‘Orange Is the New Black’ on bookburning

You know that something is part of ‘the culture’ when it keeps showing up in pop culture.

Personally, I enjoy watching Netfix – and one of their shows is ‘Orange Is the New Black':  a show about a posh girl who, while young and ‘experimenting’, had crossed some lines and now has to pay the price in prison.  It is a fun show, based (loosely, I presume) on a real life story, that makes us re-examine the whole ‘drug war’ and related issues.

OK!

Another thing I like is binge-watching shows:  so, the Netflix ‘thing’ of releasing a whole season of a show at once pleases me beyond explanation.  Perhaps it is the Aspie in me, but, I have a difficult time going from one world to another.  So, when a show paints an alternate world for me (like, say, fictionalized life in prison), it takes me hours to transition from that world to my reality and vice versa.  Which means that it only makes sense that I should watch all the episodes back-to-back!

Right?!?!?

Alas, the real world tends to intrude….which is why it was not until tonight that I saw this particularly salient line in the show…

Background:

The women’s prison celebrates ‘Mother’s Day’ with particularly open visitation from the babies/children of the inmates.  As a direct result of the families’ visits, the women’s prison becomes infested with both scabies and bedbugs.

In order to combat the infestations, the prison burns all possibly infested items:  from mattresses to prison uniforms to…the books in the library.

The pertinent line:

All the books in the prison library had been burned, as they had all been infested with bed-bugs….except for one book – the book that nobody had dared to burn!

The prison had been left with a single, bed-bug-infested book:  a copy of the Koran….

Political Correctness – Janet Albrechtsen

Draw Muhammed Day – so, what next?

It has been two weeks since my failed attempt to hold a Draw Muhammed Day event on Canada’s Parliament Hill.

To read what had transpired then, please see my posts on the topic.

In the aftermath, everybody wanted to know what was I going to do next?

To be honest, my failure had taught me just how naive I was when it came to this issue.  Yes, I knew I had to DO something – but I didn’t want another failure.  So, the first thing to do was to learn.

In the last two weeks, I spoke and corresponded with many peoples:  some passionate, some intelligent, some knowledgeable – and most a combination of the above.  I got a lot of suggestions and a lot of advice.

One neighbour of mine asked me why I would bother with this – when I could be gardening or doing something else fun.  I pointed out I had kids and could not leave the country in a worse shape for them than it was when I came here.  He just shook his head and drove away.

Another neighbour, whom I had considered a friend, ‘jokingly’ suggested that perhaps I should move, so that her house does not get shot up by accident when ‘they’ come for me…

But most people were actively supportive and gave me some constructive criticism and good advice.

One suggestion I got from a large number of people went something along the following lines:

  • freedom of speech is guaranteed as our Constitutional right
  • so is freedom of assembly
  • Parliament Hill is a public area – perhaps THE public area and as such, it belongs to all of us Canadians
  • therefore, don’t get any permits and just show up with a group of people and do your thing

While I agree with this in principle, there is more to it that just the principle…

You see, there is an organization that is in charge of the activities on Parliament Hill.  It’s some kind of a committee – of course…how else can the bureaucrats avoid individual responsibility – but, it exists for several very practical reasons.

It is necessary to co-ordinate the various events, for simple logistics reasons.

And it is also their responsibility to, through the RCMP, provide security on The Hill (or, in their shorthand, PH).

So while I reject any suggestion that they have the right to judge the substance of the protests in PH  (and their multi-page guide to the use of PH indeed does reserve this right – down to who will speak and what they will say and to limit this to what will ‘fit their image’), I do understand the practical necessity of crowd control and event co-ordination.

In addition, it seems that if I am deemed to trespass on PH, this organization has the right to get me arrested.  And while I think freedom of speech is a worthy issue – worthy enough to go to jail for – I am not certain if getting arrested for ‘trespassing’ has the same impact.  (Which, of course, why this loophole is there…)

So, this is not the course of action I plan to take right now.

Others have urged me to go the Texas route:  to rent a private venue and private security to hold the event.

And while the Garland, Texas, event was a success story (yes, a couple if ISIS goons showed up, but security dispatched them quickly and nobody besides the terrorists got killed – so, despite the media negative spin, this WAS a success story), it feels too much like trying to hold a free speech event in an unmarked basement room with nobody really knowing about it.  And a sign on the door saying ‘beware of the leopard’…

Yes, I am exaggerating – but with my highly limited media reach (I’m no Pamela Geller), I’m not exaggerating anywhere as much as I’d like to.

So, for now, that is also not a preferred course of action.

Then there were those who said that any form of blasphemy is ‘not nice’ and that it is an abuse of the freedom of speech to use it for the purpose of blasphemy. (These are the same people who say “I am for freedom of speech, BUT…”)

To you, I say that without the freedom to blaspheme, there would be no freedom of religion!

Yes, truly!!!

If I were not permitted to blaspheme most Christian’s belief that Jesus Christ was/is the son of God, born of a human woman, who was crucified as a human sacrifice of his corporeal self to his divine self to atone for the sins of humanity – then I would not be free to worship as a Muslim.

If I were not permitted to blaspheme the Muslim belief that Jesus was fathered by a human and did not die on the cross, I would not be free to worship as a Roman Catholic and many Protestant sects.

If I were not permitted to blaspheme the Hindu belief in many deities, then I would not be free to worship as a Christian, a Muslim, a Jew or any other forms of monolatrism/monotheism.

And that is barely scratching the surface!

It is no coincidence that religious books/teachings are exempt from hate-speech laws, because they all hate-speech each other!!!  Which, of course, leaves atheists and ignostics (I do consider myself an ignostic more than anything else) at a bit of a disadvantage:  if everyone else is free to blaspheme and even hate-speech each other’s religion, why are we not allowed to even civil-ly criticize any of them?

NO – blasphemy is not only good, it is absolutely necessary for freedom of religion – and freedom from religion – to exist!!!

Which still leaves me with the question…

What to do?  What to do?!?!?

First thing on my list was a bit of self-education.

If the reason my original event was cancelled was due to ‘security concerns’, then I had better educate myself on this topic in particular.

OK, perhaps picking the International Draw Muhammed Day was not the best for security’s sake.  Perhaps I should pick a less inflammatory date, like, say September 11th – but I jest!

The next item on my list was to learn a little bit about security, public spaces and events and both the theory and how to in that.  I was in luck!

As it so happened, yesterday, 3rd of June, 2015 (exactly 2 weeks to the day when I had intended to hold my failed event), the International Security Conference & Exposition was held in Ottawa – just across the street from the big RCMP building!!!  What luck!!!

Of course, I could not miss an educational opportunity like this!

In my usual bumbling manner, I asked for directions at a hotel nearby the convention centre – and got very exact ones from a nice lady at the front desk.  I followed them to the letter and soon found a room.  Seeing people within, I boldly entered….only to find out that this was ‘the speaker’s lounge’!

Eventually, I found the registration desk, got my badge – and soon found the room with the seminar I knew I could not miss:  ‘Securing Public Spaces’.

It was awesome,

A moderator from The Hill Times (a sponsor) had three most esteemed panelists:  David Harris, Director, International and Terrorist Intelligence Program INSIGNIS Strategic Research Inc., some Commie prof from Carleton U who kept insisting that policing causes income disparity (and boasted of helping Greece organize their policing…really, I’m not making this up) and a lady from the City of Ottawa who is in charge of emergency stuff.

The moderator and two thirds of the panel were most excellent!

Joking aside, I really learned a lot about both the theoretical as well as practical aspects of policing public areas.

So, I feel that with my newly acquired knowledge, I might be better able to co-operate (I will NOT ‘collaborate’ – where I come from, collaborators are lined up against the wall and shot – and I am most definitely against violence of any sort) with the powers that control PH.

Perhaps with a different date – one that will work for them and not be so provocative – we can still succeed in having this equal-opportunity blasphemy event on PH.

So, my next step will be to re-contact the power that be and see what hoops I need to jump through to get this event happening!

James Grant: The Forgotten Depression

A while ago, when the Canadian government abandoned the ‘long form census’ and stopped collecting unnecessarily intrusive information about us, the citizens, this simple act generated great controversy.

Not just in the media – inside my family, too!

You see, my father-in-law is a Keynesian…

It is a difficult admission to make, but, alas, it is true!

My father-in-law and I love each other very dearly – and truly respect each other as professional adversaries – but, when it comes to individual freedom versus central government control, the two of us just don’t agree…  And every chance we get (much to the chagrin to the other adults in the family), we battle for the souls of the next generation of our family!!!

Especially my children – his grandchildren.

And whatever else he may be, my father-in-law is brilliantly eloquent and very, very persuasive.  Neither of which traits I posses:  rather, I counter simply with the ‘deeply uncharismatic’ reason.

So, back to the time when the mandatory (as in – you’ll go to jail if you don’t reveal to the government your innermost secrets) ‘long form’ (i.e. constitutionally – none of the government’s business) census was controversially being cancelled.

Did I mention that my father-in-law, while a student of Economy and Political Science (sic) at Ottawa U wrote an essay deeply critical of Lester B’s economic policies?  Little did he know that his prof was Lester B’s drinking buddy…and mocked him with my father-in-law’s essay.

The next day, my father-in-law got a phone call:  “Belaire!!!  So, you don’t think I know how to run this country?!?!?”

And – he offered my father-in-law a job.  On the spot.  As his special economic advisor!

Needless to say, my father-in-law accepted.  He advised Lester B on economy while he was the leader of the opposition – and penned the wording much of Lester B’s laws – especially anything even remotely dealing with the economy, while Lester B was the Prime Minister.

And he advised and briefed many of Lester B’s ministers:  from PET through Chretien to Martin and many, many others. And, he mentored many subsequent top civil servants…some of whom tried (unsuccessfully) to rope me into what eventually turned into the sponsorship scandal…but that is a different story.

(Must state:  when it came to this scandal, my father-in-law was even more idealistic and naive than I…100% blameless, as he was well retired by then…but some of his past civil servant mentees tried to ‘repay’ him by trying to draw me in to the schemes so I could benefit financially…big time…until they saw I was totally not into corruption and that given proof, I would ‘blow the whistle on them’, at which point they kind of black-listed me…  Honesty is what my father-in-law and I share and the root of our mutual respect, despite our ideological differences.)

My mother-in-law still has a scrap book of all the political cartoons that included my father-in-law – from all the main stream media publications of those days.  And yes, when PET came to power and refused to heed my father-in-law’s advice (which, surprisingly, was actually reasonable) regarding Alberta’s oil-sands, my father-in-law could no longer take the Liberal corruption and resigned.

As he says: he used to be a classical liberal – but he held on to his morals while ‘his party’ drifted away from him.

Of course, he and I disagree most vociferously about which time period is best descriptive of ‘classical liberal’ – we both seek that title, yet each of us understands it to mean a very different thing…reflecting a different ‘era’ of what either of us believes constitutes a ‘classical liberal…

OK – I’m ranting – I beg your indulgence.

Back to the issue of the ‘long form census':  we were up, at a cottage in northern Quebec, with the dog and the rabbit curled up by our feet, arguing over the benefits vs evils of the ‘long form census’.

DSC_2553

And, being the eloquent/charismatic one, my father-in-law was winning the argument – winning my babies’ minds over to the dark side!

That is – until I asked my sons what do they think the government was going to DO with all this information.

Which is what turned the tide…

Why bring up this story now?

Well, it is necessary for the young people in our society to understand what the proper role of the government ought to be – and just how easy it is for the self-appointed technocrats to usurp the decision-making process and subvert political  decision making to their pet ‘models’ and untested hypothesies…

The following video contains very strong empirical evidence for the benefit of denying governments the type of information they are most likely to seek, which would give them excuses to justify interventions in areas they have no right to intervene and interfere in!

Like, say, economy…

Eric Brazeau’s motion to appeal: 17th of April, 2015

For the story of how I came to Toronto for this hearing, please see here.

For the anticipation of the trial before the courtroom opened, please see here.

For the very important (with immigration implications) cases heard before Eric’s came up, please see here.

Now that the preliminaries are out of the way, here is the ‘meat’ of the story:

It turns out that even though Mr. Brazeau was listed as ‘self represented’, his former counsel, a certain Misha, was there to speak on his behalf.

Let’s get this clear:  I have never seen this Misha before, nor had an contact with him, but, I don’t like him.  I don’t know why – call it a gut reaction, based on seeing him in court and briefly meeting him in person afterwards:  he might be a competent lawyer for all I know, but that ‘like’ button for me was just not clicked.  My subconscious mind put him squarely in with ‘the silly bunnies’…

Yet, it seems that when in court, he had ‘collaborated’ with the Crown and both had their ducks lined up in the same row:  Eric Brazeau is to be released on bail with the guarantee of two citizens in good standing willing to vouch for him and let him live with them.

Yes, yes, yes.

It was, somehow, anticlimactic…

But, until the actual appeal date (the day and month of which I did not catch, but I think it’ll be some time in June or July of this year..but when I do know, I will let you, my dear readers, know), Mr. Brazeau is out on bail!!!

No money to be paid, but he had to agree to certain conditions:  including staying off of public transit.

It turned out that the two guarantors into whose custody Eric had been released were siting in the courtroom, directly behind me.  Also in the courtroom was Miro, of BlogWrath, and his pretty wife Toshiko. Also there was Eric’s friend Ron.

It was a great pleasure for me to make their acquaintance!

So, there we were, waiting for the paperwork to be done.

For, before he could walk out, Eric and his guarantors had to sign tons of paperwork – in front of a justice of peace.  And the justice of peace had to clear all the cases before Eric’s first.

So, in the hallway of justice, we sat and waited…and chatted.  At this point, my friend Robert, who has been trying to raise the funds for Eric’s new lawyer fro BC to come to Toronto and represent him at the actual appeal, joined us.

And we waited..

…and we waited…

And, finally Eric came out!

Oh, what a glorious moment!!!

We met him with a standing applause and our arms outstretched for hugs!

A small victory in the grand scheme of things, perhaps, but a definite step in the right direction!!!

Long live Freedom!

Long live Eric!!!

Interesting cases being heard before Eric Brazeau’s motion to appeal hearing: 17th of April, 2015

At 10 to 10, I made my way into the Courtroom #2-6.

What I describe below is what lead up to Eric’s case – to skip to it directly, please, go here.

It was packed with a murder of lawyers – wait, that is for crows.  When it comes to lawyers, is it a gaggle? Or a pride?

Whatever it is, it certainly has an air all of its own.  They were swarming back and forth, checking notes, striding towards each other and sharing hushed conversations and abruptly striding away again.  Had they been wearing wigs, it could have been straight out of David Copperfield!

No sight of Eric.

At the stroke of 10, Madam Justice Kelly (? – I was in such a rush to get in, I didn’t check the name walking in and the roster was gone later… but one of the lawyers down the hall thought it might just have been Justice Kelly…..please, dear readers, forget me my sloppiness) promply came in, took her place and after the customary pomposity (‘Hear yee, hear yee, anybody having business to be heard before the crown…..’ something like that, they do stand on their ceremonies, and rightly so!  After all, we ARE the Children of the Magna Carta!) got to business in a most practival and efficient way.

And I mean efficient:  before I even got oriented, the first case was over!

Now, please, let me explain the layout of courtroom #2-6 at 361 University Avenue in Toronto:  it will explain why, in addition to not having any legal training whatsoever and therefore only understanding the proceedings through my highly imperfect layman’s prism, I had a bit of a hard time hearing everything that was going on.

Like most Ontario Courtrooms, this one was wall paneled; what was new to me were the three huge panels of marble decorated with a brightly painted coat of arms.  I could not find a pic of an identical one, but this one is pretty similar.

In front of this, on a raised platform, was the large desk of the judge.

Below/in front of this, also elevated, but less, were the desks of the court clerk, transcript person, and so on and so on.  Two rows of them, descending in height.

Then come the counsel tables.  Usually, there is only one row of these with the lectern splitting them or to one side of both of them.  Well, in courtroom #2-6, there were many, many more.

It was a bit confusing with all the penguins lawyers striding around, but I think there were 4 rows of 4 tables, with the lectern in the middle of the second row.  And different lawyers had very important documents spread out on each table.

To the right of the room, on the judge’s left, but really close to her desk at the back of the room, was the jury box with the jury door in the back wall beyond it.

Following all the lawyer desks,  there was a low wooden barrier with a couple of breaks in it for people to get from the lawyer area to the spectator area and vice versa.  In the middle, between the two breaks, there was the penalty box, with about six or eight seats in it and a plexiglass barrier separating it from the spectator area.

Next came the benches for us, the spectators, and a couple of chairs for the bailiffs, and the doors to the hallway beyond.

Why such a detailed description?

Well, my dear readers, the distance from the judge to the spectator area was quite large….as was the distance from the lectern, from which most of the lawyers spoke…facing the judge and away from the spectators, making it difficult to hear…  My apologies.

Still, I did manage to glean the gist of at least a few of the cases that were heard before Eric’s came up – and, my dear readers, they made my head spin.

And not in a good way…

So, permit me to finally commence the narration!

#1

As I said, I quite missed the first case.

#2

The second case was that of a man who had been sentenced for a 2 year suspended sentence for an assault with a weapon.  And while the maximum possible sentence for this offense was up to 10 years in prison, so getting only 2 years suspended was not so bad, there was a bit of a problem…

A two year sentence would affect this man’s immigration status!!!

Correct me if I’m wrong, but….

The very reason why any criminal sentence of 2 years and more is supposed to be considered by the immigration people is precisely because we do not want people who commit serious criminal acts to be permitted to settle among us.  Yet, over and over during this morning, sentences and dates were manipulated in order to actively prevent immigration boards from learning of the criminal activities of the people before them….

But, I am getting ahead of myself!

Now, this guy had time to appeal this tiny slap on the wrist of a sentence when he was first convicted, but he had not done so….because he did not realize the immigration board would learn of it.

AND IF THE IMMIGRATION BOARD HAD LEARNED HE WAS A CRIMINAL, IT MIGHT ‘PREJUDICE’ THEIR ASSESSMENT OF HIS STATUS!!!

IT IS SUPPOSED TO!!!

So, this joker’s lawyer was claiming that since knowing about his clients criminal sentence would be ‘prejudicial’, the court ought to let him appeal the sentence, even though it was way over a year since the appeal deadline had gone…

And the judge – and the judge GRANTED IT!!!

Yes.

The judge agreed to conspire to defraud the immigration board and prevent them from learning evidence necessary for them to fairly evaluate this man’s immigration application.

And this is called the justice system?!?!?

#3

The very next hearing had immigration implications as well.

It turns out that this particular person has plead guilty to some serious charges which I didn’t quite catch, but they were serious enough to require a sentence longer than 2 years in jail.

And this person’s sentencing hearing was scheduled just a week before his immigration hearing!!!

Of course, being sentenced to two or more years of jail, as this individual was bound to be, based on whatever it was he had plead guilty to, would be prejudicial to the immigration hearing...

So, the judge summarily moved the sentencing to be the week after the immigration hearing, successfully keeping them in the dark about this future resident’s undisputed serious criminal history.

ARRRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I suspect I lost about 30% of my hair listening to just these last 2 cases alone…

#4

Moving a pre-trial date, no details.  Done.

During all this time, lawyers are coming and going.  Usually, when the court is in session, nobody breathes a word, yet during all this, people lawyers were striding back and forth and consulting importantly in hushed voices…making it that much harder to hear the real action!

When the people concerned in the cases were even brought to court (not all were, choosing to have their lawyers be there in their stead), they would either step up from the spectator benches or, if incarcerated, the bailiffs would sneak them in (while the action was going on) through the jury door and sit them, one at a time, in the jury seats.  Even though they were the accused, and most demonstrably not the jury.  You knew they were the accused because before they were seated, among much clattering, the bailiffs would remove their shackles…

#5

A Mr. Henry wanted his case to be severed from a Mr. Brown’s case, and the trial to be moved from June 2015 to some time in 2016.

Done.

Whatever happened to ‘justice delayed is justice denied’?

OK – I stopped taking note of the # of the case, as some that were brought in were not actually scheduled for today…yet still no sight of Eric!

At this point, another dude was brought in – and this time, he was put not into the jury box, but into the penalty box.  A second, different dude was put into the jury box and unshackled.  He was a Mr. Williams – not on the docket for the day, but…

It seems the guy in the penalty box is being held as a material witness in another case in which he is to testify on Monday, and the Crown wanted him held until that time so that they would be sure to be able to produce him as a witness.

The judge asked him his position and he said that was OK, as long as they would let him get a shower and shave and get clean clothes (the raw-linen blazer he was wearing was wrinkled and a size too small) and she happily made the order to say so.

The next case was that of a Mr. Farouk, who needed his court date moved.

Done.

This judge is most certainly efficient!!!!

At this point, the Crown and some of the lawyers started talking to the judge about scheduling, who is to go next and so on.  As Eric was listed as self-represented and no mention was made of his case, I was getting worried that without a legal advocate, he might get lost in the shuffle…

Still, I held my breath and hoped for the best!

The next case was a very sad sob story.

You see, a certain Me. Villenouve (sp?) was caught with a somewhat incriminating amnout of narcotics.

He stepped up to face the judge from the spectator ranks – obviously, he had not been in custody prior to his trial date.

Mr. V. chose to be judged not by a jury, but by a judge alone and entered a plea of guilty.

The court learned that he had been found to be in possession of:

42 grams of Ecstasy

(?) grams of Hashish

231 grams of pot

22 grams of crack cocaine

The defendant pleaded guilty to everything but the Ecstasy – which, he claimed, belonged to his SO.

And there were extenuating circumstances:  his SO, you see, was addicted to drugs and this 50-year-old-man did not realize that this was a bad thing.  Nor did he realize that having all these drugs on him was a bad thing.

Plus he has been on disability for years – see, he is the victim here!!!!

He told the court he did it out of love, and he was sorry, and knew he was a bad boy and would never ever do it again!  Pinky swear!

Now, this 50-year-old man looked rough, wore gray sweat-pants and brown leather jacket to court…and walked out a free man!

OK – there were some conditions on 20 month conditional sentence.  But, he walked out of the courtroom, no jail time for him.

The next case was of a Richard something – and they were using a Spanish interpreter for him.  With all the background noise, and the interpreter speaking simultaneously to other people, it was difficult to make out the details – at first.  But, this case did drag on a bit and I think I got the gist of it.

You see, Richard is a refugee from Venezuela.

He was biking down the street when he passed a 79-year-old lady.  He stopped his bike, leaned it against something and walked up to her asking for directions to somewhere,

When she tried to help him, Richard pulled out some pliers, attacked her, cut the gold chain about her neck and stole the crucifix that had hung on it.

He then tried to hide behind some bins or cars, but the highly traumatized victim saw him and alerted a bystander who affected a citizen’s arrest until the police arrived.

When arrested, Richard gave the cops a fake name and it took them hours to properly id him.

OK, so Richard is the bad guy, right?

But here is an unexpected twist:  the 79-year-old victim wanted to only testify from behind a screen.

For me – that is a deal-breaker:  everyone MUST have the right to face their accuser.  If you want to hide – no case.  End of discussion.

That the judge even considered it makes my skin crawl!

This is so deeply against the principles of common law, as stated in the Magna Carta, that I cannot express the depth of disgust I feel for a court willing to subvert justice in this manner!!!

However, instead of pouncing on this cornerstone of justice, the defense entered such irrelevant facts as that the accused’s sister is a 50-year-old house cleaner and that his son, back in Venezuela, is in a hospital.

SO?!?!?!?

You have a perfectly principled reason to scream that justice is being denied (not being permitted to face the accuser), yet the defense brings in irrelevant and frivolous crap?

What is happening to our ‘justice’ system?!?!?

Finally, the crown asked for Richard to serve 5 months and 28 days for this whole mess, which would actually be equivalent to the time he had already spent in jail.  They went through the complicated loops and jumps they had to go through to arrive at ‘time served’…and, again, some sort of immigration complication was raised the meaning of which I did not fully grasp.

What I DID grasp was that during this bit, another man was brought in and put into the jury box:  it was the first time two people were in the jury box!

Now, when they brought him in and unshackled him, I was not sure it was Eric:  I had never met him in person, having only known him from YouTube, emails and a few phone conversations.

Yet, this person might have been Eric…

The long gray hair and mid-chest long and rather majestic ‘Santa beard’ did not belong to the Eric I had seen on YouTube, the keen eyes did!

Yes!!!!

It was Eric!!!

And HIS case was next!!!!

Waiting for Eric Brazeau’s appeal hearing: 17th of April, 2015

This is a mood-setting background description – for the actual event itself, please, see here.

Finally, the day is here: Eric Brazeau will have his appeal motion hearing today!

What’s more: I am going to get to watch history be made!!!

For a wordy account of my journey here and the impressions of the courthouse, please, see here (written in the in-between time from when my bus arrived downtown Toronto to when I got to enter the courthouse, so it sets the atmosphere outside and is indulgently loquacious).

In the hour-and-a-half while I was outside in the foggy Toronto dawn (the direct sun rays never reached street level), I managed to get….sunburned. Now, my face is pink and turning redder and itchier by the minute! But, I digress!

It took me a while to find the proper place to go: that is the cost of showing up at the courthouse before the daily schedule does. Helpful people try to give you the best advice they can, but they just might send you to another building a block away and it just might take you an hour to get back to where you were in the beginning.

But, this time, the schedule was posted and I had no trouble going up the escalator and down the long corridor and around the corner, all the way to courtroom 2-6, where Eric’s case is scheduled to be heard at 10am.

There are no chairs just outside courtroom 2-6, so, at 9:15am, I am sitting around the corner, in front of 2-4, hoping that I’ll see other people who come here to support Eric and/or report on this incredibly important lawsuit and typing all this in, so that I may report to you, my dear readers, my freshest impressions of this day.

The Toronto courthouse is extremely different from the Ottawa one. First of all, the security is much, much tighter.

Of course, after the October terrorist attack in Ottawa, the security in the Ottawa courthouse also increased: main entrance only, checking bags etc. But, as of March, metal detectors and such were only used in select cases, placed in front of select courtrooms. Here, we are talking full TSA workup, with dire warnings that if they find even the tiniest pen-knife, you will be arrested and thrown in jail, never to see the light of day again, as will your children, and your children’s children and… OK, I may be paraphrasing a bit, but that is the general gist of the warning. I was a bit afraid they might confiscate my Redbull, as getting wings might seem dangerous, but I got lucky!

And while the security people checking bags and people coming in were friendly enough, in an officious kind of way (asking cheerfully if I’m showing up for jury duty), the security guard nearby the desk that lists the daily roster would do an about face and march in a different direction if a person even threatened to try to catch his eye.

The Ottawa guys are different: they go out of their way to be helpful, thinking of ways to search for your case (and, yes, at times, it almost seems like the way the cases are listed is meant to confuse and discourage). Let’s hope the Ottawa guys keep their friendly demeanour.

While waiting for 10 o’clock to arrive, I stuck up a conversation with a nice lady sitting next to me.  As we were chatted amiably, I explained why I was there and why Eric’s case was such an important one.

She took a great interest in it.  At the time, she heard something about some stuff happening on the TTC (Toronto Transit Commission), but from the mainstream newspapers, she did not understand what it was all about.  When she learned that Eric was still in jail, just because he said out loud that he did not like a specific religion, she was very angry on his behalf!

She confided that once, not that long ago, she was taken aback by a fundie (that is short for Christian fundamentalist) co-worker who had expressed a rather homophobic belief.  She did not like it, and explained to he co-worker that she did not like it, but she thought that it would have been wrong to stop the co-worker from saying out loud what she truly believes, even if it was stupid!

And I fully agreed with her!

The best response to bad speech is more good speech.

Yes, she agreed, because of the danger of driving bad speech underground, where it would gain power precisely because it was persecuted!!!

I was so happy to hear that she gets it!  She really, really gets it!

Perhaps there is still hope for our citizens!

It was on this note of high expectations that I am packing up and getting ready to enter the courtroom.

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