Deborah Gyapong: June 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Marriage is not a right . . .hear! hear!

Contrary to what we hear incessantly, marriage is not a right; it is an
estate, a condition. There are conditions of life that have nothing to do with
rights. One doesn’t have a right to go through puberty. One either does or
doesn’t. What is the condition of being married, and what makes it possible to
attain it? Franz Rosenzweig’s anthropology—in which religion is a response to
man’s sentience of death, and the sentience of death is not only an individual
but also an communal characteristic—may help answer that question. Humankind
fights mortality in two ways. The first is to raise children who will remember
us, and the second is to seek eternal life through divine grace. The estate of
marriage involves both.

snip

It is not the nature of some of the other mammals to breed in captivity; it is not the nature of homo sapiens to breed in the absence of the hope of eternal life. The first principle of Augustine’s anthropology, that we are made for God and restless until we come to him, coheres well with what we observe in societies that abandon God. Our restlessness in that terminal case can reach levels that tear us to pieces. It is entirely possible to devise other means of perpetuating the species than marriage, for example, the collective raising of children as in Plato’s dystopia and the various attempts to realize some of its features. But none of them has taken, not even for short periods of time. They have no interest for human beings. It is not only that people want to raise their own children, rather than the state’s children: Without the expectation of eternal life within a faith community, mating couples do not evince interest in reproducing at replacement levels. An often-cited exception to this rule seems to be Sweden, where only sixty percent of women will marry at current rates (compared to eighty-five percent in the United States), and fifty-six percent of births occur outside of marriage, compared to thirty-five percent in the United states. Twenty-eight percent of all Swedish couples cohabit without marrying, compared to eight percent in the United States. Swedish fertility, to be sure, is an unsustainable 1.6, so the problem will liquidate itself over time.
Marriage as an institution that fulfills our nature: It is a holy estate that permits the mating pair of humans to embed their reproductive activity in the eschatological hope of their faith community.

Mike Huckabee and John Stewart on abortion

Stewart pressed Huckabee: "Do you think that on the side of choice, that
they don't believe that every human life has value?"

"I don't think
there's anybody that wakes up and says, 'I really think abortion is a wonderful,
wonderful thing," Huckabee replied. "I don't truly believe that even people who
would consider themselves 'pro-choice' like abortion - I think that they haven't
thought through the implications and the logical conclusion."

Noting
that 93% of abortions in America are elective rather than health-based, Huckabee
pointed out the consequences of training future generations "that it is OK to
take a human life because that life represents to us an interference, or an
interruption to our lives either economically or socially."

"What
happens when our children one day look at us and we're old?" he asked. "I do not
want to give my kids the opportunity to say, 'Dad, you are an interference.
Coming to see you in the nursing home is really messing up my social life. You
are very expensive, Dad.'"

Stewart, who questioned the comparison,
softened his objection by admitting his affection for his own children before
birth.

"Look, I have kids, and I think it is very difficult when you
look at an ultrasound of your child and you see a heartbeat - you are filled
with that wonder and love and all those things," he said. "I don't just feel
personally that is a decision I can make for another person."

Huckabee
also pursued the question of equal rights in a parallel to slavery, asking:
"Does a person have a right to own another person? ... Can the mother totally
own the child?"

"I just think our culture ought to do everything it can
to support and encourage her to make a life decision and to be honest with her
and to explain to her: this is a heartbeat, this is a child," he said.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Flying the friendly skies of United when your luggage goes AWOL

I flew to Phoenix, Arizona yesterday.

The problem is my luggage went to Denver, Colorado. So I am sweltering in the Phoenix 'burbs without a change of clothes other than a pair of my son's old gym shorts and a t-shirt. I jumped in his pool this morning, wearing the clothes I wore on the plane.

I am not amused. Especially since for the first time in my life I had to PAY for bringing the suitcase on the plane. So, what do I get for the $11 CDN per suitcase? This, folks, was the one suitcase each that most airlines (still? used to?) allowed you to bring aboard for free.

That $11 per is the price if you don't have the savvy to pay online in advance. At the airport, they ding you for $15 a bag. And what a glum bunch of people at the United counter at the Ottawa airport. They should be happy those stupid kiosks you have to use to get your boarding pass from (unless you got yours online first) haven't put them out of a job. No they were slow, sullen, not giving a poutine curd that the line was extending to Quebec. I estimated they spent about 15 minutes with each customer. Not because they were giving extra special attention, but because they were not going to let anything rush them. I recalled what my mom and aunt told me about their trips to the Soviet Union and how "great" customer service was when you had to get in line for a coupon to buy an onion, then get in line for the onion, then get in line to pay for it. It might take two hours to get a simple staple that one could never predict could be found on the usually empty store shelves. When my great aunts came to the United States in the 1970s, they wept when they saw an American supermarket. They could not believe the aisles of fresh produce and other goods. Are we trending in the wrong direction?

We had a short time between flights when we arrived at Dulles yesterday from Ottawa, so I can understand that maybe there was a bit of a problem loading the bag onto the Phoenix flight. The lady at the airport in the missing baggage area said the bag had gone to Denver.

DENVER?

Why Denver? Because there is only one flight a day from Dulles, but lots from Denver. Okay. I could deal with that if my bag arrived this morning. But no.

So I called several times today and the bag was still sitting in Denver, despite the fact that four flights had left already for Phoenix. They have one of these automated voices that tells you to spell out the missing baggage code that is a combination of letters and numbers. It makes you try three times until it passes you on to an attendant, by which time you are either ready to shoot yourself or shoot someone. And pressing zero does not work, so you can't short-circuit your frustration.

Why don't they have a code that you can punch in with your phone keypad? Maybe my accent is too Canadian or something, eh? EH? I feel sorry for the many travelers who have very strong accents trying to deal with crappy voice recognition software probably set in some third world country by an exploited engineer who doesn't speak English himself as a first language.

The people who have answered the phone have all been polite and as helpful as they could be, but all they have are their little bar code tracking thingies and it doesn't sound like there's a lot they can do. And the website they have? Hopeless. According to that my luggage has not even been located.

Flying used to be kind of fun, but increasingly it is becoming a nightmare. The airline that starts to get customer service instead of dinging you right and left for a bit of luggage here and leg room there is going to turn a smart profit.

The last time I called they said the luggage had arrived in Phoenix and was with the delivery service. They say it will be here by 9 p.m. tonight.

I do not think they have any idea of what an inconvenience it is to be luggageless. You know, if that $11 paid for a crackerjack system of locating and expediting my suitcase to me then maybe
I would not mind so much.

But I feel dinged for inferior service. So I am not amused. Anyone else have an airline nightmare they want to share?

Use the comments section.

UPDATE:

The luggage just arrived. 9:57 p.m. (which is almost midnight Ottawa time).

And everything seems to still be intact. So, United is spared the irate phone calls I had started rehearsing for tomorrow.

Stories that are a joy to write

My work places me in a privileged position to be able to write stories like this. Being around such ministries blesses me so much and I hope you will find reading this as encouraging as I found writing it. From this week's Western Catholic Reporter:

OTTAWA - NET Ministries Canada
founder James Mikulasik calls himself a "logger of men," instead of "a fisher of
men" because of his 12 years in the logging industry in his native British
Columbia.
That's why NET alumni gave him an axe with their signatures on the
handle June 7, as the ministry marked its 15th anniversary in Canada with a
weekend of celebrations and worship in Ottawa.
"I am logging men for
Christ," Mikulasik told the 100 alumni from across Canada who attended.
"It's so beautiful to see the youth evangelizing youth," Mikulasik said,
noting how that evangelization spread to families, from priest to priest, to
evangelizing one's fellow workers in the workplace.
"This is the new
evangelization the popes lately have been talking about," he said. He praised
their "ministry of hope" that gives people "hope in the Lord Jesus Christ."
Mikulasik, 46, and Tiffany Scott, 37, originally from Anola, Man., were the
first NET Ministries team to minister in Canada 15 years ago.
Since then,
400 people have participated as members of the National Evangelization Teams
(NET) in Canada and have touched thousands of lives across the country through
parish and school ministry.
Scott, who is now finishing up a doctorate in
clinical psychology, said she learned how a ministry reaching many lives could
grow from something very small, from simple beginnings.
"When the two of us
just started, we didn't know if this was what God wanted," she said. "Looking
back now, it was really blessed by God and inspired by the Holy Spirit."
Ottawa Archbishop Emeritus Marcel Gervais, who served as NET's president
from 1994 to 2007, recalled how he first met Mikulasik.
"I don't know this
man. I have never seen him before," Gervais said. "He comes to the archbishop of
Ottawa and says, more or less, I want to change the world."

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Short hiatus

Hello all,

I'm going to take a short hiatus from blogging. So check out Free Canuckistan for the latest on the fight for freedom of expression. The Binksmeister has links to all the important blogs.

I may check in from time to time, but I hope to get a bit of a spiritual rest from anything but the Good News.

See you soon.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Oswald Chambers on the fact of sin

Many years ago a friend gave me a copy of Oswald Chamber's My Utmost for His Highest.

I often found these devotionals uncanny in how they, as the Quakers say, speak to my condition or give me a profound spiritual insight.

Today's devotional goes like this:

June 24th.



RECONCILING ONE'S SELF TO THE FACT OF SIN


This is your hour, and the power of darkness." Luke 22:53

It is not being reconciled to the fact of sin that produces all the disasters in life. You may talk about the nobility of human nature, but there is something in human nature which will laugh in the face of every ideal you have. If you refuse to agree with the fact that there is vice and self-seeking, something downright spiteful and wrong in human beings, instead of reconciling yourself to it, when it strikes your life, you will compromise with it and say it is of no use to battle against it. Have you made allowance for this hour and the power of darkness, or do you take a recognition of yourself that misses out sin? In your bodily relationships and friendships do you reconcile yourself to the fact of sin? If not, you will be caught round the next corner and you will compromise with it. If you reconcile yourself to the fact of sin, you will realize the danger at once - Yes, I see what that would mean. The recognition of sin does not destroy the basis of friendship; it establishes a mutual regard for the fact that the basis of life is tragic. Always beware of an estimate of life which does not recognize the fact that there is sin.

Jesus Christ never trusted human nature, yet He was never cynical, never suspicious, because He trusted absolutely in what He could do for human nature. The pure man or woman, not the innocent, is the safeguarded man or woman. You are never safe with an innocent man or woman. Men and women have no business to be innocent; God demands that they be pure and virtuous. Innocence is the characteristic of a child; it is a blameworthy thing for a man or woman not to be reconciled to the fact of sin.

The Nativity of John the Baptist


Here is the Liturgy of the Word from our Mass today in the Anglican Catholic cathedral in Ottawa, June 24. May you find these words edifying and soul-stirring.

THE COLLECT.

ALMIGHTY God, by whose providence thy servant John Baptist was wonderfully born, and sent to prepare the way of thy Son our Saviour, by preaching of repentance: Make us so to follow his doctrine and holy life, that we may truly repent according to his preaching, and after his example constantly speak the truth, boldly rebuke vice, and patiently suffer for the truth's sake; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

With the following, for CANADA, if desired.

O GOD, who didst lead the fathers of our nation into this land of Canada, and hast increased us by thy favour: Grant, we beseech thee, that we who now enter into their inheritance, may prove ourselves a people mindful of thy mercies and ready to do thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

THE LESSON. Isaiah 40. 1.

COMFORT ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received of the LORD'S hand double for all her sins. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a high-way for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and it all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it. The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, because the Spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand for ever. O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain: O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid: say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God. Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd; he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.

THE GOSPEL. St Luke 1. 57.

ELIZABETH'S full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had showed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. And he asked for a writing-table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all. And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God. And fear came on all that dwelt round about them; and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill-country of Judaea. And all they that had heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be? And the hand of the Lord was with him. And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit, and prophesied, saying,

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel:
For he hath visited and redeemed his people,
And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us
In the house of his servant David;
As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets,
Which have been since the world began;
That we should be saved from our enemies,
And from the hand of all that hate us;
To perform the mercy promised to our fathers,
And to remember his holy covenant;
The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
That he would grant unto us, that we, being delivered out of the hands of our enemies,
Might serve him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before him all the days of our life.
And thou, child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest:
For thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people,
By the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God,
Whereby the day-spring from on high hath visited us;
To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death;
To guide our feet into the way of peace.

And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit; and was in the deserts till the day of his showing unto Israel.

Doesn't that verse from Isaiah make your heart sing?

The Roman Catholic Archbishop Terrence Prendergast has this to say in his homily at Notre Dame Cathedral today:

John's prophetic call to serve both Israel and the nations lay hidden within the designs of God. It was issued before his birth, as he was being carried in the womb of Elizabeth: "The Lord called me before I was born; while I was in my mother's womb He named me".

The majority of Israelite names, like ancient Semitic names in general, had readily understandable meanings. Parents consciously chose such names, which could be translated into sentences, to describe the identity of, or aspirations they had for, their child. The name "Zechariah" means, "The Lord remembers", while "John" means "God has been gracious".

John's name was assigned him by the angel Gabriel when Zechariah was told that his wife would conceive and bear a son in her old age. Though Zechariah had been rendered mute for his momentary unbelief, Elizabeth in a wondrous manner had arrived at the divinely appointed name. She insisted on naming her son John.

John's birth is mentioned only cursorily so that attention may be given to the drama of his naming and the end of Zechariah's speechlessness. When Zechariah wrote "His name is John", people were amazed, Zechariah's tongue was loosed and he began praising God, uttering the Benedictus (Luke 1:68-79), which the Church prays at Lauds every morning.

In the passage from Acts, Paul described the closing of John's preaching career as a selfless one, his humility leading him to speak thus about Jesus: "'What do you suppose that I am? I am not He. No, but one is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of the sandals on His feet'".

Just as at the time of the winter solstice—December 25—when the course of the sun begins to rise in the northern hemisphere, the Church celebrates the birth of Christ, the shining sun born from on high and the true light of the world, so, at the summer solstice—June 24—when the course of the sun begins to decline, the Christian community recalls the birth of John the Baptist, who, though not himself the light, bore witness to the light (cf. John 1:6-9).

John himself testified, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30), a saying that the Church's liturgy has applied to the location of these feasts in the solar calendar.

There's more. Go on over to the archbishop's blog to read the rest.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I am going to buy this CD, I promise

Third Day does it with this song:



Wouldn't you like to feel born again?

Remember what it felt like to be born again?

Would you like to be born again?

Some after-birthday thoughts . . .here's one for you Jennifer


I went to mass the morning of my birthday, June 19, where we celebrated the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I arrived early and had some time to recollect and I remembered the Psalm I chose as "my psalm" years ago because it so expressed my debt to Jesus Christ.
It goes like this:

Psalm 116

I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.

2Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live.

3The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.

4Then called I upon the name of the Lord; O Lord, I beseech thee, deliver my soul.

5Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful.

6The Lord preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me.

7Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee.

8For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.

9I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

10I believed, therefore have I spoken: I was greatly afflicted:

11I said in my haste, All men are liars.

12What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?

13I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord.

14I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people.

15Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

16O Lord, truly I am thy servant; I am thy servant, and the son of thine handmaid: thou hast loosed my bonds.

17I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord.

18I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people,

19In the courts of the Lord’S house, in the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye the Lord.


So before the Blessed Sacrament, all I could do is weep because I am so thankful and because I deserve none of the grace and love that He continually pours down on me.

Around three that afternoon, a dear friend sent me a Catholic electronic greeting card featuring the Sacred Heart and it quoted this from Catholic and Loving It.

Sacred Heart of Jesus

The central truth of the heart of Jesus is that God loves us with a human heart and a human love.

Catholic and Loving It


Think about that for a moment. God's love is not some kind of impersonal force. Our names are carved in the palm of His hand. To Him, we are each individual, unique, special, and loved beyond our comprehension---yet still loved in a way that we can recognize as divinely human.

One of the readings at mass that day was this:

THE EPISTLE. Ephesians 3. 14.

FOR this cause I bow my knees unto the Father, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints, what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus, throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

That is a beautiful passage to pray, inserting the name of whomever you wish to pray for at the "you" and the "ye" portions. And I pray this for my readers today. Even you, Jennifer Lynch, I pray this for you, too. You can put that in your file, okay? I genuinely wish you well. I pray you will have the wisdom, the strength and the courage to do the right thing.

I pray for another Great Awakening of the Christian faith in North America. I pray this for Canada. I pray this for America, my two homelands. Imagine how much we would not need human rights commissions to monitor our respect for others if a critical mass abided in Christ and were filled with His love. Then how would we treat the stranger in our midst, the prisoner, the unborn child, the frail elderly, the disabled, the person of another race or religion?

Remember, God's love is not a mushy, spoiling and corrupting love that let's you get away with anything. He is a Father and He can be stern and correcting. I used to lament that I never had anything that I wanted---the boyfriend I wanted at the time, the job I wanted so desperately---whatever, and while other people were allowed things, I seemed to have a strange hedge about me. Unless I was putting God first, nothing in my life worked out. Did I ever suffer! I would look around with quasi-envy at how everyone else seemed to be getting their way, but not me. I'd head off in my headstrong, rebellious direction and boom! I would experience God's chastisement. Yet at the same time, He protected me in circumstances that might have killed me.

Do you realize what kind of love it takes to risk correcting someone?

I think of the Father as so much wanting us to love Him back and yet even in the Church we walk around a lot of the time with stony faces and cold hearts, nursing this and that little grievance against someone, perhaps shaking our inner fist at the sky.

The Binks has this interesting Father's Day meditation:

We’re in the midst of endless hateful social engineering seeking to undercut and replace fathers in general and male in particular.

In the end, it’s all about fighting with THE Father. God the Father, maker of heaven and earth. His rule, his will, his Kingdom, his love and purpose. After all, these days we’re told that all human family and roles are social constructions, amenable to engineering and fiddling according to the powers of the experts. But what it– just if– it’s the other way around, and our earthly institutions are the reflections of a transcendent order which we express in our moral and social ordering.

That’s certainly the Judeo-Christian model– as St. Paul says in Ephesians 3:15, “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named”– it’s a right-side up thing.

To those who will then bring up abusive, negligent, or deadbeat dads, that’s the dark side– the absence of a great and necessary good, for which Our Heavenly Father is also the answer, since he is faithfulness, love, and wills all good for his children. Earthly fatherhood is– and should be– an image of The Father.



Yeah, this is pretty funny

New JibJab 'Obama' video (pretty funny)

H/t FFoF

Monday, June 22, 2009

Big Sister is watching you!

Jennifer Lynch has a file! Joseph Brean reports in the National Post:

"Please, please, look. We have experienced 16 months of invective hurled at us, and at any time when anybody has tried to speak up and correct misinformation, gross distortions, caricaturizations, then the very next day there's been some full-frontal assault through the blogs, through mainstream media. I have a file. I'm sure I have 1,200, certainly several hundred of these things," she said.
He gives her plenty of time to hurl her accusations. Then he adds:

While rebutting what she calls outright lies, the report makes barely any reference to the more sober criticisms of her hate speech mandate from mainstream critics, such as the Canadian Civil Liberites Association and Jewish advocacy groups, and also almost every newspaper editorial board in Canada. These include the lack of a legal defense of truth or scholarly or journalistic intent; the practice of accepting identical complaints simultaneously in different jurisdictions; controversial online investigative procedures such as joining white supremacist discussion groups to investigate targets; and the potential for human rights tribunals to be hijacked as political platforms.


He adds some interesting points by Richard Moon. Read the whole thing.

I'm sorry, folks. I was going to resist making fun of Jennifer Lynch because I am not crazy about personalizing this debate. There really are substantive problems with HRCs that existed long before she arrived. She just makes herself such an irresistible target of mirth.

Admitting that you Google yourself on a regular basis is, I dunno, not cool.

It's funny, but she is as guilty of personalizing this debate as any of the victims of HRC abuses. Yet she is strangely unable to step into their shoes. Here she is taking in a $300K ? salary and having to bear criticism on Google that pales in comparison to the abuse that someone like Kathy Shaidle's name might dig up if she bothered to check her name out, but she has no conception of how unjust it is to be prosecuted in three separate jurisdictions for the same complaint. For her, the dismissals are evidence the system works, not proof the process is the punishment. And narry a mention of Barbara Hall's drive by verdict.

Jennifer insisted to John Oakley the other day that he not use prosecutorial language to describe the CHRC, since they are a "remedial" institution. Yeah, and the remedies they mete out---make some criminal prosecutions and punishments look like a walk in the park. Life time speech bans, computers seized, remedy-payments for hurt feelings to third parties who complained on behalf of victims groups to which they do not belong.

People like me and the people I quote in the news stories I write, or the debates I used to book when I was a TV producer at the CBC did deal with the substantive issues.

I've been on this for years. But it's taken the satire, the ridicule, the occasional hyperbole for effect (that anyone with any literary training and an ear for popular culture and a sense of humor understands as hyperbole, satire, etc.) to catapult this issue to the public square.

Jennifer, instead of trying to demonize your opponents, how about showing some leadership and answering some of the substantive complaints about your CHRC? Your report does not address them. Be a big girl and ignore the baiting. Instead of making blanket accusations about "misinformation, gross distortions, caricaturizations" be specific. But please, make allowances for such things as humor, sarcasm and fair comment. Where the facts are wrong, tell us. Otherwise you are sounding pretty scary.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Victor Davis Hanson nails it

If anyone is wondering why Obama has taken so long to say anything about the Iran crisis, Victor Davis Hanson has the best explanation I have seen. Here's an excerpt. Please read it all and support National Review Online.

Of all the puzzling reasons one can adduce both for Barack Obama recent serial apologies abroad, and now his strange silence about human rights abuses from Venezuela to Iran, I think one of the most likely is his Manichean notion of world affairs—one also reflected in most of the curricula of our major universities.

The binary oppressor/victim narrative goes something like this: the United States for the last half-century—through its embrace of neocolonialism and imperialism, and then again through its birthing of globalized capitalism—is at fault for most of the mess outside the West.

We as the bad guys impose, dictate, exploit, ignore, and manipulate the more noble Other to such a degree that he is forced to lash out in understandable, though often dangerous ways.

This is a sort of all-inclusive worldview that in postmodern fashion pits those with “power” against those without it. And in such a simplistic bipolar world, only a few gifted Western elite intellectuals, of superior intelligence, empathy, and insight, can reach across the divide, understand the Other, and find common ground, by accommodating the West to alternate paradigms of politics, culture, and economic and social life—different of course, albeit not intrinsically in any sense inferior.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Obama says good things about fatherhood

This is a good message. Some on the right side of the blogosphere are going nuts that he's paying more attention to Father's Day than he is the violent Iran crisis. But whatever the timing, this is a good message and a necessary message.

“When fathers are absent, when they abandon their responsibility to their children, we know the damage that does to our families,” Mr. Obama told teenagers and community leaders in the East Room of the White House, beginning what he called a “national conversation on responsible fatherhood and healthy families.”

Mr. Obama sprinkled his talk with references to his own absent father, who left him with his mother in Hawaii when he was 2 and visited him only once after that.

“I say this as someone who grew up without a father in my life,” Mr. Obama said. “That’s something that leaves a hole in a child’s heart that governments can’t fill.”

He said children raised without fathers were more likely to drop out of school and abuse drugs. But aware of his own example, he told his audience — a diverse group that included Darryl McDaniels of Run-DMC and the skateboarder Tony Hawk — that growing up fatherless did not mean a person could not succeed.

It's interesting the "hole in a child's heart that governments can't fill" comment. Does Obama feel a hole in his heart that government can't fill? That even being president isn't enough?

We all have a hole in our heart that no government and not even a good human father can fill. A good human father sets us up to find the best source for filling that hole and that's the love of the Father through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

It's too bad that the ever-expanding government and the Savior State that progressives like Obama stand for has a negative effect on families.

More on that some time later. I have to start the barbecue.

The Eucharistic Congress one year later


QUEBEC - A year after the 2008 International Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City, Cardinal Marc Ouellet sees much fruit growing in his diocese.

He notes a rise in priestly vocations, a stronger passion for the new evangelization and a new unity among parishes, religious communities and new Catholic movements.

"It is very uplifting to see a new enthusiasm," he said in an interview from Quebec City June 16. "We've been re-evangelized by the Eucharistic Congress.

"The joy of the faith has grown in our hearts and we are more determined and full of confidence to bring the Good News further."

To mark the anniversary, the diocese held several days of events, starting with a special Mass on Corpus Christi June 11, followed by a two-hour Eucharistic "march" through the Old City.

It included a stop for prayers outside the Quebec Parliament that served as "a message we are still on the front lines of proclaiming the Gospel to the world," he said.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The HRCs comin' at ya from the FAAAAAR Left

Jennifer Lynch has painted those opposing the abuses of so-called human rights commissions as representative of the far right. While I consider myself a conservative, I am hardly far right unless from her perspective everything to the right of comedian Guy Earle is extreme.

Well, Ezra Levant has found that the Daily Kos (!!!!!!!) is panning her latest chilled speech whine.

The Daily Kos is a large left-wing blogger collective in the U.S. that is a substantial faction in the Democratic Party's base of activists. Needless to say, I was delighted to find support for reforming Canada's abusive human rights commissions from them. But that goes to my point that freedom of speech isn't a right wing or left wing thing -- it's for anyone who cares about ideas and believes in the right to disagree with each other. And, more importantly, the right to disagree with the government, and megalomanic czarinas like Jennifer Lynch.

Here's the item. An excerpt:

Well, Canada’s empire of speech suppression has struck back, as George Lucas taught us empires are fond of doing. Apparently, all this criticism of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and their ways have led to a – drumroll, please – "chilling" of free speech in Canada.

At this point it seems important to note that, just like Dave Barry, I am not making this up.

More on Jennifer Lynching the context

Tyranny of Nice co-author Pete Vere weighs in:


In reading reading Jennifer Lynch's recent complaints against critics of the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC), what strikes me most is how she appears to have little understanding of context. This is frightening given that Lynch is the CHRC's Chief Commissioner. The most egregious example, which you can read here, is her following accusation against Mark Steyn:

One human rights expert who wrote a letter to a major daily paper faced an accusation in a response letter by a journalist the next day asking, “is (name of person) a drunken pedophile?”


This sounds nasty at first. But like the snippet of the conversation with my hunting buddy, it misses the context. So as Mark Steyn would say (and did say), here's the expanded version:

Let me take just one sentence: “Are Levant and Steyn hatemongerers? Maybe not. But no one has decided that.”

Overlooking her curious belief that “hatemongerers” is a word, whatever happened to the presumption of innocence? Eliadis stands on its head the bedrock principle of English justice and airily declares that my status as a “hatemongerer” is unknown until “decided” by the apparatchiks of the HRC.

Can anyone play this game? “Is Pearl Eliadis a drunken pedophile? Maybe not. But no one has decided that.” In her justification of the HRC process, Eliadis only confirms what’s wrong with it.


A couple points:

1 - Steyn was using a rhetorical technique called reductio ad absurdum to demonstrate the absurdity of Eliadis's argument. He wasn't calling Eliadis a drunken pedophile; he was pushing Eliadis's own argument to the extreme.

2 - Eliadis and Lynch appear to have missed the point.

Does this surprise me? No. After all, the is not the first time that context and references to popular culture have completely escaped Eliadis and Canada's human rights racket. As Kathy Shaidle and I wrote in Tyranny of Nice:

Pearl Eliadis is well-known human rights lawyer and a former director of the Ontario Human Rights Commission. The National Post reports that during a panel discussion at a national human rights conference, Eliadis denounced popular blogger Blazing Catfur as "poisonous" for having compared the panel to a "Texas cage match." Ms Eliadis probably wasn't clear on exactly what a "Texas cage match" was, but she certainly didn't like the sound of it.

Yes, Canada’s human rights industry is really that clueless about popular culture. What many ordinary Canadians consider a staple of Monday night wrestling, or merely a commonplace idiomatic expression, the commissions and tribunals trumpet as potential hate crimes. One can imagine the hysterics were someone to accidentally expose them to Weird Al Yankovic’s song “White and Nerdy”.


Which is what scares me. Lynch and Eliadis have directed Canada's two largest government "human rights" commissions. Yet in their public statements neither individual shows understanding of context or popular culture.

More reaction to Jennifer Lynch's speech

The National Post has an editorial today reacting to Jennifer Lynch's speech to the so-called 'human rights' industry's annual conference, where the chief commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission accused people like Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant of chilling their freedom of speech. The Post says:

But claiming that the commissions have overstepped their original purposes and outlived their usefulness is a legitimate argument. It is clearly one Ms. Lynch disagrees with, but she does not get to be the final arbiter of what is and isn't acceptable in debates about the commissions' future.

Still, she can be forgiven for believing she is. The CHRC acts as investigator, prosecutor and judge in complaints of racism and hate speech. Moreover, it gets to decide what constitutes hatefulness in print or the spoken word. No wonder Ms. Lynch cannot understand why she should have to tolerate those who advocate the end of human rights commissions. In her daily working life, she gets to define away those she disagrees with, so why not in the broader public debate on rights and who should protect them, too?

She also claimed that those who accused the CHRC and its provincial counterparts of "chilling" free expression with the prosecutions of writers such as Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant were themselves guilty of "reverse chill." Harsh criticism of the commissions in the media had discouraged many of their supporters from coming forward to defend their missions, she said. Others who had been brave enough to speak out had been subjected to withering personal criticism in opinion pieces and letters to the editor -- so much so that "50% of interviewees for an upcoming book on human rights have stated that they feel 'chilled' about speaking up."

There is a significant difference, though-- one Ms. Lynch seems unwilling to acknowledge -- between criticism and prosecution. It is the difference between name-calling and sticks and stones.

Kathy Shaidle is having a "words fail" experience. After making this observation:

Lynch reveals that the bullies on her staff are, like all bullies, really just cowards -- and completely unable to detect irony...

She can only respond:

Awwwww! Gooo-gooo, gaaaa-gaaaa!!

But on a serious note, until this speech I was one of the few people on the free speech side of the blogosphere who urged people give Jennifer the benefit of a doubt. I also recognized publicly that under her watch there have been some incremental improvements in the administration of the ghastly Section 13, which is so broad that anyone could run afoul of it for whatever reason any bureaucrat cooks up. I saw her as a bit of a Gorbachev of 'human rights.' Of course the whole regime has to come down, but she was at least a reformer. Well, now I wonder if her efforts at reform were merely pure self-preservation, akin to Gorbachev's trying to modernize just enough so the Communism could remain firmly in place.

Mark Steyn spent thousands of dollars of his own money and countless hours of his precious time fighting the triple jeopardy of jurisdiction shopping, enduring the process which is the punishment. He is the victim here, not Jennifer Lynch. But somehow Jennifer Lynch entirely lacks the ability to put herself in his shoes. Instead, as commonly happens with people who wrong others, she tries to demonize him without having the courage to name him. I'll let Mark explain in more detail what she did in that speech.

I didn't know Jennifer Lynch, QC until she decided to insert herself into my life. And, for most of last year, I tried to keep an open mind about her personal motivations, etc. But I regard the speech she gave to her fellow pseudo-rights enforcers at the "CASHRA" knees-up in Montreal as deeply dishonest. One assumes that she was aware that two-thirds of the statements she quoted were made not by "the media" in general, but rather by the target of her investigation: me. That makes her attribution of them profoundly misleading. Likewise, her mischaracterization of the "drunken pedophile" line. To be kind, it may be that the speech was written for her by some minion while she was off lunching a visiting delegation from the Iranian Human Rights Commission. But neither alternative - disingenousness or laziness - is acceptable. Even if you thought it a good idea to give the state extensive powers to regulate speech, Jennifer Lynch's speech makes plain that she's either too dishonest or stupid to be entrusted with the task.

Compare Commissar Lynch's remarks with those of Commissioner Denton at the CRTC, and decide for yourself who has the greater historical perspective and philosophical understanding. "Human rights" are about rights for humans, citizens, individuals - and about restraints on government. When a "human rights" commissar complains about citizens insulting the government, it would seem to be a near parodic example of how an obtuse and ugly nomenklatura has precisely inverted the principles of human rights and turned it into a vehicle for government power and bureaucratic self-preservation. When Queen Jennifer talks about the "human rights system", she gives the game away: It's about the "system", not human rights.


Take a look at the CASHRA program. Look at the array of speakers and their concerns.

Check out this on "demographics and human rights:"

Canada is facing major challenges in connection with demographic change. An increase in the number of new arrivals has created an ethnic, cultural and religious mosaic, sometimes seen by the majority as a threat to their “shared values”.

The "scare quotes" around "shared values" is what this crew thinks of our Western heritage folks, the same heritage that brought us freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of conscience. It is a heritage that is mindful of the dangers of tyranny and sought to limit the powers of the state. The relativistic, multicult mindset, reeking of identity politics, is a cancer eating away at real civil rights. AND WE'RE PAYING FOR THIS WITH OUR TAX DOLLARS.

Martin Luther King Jr. must be spinning in his grave at this nonsense. He appealed to our Western heritage to widen its inclusiveness so that black people were treated fairly within that context. He helped us to better understand the heritage to ensure that it includes us all, whatever race, whatever ethnic background we bring. If human rights commissions were about this kind of justice, I would not have a problem with them.

But they are not. They are against equality of opportunity and equality before the law. They are against judging on the content of characters and on merit. When Alan Borovoy and others first set them up, they had a Martin Luther King Jr. type vision to widen the application of civil rights, to ensure that all races and classes were treated equally before the law. That is no longer the case. This post-modern, living tree version of rights is soft totalitarian and creating a burgeoning bureaucracy of ideological enforcers who think our shared values belong in scare quotes. We must bring them to an end.

The Anchoress dreams strange Obama dreams

Sometimes dreams are just dreams. Sometimes they are prophetic. As the Fox News folks say: "you decide."

The Anchoress dreamt detailed vivid dreams of Obama and she is not feeling a thrill up her leg. Here's an excerpt, but do read the whole thing:

In my dream, I was teaching a class in a local school, and Obama came to visit. I was excited with the rest of the children, and he was wonderful. He rolled up his shirtsleeves and got down into the small desks, and helped them with reading, and math and I thought, “he’s a born-teacher; he should be in the classroom, where he shines. I just love him like this.” The students were in awe of him – they looked upon him, with the same mesmerized gaze of adoration we see in some members of the press, as though he was a god, and that brought me down to earth. “You should not encourage that,” I said to Obama. “You should stick to teaching.” And he looked up at me, smiled charmingly, but suddenly, my feelings went cold as I sensed a flick of cold steel within him. That’s the only way I can describe it. He looked at me, understood that my newly-discovered admiration had fled, and turned back to the children, saying, “We’re going to learn a new song. We’re going to sing a new song, are you ready?”

I awoke and jotted down the dream quickly, then fell back to sleep. This time, we were at a community pool, splashing in the water; everyone having fun. But people kept coming up to me, rising from beneath the water, clearing hair from their eyes and saying, “Obama is over there; he wants you to come by.” Obama was there, in a far corner, surrounded by many, all having a great time. I kept refusing. Then there was a party – a huge gathering and once again it was all about Obama, everyone was having a great time. Lots of famous people. At one point Bono offered to sing a song he’d written especially for the occasion if only someone would volunteer to play piano for him, and I thought, “he’s richer than Midas, and there are musicians struggling for work; why didn’t he just hire one to bring with him. Why does someone need to volunteer?” Bono, unable to find that volunteer, did not sing, and I looked around, gathered my family and tried to leave. Obama was at the microphone announcing that he would be talking to us every Sunday for the next three weeks, from every television channel, every available media outlet, and he set his agenda. “The third Sunday, we will be releasing a new song, called “Sing a new song,” and you will all want to learn it; we will all be singing together.” Some in the crowd cheered, but many looked around uncomfortably, and clapped perfunctorily and briefly. “You are not clapping,” a man said to me. “No, I’m keeping my hands free, so I can throw my copy of 1984 at the television screen for the next few Sundays.” The man smiled a tiny smile, and turned away.

I went off and tried to find greeting cards to welcome back a friend who had gone, and was due to return shortly. But the cards were all vapid poems or garishly sentimental, and I awoke.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Turning 60---it ain't gonna be so bad





















My friends threw a surprise 60th birthday party for me last night. Mostly organized by my friend Barbara, who could have a second career as an event planner if she ever tires of medicine!

Barbara delegated tasks to other friends like Michele, Pam and Dave and Wendy who fanned out and brought myriad birthday greetings and well-wishes from far and wide that Barbara put in a lovely scrapbook. I am basking in the love and good will. Thank you everyone!

Barbara somehow managed to obtain a greeting from the retired bishop of the Anglican Church of Canada Bishop Robert Mercer who now lives in the U.K. and doesn't, as far as I know, have email."

He wrote:

"Don't be glum. Life only begins at 60! Before then you are too young to know what to do with it."

Then he explains some things about the Deborahs found in the Old Testament.

"As to the more militant and famous poetess of Judges 4 and 5, you might not wish to emulate her blood thirstiness but you will appreciate her skill with words. And she played a part in the eventual unification of the twelve tribes. I like to think of you playing a part in the eventual unity of evangelical Christian with catholic Christian, each contributing to the common good under the unifying presidency of the Bishop of Rome."

Funny, but he nails what is an abiding passion for me.

If you want to hear how he says "Bishop of Rome" you can hear him say it in an interview he did for Salt and Light TV in a Focus piece David Naglieri did on the Traditional Anglican Communion and its hopes for unity with the Holy See.



It was nice to see old friends from Kanata Baptist, lots of people from my parish at the Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary and many of my newer Roman Catholic friends.
What a night!

CHRC grilling by Conservative MP Russ Hiebert

Must see TV, thanks to John Pacheco over at Socon.ca


June 17th, 2009 by Pacheco



The CHRC guy denies that employees have posted hate speech on the Internet. Well, it was admitted under oath.

You have to listen to this guy's answer to a question on where the right to freedom from hatred originated. Of course it is nowhere in the Charter. He says it comes from Parliament, in their mandate, including Section 13.

Me oh my.

New York Times covers story of man

who decides to have penis cut off, including shots of him going into surgery.

Everyone lives happily ever after of course, now that the man has been transformed into the woman he always wanted to be.

Of course our "gender" is only a social construct. We've mostly thrown the biologically-based "sex" under the bus. Of course there are social construct elements in our understanding of our sexual identity---biology is not destiny

I'm sure the person at the heart of this story is very nice and someone I certainly would treat with respect for his/her basic human dignity. I would not want this person persecuted on the job, in living accomodations, or on the street. But I find the societal collusion in this man's physical mutilation rather sad, including the puff piece with no dissenting voices by the once great New York Times. And what I find sadder is that increasingly that collusion is becoming compulsory and soon a surgeon who would refuse to do such an operation on conscience grounds might find that she has lost her license because her licensing body has brought its regulations under a human rights code.

Some great arguments for marriage

The Doctor Is In blog has compiled Anthony Esolen's ten reasons for the preservation of traditional marriage.

Thought-provoking stuff.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Most interesting analysis of the Iran situation

Check out what "Spengler" has to say:


Ahmadinejad's invective may be aimed at Jerusalem, but his eye is fixed on Islamabad. That explains the decisions of his masters in Tehran's religious establishment who may have rigged, or at least exaggerated, his election victory. Pakistan's ongoing civil war has a critical sectarian component which the Shi'ites never sought: the Taliban claim legitimacy as the Muslim leadership of the country on the strength of their militancy against the country's Shi'ite minority. Were the Taliban to succeed in crushing Pakistan's Shi'ites, Iran's credibility as a Shi'ite power would fade, along with its ability to project influence in the region.

As Middle East analyst Daniel Pipes asks, "Why did [Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei select Ahmadinejad to "win" the election? Why did he not chose a president-puppet who would present a smile to the world, including Obama, handle the economy competently, not rile the population, and whose selection would not inspire riots that might destabilize the regime? Has Khamenei fallen under the spell of Ahmadinejad or does he have some clever ploy up his sleeve? Whatever the answer is, it baffles me."

The issue is less baffling when raw numbers are taken into account. The issues on which Iran's supposed moderation might be relevant, such as the Arab-Israeli conflict, are less pressing for Tehran than the problems on its eastern border.

Jennifer Lynch's says her freedom of speech is being chilled

I am gasping at the irony in this. If I'm reading this correctly, then Jennifer Lynch is claiming that people like Mark Steyn and Ezra Levant are chilling her freedom of speech!!!!!!!

The problem is, Jennifer, they do not have a government body with all the levers of power and a $25 million dollar budget to persecute people like you do!

Also, get this, Lynch is crying to her sympathetic listeners that $25 million is not enough money for her bureaucrats and investigators to do their work!

Here is a big excerpt (my bolds, except hers in italics) so that you too can gape with astonishment:

A key concern for us is how to manage resources – our mandate and the number of organizations under our jurisdiction has expanded over the years without matching budget with expectations; then again I expect all of my colleagues also experience this.

The major concern is one that I know that most of us share: the need to strengthen the overall human rights system and ensure the public understands what we do.

Fundamental to the administration of justice is access to justice – entry points for the most vulnerable to have their voices heard. [Yes, this was the rationale in the beginning, but when ideologues and political appointees have subverted this noble purpose to socially engineer outcomes, and special interest groups have hijacked it to silence criticism, then the whole thing needs to be abolished and something new created if there still is a need for the vulnerable to gain access---but to real justice that respects the rule of law]

Over time, access to administrative tribunals has been deemed to be an effective vehicle for the disenfranchised minorities, among others. Certainly all of us here who work at Commissions and Tribunals provide that vital access. [No you don't. Not if you are a traditional Catholic and experiencing a poisoned work environment because of your beliefs]

The debate is now the larger debate – beyond balancing rights – and it has become about the human rights system itself. [Only a real court should try to balance rights]

We are in a time when a mounting campaign suggests that equality has been achieved in Canada. Certain detractors seek to caricature the human rights system, and undermine its legacy and ability to ensure equality for all Canadians.

This began with a complaint brought against Rogers Communications by the Canadian Islamic Congress, in three jurisdictions: Federal, Ontario, and British Columbia. All three dismissed the complaint. [Why no comment about the unjust jurisdiction shopping in this case? The triple jeopardy? The huge legal costs to Rogers, despite the dismissals?]

Even before the three complaints were dismissed, many commissions and tribunals experienced a cacophony of protest – by those who felt that exposing mainstream media organizations to formal complaints is inconsistent with Canada’s commitment to freedom of expression.

The debate moved to one of discrediting Commissions’ processes, professionalism and staff. Much of what was written was inaccurate, unfair, and at times scary:

Articles described human rights commissions and their employees in this way:

  • “Gestapo”
  • “human rights racket”
  • “welcome to the whacky world of Canadian human rights.”
  • “...(i)t sounds like a fetish club for servants of the Crown”
  • “a secretive and decadent institution”

In addition to this mounting discredit for our institution:

  • blogs worked to destroy our investigators and litigators’ reputations and credibility with untrue accusations;
  • groundless complaints were lodged with the law societies; and
  • a Commission employee’s life was threatened.

Some human rights experts tried to respond and correct this misinformation. One human rights expert who wrote a letter to a major daily paper faced an accusation in a response letter by a journalist the next day asking, “is (name of person) a drunken pedophile?”

As personal attacks were made against anyone who tried to correct the record, the number of people willing to make the effort dwindled. There is tangible proof of this: 50% of interviewees for an upcoming book on human rights have stated that they feel “chilled” about speaking up.

Ironically, those who are claiming that human rights commission’s jurisdiction over hate speech is “chilling” to freedom of expression, have successfully created their own reverse chill.

Can you believe this?

Of course, if someone made a death threat against any employee of the commission that is terrible and I hope the police bring the perpetrator to justice. If there are untrue allegations, then I do not support that either. That's known as defamation and there are laws against that. But again, what about the law society complaints people on her side have been lobbing? And the SLAPP suits? And fair comment is fair comment, even if it might tend towards hyperbole.

I would agree words like "Gestapo" are over-the-top, and I'm not crazy about jackboot images either. We aren't there yet by any stretch of the imagination. But the other stuff is fair comment and is frankly, all of the accusations are quite mild compared with being judged a racist, a homophobe, or an Islamophobe by a government agency, forced to pay a remedy of tens of thousands of dollars and put under a lifetime speech ban that could destroy a journalist's livelihood.

What Jennifer Lynch and the people who are too afraid to speak up to defend their human rights industry are experiencing is the power of public opinion that also serves to keep in check the vile racists and Holocaust deniers in our midst. See, we don't need the state to step in unless someone's life is threatened, someone is telling lies about someone (defamation), someone is directly inciting violence against an individual or a group, or saying things to defraud the public.

I see a total lack of proportion in this speech. A bunker mentality. Someone who is used to speaking only to the converted in a milieu where nothing is ever challenged and nanny is always right.

Omigawd, there's more:

Critics of the human rights system are manipulating and misrepresenting information to further a new agenda: one that posits that human rights commissions and tribunals no longer serve a useful purpose.

Because the Maclean’s case was about a journalist, it naturally attracted the attention of many other journalists, who quite rightly see their role as a bulwark against incursions on freedom of expression.

I do believe that some are unwitting accomplices in a gross oversimplification of the issue, who flame the controversy by repeating inaccuracies.

It seems that fundamentally detractors do not believe that access to administrative tribunals in search of equality is something that our country should ensure.

Well, I agree with her last paragraph. I do not believe access to administrative tribunals is the way to ensure equality. Maybe once upon a time they were, but now they have become vehicles for identity politics and grievance groups using government power to silence unpopular opinion or to bankrupt their critics or just harass poor ordinary businesses that don't want men using their women's change rooms pre-sex change operation or people smoking medical marijuana in the doorway of a family restaurant.

No administrative tribunal should have the power to adbridge a Charter right. Equality does not trump freedom of speech. And there is no right to be free from hatred. Here's a bit of an IM conversation I had with Iain Benson today about the CHRC report tabled last week:

I think that there is more real burden in a CHRC framework than the Criminal Code which, due to the fact that there is a third party check (prosecutorial discretion) on the process, protects citizens against ill informed or malign challenges by other citizens with axes to grind.
The whole idea of "hate speech regulation" disconnected from imminent threats to actual violence is mischievous which is why Moon advocated dropping it. Hate is far too much in the eye of the sensitive citizen. Violence is subject to a meaningful standard.
We've seen "feelings" elevated to legal tests and that is always a mistake.
Human Rights has overextended its jurisdiction and continues, as do most administrative settings, to continue to do so. It is time for some basic gardening. Start trimming the overgrowth. I'd start with Section 13 as Moon advocated and for the reasons he gave.
The CHRC in this Report shows its unwillingness to exercise restraint from within. In that circumstance it needs to come from without. Time for legislators to act.

I saw Amen to that.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Notes from Rotterdam that you won't find in the MSM

This account by a gay American whose parents were born in Puerto Rico gives us a glimpse of what lies ahead for vulnerable minorities in Europe in cities like Rotterdam.


Getting jumped by six Moroccans after I left a gay bar in Rotterdam a few weeks ago brought home — with brutal clarity — my feeling that this Dutch port city is a nervous place on the verge of breakdown.

Having studied in two European countries, lived and worked in three, and visited about two dozen over a 20-year period, I usually feel extremely safe meandering around the “old countries” of our Western civilization. But there’s something rotten in Rot-town.

The city has been hard hit by the economic crisis. Unemployment is already twice the national average and over the next year could match the 20 percent rate of the 90s downturn.

But economics only partially explains why Rotterdam may see blood in the streets this summer.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Some posts to help wake you from your stupor

A while back the Archbishop of St. John's experienced carbon monoxide poisoning when a furnace in his home malfunctioned. He said it was a terrifying experience to awake and know something was terribly wrong but to be physically incapable of doing anything about it. Luckily someone noticed he did not show up to preside at mass. That person had a key to his house, went over, discovered the Archbishop in a semi-conscious state. Archbishop Currie is fine now, thank God.

I often think of Archbishop Currie's predicament when I think of the political stupor the West is falling into as the Nanny (or Savior State, to quote Douglas Farrow) increases in influence. Have we passed the point where we can no longer help ourselves?

We are slowly dying in her embrace because she isn't a savior at all, but a goddess of spiritual death, both for individuals and for civil society.

Here are some articles that stood out today that remind us of the deepening effects of this stupor. Are we at the point where we can no longer rouse ourselves and act? Are we expecting someone with a key to come in the door, discover us and call 9-11? Sorry, but we have to get up off the bed and crawl, if need be, to the front door and gasp for oxygen. And then we have to act before it's too late for all the others still intoxicated. All the bolds in the posts below are mine (except those in italics, which are Dr. Sanity's).

Here's what Mark Steyn has to say:


"Health" is potentially a big-ticket item, but so's a house and a car, and most folks manage to handle those without a Government Accommodation Plan or a Government Motor Vehicles System – or, at any rate, they did in pre-bailout America.More importantly, there is a cost to governmentalizing every responsibility of adulthood – and it is, in Lord Whitelaw's phrase, the stirring up of apathy. If you wander 'round Liverpool or Antwerp, Hamburg or Lyons, the fatalism is palpable. In Britain, once the crucible of freedom, civic life is all but dead: In Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, some three-quarters of the economy is government spending; a malign alliance between state bureaucrats and state dependents has corroded democracy, perhaps irreparably. In England, the ground ceded to the worst sociopathic pathologies advances every day – and the latest report on "the seven evils" afflicting an ever more unlovely land blames "poverty" and "individualism," failing to understand that if you remove the burdens of individual responsibility while loosening all restraint on individual hedonism the vaporization of the public space is all but inevitable.


Dr. Sanity adds her observations about creeping Nanny State from the point of view of a physician:


I'm done. If Congress passes Obama's destructive zombie health plan in any form, I quit.

I will simply not practice medicine anymore. I will take my psychiatry books and my years of experience and do something else. I used to wait tables when I was in college. It's an honest living and Obama isn't interested for the time being in nationalizing restaurants--yet.

Let me be clear. I don't believe that people have a "right" to health care; because, what advocating such a "right" basically means is that you believe you have a "right" to my mind; you have a "right" to my professional competence; i.e., you have a "right" to enslave me.

Having chosen to work primarily in the public sector most of my life, I have watched this entitlement and victimhood mentality grow to incredible proportions in parallel with number of laws, regulations, administrators, and oversight agencies. I have watched the decline of personal responsibility and the rise of endless demands and impossible clinical and psychosocial conundrums that I am expected to solve, even if my patient has no desire to change. I have been demoted to the near-mindless activity of pushing pills to the point that I understand why my collegues see every clinical situation as a biological malfunction--the old adage that says, to a hammer everything looks like a nail, comes to mind. Psychiatrists are the mental health profession's hammer; and drugs are the nail. And, the same powers that tell me to prescribe drugs, warn me against the evil of working too closely with any of the drug companies, for fear I might be corrupted, God forbid, by the dastardly profit motive.

I have watched as the quality of care has inevitably deteriorated even as spending went up. I have watched the system abuse patients and doctors alike--to the point that the frustration level just keeps going up and is simply not worth it anymore.


Unfortunately, with the Savior State's impatience with any viewpoint that acknowledges a transcendent Savior and transcendent moral law beyond the positivist conception that the rule of law is whatever the state decides it to be, many more doctors with alive consciences will be either forced out or will opt out of medicine as well. So you'll only have doctors left who will gladly abort girl babies or those that are less than the perfect designer child, or who will happily dispatch Grandma with a lethal injection.

Carbon Monoxide poisoning is silent and deadly because the odorless gas replaces the oxygen in our bloodstream. That's what's happening in our body politic. The oxygen of the West's foundational principles and Judeo-Christian spirituality is being replaced by alien ideas that sound good on the surface but slip into the blood stream and rob our society of life.

This piece is not related to the health care issue, but shows another side of the Savior State. In fact, combining Nanny and Savior gives us the Goddess state, no? Kevin Libin writes about how the Goddess State in Canada has already grabbed jurisdiction over children away from their real biological parents.

Canada's child-welfare agencies, says University of Manitoba social work professor Brad McKenzie, have among the broadest intervention powers in the Western world.

Caseworkers come armed with vaster powers than any police officer investigating crime. It is an immense authority easily abused, without vigilant restraint.

It is time, critics say, they were reined in.

"The social worker system, as it applies to children, is out of control, seriously out of control," says Katherine McNeil, a children's advocate who has worked with families in Nova Scotia and B.C. "And nobody's doing anything about it."

Child-welfare agencies step in when kids are homeless, exploited, hungry or abused. They do not stop there. As the highly publicized neo-Nazi case in Winnipeg demonstrates, they might seize children from parents for teaching racist views, or for "emotional neglect." They have taken newborns from parents considered insufficiently intelligent; from religious families believing the Bible commands them to discipline kids with a rod. They order homeschooling parents to enroll children in public school, deeming them inadequately socialized.

"They violate all kinds of privacy and rights," says Chris Klicka, senior counsel for the Home School Defense League, which represents Canadian and American parents.

Whether we wanted it or not, knew it or not, over time, the work of child-welfare organizations has become "parenting by the state and the imposition of their value system on other people," says Marty McKay, a clinical psychologist who has worked on abuse cases in the U.S and Canada.


But how can we stop this if our politicians are so cowed they will not even talk about these things publicly?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Catholic Civil Rights League calls CHRC report "inadequate"

Here's some good analysis from the folks at the CCRL (my bolds):

“Previous commentators, including the League and Professor Moon, identified the inadequacy and danger posed by the existing provisions of s.13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. It now appears that after eight years of prosecutions against Internet applications under this section, the Commission acknowledges that there is a problem The Commission now wishes to try to continue its work in this area, under new rules. We find that most of the recommendations amount to fairly superficial changes to a system that is fundamentally flawed,” said League President Phil Horgan. “Cases involving limitations on a Charter right such as free speech should not be addressed by human rights commissions.”

The recommendation to remove the tribunal’s ability to levy fines against offenders is an improvement, but does not address the heart of the problem: Cases involving freedom of speech and freedom of religion should not be dealt with by a non-judicial tribunal. Freedom of expression and freedom of conscience and religion are fundamental values of our democratic tradition. Any judicial curtailment of them should face the standard of proof required by a court.

The League’s involvement with Section 13 cases has been motivated by the Commission's investigations of expression of opinion based on religious belief. It appears that the Commission is now recommending the ability to award of costs in exceptional circumstances where the Tribunal finds that a party has abused the Tribunal process, and to include a provision to allow the early dismissal of Section 13 complaints.

If the Commission itself is recommending that these amendments be made, is it also not acknowledging that abuses occurred in the past? A true recognition of the imbalanced playing field between complainants and respondents would result in the recovery of the out of pocket expenses incurred by innocent parties.

In the case of Catholic Insight magazine, for example, the publisher ended up paying over $40,000 in legal fees to defend the right to publish views based on Catholic teaching. That case remains outstanding, as the complainant has sought judicial review of the Commission's dismissal more than a year ago. Will the Commission acknowledge its complicity in this charade, and reimburse the magazine for its expenses?

The Commission's report makes even more problematic proposals with respect to the hate provisions of the Criminal Code. The League raised concerns about changes to those provisions in 2002-03 that included "sexual orientation" as a further enumerated ground for complaint (BillC-250), and insisted that specific defenses for religious speech be incorporated. The report contains a recommendation that the requirement for the Attorney General to authorize prosecutions under the hate provisions of the Criminal Code be removed, and that "truth as a defense" in the Code be limited to some extent, especially in respect of group defamations.

Yup, the CHRC wants to introduce group defamation into the criminal code and get rid of truth as a defense.