Monday, June 30, 2008

I know its dead in the winter, but in the summer too???

I had an unusual and most eerie experience yesterday when I sailed around Toronto harbour. I have been sailing these waters for nearly 25 years.

It was a Sunday afternoon in the middle of a long weekend stretching all through Tuesday. The temperature was warm and the skies over Toronto were clear, although there were storm fronts visible in other parts of the sky.

On the lake there may have been 150 boats (a great many of whom were involved in a race associated with a regatta) where one could usually count on more than 500 on any day on a weekend.

Here is what I saw in the inner harbour.

I sailed into the inner harbour around 4:30 in the afternoon. Normally I avoid the inner harbour on such a weekend because it is jammed with boats, usually not less than a 100.

But this time, you could have fired a cannon across the waterfront and not hit anything. There were about 5 other sailboats, and maybe one power boat. There was only one tour boat in operation, although I had seen one other one out on the lake. Normally you would expect to see anywhere from 6 to 10 of these things running around. There appeared to be only one of three ferry boats operating. There was not a ship in the harbour, not even at the Redpath Sugar docks where one is usually docked or trying to dock. The container port was virtually empty – only a handful of containers and no cargo on dockside. Last year it was jammed with cargo.

I saw one police boat. Usually, in 3-hour sail on a weekend I would see at least half a dozen.

I sailed by the Docks entertainment complex. Normally there would be 1,000 people there. There were two customers and two wait staff.

Now, it was a long weekend, school is out, people have cottages up north, the Gay Pride Parade was in progress in the downtown area (it allegedly drew one million people) and there was rain in the forecast (as there has been for nearly every day in June). The U.S. boaters, who primarily favour powerboats and who flock to Toronto, were probably staying away because of the high Canadian dollar and the cost of fuel.

Still, the emptiness of the normally bustling waterfront was almost scary. It reminded me of one those post-apocalyptic motion pictures.

POSTSCRIPT: In searching for a photograph on the Internet to accompany the foregoing post, I discovered a secret about Toronto that I had long suspected. There are almost no pictures of the Toronto waterfront showing any activity. Look at the one above. Google Toronto waterfront or Toronto harbour pics and see for yourself.

Other photographs from around the city show completely empty public squares, a deserted Union Station, etc. And these are sites that provide photos of the city intended to help tourists plan their vacations!!!

I have known for a long time from experience in local politics that the people who are responsible for planning the waterfront of Toronto would like to have a quiet lakefront with no boating or other activity disturbing the tranquility. They have been beavering away cutting down on mooring availabilty on the landside for years. But I was surprised to the find through my search of other than government sites that the mindset of the people of Toronto is to eliminate evidence of human activity.

No wonder they have a problem attracting tourists.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Ah, religion, what would the world do without it? Chapter 2, Honour killings.

Honour killings are not Islam, they are barbarism, according to Steve Rockwell, an imam in Toronto (see story at this site).

The columnist who wrote this, and included a number of similar claims by Muslims, took it at face value; i.e., if Muslims say that it is not Islam, then he will print that. There is a sense in the Canadian mainstream media that Muslims get too much bad press and this type of story appears mainly to balance the equation.

I think I would not be too far off the mark if I were to suggest the columnist knows very little about Islam, and if he had not been trying to use his print pulpit to “balance the cosmic scales of justice”, might have consulted with other spokespersons to get a balanced view of the subject.

This response of Rockwell and others was provoked by the news that the brother of Aqsa Parvez, the 16-year old girl who was strangled to death in the Greater Toronto Area, has now been charged with first degree murder. Aqsa’s father had already been charged with murder, and had recently had that charge upgraded to a first degree category (meaning the murder was planned and deliberate, not a spontaneous act).

The allegation in the media, from interviews reporters conducted with Aqsa’s friends at the time of her murder, is that she was the victim of an honour killing because she was refusing to wear the hijab and other traditional Muslim garb when outside the house. She was supposedly fighting with her family over these matters.

If these facts are true, then this would be Canada’s first recorded honour killing. There have been honour killings in the United States and a number of them in West European countries.

When Aqsa’s murder was first in the news I scanned a great many letters to editors from Muslims all saying the same thing: this sort of thing ought not to be laid at the door of Islam. It was tribal, or it was “cultural” or, as depicted by the outrageous Dr. Mohamed Elmasry of the Canadian Islamic Congress, it was just the normal teenage daughter-father fight one might expect in any family.

For balance, I would say I saw a similar thing coming from a columnist in the Sun chain of newspapers urging her readers not to put any significance to the fact that Catholic trustees on the Toronto District Catholic School Board were stealing from the public purse. Her argument was that their kleptocracy was outside of their religion, so bracket the religion and put it aside as an issue in this case.

My response to that is simply this, if the whole point of having a separate school system based on religious grounds is not to provide a superior moral grounding (in Catholic eyes, that is), then the taxpaying public is being cheated out of education dollars needed to provide two costly competing systems instead of one simple school system for all. Her argument wasn’t helped by the fact that the Toronto Archbishop wrote a stinging letter claiming that the trustees had stained Catholicism. In short, one must ask oneself what is the point of religious training if not to prevent public servants from stealing the public’s money?

There is an online explanation of honour killings by the BBC at this site. It talks about how it is prevalent in the “South Asian” and “Middle Eastern” communities. Not once does it say the words Islam or Muslim. It does mention how a girl was stabbed to death by her father Abdullah over her western dress and her Christian boyfriend.

Since the article does not tell us why the religion of the boyfriend should be objectionable, I suppose we can speculate that her father was simply a murderous raving atheist. God knows, there are plenty of those walking around.

That last sentence was an oxymoron in case you missed it.

Near the end of this most PC piece we get some slippage:

Ram Gidoomal of the South Asian Development Partnership has campaigned for years for people to open up and turn in those who get away with justifying honour crimes.
He has consistently called on leaders in mosques, temples and churches to do more…

If honour killings have nothing to do with religion, why badger these folks about it?

I would go along with the assertions that honour killings are more culturally understood than religiously defined except that cultures are bred by religion, nourished by it, and continually informed by it. You cannot simply bracket religion as being an unimportant context to be ignored.

I joked earlier about atheist honour killings, but the fact remains that all honour killings occur amongst people who practice one of the traditional religions. It is also true that most of these reported killings are committed by persons who come from very ordinary walks in life. In short, they are not Koranic or Biblical scholars. They are simple people who were taught some religious precepts, and, if they keep up their attendance at their various houses of worship, continue to be fed the doctrine. Furthermore, almost every instance of an honour killing is the result of a male (father, brother, uncle, cousin) attacking a female; sometimes mothers join in to support the males.

Could there be something in the religious texts that would give these South Asian and Middle Eastern cultures the idea that males have some right to dominate women, and give some women the idea that they should be submissive to such males?

That is simply a rhetorical question in case you missed it.

The Koran, Hadith, Old Testament and New Testament are rife with misogynist and male dominance pronouncements. Maybe the culture would improve if the religion were improved.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The absurdity of Canada

Yesterday the Canadian Human Rights Commission dismissed the complaint of Islamophobia against Maclean’s Magazine for publishing an excerpt from Mark Steyn’s book, America Alone. The charge had been brought by the Canadian Islamic Congress under the leadership of Mohamed Elmasry.

The CHRC is not forthcoming in its reasons, but the only reasonable ground, short of naked political survival instincts, is that the charge lacked sufficient evidence to sustain it. One would normally think that. However, as we have learned about this human rights agency racket, anything can, and does, pass for evidence.

Still, the decision leaves Canadians, not just Muslims, puzzled about human rights in this country. If CHRC doesn’t think the piece would likely cause Muslims to be held in contempt, what are we to make of the statement of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, courtesy of Barbara Hall, which also did not process the claim, but left no doubt that the articles complained about were indeed hateful, and except for a flaw in OHRC’s mandate, likely would have been actionable?

Is the Canadian decision applicable to everyplace in the country except Ontario?

Is it now up to British Columbia to clarify our human rights?

This is so stupid it should cause people to remove the little maple leaf pin from their backpacks when they travel abroad, lest foreign folk take them to be Canadians.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mr.McCoy, you're needed in Canada

I am a big fan of the television show, Law and Order, as well as a couple of its spinoffs. I particularly like the tough prosecutor, Jack McCoy. He is ruthless and devious, hatching all sorts of strategies to force reluctant testimonies. Seldom do we see him flummoxed by his witnesses changing their testimony on the witness stand.

In what is yet another blow to the case against the alleged wannabe Muslim terrorists in Toronto, a prosecution witness has changed his testimony on the witness stand and forced the prosecutor to impeach him. In this instance, Sahl Syed, a 21-year old University of Toronto student, dismissed any thoughts that the training camp he attended with the accused was anything but a boys' weekend frolic in the park. According to the prosecutor, this is not the sinister testimony that he voluntarily came forward with and gave to the police three weeks after the arrests of the conspirators was announced.

This is beginning to smell like an organized set-up to sabotage the credibility of Canada's security and police services.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

George Carlin exits stage right and Ben Stein lays an egg

I am not much given to expressing sentimentality on my blog.

But, I could not let the passing of comedian, George Carlin, go without paying some respect.

It may seem odd taking the time to mention some show business guy when there are so many other worthy people who die and merit recognition.

I happen to think that humour is one of the most important human attributes. Ask any woman seeking a mate (male) what are the things she would desire most, and you will find “sense of humour” most likely in the top five, if not the number one.

It is humour that keeps us sane and helps us to see the lighter side of even the darkest moments in our lives and history. I also think that being a successful stand up comedian is one of the toughest jobs in the entertainment industry. There is a long learning curve before you hit your mark, and it can be very painful for anybody that does not handle rejection well.

George Carlin was an original and set the pattern for many other people in comedy world who now enjoy popularity, like Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert. Oddly enough, when he started out in standup comedy he claimed his role model was Danny Kaye (another comedian I enjoyed immensely, back in the day). He spent 10 years struggling with the Kaye standard before he realized it was the wrong suit for him and he then developed his special brand of political and social commentary and became a huge hit.

He, of course, is best known for his famous “The Seven Words you can’t say on TV” routine, but I liked this Carlin bit I gleaned from an obituary in todays Toronto Sun.

…it was after 9-11 that the avowed agnostic (he claimed to worship the sun
"because I can see the sun, it's there for me every day") really turned the heat
on organized religion. He trimmed the Ten Commandments down to two -- "Thou
shalt not kill anyone unless they pray to a different invisible man than the one
you pray to" -- and a deconstruction merge of the falsehoods/stealing and
adultery commandments -- "Thou shalt not be dishonest." He shot down the rest,
including "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's goods" because "that is just
f-----' stupid. Coveting they neighbour's goods is what keeps the economy

Farewell, George, I know you will be missed by many.

Then there is the matter of funny man, Ben Stein, who narrates a documentary just released called, Expelled. This controversial film claims there is prejudice in academia against educators who believe in Intelligent Design. It also tries to link Darwin to eugenics, Nazis and the Holocaust; i.e., Darwin justified the Holocaust.

Whatever the merits, or lack thereof, that this work may have, it was this comment by Stein in a film promotion interview in Toronto with the National Post that caught my attention.

"It's incredibly important to treat people as human beings with a spark of the divine instead of as lumps of mud," he said, finishing his tea, "because if we're all just lumps of mud who happen to have been struck by lightening then there's no moral duty incumbent upon us to treat anyone with respect. But if there's a little bit of God within each of us, then there is that duty."

There it is again. Without a God, human beings would be amoral. Where do these people get these ideas? My respect for Stein did a nose dive when I read this pap.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The spirit of '76 and the joy of Egyptian cotton

Here's a sign the Ontario Human Rights Commissioner Barbara Hall overlooked, at the summer '06 Hezbollah rally in Toronto, one that equates Israel with Nazisim. We know that no hatred was expressed here because the OHRC gave this one a pass.

In a column that could best be headlined, “Move along folks, be about your business, nothing to see here”, the Toronto Star’s Haroon Siddiqui is again swimming against the current, applauding the Canadian human rights organizations and defending the status quo. His dissent from those of us who believe in justice and due process of law is breathtaking. His disinformation is amazing.

I disagree with almost everything that he says, but I can’t be bothered fisking him.

However, there are two things that jumped off the page

First, this one:
Ontario deals with hateful signs and pamphlets. You may be dragged before
the commission for holding up a sign, "Kill all Muslims," but you won't be
if you were to write that in a newspaper or a magazine (even though you
would have reached a wider audience).

This is posited a few short paragraphs after he refers to the Muslim human rights complaints against Maclean’s magazine for publishing an alleged Islamophobic article written by Mark Steyn. A reader unfamiliar with the case might get the impression from this train of thought that Maclean’s called for the killing of all Muslims.

Very sly, Mr. Siddiqui.

On page 204-05 of America Alone (first hardback edition), Mr. Steyn discusses three possible options for the west in dealing with Islam: Submit, Destroy, or Reform. His exact words with respect to option number two: "It doesn't bear thinking about." Hardly a call to kill all Muslims.

Siddiqui also fails to mention that publishing such a call to action in the media would provoke a criminal charge under the Criminal Code of Canada which specifically penalizes language advocating genocide based on religion. Of course, he would refrain from mentioning that one because that is the proper channel for dealing with hate speech, not human rights bodies.

This was the other pants-dropper courtesy of Bernie Farber, the head of the Canadian Jewish Congress:

Bernie Farber, says the anti-hate laws have helped make Canada "the warm,
tolerant and accepting nation that it has become."

He must be thinking of post-1977 Canada, since that is when the HRCs began to sprout like mushrooms across the land.

I must confess this comment does bring back fond memories of a Canada that is now just a distant memory.

How I miss that summer of '76, with the monthly Ku Klux Klan parades down Yonge Street in downtown Toronto. The public lined the streets, cheering us on. Those gay pride folks should have been here when a parade really meant something. Hundreds of right-thinking guys all in white sheets, marching shoulder to shoulder, in perfect step!

I had a great sheet. I used only purest white Egyptian cotton, light, strong; cool, with a noticeable sheen to it.

Oh, who could forget the glorious rallies?

Standing together with our neo-Nazi skinhead brothers, we filled the old Exhibition stadium, shouting slogans until we were hoarse. The media just couldn’t get enough of us. The picnics, the free beer, the hotdogs, the racial superiority lectures, followed by the most spectacular midnight cross burning you could imagine on some brown or black guy’s front lawn.

Yes, we stood on guard for Canada.

Good times. Good times.

But along came that French guy, Trudeau. He pussified Canada and put an end to our fun.

Thanks to the diligent work of the human rights commissions, we raucous, racist, pig-headed, opinionated, white Canadians have dragged kicking and screaming into a warm and tolerant people.

I always kind of wondered how that happened, and now that Mr. Farber has let me in on the secret, I guess a part of me really wants to reach out and thank those nameless, faceless, unelected, unaccountable, pencil-necked, bureaucrats for making our country into the harmonious envy of the world it has now become. Clearly, we needed a firm hand to guide us and could not have done this without the government's big stick beating us into tolerance. Truly an instance in which the beatings continued until morale actually did improve, as the saying goes.

I for one would like to wish those left-minded people well, if I knew who they were, just to show there are no hard feelings now that I am a warm and fuzzy tolerant person.

Aw shucks, you guys know who you are -- here’s to you, you unsung heroes.

Now I know how Murray McLaughlin must have felt when he composed The Farmers’ Song.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

What can you buy with $300,000? A whole lot of Al-Takeyya, apparently

Photo of Mubin Shaihk, courtesy of The Toronto Star
What can you buy for $300,000 these days?

Two years ago there was a huge media flare up when combined police forces and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) allegedly cracked a nest of 18 wannabe Muslim terrorists. Since then the number has dwindled to 11, with charges against 7 being stayed.

The trial of these folks that has been trundling along for a week suddenly took a steep dive south yesterday and the day before.

The prosecutor's case mainly hangs on the testimony of a police informant, Mubin Shaikh, who was paid $300,000 for his services in infiltrating the group and attending its alleged terrorist training camp. Two days ago, under cross examination, the witness agreed with a defence lawyer that the leader of the group was engaging in a fantasy world with his calls for jihad. He also contradicted other evidence he had given by saying that the youth at the camp did not know its real purpose. Yesterday, the prosecutor turned on its own witness and, in effect, called him a liar.

I loved Shaikh's response to this attack: "I seek refuge with Allah for such an implication."

I remember when these guys were arrested how the authorities went out of their way to describe them in ways that had nothing whatsoever to do with Islam: "They come from all walks of life." When you are a lawyer there is no substitute for thorough research. A little less analysis from the perspective of political correctness and more Islamic scholarship would have better suited the purpose. The prosecutor ought to have familiarized himself with the concept of Al-Takeyya.

See a fuller explanation of this religiously sanctioned practice of deception at this site, but the shorter version is outlined below.

Lying in Islam

By Abdullah Al Araby

Like most religions, Islam in general, forbids lying. The Quran says, "Truly Allah guides not one who transgresses and lies." Surah 40:28. In the Hadith, Mohammed was also quoted as saying, "Be honest because honesty leads to goodness, and goodness leads to Paradise. Beware of falsehood because it leads to immorality, and immorality leads to Hell."

However, unlike most religions, within Islam there are certain provisions under which lying is not simply tolerated, but actually encouraged. The book "The spirit of Islam," by the Muslim scholar, Afif A. Tabbarah was written to promote Islam. On page 247, Tabbarah stated: "Lying is not always bad, to be sure; there are times when telling a lie is more profitable and better for the general welfare, and for the settlement of conciliation among people, than telling the truth. To this effect, the Prophet says: 'He is not a false person who (through lies) settles conciliation among people, supports good or says what is good."

... lying is a common policy amongst Islamic clerics and statesmen.

This point is proven by many incidences in the life of Mohammed. He often lied and instructed his followers to do the same. He rationalized that the prospect of success in missions to extend Islam's influence overrode Allah's initial prohibitions against lying.

Provisions for lying in Islam

Most Muslims are familiar with the principles of Islam that will justify lying in situations where they sense the need to do so. Among these are:

War is deception.
The necessities justify the forbidden.
If faced by two evils, choose the lesser of the two.

These principles are derived from passages found in the Quran and the Hadith.

... the Quran clearly reveal that Muslims' unintentional lies are forgivable and that even their intentional lies can be absolved by performing extra duties. It is also clear that if forced to do so, Muslims can lie while under oath and can even falsely deny faith in Allah, as long as they maintain the profession of faith in their hearts.

In the Hadith, Mohammed, emphasizes the same concept.

From "Ehiaa Oloum al-Din," by the famous Islamic scholar al-Ghazali, Vol. 3: PP.284-287:
One of Mohammed's daughters, Umm Kalthoum, testified that she had never heard the Apostle of God condone lying, except in these three situations:

For reconciliation among people.
In war.
Amongst spouses, to keep peace in the family.

The principle of Al-Takeyya

The Arabic word, "Takeyya", means "to prevent," or guard against. The principle of Al Takeyya conveys the understanding that Muslims are permitted to lie as a preventive measure against anticipated harm to one's self or fellow Muslims. This principle gives Muslims the liberty to lie under circumstances that they perceive as life threatening. They can even deny the faith, if they do not mean it in their hearts.

...a Muslim can pretend to befriend infidels (in violation of the teachings of Islam) and display adherence with their unbelief to prevent them from harming him.

Under the concept of Takeyya and short of killing another human being, if under the threat of force, it is legitimate for Muslims to act contrary to their faith. The following actions are acceptable:

Drink wine, abandon prayers, and skip fasting during Ramadan.
Renounce belief in Allah.
Kneel in homage to a deity other than Allah.
Utter insincere oaths.

The implications of the principle of Al-Takeyya

Unfortunately, when dealing with Muslims, one must keep in mind that Muslims can communicate something with apparent sincerity, when in reality they may have just the opposite agenda in their hearts. Bluntly stated, Islam permits Muslims to lie anytime that they perceive that their own well-being, or that of Islam, is threatened.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ontario's idea of inclusiveness

Recently, the Ontario legislature, after a committee review, decided to retain the Lord's Prayer to open each morning session in the chamber. But, to be "inclusive", other prayers from other religions will also be added. Here is the view of the NDP member of the committee, Cheri DiNovo, who also is an ordained Christian minister, expressed in the debate on the motion in the chamber to adopt the committee report.

It's a prayer that one should never-and, may I just say, and put great emphasis on this-be forced to say. Faith is the antithesis of force. No one should ever be forced, in this chamber or anywhere else, to say a prayer they don't believe in, simply to mouth the words, simply to get along. That goes for all prayer, and I hope that everyone here takes that to heart: that what we're saying has nothing of force in it; absolutely nothing.

Those who don't want to pray should leave the chamber and be allowed to stand and not pray, and that a moment of silence should be one of those options. We made sure that we included a moment of silence.

When we're talking about what's right, what's just, what's of faith and ethics and not of expediency and figures, we're talking about something for everyone, particularly something for the minority. Our secular and humanist brothers and sisters made a very good point when they said that human rights is about, in a sense, marginal rights, minority rights, and not just what the majority wants.

I'm delighted that the Lord's Prayer stays. I'm delighted that we've opened the door to the prayers of other faiths. I'm also delighted that we will now have a moment of silence as well to acknowledge those who do not share faith.

The idea that inclusiveness means you have to go out of the chamber and stand while a prayer is said inside is ridiculous. One of the reasons why the court struck down prayer in the municipal chambers was exactly because of this possibility. People would be embarrassed to have to get up and leave.

Secondly, if they are not embarrassed, why do they have to stand up and why do they have to leave? Can't they just sit in their seats until the pious have their innings?

Thirdly, why do the pious assume that non-religious people have nothing worthwhile to say? Why do the atheists get a moment of silence while all the God thumpers get to sound off?

Fun with model trains and climate models

When I was a lad I got an electric train for Christmas. This was a big deal back in the 1950s. Retailers simply did not have the plethora of different toys now seen in the stores. The problem with the toy train was that it got boring after about 10 times circling its track. You could expand the track and build little villages around it to make it more interesting, but that involved skills I did not possess and money that my parents lacked.

I was reminded of that train when I read this article in the National Post concerning climate models. They seem to be going somewhere but never reach their destination.

The writer, Roger Pielke, Jr., a professor in the environmental studies program at the University of Colorado and a former director of its Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, makes several incisive comments.

According to Pielke, past events are not a satisfactory guide to future events, and climate models are designed to predict climate changes 20 to 30 years out and are unreliable to account for weather patterns of less than this time period. He points out that the climate models that informed the opinion of the IPCC in 1990 have now had 17 years to demonstrate that they did not accurately predict temperature change or ocean levels.

The first IPCC projections of future climate were issued in 1990, and with more than 17 years of observations since that prediction we can confidently state that the IPCC’s 1990 “best guess” overstated the global temperature increase as well as sea level rise for the subsequent two decades. But such retrospective evaluations are typically dismissed because those predictions were made using outdated models based on earlier understandings. The IPCC issues predictions for 20- to 30-year periods into the future, and updates them every 6-7 years, so in practice its current predictive capabilities can never be evaluated against real world data. As Tebaldi and Knutti observe, “climate projections, decades or longer in the future by definition, cannot be validated directly through observed changes.”

In short, climate models are interesting but perhaps useless as a tool to inform public policy regarding climate change.

On the issue of why worry if climate models are iffy instruments since it is more important to get action on climate change, Pielke says,

I have been asked by some of my colleagues why I raise these points, since action on climate change is a good thing and those questioning climate models typically are opposed to action. So what, I am told, if action on climate change is based on some exaggerations and false claims to certainty, isn’t the end goal important enough to justify bending the truth just a bit? After all, those opposed to action often show no hesitation toward exaggeration and hyperbole.

My short answer to such questions is that false claims to certainty were exactly what got us into the Iraq war. A somewhat longer reply involves explaining how both science and democracy flourish when we are open and honest about what science can actually deliver. Effective action on climate change is more likely when we fully appreciate what science can, and cannot, do. We should expect more from our scientific community.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me

When I was a kid and other kids called me names, my mother always recited this old saw, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Whatever happened to our mothers and their wisdom?

Some posts back I got a comment from freespeecher who advised me that if I wanted to live a long and healthy life I should stop reading the Toronto Star. If I took that advice I would miss all the fun of reading my old friend Haroon Siddiqui’s columns.

He had another beaut in the Sunday edition of the Star, and, as you might expect, if you are familiar with his output, it was full of “Muslims, lefties/progressives and four legs good: anti-Islamic, righties/conservatives and two legs bad” sentiments.

Here’s a sampling:

But freedom of speech is not absolute. "Except for the U.S., virtually every Western democracy has laws against hate," notes Bernie Farber of the Canadian Jewish Congress. "Our anti-hate laws are probably the most underused."

The Supreme Court has upheld those laws. Jewish, gay and other groups have long advocated their use. Few Canadians complained. But now that Muslims are, many are.
"That's really what it's about," Farber told me. "When non-Muslims were using it, nobody really cared.

"People need scapegoats. It used to be Jews. Now it's Muslims, to a great extent. Tomorrow, it may be Bahais or somebody else ...

"People should focus on the law, not on those using it. If the complaint is frivolous, the system will deal with it."

And here is what I think about this.

As long as the Human Rights Commission’s confined their anti-hate speech prosecutions to basement and garage neo-Nazis, and other fringe, white power weirdoes, nobody did care. The Jews, who are a small minority in this country, seemed to be taking out the garbage and they were quite welcome to do it, as far as the rest of us were concerned.

It was when gays started to attack Christians through the mechanism of HRCs that suddenly it was no longer the exceptional case, it became mainstream.

Neo-nazis and white supremacists form probably no more than one-tenth of one percent of the population of this country, if that. Christians, however, comprise 72%.

When Christians who expressed anti-gay sentiments were put through the meat grinder of the HRC process, other people, like me, an atheist, began to notice that gay rights were trumping religious rights. And, as pro-gay and anti-religious as I am, I do not like the idea that people who have firm beliefs based on a bedrock of millennia-old scriptures should not be entitled to express their views, even if I think they are wrong-headed.

After we started to squirm over this development, along came the Canadian Islamic Congress complaint against Maclean’s magazine, and vicariously against one of the most popular journalists in the world’s conservative press, Mark Steyn.

There are some things that are touchstones of Canada: hockey, Canadian Tire, Tim Horton’s, CBC and possibly Maclean’s magazine.

The CIC is not a Canadian touchstone. Futhermore, its chief spokesperson has a not very enviable reputation for uttering hateful comments. One wondered why he wasn't in the dock instead of Maclean's.

As well, those who are familiar with the Koran and the Hadith know that Islamic teachings do not promote equality and harmony with non-Muslims. They don’t even promote it within the Islamic world.

There is no doubt that the turmoil in the world caused by Muslim terrorists over the past decade has caused westerners to look very closely at this formerly foreign world of Islam and find some things about it that are unsettling.

But, to claim, as Farber does, that Muslims are just being scapegoated instead of Jews is foolish. In fact, by this statement, Farber does his own community a disservice since most recorded hate crimes (real crimes, mind you, not just words) still continue to be directed towards Jews in numbers far higher than the second most reported group.

It is when people wake up to the fact that the tail is starting to wag the dog that the trouble starts. We respect the rights of minorities, but when they want to start shoving the majority around, and use taxpayer-funded government agencies do their work for them, they shouldn’t be surprised if they receive a lot of pushback.

These fools at the HRCs have managed to accomplish what I would have thought impossible a year ago. They have made folk heroes out of neo-Nazis, tarnished the reputation of the Canadian Jewish Congress, united both the left and right media, and, with any luck, may end up putting themselves out of the hate speech business altogether (a growing source of funding for them).

Siddiqui ends his column with this trite observation:

People will always differ on what constitutes hate or where to draw the line on free speech. But most people would agree that free speech is not a licence to target vulnerable groups, let alone risk rupturing the common good in Canada.

In a country founded on the rule of law, due process, and equality before the law, in what respect could one say the HRCs in this country are upholding the common good in their handling of issues concerning free speech? The common good in this country would be better served if everybody just grew a thicker skin.

Finally if you don’t have due process, Mr. Siddiqui, everybody is a potential target and is vulnerable.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

What happens when trolls get to vote

These are the little piggies who feast at the trough of the U.N. Human Rights Council.

The British media were in a flutter because the United Nations’ Human Rights Council issued a report suggesting that the United Kingdom should ditch the Queen and go the Republican route. It was the Sri Lankan delegate who brought this up. But the report was endorsed by other members of the HRC, like Saudi Arabia, which has a pretend monarchy.

There has been a monarch in England for more than a thousand years. The so-called kings in Arabia have been enthroned for about 70 years. The British monarchy will still be viable long after Saudi Arabia has had its revolution and the Saudi royal family is replaced by a theocracy.

Furthermore, it is difficult to understand how the British system of government relates to human rights, other than to show the rest of the world how it is done properly.

The Human Rights regimes in Canada that have been so much in the news lately are paragons of virtue compared to the hypocrisy of the U.N.H.R.C.

Just take a look at the members.

Consider that Sri Lanka has been in a state of civil war for 30 years with plenty of atrocities laid at its government’s door. Saudi Arabia has abysmal civil and human rights. Cuba, an island prison for the last half century and a member of this soap opera company, also piled on the U.K. Ditto Syria, whose leaders suppressed a rebellion by slaying 25,000 of its citizens; and, Algeria, whose army overthrew a legitimately elected government and prompted a civil war with 100,000 casualties.

Then there are a couple of other choice ones, like, Sudan, that thinks the U.K. discriminates against Muslims, conveniently overlooking the government sponsored slaughter of 200,000 of its black Muslims by its Arab Muslims; and, rounding out the hypocrites is Iran, a country operated under the Sharia that complained that Britain should do more to emancipate women.

How does the British representative on this useless and farcical council keep a straight face during these discussions? It is hard to make somebody like Barbara Hall look good, but if anybody can do it, trust the U.N.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Don't keep the faith, pass it on

I linked into Ezra Levant's blog today and discovered that he is sending out a challenge to other "Internet publishers", if you like. He has reprinted Rev. Boissoin's diatribe letter against homosexuality that got the clergyman into so much doo-doo with the Alberta Human Rights Commission.

He would like the rest of us who believe in free speech to emulate him. Don't just talk the talk, walk it. So I have.

Before you read what follows, I wish to make a disclaimer.

I think the Rev. Boissoin is cuckoo. I am an atheist and have no truck and traffic of any kind with any moral position that is supposedly based on what "God says", especially when it is a mortal man who wants to tell me what God says.

Furthermore, I like homosexuals and in my time have had a few of them as friends with whom I have socialized. When I was younger and looked less like Clint Eastwood now looks, I had a few gays come on to me. I was actually flattered by this since I know that gay men fancy attractive men. You can't trust women in this respect because they may like you for your money, you power and influence, or even your sexual prowess (in this regard, I speak of other men -- but hey, 2 out of 3 is not bad).

I believe homosexuality to be a genetically derived condition, not a moral choice. The sex drive is the most powerful of all human motivations. To take the Catholic Church position that you love the sinner but condemn the sin is nonsense. If God made us, he made homosexuals too, and gave them their sex drive.

I have no problem with equal rights for homosexuals, including the institution of marriage, nor am I aware of any sound scientific study that suggests that children who are reared in homosexual households suffer emotional damage from this circumstance. After all, homosexuals who have children obviously want them. Many a hererosexual couple regret the outcome of their passions. Being wanted is the first and most important emotional support a child can have.

WARNING: If you are homosexual what follows will be very offensive. It is not being published to offend, but to support the traditon that a liberal-democracy values free speech. If you do CHOOSE to read on, I suggest that the Reverend's appeal to Edmund Burke's famous dictum equally applies to the issue of free speech in this country. Remember, my gay friends, if they can shut this guy up today, they can shut you up tomorrow.

The text in italics is Levant's sentiments, and Boissoin's anti-homosexual comments are set out in block quotes.

There's something ineffable about being a free man, about saying what you want, about not being afraid of what someone else thinks.

It feels pretty good.

I'd encourage you to try it.

Go ahead.

Publish Rev. Stephen Boissoin's hate crime. I don't care if you're Christian, or gay, or both. I don't care if you agree with it or not. Just republish it. Do it because you're not supposed to do it. Because Lori Andreachuk and Ed Stelmach and Darren Lund say you can't. Do it because the Red Deer Advocate caved in and copped a plea bargain, instead of fighting like Rev. Boissoin (and Maclean's and Mark Steyn) did.

Do it to show that you have natural rights that predate, and exceed, any "human rights" given or taken away by Alberta's human rights commission.

Do it to show that you're alive. To feel alive. To show that democracy and freedom are still alive.

I have to tell you, I feel great. I'm going to post it again, right now.

Homosexual Agenda Wicked

The following is not intended for those who are suffering from an unwanted sexual identity crisis. For you, I have understanding, care, compassion and tolerance. I sympathize with you and offer you my love and fellowship. I prayerfully beseech you to seek help, and I assure you that your present enslavement to homosexuality can be remedied. Many outspoken, former homosexuals are free today.

Instead, this is aimed precisely at every individual that in any way supports the homosexual machine that has been mercilessly gaining ground in our society since the 1960s. I cannot pity you any longer and remain inactive. You have caused far too much damage.

My banner has now been raised and war has been declared so as to defend the precious sanctity of our innocent children and youth, that you so eagerly toil, day and night, to consume. With me stand the greatest weapons that you have encountered to date - God and the "Moral Majority." Know this, we will defeat you, then heal the damage that you have caused. Modern society has become dispassionate to the cause of righteousness. Many people are so apathetic and desensitized today that they cannot even accurately define the term "morality."

The masses have dug in and continue to excuse their failure to stand against horrendous atrocities such as the aggressive propagation of homo- and bisexuality. Inexcusable justifications such as, "I'm just not sure where the truth lies," or "If they don't affect me then I don't care what they do," abound from the lips of the quantifiable majority.

Face the facts, it is affecting you. Like it or not, every professing heterosexual is have their future aggressively chopped at the roots.

Edmund Burke's observation that, "All that is required for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing," has been confirmed time and time again. From kindergarten class on, our children, your grandchildren are being strategically targeted, psychologically abused and brainwashed by homosexual and pro-homosexual educators.

Our children are being victimized by repugnant and premeditated strategies, aimed at desensitizing and eventually recruiting our young into their camps. Think about it, children as young as five and six years of age are being subjected to psychologically and physiologically damaging pro-homosexual literature and guidance in the public school system; all under the fraudulent guise of equal rights.

Your children are being warped into believing that same-sex families are acceptable; that men kissing men is appropriate.

Your teenagers are being instructed on how to perform so-called safe same gender oral and anal sex and at the same time being told that it is normal, natural and even productive. Will your child be the next victim that tests homosexuality positive?

Come on people, wake up! It's time to stand together and take whatever steps are necessary to reverse the wickedness that our lethargy has authorized to spawn. Where homosexuality flourishes, all manner of wickedness abounds.

Regardless of what you hear, the militant homosexual agenda isn't rooted in protecting homosexuals from "gay bashing." The agenda is clearly about homosexual activists that include, teachers, politicians, lawyers, Supreme Court judges, and God forbid, even so-called ministers, who are all determined to gain complete equality in our nation and even worse, our world.

Don't allow yourself to be deceived any longer. These activists are not morally upright citizens, concerned about the best interests of our society. They are perverse, self-centered and morally deprived individuals who are spreading their psychological disease into every area of our lives. Homosexual rights activists and those that defend them, are just as immoral as the pedophiles, drug dealers and pimps that plague our communities.

The homosexual agenda is not gaining ground because it is morally backed. It is gaining ground simply because you, Mr. and Mrs. Heterosexual, do nothing to stop it. It is only a matter of time before some of these morally bankrupt individuals such as those involved with NAMBLA, the North American Man/Boy Lovers Association, will achieve their goal to have sexual relations with children and assert that it is a matter of free choice and claim that we are intolerant bigots not to accept it.

If you are reading this and think that this is alarmist, then I simply ask you this: how bad do things have to become before you will get involved? It's time to start taking back what the enemy has taken from you. The safety and future of our children is at stake.

Rev. Stephen Boissoin

The devil is in the details, or, when it is appropriate to sweat the small stuff

You really have to hand it to the American election machine for its entertainment value. For months and months we have been treated to a savage fight between the Democratic candidates until Obama finally prevailed, but not without the party being severely scarred. This battle consumed about $500 million.

Now that the dust has settled, what is the latest issue?

Obama might not even be legally eligible to hold the office of President.

Article 2 of the United States' Constitution states:

No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

The blogosphere is beginning to raise questions about the domocile of his birth. Officially, he was born in Hawaii. Apparently, that state treats birth certificates as a private matter. And Obama has declined to offer his certificate up for scrutiny. It is being suggested that since his father was Kenyan it is important to ensure he was born in the U.S.

John McCain was similarly challenged because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone. He submitted his birth records to the Senate which declared him to be natural born beause he was born on a U.S. military base.

I don't know why Obama would withhold his documentation and give his political enemies just one more thing to challenge his credibilty or make the case he is elitist, but I really wonder why the Democratic Party, at the point at which candidates register to represent the party as the presidential candidate, would not insist, as a first step to acceptance of the registration, that the candidates prove the natural born requirement. It seems such an obvious thing to do.

If you managed a trucking company and somebody walked in the door to get a job as a driver, wouldn't you first want to satisfy yourself that the guy had a current valid driver's license before you bothered with anything else on his resume? Why should a trucker be put to a higher standard of elibility than the President of the United States?

What happens if it turns out Obama is not eligible?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ok, so we nailed the ants, but what about the termites

Not very far away from where I live is one of the busiest criminal courthouses in all of Ontario. As the spring gives way to summer this courthouse is the venue of a trial that is one of the most bizarre in modern Canadian history, the trial of several male youths and adults who are charged with a conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism in the name of Allah.

They are known to the media as the “Toronto 18”, and their names are under a publication ban. Most, if not all of them, don’t actually live in Toronto. They live in Mississauga, a large suburb to the west of the city, which is why they are being tried in this courthouse and not one in Toronto.

And they are no longer 18 in number. Charges against 7 of them have been stayed and those persons have been freed. Staying charges is not the same as dropping them. They can be reactivated if new evidence should be revealed.

They are called the Toronto 18 because their main targets were in Toronto, specifically the headquarters building of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the Toronto offices of the Canadian anti-spy/terrorist agency, CSIS. They are located close to each other in a very busy part of downtown Toronto.

The allegation are that they planned to load a truck with a bomb and blow up these buildings with the intention of killing the maximum number of people (like the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing). Given the population of the buildings in question and the pedestrian and vehicle traffic in the area, the number of potential victims could exceed those in 9/11, depending on the time and day in the week and the size of the bomb.

They are also alleged to have had some vague plan to storm the Parliament buildings in Ottawa and behead Canada’s Prime Minister, the leader of the Conservative Party. So far no evidence has been adduced that they are members of the Liberal Party of Canada, but the trial is still in early days.

Yesterday, the prosecutions key witness, a paid informant who infiltrated the group, was on the witness stand for the first time. He testified about attending a terrorist training camp in northern Ontario and about some of the activities carried on there. For a full rendition of his testimony, as it appeared in the Toronto Star, go to this site.

One of the interesting things he brought out was that the group made a video of their training efforts to impress the leadership in Afghanistan (presumably the Taliban leadership) and some imams in Toronto that the group’s leader believed were sympathetic to their activities. It is not the video per se that is interesting, it is the notion that imams in Toronto would encourage this kind of thing.

When this trial is over, and assuming the charges stick and the defendants are found guilty, the public should demand to know what action is being taken against religious leaders who would be sympathetic to a home-grown group of Muslim terrorists. The Toronto 18 are only the ants running around on the tree bark. You have to go under the bark to dig out the termites if you want to save the tree.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Using racism to combat racism

Perhaps I am getting to be a cranky old white guy, but I find myself grinding my teeth and clenching my jaw every time I read one of those progressive-left social commentaries pointing to racism as the big problem in our society. I read another one of these today in the Toronto Star.

Avvy Go, who is self-described as the director of the Metro Toronto Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic, rattles on and on about “racialized communities”, claiming that poverty can really only be addressed through the prism of racial analysis. Go uses the term racialized no less than 14 times in an 800 word article. Nowhere does Go explain racialized except by implication in this paragraph:

Ask any member of a racialized community who lives in poverty why they are poor and they will likely begin with the problems they have accessing good jobs or getting a promotion because of their race. They will talk about the invisible glass ceiling that seems to preserve the highest paid jobs for whites only.

I suppose we can take it from this that anybody who is non-white is racialized. Which means that you are a racist because your parents had a night of passion and were both white when they got it off. After all, people cannot be racialized by anybody except racists, who, in Go’s universe, are all whites.

Go has probably never experienced, as I have, the disdain some black people from Bermuda and Trinidad express towards Jamaicans. Ditto Korean, Chinese and Japanese attitudes towards blacks and Filipinos. I once had a dinner with a Saudi diplomat and his wife who had no use for Indians and Pakistanis, despite the fact that Saudi Arabia would grind to a halt if those people weren’t there to keep economy running. I could go on in this fashion, but what’s the point?

Those of Go’s persuasion are on a mission to pull down white people and it wouldn’t do to let inconvenient truths get in the way of ideology. It is ironic how people who claim to be combating racism express themselves in such racist terms, as if it it’s quite alright to denigrate whites (after all, they have broad shoulders, as well as lots of money!). The Ontario Human Rights Commission does the same thing on its website, never clueing into the fact that it is breaching through its preaching the statutory protections against discrimination because of race that it is supposed to be upholding.

Go’s “proof” that whites are racists rests mainly on some raw Statistics Canada data about lower income levels of recent immigrants (immigrants = racialized communities) compared to their white Canadian counterparts.

There could be many reasons why there is a disparity in income levels that would have something to do with factors other than race.

As just one example, 85% of all jobs are filled as a result of knowing somebody and getting references from people who can influence your career. It is connections that count more than anything and the higher up the income ladder you go the more these become important. Clearly a native born white Canadian will have a better networking system than a recent immigrant. For sure, the immigrant is at a disadvantage and something needs to be done to balance the problem, but is it constructively dealt with by calling the white person, who has done nothing more than utilize his networks, a racist?

It is also probably true, generally, but not always, that white native born applicants for those jobs in which they are competing with qualified immigrants for whom English is not the first language will have a better command of the language. Is it racist for an employer to prefer a candidate with better English skills, or is it just practical? Again, this language problem needs to be addressed, but calling the employer a racist isn’t going to help.

To racialize a whole community as racist, as Go has done, is completely counterproductive to finding a solution to the poverty or disadvantage of others.

After all, what possible solution could be achieved by using Go’s prism: are white people simply to give up their jobs to visible minorities and accept unemployment and poverty as their just lot in life; are they to dismantle their networks, deceptively and deliberately speak poor English during job interviews, or what?

Go doesn’t offer us any glimmer of what this racial analysis will achieve that would be better than other ways of attacking the problem of poverty. It just scapegoats one segment of society.

I hope that OHRC Commissioner, Barbara Hall, and Avvy Go won’t be too upset or surprised to learn that I am personally quite upset to be held in such contempt by them because of my race.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Wouldn't recognize this country

Test your extremist knowledge and Canadian tolerance levels.

What are the differences in the feelings of contempt for Jews amongst the German Nazis of the last generation; the Canadian neo-Nazis of this generation; the Taliban imams and believers, and the domestic Islamic extremists in Canada?

Since the last generation dispensed with the German Nazis, who does the present generation of Jews (as represented by the Canadian Jewish Congress) chase after in Canada and insist be prosecuted? If you said, neo-Nazis only, give yourself a star. They leave Islam alone.

After all, it is a religion that is derived from the Abrahamic narrative. It would be like shitting in your own nest. Besides isn’t interfaith dialogue much more productive than government prosecutions, even if the purveyors of the other religion express hatred towards your kind, and even if the CJC claims it is opposed to hate in general?

We know that Islamists can be reasonable unlike those unreasonable neo-Nazis.

How does Canada prosecute its wars, here and abroad? It shot up all the German Nazis it could find to help liberate the European Jews, and all the Taliban who might wander into the crosshairs, to help liberate the “other Muslims" who might or might not be grateful for the sacrifice (time will tell). It even takes children away from their neo-Nazi parents.

As to domestic Islamists – its full citizenship, free money, free health care, anything goes.

And certainly nobody would dare suggest removing children from a Muslim home even if hatred against Jews is exposed as a reality in such a household.

If anybody wants to complain about such apparent hypocrisy there are always the human rights commissions who will oblige by removing dissenters’ human rights to ensure that the religious anti-western civilization elements are not inconvenienced in the public arena by the secular truth.

Can you imagine, say, in 1942, a German born Canadian bringing an action paid for and sponsored by a government agency to have negative media depictions of Hitler and the Nazi Party suppressed because it might cause Canadians to have a low opinion of Nazis? Can you imagine such an action getting a favourable result from the tribunal?

My father, a decorated WWII fighter pilot, wouldn’t recognize this country if he were still alive.

Obama and the bucks

This is an interesting article on how Obama managed to raise twice as much money as Hillary.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Canada owes one to Dr. Elmasry

Now that the “court” action in the Canadian Islamic Congress v. Maclean’s Magazine is over in British Columbia, there are three things that didn’t happen that I think were mistakes.

I suppose it looks rather silly for this blogger to be suggesting to high-priced and experienced legal counsel (Maclean’s lawyers) that they might have done something differently. After all, my legal status is best painted by former Ontario Premier, Bill Davis, who always puckishly referred to himself as “just a B student at law school”.

However, this law school B student would have asked the head sock puppet on cross-examination why he and his colleagues didn’t do what any other reasonable persons in their position would have done. When people are aggrieved at things they see in the media they write letters to the editor or they produce their own op-ed pieces and try to get them published. These whiners ran all over the media complaining that Maclean’s would not submit to their editorial demands. But they never produced the counter-Steyn article and submitted it for publication, either through Maclean’s or through other media outlets.

I think the fact that they didn’t do that goes to the heart of this dispute. It’s possible this course of events was never about getting a counter piece published. It was about forcing the issue into a human rights complaint and obtaining a fatwa. Dr. Elmasry, head of the CIC, is on record as having previously complained that the anti-hate legislation in this country is useless. Such a line of cross-examination might have unearthed that intent.

The second thing I would have done differently is to get down in the muck with the lawyer for the complainants.

Maclean’s chose to go the high road, not offering any evidence of it’s own, simply challenging the admissibility of the complainant’s evidence (about a 50% success rate) and confining itself to cross-examination of witnesses.

Maclean’s should have produced evidence on the importance of the right of free speech and how that is exercised in this country through vigorous debate in a free media. Never assume that “judges” have that understanding – especially when the ones in this case were viewed so negatively by those who are horrified by these proceedings.

Besides, if the real strategy is to get an adverse ruling that one can take to a real court on appeal, it is favourable to the appeal to be able to say that such evidence was presented at the trial court and was inappropriately and mistakenly dismissed by that tribunal.

Thirdly, it would not have hurt to present evidence from the blogosphere in support of free speech and to show that the very fact a human rights commission would even entertain this case is upsetting to many, many people. If the BC HRC had declined to admit irrelevant blogging evidence on behalf of the complainants, then maybe not, but since it did, then fight fire with fire. Don't be so prissy, legally correct and dainty about the fight. If there are no rules then make up your own.

The choice was to attorn to the jurisdiction or not. Once you accept the challenge in that forum, then go all the way and play the game the way it is intended to be played. You are either in the fray or you are not, but you are never above it.

Finally, Canada owes a debt of gratitude to Dr. Elmasry and the CIC for turning over this human rights rock and exposing the bugs hiding in the shadows, nooks, crannies and crevices to the sunlight of international exposure and the court of public opinion.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Yes Virginia, there is a virginity

I like France and the French. I like the culture, the language and the history. But here they are dead wrong (see AP story below). I would prefer if all religions would go the route of the Greek, Roman, Norse, and Babylonian gods -- into the mists of oblivion. However, they should vanish on their own because they are no longer relevant to the advance of society and are recognized as such by the populace, not because they are legislated out of existence. A woman is free to enter a contract for marriage and promise her husband she will be a virgin on the wedding day, no matter whether it is a cultural norm or is religously-inspired. That is what freedom means and that is what women's emancipation means.

PARIS (AP) - The bride said she was a virgin. When her new husband discovered that was a lie, he went to court to annul the marriage—and a French judge agreed.
The ruling ending the Muslim couple's union has stunned France and raised concerns the country's much-cherished secular values are losing ground to religious traditions from its fast-growing immigrant communities.

The decision also exposed the silent shame borne by some Muslim women who transgress long-held religious dictates demanding proof of virginity on the wedding night.

In its ruling, the court concluded the woman had misrepresented herself as a virgin and that, in this particular marriage, virginity was a prerequisite.

But in treating the case as a breach of contract, the ruling was decried by critics who said it undermined decades of progress in women's rights. Marriage, they said, was reduced to the status of a commercial transaction in which women could be discarded by husbands claiming to have discovered hidden defects in them.

The court decision "is a real fatwa against the emancipation and liberty of women. We are returning to the past," said Urban Affairs Minister Fadela Amara, the daughter of immigrants from Muslim North Africa, using the Arabic term for a religious decree.

The outcry has been unrelenting since word of the April 1 decision in the closed-door trial in Lille was made public last week by the daily newspaper Liberation. In its judgment, the tribunal said the 2006 marriage had been ended based on "an error in the essential qualities" of the bride, "who had presented herself as single and chaste."

Justice Minister Rachida Dati, whose parents also were born in North Africa, initially shrugged off the ruling—but the public clamor reached such a pitch that she asked the prosecutor's office this week to lodge an appeal.

What began as a private matter "concerns all the citizens of our country and notably women," a statement from her ministry said.

The appeal was filed Tuesday and three judges could hear the case sometime this month, said Eric Vaillant of the appeals court in Douai, near Lille.

The hitch is that both the young woman and the man at the center of the drama are opposed to an appeal, according to their lawyers. The names of the woman, a student in her 20s, and the man, an engineer in his 30s, have not been disclosed.

The young woman's lawyer, Charles-Edouard Mauger, said she was distraught by the dragging out of the humiliating case. In an interview on Europe 1 radio, he quoted her as saying: "I don't know who's trying to think in my place. I didn't ask for anything. ... I wasn't the one who asked for the media attention, for people to talk about it, and for this to last so long."

The issue is particularly distressing for France because the government has fought to maintain strong secular traditions as demographics change. An estimated 5 million Muslims live in the country of 64 million, the largest Muslim population in Western Europe.

France passed a law in 2004 banning Muslim headscarves and other ostentatious religious signs from classrooms, a move that caused an uproar in the Muslim world.

Now, critics contend another law on the books is being used to effectively condone the custom requiring a woman to enter marriage as a virgin, and prove it with bloodstained sheets on her wedding night.

Article 180 of the Civil Code states that when a couple enters into a marriage, if the "essential qualities" of a spouse are misrepresented, then "the other spouse can seek the nullity of the marriage." Past examples of marriages that were annulled include a husband found to be impotent and a wife who was a prostitute, according to attorney Xavier Labbee.

Ironically, Article 180 also guards against forced marriages.

Labbee, the lawyer for the bridegroom in question, says it was not the young woman's virginity that was at issue.

"The question is not one of virginity. The question is one of lying," he told The Associated Press.

"In the ruling, there is no word 'Muslim,' there is no word 'religion,' there is no word 'custom.' And if one speaks of virginity it is with the term 'a lie."

Labbee said both the man and the woman "understand that annulling the marriage is preferable to divorce because it wipes the slate clean (of) what you want to forget, but divorce wipes away nothing."

Indeed, the court ruling states that the woman "acquiesced" to the demand for an annulment "based on a lie concerning her virginity."

"One can deduce that this quality (virginity) was seen by her as an essential quality that was decisive" in the man's decision to marry, the ruling said.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon said an appeal must be lodged "so this ruling does not set a judicial precedent."

In a rare show of agreement, politicians on the left and right said the court's action does not reflect French values.

"In a democratic and secular country, we cannot consider virginity as an essential quality of marriage," said an expert on French secularism, Jacqueline Costa-Lascoux.

The decision underscored the painful predicament faced today by many Muslim women in France and elsewhere in the West who become sexually emancipated but remain bound by strict codes of honor inherited and enforced by their families—and prospective husbands.

It is not unusual for young Muslim women to procure fake virginity certificates, use tricks like vials of spilled blood on the wedding night or even undergo hymen repair to satisfy family expectations, and evade the shame that would follow if their secret got out.

An informal survey by The Associated Press in 2006 found numerous private clinics in the Paris region where such surgery is performed, as well as doctors who supply fake virginity certificates before a marriage.

"Today, the judicial system of a modern country cannot hold to these savage traditions, completely inhuman for the young woman," said the rector of the Paris Mosque, Dalil Boubakeur.

He likened the court decision to "equating marriage with a commercial transaction."

Like some others, Boubakeur, a moderate, voiced fears that Muslim fundamentalists would seek to profit from the Lille ruling "as they have done with the veil. ... Fundamentalists use (head scarves) like their flag."

"We ask Muslims to live in their era," he said.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ah religion, what would the world do without it? Chapter One

This morning's front section of the National Post contained two religious stories.

The first concerned a man from Guinea who is in Canada seeking refugee asylum. His case has already been denied but he is appealing the decision. Guinea is about 80% Muslim and this man married a Catholic woman and converted to Catholicism. He says if he is deported back to Guinea he will be killed, most likely by his family, for apostacy. If Islam did not declare apostacy to be the worst crime and prescribe the death penalty as punishment, this man would still be with his wife and children in Guinea and we would be spared the public expense of his claims.

That is how the world might be better off without religion.

The second story concerns a dying 84 year old man in hospital in Edmonton. He is in a vegetative state (and has been for some time) and the prognosis is that there is no prognosis. His doctor refers to his death, whenever it may occur, as the natural consequence of a long life. However, this man is of the Jewish Orthodox Faith, and his family is fighting in court to prevent his life enabling equipment from being turned off claiming that it violates their religious beliefs. The man is wracked with ulcers and other bodily sores that simply will not heal. His doctor refuses to authorize any surgery claiming it is tantamount to torture. He feels so strongly about not being pushed by the family into doing something that he believes violates medical ethics that he has resigned his position at the hospital. Hospital officials are worried that the understaffed Intensive Care Unit, which will suffer from this resignation, will also experience other resignations over this and the hospital will be forced to close the ICU.

This another example of how the world would be a better place without religion. The hospital and the community it serves would not be threatened. The doctor would still be practicing at that hospital and the patient would expire peacefully without further trauma.

Well said!

This is the best summary of the farcical human rights charade now going on in the basement of a court house in Vancouver. How fitting that it is held in a basement.

In reading through a number of blogs covering this event I came across an interesting observation. I forget who made it, so if you recognize your insight shoot me a comment, I will give you credit.

The author noted that the Muslims complaining to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal are purporting to speak for all Muslims in Canada. In short, all Muslims must be uniformly offended by the MacLean's excerpt from Mark Steyn's book. However, their entire case rests on the presumption that the Muslim community is not monolithic and that MacLean's/Steyn failed to make that clear in the publications. If they are not monolithic then how can they all be offended and how can this self-appointed clutch of Muslims, whose numbers might not fill a taxi cab, claim to represent a non-monolithic consitituency?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder

What is wrong with Canada? It enforces bad laws; e.g., the human rights complaints against MacLean's magazine when it refused to knucle under to a shakedown by some Muslims, and ignores the enforcement of other laws.

The National Post ran a column by John Turley-Ewart called Sharia by stealth. It outlines the laws against polygamy and references the self-admitted breach of those laws by a Toronto Imam, Aly Hindy, who is responsible, by his own statements for aiding and abetting some 30 polygamous marriages in the Muslim community, often to the detriment of the firt wife and children. This a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.

These quotes are attributed to him in the NP article:

"If the laws of the country conflict with Islamic law, if one goes against the other, then I am going to follow Islamic law, simple as that."

Has anybody in law enforcement begun proceedings against him. No. Are they likely to -- not a chance.

We are two years and counting for the illegal occupation of land in Caledonia Ontario by native Indians and has any law enforcement agency removed the occupiers. No.

Each time one of these self-righteous groups or persons puts the boots to the law of the land and the government authorities turn a blind eye it simply encourages other like-minded individuals to take advantage of the demonstrated weakness and push the envelope of their own agendas.