Freedom of Speech under fire – again

Not surprising,  but with a twist…

Since I have been experiencing some problems with my internet connection (few minutes on, few hours off), I cannot dig into this as well as I would like to.  However, Kaffir Kanuck has an in-depth write up – perhaps you could read it there.

Let me just state, clearly and unequivocally:  freedom of speech is a core human right and we must tolerate no infringement upon it. That whole “I disagree with what you say, but I will fight to the death for your right to say it” adage applies here.  For the State to use criminal law to silence a citizen is simply beyond the pale and we must all stand up and speak up against it!

At the same time, a foreign government is using SLAPP suits to successfully bully Canadian broadcasters…

Putin vs. Obama

This link leads to two pictures, one of Putin, the other of Obama.  The pictures say it all – but the comments section is unbelievable….  The sad thing is, these people are actually serious.

Posted in society. Tags: . 2 Comments »

Pirate Party gets elected in Berlin

Just in time for the International Talk Like a Pirate Day, the Pirate Party in Germany has made its legislative debut at the state level in Berlin.

And not too soon, if I may be so bold.

Why?

Because the vast majority of legislators ‘out there’ are woefully ignorant on digital issues.  What is worse – they are not only ignorant, they are not interested in educating themselves on the basic issues concerning it.  This makes them easy targets for well organized, amply funded lobbyists for industries intent on profiting fromone-sided digital policies…and from unscrupulous civil servants who want to play Big Brother – or just snoop on their neighbours!

In Canada, a whole slew of questionable digital policies are set to be rammed through the legislature this fall.  These policies will permit the police complete access to all your online communication – without a warrant!!!  And, for those of us who make our phone calls via the internet (our house phone, for example, uses voip), this DOES mean that the police would not need a warrant to listen to our phone calls…

 

In related news, the National Intelligence Service in South Korea has admitted to ‘packet tapping’ to monitor gmail communications (gmail had previously been considered to be more secure means of online communication that other systems, like Outlook, which are known to have ‘back doors’ built into them to facilitate government surveilance of private communication).  If these laws are passed in Canada, this type of outrageous government behaviour will not be a scandal – it will be ‘the law of the land’!

Too  bad that the Pirate Party of Canada seems so incompetent, and that there is not a peep from them during this Ontario election. Their wiki page does not even note the Ontario election’s existence…

I am looking for a place to park my vote – and not one of the leading candidates in my riding deserves it. It is not surprising that the voter turnout is so low!

 

France bans blocking streets by praying

Most people who pray do so privately or in ‘houses of worship’.  This is just fine.  (I may consider ‘prayer’ to be immoral, but I would never condone a government legislating morality.)

For many years, Muslims have blocked the streets of Paris by praying in the streets during Friday prayers.  It has been widely reported that people drive from far and wide to intentionally choke up Paris as a form of bullying:  we can stop your city whenever we want to – so we will.  Muslim leaders simply assert that there are insufficient houses of worship for them, so they are forced to pray in the streets…

Today, there just may be a solution.

The French authorities have offered the Muslim community a large place to pray – and followed up this ‘carrot’ with a stout ‘stick:  they have passed a new law which forbids Muslims from blocking the streets by praying. This is being done in the name of protecting the principle of secularism.

Interesting…

Of course, it raises a lot of questions – most of them very uncomfortable.

While I understand the peoblem of aggressive, in-you-face-praying (and, let’s face it:  all the ‘faiths’, religious and secular, are guilty of this in different circumstances), I am not certain if the French solutuion is the correct way to go.

Certainly, France is not the only place where Muslim communities are using ‘in-your-face praying’ to intimidate non-Muslim citizens and bully political authorities by closing streets during Friday prayers.

Certainly, this practice must not be tolerated.

But solving it by providing government buildings to be used as houses of prayer seems to me to be a cure which does more harm than good!

Sure, the ‘problem’ is ‘out of sight’.  Commerce can go on and the populace is not directly intimidated.

But at what cost?

Neatly and quickly, the burden of providing a ‘house of prayer’ for Muslims has been shifted from Muslims to The State!

What happened to that principle of secularism?

With the French State buildings becoming Mosques, where is the secular principle of separation of State and Mosque?

Perhaps I am simply unaware of the details of the deal – there might be some provisions for temporary use, like the types of permits for Santa Claus parades.  If so, I am happy to be wrong.

However, I do think that accepting – even on a temporary basis – the responsibility for housing praying members of any religion in order to get them to obey the laws of the land is an unreasonable accommodation and a serious error of principles.

The law states that blocking streets is illegal.  It is the government’s obligation to apply the laws equally and consistently – without regard to the lawbreakers’ religion, ethnicity or ‘culture’.  The laws must be blind to these particulars:  that is what equality before the law means!

Therefore, the laws should have been applied, fully and equally, from the beginning.

Instead, local streets had been permitted to be closed, often using private security guards from the Mosques to intimidate non-Muslims out of the area occupied by the in-your-face worshippers.  That should never have been permitted.

[If I were the ruler of the universe, I’d start by fining the lawbreakrs, then, if necessary, escalate to other measures:

  • playing loud music in the streets to encourage people who wish to pray to raise the money to build themselves their own house of worship (to pray on their own dime and not the public one)
  • deploying canine units to patrol the streets and ensuring that the sidewalks adjacent to the Mosque and all other buildings in the area are clear for obvious safety reasons (the presence of the dogs would invalidate the prayers of those outside, so they would truly have no reason to clog the streets)
  • and if that failed, the rules that apply to any other unruly and illegal public gathering would be put into action.]

(Aside – I have definite ideas about how much governments should be permitted to regulate public gatherings and I am not changing thses views.  All I am asserting is that whatever the rules are, they must be applied equally to all.  If the rules are bad, we should change them.  Until then…)

Of course, France is not the only country with this particular method of in-your-face prayer is disrupting public peace and order.  However flawed their approach and however bad its longterm results may be, at least in France, they have the guts to name the problem and are trying to do something to solve it.

C.G.P. Grey: ‘What are the continents?’

Aside from the crack about Pluto, this is a fun little video.

Posted in education. Tags: . 1 Comment »

Hey – September 14th was ‘Climate Parody Day’!

Sorry – I did not realize that September 14th was ‘Climate Parody Day’!!!

If I had, I would have done something, like, witty…or something…

Perhaps a cartoon of Al Gore in a turban shaped like an ‘oveheating Earth’ or David Suzuki holding the IPCC report (any version – they are all corrupt) and threatening to burn (or behead) any heretic who does not treat it with sufficient reverence….

I guess you’ll have to pop over to The Reference Frame to read up on today’s festivities!

Of course, for a daily dose of climate skepticism, you can head over to Donna Laframboise’s ‘NoFrakkingConsensus’.  (Her book on the topic will be ready soon!)

 

Which constitutional article was that?

This lunatic is, unfortunately, a voice of influence in parts of the Arab world.  Here, he claims – with a straight face – that America’s founding fathers tried to introduce an article to the US Constitution to ban Jews from US land.

Really.

Of course, there are other voices, too – they just get drowned out much of the time.

Which is a shame – these following people do make sense:

And there are Imams who do condemn violence in their sermons – yet they do not always find a receptive audience.  This makes it so much more important that we speak up about them and help their voices be heard.