CUPE union member attacks the prominenet Canadian blogger BlazingCatFur!

This defies belief!

CUPE – Canadian Union of Public Employees, according to its website, represents 600,000 civil servants and is Canada’s largest labour union.

The important bit here is that it represents civil servants.  Only civil servants.  These are the people who put public policy into action.

As in, these are the ‘Agents of the state’!

This, of course, does not mean they are not ‘their own person’ in their ‘free time’.  Of course they are, free to express their views and all that.

Still, since their role as Agents of the State is known, their actions necessarily reflect on the state, too.  This places ‘greater-than-average’ responsibility on them to uphold the laws of the State and not breech them in their public conduct.

I guess what I am trying to say is that breaking laws is always bad.  But, if it is broken by someone who is not just ‘an average citizen’, but by someone who is either charged with enforcing the laws (like, say, a police officer), or enacting the laws (like, say, a public servant), it reflects badly  not just on the individual, but on the State as a whole.

So, when a well-know CUPE member Ali Mallah assaulted BlazingCatFur, a blogger who was acting in the role of a journalist and filming/photographing a public protest in which Mr. Mallah was taking part, it reflects badly not only on Mr. Mallah personally, but also on CUPE and on all the civil servants of Canada!

What was the provocation?

Mr. Mallah did not like that BlazingCatFur was taking images of a public protest, in a public area.

In other words, this CUPE member, this civil servant, this Agent of the Canadian State, wanted to muzzle a journalist – and when he failed, he assaulted him!

This is a very serious thing.  It is not just ‘one guy getting annoyed’ and, in the heat of the moment, loosing his temper.

This is a reflection of the attitudes of the Civil Service – and a very bad PR situation for CUPE.

The attack is documented:

Quoting from the video, the CUPE member demands:

“Who gave you permission to take a picture?”

On a public street, at a public event, this public servant wants to deny citizen journalists the very right to take pictures?  What a frightening attitude for an Agent of the State to take!

And, when he is not immediately obeyed, he assaults the picture-taker:  BlazingCatFur!

Mr. Mallah clearly recognized BlazingCatFur and the role as citizen-journalist which he plays – so his action was not simply an attack on one person: it is an attack on every Canadian journalist!

Once this has occurred, it is really irrelevant what the public protest was about, or what the various political views of whatever actors in this event or any bystanders are.  Because once violence occurs, it is no longer the ‘beliefs’ or ‘convictions’ which motivated someone to one-sided display of violence and attempt to muzzle the press, it is the behaviour – and only the behaviour – which must be the subject of investigation!  Attempting to censor and physically intimidate journalists is not a matter that can be taken lightly.

This is Canada – we do NOT tolerate violence!  And, we demand that reporters and journalists of all types must not be muzzled, intimidated, attacked, or otherwise interfered with!

An internal investigation (of CUPE by CUPE) is needed, so that violent elements within the union can be expelled and, if necessary, brought to criminal justice.  Nothing less than that can restore CUPE’s reputation as a respectable organization.  I call on CUPE to take this action, clean up their ranks, to expel and publicly denounce those of its members who would use intimidation and violence to silence journalists and reporters!

Failing that, the various levels of government who employ CUPE members will need to re-evaluate CUPE’s eligibility to represent members of the Civil Service.

And, I am not joking about this.

We cannot tolerate Civil Service Unions which permit their members to intimidate and do violence to members of the press!  And, we must demand that all levels of our governments expel from its ranks any and all unions which tolerate their members to assault this cornerstone of freedom of the press, of freedom of speech, on which our society is built!

Are the Taliban ‘freedom fighters’?

Well, that depends on what you mean by ‘freedom fighter:

If ‘freedom fighter’ means ‘fighter FOR freedoms’ or ‘fighter OF freedoms’…

If the ‘freedom fighter’ is fighting so that everyone may exercise their unalienable rights equally, or fighting so that a select/elite group would be free to do impose their views on the everyone else…

You ‘get the picture’!

As for the Taliban: in which sense are they ‘freedom fighters’?

They forbid freedom of religion.

They throw acid in the faces of girls if they are not ‘subservient enough’ or want to learn to read and write.

They kill women for the crime of holding a job – or even leaving the house without male supervision.

They kill people for the sole purpose of robbing them.

Sounds to me like the Taliban are ‘fighters OF freedoms’!

Yet, for some reasons which are not quite clear – perhaps mis-applied attempt at objectivity, perhaps an expression of guild and self-loathing for having been born into one of the best, ‘safest’ human societies ever – keep suggesting that the Taliban are, in some sense, ‘freedom fighters’.

These people claim that just because the Taliban fight in a ‘different way’ than we would expect ‘proper armies’  to fight does not mean that they ought not be regarded on equal footing with our soldiers….

Aside from the offensiveness of this statement which reduces our soldiers to the level of terrorists and murderous thugs, there is an objective way to demonstrate that the ‘difference in fighting style’ is not just some ‘cultural thing’….  Because it is not!

This type of fighting – using small units which are indistinguishable from the population, then ‘malting into the crowd’ – has occurred in the past in just about every human society, in every continent, in every culture.

This is the easiest method of using the civilian population as ‘human shields’, because the other side (whether army – during war, or police forces if there is no war officialy declared) cannot defend itself without harming its own civilians into peril.  That is why this type or ‘fighting’ is universally reviled and opposed.

We don’t have to look further back than WWII:  consider the differences between the ‘partisans’ who fought against the Nazi’s in the different parts of the occupied lands.  In most Slavic countries, the partisans may have been secretly supplied by the civilian population, but they did not live among them.  To ‘join the partisans’, one had to leave the village and find the caves or temporary camps they set up in forests, away from populated areas.

Of course, they had spies and allies among the civilians, but the ‘active soldiers’ typically avoided the civilian areas so as not to endanger innocent people when the Nazis would come hunting them.  This was a conscious decision they made – at least, so I have been told by several veterans who were indeed partisans in WWII in ‘the East’.

It was a little different in France.  Yes, the French Resistance units were also supposed to stay away from the towns and villages.  But, the French resistance fighters were much more ready to hide among the civilians than the Eastern partisans.  This is why, I was told, partisans object to the term ‘partisan’ being extended to the French Resistance fighters…..

By hiding among the civilians to the degree they did, the French Resistance fighters were ‘not worthy’ of the term ‘partisan’.  So I have been told – by those who lived it and were very passionate on this subject.

This bitterness towards those who would fight in this reckless manner, who place their own safety above the safety of the civilians by using them as human shields (whether it was focused on the French Resistance or not) was quite palpable following WWII.  That is quite clear from reading the Geneva Convention!

In order to prevent, or, at least, minimize, this form of warfare, the drafters of the Geneva Convention  included very real measures.

It is precisely to ‘discourage’ this ‘Taliban-style’ form of warfare that was the goal of the Geneva Convention!

They specifically protect people who are not taking part in the hostilities (civilians, health workers and aid workers) and those who are no longer participating in the hostilities, such as wounded, sick and shipwrecked soldiers and prisoners of war.

To this end, if an active fighter is found to be hiding among the civilians (even his/her own family), under the original terms of the Geneva Conventions, such a person was specifically excluded from any protections under the convention!

In other words, the drafters of the Geneva Convention thought this behaviour to be such a high crime against humanity that they specifically excluded those who practice Taliban-style warfare from any and all protection!  In no uncertain terms, their message was that for people like that, no punishment is strong enough, no treatment is harsh enough.

Since then, there have been amendments to the Geneva Convention that extend humane treatment to  everyone – makes good sense, too – including all prisoners and detainees (even the Taliban-type fighters).

Just keep in mind:  there is a provision in the Geneva Convention that permits any member of a legitimate military, in uniform or wearing appropriate identification as such, who identifies an active combatant hiding among the civilian population to decide whether to detain the combatant – or whether to summarily execute him/her!  Right there, right then – the legitimate soldier has the right to execute a combatant hiding among the civilians.

Quite a power to give even the lowest-ranking soldier!

But, in the eyes of the people who wrote the Geneva Convention, it is just and proper:  not just as a punishment for this vile crime, but also as a deterrent.

After all – the aim of the convention clearly states that the prime purpose of it is to protect the civilians first.  And, it considers those who use civilians as human shields and endanger them by hiding among them to be the vilest, most despicable criminals who ought to be summarily executed.

Still think the Taliban can be labeled as ‘freedom fighters’?

CanGames weekend is here!!!

Yes!

THE event of the year is upon us:  CanGames 2010 is ON!

I originally came across it in a somewhat unusual way…

When we first began to look for ways to help my older son (as Aspie as the rest of us) develop the tools to integrate into the greater society, we found Warhammer – the Fantasy version.

The game itself has been described as being ‘like chess, but with 100x more complex rules and no helpful grid on the play area’.  Oh – and you have to select and build/paint your own playing pieces…

We got into it as our son was interested in strategy games, and the whole building/painting of his entire ‘army’ was excellent physical therapy for his co-ordination.  He did it because he wanted the result…. I helped and got hooked on the ‘making/painting’ bit.  Years later, I still make a 1-3 pieces a year (by request only) for some collectors…

Building that first army was really fun:  I even bought a set of (much cheaper) plastic soldiers and ‘his own paints’ for my younger son:  while my older one and I worked to build his ‘army’, I would put a garbage bag over the tray of the high chair, sit my younger one in it beside me (he was the right age for it and loved his high chair), and he would ‘paint’ his very own army, too!  (Yes, I still have most of it…having been cautioned by several of the people at CanGames that once he grows up, he’ll treasure ‘his first army’!)

THE single biggest Warhammer tournament in our area was (and is) at CanGames.

That is how I first learned about it – and that is why I first went there.

My son – even though a kid (so I had to be along to supervise) – entered the all-day-long Warhammer Tournament.  My goal was simple:  to use this game to helpmy seriously Aspie son…. to use this rules-based environment to learn social skills necessary for him to integrate into society.  Like, say, not having a ‘meltdown’ if he does not win (no shame for a ‘starter’ kid to loose to ‘expert adults’ – so, knowing this ahead of time, learning that ‘loosing to the best-of-the-best’ is ‘the expectation’ and no reason for tears).

And, I must admit, the whole event outdid our expectations!

Not only did various people ‘take him under their wing’, and not only was this the main place where he learned ‘good sportsmanship’ from the example of many excellent people who were not only ‘not threatened’ by having points scored against them by a ‘kid’, but by positively delighting in his successes, congratulating him on ‘excellent moves’ as they occurred, they successfully taught him ‘sportsmanship’:  how to be both ‘a good looser’ and ‘a gracious winner’!

It worked.  Now, my older son is much in demand to ‘run gaming events’ – bot for kids and for adults.  He is regarded as having excellent sportsmanship, he appreciates – and praises – excellent moves, no matter who makes them, even against him, he is often called upon to referee disputes (he reads the rules once and know them for ever – and applies them fairly and in an unbiased way)….  Yes, I would like to take the credit for myself, but, I know a parent can only be an example so far…  It was the example of many excellent ‘expert’ gamers whom he admired at CanGames which deserves the credit!

I must admit that  my son has not been entering the Warhammer Fantasy tournaments at CanGames in the last few years.  Still, this is not a criticism of the tournament itself!  It is most excellent!

Rather, he has succumbed to curiosity…  There are SO MANY other games offered that he cannot bring himself to spend a whole day in a single tournament, when he could be learning so many new games!  After all, CanGames only runs Friday night, Saturday and Sunday…

Saturday morning, CanGames has a special program for kids.  Having watched his older brother eagerly await CanGames much as Sheldon Cooper awaits the annual Comic-Con, he was eager to join in the Saturday morning games (especially the Nintendo64 Mario-brothers-themed ones).

One year, one of his opponents was an Autistic girl – much more Autistic than my son was Aspie, if you get my drift.  The Autie’s therapist/supervisor explained to me that playing these types of games was ‘the only effective way’ her charge would socialize:  and meeting her and playing against her in the game helped my young Aspie son realize that there were others, with much more to overcome than he had… and showing that deep down, we are all a lot more similar than our ‘external-expression’ might suggest!

Now that he is older, my younger one plans to participate as fully at CanGames as his older brother does!

And, yes – I will be along!

To supervise and help, of course.  But also to have fun on my own!  Seeing the same people, once a year, is really neat in a weird sort-of way.  You can watch young people grow and develop, see familiar faces, talk to people who can out-strategize you any time they wish…  Oh, yes – and you can match your mind against some really, really awesome strategists (yeah – the political strategists ought to sit-up and take note – they could certainly use the training!)

Like I said: fun!

Autism Registry: a pilot project by Ottawa Police

If you read my blog, you are probably aware that I have a strong interest in Asperger’s Sydrome:  I am an Aspie, I am married to an Aspie, both my children are Aspies, most of my friends are, if not full-Aspies, at least ‘almost-Aspies.

Hence the interest.

Or, perhaps, obsession…

While I like to explain that Asperger’s is to Autism like ‘wearing glasses’ is to ‘being blind’, it is an Autism spectrum disorder, there is some overlap (OK – I’d have to  go on a tangent to explain this ‘right’:  let it suffice (for here) that both Autism and Asperger’s have the same ‘thing’ which affects how the brain is wired ‘differently’, but the difference is that each affects a different bit of the brain….some people have a bit of ‘re-wiring’ in both areas – thus, the overlap).  So, I am always paying attention when I hear about both…

So, I was quite interested when I heard that the Ottawa Police were doing some sort of a pilot project to do with interacting with members of our community who are Autistic or have Asperger’s Syndrome.  Thanks go to my favourite Ottawa City Councillor, Eli El-Chantiry, for getting me in touch with the people running the pilot project.

It looks excellent!

This – in a nutshell – is what it is about…

When a call comes in to the ‘911’ emergency service, the operator pulls up the info on the address where the call is coming from:

  • the address
  • map
  • other relevant info (like the much reviled gun registry, and so on)

A person who looks after an Autie or an Aspie (or the Autie/Aspie themselves) can register in this program.  When they do this, the ‘relevant information’ will include some information about the Autie/Aspie that lives there.

This can save lives!

The information can be, say, there is a small Autistic boy who fears loud noises.  If there is a fire alarm, he is likely to hide under the bed or in the closet.  Only answers to ‘Xxx’ nickname….  Touching him makes him panic.

Or, it can say something like ‘this is a group home for adult Auties.  These are their names, this is how they react to being agitated,’ and so on.

Information is power.

When emergency responders are walking into a situation where they know they will encounter a person who is not fully functional – and, the stress of emergency situations does often push ‘partially functional’ people (especially kids) into a non-functional state – they will be able to do their job better.

This Autism Registry pilot program harnesses the power of information into better helping vulnerable people in emergency situations.  Into saving live.

I liked what I learned about the program so much, I offered to help out as best I can.  And, perhaps, there may be a tiny role I can play.

One way I – and you – can help is to ‘spread the word’!

If you know someone in the City of Ottawa who would benefit from registering – tell them.

If you live outside of Ottawa, tell your police department to check out this pilot project in Ottawa.  The model is highly portable – perhaps your community would benefit from something similar!

A few comments….

Monday, 3rd of May, was the 30th ‘Freedom of the Press Day:’  with the release of the 2009 ‘freedom of the press’ ratings by FreedomHouse.  Reporters Without Borders has a slightly different – though no less grim – set of results.  And ‘they’ ask why people are going to the blogosphere to get their news.

Still, it is, in my never-humble-opinion, difficult to measure just how ‘free’ the ‘press’ in the West really is… Some shackles are self-imposed, and cannot be reflected by a measurement on ‘external’ limitation!

The ‘xkcd blag’ has an absolutely awesome post on the colourful things Aspies do for fun!

Talking about colour:  ‘Passion for Freedom’ 2010 art competition, by OneLawForAll, has opened.  It will run in September 2010 and the focus is to expose the discriminatory nature of Sharia – submissions are now being accepted.

OneLawForAll also announced a rally on June 20th 2010 in Trafalgar Square (that would make it London, England – methinks).  This will commemorate the brutal murder of Neda Agha-Soltan during Iran’ ‘women’s revolution’.

Sorry to post a list of interesting ‘stuff’ without that much commentary.  And, I still have a lot of unfinished (though most are close) posts on the Free Dominion appeal hearing – both background and my take.  It is taking me longer than I thought to understand some of the legal precedents….so, my time is spent reading.

I promise I’ll be back to ‘normal’ soon – well, whatever it is that passes for ‘normal’ with me!

Urgent: Geert Wilders needs our help!

Just like BCF says:

Geert Wilders Needs Our Help Urgently

With four weeks to go before the general elections in the Netherlands, Geert Wilders and the Party for Freedom are now engaged in a life-and-death struggle against the forces of jihad. In the last couple of years Geert Wilders has emerged as the international symbol of the struggle against Islam.

The Party for Freedom (PVV) refuses government subsidy in order to remain independent. All other Dutch parties receive government money. Therefore, the PVV is facing a serious challenge in order to survive this election season. Dutch state television is engaged in a massive campaign to smear the PVV.

The Party for Freedom needs your help urgently. Every donation is welcome.

There is a Paypal button on the English-language site: www.geertwilders.nl


ING bank account of the Stichting Vrienden van de PVV in The Hague: 67.04.72.344

(IBAN: NL98 INGB 0670 4723 44, BIC: INGBNL2A)

Postal address:
Postbus 20018
2500 EA Den Haag

There is a Paypal button on the English-language site: www.geertwilders.nl

In defense of the burka

Please, don’t get me wrong:  I hate the burka.

In my never-humble-opinion,  wearing a burka (or niqab) is immoral.

So, I resent having to write in the defense of the burka!

…because, nothing, not even the burka or niqab, grant any government the power to legislate a citizen’s choices in clothing.

The government does not – and must not – have the right to tell me how to dress.  What to wear or what not to wear.  EVER!!!

‘Governments’ simply lack the authority to a law that determines how I choose to dress.

However…

This does not mean that governments do not have the right to enforce a dress code in public buildings/parks/vehicles etc.

As in, if you enter a public building – for whatever reason – the government which administers it has the right to demand that you wear shoes (that is a safety/liability issue – stepping on stuff can harm an unprotected foot), and so on.  In the same way, the government has the right to demand that every person entering a public building or park (anything administered by that level of government) must not cover their face.

Therefore, schools, libraries, public transit, hospitals, government offices – well, all the ‘public spaces’ – are areas where the government has the authority to pass a law that people must show their faces.  Fully.

That IS within the government’s jurisdiction to pass laws about.

And yes, governments SHOULD pass these laws!!!

Leaving all the ‘obvious’ reasons aside (many people have made these arguments very eloquently already), another very valid argument could be made that it is absolutely necessary that a person’s mouth be fully visible while in public buildings:  obscuring one’s mouth is discriminatory.

Our laws , our very constitutions, forbid discrimination on he grounds of disability.  Governments naturally hire people based on their skills, regardless of any potential disabilities – like, say, being hearing impaired….  Whether accessing or providing a government service, lipreading is an accepted means of communicating and much more common than most people realize.  Many of us even do it without realizing it!

Obscuring one’s lips behind a veil thus discriminates against people who are hearing impaired and rely fully or partially on lipreading to communicate.  This is an important issue:  a constitutional matter!  Perhaps this argument appears disproportional, but, please, take a moment to think about it.  It is a valid point.

And, for a society which prides itself on being inclusive and does not discriminate against people with physical disabilities, this is a big deal.

Of course, all private places of business also have the right to enforce dress codes for people who enter their premises.  That is fully accepted in our society, and must remain so.  It is best captured by the signs:  “No shoes, no shirt, no service.”

Perhaps the new ones will read:  “No shoes, no shirt, no face, no entry!”

And that would be good.

It not only ‘would be good’, in my never-humble-opinion, it is necessary.

It also seems to me that our existing laws already cover this issue (no pun intended).

Private places of commerce have the right to enforce dress codes.  They are free to ban ‘face coverings’ – and must remain free to do so.

Public places are also governed by rules which can be interpreted as forbidding ‘face coverings’:  on the grounds that covering one’s mouth discriminates against people who are hearing impaired.  This is not permitted in public places.  Therefore, no burka, no niqab.

We even have a law (at least in Ontario) which says that a driver’s face must be fully visible and recognizable from outside the vehicle:  that is why the front windows in a car are not permitted to have a dark tint.  Wearing a veil of any type which is not transparent and obscures a driver’s face, or any other thing which prevents the driver’s face to be fully visible from outside the vehicle is, therefore, already illegal!

No new law needed!

It is not a good idea to have more laws than absolutely necessary.  Passing multiple laws to govern one thing is misguided and dangerous.

To sum it up:

  • governments can, do and should have dress codes for people entering public buildings or accessing public services which demand that a person’s face be fully exposed
  • places of commerce can, do and should have dress codes of their choosing – even ones that forbid people entering their property from obscuring their faces.
  • traffic laws already exist that demand that while a person is exercising the privilege of driving, their face must be fully exposed and visible from outside the vehicle

Perhaps I’ve missed a few specific instances, I’ll grant that.  BUT – they would still be ‘specific instances’!  It is wrong to pass a blanket law which bans the burka.

Permitting the government the exercise any authority to legislate how people dress is as frightening as it is ludicrous!

Who’d enforce these laws?

The ‘Fashion Police’?