Saturday, February 28, 2009

Flipping the bird at the Big Gauleiter

Now here is a newspaper column worth its weight in eco-friendly pulp paper. It is the incomparable George Jonas in the National Post commenting on the asinine Ontario government of Dalton McGuinty and its incremental state nannyisms.

Ontario recently passed a law that made it illegal for anyone to smoke in their motor vehicle if they were transporting a minor. This gets awfully close to passing a law that it is illegal to smoke in your own home if there is minor present. It may be dumb to smoke in your home, at any time, but under 800 years of English common law your home is supposed to be your castle.

But I digress to a dystopian future. Getting back to the cars.

A couple of weeks ago, a policeman pulled over a twenty year-old driver and issued him a ticket for this smoking offense. As they were waiting for the paperwork, the driver’s fifteen year-old passenger climbed out of the car and lit up a cigarette from her own pack. In Ontario, it is illegal to sell cigarettes to anyone under the age of 19, but it is not illegal for a minor to possess or smoke them.

Two paragraphs from Jonas’s column were spot on:

One day, historians may view our society as an anomaly. Canada fought long and sacrificed much for freedom-- then gradually adopted the philosophies and practices of the dismal societies it defeated. Canadians, who used to offer their lives for liberty, now offer their liberty for a modest increase in life expectancy: seven years, on average, for non-smokers.

But being around isn't the most important thing. The important thing is to be around as a free person. It's possible to combine the two, but unless we choose the second whenever a choice needs to be made, we won't enjoy the benefit of the first. Smoking is deadly, but it's not a patch, not even a nicotine patch, on the deadliness of tyranny.

Another reason I like Jonas is that he expands my vocabulary. There were two words he used that I had look up.

One was “gauleiter”, which, according to my Oxford dictionary, means: 1. an official governing a district under Nazi rule; 2. a local or petty tyrant.

The second was “iatrogenic”: (adj) caused by medical examination or treatment.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Atheists, eugenics and Margaret Atwood

Barbara Kay in today's National Post takes a swipe at Margaret Atwood. More specifically she denigrates Atwood's novel, The Handmaid's Tale, as "drivel."

I am not a big fan of Atwood, naturally, since I am a male and she is eunuch-maker supreme, and I don't disagree with Kay on that point. However, Kay, after a promising start, lapses into some rambling thing about eugenics. The context of The Handmaid's Tale is the reverse of eugenics (active breeding rather than active culling and sterilization), so it is a bit head-scratching why this got into her column.

What becomes clear, according to Kay, is that the evil of abortion and eugenics is all the work of atheists married to fascism and "anti-religious pagans." Kay claims that the bulwark against these things is Western conservatives, whether religious or not.

When eugenics arose as a serious scientific philosophy it was in a very religious age. It was first practiced in the United States in 1900, by all accounts one of the most religious countries in the west. In Europe it was supported by such conservatives as Winston Churchill.

Anti-religious pagans is an oxymoron unless you think only religions of the Abrahamic tradition count as religions.

Finally, history's most notorious practitioner of eugenics, Nazi Germany, was a Christian country, even though it flogged some pagan rituals for crowd control. Hitler considered himself to be Catholic and SS belt buckles were engraved with a slogan that would do just to a Yankee greenback. In destroying Europe's Jews this was considered as carrying on a Christian tradition, probably dating back to the commencement of the Spanish Inquisition in the 15th century.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Kathy, Kinsella and Krap

There is a big flap going on in the blogosphere at the moment over TVO’s decision to include Kathy Shaidle as a panelist on the recent talk show that dealt with atheism and the bus ad campaign.

It appears that well-known Liberal operative, Warren Kinsella, tried mightily to persuade Steve Paikin, the host of The Agenda to drop Shaidle from the panel on the grounds that she is a racist. Reading through the commentary on Steve’s blog it appears several regular viewers share Kinsella’s opinion.

I don’t agree, and not just because it is Warren Kinsella saying it, although that might be reason enough for some people. Free speech is free speech. There are no conditions.

Kathy Shaidle could go out in the streets of Toronto and give a speech to a crowd about her views, so why should it make a difference if she is on a public broadcasting network? If you don’t like what she has to say on the street you can walk away. If you are watching her on television you can switch the channel.

The Agenda has also had guests like the Imam, Aly Hindy, who brags about defying Canadian law because it conflicts with Islam by performing polygamous marriage ceremonies. I didn’t hear of Kinsella complaining about him.

I had heard of Shaidle and have occasionally dropped in on her blog, Five Feet of Fury. I must miss the good stuff that everybody who likes her raves about because every time I have visited she seems to post pithy comments that amount to cheerleading for Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn, with links to their sites. Since I already read those two on a daily basis there is not much for me to glean from Five Feet of Fury.

I was curious to see what she had to say on the show.

It wasn’t much. She made some cracks about Madlayn Murray, the famous U.S. atheist activist in the 1960s, who was murdered by a felonious employee, but failed to mention that Murray succeeded in having pray and Bible readings banned from public schools.

I didn’t get the feeling that she either knew very much or cared very much about the topic under discussion, so I suppose the real question is why The Agenda’s producers thought she was worth inviting on this particular show.

She did contribute some irony, however. At the beginning she complained about how unfair it is to see fundamentalist Christians labeled as “wing nuts” and dismissed out of hand. Thirty minutes later she was calling Barack Obama a “Marxist professor” who she couldn’t be bothered with and then defended the labeling of people in this manner as a legitimate exercise in debate!

Altogether, I got the impression she is a shallow thinker whose main shtick is making outrageous right-wing comments strictly for their incendiary impact. This is a field well-plowed already by the likes of Ann Coulter and Rachel Marsden. But, enough people whose opinions I value laud her, so I remain open-minded about her and will look for something meatier in the future.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

At last, an honest Muslim puts Islam on trial

We have been treated for some time now to politicians, religious apologists and mainstream media commentators trying to clamp down the lid on public concerns about Islamic extremism.

Whenever some bizarre story arises, like the alleged murder of Asqa Parvez by her father and brother, over Islamic dress codes, the religious apologists rush to claim this has nothing to do with Islam. The British government pretends that terrorism conducted in the name of Islam is the “not-Islam” religion (try wrapping your head around that one). European nationalists who are standing up for European civilization in the face of increasing Islamification are branded by columnists as “Islamophobes”, and even Muslim writers who are on the right side of this issue refer to Islamists as “thugs”, as if they are merely criminals, like members of your local motorcycle gang.

All of this obfuscation, finger-directing, and alternative evil theorizing is done because our western society is accustomed to paying deference to religion. Most people espouse a religion, even if their practice of it is spotty. Most people associate moral living with religion and cannot fathom that a religion could promulgate a morality completely in opposition to the moral standards accepted as the norms in liberal-democracies.

Therefore, it follows that the anti-western people, who look like Muslims, who talk like Muslims, who walk like Muslims and who say they are Muslims, cannot be Muslims because Muslims are the people who have a religion and they must ipso facto be good people. These faux Muslims are “highjackers”, “thugs”, and the “non-Muslims”, their creeds and actions are culturally determined, not religiously dictated. So goes the conventional script by most Muslim commentators and their non-Muslim supporters.

But here in Canada, we can at last face the real villain, Islam, where it properly belongs, in the prisoner’s dock of one of our criminal courts.

Currently on trial under our terrorism laws is one Said Namouh. Mr. Namouth "devoted his life to spreading the ideology of al-Qaeda and encouraging others to join the jihadist movement", said Rita Katz, a Crown expert at the terrorism trial. Go to this story in the National Post for the graphic details of his enterprises.

Specifically, Mr. Namouh faces charges of conspiracy, participating in the activities of a terrorist group, facilitating terrorist activity and extortion.

The prosecutions case is that Mr. Namouh was driven by an Islam which identifies as enemies Christians, Jews and even Muslims who will not participate in the creation of pan-Islamic rule.

What makes this trial more interesting than your run-of-the-mill terrorist trial is that Mr. Namouh does not deny that he did these things. His defense is that they were a legitimate exercise of freedom of religion. He is saying that Islam suborns the overthrow of western societies and he is entitled to engage in these activities because the western society in which lives, Canada, permits him to practice his religion, which is to say the overthrow of Canada as a liberal-democracy.

His lawyer stated, "I question whether the fact of providing [Internet] links, especially when one is motivated by religious belief, is a violation of the Criminal Code.” He said that even though the beliefs of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden are "repugnant to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, still, are they not religious beliefs? A lot turns on that."

Indeed, a lot does turn on that.

Let us hope the court correctly identifies them as legitimate religious beliefs that have no legitimacy in Canada. We will be much further ahead in dealing with the real problem and not the pretend problem.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The shame that is Britain

There is an interesting compilation of commentary on a video in the Brussels Journal concerning the British government’s refusal to permit entry to Geert Wilders.

Note at the beginning the correct quote about free speech attributable to the famous American jurist, Oliver Wendell Holmes, where he used the word “falsely” and then consider the implications of the skewed version promulgated by Britain’s Foreign Secretary which leaves that word out of the quotation. It puts a completely different spin on the outcome.

Also note the closing sequence with Lord Pearson who rabbits on about marshalling the moderate Muslims to disavow the parts of the Koran that support violence.

I have been hearing this same tired mantra since the day after 9/11. After nearly 8 years and further bombings and killings when are they going to get the idea that moderate Muslims are not going to be riding to the rescue, now or ever?

We have to face radical Islam ourselves and draw the line.

Of course, when I say “we”, I mean North Americans, because it is clear that Europeans have given up the fight to save themselves.

I used to be proud of the fact that I come from English and Scotch-Irish stock, but the actions of the second raters who have been elected to the government of U.K. in giving in, not to a mob, but merely to the threat of a proposed mob, has caused me to feel deep shame and utter embarrassment for that country.

It is hard to believe that the U.K. is peopled with the descendants of those who stuck out their chins and told Hitler and his Nazis hordes to go to hell. Those people really were the greater generation, and the current one has let them down badly. A re-reading of Flanders Fields and some Rudyard Kipling would do this lot a world of good.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

So, Ezra, where are the Muslims radicals?

On February 3, I took issue with Ezra Levant for mocking atheists with their bus ad campaign. Ezra’s main point was that atheists should be attacking Islamists.

I tried to put paid to the notion that Islamists were a problem for atheists in Canada, that atheists still had issues with the majority Christians.

Since that post, the Canadian initiator of the campaign, Justin Trottier, has written an op-ed piece in the Ottawa Citizen pointing out that the neutral reference to God in the ads could just as easily apply to the God of Jews, Muslims and Christians. He is correct. He is also correct in stating that the purpose of the ads was not to attack any religion, but simply to promote discussion around the concept of God and morality.

I have been following the editorials across the country on this matter, as well as the letters to the editors, and in each and every case where a religious person weighed in on the issue, either for or against, they were Christians. I have yet to see an opinion expressed by a Muslim. I think this vindicates my view that Christians are more concerned with atheism, and its potential impact, than are the other religions.

Oh, yes, and as far as I been able to determine to date, Ezra is the only Jew who has commented. Unfortunately, he found himself on the wrong side of this one.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Invitation to modernize Canada's national anthem

The following letter is being sent this week to all members of Parliament. If you support this intitiative, I encourage you to contact your MP and let him or her know your thoughts on this.


Canadian Secular Alliance
216 Beverley Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5T 1Z3

Feb 15, 2009
Canadian Members of Parliament
House of Commons
Parliament Buildings
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
K1A 0A6

Dear Honourable Member,

On behalf of the Canadian Secular Alliance – a voluntary organization of Canadians who believe in church-state separation and the neutrality of government in matters of religion – I invite you to make our national anthem secular.

Recent weeks have witnessed much controversy surrounding a New Brunswick principal’s decision to end the daily singing of O Canada at his school, at the request of several families. Although the specific reason for the objection has not been confirmed, many have speculated that it is the anthem’sreference to God.

We strongly believe that in order for a nation to be truly pluralistic, the government should take no official position on whether God exists, or which organized religion speaks on his behalf if he does. To do otherwise creates two tiers of citizenship by excluding those who do not share the beliefs preferred
by the state. If Canada truly is a secular nation, its laws and public institutions should reflect that fact.

This is why our national anthem would be improved if secularized.
The anthem’s reference to God is a historical artifact from an era when Canadians were virtually all Christians of European ancestry. Since then, Canada’s cultural and religious landscape has shifted significantly, and the anthem should be updated to reflect this reality.

The most recent poll, conducted by Harris-Decima in May 2008, found that 23% of Canadians say that they do not believe in any god. For young Canadians under age 25, the figure was 36%. This is by far the largest religious minority demographic and by far the fastest growing in terms of sheer size.

It is true that the mention of God in the anthem reflects Canada’s Christian heritage. But few realize that the English lyrics to O Canada, written by Robert Stanley Weir in 1908, originally contained no mention of God. Weir’s original verse, "O Canada, glorious and free", was later altered to "God keep our land
glorious and free”. By returning to Weir’s original words, we could simultaneously update the anthem to better reflect modern Canada’s diversity of beliefs, and honour an older, secular Canadian heritage.

The French lyrics currently contain lyrics that state, as translated, "As in thy arm ready to wield the sword, So also is it ready to carry the cross." These lyrics are even less inclusive than their English counterparts, and ought to be changed to reflect the pluralistic society of modern Canada.

I invite you to review the accompanying fact sheet for further discussion of this issue. Our national anthem is an important way for Canadians to show pride and respect for their country.

Please consider making it easier for all Canadians – regardless of their supernatural beliefs – to show their patriotism.


Greg Oliver
Vice-President, Canadian Secular Alliance

Contact: Kevin Smith, CSA Media Officer (416) 606-7987


Canadian Secular Alliance
216 Beverley Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5T 1Z3

The Canadian Secular Alliance invites parliamentarians to make the national
anthem secular - and thereby make it easier for all Canadians to show their patriotism

What is the Canadian Secular Alliance (CSA)?
· The CSA is a voluntary organization of Canadians who believe in church-state separation and the neutrality of government in matters of religion.

Is the CSA trying to promote atheism, or turn Canada into an atheist country?
· No. The CSA believes in church-state separation – that the government should not favour one religion over others, or religious belief over non-belief. This is a principle cherished by religious and non-religious Canadians alike.

Why should the anthem make no mention of God?
· The most recent poll, conducted by Harris-Decima in May 2008, found that 23% of Canadians say that they do not believe in any god. For Canadians under age 25, the figure was 36%.
· This puts a sizeable fraction of the Canadian population in a position where showing love for their country also entails invoking a deity whose existence they reject.

Isn’t it unprecedented to alter the lyrics of the anthem?
· No. The English lyrics, originally written by Robert Stanley Weir in 1908, were altered many times before being finalized by the National Anthem Act of 1980.
· In fact, Weir’s original version contained no mention of God. The God-reference itself is the product of a later alteration of the words.

What specific change is the CSA proposing?
· We advocate returning to the original words of the anthem that existed prior to the introduction of the God-reference: "O Canada, glorious and free" instead of "God keep our land glorious and free”.

What about the French version of the lyrics?
· The French lyrics to O Canada contain extensive references to the religious imperialism that was widespread at the time they were written: “As in thy arm ready to wield the sword, so also is it ready to carry the cross”, and “Thy valour steeped in faith”. Unlike the English lyrics, which can be made secular by a one word change, the French lyrics will require significant modification. This is a topic for
a separate national debate.

Doesn’t the CSA have something better to do? Isn’t this trivial?
· Perhaps. But in our experience, the mention of God in the anthem is often cited as evidence that Canada is a “Christian nation”, and used to argue for substantive public policies – for instance, the public funding of Catholic religious schools, or the public subsidy of organizations whose only purpose is to advance religious belief. Consequently, “trivial” issues of symbolism become relevant
to highly non-trivial debates about government policy.

Doesn’t the proposed change violate “tradition” and Canada’s Christian heritage?
· Some traditions need to be updated to reflect the times. The reference to God in the anthem is a historical artifact from an era when Canadians were virtually all Christians of European ancestry. Since then, Canada’s cultural and religious landscape has shifted significantly, and the anthem should be updated to reflect this reality.

Shouldn’t non-believers just accept the will of the religious majority?
· To our knowledge, the Canadian government takes no official position on whether God exists, or if he does, which organized religion speaks for him. If Canada truly is a secular nation, its laws and public institutions should reflect that fact.
· If, on the other hand, Canada were to formulate public policy based on the religious beliefs of the majority, it would have no basis for criticizing the repression of religious minorities and nonbelievers in theocratic regimes around the world.

Does the CSA want the anthem banned?
· No. The CSA is not an extremist organization. The anthem is an important way for Canadians to show pride and respect for their country. We wish to work constructively with government to modernize the words to the anthem, and thereby make it easier for all Canadians to show their patriotism.
· In the meantime, we encourage Canadians who value church-state separation to return to the original words of the anthem that existed prior to the introduction of the reference to God:
"O Canada, glorious and free" instead of "God keep our land glorious and free”.

For more information, contact:

Kevin Smith
Media Officer, Canadian Secular Alliance
(416) 606-7987

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Valentine's Day, and "The times they are a changing"

Valentine’s Day is for lovers.

This Valentine’s Day should be dedicated to the lovers of free speech who are living in cultures that are committing suicide.

It seems hard to believe, but it was 20 years ago today that the world was shocked to learn that some bearded cleric in Iran, the Ayatollah Khomeini, could issue a death warrant against an author in Britain, Salman Rushdie, that would cause that writer to go into hiding and receive police protection for the next decade. Because the alleged offense was dressed up in the guise of insulting a religion, the leaders of other religions rushed to condemn the author for causing the trouble.

What have we learned from this?

Considering the history of the conflict between Islam and western liberal-democracies since that day, I would have to conclude very little.

Each time somebody raises their head to say or write or cartoon something about Islam, out come the religious fanatics in terrifying displays of violence and threats. But more frightening than this is the reaction of the authorities in western societies. They have taken their cue from the “leadership” displayed by the Christian and Jewish clergy towards Rushdie and have applied it to those who question either Islam or the wisdom of permitting large scale immigration from Muslim countries.

I saw Kathy Shaidle on TVO’s public affairs program, The Agenda, this week, making a point that the decline of Christianity as a popular religion has “caused” its replacement by Islam in western Europe. Not exactly. Large scale immigration of young Muslims contributes to this phenomenon, as well as aging, non-reproducing Europeans.

In Britain, it is the mouthing of the Christian clergy suggesting that Sharia law should be incorporated into Britain’s legal system that is contributing to the robustness of the Islamic project. The Christian and Jewish clergy continue to be an obstacle to understanding the threats to liberal democracy with all their nattering on about “the commonality of the faiths” and their inter-faith dialogues.

To parapharase the old Bob Dylan anthem:

Come priests, rabbis
Please heed the call
Don’t stand in the doorway
Don’t block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There’s a battle outside raging
It’ll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a changin’

In Sweden, Belgium, France, Britain, Spain, Germany and especially the Netherlands, the “troublemakers” are suppressed to appease the angry Muslims. Muslims parade through the streets of European cities with posters and banners calling for the downfall of western societies and the replacement of their liberal-democracies with Islam and the odious Sharia law -- these would be the non-troublemakers, by the way, if you forgot to buy a program before the parade.

Politicians who speak on behalf of their constituents against this rising tide of Islamic hegemony are beaten by police or criminally charged with “disturbing the harmony” of the community. Their homes are invaded by police without warrants to remove symbols Muslims claim are offensive. At least one Dutch politician, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, fled to the United States when the state turned on her for raising issues that affected Muslim women in the Netherlands. Another, Geert Wilders, has been denied entry to a fellow member state of the EU, Britain.

Publishers in Britain have been forced to shred books about Muslims that might subject them to financially ruinous lawsuits from wealthy Arabs. One American publisher refused to print a novel about one of the wives of Mohammed for fear of reprisal by Muslims.

In Canada, the shameful human rights tribunals have been turned into state-supported fatwa-issuing organs for Islamic activists. Even reform-minded Muslims have been threatened with death by Muslim extremists (to date, nobody charged with the crime) and told to tone it down so that “harmony” will prevail. Despite the increasing boldness of Islamic advocates to choke off any rational discussion of Islam, Barbara Hall, Ontario’s Human Rights Commissioner, foolishly proposes even more legislation to provide better tools for Islamists to crush free speech.

Internationally, the Organization of Islamic Countries (57 members) has promulgated its own human rights code that declares the supremacy of Sharia law, notwithstanding their members prior agreement to the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights. As well, the OIC has obtained a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly to criminalize criticism of religion.

This step has enabled the state of Jordan to issue a warrant for the arrest of Geert Wilders for insulting Islam should he travel outside the territory of the Netherlands.

The mainstream media has been generally unhelpful to the cause of free speech. In Canada, they woke up very late in the game when the charade conducted by human rights tribunals against Mark Steyn and Maclean's magazine was well underway. The blogosphere was ahead of the curve on that one, and remains ahead of it.

When the MSM are not asleep at the switch they are thoughtlessly dismissing Islamic critics as a bunch of Islamophobes (bigots) – a term coined by Islamists as an aid to the politically correct police to further stifle commentary about Islam.

And they wonder why they are losing market share!

Even today, you will see pundits and columnists writing stuff like this: “Well, I don’t much like or agree with Mark Steyn or Geert Wilders, but I do support free speech.”

Why the Pontius Pilate posturing of washing your hands before making the statement about free speech? Can’t you just say that they are being unfairly targeted for their opinions, which, in a free liberal democracy they are supposed to be able to voice, without this politically correct preamble? What are you afraid of – Islamic retribution – other people in society who think there shouldn’t be free speech (people you should be shunning anyway) -- Barbara Hall?

Hmmm. On reflection, perhaps you should be afraid of Barbara Hall.

I see no silver lining.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Bull in the china shop

The Prime Minister of Canada has acknowledged that Section 13 of the Canada Human Rights Act, unduly limiting free speech, is a problem, particularly in the manner in which public agencies have interpreted it. A parliamentary justice committee currently is examining the issue. Professor Richard Moon, delivering a report commissioned by the Canadian Human Rights Commission, one of the very public agencies that have been castigated for creating a problem with Section 13, has recommended abolishing the Section.

But, back in good old Ontario, Barbara “the Bull” Hall, the Ontario Human Rights Commissioner, has tabled a report to her agency recommending a new government speech body be set up to control all publications, including web content.

The National Post had an excellent editorial on this initiative yesterday. This observation was particularly apt:

"Media has a responsibility to engage in fair and unbiased journalism," Ms. Hall has said previously. But because no one has god-like powers to discern accurately what is "fair" and "unbiased," then no one -- not even the chief commissioner -- is qualified to sit in judgment of which articles and opinions meet those criteria and which do not. Most people's interpretation of fair and unbiased reporting corresponds very closely with their own opinions on the subject at issue, and Barbara Hall is no different. She has been granted no special powers not given to other mortals to divine the truth; therefore, neither she nor any other pompous purveyor of social concern has the ability to judge which speech should be free and which not.

Read the rest here

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Attacks on atheist beliefs

As I go about my daily business I find myself surrounded by images, icons, symbols, and representations of religion.

Women will wear little crosses around their necks. Other women will wear headscarves and some even burquas. Jewish men sport the yarmulke. Priests and pastors wear their vestments outside of their churches. Imams favour full beards and headgear common to the Middle East. West of Toronto, there are thousands of men wearing turbans.

Their houses of worship are unmistakable.

Christian churches will be topped with crosses and if they are Catholic they may have statues of Mary near the front doors. The same is true of some Catholic schools. Around Christmas, some churches will display a Nativity scene on the front lawns. Protestant churches are fond of placing large signs facing the street announcing the hours of worship, the names of the pastors and the subject of their sermons. Some of these signs also announce religious events and others use humour to attract attention.

All of these things, directly and indirectly, are the ways the pious advertise their fealty to their god, or gods, as the case may be.

I have always thought that these were merely an exercise in the normal civil rights that our citizens enjoy in a free and liberal democracy, the right to visibly demonstrate their beliefs.

But, apparently, I have been deluding myself. Advertising these beliefs is nothing more than a blatant attack on atheists.

I have to thank Dr. Charles McVety and Bishop Fred Henry who took the time to comment on the proposed atheist bus advertisements for causing the scales to fall from my eyes and the light of truth to penetrate.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A great victory for the Muslim community

Geert Wilders has been banned from entering Britain by the Labour government. On February 12 he was to attend a meeting with members of the House of Lords to screen his anti-Islamic film, Fitna, and to answer questions concerning it, at the invitation of the Lords.

One Muslim Lord, Nazir Ahmed, had threatened to turn out 10,000 Muslims in the streets to block him from getting to the meeting. On learning of the ban, Ahmed declared it a “great victory for the Muslim community”.

If the prevention of the exercise of free speech by a member of a Parliament of an EU member is great victory for the Muslim community, then what does that say about the Muslim community? It says exactly what Geert Wilders says about it – it is totalitarian in outlook and intolerant of liberal-democracy.

Lord Pearson renewed the invitation and published the following media release:

Despite threats of demonstration from a British Peer and Muslim community leaders, the meeting will go ahead. Wilders’ film Fitna features verses from the Quran alongside images of the terrorist attacks in the US on 11 September 2001, Madrid in March 2004 and London in July 2005. The film equates Islam’s holy text with violence and ends with a call to Muslims to remove ‘hate preaching’ verses from the Quran. It provoked protests in Muslim-majority countries including Indonesia and Pakistan.

The leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, Wilders has lived under 24 hour police protection since 2004. Following Fitna’s release online in March 2008 al-Qaeda issued a fatwa calling for Wilders’ murder.

Wilders currently faces prosecution in Holland for incitement to hatred and discrimination. The charges are based on his film Fitna and comments in the Dutch press last year in which he argued that as Mein Kampf has been banned in Holland, the Quran should similarly be banned under Dutch incitement laws.

Wilders called the Dutch Court of Appeal’s decision to prosecute an attack on freedom of expression. “Participation in the public debate has become a dangerous activity. If you give your opinion, you risk being prosecuted,” he said.
Wilders has indicated his intention to go to London despite the ban.

While many people support Wilders campaign to prevent the Islamification of Europe, they are disturbed thar he seems hypocritical by advocating a ban on of the Koran. In fact, his point is that the Netherlands bans Mein Kampf and ought to be considering the Koran in the same light. Wilders should just have called for an end to the ban on Mein Kampf.

In Canada, the huge retail bookstore chain, Chapters Indigo, that controls about 80% of the retail book trade in Canada banned Mein Kampf from its stores. But you can still get the Koran if you go to this site.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Professor Moon in the Amethyst Room with a self-interest

I see that Professor Richard Moon is all over the news and blogosphere today. He is a University of Windsor law professor who was paid to write a report for the federal Human Rights Commission concerning the controversy brought on by the CHRC’s administration of Article 13 of the Canada Human Rights Code. This is the one that allows identifiable groups; e.g. gays, Muslims, etc. to bankrupt individuals or corporations if members of the groups can say they were offended by the comments of the individuals or the corporations.

I first met Professor Moon in a Green Room at a television studio, last spring, a short time after it was announced he had this CHRC gig.

The Professor and I were invited guests on a talk show to debate the impact of religion on politics, but, having been following and contributing to the raging free speech debate, I was more interested in sounding him out on the subject. He was understandably not that forthcoming, since he had not started to write it. However, when I suggested that I didn’t think that HRCs need necessarily be abolished he seemed both agitated and surprised that such an idea would even be considered. In fact, I got the impression it was the first time anyone had suggested such a thing to him.

He casually remarked that Ezra Levant had been bombarding him with questions, which led me to believe that he wasn’t really paying attention to Levant who has made it quite clear that he thinks HRCs should go.

The other thing that struck me from Moon’s telephoned testimony to the MPPs yesterday was his comment that the poor Muslims had no platform to rebut Steyn’s “glib” and “juvenile” writing. He claims he would not censor Steyn, but Steyn's views should not go unanswered.

The Professor, who professes to want to go back to hiding under a rock, is more than disingenuous with this.

First, he cannot be so dissociated from the real world not to know that Elmasry and the sock puppets got more international ink and air time to counter Steyn and Mclean’s than any allegedly offended group in history. The fact that they wasted their 15 seconds of fame trying to claim Mclean’s was unfair for not turning itself into an Islamic rag, instead of doing the right thing and defending Islam, is not Steyn’s or Mclean’s fault.

Second, he sounds very much like Ontario HRC Commissioner, Barbara Hall, in making these kinds of comments, which leads me to the next observation.

Any university professor who can augment his annual salary with a special report in his area of expertise for $50,000 would be remiss if he didn’t make the same noises as the person who hands out these contracts (Hall) and if he didn’t defend the very institutions that would be most likely to send another one his way (HRCs).

In short, his testimony was a very opportune free advertisement for his services to HRCs, courtesy of the Ontario taxpayers. He admitted that he wasn’t much interested in testifying until he learned that the centre ring attraction, Mark Steyn, would be there. To get the same advertising for his services would have cost him hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Steyn should consider sending him a bill for marketing services, since Steyn traveled there on his own dime.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Phelps phlap -- the consequences of being born in the U.S.A.

You have to feel a bit sorry for Michael Phelps because he is an American olympic champion. He was outed for smoking a bong at a party and now there is an enormous morality play going on in the U.S. that has seen him suspended from competition and losing millions in corporate sponorships.

If he had been Canadian this would barely have rated a ripple.

Witness Ross Rebagliati, Canada's gold medal snowboarding winner in the 1998 winter olympics in Nagano, Japan. After taking the gold, olympic lab tests revealed that Ross had traces of marijuana in his blood. Since nobody could make an argument that marijuana is a "performance enhancing" drug, he kept his medal.

At home, Canadians did a collective shoulder shrug and chuckled. The media consensus was that there was something called a "snowboarding culture" amongst young people and smoking dope was part of it.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Between political correctness and McCarthyism it's tough for a simple atheist to get a break

What would you say about an ad on the side of a municipal bus that said this: “You can be good without God”? Inflammatory, outrageous, criminally blasphemous, scandalous, shocking – would those be the descriptions that would immediately spring to mind? Or would you just shrug and say, “Well, it kind of makes sense”.

If your reaction is the latter then don’t apply for a job on the Halifax transit authority. A local humanist organization applied to put that ad on Halifax buses and was turned down. The letter of rejection told them the transit authority would reconsider an application if the applicants “toned down” the ad. Tone it down! How? Remove the word “God”? Change “without” to “with”?

This is simply censoring free speech and you can bet it was politically-correct idiots afraid of offending Christians or Mulsims who made this decision.

But be glad you are not a Texas teacher . Here is a guy who taught in the Texas school system for more than 35 years and suddenly found himself suspended because the Christian riddled school board drew up a list of teachers suspected of being atheists and/or liberals and started a campaign to get rid of them.

Note that he never said he was an atheist, the school board just suspected him of being one. McCathyism in all its glory.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Oh dear! The great healer is at it again -- who would have thought healing could be so complex

Love this picture!

According to this story in Jihad Watch, President Obama decided to redefine religion at the National Prayer Breakfast. Claiming that all religions honour the "do unto others as you would have then do unto you" golden rule, he overlooked the interpretations of Islam that confine this sentiment to the duty one Muslim owes to another Muslim, but not to non-Muslims.

Is this a display of ignorance? Or is he trying to put lipstick on a pig and take it to the dance, hoping nobody will notice that it is still a pig?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Gregorius Nekschot -- another nail in the coffin of Dutch free expression.

Gregorius Nekschot, a Dutch artist, was arrested for underground cartooning at the behest of -- wait for it -- the Dutch Intergovernmental Cartoon Problem Bureau. I kid you not. You couldn't make that one up if you tried. Go to this site for the full story and see Nekschot, burqua clad, delivering a speech to a free press gathering in Copenhagen.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Ezra doesn't get it

The normally sound and enjoyable Ezra Levant kind of went off the rails with this one.

He is a Jew and therefore evaluates life through the prism of the religion he was taught. Not for him is there any concern that in public institutions: universities, schools, governments, and other taxpayer supported or subsidized entities, the God of the Christians still reigns supreme. This country is not supposed to have a state religion, but, when you add up all the public places that God and his alleged will intrudes, there is a de facto state religion if not de jure one, and that religion is Christianity.

Why should a mild bus banner campaign bring out accusations of cowardice simply because atheists identify Christians as their major opponents?

He is right that the message is to prick Christians, but he is wrong to think that there is no point in doing so. Christians are the majority in this country, by a long shot (70%), and they call the shots. Islamic radicals are few in number and don't have much political clout or significant public support. Not so Christians.

When atheists finally get what they need from the Christian majority, which is to say, respect, then we will turn our attention to radical Islam.

As Abraham Lincoln concluded, when it looked like the U.S. might end up fighting Britain during the Civil War, "One war at a time."

Christians are more afraid of atheists than they are of anything else and if Ezra is really that concerned about challenging radical Islam, he might want to take some time off from bashing his fellow Jews (and now atheists) and ask the more interesting question of why Christian leaders pay such deference to Islam, but spend most of their political capital fighting atheists.

The essential Richard Dawkins

This is not new, but it encapsulates the essence of Dawkins' message. It gives me heart that I am on the right road.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Christians putting atheists in their place at the back of the bus

We have a society in which we are told that there is no state religion and that secular interests, when it comes to the public square, trump the religious.

And yet, and yet, the huffing and puffing this week over a couple of perceived atheist intrusions into the area of the separation of church and state brought out the conservative editorials in full force in defense of the supremacy of the Christian god.

First up was The National Post commenting on the New Brunswick flap over the elementary school prinicipal who cancelled the singing of the National Anthem as part of the morning ritual. He never did come clean on why this was done. He claimed privacy for two alleged families who wanted it stopped for reasons unknown.

That did not prevent the Post from speculating that atheists were the root of the problem, without any proof. After sounding off about patriotism and preventing the minority tail from wagging the majority dog, it had this advice:

It may be unfortunate that God still persists in the anthem as a historic holdover. But atheists cannot begin too soon in educating their children that they live in a historically monotheistic civilization, and that, for better or worse, we signify respect for tradition on public occasions as a matter of continuity with the past.

I wonder how this would have been received if it had been written like this:

But Jews, Muslims and Hindus cannot begin too soon in educating their children that they live in a historically Christian civilization, and that, for better or worse, we signify respect for tradition on public occasion as a matter of continuity with the past.

That is to say that Christians are running the show and we better get used to it.

Had they printed that there would have been weeks and weeks of pundits and editorials from one end of the country to the next, castigating the Post for being insensitive to Canada’s diversity and the religious sensibilities of non-Christians, even if it was right about the importance of respecting tradition. The Post would have backed down.

The point of this observation is demonstrate yet another instance in which it is taken for granted by the main stream media that atheists are second-class citizens when the sensitivities of the religious are weighed in the balance, and like the generation of feminists before them, they should just suck up the objectionable language and like the homosexuals of twenty years ago understand that remaining in the closet is still society’s preferred option.

By the way, I would be more impressed with the heritage argument if the words of the song hadn’t been rewritten more than half-a-dozen times. The current version is actually circa 1980, when it was blessed by an act of Parliament. Hardly a heritage year, if you discount the fact that the government of the day was being run by Saint Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Canada’s patron saint.

If it can amended to change with the times, as this site so readily shows, it can be amended again to get rid of this obnoxious Christian diety, and then it can be sung by everybody as lustily as possible, instead of having about a third of the participants remain silent – the 25% who are non-religious and deeply resent these words and the other 8% who are of non-Christian faith and feel that they are being disloyal to their faith if they sing the praises of the Christian god.

But of course if we did that sensible thing we would forgo the opportunity to be a good example to the rest of the student body, as in this suggestion of the Post:

And if you don't like it, you don't have to sing along; that might be the most important lesson of all. It's one that is crucial not only for children of atheists or religious minorities, but for the classmates who might see their example and discover a new dimension in that quality supposedly most prized by educators: diversity.

Gosh, what to do, what to do? Be patriotic and sing the National Anthem or shut up and teach fellow students about diversity? So many roads are open to atheists.

I just don’t think the thick-headed Christians understand (or truth be known, care) how unsettling it is to have to choke back on the Anthem when these words pop up.

Then we have The Calgary Herald rattling on about some atheists at the University of Alberta rolling back the references to God in the Convocation ceremonies. The Herald wags its finger at us and warns us about how ungrateful we atheists must be to do such a thing when we consider what our fates would be in more faith-dominated societies:

There are many countries where they would be very silly atheists, (sic) if they challenged observance of the dominant religion.

True enough, but we are not acting in those countries, we are acting in this one which claims not to impose religious observance of any particular faith on its citizens.

One could just as easily have written, “There are many Muslim countries where they would very silly Christians, if they challenged observance of Islam.”

Does that require Muslims in this country to go about and wish everybody Merry Christmas in this country? Of course not, that would be tantamount to imposing one religion on another. But it is ok to impose it on atheists, because, well, they are only second class citizens anyway.

Do these people understand the implications of what they are actually saying?

It goes on a historical road, drawing on the U.S. emphasis on individual liberty and trying to weave that with Christianity. You would think that the well known rejection of a religious creed by the American founding fathers was simply an accident, nor did the impact of the Inquisition or the French revolution have much to do with the fate of Christianity.

Canada has always shared proudly in the so-called Anglo-American tradition of personal liberty, that (sic) regards individuals as society's building blocks and joint owners of the state, rather than the other way around. This belief in personal liberty is peculiarly compatible with what Christians understand of God. For, this Sovereign is nevertheless a respecter of individuals, making His appeal to people one by one rather than by race or tribe, leaving them personal responsibility for accepting Him -- or not.

Well, Calgary, get this. Atheists accept that personal responsibility and reject him. So why keep shoving him literally down our throats? If I attended a Christian church I would expect to be treated to that and would have nothing to complain about. But when I attend a publicly funded educational institution, I don’t have to praise anybody’s deity, nor should I have to.