John Baglow vs Connie Fournier, Mark Fournier and Roger Smith: the ‘FULL TRIAL’, day 3

NOTICE:  this post discusses and assesses the testimony given by Mr. Bows, so, if any reader who is banned by the court from reading about Mr. Bow’s testimony until his own is finished comes across this post, they ought to leave this page right away in order not to breach the court’s order.

Day 1 part 1 and part 2 are here.  (all previous caveats still apply, though I have temporarily borrowed a slightly better tech.)

Day 2 is here.

Alternate account is here:  day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4.

Day 3, Wednesday, was the ‘broken-up day’:  Madam justice had a previous commitment for a 3 hour meeting smack dab in the middle of the day.  So, the court was scheduled from 9:30 to 10:30, then a bit of a break, then again from 1:30 to 5:00.  And, as I had commitments of my own which I had been neglecting due to the trial, I took the morning to try and get caught up on some of them.  So, I missed the morning hour…

I was there for 1:30, ready to go!  But, the most exciting thing to happen was that the bailiff announced that the courtroom clock had finally been fixed!!!  It now actually displays the correct time….

After a bit of waiting, we learned that Madam justice had finished her meeting, but needed a bite to eat, so the court would not reconvene until 2 pm.  Oh well…

At 2 pm, on the dot, the court reconvened.  And, I had another little surprise:  Dr. Baglow was not on the stand!

Could he have finished his testimony and been cross examined by 4 people in the span of the morning hour?  Not quite…

Because the trial had originally been scheduled for 3 days only, that is how long Mr. Bow had planned to be away.  In order to accommodate him, all the participants agreed to permit Dr. Baglow’s  testimony to be interrupted in order to let Mr. Bow testify and be cross examined first.

Mr. James Edward Bow chose to swear on the Bible, then settled in to the witness box.  In his dark grey suit, white shirt, striped tie, with understated wire-rim glasses complementing his dark hair and eyes, he looked handsome and dapper.

Aside:  while talking about what people were wearing…Connie wore a fuchsia cardigan that was almost identical in colour to my own top, but mine was short sleeve, so all awkwardness was avoided!  Sorry – humorous interlude over!

Mr. Bow testified that he lived in Kitchener, Ontario and worked as a freelance writer with a web designed business on the side.  While he never had any formal training in web designed, he had worked for a number of tech companies in the 90′s and received a lot of on the job training.  In 2005, when his daughter was born, he became a stay-at-home dad while doing the writing and web stuff on the side from home.   As a stay-at-home mom who also blogs, I can relate!

When Mr. Bow testified that he had received his degree in Environmentalism, I began to seriously doubt Dr. Baglow’s sanity:  is he really bringing a capital ‘E’ Environmentalist to try to support the veracity of a contentious claim?  Really?!?!?

I had to work hard to suppress a bout of giggles:  like ANYONE on EARTH would ever again believe a word that comes out of the mouth of an ‘E’nvironmentlist!!!

Disclosure – my  background is physics, field of data acquisition and analysis…and I specialized in helping scientists/technologists avoid ‘conformational bias’…so, I find the modern ‘E’nvironmentalists particularly, well, how can I put this without being defamatory…’not up to snuff’ scientifically and having a very, very deep, perhaps un-bridgeable, credibility deficit.

In my never humble opinion, Mr. Bow’s testimony bore out the expectations one would have of an ‘E’nvironmentalist:  lots of claims of technical expertise followed by ‘D’uh, I don’t know how to do that…’

To his credit, Mr. Bow tried very hard to support his friend, Dr. Baglow, but to anyone with an iota if IT knowledge, he simply did not come across as credible – to my never-humble-thinking.

He blamed Dr. Baglow for not updating the comments before they attempted to migrate them to the new platform (without explaining why they could not have simply gone through the steps of updating step by step by step…), completely forgetting that if they had both migrated the site to the new spot (for the hosting of which Mr. Bow got paid by Dr. Baglow) AND left the old site up, instead of shutting it down, the defendants in this case would not have been deprived of access to information essential to their defense.  No amount of difficulties with migrating the comments over would have caused this damage had they not actively shut the old site down…

In another bit of testimony, Mr. Bow testified that it was Dr. Baglow’s decision to stop trying to recover the ‘lost’ comments, or he would have continued to look for ways of migrating them over.  In my never-humble-opinion, this was Mr. Bow covering his rear end, making sure his incompetence did not get perceived as malice and shifting all responsibility for the ‘lost’ comments squarely onto Dr. Baglow.

At this point, my other-world duties pulled me out of the courtroom:  I may have put off fixing my own broken (front) tooth till next week in order to attend the trial, but, I could not put such limitations on ‘my little one’ (OK, he’s taller than I am, but he will ALWAYS be ‘my little one’!!!) and I had to leave the courtroom in order to take HIM to the dentist…

When I left the courtroom in a rush, I found Dr. Baglow pacing nervously in front of the courtroom:  by the judge’s order (and as per ‘normal’ practice, he was excluded from the courtroom while other witnesses for his side’ were ‘on the stand’).  As we had exchanged pleasantries in the past few days, and as he had always been very civil towards me, I greeted him and had a little (though very hurried – I had stayed in the courtroom well into my time-margin).

During this exchange, he pointed out to me that I had indeed misunderstood the timing when he had joined the NDP.  I had reported on this in Day 2:  having heard that he had torn up his NDP membership card during Buffalo Bob’s reign, and the accusations that Bob Rae’s political opponents were motivated by anti-Semitism (since Mr. Rae’s wife is Jewish), I wanted to head off any potential smear campaign against Mr. Baglow due to the confluence of this.  Yes, I pointed this out in my reporting – but, with sincere and honest statement of fact that I do NOT believe Dr. Baglow to be an anti-Semite – specifically to ward off any potential smear campaign.

Which is why I was  very happy that Dr.Bglow corrected my error:  he had actually joined the NDP because he had been inspired by Bob Rae’s electoral victory!  And, as I understood (and reported), it was Mr. Rae’s subsequent policies that got him so disgusted, he ‘tore up his membership card’.

He accepted my assurance that my calling attention to this was an effort to ‘nip in the bud’ any smears – and appreciated it.  I in turn, appreciated being corrected, because I would much rather be corrected in the short run and carry accurate information than be left in error!!!

I promised to correct in in the original post (I put the edit at the top, so anyone reading it will have the correction before getting to the erroneous bit, without hiding I had made an error), and I also promised to describe our conversation on ‘day 3′ to explain how the correction came about.

That was it for me for ‘day 3′ – days 4 and 5 are coming up as soon as I can type them up!

 

As always:  if I have made any errors,  if you can correct/add to this commentary, please do so and I’ll be glad to edit this post in order to add your comment!!!

John Baglow vs Connie Fournier, Mark Fournier and Roger Smith: the ‘FULL TRIAL’, day 1, part 2

All the caveats from part 1 (more or less forming most of part 1) apply.  Please read them….DLDR:  borrowed clunky tech and limited internet time, cannot highlight (thus link etc.) – will update once my computer is fixed.  Also, these are all jut my highly imperfect personal observations and opinions and ought not be treated as anything more than that.

An account of Day 1 can be found at The FreedomSite Blog.

I have been struggling with how to write up this part, because things got quite sensational at some points and I am quite terrified that if I repeat what I believe to have heard in court, I will open myself up to being sued because as I understand the current state of Canada defamation laws, truth is not a defense there, either, as a person is presumed to be guilty and malicious and if the words are ‘spoken maliciously’ then their truthfulness is irrelevant.

In my online persona, I have chosen to emulate Xanthippe, the wife of Socrates and THE proverbial nag:  I am good at nagging, so I thought I’d go with it.  But, as Xanthippa, I try my best to channel Xanthippe with all her vitriol and sharp tongue – that’s part of the fun of creating an online persona:  it is not you you, but that persona you, so you can say what the you you might, but in a different way, more in line with the persona you are attempting to channel.  (Remember, if it were not for anonymous speech, the Federalist Papers could never have been published and the USA would still be a Crown possession.)

Something that Xanthippa says with the persona-appropriate vitriol which defines her and signifies no more than a reflection of her nature could, quite easily, be misinterpreted as ‘malicious’ when all I am doing is role-playing…presenting my opinion, but with a satirical twist.  And satire does not come across too easily in the courtroom!

Aside:  there will be more personas I am developing in a different, non-written online project, but more about that later.  (But, if anyone has an old but nice wig they’d be willing to donate to that effort, I would be eternally grateful.)

Back to the trial:  first on the order were some legal tidying-up thingies and once these were out of the way, Madam Justice Polowin esplained that she is a bit of a luddite and barely knows how to use email…and has never ever read a blog.  A ‘clean slate’ she called herself.  I am not convinced this is the best background for this case, as it may get very technical, but (and I am jumping ahead in time somewhat) she took copious notes of everything and whenever she needed to understand a point, she not only asked for a clarification, she actually repeated her understanding of the point and asked for confirmation that it is accurate.  That, in my never-humble-opinion, is a good thing.

Another point of interest was that  motion was introduced that any potential witnesses are to be excluded from the courtroom until after their testimony and cross examination, so as not to be influenced by what they hear and see before they testify.  All parties agreed and a nice-dressed gentleman (Mr. Bow, Dr. Baglow’s IT guy) got up and left the courtroom.

Now the opening statements.

Mr. Burnet, Dr. Baglow’s lawyer, went first.  He seems like a competent lawyer and he assumed that reasonable, avuncular style that must be effective because it is affected by so many lawyers (good and bad).  Personally, I find that particular form of arguing patronizing and irritating at best because the Aspie in me considers it to be a form of manipulation.  And we, Aspies, are very allergic to being manipulated:  we see such manipulation as using a subtle form of shaming in order to disguise the lack of convincing evidence.  This opinion of mine was only strengthened by Mr. Burnet’s nervous habit of scratching the inside of his left ear with the arm of his glasses.

But, that is my perception of his mannerisms and not a reflection on Mr. Burnet’s case because a lot of lawyers affect that style – and a lot of lawyers will try to act as if they have a weak case in order for their opponents to underestimate it and not prepare adequately.  And I am sufficiently poor judge of human body language that I would never venture to guess if he was really nervous or pretending to be nervous as part of his courtroom strategy.

If I understood Mr. Burnet’s opening statement accurately, it boils down to a few major points (and I am paraphrasing, at times quite heavily, as my notes are incomplete and I cannot but channel Xanthippe – so, any vitriol you detect below is ‘satire’ and, at times, dark sarcasm, and not malice whatsoever in any way, shape or form):

  • he anticipates that the defendants will try to defend themselves by trying to suggest that there ought to be one set of laws in real life and a different set of laws on the internet and that this is wrong:  the same laws should apply the same way to everybody, for a person’s a person, no matter how small or virtual
  • his client is a retired civil servant, openly and proudly (sic) left wing, enjoys political discourse and enjoys being a blogger in order to promote intelligent (sic)political debate in the public sphere and that while his blog is the primary vehicle for this, he also does so on other blogs and in traditional media.  He engages with people with differing political views.
  • the defendants’  site is ‘extremely right wing’ and their political views are ‘extremely right wing’ which makes them offensive, which is why his client did not usually engage at Free Dominion, but he did engage in a discussion with Mr. Smith on a different blog…

Aside:  up to this point, Mr. Burnet had very considerately explained all the technical terms and jargon patiently answered the many detailed questions the judge had asked.  He kind of got into the habit of talking for a bit, then looking up and asking if any explanations were needed.  So far, so good.  Now, Mr. Burnet delved into how Mr. Smith and his client had gotten into a heated debate about Mr. Baglow’s glaringly hypocritical position* on the re-patriation of Omar Kadr…and he looked up to the judge and asked if she had heard of Omar Khadr.  Madam Justice Polowin smiled amusedly and said that even though she may be a luddite, she does read the papers…

  • His client learned about the offensive comment on the Free Dominion site from somebody else, contacted the Fourniers and demanded a takedown and an apology, but got none.
  • Articles with his client’s negative views of the Taliban were freely and publicly available and clearly contradicted that statement, even though his client continued to vociferously support Omar Khadr in his efforts at repatriation
  • his client may have used caustic and vulgar language against his opponent – including the defendants – while on the blogosphere but that does not give them the right to do the same to him (implying, though never quite stating, that if they did not like it, they could have sued him like he is suing them)
  • the defamatory comment never caused his client any harm, financial or otherwise, but the Canadian defamation laws are so flawed that this does not matter, he can still get money out of this and so he should (the proper legal term Mr. Burnet used, I think, was ‘damages at large’, demanding there not be a breakdown of what were damages and what were penalties, so that the ridiculousness of this situation could more easily be glossed over
  • Mr. Burnet stressed very vigorously that under our current Canadian defamation laws, guilt and malice are PRESUMED and almost impossible to disprove, so they should just win by default
  • facilitating putting something onto an obscure and unread spot on the internet = PUBLISHING and having editorial control
  • this is NOT a Charter challenge because the proper notices have not been filed (with the implications that what the defense is demanding is nothing short of a ‘Charter challenge’  (the judge raised her proverbial eyebrows at this)
  • this is not a SLAPP suit (methinks the lady does protest too much)
  • this is NOT a case of limiting freedoms of citizens  or (I could not help but chuckle at just how sincerely Mr. Burnet managed to deliver this one) libel chill, freedom of speech, blah blah blah…they’re not being silly bunnies or anything like that…..
  • just because the internet is evolving does not mean that the tort of defamation ought to evolve with it, to keep pace with emerging technologies is a silly bunny thing to do and any0ne who says otherwise is a snotling-fondler (Please, google ‘snotling-fondler’ for definition as I cannot currently link:  it is defined as a vulgar insult and not an actionable term of defamation….’snotlings’ are the lowest form of goblins, which are fictional, so this cannot, by definition, be actionable. And, yes, these are obviously not the actual words Mr. Burnet used, but, in my never-humble-opinion, they capture the ‘spirit’ in which this particular point was offered.)
  • (and I think I got this argument’s wording down closely to how it was presented, with a saintly hallow hovering over Mr. Burnet’s head) The tort of defamation is the SOLE LAW that underpins civil discourse & keeps it from descending into a cacophonous, vitriolic shouting match dominated by those with the loudest & most strident voices….  (The reason I think I got this one down relatively closely to what was said is because the judge asked for the statement to be repeated and commented amusedly on the terms used.)

It is not exhaustive nor, obviously, word for word, but I hope this captures the spirit of the opening statement by the plaintiff’s lawyer.

Next up was Barbara Kulaszka, the lawyer representing Mark Fournier.

Honest declaration of bias:  I have met Ms. Kulaszka and observed her in the courtroom.  In person, I think she is brilliant and very, very nice.  I have read some of her writings and been deeply impressed by them – insightful, well researched, documented, eloquently phrased and any other praise you wish to heap upon her head.  I have, however, been less impressed by her past verbal performance in the courtrooms:  that Barbara Kulaszka, however, did not show up today!

I saw passion and fire – and it was excellent!  Not just in her opening statement (sorry, jumping ahead again), but she was up on her feet, objecting, arguing passionately and eloquently.  In other words, I liked what I saw!

Anyhow:  re-focusing!!!

I may not have captured everything, but here are some of the highlights of her opening statement (again, as with the rest of all my writing, paraphrasing, satire, sarcasm, hyperbole and all that, are in play)

  • pseudonyms not the same as the people who use them (quite right – I may have similar opinions as Xanthippa – but I would not express them in the same way that, as Shakespeare calls he, ‘the proverbial shrew’ would!!! – ok, back to Xanthippa’s voice)
  • Dr. Dawg called Connie Fournier ‘his worst cyber enemy’ – superhero analogies  (In my never-humble-opinion, Connie Fournier IS a real-life super-hero!!!  Please, don’t ask me what that would make her cyber-opponents…I don’t want to get sued!)
  • the argument started on the Jay Curry blog  (Aside:  I like his new blog much more than his old one.)
  • heated argument, August 2010, Omar Khadr…election year…
  • argument started on Jay Curry’s blog, went on to Dawg’s Blog, then there was 1 post on Free Dominion where Roger Smith put up an op-ed type of a post
  • Omar Khadr, Canadians getting killed – back to Dawg’s Bawg ‘They dare call it treason’…
  • traitor, treason. +++ – John Baglow does not find being called that ‘objectionable’ (unstated implication: is he proud of those epitaphs?  Just what kind of a cat is this ‘Dawg’?)
  • For his support for Omar Khadr’s repatriation and opposition to the was in Afghanistan, Jack Layton earned the nick-name of ‘Taliban Jack’:  this is the same thing!  A vocal supporter of the Taliban-linked Omar Khadr’s propaganda message gets tarnished with a Taliban-linked position….logical and natural – and not actionable.
  • her client, Mark Fournier, had never wrote or approved those words, Roger Smith did – so he should not be liable for them
  • Mark Fournier never repeated those words (though Dr. Baglow did re-publish them on the internet, several times)
  • Mark Fournier never received any complaint about those words or any request to remove them – at any point, as the plaintiff only contacted Connie Fournier, never Mark.
  • WIC Radio vs Simpson, Hill vs Church of Scientology (precedents)
  • not a Charter challenge, ‘incremental changes’ to the law
  • ‘publication’ should not be found for something anonymous 3rd parties posted in an un-moderated medium
  • Cost of freedom of speech is getting too high, chilling effect, need legal guidance
  • words were not capable of defamation in that context
  • test is contextual, interactive…quoted justice Labelle in the Simpson case (thick skin quote)
  • political rhetoric…
  • words do not carry the meaning assigned them by the plaintiff…
  • public interest
  • malice? – ‘comment’ = editorial comment = hyperbolic language
  • comment may not be fair, but that is not what ‘fair comment’ means
  • Dr. Dawg had means to refute, used Miss Mew as a sock-puppet
  • 3rd of April, 2011 – 10′s of thousands f comments suddenly disappeared, denying Mark Fournier access to information needed for his defense
  • justice Annis found the words were not defamatory
  • her client is being sued for his political positions and how people react to them, then 10′s of thousands of comments he could have used for his defense disappeared…

There may have been more, but this is what I ‘caught’.

Next came Connie Fournier’s opening statement.

I will not report on what it contained because I am not as brave as Connie and I am afraid that if I told the truth of what was said in public court, I would get sued and loose the family home and my ability to provide a home for my children.  Let it suffice to say it included allegations of statements made by Dr. Baglow regarding justice Annis as well as several other, un-named judges which made the judge’s jaw to, quite literally, drop.

Next came Roger Smith’s opening statement.

He was extremely eloquent and, in  my never-humble-opinion, totally  brilliant.

First, he explained that while his legal name is Roger Smith, his birth name is Roger O’Donnell  and he is widely known under that identity in  professional circles, specifically in the weather forecasting circles and in Ireland.

Next he explained (to a ‘knowing’ and ‘understanding’ head-nodding of the judge) that by defining his client as ‘proudly left wing’ and the Free Dominion forum as ‘extremist right wing’, the plaintiff (through his judge) had made this a case that is NOT about defamation, but about one’s position on the political spectrum…and, in his opinion, the court of law is NOT the appropriate place to rule on which political opinions are permissible and which ones are not.

By the plaintiff’s lawyer’s opening statement alone, this case is not about defamation of an individual but about which political opinions are legally permissible and which political opinions are against the law…

He was, by far, the most  eloquent of the bunch  - so much so that I stopped taking notes and listened to him (regardless of the judge’s annoying interruptions) with ever growing respect and admiration (and I do NOT say this lightly!!!).

Next, the judge asked the CCLA lawyer, who did not have the ‘right’ to make an opening statement, to briefly sketch what the CCLA position is, which is what he did, in 5 points:  all of which boiled down to ‘we want the law to evolve with freedom of speech in mind and something as ludicrous as this case ought to be tossed out of court…

Actually, it was quite brilliant:  the young man (oh, I feel so old) argued their position logically and eloquently and really, really well, bringing in some of the phrases Dr. Baglow’s lawyer used and demonstrating just how ridiculous and absurd those arguments were, without needing to resort to any manipulative means or methods.

I think I love the CCLA!

OK – this is MY highly personal and admittedly prejudiced perception of what went on in court – please, do not treat is as anything more than my highly imperfect and admittedly ignorant opinion of the proceedings.

 

*   *   *

*  I consider this position to be highly hypocritical because I cannot believe that an intelligent man, with a doctorate to boot, could possibly honestly think that using a colloquial definition of some words which are identical to a ‘legal jargon’ label with a very, very narrow and specific legal meaning, applying them in the colloquial sense to a person who glaringly does not qualify for the legal definition of that term, and then, wrapping himself in the tattered cloak of self righteousness, demanding the legal protections for that person for which he would only qualify had he satisfied the ‘legal definition’…and branding anyone who fails to buy in to his glaringly flawed argument as evil and unfeeling and somehow less than human.  Sorry, the man I see in front of me seems much too intelligent not to grasp exactly what the difference between the colloquial and legal definition is, and how Omar Khadr does not qualify for the UN legal definition of ‘child soldier’.  Sure, some of the ‘unwashed & uneducted masses’ could have fallen prey to such glaringly obvious propaganda, but not an intellectual with a doctorate!!!  In the absence of stupidity/ignorance, the only other possible explanation, in my never-humble-opinion, is hypocrisy…for partisan political ends.

 

 

 

John Baglow vs Connie Fournier, Mark Fournier and Roger Smith: the ‘FULL TRIAL’, day 2

EDIT:  Dr. Baglow has been kind enough to inform me that I made a mistake in my reporting of when he joined the NDP.  Indeed, he was inspired by Bob Rae’s victory in Ontario and joined then – but later, he was so disgusted by the political policies that he tore his membership card up.  That is an important distinction, as it completely negates any accusation that Bob Rae’s wife’s religion/nationality had been any kind of a factor in his decision to leave the NDP under Bob Rae’s leadership.

First and foremost, please, see the write up of ‘John Baglow vs Connie Fournier, Mark Fournier and Roger Smith: the ‘FULL TRIAL’, day 1, part 1′ for the details and the warnings.  Short form:  using a borrowed tablet to blog till my laptop is fixed, can’t even highlight, so cant’ put in links and such, but, will come back and do so once I’m ‘back in business’.  So, this will be brief and, temporarily, not linked to supporting materials.  My apologies.  Also, these are my observations and opinions and as I am not legally trained and not a human behaviour professional, all of this content ought to be treated as very highly imperfect opinions and nothing more.

Also, if anyone can add to this account and/or correct any of the many errors I am bound to make, please do so!

Day two of this ‘FULL TRIAL’ was held at the Elgin St. Court House in Ottawa on Tuesday, 25th of March.

It started punctually, but, going on the experience from Monday, I thought I had a bit of leeway and did not enter the courtroom until a few minutes past.  By this point, Dr. Baglow was testifying about having received his doctorate, chuckling about how he spent more years in school than he expected – but I did not catch what that doctorate was about.

He went on about his CV, his jobs, his political affiliations over the years, and so and so.  It was very interesting – and quite a lot of content, as he was asked to quote something from page 6 of it.

For example, Dr. Baglow testified that he considered himself ‘more or less’ a ‘man of the left’ and was a member of the New Democratic Party (NDP) while a student at McGill. Then, he was fascinated by the Communist party (though he never actually joined), but the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia cooled him somewhat (my words, not his) and he returned to the NDP.  He had stayed with the NDP for much of the time since:  except, of course, for when Bob Rae had run it:  he had torn up his membership card then), but returned thereafter.

Aside:  this is very, very interesting….one of the things Connie Fournier said in her opening statement was that a B’nai B’rith member had (rightly or wrongly) accused Dr. Baglow of anti-Semitism…and Bob Rae has, throughout his career, claimed that he had been persecuted by ‘some segments of the population’ because he is married to a Jew.  I’m sure it is a coincidence, as Dr. Baglow asserts contempt for anti-Semites – and Bob Rae’s politics are enough to turn anyone off, regardless of whom he may or may not be married to.  And while I can see how this co-incidence could, potentially, be abused, as my son is fond of saying, co-incidence is not evidence of causality.  And, in all my (admittedly limited) interactions with Dr. Baglow, I have never detected any anti-Semitism (as almost all Europeans, I am part Jewish myself, so I’m touchy on this).

Another, completely irrelevant, aside:  seeing the tanks roll down our street in ’68 when, as a toddler, I climbed up a sofa and a dresser to look out the window, is one of my earliest childhood memories…

Dr. Baglow was as well groomed as ever, wearing a dark suit/shirt, testified he became a civil servant and then joined PSAC (a public service union) and, eventually, became an executive VP thereof.  In this capacity, he had lobbied for all them policies that I consider to be evil – like, for example, the universal child care thingy.

Indulgently personal aside: I grew up in the Socialist Worker’s Paradise and, as such, was institutionalized (during the daytime) from toddlerhood till gradeschool, in a ‘universal daycare/kindergarten’ system.  I am a survivor of this evil and I fully understand its workings and impact, from the inside.   As such, I swore that I’d rather sell myself on the streets than permit such an evil to ever touch MY children!!!

So, when Dr. Baglow willingly testified that  he had fought FOR such evil institutionalization of innocent children (and seemed proud of promoting what, in my never-humble-opinion, is ‘government enforced child abuse’), I kind of lost my composure for a bit and had a hard time hearing the next bit of testimony.  My apologies.

This is about where the ‘interesting’ bits ended – at least, in my never-humble-opinion.  All the next whole bunch of testimony was about what is the ‘blogosphere’, how to spell the word (neither the judge, nor the person transcribing the trial seemed to know the spelling), and so on and so on and so on.  The only ‘colourful’ bits I gleaned fro this are that Dr. Baglow’s lawyer is a frequent commenter on ‘Dawg’s Blag’, even though he and Dr. Baglow have wildly (and chucklingly so) divergent political opinions.

Perhaos one thing I ought to note is that after Dr. Dawg’s lawyer explained one of the finer points of the blogosphere culture,  he mentioned Omar Khadr.  And, since he ‘got into the mode’ of explaining ‘everything’ to the judge, he tried to explain to her who Omar  Khadr was….Amused, the judge replied that though she might not be up on the latest internet jargon, she’s not an idiot….my wording, not hers, intended to capture her body language, not words.  (Note:  later, the judge demonstrated she knew exactly what a ‘hyperlink’ is, and thus may be tiny bit less of a luddite than she postures as….  To me, this is a very positive thing, indicating she ‘gets’ what she knows and does not know, both, and is not afraid to ask questions!

Actually, I had been quite impressed by Madam Justice Polowin, J.:  she takes copious notes (Dr. Baglow even slowed his lawyer down a bit by gestures to ensure she gets all the note-taking in).  My own experience is that if I hear something, I may forget it on perhaps even not ‘process’ it correctly…but if I write it down as part of ‘taking notes’ – I can usually recall it very accurately, without needing to refer to the notes themselves.  Having observed Madam Justice Polowin, J., I am wondering if her note-taking serves a similar function because if she writes it down, she seems able to quote it without difficulty…

As best as I can determine, the rest of the morning’s testimony had been taken up by defining terms like ‘thread’ and technical details about who has editorial control over posts and comments and site meters and such…

Of interest to other bloggers may be some little tidbits, otherwise unimportant….

  • Dr. Baglow testified that though his readership fluctuates, it averages about a thousand unique readers per day
  • he currently has 3 co-bloggers who can post, but not have moderating control
  • he described a very different ‘startup’ and ‘functions’ experience from mine – but that is to be expected as I have used different platforms than he has
  • he deferred to his tech guy, Mr Bows (sp?) for all tech details, said not knowledgable himself
  • he uses SiteMeter
  • he does not permit racist, anti-Semitic or any kind of hate speech comments on his blog
  • he did 2 takedowns/apologies (with qualifications, making it seem like Ezra Levant’s claim against him was both a persecution for an innocent and understandable misunderstanding of legalese as well as an ‘over-reach’…and the other was a simple misunderstanding of the facts, rather than a misstatement)

‘The term ‘trolling’ got discussed a lot and had been, in my never-humble-opinion, woefully poorly defined and misrepresented to the court – though, it seemed to me, this was not done as a deception but as a deep and true misunderstanding of the very philosophical basis of the concept of ‘trolling’ and the positive, beneficial and, frankly, necessary (for freedom of thought), function of an ‘internet troll’.

At a point just shy of 11:25 am, Madam Justice said she had received a request from her court staff that they would like a little recess -  and we were adjourned for 15 mniutes.

Oh, how things can change!!!

As we all filed back into courtroom 21, Dr. Baglow’s lawyer became concerned over the redness in the face of Dr. Baglow, who suffers from high blood pressure.  While Dr. Baglow protested and insisted some of this redness was due to a sunburn he had just suffered on his holidays to Cuba*, his lawyer was not taking any chances.  All the lawyers and self-reps met in the judges’ chambers while the court clerk took Dr. Baglow’s pulse, declared it way too high, and called the judge with her finding.

On this note, the hearing was adjourned on medical grounds for a bunch of hours….and, no knowing for how long it would go on for following such  a long break, and considering the start of a migraine in me…well, to make a short story even shorter, I went home to try to recover.  My understanding is that tomorrow morning will be taken up with more background testimony and we’ll not get to any of the juicy/substantial stuff until tomorrow pm…

 

 

 

 

John Baglow vs Connie Fournier, Mark Fournier and Roger Smith: the ‘FULL TRIAL’, day 1, part 1

Today, Monday, March 24th, 2014, was the first day in the ‘FULL TRIAL’.

First, a few caveats:

*       My computer has died and I am sending it in for service:  this means I have borrowed equipment (my long suffering hubby’s tablet) and this is NOT the ‘ideal’ blogging medium under any plausible definition… so, instead of highlighting or bolding, I will have to capitalize for emphasis.  I am not shouting, just emphasizing  - my apologies.

*       Due to this really, really slow machine with none of ‘my stuff’ on it (and my limited access to it, as I get to ‘share’), I don’t have the quotes/links to previous/cited cases and so on.  I could get them, if I had the time online, but, currently, I do not.  I may – time and technology permitting – re-visit this post and insert quotes and/or links at a later date when time and internet access are more under my control.

*        Due to me being me – and a certified Aspie to boot – my observations are very, very limited.  They are limited both by my lack of legal training (my area of education is Physics, not Law) and my linguistics (while I may have beecome fluent in 5 languages by the age of 13, I have never mastered ‘legaleese’).  I cannot highlight it this mchine, so I cannot link:  please check out ‘Asperger’s on Wikipedia to understand my limitations in abilities to ‘get’ some of the nuances of what went on:  however, if you are ble to correct me or explain any of my observations more accurately than I, please, I TRULY BEG YOU:  COMMENT!!!  Help others get a better, more accurate picture of what is going on,  I would much rather be corrected than go on in ignorance at any time, on any topic, so, please help me and anyone else reading this get a more insightful picture of the situation, if you possibly can.

TLDR: this will be  a condensed, highly personal and highly imperfect account of my admittedly falliable observaions of this first day of the FULL TRIAL of this particular defamation case.  If you can correct me and/or are willing to add to it, please, do!  As I have borrowed and klunky tech, I cannot highlight or link or spellcheck – sorry…

Background:

Connie and Mark Fournier are the operators of Free Dominion, oldest and longest running political forum in Canada until it was sued into silence by Richard Warman.

Roger Smith, aka Peter O’Donnel (and not just online), is a member and frequent content supplier on Free Dominion and elsewhere on the blogosphere.

John Baglow, aka ‘Dr. Dawg’, aka ‘Ms. Mew’, is a guy who is a retired civil servant and unionist, a self-proclaimed leftist activist, an avid blogger, a Richard Warman groupie (imnho), and a guy with a pechant for black riding boots with the most adorable little silver trimmings.

Please note:  all my own dealings with either John Baglow or ‘Dr. Dawg’ have been very amicable and positive.  I have, in the past, asked him to get me in touch with another progressive blogger I have crossed swords with amicably in the past (I may hold many of the so called ‘progressive views’, but disagree with most of the so called ‘progressive metods’ of achieving them) and he had done so very quickly and courteously.  I was seeking some help/publicity for some Tibetan refugees to Canada and Mr. Baglow has provided it and been very nice to me throughout – and, by extension, to them.

I have found him to be pleasant and charming when ever I have interacted with him.  In fact, I find him quite charismatic.

And, I find it admirble that he has brought a young man I presume to be his step-son to the courthouse to observe civic cases:  it is imperative that we get the next genetration interested in our civics, and I give praise to all who do.  Kudos to him for that!!!

Yes, I bash when bashing is due, but I also give credit when that is due, too…so, please, don’t sue me!!!

This particuar ‘flame war’ started on the blog of Jay Curry and bled over to a number of online spots, including Free Dominion, where the 7-word phrase this courtcase is about was posted by Roger Smith.  I am afraid to report what those 7 offending words were, because from the Richard Warman legal precedent, if I, as a private person, publish the ‘public’ documents of what had been filed at court, I, too, might become liable for ‘re-publishing’ those ‘defamatory’ words.

Yes, it is a matter of ‘public record’.

And, yes, it is ‘factual reporting’ of a ‘public document’….or what was said on public record in a court of law and thus apart of ‘public record’…

BUT!!!

Afte the latest Warman vs. Free Dominion and John does decision, that is no defense:  if the factual record is, at some later point in time, found to be defamatory, the factually reporting on it on the internet is considered to be ‘re-publishing the defmatory statements’ and it would open me to liability.  So, my reporting of tody’s events will necessarily be highly constrained.

The subject of the ‘flame war’ was Omar Khadr, his inaccurate (as per UN’s definition) characterization by ‘Dr. Dawg’ as a ‘child soldier’ and the implications of willfully promulgating this demonstrably inaccurate legal description.  Peter O’Donnel’s opinions complied with the UN’s legal definition (thus leaving Omar Khadr outside of the protections UN grants to ‘child soldiers’) while Dr. Dawg attempted to draw the moral high ground by inaccurately describing the Taliban terorist as a ‘child soldier (in the legal, not colloquial, definition) and then demanded the legal protections for Omar Khadr that are only available to UN-defined ‘child soldiers’….a demostrable and rather glaring hypocrisy which ‘Peter O’Donnel’ pounced and opined upon.

In many online spots.

On Free dominion, he opined so in 7 words which I dare not repeat.

These 7 words that ‘Peter O’Donnel’ posted – and which, he asserts, are his honestly held opinon, shared by some 8 million Canadians (according to his opening statement), are the ‘basis’ of this lawsuit.

It was originally dismissed as a frivolous and a vexatious lawsuit. (And, I reported on it – oh, how I wish I could link!!!  The more I use it, the more I loathe this borrowe tech!!!)

Then, it was appealed – and several judges agreed that internet ‘flame wars’ were ‘legally uncharterred terrtory’ and that some ‘precednt-setting rulings’ need to be made here.  Just so us iternet folks would know where the actual boundaries lie…you know, so we could stay within the lines, the lines are your friends…..(OK, old commercial – but applicable!)

Thus, we have a ‘FULL TRIAL’

TLDR:  trial, ruling against Baglow (frivolous), but no legal rules for ‘internet flam war’ so FULL TRIAL to set ‘legal precedent’.  Baglow:  cute guy, charismatic and nice, wrong side of argument here.

OH, MY – OVER A K OF WORDS AND I HAVE NOT STARTED ON TODAY’S EVENTS YET…..deepest apologies, just trying to get the parameters in before I start today’s observations, as I honestly cannot afford to get sued…

FACTS:

These are the facts as posted outside the courtroom #24 at the Elgin St. Courthouse on the 24th of March, 2014:

Justice:          Polowin, J.

Plaintiff:        Baglow, John

Lawyer:          Burnet, Peter Francis

Defendant:     Smith, Roger

Unrepresented

                 Fournier, Connie

Lawyer:             Kulaszka, Barbara

                 Fournier, Mark

Lawyer:            Kulaszka, Barbara

Mr. John Baglow turned up as well groomed as ever:  a dark suit, a blue-collar shirt and them cute riding boots with the adorable silver trimmings he has become so well known for.  He knows what he looks good in and uses it well!

Connie Fournier wore a classy, slim-line dark skirt with a gray pattern, a pretty blouse with a multi-red abstract pattern and a red blazer that accented the blouse perfectly – with an understated, classy gold/gold-tone diamond/rhinestone necklace (sorry – I am not knowledge-able enough to tell the two apart…it was ‘understated’ and ‘classy’ at the same time and I wish I could pull a similar look off….Connie looked smart and classy and – well, we have words for women like that!!!).

Roger Smith wore a blue blazer and khakis – understated, yet elegant.  With his silver-kissed hair, he was easily the most attractive person in the courtroom.

The charismatic Mark Fournier wore a tweed jacket and slacks and, despite his bigger-than-life persona, tried his best to stay in the background.

In addition to the people listed above, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association were interveners in this case – as friends of the court – on the side of the defendants.  The lawyer sent to represent them was a young man named Steven Frankel – and while he had a wedding ring on the ring finger of his left hand, he looked younger than either of my sons.  OK – I officially feel old now….but, when he spoke, he sounded really, really smart!

And, of course, the judge…

Madam Justice Polowin, J., presided over the case.

She looked sharp, with her pale hair cut short-ish, slicked back at the temples and wonderfully fluffy on top, she wore understated light stud earrings (pearls?) and her judge’s robes flowed playfully about her slight frame.  She self-admitted to being a luddite (knowing how to send and receive emails – but nothing else on the internet) and asked for every bit to be explained, internet technology and jargon and culture included.

I see now that it is way late, and I plan to be back in court to observe tomorrow – so I must suspend my narrative here.  Let me just state that, at the end of the day, Madam Justice Polowin stated (at the end of the day) that even though the trial had been scheduled for Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday, she sees no way they’ll get through it all (while doing a proper and thorough job of examining the underlying issues, as the appellate court had directed) by the end of this week and so participants ought to alter their travel plans accordingly…

MORE LATER!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MUST ACCOMMODATE! ACCOMMODATE!!!

Today, my son and I were discussing that whole York University misogyny-accommodation fiasco on the way home from school.  We discuss a lot of things during our drives – best time of my day!

As we were discussing that York issue, I mentioned that I had come across this article at The Beaverton :

‘TORONTO – After permitting a student to be excused from course work on religious grounds so he would not have to publicly interact with female peers, the Dean of York University is also permitting another student to have the right to ritually murder people to appease his gods.

“We are legally obliged to heed to the student’s wishes of human sacrifice” said Dr. Martin Singer, Dean of the faculty of Arts and Science at the university. “This wouldn’t affect many students as the festival of Tlacaxipehualiztli only lasts 20 days to celebrate the spring equinox and sometimes occurs during reading week. Additionally, the student has assured me that obsidian blades are so sharp that you will barely feel them.”

“I understand that people may be uncomfortable with the idea of firing arrows at someone tied to a wooden board until their blood fills a copper bowl, but York University is an inclusive campus that appreciates the values of all religions,” the Dean added.’

Yes – very funny.

But that was not my point…rather, having forwarded this article onto several people, one of them actually believed it.

Sad, very sad…because as we discussed this, my son pointed out that if the intended human sacrifice were the one demanding this religious accommodation on the grounds that they have a terminal illness and believe that being a human sacrifice to the sun god will cleanse their soul and therefore their belief ought to be accommodated – this becomes a much less far-fetched scenario than most of us would like.

Which brings me to the title of this post…

As we drove on, and as we left the uncomfortable reality and resorted to levity we got to the title of my post.  Please, put on your best Dalek voice, but, instead of ‘Time Lord DNA has been detected!  Must exterminate!  Exterminate!!!’ we changed the wording a tiny bit:

RELIGIOUS* DNA HAS BEEN DETECTED!

MUST ACCOMMODATE!

MUST ACCOMMODATE!

ACCOMMODATE!!!

Later on, trying to relax before bedtime, I checked my YouTube subscriptions to find this little installment in the accommodation insanity:

ACCOMMODATE!!!

What I find most disturbing is that this martial arts instructor caved in, segregated the class – and even let the Muslim student proselytize at the dojo!

And the young woman, being told by her sensei to get used to it – outrageous!!!

My own experience with a dojo and Muslim demands for accommodation are refreshingly different!

Let me tell you the story.

I was always fascinated by martial arts.  But, while I lived on the wrong side of the iron curtain, being a daughter of a political dissident, this was a closed door for me.  Once in the refugee camp in Austria, I traded babysitting and tutoring a martial arts’ master’s kids for lessons…but, it was barely a taste…

Once in Canada, I pursued my dream of learning martial arts.  And, to my parents’ credit, even though they were rebuilding their lives from nothing, they did send me to martial arts classes.  But, being new in the country, my parents could not afford to send me to the dojo of my dreams:  Takahashi Dojo.

Oh, how I dreamed of it!

Once I started competing, I came to the Takahashi dojo to watch Tina Takahashi and June Takahashi compete, I bought a glossy calendar featuring the one and only Phil Takahashi, and on and on.

So, once my sons were old enough to start learning some martial arts, guess what place I picked?

Because of their age difference, they were in consecutive classes, which worked out very well.  And what worked out even better was that during my younger son’s class, I could take Tai Chi classes at another part of the dojo.  The dojo was then run by June Takahashi (then in her late 70′s or early 80′s) and Tina Takahashi was the principal teacher, with Phil Takahashi teaching some of the classes, too.  How much better could it get?!?!?

What a pleasant surprise it was for me that June Takahashi had decided to take the Tai Chi class too!  All of a sudden, I was classmates with one of my idols.   It was awesome.

After the Tai Chi class, I would still have an hour to wait while my older son’s class was on, but, being classmates and all, if she was not too busy, June would often spend that time chatting with me.  I learned so many things from her!  She told me about her childhood in BC, where she and Masao (her husband and founder of the dojo) met as children during WWII in one of those shameful camps the Canadians of Japanese descent were sent to, and much, much more.

One day, she was busy in the office and so I watched my older son’s class.  He was about 11 at that time, and had been going to classes for a while – and though still a novice, he was diligent and thorough and knew all the ‘rules’ (typical Aspie!).  So, it was natural that he got assigned to take a new student who was there for his first class under his wing, explain the ceremonies, why and how and what, what the significance was, and so on.  He was good at this and loved helping out.

In this role, he was teaching the newbie how to bow properly during the opening ceremony, that it shows respect, and also how to show respect by bowing to your opponent before you commence working or sparring with them.  So far so good – except that the boy’s father started yelling at him from the sidelines, saying ‘No bowing!’ and being loud.  The father got asked to wait for his son in the changing room and the rest of the lesson went well.  The new student was a good kid and did all he was asked quickly and well and with respect.  End of story, right?

Not exactly…

My younger son and I were waiting outside for my older one to come out of the dojo – but so was this boy’s father.  He was a big man, 190+cm tall and very buff.  As soon as my son came out, he marched right up to him (my son came barely up to his chest), loomed over him and, gesticulating wildly, started screaming at him:  “We don’t bow!  We are Muslims!  How dare you tell my son to bow!”  I was afraid he was going to hit my son!

He did not get the chance because I ran over and stepped between them.  Though he was much bigger than I, I put on my best mamma-bear face (and body language) and told him in no uncertain terms that he was not going to speak to my son in that manner!  I have been told that in that mode, I can look a tad intimidating – and the man stepped back and visibly shrank – but continued to tell me to tell my son not to tell his son to bow during judo.

Well, I was not having any of it.  I explained that my son was in the right and invited him to go back to the dojo and discuss it with June, Tina and the other instructors there.  Without another word, he left rather hurriedly.

The adrenalin was coursing through my veins with so much fervor I was shaking.  With my sons in tow, I went back to the dojo and spoke to June in the office.  Since we were on friendly terms, she knew I was not likely to make something like this up.  And, my sons were both quite pale following the experience and confirmed my story’s veracity.

So, what did June Takahashi do?

Right there and then, she looked up the kid’s record:  the dad had pre-paid for a full year of classes.  Not cheap.  But, to June, some things were more important than money.  On the spot, she reversed the credit card payment and said that neither that man nor his son would ever step into her dojo again!

June Takahashi is a true Canadian hero!

All of us felt very bad for that man’s son…

 

*  ‘Religious’ refers to both theistic and non-theistic religions like ‘big-satetism’, communism, feminism, warmism and other irrational yet dogmatic belief systems.

The things my hubby says

I think that I have the bestest, most perfectest husband ever possible.

Not only is he incredibly punny, he also says some of the sweetest things ever!

For example, one of his favourite sayings is:

Don’t pet the sweaty things!

OK, so his dyslexia may have something to do with it, but it carries much the same meaning as the original, don’t sweat the petty things, but with a lot more panache!

Another one of his sayings:

Strong like bull – smart like bag of hammers!!!

And, he pays me the sweetest compliments ever!  Just the other day, he told me that I was 3 standard deviations from the mean!!!  What could be sexier than that?

And today, he called me ‘his personal Wikipedia’!

Did I ever mention that Aspie-to-Aspie marriages tend to be the happiest and most long lasting ones?

Having fun with First World Anarchists

If you are not familiar with what First World Anarchist (FWA) are, I suggest a quick trip to reddit or imgur.

Fair warning:  if you click on the above links, you may suffer pain from laughter and lost hours…

In a nutshell (no pun intended), FWA is a person who is so fed up with  our over-micro-managing overlords and their persistent petty rules that if, say, they see a line with a ‘DO NOT CROSS’ sign, they’ll photograph themselves crossing it and post it on the internet to share with all the other FWAs.  It’s kind of like a mild oppositional disorder with a sense of humour.

I actually find the growth of the FWA movement to be a good thing:  finally, people are beginning to rebel our over-regulation….but, this is supposed to be a light-hearted post and I should not ruin it by philosophising or preaching!!!

Yes, I live in a household with two very enthusiastic FWAs:  one is a teenager and the other is an engineer, so that explains that.  But, I digress…

The idea of these photos FWAs share is to break a petty or irrational or annoying rulewith attitude.

Open the package on the opposite side of where it says to!

Use the champagne glass for red wine!

Post a picture of that tree with attitude!

Put the sock marked ‘L’ on the right foot!

This kid right here!

So, you can understand my dilemma when I came across this picture:  do I post it to r/firstworldanarchist or would that be a bad idea….

http://i.imgur.com/LmCVzZV.jpg

Thoughts?

Aspergers, reading faces and cultural differences regarding ‘smiling’

One of the questions get asked most often when I reveal I am an Aspie is when/how did I get diagnosed with Aspergers’, as I am of a generation when this was not a commonly known about thing.  As a matter of fact, growing up on the other side of the Iron Curtain, I am pretty sure this was not recognized as a physical thing.

Completely irrelevant factoid:  From a very early early age, I used to suffer from crippling migraines.  My mom took me to specialists and they told her that unofficially, these are migraines, but that because ‘migraine headaches’ have been ruled by the Communist Party to be ‘something capitalist rich ladies with nothing better to do make up to be interesting’, so they are no longer permitted to diagnose or treat this condition.  So,  I highly doubt ‘Aspergers’ Syndrome’ was something that anyone was willing to even mention…

To answer that question, I explain that my older was always an atypical learner.  For example, when he was 4 years old and I was pregnant with his brother, as per the advice of the parenting books and with my obstetrician’s permission, I brought him to one of the pre-natal ‘well-baby’ checkups.  When the obstetrician walked in, he pointed to the big poster on the exam-room’s wall and asked my son:

“Do you know what this is?”

My 4-year-old looked him seriously in the eyes and replied:

“That is the female reproductive system.  Would you like me to explain it to you?”

As a matter of fact, when he was just about 18 months old, we took him to the Science and Tech museum – he loved trains.  He would go into the room displaying train engines and, whether anyone was listening or not, would point to parts of the steam engine and explain, in detail, how the machines worked (using half-baby, half scientific language).  He was mobbed by a large group of camera-wielding Japanese tourists, who were convinced he was part of the museum exhibit…

Yes, he is a genius:  after all, he IS your humble blogger’s son!!!

(Explanation: from selecting a mate to timing the pregnancy to choosing rearing techniques, I had optimized primarily for intelligence, so the proven fact that my sons have both scored in the ‘genius’ range ought not be a surprise.  The fact that they are not emotionally damaged beyond repair is just a lucky bonus!!!)

What I am trying to establish is that he was both a smart kid and an atypical learner.  So, it took until grade 2 that he hit the metaphorical wall – until then, he could use his intelligence to hide the depth of his difficulties.  But, by grade 2, his cognitive skills were so high, and his ability to express them in writing so low, because here, in Canada (unlike where I grew up where it’s half-and-half written and oral testing), marks are awarded ONLY for written testing and that just kills young Aspies’ spirit.   He turned out to be above the 99.98% range of his peers in cognition, but below the 40% range of his peers in ability to express it in writing…  So, the gulf between what he knew and what he could produce in school was so huge that he began to fall into a deep depression.

Thus, when he was in grade 2, we sought help.  Luckily, there was a very well respected psychologist who had office hours once a week at my son’s school and we sought her help.  Frightened by his depression at such a young age, we got the ‘deluxe’ package of evaluation.  (This was not an indulgence, we just did not want to take any risks with 50% of our retirement plan.)

So, he went for many hours of tests.

And, so did we – the family.

Each one of us, parents, went for a 3-hour evaluation and then we had an ‘all 4 family members interacting’ evaluation session.

I don’t know what went on in the other sessions, but when it came to my evaluation, they gave me a series of totally messed-up tests.  Like – 150 ‘facial expressions’ where I had to say what the person in question was ‘feeling’!  Like – who CARES what they were feeling – that’s involuntary and thus irrational and thus, obviously, irrelevant.  I’m only interested in what people are thinking because I respect other people enough to presume them to reign in their in their irrationality and show me the respect of acting logically and rationally!!!

Isn’t that obvious?!?!?!?

After all, I do this for them – and I have been told that reciprocity is the cornerstone of civilization!  So, why would they not reciprocate and do this for me?

RIGHT?!?!?

Ok, ok, I did not do so well on that test.  To my credit, I did get 7 right…

But, having studied Konrad Lorenz’s books at great length during my teens, I did much better on the body-language one:  I got almost 25% on that one!!!

Aside:  I have worked on this really, really hard for many years since that fateful day, taking internet classes, and am now at a little over 40% on the facial expressions one!  And, I totally get like 45% on the body-language one!  I don’t mean to be boastful, but… I’m close to 50% on the ‘real-woman/she-man’ ones!!!

Needless to say, the psychologist identified (much less pejorative than ‘diagnosed’) both me and my hubby as Aspies….though, my hubby is way closer to neurotypical than I am – so I always take his lead when it comes to all that ‘human interaction’ nonsense.  After all, men are so much better at this touchy-feely-relationship stuff!  Sometimes I feel so sorry for those poor, poor, emotional creatures…  But, I digress…

It may seem like I am changing topics here, but, please, do bear with me…  Are you familiar with the atheist argument that once all the theists come to an agreement about what is the precise definition of ‘deity’, come talk to us, but, until then, please work to get a functional definition before you try to get us to ‘believe’ in this?

Well – here is the ‘facial equivalent’ thereof for us, Aspies!!!  (Yes, the link is coming – just a little more ranting….)

I recall that when Ivan Lendl first came to play tennis in North America, reporters kept asking him why he does not smile – and he replied that nobody had given him a reason to smile – and this was touted as weird in the press and all….but as he became more integrated into North American society, he learned to smile whenever there was an audience.

Keep this in mind, please – especially with respect to the atheist argument about getting an agreed-upon definition of ‘god’ before asking us to believe in one…

SOOO much was explained to me when I came upon THIS blog entry:

‘In Russia, it is not common to smile at strangers. When you smile at a stranger in Russia, you may get the question “Have we met?” in return, because Russians normally smile only to people they know. Also, this is not common to smile when dealing with more serious issues. You wouldn’t see many smiling faces in business meetings, because business is serious, and by smiling, you show that you either don’t take it seriously or you distrust your partners’ words. Russian shop assistants are trained to smile, because smiling while serving people is unnatural for Russians. “I’m taking you seriously, you are important to me, so I don’t smile” is the natural Russian approach to a smile. ‘

It is a short post and chock-full of useful data, so I recommend reading it.

But, what it demonstrates is that facial expressions are culture-dependant and NOT in any way universal.

So, I urge you, neurotypicals:  Please, first come to an agreement what do particular facial expressions express AMONGST YOURSELVES and only THEN come and demand that we, Aspies, try to decode that crazy mumbo-jumbo!!!

John Stossel – The School Revolution (with Ron Paul)

I had seriously considered home schooling my kids, but was advised against it on the grounds that as an Aspie parent of Aspie kids, I would not be able to teach them the social skills they needed to get along with the mundanes neurotypicals.

This was, indeed, true – to a degree.

‘School’ did not give my kids ‘education’ as the educators would have perceived it.  Every day, I would tell my kids that even though they are not learning new ‘material’ in school, and that while ‘learning new material’ is the goal for most kids going to school, they, as Aspies, were in a slightly different category.  Obviously, the material would not be new to them, nor difficult to master:  their one and only goal in going to school was to learn how to ‘present’ their knowledge, how to PROVE to the mundanes muggles neurotypicals that they indeed have mastered that knowledge.

So, that is why my kids were not home-schooled.

Well, when I say they were not home-schooled, I do mean they attended actual official schools – from Montessori (I really, really do not recommend this for Aspies) to highly structured, incredibly expensive private schools, to public schools.  They still learned most things at home long before they encountered them in school because I firmly believe that many concepts cannot be fully assimilated and become ‘natural’ unless they are taught at a much, much younger age that at which they are introduced in any formal schooling setting.

The best results we have found were actually in the ‘gifted’ program in the public schools.

Having an Aspie kid go to a Montessori school means he will learn everything about his narrow field of interest, but his horizons will not have been broadened.

Having an Aspie kid go to the most expensive private school meant that he was bullied by really rich people’s kids – so rich and influential (from politicians to the Russian mob) that the school was afraid to tell the parents their kids were being bullies.  Sure, the classrooms were small – but that only meant that there were fewer kids willing/able to stand up to the bullies in defense of the Aspie.  And, it meant a much more intimidated faculty…

Having an Aspie kid go to public schools means that they can see there are kids with much greater learning challenges than their own and makes them protective of their teachers.  From other, less disciplined kids.

Actually, the ‘gifted program’ in the public schools has been the best, most accepting, environment for my kids.  The kids who were not in the ‘gifted program’ in grade-school would not dare to bully the ‘gifties’ because they knew these were going to be their future bosses.  As a matter of fact, girls from the non-gifted classes saw it as a status symbol to be seen with a boy from the gifted class…and it worked for the gifted girls, too. So, there was a lot of tolerance to accept the ‘differentness’ of the smart students by everyone else in the school and this worked to let my kids learn and grow to their best potential.

Sure, most new material was learned at home, years before it was introduced in the school.  It was the social aspect, the ability to present their work in a way that neurotypicals would accept and to interact with other neurotypicals on the school playground that was the important lesson my kids went to school for.

But, had they been born with  these neurotypical abilities, had I and my sons been more comfortable interacting with neurotypicals, I suspect I would not have wasted their time with the academically slow and questionable public schooling.

 

Aspergers, Signs and What ‘Things Actually Mean’

It is a source of deep frustration for me that so often, signs are interpreted wrongly by the neurotypicals – who read meanings into them that simply are not there!  And, they get indignant when others, with better knowledge of either grammar or logic (or both), act in accordance with what the sign actually says instead of what they erroneously infer it says.

Let me give you an example:  outside of one of the parking lots at my son’s high school, there is a sign:

STAFF ONLY

PLEASE

In one way, this sign is pretty clear:  it is a request that only staff members enter the area.

It is not a statement of a rule, nor an order, because it includes the word ‘PLEASE’ – this clearly indicates that this is a request, something that is being asked of me…and therefore within my power to either grant or reject.

Right?!?!?

Yet, when I drove into the parking lot not with the intent to park there, but simply to drop my son off at the door closest to his locker, two different school employees told him off for my perceived transgression.

Outrageous!!!

The sign never stated that non-staff members are forbidden from even entering, not just parking in the area.

Of course, I am presuming that there ought to be a comma after ‘only’ and before ‘please’.  As is, the sign is a sentence fragment which indicates that the staff is in the process of pleasing some exclusive element, but does not define whom the staff are in the process of pleasing, why, or how one can get on the list of those to be pleased by the staff….much less imply any rules about the area in question!

Now, if one were to interpret the sign as meaning ‘only staff members are allowed in the area’, why are students permitted to walk there?  And, for that matter, if only staff are permitted there, why would the staff members presume that their vehicles are allowed there as well?  It certainly does not state that vehicles owned by staff members are permitted to be driven/parked there.

Really, think about it:  it says ‘staff’ – not ‘staff and their vehicles and students who are walking but not getting out of vehicles”.

I am not being silly here – this is something of a serious issue for us, Aspies.

We take a sign – or an instruction – at its literal meaning.

We do not see any ‘implied’ other meaning – yet, we are the ones who get yelled at or laughed at if we truly follow what the sign actually says.  That only ads insult to injury…

Let me give you another example, from a math test:

“Write the 3 forms of a quadratic relation that you have learned in this course this far…”

It seems obvious that if you have learned any or all of these 3 forms of quadratic relations before you started this class, they are not eligible to be put down for the answer here.   In other words, if you are good at math and already knew them, the only accurate and correct answer is to leave this blank or say ‘none’!

The corollary is that if you are still ignorant of these forms because you are bad at Math and have learned nothing in this class, your answer of leaving this blank or saying ‘nothing’ is also 100% correct:  the question does not ask what was taught, or what material was covered, but what you had actually learned.  If you had learned nothing, then your answer of ‘nothing’ would indeed be factually correct and deserving of full marks!

Yet, if you, as a student, try to point this out to a teacher, you will not be commended for your accurate interpretation of the question.  You will be singled out, put down and even perhaps punished for some trumped up ‘disrespect’ charge…

To an Aspie, this is very, very confusing.

I know – I’ve been there…

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 124 other followers