Friday, January 25, 2019

Marcus Gee and others like him tolerate hate speech because they will never face the violent consequences of it

I was pleased to see two white supremacist pieces of shit convicted of promoting hatred of women and Jews this week. 

Kudos to Warren Kinsella and Lisa Kirbie who helped in the fight against the horrid, hateful and now criminal Your Ward News. 

I'm a firm believer in the important need to criminalize incitement to hate, the type of vile expression that promotes the notion that certain people, based solely on identifying characteristics such as race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, etc. are so vile and dangerous that the only thing a reasonable person should do is destroy them, most likely with violence.
We've seen hate speech before targeted at LGBTQ people and still do.  Many other innocent groups continue to be subjects of such incitement. 

There are of course a plethora of ways one can reasonably and legally express themselves, including their religious beliefs, without lurching into incitement of hate.  One can criticize homosexuality or Islam and not be guilty of inciting hatred.

The key here is the fact that your words are meant to stir up hatred so intense against a group that it makes life unlivable for that group in society.  Because such hatred, should it spread, will lead to discrimination, and violence, and death.  We've seen this horrific movie before, both in Canada and everywhere around the world.  Sadly, ignorance is a key foundation of the human condition and it's used by bigots to evil ends.  

Of course, it's the Globe & Mail, that beacon of white privilege and establishment power, that would publish this terrible piece by Marcus Gee, yet another white straight male who tolerates incitement to hate. 

Clearly, Gee can't conceive of anyone ever targeting him or his loved ones because of hatred.  For Gee, a world poisoned with propaganda promoting the idea that some groups of people are sub-human and must be stopped at all costs has no impact on him.  How could he be worried about that?  White straight males haven't a clue what that feels like.  Hence why they entertain this notion of unrestricted promotion of hatred and violence. 

What happens if some demented bigot out there hears a hate-filled message reinforced over and over again and decides to lash out or throw a brick through the window of someone he hates, or goes to the next step and physically assaults the objects of his hate?  Clearly, Gee doesn't care. 

What kind of community is left for that object of hate?  Marcus Gee doesn't care.  For him, hate is only academic.

Inciting hatred is the first step that leads to harassment, violence, murder, and then mass murder.  Propaganda is the first tool used by those who want to kill those they hate but don't have the guts to do it themselves.  It is abhorrent and it should be illegal.  Those who are guilty of it should be prosecuted for promoting or inciting hatred.   Societies that don't clamp down on the incitement of hate, invite hate to fester and grow.  Look to the U.S., now gripped with division and violence, as a society we should not be mimicking.

Oh, how nice it would be for hatred to be just another option.  Oh, look, let's debate if Jews are human. What happens if the Jews lose the debate?  Oh well not my problem, I'm not Jewish, I'm sure folks like Marcus Gee would say. 

Oh, let's debate if raping and killing women is just another choice we all should tolerate.  Sure actually doing that stuff is wrong, but telling others to rape and murder women, well that should be protected and tolerated.  What do I care?  I'm Marcus Gee.  It'll never be me personally who suffers the potential consequences of rape. 

Hatred isn't illegal in Canada.  But publicly inciting hatred which logically leads to violence is and should continue to be illegal. 

Shame on you, Marcus Gee. 

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Close vote against police might just revive Toronto Pride's progressive legacy

An overwhelming grassroots vote against the police participation in Pride Toronto a couple years ago has now evolved into a near split vote.

Grassroots Pride Toronto members participated in a community vote tonight, both online and in person at a special meeting at Ryerson, and the result was 163 to 161 against police in uniform returning to Toronto Pride anytime soon.   There were claims that a last minute influx of members might tip the balance in favour of the cops.  But that didn't make the difference as supporters of the police ban still won the day.

If this community is this divided on the issue, it's clear that the status quo keeping the police out needs to remain for now.  There's no grassroots push to bring the cops back. 

I've struggled to decide how I feel about this issue.  On the one hand, I see a ban as hopelessly divisive and somewhat counter-productive.  On the other hand, letting police in would send a terrible message that we don't care that much about the near failure by the police as an organization to atone for their immense failures and injustices against the LGBTQ community (and other communities).

We do care deeply.   Those opposed to the police returning to a community festival that originated as a political protest against oppression (still perpetuated on a regular basis by the police and their allies) have made impassioned arguments that I find impossible to refute.  

So this vote will stand for the foreseeable future.  Let's continue to debate and engage in our local community.  I wrote late last year that Pride Toronto seemed a mess as an organization.   Perhaps this grassroots vote will again revive its progressive legacy. 

Let's get on with it. 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Ontario, and indeed all decent public school systems, have an obligation to challenge homophobia with an inclusive curriculum

The ongoing legal fight in Ontario over Doug Ford's decision to placate a small group of social conservative extremists hellbent on denying a safe environment for LGBTQ kids in our public schools grabbed our attention this week. 

I'm proud of the parents, activists and groups who are leading this legal charge to return the modernized curriculum to our classrooms. 

This great article by Martin Regg Cohn sums up the situation nicely, putting it in full context. 

It's not enough for these conservative folks fighting the modern curriculum that they have always had the ability to remove their kids from sex education public school lessons (even though in my mind their kids most certainly need to learn them considering the backwards homes they are growing up in.)  I can only think of the lasting damage caused to any unfortunate, lonely LGBTQ kids living in those homes by their parents' actions.

Yes it is important to protect kids from abuse, both in their homes and their schools.  I firmly support the ability of greater society to create inclusive and healthy public school environments for all of us.    

When I was a kid growing up, I was luckily in a family not too conservative.  My family was fairly typical for the time period of the 1980s and 1990s.  Since I came out of the closet to them all, our family situation has been pretty great, glad to say.

But high school was an awful experience, trying to survive amid the hotbed of homophobia that was mainstream back then.  Social isolation was the rule of the day.  Suicide was contemplated on occasion, but somehow I made it through without ever trying.  Perhaps the faint hope of some kind of future as a gay adult kept me alive.  Yet there was, of course, barely any mention of LGBT lives in my classrooms.  Homosexuality came up on occasion.  Most students were hostile to gay folk.  Teachers, on the other hand, never indoctrinated or perpetuated ignorance or discrimination, even in my Catholic school environment.

Yet overall, the environment was hostile with the threat of social isolation constant.  I always knew that our schools and indeed our curriculum urgently needed to take proactive action to challenge rampant homophobia.  A few visits to public schools in decades since, with the frequent casual use of "gay" and "fag" and "dyke" overheard in hallways, reinforced this need.  We know bullying remains a crisis in our schools.  Not to mention the various new issues kids are now facing.  

Finally in 2015, the curriculum was updated and, among other advancements, mentions of LGBTQ people were added.  It was long overdue.

This is why I'm so angry about what Doug Ford and the Ontario PCs have done.  They have bowed to bigotry and ignorance.  By reverting to the old curriculum which erases LGBTQ people from any official mention, then threatening teachers with a snitch website, the message was clear.   It matters not that months later Crown prosecutors are backtracking, claiming teachers still have the right to use the 2015 curriculum as a resource.

Shame on Doug Ford and the conservatives who have empowered him in this awful decision.  If this year's "consultation" simply returns most or all of the 2015 curriculum to our province's classrooms, then this process has been a sham.  But I have no trust in Ford or his colleagues to do the right thing.

Hence, why the court fight is crucial.  I hope the good side prevails.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Quelle surprise! Maxime Bernier's White Straight Christian Bigoted Peoples' Party of Canada (WSCBPPC) or the PPC for short, appoints anti-LGBTQ bigot to run in Burnaby

Birds of a feather: Bernier's hand-picked Burnaby candidate Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson, right,
poses with former Ontario Tory leadership hopeful and big-time Christian bigot Tanya Granic Allen

So much for freedom! 

As suspected, when white, heterosexual, Christian conservative whiners like Maxime Bernier talk about freedom, they only really mean freedom for other white, heterosexual, Christian, able-bodied, preferably rich and powerful men like him.  Women who are otherwise white, heterosexual, Christian, able-bodied, rich, preferably subservient, and definitely born biologically female can come along for the ride, so it seems.

Bernier's very first candidate to face voters - apparently appointed by Bernier himself as the machinations that led to this supposedly grassroots party "nomination" are not public - is a devout Christian named Laura Lynn Tyler Thompson who has called gender fluidity - you know, that thing that gives all people the freedom to choose for themselves how masculine or feminine they should be in their daily lives - "the greatest and most insidious assault against our children that this nation has ever seen."

Wait a minute!  Since when is rape, murder and actual child abuse somehow less of an assault against our children?  How kooky!

And shouldn't personal freedom allow someone to choose to believe that gender is fluid if they so wish?

Freedom is only for the powerful elite, should be Bernier's new mantra.  At least then he'd be honest.  But somehow I'm certain we won't be hearing such things from the Beauce hypocrite's lips anytime soon.

Tyler Thompson will face off against federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, as well as Liberal Karen Wang and Conservative Jay Shin in the soon-to-be-called byelection in Burnaby South. 

To get the low down on Ms. Tyler Thompson's sketchy history, including her failed attempt at a school board seat, check out this article.

Rachel Notley is a credible advocate for Alberta oil, Jason Kenney would divide Canadians even more...

Far right Alberta Conservative Jason Kenney
Watching the Golden Globes on Sunday live, I saw at least three Government of Alberta TV ads extolling the virtues of the proposed Transmountain pipeline project now stalled by court rulings.  The arguments contained in the ads made some sense and weren't over the top.  Seeing them sponsored by the "Government of Alberta," it brought Rachel Notley's balanced record to mind. 

In the great debate over the oil/tar sands and the possible expansion of new pipelines in Canada, it's been hard to know which side to take.  On the one hand, we have conservatives who seem to care nothing about the future of the planet and the pending catastrophe of climate change.  On the other, we have fervent environmentalists and left-wing activists who think any expansion of the oil sands or the burning of carbon to be immoral.  Somewhere in the middle, we have folks like me who want both a more sustainable economy as well as action on climate change.

The Alberta TV ads stated the proposed Transmountain pipeline expansion wouldn't mean more oil sands production, but simply a fairer price for that unrefined oil and greater economic spinoffs.  The arguments were convincing at face value.  I'm not sure I completely believed it all.  Yet I have to say, on balance, I'd support the Transmountain expansion should it make it through a fair environmental assessment that takes into account all possible consequences and Indigenous communities are adequately consulted.  Most of the proposed pipelines that would move Alberta crude more efficiently to market have gone by the wayside in the last decade.  Only Transmountain remains viable.  Hence, why the Trudeau government invested billions in buying it to keep it afloat.

Rachel Notley has been a fair, strong and convincing voice promoting Alberta's oil interests since being elected.  It's fascinating to see a New Democrat do this.  Meanwhile, her federal NDP counterparts have been shrill and ideological, simply deciding to suck up to the far left in this country.  Most reasonable Canadians know the federal NDP and Green positions on pipelines make little economic sense and would never actually get implemented were they elected.

Yes, regional tensions seem to be on the rise these days.  Yet the conversation remains decidedly adult.  That will no doubt change should the horrible Jason Kenney ascend to the Alberta premiership later this year.

Kenney has been a regressive, irritating and ideological extremist for almost two decades.  I'll never forgive him for the homophobic positions he's taken as a far right conservative over the years.  He's still fighting LGBT kids' rights in Alberta.

If this guy becomes Alberta premier, the forceful yet adult tones of Notley will be replaced with whiny ideology and lectures, demanding the progressive majority of Canadians bow to the power of unbridled Alberta oil power.  Worries about climate change will be completely dismissed.  Kenney has even raised the specter of Alberta secession from Canada should Alberta conservatives not get their way.  His every contribution to the Canadian dialogue has been corrosive.  

It's not like all conservative contributions to this discussion are so destructive.  In fact, Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe has been quite measured and mature in his advocacy, if not overly convincing.  (But please don't get me started on the idiocy of Doug Ford.) 

All I can say is: if Kenney is elected Alberta premier, I will no longer give a shit what he or the new government of Alberta want.  He's persona non grata to this eastern progressive.

If Albertans thought they've had a tough time lately convincing other Canadians of the need to put aside our environmental concerns to support the Transmountain expansion, just wait until Kenney is in charge.  I will simply stop listening to Alberta.  And so will many of us currently on the fence on this important issue.