Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Smoking Out Big Tobacco

The Province of Ontario is joining British Columbia and New Brunswick in suing the big tobacco companies in order to recover money they've spent on tobacco related illnesses/deaths.

Now before I go on, let me establish a few things.

1- I am incredibly anti-smoking.
2- I have never smoked a day in my life.
3- I know and love people who smoke.
4- I know and love people who have suffered serious side effects (including death) as a result of tobacco.

And yet I'm left scratching my head about this lawsuit.

The Province is suing for 50 billion dollars; an amount they say they've spent on treating tobacco related illnesses since 1955. I actually think that amount is too low. I also think that people have known about the adverse effects of tobacco since 1975... So there's a 20 year window where personal accountability doesn't really come into play because people were just rolling with what the scientific data at the time was saying, which was that it wasn't that bad. Hell, even doctors were advertising the stuff!

So for that 20 or so year window, the tobacco companies knew it was bad but people didn't and so I understand that there's a serious accountability issue there.

But where's the personal accountability after that? What about between the 70s and now?

In our Health Care system, being the public system that is, we don't formally discriminate against illnesses. By that I mean that if you're suffering serious emphysema and you've been a- pack-a day smoker, the Health Care system can't say "Oh well, that was stupid, now deal with it on your own"; they've got to do their best to help you. So I understand that the Health Care system is stuck between Big Tobacco and Consumers. And I also understand that the Health Care System is you and me and everyone else living and paying taxes in Ontario. So it's my money that's being spent on big tobacco's side effects.

BUT it's also the Government, both Federally and Provincially, that monitors and governs the rules around Big Tobacco in this country. And so it seems incredibly short-sighted to be benefiting from the taxes and sales of tobacco, and then at the end of the line, suing them to recuperate the amount you've spent on the side effects in between.

The Government of Canada, in general, has such a backwards way of looking at the tobacco industry, much like alcohol and gambling. They benefit up front and then bitch about the after effects; after effects which were clearly foreseeable.

And suing Big Industry to recuperate what is essentially our money just doesn't seem like the right way to do it. Sure it looks incredibly aggressive and anti-corporate and therefore has a nice Erin Brockovich, David and Goliath vibe to it. But upon closer look, it just comes off as greedy and corporate as Big Tobacco itself.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Kicking the Habit

So the Vatican is doing an internal review in the United States. Reviewing what?

First thoughts: Child molestation, rampant homophobia, misogyny and racism.

No? No takers?

Nope. The Catholic Church is doing its first ever major review of… nuns?

They are conducting a “large-scale review of women's religious institutions in the United States, the first of its kind in history.”

My next thought turned optimistic, thinking that perhaps the Church was interested in re-examining the role womyn play in Catholicism and as nuns in particular.

They are examining this exact thing, but are hoping to step back, rather than forward, on the issue. Basically, the Church thinks that nuns have “stepped away” from the Church, are not living in communities (i.e.: convents) as often as they should be and are living “secular” lives. The goal is to put together a report that will bring 21st century nuns back to their roots of being in habit, living in convents and living a “stricter” religious life.

Having grown up Catholic and having actually attended a non-private, Catholic school run by nuns (which included a convent within the school), I have an educated opinion on nuns. I do not begrudge anyone’s choice to join the Convent. In the most objective sense, the life of a nun is one of serving. Churches and religions of all kinds have typically stepped up to help the homeless for example and many, many charities are religiously-run. The Salvation Army is religious, after all. Nuns also serve(d) as school teachers and work(ed) in hospitals. Hey, Mother Theresa was a nun, let us not forget.

HOWEVER, they are always serving someone. And they are always below someone else. Nuns serve the Church and the Church is run by men. Therefore, the “vocation” of nunnery is inherently sexist. In Catholicism, womyn hold no position of powers that rival those of men. Not to mention that being a nun means agreeing to the homophobia, racism and sexism of Catholicism. (I am stating this in the assumption that one chooses to be a nun. I am excluding those who are forced into religious life, obviously. That’s a whole other picture to paint).

So on one hand, I think it is unfair for me to pick on one individual nun, but I also don’t think it’s fair to let all nuns off the hook either. If you’re promoting hate, then you’re promoting hate.

BUT! I think it goes without saying that if anyone should be undergoing a review, its priests, cardinals and actual leaders in the Vatican. To say that the Church is in need of a review and to ignore the blindingly obvious issues and choosing instead to focus on the American nuns is shady and so indicative of how out-of-touch the Church really is. In case you needed any more proof that the Church is sexist and misguided and in need of an overhaul, this review is it.

The report, compiled by a Sister, will be submitted to the Vatican in 2011. It is up to the Vatican (read: male leaders) discretion on how to move forward after the report is compiled.

Who knows, maybe the nuns will do a preemptive strike and revolt. One can always dream...

Friday, September 11, 2009

REAL Sexual Assault Prevention Tips

I shamelessly yoinked this from No, Not You. which I only found out about because of a dear friend. Thanks K!

Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work!

1. Don’t put drugs in people’s drinks in order to control their behavior.

2. When you see someone walking by themselves, leave them alone!

3. If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!

4. NEVER open an unlocked door or window uninvited.

5. If you are in an elevator and someone else gets in, DON’T ASSAULT THEM!

6. Remember, people go to laundry to do their laundry, do not attempt to molest someone who is alone in a laundry room.

7. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public.

8. Always be honest with people! Don’t pretend to be a caring friend in order to gain the trust of someone you want to assault. Consider telling them you plan to assault them. If you don’t communicate your intentions, the other person may take that as a sign that you do not plan to rape them.

9. Don’t forget: you can’t have sex with someone unless they are awake!

10. Carry a whistle! If you are worried you might assault someone “on accident” you can hand it to the person you are with, so they can blow it if you do.

And, ALWAYS REMEMBER: if you didn’t ask permission and then respect the answer the first time, you are commiting a crime- no matter how “into it” others appear to be.

Doesn't this seem like the most logical way to approach the issue?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


So in a twist of painful irony, someone else has been charged with drinking and driving in Quebec.

The womyn, who had 4 small children with her in the car, was charged 2000$. "She is also on probation for a year and has had her driver's licence suspended for the same length of time and her car has been impounded for 30 days." (CBC)

I realize that longer sentences are not necessarily a deterrent but they do send a message and in this country, when it comes to drinking and driving, our current message is "slap on the wrist".

Once again, I call bullshit.

I Call Bullshit

Man with 19 drinking and driving convictions and 114 prior convictions is not a dangerous offender... apparently.