Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Actually, God Hates Assholes

You know things are newsworthy when this badass feminist is agreeing with Stockwell Day.

Reason being?

Apparently it wasn’t enough for the Westboro Baptist Church to protest the actual funeral of Matthew Sheppard. For those of you who don’t know, Matthew Sheppard was an American man who was fatally beaten for being gay. The murder was a tragedy and the case now stands as one of the most high profile gay bashings in North American history.

So these rightwing assholes from Kansas decided to protest his funeral because apparently God Hates Fags. That’s their big slogan because you know, Jesus loves hate speech. They got tons of notoriety for that protest and so now they take their caravan of freaks on the road and protest at the world’s most inappropriate times.

(Which brings me back to my discussion of Engage or Ignore).

Well it seems that Libby Davies, NDP MP for Vancouver and Mr. Stockwell Day himself have said enough is enough. See there’s a play based on Matthew Sheppard’s life that is due to show in Vancouver. The God-Hates-Fags crew have decided that they want to cross the border and protest it because well.. they have a real hate-on for Mr. Sheppard it seems.

Libby Davies, rightfully so, says hell no and is fighting with Public Safety to have them turned away at the border as their protests defy Canadian Hate Laws.

As I’ve said before, I am all about people’s freedom of speech. I think that peaceful anti-choicers have a right to exist even if I don’t like it. But these crazy idiots protested a man’s funeral and now want to do this? Hell no, indeed.

This particular event is rather timely considering a new report was released yesterday arguing that Hate Speech should be removed from the jurisdiction of the Human Rights Act. I’m not a legal expert so I can’t quite decipher much about what this will realistically mean, but it’ll be interesting to see how this particular report plays out.

All in all, you know that the Westboro Church is f-u-c-k-e-d u-p when Stockwell Day “I-believe-in-campaigning-at-Sunday-Schools” says back the hell off.

Friday, November 21, 2008

This sucks.

"Father killed wife, children in Toronto triple murder-suicide: Police"

News, Booze and the Law

So it seems that this little blog of mine (I'm gonna let it shine!) has a bit of a modest following. I say this because I've been getting requests from readers to discuss certain issues. One of which is the creation of a co-op brothel in Vancouver and another of which is the new proposed laws in Ontario regarding booze, passengers and driving. Fret not, I will get to both.

I had intended to discuss the brothel issue first but this lovely headline on CBC.ca made me shudder, so here it goes.

"Thousands join Facebook group opposing new driving rules in Ont."

Alright, so first things first. These new driving rules are two major things. First is that there will be a zero tolerance policy on any driver under 21. So if you're under 21 or have had your license for less than a year (I'll come back to this) you can't have a drop of booze in your system.

The second rule, the one that's got people really fired up, is that any driver who has had their license for less than 365 days can only have 1 passenger under the age of 19 in their car.

So that's the context.

First things first, I think that CBC.ca's use of Facebook as somehow this amazing statistical analyzer is problematic and quite frankly, lazy journalism. Facebook Groups exist on every topic under the sun and most people join a group without even thinking twice, so as far as I'm concerned, it's a non-issue. Facebook doesn't represent shit.

But as for the major issue itself, I'm of the mind to agree with the Liberal gov't. I can hear the audience now...

Sconroy, a commenter on CBC.ca sums up one of the biggest complaints against this new law

"I have been driving for nearly 4 years now, and I have earned my full G. The middle-aged mother whoever, who just earned her G2 can drive her teenager and 3 of their friends? Does that not pose the same amount of risk for distraction? Age does not automatically determine maturity or ability to focus on driving conditions. Ageism is NOT right."

Clearly Sconroy didn't read the actual law or hell, even the CBC.ca article properly because it also says
that anyone under 21 or who has only had their license for less than a year which means that if you're middle-aged soccer mom with her G2? She couldn't drive with her 3 kids either. Asshat.

And truthfully, one of the biggest complaints against this new law is that it will deter people from being designated drivers. If you can only have one passenger, then what about all the drunken bastards out there? How will they get home?

Which just goes to show that people just read the headlines on CBC. ca or on Facebook groups for that matter and don't actually comprehend it properly. The new law says that anyone under 21 or who has only had their license for less than a year can only have 1 passenger under the age of 19 in their vehicle.

Well.. considering that 19 is the legal drinking age in Ontario and "16- to 24-year-olds make up nine per cent of the population but account for 25 per cent of the fatalities and serious injuries on the roads" then it makes a whole lotta sense to me.

The truth is that young people get their license, are jacked up like crazy and drive around with the music blaring and 5 other people crammed in their parent's mini-vans or sedans. I know this because I was this person. In fact, I grew up in a house where I couldn't drive with anyone for the first 6 months that I got my license. Never mind the age limit. NOBODY. I drove alone, like the sad sap that I am, for 6 whole months. In a mini-van. Trust me, it sucked. But my parents knew that I was young, drove my parent's mini-van and loved to listen to my music loud and proud, so they put rules on me lickety split.

BUT! Looking back, I get it now. I'm an easily distracted driver and I've had my license for quite a few years now. So imagine being a novice and having a car full of people screaming, laughing, cranking the tunes, texting on their phones, etc. It's a recipe for disaster.

And the statistics prove this.

So the truth is, I hate to say it, but I agree with McGuinty on this one. I don't think it's ageism because what people keep failing to acknowledge is that it doesn't have to do with age necessarily but anyone who is in their first year of driving. So people who wait until they're 25 or 35 to get their license, it applies to them too. It's not about age but driving experience.

And since the 1 passenger rule only applies to people under 19, then it will not affect designated driving as much as people are saying. Under this new law, you can have your license for 3 months and drive 4 of your 20 year old drunken bastard friends home, no problem.

And so the hysteria surrounding OH BUT WHAT ABOUT DESIGNATED DRIVING?! isn't nearly as much of an issue as people claim. If you're under 19, you probably don't have a full license anyway which means that it's not like you're going to drive your drunk ass home by yourself. So it's easy to use it as an excuse but statistically speaking, it doesn't add up.

I think that the pros of this particular new law far outweigh the cons.

I also think that journalists need to stop being so lazy and actually do some real journalism while at the same time, critics need to know what their critiquing before they go on long ass rants and throw up their arms in digust with The Man.

The whole "Parents are just hating on the young generation! The youth generation has it so bad" schitck is often true but it's also overused.

When you're young, you are both amazing and stupid. Accept it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Engage or Ignore?

As someone who is not only a feminist but a social activist as well, I often contend with this question of whether to engage or ignore. (And for all you Trekkies out there, I'm not referring to that). Do I engage in a discussion or demonstration against a particular viewpoint or do I simply ignore and not engage?

An example that is often used is in regards to right-wing asshats like Ann Coulter. Ann Coulter spews anti-semitic, homophobic nonsense in both her interviews and her many books. She's a self-identified womyn with a background in law who thinks that womyn shouldn't be allowed to vote. Clearly, the womyn has lost her mind.

Her arguments are blatantly inflammatory but she has a wide audience. Because of her audience, some people who oppose her think that it's necessary to take her on, challenge her and debate her to the death. Others say that you are simply buying into her ways and giving her more publicity. If you just ignored her, she wouldn't have an audience.

In my own life, I think of ardent anti-choicers. I think that the pro-choice / anti-choice has been debated to death and I've found myself ignoring the "abortion debate" on University campuses year after year. I was invited to represent the pro-choice side in a radio debate and refused. Abortion is an issue that I feel has been debated to death and well... nobody's really gonna change their minds anymore. Not the people who come to those debates anyway. They're just there to tear down the other side, find a random loophoole and leave with their arms waving in victory. There's no real dialogue.

But yet when Silent No More holds demonstrations where they posit their "I REGRET MY ABORTION" signs and attempt to encroach on public space, I do engage. I truly believe that they have a right to exist and express their opinions just as I have a right to do the same. But do these demonstrations (which are often impromptu) really do anything besides buy into the antagonism surrounding the issue?

I don't know.

So it all comes down to, can you really debate with extremist organizations and/or individuals? Should you even try?

And the most important question for me is, how do we create meaningful discussions on so-called controversial issues?

I'm a smartass with an opinion on everything but this one still has me stumped.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Have We Learnt Anything?

Last week, a prominent sociology professor at St-Thomas University in New Brunswick was murdered by what police now believe was his son-in-law. The son-in-law was wanted by police but was found dead by an apparent suicide. This professor, who is a man, was well known at the university and was a respected sociologist, academic and overall human being. A real stand-up guy. His murder is an absolute tragedy and a loss for both his family and the STU community.

Information is now coming out that this professor “feared for the safety of his family” after receiving numerous threats from his then son-in-law. Sources say that the RCMP was warned about these threats, RCMP says they weren’t and so now we’re in a real shitty game of he-said, she-said.

Although the case was considered closed by RCMP, various organizations in New Brunswick and across the country are calling for a public inquiry into his murder. This inquiry would look into police protocol and the steps (or lack of) taken by police in issues of “family” violence.

I think this is amazing. I think there is an absolute dire need for a review of police protocol and I think that it’s about damn time.

BUT… I’m also disheartened by the eagerness of groups who are pushing for a public inquiry. The blogosphere has been abuzz with rumours about this professor’s life and experiences with the police and people are outraged over the lack of security he received. And rightfully so.

But the truth is that these things happen all the time to Canadian womyn. All the time. In fact a womyn's chances of being further assaulted or even killed, spike after a womyn leaves an abusive situation or reports it. And yet these particular cases are swept under the rug and with the exception of certain steadfast, dedicated, hardass feminist groups, are completely ignored.

I can’t help but think that if this sociology professor wasn’t well… a male sociology professor, there'd be a lot less outrage.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m deeply, deeply sorry for this man’s family and I’m glad to see that his murder was not in vain and will hopefully serve as a catalyst for major change, but I’m sorry to see womyn’s stories once again silenced. Especially this close to December 6th. Have we learnt nothing?

What's it going to take before Canadians are honest about the reality of womyn's lives?