Monthly Archives: February 2013
“It is a paradox that every dictator has climbed to power on the ladder of free speech. Immediately on attaining power each dictator has suppressed all free speech except his own.”
There were two columns in the National Post today which at first glance seem to be unrelated but to my mind were very much connected.
The first was a detailed and reasoned commentary, by Andrew Coyne, on the decision by the Supreme Court of Canada in its ruling on Saskatchewan (Human Rights Commission) v. Whatcott; a case in which the Human Rights Commission was appealing a lower court’s ruling that found for Mr. Whatcott in a hate speech case.
I’m not going to get into the details of the case, which was about Mr. Whatcott disseminating highly inflammatory rhetoric about homosexuality. There is ample information about it all over the Internet but suffice it to say that the lower court got it right. While Mr. Whatcott’s mutterings and musings are just plain offensive for most reasonable people, we live in a country where citizens have the right to say stupid and even repugnant things.
Just spend a few minutes on the social media of your choice to see a few examples of just how stupid and repugnant some people can be. Continue reading
I have a wheat allergy, or more accurately, a gluten intolerance. I didn’t know I had an allergy to anything, other than stupid people, until a couple of months ago and, wouldn’t you know, it turns out to be wheat and gluten.
Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat and other grains. It is what gives elasticity to dough and things like bread their chewy texture. You know what else gluten provides?
I didn’t know how much flavour gluten added to things until I started having to eat gluten-free stuff. It’s unbelievable how boring and tasteless things are without gluten. And that isn’t all. For some reason, when you take gluten out of things like bread, it turns them into building products. Some of this stuff is so hard, you could use it to build a foundation for your new garage.
I buy bread now that is made from things like flax and rice (doesn’t that sound enticing?). They have no gluten which means that they have the same texture as cinder blocks. This stuff is so tough that when I tried to make a grilled-cheese sandwich the other day, I couldn’t get the stove hot enough to even tint the bread. It was like trying to grill asbestos. Continue reading
There’s a lot of talk around town these days about parliamentary reform. but I don’t think all that many people supporting some idea of reform have actually considered the real issues or have a full understanding of how our system is supposed to work.
The two reforms most often discussed are moving from a first-past-the-post voting system to representation by population. The other is a Triple E Senate; equal, effective, elected.
Both reforms are constitutional which means they haven’t got much hope of happening based on the somewhat stringent requirements to make changes to our constitution. One thing on which most agree is that the current system isn’t working out quite the way we want, so let’s put aside how difficult implementing reform would be and just consider the merits of the case for change.
Let’s take a look at the suggested reform of the Senate first. Continue reading
I was watching the tweets flow by on my Twitter timeline for a bit last night; probably because it was either that or watch the Academy Awards with Maggie and I’d rather poke out my eye with a sharp pointed stick than suffer through that much insincere sincerity.
I have a few followers and sometimes – well all of the time, actually – there are just too many tweets flying by to catch them all but one small series did catch my notice. It was a conversation between three people about a tweet made at the Oscars. They didn’t approve of it and were expressing their criticism which is fine by me. I consider it my duty to criticize something every day so I feel a certain kinship with others equally as committed.
They were discussing what should be done about the person behind the offending tweet. They agreed that they didn’t want to see the person “go to prison or anything like that” which I thought was quite magnanimous of them considering they were discussing a tweet they didn’t like, not an armed robbery or a terrorist plot.
One person suggested that they should ban live tweeting from the Oscars. My first thought was that person must work for the government.
Banning, restricting, regulating, preventing and just generally interfering with something is always the approach taken by government once they’ve established they can’t tax it. Continue reading
“Do not waste your time on Social Questions. What is the matter with the poor is Poverty; what is the matter with the rich is Uselessness.”
– George Bernard Shaw
His name is Billy Ray Harris and he lives under a bridge. He makes his living panhandling for the spare change most of us forget we have until we throw it in a jar at home. Nickels and dimes are wealth to him and he is all but invisible to most.
Not everyone passes by Billy Ray without notice.
Sarah Darling saw him sitting on the street begging for change and she went over and put her spare change into his cup. She gave Billy Ray far more than she originally intended.
Crime, the experts will tell you, is decreasing in Canada and they have the statistics to prove it. What they won’t tell you is that those statistics are based on reported crimes, not all of the crimes that actually take place. If there is an assault that does not result in charges – it didn’t happen.
They also won’t tell you that how the statistics are interpreted very much depends on how crime is categorized. Simply moving one type of crime from one category to another can have a dramatic change in how the stats appear. Reclassifying bullying from assault to youth crime drops the assault statistics.
Statistics are a wonderful thing and can be used to prove almost anything. I know this because I worked with statistics most of my career and once demonstrated to a large and somewhat incredulous audience just how easy it was to successfully argue opposite sides of an issue using the same set of stats.
The simple truth is that crime is not decreasing and we are not safer than we were.
Crime, particularly violent crime, is on the increase and not simply because of social issues like poverty, mental illness, immigration or all the other things people point to when discussing crime’s root causes. Crime is increasing in direct proportion to a decreasing lack of respect for the law.
Nowhere is that lack of respect for law more prevalent than with those we entrust to administer our laws. Continue reading