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If there is one general feature of North American psyche that does not appeal to me, it would be our inability to see how privileged we are, and the small things we take for granted that other people are fighting for right now.  Take Lebanon a state riddled with sectarian violence and all the divisiveness that comes with running a country on religious principles.  Al Jazeera reports:

“Thousands of protestors have gathered in Beirut to demand a separation of politics and religion in Lebanon.

The demonstrators marched on parliament on Sunday chanting “secularism” and waving placards calling for the recognition of civil marriage in the Mediterranean country.”

Wow.  A secular state not ruled by the wisdom of 2000 year old magic books and the delusional rantings of assorted high priests and mullahs.  We take it for granted that we can keep the tomfoolery out of state affairs and run a marginally rational state and by that extension a marginally rational society.

“The idea of a secular political system has faced stiff opposition from ruling politicians who fear an erosion of power if the complex power sharing system between the different religious communities is abandoned.

Power.  Control.  Influence.  Make no mistake, religion rules by no heavenly mandate; only the lowly aspirations of pernicious, greedy men who value power over any so called ‘ethical’ pronouncements their assorted magic books may make.

“What is missing is the political support. In the last election in 2009, all the main political parties paid lip service to the sectarian system,” Elias Muhanna, a Boston-based political analyst and blogger, told Al Jazeera.”

The Lebanese people are rallying for a secular nation.  This should be front page news here in the North America where we purport to hold the institutions of Liberal Democracy and personal freedom so dear to our collective identity as a nation.  Of course the religious nuttery of  the USA precludes covering any movement so clearly geared toward freeing a country from religious rule.  Depending on the news cycle it can look like the US is regressing toward some flavour of a theocratic state, where delusional behaviour is openly celebrated.

“Lebanon is home to 18 religious sects, and is deeply divided between Christians and Muslims.

Its sectarian system was soldified in a 1943 national accord in a bid to avoid religious conflict, but the country was torn apart by a brutal 15 year civil war that started in 1975.

The agreement that ended the conflict called for the abolition of sectarianism, but the system has endured.

Under the complicated rules, public sector jobs are subject to religious quotas that change year-on-year in a bid to maintain the delicate balance.”

Such a waste of time and resources all just to keep the people who wear funny hats and irrational attitudes happy and in check.

North Americans should take notice and see what a religious state is like and realize it is not a good outcome if we are interested in maintaining the liberal democratic society which we seem to regularly take pride in while at the same neglecting the institutions that maintain it.

No one, and I mean NO ONE, expects a snake to the Face!

Care of the CBC:

ROCK HILL, S.C. – Police in South Carolina say an argument between two motel guests ended when one of the men was hit in the head with a snake.

Police say the victim told officers that he argued Tuesday night with 29-year-old Tony Smith over loud music coming from Smith’s room.

The dispute appeared to be over, but the man told police Smith walked up to him several hours later with a 1.2 metre python and hit him in the face with the snake’s head.

I would not know what to with that.  You cannot be prepared for something as off the wall as this.  Humanity amuses me.

Well the skies are darkening in Canada now, as the CBC reports:

“Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff was accused Friday of twisting media reviews to promote paperback sales of his latest book, True Patriot Love.

The book traces the influence of several generations of Ignatieff’s mother’s family, the Grants.

The jacket of the book includes a number of excerpts from newspaper critiques that leave the impression it won rave reviews when first published last spring.”

Exaggerated Claims!  In a book jacket no less!  Oh vapours take me now!  How dastardly is this evil that does not sleep?

“take this snippet from the National Post: “Plenty of scope for a rich story … Some wonderful anecdotes, particularly about George P. Grant … Well written.”

In fact, the Post review in its entirety was far from laudatory.

True Patriot Love offers little that is new on the Grants save some wonderful anecdotes, particularly about George P. Grant,” wrote reviewer Robert L. Fraser.”

Checkmate Ignatieff!  You rotten scum.

“But on Friday, Conservative MPs called the book blurbs “dishonest” and said that in Ignatieff’s case, they were evidence of his unfitness for political office.

“This is the type of dishonesty that not even a first-year university student could get away with,” Alberta Tory MP Chris Warkentin told the House of Commons.

“I am wondering if the leader of the Opposition really believes that this is honesty or if this is maybe a case of deceitfulness.”

What an opportunity to divert the Public's attention away from Rahim Drunk Driving and Illegal Lobbying!

I would think that the Tories would better spend their time doing damage control over the Rahim Jaffer saga – a saga whose political toxicity has not even been fully realized yet.

Hmmm….can we juxtapose for a bit?

Jaffer :

Coke head and Drunk driver:

The second email was written several hours after Jaffer was pulled over for speeding and charged with drunk driving and possession of cocaine. Several months later, Jaffer pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of careless driving and was fined $500.

Pedalled Influence:

“A company co-founded by former MP Rahim Jaffer pitched three projects to the federal government — including one involving a division of a waste management firm touted by his wife, ex-cabinet minister Helena Guergis, according to newly released documents.

Under the proposal, the total share of federal funding was to be about $100 million.”

Perjury:

“During their testimony Wednesday before the Commons government operations committee, Jaffer and Glémaud insisted they have never been paid for any lobbying activities and have never received a penny of funding from the government. […]

Meanwhile, two businessmen who heard Jaffer speak in August 2009 at a Toronto-area restaurant told CBC News they believed the former Conservative MP would be their connection to millions of dollars in government grants.

The men, who spoke to the CBC on condition of anonymity, said they were lured to the Aug. 25 meeting by an email that boasted: “Rahim Jaffer, who is the Canadian government money access point for us, will be in attendance.”

“We left with the impression Jaffer was the source of funding,” said the president of one company who pitched to Jaffer and business colleague Nazim Gillani, the author of the email and the organizer of the meeting.”

Yes Conservatives, lambaste Ignateiff about dishonesty and proper conduct, your credibility is certainly not an issue here.  Show us the righteous Law and Order style of political leadership so many Canadians voted for!I'm sure if we focus on exaggered book jackets morality will be saved!

A few of my favourites from the Christian Science Monitor Post titled Copy Editing Tea Party Protest signs.

PROBLEM: 'Competnce.' SOLUTION: If English is not your strong suit, try using smaller words and less grammatically complex sentences. For instance, this sign would have imparted the very same message if it had simply read, 'Obama is bad.'

PROBLEM: Homophone confusion, extraneous hyphen. SOLUTION: To communicate first-person plural possession, use the pronoun 'our' instead of the verb 'are.'

The crowning moment of awesome incoming!

PROBLEM: 'Infromed.' SOLUTION: Whatever the merits of Fox News may be, it is no substitute for a dictionary.

Thank you CSM for the pictures and the snark.  :)

I work in a behavioural/special needs environment.  The children I work with are predominantly from the lower spectrum of our society.  One of the many observations that I have made is the presence of a persistent deeply ingrained streak of homophobia.  I hear the word fag or faggot or “you’re gay” several times a day.  I put a stop to it when it is in my presence, but it rages rampant for the most part unheeded and unchecked.  Some say I take this issue too seriously, that I should ‘lighten up’ or that these kids are just being kids.

Bullshit.

The CBC reports:

The victim of a vicious assault in south Edmonton says it was a hate crime and questions how police are investigating the attack. […]   Barry, who is a lesbian, was walking with five friends along 96th Street near 75th Avenue about 3:30 a.m. Saturday. Four men yelled at them from the other side of the street, calling them “dykes and faggots,” said one of the women […].

The language is not particular shocking, four young men raised within ‘acceptable standards’, just got a little crazy right?

“Barry, who was drunk, had stumbled and fallen to one knee. When she did, one of the men kicked her in the face.

It was just like someone drop-kicking a football,” Gouchie said.

The force of the kick flipped Barry on her back and knocked her unconscious for almost five minutes, Gouchie said. The four attackers, who appeared to be between the ages of 16 and 20, quickly fled, she said.”

A yes, true patriarchal representatives through and through.  Find a vulnerable target, spew your vicious hate if circumstance permits assault the member of the other group.  Run away, safe in your privilege and cowardice to continue your aberrant socially acceptable behaviour next time.  Would attention to hateful language have stopped this crime?  Who knows, but here is the valiant Edmonton Police Service galvanizing into action:

“CBC News has learned the investigating officer did not file a report. He also did not call in the dog team or Air 1, the police helicopter, in an attempt to track the four young men.

That is standard procedure for such a serious crime, according to one veteran of the Edmonton force, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He also said department policy requires officers to file reports on the same day, especially in a case involving a serious incident, such as an aggravated assault and potential hate crime.

With no report filed, police would have nothing to work with if someone called in an anonymous tip to Crimestoppers, the veteran officer said.”

Underwhelmed?  The victim certain is.

“Barry blames the attack on a mistaken belief that hate against gay people is no longer an issue. [ed. emphasis]

“I think in this day and age, we’ve become complacent and passive about educating the young to accept people’s differences,” she said, touching her swollen, bruised face.”Everyone’s under the assumption that we’re past all that, but it’s right here. It’s happening to people that you know, that I know and love, all the time.”

We have banished the hate from polite conversation and there was a great deal ballyhoo about that particular incremental change.  Has the underlying set of assumptions changed?  No, most likely not.

Being a woman and having a sexual identity that challenges hetronormative norms is still not acceptable in society.  You will be verbally abused and physically attacked.  The forces in charge ( H/T to the EPS for providing such a clear example) will not take you seriously and will deploy the appropriate amount of bureaucracy to make sure you are marginalized and dehumanized.

So, it is up to us to stop the hate speech wherever we hear it.  Call people on it.  It is a possible cofactor that enables people to build up the ‘courage’ to attack marginalized groups.  Polite society is one small victory for human rights, lets push for more.

I figured I needed a video today, I just did not expect it to come via the Canadian Cynic, who is quite resplendent in dispensing snark, but as of late propagating important cultural work  as well :)

Lawless Mercenaries anyone?

Blackwater, private mercenaries, you remember the ones that ran wild in Iraq shooting civilians pretty much as they pleased as they were busy making millions ‘restoring democracy’ in Iraq?

Al Jazeera reports: “The former president of Blackwater, the controversial American private military contractor, has been indicted for firearms violations and making false statements.

Gary Jackson has been charged with the illegal possession of machine guns, receiving unregistered weapons and making false statements according to an indictment submitted to a North Carolina court on Friday.”

They have tagged the head weasel, but will the rest be held accountable for the mayhem they are responsible for in Iraq?  I highly doubt it.

“Jackson left Blackwater, which is now known as Xe Services, last year. The company  has struggled to restore its image after a 2007 shooting in Baghdad which saw several of its guards charged with federal crimes.

That case was thrown out of court when a judge found that prosecutors had mishandled evidence, and so far the company’s executives have escaped censure despite a range of investigations in the incidents involving its staff.”

You see, when it comes to justice, we get due process.  Our enemies, well they get dead or Gitmoized.  I swear, if I hear another commentator bleating “why do they hate us?” or similar courtier-esque drivel that propagates the false history we are being fed… I”ll…I’ll…write another blog article.

Take that forces of evil.

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