Friday, January 28, 2011

Latest sleazy ads prove Harper Tories rotten to the core...

The latest sleazy ads taking Michael Ignatieff's words completely out of context prove Harper Tories are rotten to the core. There is no moral compass left. You can read about them here.


These Tory scumbags deserve to be thrown in the trash along with all their supporters for a generation! Shame on those still planning to vote for these assholes!

The only cure is to cut out the cancer that is Stephen Harper from Canadian political life. As soon as possible!

************UPDATE January 28, 2011

The ads have been pulled due to the massively negative backlash. The Harper Tories may be rotten, but perhaps not completely to the core.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Would Harper prorogue Parliament again to stop NDP-Liberal coalition after 2011/12 election?

Reading Chantal Hebert's article today in the Star got me thinking about an important question that I have not yet heard asked of Prime Minister Stephen Harper: if a coalition agreement between the NDP and Liberals is inevitable if his Conservatives fail to win a majority government in the next campaign, would he pull the same trick and prorogue Parliament again like he did in 2008?

Harper's incessant warnings about the coalition boogeyman have become increasingly annoying, particularly to the many Canadians who understand that such arrangements are completely fair and democratic. Most countries in Europe are frequently governed by coalitions between parties, including Great Britain at the moment.

It's now clear that the Harper Tories intend to make stopping a Liberal-NDP coalition a centrepiece of their next campaign, arguing that only a Tory majority can stop it from happening.

But history proves Harper a liar. In 2008, when just such a coalition was proposed, Harper stopped it in its tracks by demanding the Governor General prorogue parliament. After much over-the-top, anti-separatist rhetoric, Harper turned around public opinion against the proposed coalition and lived to fight another day (two more years at least, in fact.)

I hope every journalist and political reporter asks Harper point blank the next time he makes his anti-coalition warning in the upcoming federal campaign: if the Tories fail to win a majority and this alleged NDP-Liberal coalition starts to take shape, why wouldn't he just shut down Parliament again as he did in 2008 to stop it? If shutting the people's parliament was good enough in 2008 to stop the socialist-separatist-Liberal coalition, why wouldn't it also be good enough in 2011 or 2012?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

GSA ban lifted by Halton Catholic school board

Xtra is reporting some great news from last night's Halton Catholic board meeting: the ill-advised ban on gay-straight alliances (GSAs) has been lifted.

"In a 6-2 vote, trustees decided to rescind the ban and shelve their equity and inclusive education policy. While a new policy is drafted, the board will use the Catholic 'template,' a version of Ontario’s equity policy that’s written specifically for English Catholic boards by the Ontario Education Services Corporation. Originally Halton wasn't satisfied with the Catholic template, so they made a few edits when they quietly passed the policy in November, such as removing the terms 'sexual orientation' and 'gender.' That's when they also added the ban on GSAs.

When asked by Xtra whether or not the board will allow groups to be called gay-straight alliance clubs, board chair Alice Anne LeMay refused to answer the question.

“I can’t answer that tonight. The policy will go to senior administration and will be implemented in the schools,” she says.'

Congrats to the board for correcting its error. I hope their new equity policy doesn't fail LGBT students the way their last policy did. I agree with local Halton Catholic student James Hopkins, who says he plans to take the fight to Queen’s Park to pressure the Ministry of Education to push for one equity and inclusive education policy for all school boards, Catholic and public.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

“See the little faggot..." lyrics get 'Money for Nothing' banned from Cdn radio

I hated and resented the Dire Straits’ song ‘Money For Nothing’ when it was released in 1985 and I still do. Mind you, I had little time for that kind of rock music back then. Today, I’ve grown to slowly admire the genre. But not this song. Why? Because it blatantly and without apology used a vicious slur against gay men, and did so in a way that was as mainstream as you could get in 1985. It even won Dire Straits some awards for their work.

I'm not knocking Dire Straits' talent. There's some great guitar music in 'Money for Nothing' for sure.

To all those folks up in arms over today’s ruling by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, I say: “Let it go! There’s plenty of great classic rock out there without hateful lyrics. Listen to something else on the radio!”

And if you simply can't go without hearing the lovely lyrics, "See the little faggot with the earring and the makeup. Yeah buddy that's his own hair. That little faggot got his own jet airplane. That little faggot he's a millionaire," then play it on your iPod to your crass heart's content.

‘Faggot’ is a heinous slur against all gay men that should never be used, except in appropriate contexts. It’s the gay equivalent of the word, ‘n*gger’.

The Dire Straits song was reportedly written in the first person by songwriter Mark Knopfler from the mindset of some regular working class dudes he once saw working in a retail store selling refrigerators, TVs, etc. In the song, one such guy watches MTV on one of the TVs in the store and starts making observations of the people they’re seeing on the music network: "See the little faggot with the earring and the makeup. Yeah buddy that's his own hair. That little faggot got his own jet airplane. That little faggot he's a millionaire."

Sure it's supposed to be a characterization and not a literal attack by the song's writer on gay men (or effeminate, successful male musicians appearing in videos in the 1980s). There's little doubt in my mind the irony the songwriter claims to have meant with the lyrics was lost on most fans. Even if we accept the fact that the lyrics are unintentionally hateful (which I don't), it doesn't take away the fact that many straight guys I knew who loved this song were quite happy to sing along to it, often putting particular emphasis on the term ‘little faggot’. The song gave them even more permission than they already had to hate 'faggots.'

I doubt that Mark Knopfler was innocent here. Even he seems to have acknowledged it was an unacceptable slur as he's frequently sung the song in concert since, replacing 'faggot' with 'queenie' or some more innocuous word. 'Queenie' is still pretty homophobic.

The 1980s (and all periods before it) were virulently homophobic times. Gays were not even offered basic protections from discrimination in housing or employment in most parts of Canada at the time. Being gay meant inevitably facing frequent attacks, mostly verbal and sometimes violent. (In most parts of the world, this is still the case.) On top of that, we had Mark Knopfler adding his little phrase: “See the little faggot with the earring and the makeup...” to mainstream dialogue.

This is a song I’d like to forget. I’m all for playing censored versions of it that replace the word ‘faggot’ with something preferably non-homophobic on Canadian radio. And of course, I don’t care what people play in the privacy of their own homes or in clubs, etc.

How many movies have you watched on television which were edited to remove the profanity? Not every word is appropriate to be broadcast on the air waves.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The ugly face of the Conservative Party of Canada starts to show again...

The misinformation from the religious right, well-represented in Stephen Harper's Conservative caucus, has already started after yesterday's ruling by the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal that public servants don't have the right to discriminate against same-sex couples seeking to legally marry.

"The Court has hereby belittled religious faith by writing it off as something 'you do in your head or on weekends' without it impacting all of a person’s life," Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott wrote to the province’s Justice Minister Don Morgan Tuesday.

"It’s a serious misunderstanding of Christian faith or any faith for that matter," Vellacott told QMI Agency in an interview.

"The inference here (is) you can hold these beliefs and freedom to worship just long as it doesn't affect your life or how you live out your life. And that obviously is a serious problem," he said. "It sets up a hierarchy of rights saying these same-sex rights are more important than freedom of conscience and religion."

Wrong. The ruling simply re-affirms that public servants, paid with public dollars, cannot discriminate against members of the public based on their personal biases, be they religious or otherwise. It is the duty of such public servants to adhere to the law and treat all equally. Civil marriage commissioners must be willing to perform the ceremony for any who qualify. Refusing to follow that law is a violation of the job's responsibilities. What Vellacott and others seem to want is the ability to openly and defiantly discriminate against gay people in all areas of life whenever it suits them. They want religious people to be above the law. They want religious people to, in fact, have special status under the law.

I support yesterday's ruling. I do think there can be some compromises on this issue that allow marriage commissioners who oppose same sex marriage on religious grounds to keep their jobs. Perhaps Ontario's "single entry point" system is the best solution. In that system, those looking for a marriage commissioner get one list if they're a heterosexual couple and another list if they're a same-sex couple.

However, some folks in this case simply don't get it and seemingly never will. For them, they see no contradiction between holding a public office in a secular state and discriminating against LGBT people seeking to exercise their rights in that secular state. For them, their personal faith trumps all others' rights. This argument has dangerous implications if taken to their full extent, something they conveniently ignore. We could soon see male Muslim doctors refuse to treat women. We could soon see anyone who claims to have religious faith exercise mass forms of discrimination and indignity and have it all be justified as they were, they say, practising their faith.

Says Larry Bjerland, the Saskatchewan marriage commissioner at the centre of this case: "I do not intend to marry any gay couples and so, therefore, I’m not going to resign. They’ll have to fire me."

Perhaps they will fire him. Or perhaps they'll design a smart system which allows same sex couples to get the service they're entitled to get, while still allow folks like Bjerland to keep their positions. We shall see.

The vast majority of Canadians support equal treatment under the law for all, including LGBT people. They understand fully that public servants must provide service to all members of the public without discrimination. Religious people are free as ever to practise their faith as they see fit, except when doing so in the public sphere circumvents the rights of others. The state still has no jurisdiction in the churches of the nation.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Message to Halton Catholics: Banning gay-straight alliances promotes bullying, anti-gay discrimination

Shame on yet another Catholic school board stuck with its collective head up its arse, more worried about offending Pope Benedict in Rome than helping isolated, closeted teens in their care avoid violence and discrimination.

Added shame on Halton Catholic school board chair Alice Anne LeMay for her ill-advised comments defending a ban on gay-straight alliances in Halton Catholic schools, for which she's awkwardly and unconvincingly apologized.

We know that our high schools across Canada and elsewhere continue to be hotbeds of intolerance and bullying. Some leaders have taken action to counter that violence and intimidation.

But teenagers being teenagers will continue to harass and belittle their fellow schoolmates like they always do without strong leadership from the top telling them it's wrong.

To think, an out, gay, Catholic student living in Halton might ask that s/he and her/his straight friends be allowed to form a gay-straight alliance (GSA) in their high school and they'd be turned down flat because the Halton Catholic board believes such groups are harmful and, “don’t fall within the teachings of the Catholic church.”

Disgusting. Especially considering that by banning groups that promote tolerance and acceptance, you are, in fact, sending a message to all the students in your care that tolerating and accepting homosexuals is not cool. You don't ban something unless there is something wrong with it, no? As if high schoolers need more reasons to be homophobic and to harass gay students or students they suspect might be gay. The Halton Catholic board has just given them another reason to pick on that slightly queer, artsy boy in their midst who now has few places to turn for help.

These incidents merely increase my desire to see the whole god-damned Catholic school system shut down in this province for good! If you refuse to protect the dignity of your most vulnerable students, you are abdicating your responsibilities as educators and you have no business running anything resembling a school system. One secular, public board for all is what Ontario needs!


Here's a Facebook group set up to 'Fight the Halton Catholic School Board's Ban on Gay Straight Alliances.'

And here's an online petition to 'Tell the Halton Catholic District School Board to lift ban on Gay-Straight Alliances.'