Friday, July 18, 2008

Islamic education, Saudi style

There is a story in the National Post about Saudi school textbooks still containing passages showing hatred towards the west and contempt for Christians, Jews and Infidels, along with homosexuals. Children are taught that murder is religiously justified in certain circumstances. Apparently, the U.S. government has been pressuring its friend and ally in the Middle East to tone it down.

The following is a passage, on page 52 (paperback edition) of British historian Charles Allen’s interesting book, God’s Terrorists, The Wahhabi Cult and the Hidden Roots of Modern Jihad:

In about 1744 a remarkable partnership was forged between Muhammad ibn Saud and Al-Wahhab (founder of Wahhabism). This was formulated in an oath-swearing ceremony between the two by which the former took upon himself the role and title of emir, or secular leader, and the latter became the imam, soon afterwards assuming the rather grander title of Sheikh ul-Islam. This alliance allowed the one to become a powerful local ruler and the other to transform the province of Nejd by stages into a dar ul-Islam, that much sought after domain of Faith wherein the true sharia prevailed.

In the 1930s, the Sauds became the effective rulers of all Arabia and the pact continues to the present day. Does the U.S. really think that an oath that has stood for two and a half centuries is going to be set aside in a year, just because America doesn’t care for Wahhabism?

One of the problems with the Saudi-Wahhabi version of Sunni doctrine is that the Saudis fund madrassas (Islamic religious schools) all over the globe, tens of thousands of them, and these materials are the root of the students’ understanding of Islam.

For further reading on the threat these madrassas pose to the west, see here and here.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The answer my friend may not be blowing in the wind

The Ontario government recently announced that it has lifted the moratorium on building wind farms in the Great Lakes. No doubt it was spurred on by thoughts of being left behind with wind farm stirrings on the United States side of the lakes. Can't be left behind now can we? The government is also being lobbied with tantalizing offers of establishing a wind turbine manufacturing capability in Ontario.

In real estate they say the three most important things are: location, location, location. Well, in politics it is: jobs, jobs, jobs. This is especially so as Ontario's automotive industry is collapsing around its ears.

But. There are those drawbacks. Always those drawbacks.

First, there are no current windfarms in the lakes so we have nothing to measure and determine the impacts. In Cleveland there is a modest proposal to build about 10 of these in Lake Erie as a demonstration project. Sensible.

Second, get ready to watch your wallet flying out the door with the wind. There are no wind farms of any substantial nature that have not been built without government subsidies, in Europe, the world's leading windpower area, at least.

Denmark has the most experience with offshore windpower and it has not been rosy. It keeps all its coal powered plants in full operation because wind power has a nasty habit of providing little power when demand is highest and too much power when demand is lowest. You cannot dispense with other sources of power, so there are no savings. Furthermore, there are days when the wind turbines actually draw power out of the grid. Eighty-four percent of Denmark's wind produced power is exported, and only about 3.5% ever gets used locally. On average, wind turbines run at about 20% efficiency.

Another consideration is the size of these things. They can be over 300 feet high with blades of 60 feet in length. It is more difficult to service them offshore, so the costs are higher.

So what going on in Ontario? There is a proposal to build about 80 of these things on Wolfe Island near Kingston. It started off as 20 and then grew like topsy. Now the good folks on Wolfe are getting antsy. There is another proposal to build about 150 towers 15 kilometers south of Belleville, but, ominously, the proponent has its eyes on doubling that number. Toronto Hydro wants to build 80 of them off the Scarborough bluffs. The Ontario government has identifies 64 potential sites in the lakes (presumably, mostly Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, where the bulk of the electricity consumers reside).

I have two objections. I think it is a crime to spoil a natural vista with industrial towers. I also don't believe that the net benefit (power/cost) justifies them. If the taxpayers are going to have to subsidize power generation, then let's spend it on stuff that we know will work, like nuclear.

Finally, we wouldn't even be thinking about this if the world hadn't gone crazy over this nonsense about CO2 being a problem in the atmosphere. Wrong diagnosis for a not very well-defined problem, followed by expensive and nearly useless remedies.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Protecting the Constitution

The following is a piece in yesterday's Wall Street Journal by two U.S. Senators who are sponsoring a free speech bill in the Senate. In this country, we have been treated to the spectacle of a human rights investigator with the Canadian Human Rights Commission sneering at the idea of free speech, declaring it an "American concept" that has no relevance in Canada. We also saw the mind-boggling interview on CBC when an intellectually-challenged Avi Lewis accused Ayaan Hirsi Ali of being brainwashed when she declared the United States to be a truly free society. Her rebuttal is well worth the five minutes it takes to watch this tape.

Methinks we could learn a few things from our American cousins.

Our Constitution is one of our greatest assets in the fight against terrorism. A free-flowing marketplace of ideas, protected by the First Amendment, enables the ideals of democracy to defeat the totalitarian vision of al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.

That free marketplace faces a threat. Individuals with alleged connections to terrorist activity are filing libel suits and winning judgments in foreign courts against American researchers who publish on these matters. These suits intimidate and even silence writers and publishers.

Under American law, a libel plaintiff must prove that defamatory material is false. In England, the burden is reversed. Disputed statements are presumed to be false unless proven otherwise. And the loser in the case must pay the winner's legal fees.

Consequently, English courts have become a popular destination for libel suits against American authors. In 2003, U.S. scholar Rachel Ehrenfeld asserted in her book, "Funding Evil: How Terrorism Is Financed and How to Stop It," that Saudi banker Khalid Bin Mahfouz helped fund Osama bin Laden. The book was published in the U.S. by a U.S. company. But 23 copies were bought online by English residents, so English courts permitted the Saudi to file a libel suit there.

Ms. Ehrenfeld did not appear in court, so Mr. Bin Mahfouz won a $250,000 default judgment against her. He has filed or threatened to file at least 30 other suits in England.

Fear of a similar lawsuit forced Random House U.K. in 2004 to cancel publication of "House of Bush, House of Saud," a best seller in the U.S. that was written by an American author. In 2007, the threat of a lawsuit compelled Cambridge University Press to apologize and destroy all available copies of "Alms for Jihad," a book on terrorism funding by American authors. The publisher even sent letters to libraries demanding that they destroy their copies, though some refused to do so.

To counter this lawsuit trend, we have introduced the Free Speech Protection Act of 2008, a Senate companion to a House bill introduced by U.S. Rep. Pete King (R., N.Y.) and co-sponsored by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D., N.Y.). This legislation builds on New York State's "Libel Terrorism Protection Act," signed into law by Gov. David Paterson on May 1.

Our bill bars U.S. courts from enforcing libel judgments issued in foreign courts against U.S. residents, if the speech would not be libelous under American law. The bill also permits American authors and publishers to countersue if the material is protected by the First Amendment. If a jury finds that the foreign suit is part of a scheme to suppress free speech rights, it may award treble damages.

First Amendment scholar Floyd Abrams argues that "the values of free speech and individual reputation are both significant, and it is not surprising that different nations would place different emphasis on each." We agree. But it is not in our interest to permit the balance struck in America to be upset or circumvented by foreign courts. Our legislation would not shield those who recklessly or maliciously print false information. It would ensure that Americans are held to and protected by American standards. No more. No less.

We have seen this type of libel suit before. The 1964 Supreme Court decision in New York Times v. Sullivan established that journalists must be free to report on newsworthy events unless they recklessly or maliciously publish falsehoods. At that time, opponents of civil rights were filing libel suits to silence news organizations that exposed state officials' refusal to enforce federal civil rights laws.

Now we are engaged in another great struggle -- this time against Islamist terror -- and again the enemies of freedom seek to silence free speech. Our legislation will help ensure that they do not succeed.

Mr. Specter is a Republican senator from Pennsylvania. Mr. Lieberman is an Independent Democratic senator from Connecticut.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Yuk! I am 3 years old and I am a racist. So deal with it.

When I was a youngster I did not like Chinese food. The kind my parents served me was loaded with soya sauce, a sauce that to this day I still do not like. It also looked funny, with little stringy, wormy-looking things, and it was all mashed together with other unidentifiable bits of food. I don't recall having bad thoughts about Chinese people. I just didn't like the taste or the appearance of their national cuisine. I have since learned to love Chinese food, stringy bits and all.

My 3-year-old granddaughter will not eat a piece of toast or a sandwich unless the crust of the bread is removed. Where she obtained this dietary preference is a mystery, since nobody in our family does this.

When my younger son was three he went through a phase where the only meat he would eat was chicken. When I was barbequeing the meat, he would walk up to me, look down at what was cooking on the grill, and ask me what was for dinner. Of course, I would answer "chicken", his face would light up, he would say "good" and go back to what he was doing. I would then flip the steak, pork chop or bratwurst, or whatever (even occasionally chicken) over on its other side to ensure even cooking. He would eat every morsel of these thinking it was chicken.

The point is that little children develop peculiar eating preferences which they shed when they get older, as a rule. Everybody knows this. Well, maybe not everybody.

In what has to be political correctness gone mad, a govenment-funded child advocacy agency in the U.K. has issued a 366 page guidebook to childcare workers, called Young Children and Racial Justice, alterting them to the danger of racisim in young children. It advises that children who say words lik "nigger", "paki", "darkies", "smelly", etc. should be hauled up short and corrected. Fair enough.

However, it goes on to suggest that if a child turns up his/her nose at some spicy ethnic cuisine, by saying "ugh" or "yuk" that is evidence of a racist attitude. I have to assume that the people who wrote that have never raised children.

Further, it advises that such incidents should not just be dealt with by the field worker at hand, but should be systematically reported to a higher authority.

That could be very dangerous in Canada, because we sometime seize children from homes where parents are exposed as racist when it gets reported to the authorities.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Ezra Levant's presentation to the U.S Congress

Yesterday Ezra Levant appeared before the human rights caucus of the U.S. Congress and presented on the unfortunate state of human rights in Canada. He posted his speech on his website and I thought it was very well done and deserved the widest dissemination. I hope he doesn't object to me reproducing it on this site.

Thank you for that kind introduction, and for the invitation to be here today. It’s an honour to be asked to give a briefing at the U.S. Congress, and especially to the Human Rights Caucus. Your work is very important.

My expertise in the subject matter of today’s session was not acquired voluntarily, but by unhappy experience: I have been the subject of government persecution for my political and religious views for nearly 900 days. Unfortunately, stories like mine are not uncommon in the world. But they’re not supposed to happen in Canada, one of the freest countries.

In February of 2006, I was the publisher of a Canadian magazine called the Western Standard. We published a news story about the Danish cartoons of Mohammed, and the riots in the Muslim world that followed. To illustrate what all the fuss was about, we accompanied the story with pictures of several of those cartoons. It was a news story in a news magazine.

Before our magazine even hit the streets, a radical imam named Syed Soharwardy asked the police to arrest me – for blaspheming against Islam. The police didn’t, of course. But the Alberta “human rights commission”, a government agency, accepted Soharwardy’s complaint, and then an identical one from the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities. The government has been investigating me ever since, including summoning me to a 90-minute interrogation. According to access to information documents, no fewer than 15 bureaucrats are working on my case. I’m a major crime scene!

Since then, Canada’s largest news magazine, called Maclean’s – our equivalent to Time magazine – was sued in three different human rights commissions for writing about the demographic growth of Islam in the West. And the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, the largest newspaper in Atlantic Canada, is being pursued by Nova Scotia’s human rights commission for printing an editorial cartoon depicting a local Muslim activist in a niqab – even though that is how she dresses.

In other words, Canadian human rights commissions -- secular government organizations -- are prosecuting religious fatwas. It’s a soft jihad against any criticism of radical Islam. It’s called “lawfare”, and it’s a greater danger to our western values of freedom, religious pluralism and the separation of church and state than the hard jihad of terrorism is. Even if targets like Maclean’s eventually “win”, they lose; the process is the punishment – and the chill affects everyone else.

Canadian human rights commissions, however, are not respectful of the sensitivities of all religions. Less politically correct faiths are regularly prosecuted by them. This May, an Alberta pastor named Stephen Boissoin was given a lifetime gag order, never to say anything critical of homosexuality – not in a church sermon, not even in private e-mails. As well, in what can only be called a Maoist verdict, he has been ordered to renounce his religious beliefs, and to publish a self-denunciation in the local newspaper.

This is Canada we’re talking about. Not Iran, not China, not Cuba.

How did this happen? How did Canadians lose their rights, on the one hand, to criticize radical Islam, and on the other hand, lose their rights to practice Christianity?

The answer is a combination of good intentions and bad intentions.

The good intentions came from do-gooders who, thirty or forty years ago, set up these human rights commissions with the noble ideal of promoting harmony amongst different religions and races. But those good intentions came with the power of the law to censor people who said rude, even racist things. So it became illegal in Canada to say anything that was regarded as hateful, even if it was non-violent. We invented “thought crimes”.

The actual wording of the laws is to ban anything that is quote, “likely to expose a person to hatred or contempt”. Note the word “likely” – you don’t actually have to do anything wrong. You can be convicted for a “pre-crime”, something that hasn’t happened yet. And look at what’s illegal: causing emotions. Not real harm or damages. Just exposing someone to feelings. By the way, the truth of what you say is not a defence. And at the Maclean’s magazine trial last month, half a day was spent determining whether their jokes were funny. They even had a joke expert.

Don’t laugh – literally. Just three weeks ago, a comedian was ordered to stand trial for telling off-colour jokes in a night club. Warning to Chris Rock: don’t bother coming to Canada.

According to Alan Borovoy, of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, even a documentary about the Holocaust is against the law, since it could, possibly, cause people to have feelings of contempt for Germans.

At first, these thought crimes were targeted at people so odious, no-one spoke out in their defence. Neo-Nazis mainly – including an 80-year-old man named John Taylor who served 9 months in jail for having an anti-Semitic phone message.

We don’t like anti-Semitism or other bigotry; I certainly don’t. But instead of the traditional answer to offensive speech – more speech, better speech, truer speech – Canada took the easy way, and simply outlawed hurt feelings. Instead of doing the hard work of building a truly tolerant society, we thought we could wave a magic wand, and legislate bad feelings out of existence.

But legal precedents cut both ways. So, after thirty years of prosecuting people who were critical of Jews, now Canada’s human rights commissions are being used by radical Muslims to prosecute people who criticize radical Islam – and being used by gay rights activists to prosecute pastors like Reverend Boissoin, religious newspapers like Catholic Insight, and even the Bishop of Calgary, Fred Henry, for a letter to his diocese against same-sex marriage.

To paraphrase Father Martin Niemoller, first the human rights commissions went for the neo-Nazis, but I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a neo-Nazi. Then the human rights commissions went for the fundamentalist Christians, but I didn’t speak up, because I wasn’t a fundamentalist Christian.

Because we didn’t fight for freedom of speech and freedom of conscience for people who were hard to like, now we’re having to fight for those fundamental freedoms for ourselves. It’s always better to fight in the first ditch rather than the last one.

The legal onslaught against freedom of speech and religious pluralism continues. There are 14 human rights commission in Canada, employing 1,000 people, and with an annual budget of $200-million. It’s an industry, and it needs social strife to stay in business. So it positively drums up discontent. This spring in Alberta, 60,000 new immigrants were taught English as a Second Language using a workbook all about how to file grievances, including against un-funny jokes.

I’m pleased that a political backlash is growing in Canada. Across the political spectrum, from both the Liberal and Conservative parties, from newspaper editorials on the left and the right, and from NGOs ranging from EGALE, Canada’s largest gay right lobby, to the Canadian Association of Journalists, to the liberal Muslim Canadian Congress, public opinion is waking up to the dangers of these human rights commissions and their thought crime laws. The public is starting to revolt.

So why should Americans care? I can think of three reasons. And what should Americans do? I can think of two things.
1. Americans should care because Americans have always cared about liberty around the world, especially political and religious liberty. It is one of America’s greatest characteristics: a love for the well-being of otherThank you for that kind introduction, and for the invitation to be here today. It’s an honour to be asked to give a briefing at the U.S. Congress, and especially to the Human Rights Caucus. Your work is very important.

My expertise in the subject matter of today’s session was not acquired voluntarily, but by unhappy experience: I have been the subject of government persecution for my political and religious views for nearly 900 days. Unfortunately, stories countries. Being a Good Samaritan is in your nature, and the world is freer because of it.

2. America should care because what happens in Europe and Canada soon comes – or tries to come – to the U.S. When it comes to censorship, we’re a laboratory for bad ideas. And the coalition between foreign trouble-makers and domestic busy-bodies is an idea that is spreading here, too.

3. Despite your First Amendment, human rights commissions are popping up all over the U.S.

The city of Philadelphia’ s “human relations” commission has a staff of 33, and a multi-million dollar budget. Last year, they prosecuted Geno’s Steak House because they put up a sign asking customers to order their Philly Cheese Steaks in English. We might agree with Geno’s sign or disagree. But to have a government agency prosecute them is a threat to the First Amendment. And, if it’s a steak house today, it could be a news magazine tomorrow. And if it’s do-gooders today, I can assure you it won’t be for long.

So what can Americans do?

1. The first thing you can do is what you always do: continue to monitor the erosion of freedom around the world, including through Congressional committees like this one. Publish annual reports shaming foreign countries for their abuses of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Put Canada on that list, to let our government know what they’re doing isn’t acceptable.

2. And rededicate yourselves to your First Amendment. Understand that the erosion of freedom doesn’t always happen with a bang – it can happen with a whimper. And that, when it comes to free speech, it’s usually unpopular people who are censored first. But if they can go for a neo-Nazi yesterday, it’s Geno’s Steak House today, and then a Christian pastor or a news magazine tomorrow.

I believe in a pluralist society where I can be Jewish, he can be Christian, she can be Muslim, and we all get along peacefully – we can agree to disagree about political or religious matters. The use of our own Western laws to crush such disagreement, and end healthy debate, is a threat to all of us, and the U.S. Congress should be on guard.

Thank you.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Dr. Morgentaler, conscience, and the lesser of two evils

I have been reading a lot of media bumpf about the controversial decision to give Dr. Henry Morgentaler the Order of Canada – this country’s highest civilian honour. A couple of Catholic recipients have sent theirs back in protest and apparently the government’s e-mail is overflowing with the protests. However, an Angus-Reid poll indicates that two-thirds of Canadians support Morgentaler’s award.

What the doctor did, against crushing legal hurdles and a very organized opposition by abortion opponents, was to make safe, medical abortion available to all women in this country.

Prior to his battle with the authorities, abortions were regularly carried out, but often in illegal and medically dubious circumstances. The right to an abortion already existed when Morgentaler came to the forefront, so he did not create it, but the circumstances were limited. You needed a hospital committee to approve and it had to be because the “health” of the mother was endangered. Only some hospitals (maybe half) had such committees and there was dangerous delay while these committees conferred on individual applications. Furthermore, nobody knew what “endangered health” meant. Pregnant women in rural parts of Canada were more at risk trying to get an abortion than those in large urban centres, so there was social unfairness because of geography.

Morgentaler’s battle clarified those problems when the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the law. It left it up to the Parliament of Canada to enact new legislation governing abortion. Successive governments have failed to do so and that fault cannot be laid at Morgentaler’s door.

He deserved his award.

I am not interested in the religious claptrap put out by Catholics and others about the immortal soul being created at the time of conception. There is no immortal soul and the discussion about abortion is not helped by the continual prattling on about such nonsense.

Abortion amounts to taking a life, even if the life is little more than a ping-pong-ball- sized piece of protoplasm. While all life has a basic right to protection, there are exceptions. Our soldiers shoot to kill enemies. Our police officers are authorized to kill to protect themselves. Even a civilian has the right to kill to save his own life. So, to suggest killing is wrong in all circumstances is incorrect. And although the state sanctions such killings, it is left to the discretion of the individual whether to commit the act.

The question to be resolved is whether it is morally acceptable to kill life in the womb and under what conditions.

In rendering the R. v. Morgentaler decision, the late Madam Justice Bertha Wilson made this cogent observation:

The decision whether to terminate a pregnancy is essentially a moral decision, a matter of conscience. I do not think there is or can be any dispute about that. The question is: whose conscience? Is the conscience of the woman to be paramount or the conscience of the state? I believe, for the reasons I gave in discussing the right to liberty, that in a free and democratic society it must be the conscience of the individual.

There are things about abortion that make me uncomfortable.

I constantly hear this phrase about the right of a woman “to control her own body.” I suppose this is supposed to be a pro-choicer’s way of stating the issue enunciated by Wilson, but it doesn’t quite cut it. Whenever I hear it, I am tempted to say “yes” and why doesn’t she control it at the time of sex by just crossing her legs and saying “no”? To do so would not be a moral problem, it would be a practical solution to avoid having to later consider the moral implications that flow from uncrossing her legs.

Of course, there are women who are raped to whom this piece of wisdom could not apply. That would be a circumstance in which access to abortion could not be denied.

I also grow uncomfortable with statistics that indicate that abortion is just another kind of birth control. That is not right, but I don’t know what the answer is, other than better education.

The pro-life lobby, mainly driven by Catholics (who officially eschew birth control, but privately practice it), thinks that all women should carry a baby to full-term and either accept the burdens of motherhood or choose to relinquish the child for adoption.

Firstly, this is not practical. A pregnant 14, 15 or 16-year-old girl cannot accept motherhood as a realistic option. She is just a child herself and to take on the burden of motherhood would mean that she and her child would be doomed to a life of poverty or near poverty.

It strikes me that whenever I see one of these Catholic demonstrations against abortion, the people who have so much to say about it, and so much time on their hands to be parading around saying it, do not live in poverty and neither do their children. They have no idea what a life like that would be like, but they sure want to condemn a large portion of the population to live it.

Secondly, those of us who are not pro-lifers would have to pay through our taxes the burdens that would come from a society where teenage girls, or women living in distressed economic circumstances, are forced to carry to full term. Of course, we know that clandestine abortion would still be available in such a society, with all the problems that go with it.

And what of the other option, giving a child up for adoption? This assumes that there are an equal number of qualified parents seeking a child for every child available. Unlikely. This means that some, if not the majority, of these children will be raised in institutions.

Odd, isn’t it, that the pro-lifers want the state to act to prevent abortions and but then expect it to assume the burden of child-rearing as a consequence of that action?

Perhaps the pro-lifers should have to pay extra taxes for the outcome of their social policies.

I know women who have had abortions. I know one who had one before Morgentaler’s time who ended up being sterilized by the procedure. I have also known children, male and female, who were given up for adoption, some successfully adopted, others not. I have also known one woman, who, at the age of 16 gave up her baby for adoption.

If there is one characteristic that I could say was common to all of these people it would be sadness.

None of the women who had abortions did so with a glad heart, there was much anguish over the decision and many tears, followed by long periods of depression.

The woman who gave up her child more than 40 years ago, to this day, still yearns to know how he is, and the consequences of that decision made her leave home at an early age (no family support for raising the child). She has also spent those 40 years in therapy, which is not unrelated to her childhood trauma.

The children, even those adopted by loving parents, never got over the emotional hurt of not knowing why their mothers abandoned them, and they longed for years to find the answer to this gnawing doubt.

One study done in the United States was able to correlate the drop in the crime rate in 20 years after the introduction of legal abortion.

In our society, we are subjected to the consequences of neglected young males joining gangs and getting involved in drugs and guns and wreaking havoc over entire communities. Most of these young men grew up in poverty with single mothers who were unable to provide for them.

An unwanted child will ultimately be a neglected child. There are few things that are more devastating to the emotional and mental health of a young child than the realization that he or she really wasn’t wanted. As a society we will all eventually pay for that damage.

On balance, while abortion makes me squeamish, I think it is the lesser of two evils.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

That's the night that the lights went out in Georgia -- well, Ontario, actually

So, the Steven Truscott saga finally comes to a conclusion with an offer of compensation by the Province of Ontario of $6.5 million for the travesty of justice visited upon this now 63-year-old man in 1959. After a two-day bad/good cop routine, without lawyers and parents present, followed by a quick two week trial, the then 14-year-old was convicted and sentenced to death for the rape/murder of 12-year-old Lynne Harper.

He waited four months on death row before his sentence was commuted to life and then spent 10 years in the pen. He waited another 38 years before he finally heard an appeal court declare him to have been wrongfully convicted.

His main ally in clearing his name is his wife, who worked tirelessly to correct a gross miscarriage of justice for 40 years, even before she had met him. Time and again we have seen a mother (like David Milgaard's) or a wife (like Maher Arar's) fight for justice for their loved one. In getting justice, your family can truly make a difference.

And that brings us to the sad Harper family.

They are probably the only people in Canada who steadfastly maintain that Truscott was rightfully convicted.

One can understand that, if they were now to let go of this, in the face of the mountain of evidence pointing to Truscott's innocence, they would have to come to grips with the fact that their daughter's killer got away. They would have to face the awful truth that they simply relied on the competence of the authorities, who proved to be less capable than they should have been, especially at the police investigation stage.

If only the Harpers had been as dedicated in questioning (as Truscott's supporters have been) the poor police work, the suspect work of the coroner, the honesty of the witness who lied, the reliability of the witnesses who were ignored (and to this day stand by their evidence), the police failing to question two known adult pedofiles in the community, the report of the strange car near the site of the murder (which was also ignored by the investigators) and had come to the conclusion much earlier that Truscott might not be the guy, as so many other people did (right from the time he was charged with the crime), then they might have pressured the police to do a better investigation.

And what might also be preying on their minds is the thought that there might be other Lynne Harpers who fell victim to her predator while Steven's young life slowly dripped away from him in prison.

No, much better to hold to the idea that Truscott did it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The fate of the children of politically incorrect parents

Ezra Levant debated a Toronto lawyer, Jonathan Rosenthal, on CTV over the issue of the Winnipeg social services removing children from the home of white supremacists after one of the children, a 7-year old, showed up at school sporting a swastika.

Levant started well, noting the danger of authorities making politically correct decisions and taking children away from their parents because the latter espouse politically incorrect ideas. Rosenthal lowered the tone by suggesting that Levant needed psychological counselling and hoped Levant’s wife would do her duty and get him some.

Rosenthal came across as everything Levant accused him of being: an arrogant, puffed-up, left-lib Toronto lawyer. However, Levant needs to stop rising to the bait each time somebody rubs him the wrong way. He has a lot of good solid stuff to say, but he allows himself to start personalize the argument too often. He should learn to develop the art of being “a class act.”

One thing missing from their debate is this thought. When I went to school, the school boards had dress codes. One school I attended (I went to 23 different schools across the country – I am a military brat) did not allow blue jeans. That should give you some idea of how old I am. If you showed up dressed inappropriately in accordance with the posted codes your parents were notified and you were sent home with instructions to come back when you can (or will) comply with the code.
Whatever happened to that? The punishment should fit the crime.

This girl should have been sent home by school authorities to dress appropriately for class. Letting social services remove the children of the family for the improper dress of one of them is way over the top. I think school boards have a pattern of wanting to duck their responsibilities and lay them off on some other agencies.

I hope Rosenthal has no pretensions to one day becoming a judge. He fails to see the slippery slope he is advocating. Judges are required to look down the road to consider how their decisions in one circumstance may inadvertently bite someone else in the ass. Occasionally they fail at the task, like the Supreme Court of Canada in the John Ross Taylor decision concerning Article 13(1) of the Canada Human Rights Code.

Following Rosenthal’s reasoning, one could make an argument that children are brainwashed by the religion of their parents that teaches them to despise others and they should be protected from religious indoctrination by their parents until such age as they are mature enough to evaluate which truths they wish to pursue.

In fact, that argument has already been made by Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens in their best selling anti-religious books.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Save Sayed Pervez Kambakhsh

See full account of this affair at this site.

I am e-mailing this letter to Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Canada, Omar Said, as well as to the Prime Minister of Canada. If you feel the same way I do, I urge you to act quickly and express your views.

This is the address of the Afghanistan Embassy:

Embassy of Afghanistan
240 Argyle Avenue
Ottawa, Ontario K2P 1B9

This is the e-mail address:

Your Excellency:

As a Canadian citizen, taxpayer and voter, I wish to advise you that I have concerns about Canada’s continuing military commitment to Afghanistan.

We went into Afghanistan primarily to support our traditional American allies and chase Osama bin Laden and his associates out of your country. That has been accomplished.

Canada is not, and never has been, an imperial power that sends its army into countries for extended military engagements (U.N. sanctioned peacekeeping excepted). We customarily lend a hand and then we leave. We are behaving differently in Afghanistan and we need to understand why we should do so.

When I was told that the Taliban, aside from sheltering bin Laden, was a terrible and cruel government, administering the strictest form of Sharia law, and that Afghanistan had an opportunity to shed this blood-soaked past and become a modern nation, embracing liberal-democratic values, I held my piece about our army being there.

However, it has come to my attention that Sayed Pervez Kambakhsh, a 23-year-old journalism student at Balkh University and reporter for the local daily Jahan-e-Naw (The New World), has been sentenced to death for insulting Islam.

Mr. Kambakhsh was arrested on October 27, 2007, in Mazar-i-Sharif, Balkh province, for allegedly downloading and distributing material from a Farsi website which suggested that the Qur'an and Prophet Muhammad legitimize the oppression of women.

On January 22, 2008, Kambakhsh was brought before an Islamic court, without a lawyer or public oversight. Accused of un-Islamic speech and activity, socialism, rebelliousness, and improper instigation of religious debate, he was convicted of blasphemy by the court and sentenced to death.

You know very well, from your long experience in the west, Mr. Ambassador, that Mr. Kambakhsh would have experienced zero consequences had he performed exactly the same act in Canada or the United States, or any other western liberal-democracy.

Why should I want to put our young people in harm’s way to protect the Afghani government if the result is that, like the government of the Taliban, the Sharia prevails over liberal-democratic human rights to which Afghanistan claims to subscribe? In what respect are the due process of law and the ultimate fate of Mr. Kambakhsh different in the new Afghanistan than they would have been in the old?

And most importantly, why should Canada's soldiers be put in harm’s way and die to preserve this?

I would normally not presume to tell the representative of sovereign nation how his country should be conducting itself. But, equally, if I don't approve of the way it is operating, as I do not in this instance, I don't see why you should expect me to support Canadian politicians who want to keep our military engaged in such a country. You can defend yourselves, without shedding our blood.

I understand the religious authorities are counseling a swift execution of the sentence before the matter becomes political. Too late for that. I urge you, Mr. Ambassador, to press your government to step in and offer Mr. Kambakhsh clemency.

Yours truly,