Friday, July 04, 2008

Why did we create "Hate Crime"?

This is something that has mystified me for some time. Why did we need to create a category of criminal behaviour called "Hate Crime"?

If I hand you a knife and say "go stab that guy", it should be completely irrelevant why I told you to do it. What does the motivation matter? I'm encouraging you to go and commit an assault. Whether I did it because I believe homosexuals are evil or because Allah told me to do it is entirely beside the point.

If I stand up on a soap box in public and exhort listening throngs of people to go commit acts of violence against homosexuals, an ethnic minority, disabled people, Anglicans or abortion providers, I should also go to jail. It shouldn't have anything to do with "hatred". What matters is that I'm an accessory to violence and assault.

Now if I read this analysis, which is a legal opinion I suppose, the implication here is that - in point of fact - before bill C-250 existed it was actually legal in Canada to advocate mass murder and encourage your followers to commit acts of violence against other members of society.

Really? Is that really, honestly true that, in Canada, before bill C-250, I could stand on a box in the middle town, frothing at the mouth, and declare that all homosexuals ought to be rounded up and stoned?

If that's the case, then damn right we needed a law. I just have difficulty believing that our legal system had missed such an obvious flaw for such a long time. That's not the case for, say, dueling. The Canadian Criminal Code, article 71, punishes dueling, provoking a duel and encouraging another to provoke a duel.

What bothers me though, assuming we needed this law, are the exceptions such as:
A person could not be convicted if:
"in good faith, he expressed or attempted to establish by argument an opinion on a religious subject."

So a guy standing on a box declaring that Jews are bad for the economy and we ought to get rid of them goes to jail (damn right). But a guy standing behind a piece of wood in a pointy building declaring that all homosexuals ought to be stoned to death doesn't go jail. (Huh?)

That seems pretty counterintuitive. What if a guy argues from a pulpit that the bible says that Jews are bad and that the bible says we ought to get rid of them? Does that become acceptable speech?

It seems that if encouraging this sort of chaotic violence against other people is illegal, it ought to be illegal for anyone to encourage this sort of chaotic violence against anyone else. There ought not to be exceptions because you really, really believe god wants you to do it.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

If you don't want to be compared to Hitler ...

It's difficult to know, in an Internet debate, when it's okay to pull out the Hitler card. As a general rule, I like to say, "Never, ever, ever". It's usually childish, impetuous and a sign that you have no real arguments to go by.

But then I read that the Italian government has decided to fingerprint gypsies on the grounds that they are responsible for so much of the crime wave in Italy.

I don't think I'm really pulling out the Hitler card if the Italian government is pulling it out themselves. I mean, seriously now, they're going to fingerprint, round up and deport people from a certain ethnic group while blaming that ethnic group for the country's economic problems. Of course, first they're going to ask to see papers. This very ethnic group is even one of the groups that the Nazis went after.

Do these people even read history? How stupid are they?

Will they be rounding up the gypsies for deportation on trains? Will they get to wear any symbol of any kind to indicate which gypsies can stay and which must go? Will there be any fenced-in areas to contain the deportable gypsies while they wait for the trains?

All the while, they'll be ignoring the actual crime problems in their country because the Prime Minister of the country owns almost all of the print media. (Think about it, who does more crime in Italy? Gypsies or the mafia?)

The word I'm searching for is, "Creepy".

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Morgentaler and the Hypocrites

Why is it that the right wing people can get away with being so hypocritical on the matter of abortion?

In every other matter, the state is apparently not allowed to interfere in your actions in any way. If the government makes you belt your kids in, wear a motorcycle helmet, pay extra taxes on cigarettes, then it's immorally imposing on you. If they illegalize trans fats, it's a sign of communism. If they require an employer to stop discriminating against people who look different, it's evil secularism.

But, oh, wait! If it's a woman who wants control of her own body - if it's a woman who wants to decide whether to continue a pregnancy that was started involuntarily - then we need to lock up her uterus. Then we need to call the thing in her womb a person, give it rights and protect it with all of our energy.

Yes, people have the right to do whatever they want ... except for pregnant women.

And if a man receives the Order of Canada for protecting a woman's right to control her own body, he should be vilified. In fact, the award and the entire nation are shamed by his receipt of the award. Other people are just in denial.

You'd think Morgentaler would be a hero to the right, with all the "personal freedoms" and libertarianism they support. But no. We know that they're hypocrites. We know that personal freedoms and libertarianism are just codewords for lowering their taxes and cutting social services for the poor. These people don't care about your freedom. They just care about keeping more for themselves and too bad for everyone else.

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Monday, June 30, 2008

Latest Arar Scam in the U.S.

The United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals has decided to agree with a lower court decision that Maher Arar can not sue officials in the United States (in their private or official capacities) for sending him to Syria to be tortured.

Writes a dissenting judge, Robert D. Sack:
He had cut short a family vacation in Tunisia and was bound, he thought, for a business meeting in Montreal. What happened to him next would beggar the imagination of Franz Kafka.


You can read the dissenting opinion. It's well down the .pdf in to the "Courier" font area. Basically what the majority decided was that Arar was processed fairly because he was attempting to "enter the United States" from Syria and therefore it was legitimate to send him back to Syria - as an immigration matter.

That pretty much ignores all of the "we sent him there to be tortured, with a list of questions for the torturers to ask" facts that have been established. The dissenting opinion states that treating this as an immigration matter is weak - allowing the court to declare that since Arar is not a U.S. citizen, he therefore has no constitutional rights.

This should be treated, rather, as kidnapping, rendition and accessory to torture. The majority opinion basically ignores this, pretending that U.S. officials are only responsible for what happened in the U.S. The fact that they "outsourced" the torture (in the words of the dissent) is irrelevant.

As well, the majority argues that, under immigration law, a person who is not admitted to the United States legally then has no "physical presence" in the U.S. and therefore isn't entitled to "due process" (i.e. he has no real rights).

Dissenting, Judge Sack is blunt in regards to this:
But the notion that, while in New York City, Arar was not "physically present" in the United States, is a legal fiction peculiar to immigration law.

Arar sought not to enter this country, but to leave it, after transiting briefly through one of its airports. For purposes of identifying the most rudimentary of his rights under the Constitution, the fiction that Arar was not here is senseless.

So, basically, a scam has been run:

Sorry, Mr. Arar, we're not going to punish ourselves for torturing you. You're not entitled to any damages. That's because we're going to ignore all of the torture and pretend that you were attempting to immigrate to the United States and all that we did was send you back where you came from because your name was on a list.

We'll ignore that our agents sent you to Syria. We'll ignore that the torturers there asked the same questions our agents asked you here. We'll ignore any moral responsibility we had toward you. We'll ignore all of that and just pretend that this was an immigration matter.

Then we'll stick our fingers in our ears and shout, "La-la-la-la-la-la-la!"

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As Canada Day Approaches

As the big day for our country approaches, it's a time for thoughtful analysis of where we stand.

We've had gay marriage for a few years now and the sky hasn't fallen and everyone's okay with that.

Most Canadians are glad we didn't join the Iraq war, although our military's senior officers were obviously chomping at the bit so much that they sent our soldiers in on "training" missions.

I used to be very patriotic. Canada was the one, true, great benevolent force in the world. We were the peacekeepers, the diplomats, the kind and generous folk that only ever used its military to defend the weak from the strong and keep violence at bay.

I began to realize, sometime after leaving university, that patriotism is a scam. By all means love your country and protect it from scoundrels, but know that most of the scoundrels wrap themselves in your flag to protect themselves from criticism. You can pretend that only American politicians do this but I've watched Harper and O'Connor hide behind the flag while they ordered our soldiers to illegally hand over prisoners. Criticism of governmental policy was intentionally misconstrued as unpatriotic criticism of the soldiers who have sworn to defend us with their lives.

I do support our soldiers. I support them by frankly examining every mission on which they are sent to ensure that their noble service and sacrifice is used morally. And when it isn't, I support them by demanding of the government that the mission end and the soldiers come home. To me, that's patriotism.

Patriotism isn't putting maple leaf blinders over your eyes and banging a big Canadian drum. Patriotism can mean taking unpopular views and standing up for them for the sake of your country's morality.

Can somebody find me a bumper magnet that says, "Support our Troops: Bring them Home!" I'd pay for that.

Tomorrow I'll drink my locally made Canadian beer, eat my local Canadian beef burger covered in (probably genetically modified) locally grown tomatoes. I'll very likely wear one of those Canadian flag t-shirts I still have from back in University. That's because I'm having a party. Don't think it's because I'm one of those blind, deaf morons who likes to shout, "My country, right or wrong!".

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