journalism.

religion, sports

The roots of religion run deep

This can be thrown out almost without comment. It was reported that underneath the soon-to-be-opened new home of the New York Yankees was a Boston Red Sox jersey – buried by a Red Sox fan wanting to “jinx” the team. A thinking human being in control of his or her faculties would laugh it off, but sports fans are apparently not thinking beings. Instead of leaving it be, the Yankees investigated and dug out the offending piece of cloth.

What’s more, they are considering pressing charges against what the Yankee’s president called “a very, very bad act”.

Canadian politics, Stephanie Dion

Who’s the good Liberal? You’re the good Liberal, there, there boy…

I’ve been pretty busy this week and only today I looked up and noticed that the Liberals have once again aknowledged a piece of legislation was “regressive” but voted for it anyway – this time on changes to immigration policy that the Tories tried to jam through in their omnibus budget bill.

Has anyone kept track of how many times the Liberals have plugged their noses and voted for something they publicly stated they didn’t agree with because they are afraid of an election? Surely it’s getting to the point by now that thinking members of the Natural Self-Love Party are beginning to shift uncomfortably in their seats.

It’s even got me thinking that Jack Layton isn’t doing a half-bad job after all this time. I know, I know, it’s easy for the NDP to act like they’ve got little or nothing to lose because they have little or no chance of winning real power, but if the Liberals keep acting like they are afraid to lose, they will never win. Come over to the orange side, my Liberal friends, where the political manouvering is motivated by a desire for victory rather than a fear of defeat.

Fear can only take you so far, and well, you’re there already.

christians, education, religion

It’s Official: Religion = Discrimination

I’m a little slow on following up on this landmark decision by the Ontario Human Rights Commission, so bear with me.

On March 31, the Toronto Star reported that York University’s long-standing tradition of cancelling classes on Jewish holidays discriminates against students of other religions. An interesting passage from the article in question:

While the investigator’s report must now go before the commissioners themselves for consideration, her findings are seen as vindication for York history professor David Noble, who has complained for years it is unfair for today’s diverse multi-faith campus to scrap classes for three days and nights each year to honour one group’s religious holy days, but not others.

So, we have established without question, through the judgment of an official government body, that imposing religious holidays on everyone discriminates against some individuals. Keeping in mind that the acquiescence of a government department was all it took to confirm the existence of Santa Claus in Miracle on 34th Street, I will expect the following things to occur:

Classes on Sundays will be a go for students at York. Why not? Sundays are not holy or sabbath days for everyone, not to mention that they are just another day for us heathen atheists. Why should any day of the week be any different from any other? In fact, this could serve as a justification for Sunday shopping: if you forbid me from partaking of raw, unfettered capitalism due to a religious prohibition, well, then, you are discriminating against me, aren’t you? Help, help, I’m being repressed!

I expect (nay, hope beyond hope) that this will be the end of commercial religious programming, particularly that which exists solely to imply that if I don’t avail myself of your saviour’s phone number or get on his friends list on Facebook or something, I am somehow worthy of eternal punishment. That is slander, that is a hate crime, that is discrimination in its most textbook definition. I don’t believe your superstitious nonsense, I’m not going anywhere particularly hot or cold when I die (unless I could be shot into space after I croak…note to self…), and I consider myself a good person who has led an honest life according to a solid non-invisible-man-in-the-sky-based moral code. If I can be condemned for the crime of not agreeing with you, well, slap the cuffs on, sparky. Guilty as charged.

No more Xmas holidays, classes should continue unabated at York and in other universities, with the exception of one day, maybe two, after the New Year which I will call ‘Hangover Day’. It will be a day (or two) of relaxation, of recovery, of telling your relatives to shut the fuck up before you murder them in cold blood with whatever is closest to hand at the moment. A rash of forced asphyxiations by TV remote will doubtless result, but, hey, at least you get the day (or two) off. And 20 years of privacy, if you’re lucky.

Anyway folks, this is an important ruling that isn’t receiving the attention it deserves. There are many more implications than are addressed in the article itself. If you think about it, we are living in a society that primarily organizes itself according to the values of one specific religious code, which for the most part is innocuous, but at times can become annoying and troubling to those of us who agree fully with Richard Dawkins and think religion is given far more respect than it deserves.

I’m not anti-semitic, or anti-muslim, or anti-christian, I’m anti-religion as a concept. The very idea that someone or something imaginary can tell you to shut off your rational mind and accept anything a particular elite group of spokespeople tell you goes against everything I hold dear. The ability of a small cadre of robed or spiffily-dressed mouthpieces to dictate behaviour without question must lead to abuses of power and the suppression of any concept of equity or justice that human beings are entitled to. The difference between Chairman Mao’s communist China and christianity is that China has more people and occupies more space, and is less skilled at manipulating people to their own ends across international borders. And the Big Book ‘O’ Communism probably hasn’t been translated as often as the bible, although it has been used to justify an equal (although probably lesser) amount of persecution and murder.

It’s time we grow up as a species and recognize the freedom from religion as a human right as a first step in ensuring all of the most basic human rights. The Ontario Human Rights Commission has started the ball rolling, let’s hope it gets picked up.