Friday, July 25, 2008

Holy Cracker Redux

I've written before that I don't think it's worth my time to trash people's religions. It just makes religious people feel persecuted and causes the vilification of us non-religious people. So it's with mixed emotions that I read PZ Myer's story of putting a rusty nail through an apparently sanctified piece of tasteless bread.

Yes, the religious people are crazy for sending death threats to that other guy who walked out of church with a host and trying to intimidate Myers through his children. But then, they're religious people. They have a faith in something for which they have no evidence and that thing they believe is that the cracker is sacred. Myers makes the point that no object should be considered so sacred. That includes a sanctified host, a page of the Qu'ran and a page from the God Delusion (just to be fair).

As someone commented on the blog, "This is going to be epic."

And so it begins. There are calls for his resignation, his firing, etc. etc.

The most ironic, the most hypocritical, that I've seen has go to be this one from Bill Donohue of the Catholic League:
“It is hard to think of anything more vile than to intentionally desecrate the Body of Christ."


Really, honestly, you can't think of anything more vile than desecrating a cracker that you've waved your hands over and declared to be the body of the part of a deity that lived 2000 years ago?

I'd have to argue that you're simply not thinking hard enough.

How about "molesting choir boys"? How about "covering up the molestation of choir boys"? How about "moving priests around while they continue to molest choir boys"?

How about "living in opulence while preaching poverty to your followers"? Maybe that's more hypocritical than vile. It might come down to semantics.

I can think of a lot of things that are way, way worse, but maybe that's just because I look at the cracker and I see the cracker - which is all anyone can prove is there - while Bill Donohue and the Catholic League elevate this wafer to some station far above the actual human beings (who actually exist) who are being mistreated by his own church.

I suppose that makes me the crazy one.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Abdelrazik: Sudan vs. Canada

Now I will admit that I am not an expert on Sudan. I don't know much about its history, its human rights record or the culture of its people. I've just always been given this vague sense that your average de-colonialized African nation is slightly more chaotic and slightly less observant of human rights than my own country.

I guess I was wrong. Not only has my government not done anything to get Omar Khadr out of Gitmo. Not only did it acquiesce to Maher Arar's torture in Syria. Our government (two governments in a row) have upset the Sudanese by disregarding human rights.

Go here and read the timeline at the bottom of the page.

Sept 28, 2004. Abousfian Abdelrazik is being held in a Sudanese jail, at Canada's request, and a Sudanese official doesn't like it:

He repeated there was nothing against him in Sudan, stressing those last two words. He said Sudan realized however that keeping an innocent man in detention was a human-rights violation ... He thought that protest and public attention would impact adversely on both our countries ... He said he was convinced Canada could deal with this airline ban if it wanted to.

Sudan later offers to fly Abdelrazik home to Canada, but Canada apparently thwarts that too.

Doesn't anyone find it offensive that other countries are having to remind and teach Canada about human rights?

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Real Crime Wave

I remember receiving my first constituent report from the Hon. Minister of Defence Gordon O'Connor. There was a whole bunch of scare mongering and other nonsense about crime without any mention of the fact that crime rates were going down. Bereft of real platform issues beyond letting rich people get richer and having a bigger military with which to play, they were forced to invent problems. At the end of the newsletter was a questionnaire: Are you afraid of crime? Do you want your government to take action on crime? etc. etc.

I said, "No. I'm not afraid of crime. The crime rate is going down. Now stop with the fear mongering and find something real to do with your time."

But I think I was wrong. Crime and crime rates are going up. The following graphs demonstrate this very well.

As you can see here, and according to this report from CTV Toronto, there's a recent increase in the number of people not paying for their gasoline. I've always been told to worry about immigrant youths, but I guess it's the wealthy people with large vehicles who are the problem.

Then we have this problem, where the Government of Canada was illegally ordering prisoners detained by Canadian soldiers to be handed over to a regime in Afghanistan that is well known for its use of torture. This is a pretty serious crime wave and we really ought to start getting tough with the people ordering these crimes. No use going after the soldiers. I'm sure my MP, Gordon O'Connor, being so concerned about crime, will want to find the guy who gave the orders and lied about how well monitored the prisoners were. That guy should probably go to jail. (Of course, I had to make up all of the numbers in this graph as Al Qaeda could break in to your kitchen and steal all of your cookies if they knew how many people Canada had detained. All we know is that about 200 of them escaped a few weeks ago.)

Then there's this problem. There's been a 100% rise in the number of Canadian juveniles (child soldiers) captured by foreign powers and tortured by them. Worse, Canada is complicit in this as our government has not protested this mistreatment. This is out of control. Someone has to step in with some mandatory minimum sentencing for whomever is failing to protest this horror.

And lastly, because a reader thankfully mentioned it, I should bring this up. While Taser related deaths did decrease temporarily in 2006, we can see that they're on the rise again in Canada. While not technically, legally speaking a crime, these are still very worrying.

Well, it's all there in black and white (and blue). The Conservatives are right. Crime is out of control in this country and it's time somebody started getting tough on it. I think enforcement is the key, at least in the short term, and then perhaps some civic education for those who are likely to be working in areas where these crimes could happen in the future.

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Those Strong Conservative Women

In case you were wondering, all you women who aren't on the conservative side, your problem is that you're weak. That's what I heard.

It's important to understand your opponents so you can figure out how to argue with them and so you can see how they picture you. So maybe this will help us decipher "the conservative woman".
Strong women will identify with the Conservatives, wet noodles will vote for any lefty party that promises them eternal welfare. They don't care that their children will suffer, they have no self respect, and can't cope with life.

We're a little vague at this point as to what a "strong" woman is. This reeks of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy. If a weak woman is found among conservatives, then she's not a real conservative. If a strong woman is found elsewhere, she's not really strong. If your mother raised the three of you after your alcoholic father beat her up and left town, she's still weak if she votes NDP.

"Strong" probably doesn't refer to physical strength, although that is hinted at. We'll get to that later. It's the rest of you women, the wet noodles, that I'm thinking about. Your devotion to social causes and the welfare of others is apparently a sign of weakness. The fact that infant mortality, life expectancy and other indicators are better in a society when we all take care of each other isn't a good thing, it's a sign of weakness. Your children will grow up with this social weakness and won't be able to cope [properly?] with life.

Of course, we wouldn't want you going away with the thought that conservative women are the Klingon matriarchs that the above paragraph implies, so we'll throw this in:
Conservative women help real people in real need, they don't write a paper about it.

More of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy. Conservative women only care about those who deserve their help. I wonder if Kimberly Rogers counts? The Mike Harris PCs didn't think so.

Maybe we'll go back to the beginning of the article. The blogger in question was apparently surprised to meet a woman who did things:
While her husband was working, she found a house and bought it. This lady was no shrinking violet. She did what was needed, and never looked back. She is a perfect example of how our country was born.

Ignoring for the moment the fact that women didn't have a vote when the country was born, we have the blogger's reaction to this woman who went and bought a house while her husband was working.

How much money does this anonymous couple have that one of the spouses could go off and buy a house while the other was working? I think we begin to understand, at this point, what "strong" means. It means "I have enough money to take care of myself". As well, we might point out that your mother is a weak, wet noodle if your family doesn't have enough money for her to go out and buy a house while her husband is at work. Additionally, just to belabor a point, is she allowed to go to work herself?

Now put this definition of strength (having enough money to buy houses without consultation) with the idea of charity (real people in real need) and you have a good idea what Hunter's definition of a Strong Conservative Women is: a woman with a rich husband and a discriminating sense of charity that probably doesn't include the unintentionally pregnant.

This is probably not the image that "Hunter" wished to project, but there it is. If you and your family don't have enough money to take care of all of your needs, you're weak. You're weak, your parents were weak (especially your mother) and you're raising weak children. You deserve your situation (inherent in your weakness) and are consequently not a "real person in real need."

Congratulations. We can now tell them apart.

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