My friend Elsa was told by some New Agers:

New Age Truth #1: You are where you are meant to be.
New Age Truth #2: Everything happens for a reason.
New Age Truth #3: You have chosen everything that happens to you.

These things were told her as ‘truths’ and, as an intelligent, thinking person, she found them, well, for lack of a softer yet sufficient term, idiotic.  They inspired this installment of “The This Is Not Reality’ show (remember the ‘Nicies’?), the ‘High Priestess’:

 

 

Pat Condell: A cure for Islamophobia

 

Dear Campbell’s Company Canada:

UPDATED BELOW!!!!

The following is a comment I have just submitted at the Campbell’s Company Canada’s contact page – if/when I get a response, I will be sure to post it here:

Hello Campbell’s!

I have always enjoyed your soups, especially Cream of Mushroom. I love cooking and used it a lot.

However, the last time I went to purchase it, I noticed that it had a ‘Halal’ certification marker on it. I am not sure if you are aware of this, but Christian and Sikh teachings strictly forbid the consumption of Halal food. Some of my Hindu friends also avoid it, because of Halal’s meat connotation of animal cruelty.

Sikh religion forbids Halal food explicitly.

Christian religion, in both the Old and New Testament, forbids the consumption of food that had been prayed over/sanctified to any religion/god other than its own. Since ‘Halal’ means ‘having been made ritualistically pure in the eyes of Allah’, that makes ‘Halal’ food sanctified to a non-Christian religion and thus forbidden for observant Christians to consume. As more Christians are becoming familiar with what it means for food to be Halal, more of them are becoming aware that it is indeed forbidden for them to consume it.

On the other hand, Sharia rules that in non-Muslim land, the consumption of Halal food is not compulsory, only recommended when easily available: ‘If no transgression is intended, then none is incurred, for Allah is merciful’.

As mine is a very inclusive home and I love cooking for my friends from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds, I cannot, in good conscience, purchase Halal food and serve it to people for whom it may be religiously forbidden. Therefore, it will be more culturally sensitive for me to shy away from purchasing your brand of products from now on.

It saddens me greatly that I will not be able to include your products in my household in the future. If, however, you re-introduce your soups without Halal certification, please, do let me know and I will be very glad to become your customer once again.

Sincerely yours,

Alexandra Belaire

UPDATE:  Here are some additional comments submitted to Campbell’s:

Hello Campbell’s,

I have long been a Campbell’s soup fan.

But I have just noticed that you are doing Halal certification. As an animal lover, and supporter of the humane slaughter of animals, this means that I can no longer buy your products.

Please watch the Halal slaughter of animals. Animals that have been Halal slaughtered show high levels of stress hormones – unlike, for example, animals that have been slaughtered to be kosher. The traditional slaughterhouse methods are bad enough – Halal is far worse. Again, please watch.

Then, there are also religious reasons not to do Halal certification, as this is against Christian doctrine, and also other religious doctrines. I don’t know why you are doing something that is against Christian doctrine, but conforms to Muslim doctrine. Please let me know.

A friend who is more versed in religion has put together the following:

Christian and Sikh teachings strictly forbid the consumption of Halal food. Some of my Hindu friends also avoid it, because of Halal’s meat connotation of animal cruelty.

Sikh religion forbids Halal food explicitly.

Christian religion, in both the Old and New Testament, forbids the consumption of food that had been prayed over/sanctified to any religion/god other than its own. Since ‘Halal’ means ‘having been made ritualistically pure in the eyes of Allah’, that makes ‘Halal’ food sanctified to a non-Christian religion and thus forbidden for observant Christians to consume. As more Christians are becoming familiar with what it means for food to be Halal, more of them are becoming aware that it is indeed forbidden for them to consume it.

On the other hand, Sharia rules that in non-Muslim land, the consumption of Halal food is not compulsory, only recommended when easily available: ‘If no transgression is intended, then none is incurred, for Allah is merciful’.

As mine is a very inclusive home and I love cooking for my friends from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds, I cannot, in good conscience, purchase Halal food and serve it to people for whom it may be religiously forbidden. Therefore, it will be more culturally sensitive for me to shy away from purchasing your brand of products from now on.

It saddens me greatly that I will not be able to include your products in my household in the future. If, however, you re-introduce your soups without Halal certification, please, do let me know and I will be very glad to become your customer once again.

Best regards,

Elsa [redacted], PhD

And:

Dear Public Relations,
I disagree with buying anything that is ‘halal’.  Firstly, halal is cruelty to animals and standards of hygiene are less. Secondly, part of the money paid for halal supports supremacism and misogyny.
For those reasons, I will not purchase any halal product ever and will encourage all my family and friends not to buy them as well.
I hope Campbell’s will abandon their support for misogynistic totalitarianism immediately.
Cordially,
[name redacted]

An open letter to Minister MacKay

Today, I received this email:

My other written petition was presented in the House Of Commons on March 5th by My MP Gerald Keddy of Nova Scotia. We are asking if people could send a email to get ministers to support my petition. To stop funding facilities in Canada that allow discrimination towards women in the name of religion. Pleas email Minister of justice Peter Mac Kay email peter.mackay@parl.gc.ca and mister for the status of women Kellie leitch at Kellie.Leitch@parl.gc.ca and minister of immigration Jason kenney at jason.kenney@parl.gc.ca

Thank you

Michele

This message was sent by Michele Walsh using the Change.org system. You received this email because you signed a petition started by Michele Walsh on Change.org: “Canadian Government, Prime Minister Stephen Harper: Protect Canadian women rights from gender based religious persecution, and stop the erosion of the most important and fundamental RIGHT that we enjoy in a free and democratic society..” Change.org does not endorse the contents of this message.

View the petition

My response was to write an email to Minister MacKay:

Dear Minister MacKay,

Canada is a wonderful place where the rights of all minorities – down to the minority of one – are protected by law, respected by society and cherished by the citizenry.
However, lately, we have seen a very worrying trend of erosion of gender equality in the name of religion.  As Asma Jahangir, while acting as the UN’s special raconteur on the status of women and religion had reported, religious minorities demand special rights/privileges for themselves and, when they receive them, they immediately use these to oppress a minority within that religion, usually the women.
This is a global problem, but one that has been creeping into Canada and that is very troubling.
Recently, a member of parliament from Nova Scotia, Gerald Keddy, presented a petition in Parliament where concerned citizens were asking you, our lawmakers, to take steps to ensure that misogyny cloaked in religious garb will not be permitted to erode our cherished gender equality.  I would like to voice support for this and ask that you, as Minister of Justice, take steps to ensure that Asma Jahangir’s sad observation will not become fact here, in Canada.
Sincerely,
Alexandra Belaire
If you value gender equality in our society, I urge you most sincerely to add your voice to this call to prevent creeping misogyny camouflaging itself as ‘religion’.

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…

 

 

 

 

Why ‘moderate Muslims’ are silent

Sometimes, it takes me a really long time to ‘get’ even the most obvious of things – I know I am a very, very slow thinker.  But, I really ought to have seen this one clearly much, much earlier…

Like many others, I understand perfectly well that the first targets of fanatics within any group (and this applies not only to human groups) are the moderates within the ranks of that group.  This makes it that much more important for these moderates to speak up, in order to preserve themselves and protect their group from being overtaken by the extremists.

We have seen this though our history and the modern-day Muslim community is no different from the rest of us.

Yet, most of the voices we hear speaking ‘for the Muslims’ in today’s world are increasingly more and more only the radicalized ones…

In the past, I, too, have asked:  “Where are all the moderate Muslims and why are there so few of their voices being heard?”

Now, I think I’m beginning to understand…

In order to explain, please, indulge me in telling you a story or two.

When my mother was just an iddy-biddy baby, following WWII, the communists took over my homeland and stole her grandparents’ properties.  Her mom’s daddy made (and repaired) washing machines and her mom’s mommy operated a chain of stores that retailed them.  Her daddy was a top engineer at her grandpa’s factory, but had been born to a farming family.  Very successful farming family.  Her daddy’s mom was actually one of those women who went to work in the fields even in early stages of labour, went home to give birth – and returned to the fields afterwards.  No joke!  That is how hard they worked – and it showed:  the were known far and wide as THE people to go to for help with anything, without any obligations in return.

Yet, when the communists were in power, they labelled my grandpa as ‘a son of a kulak‘ – a deeply pejorative term in the 1950′s for a person living behind the Iron Curtain.

What I am trying to say is that even in one of the most industrialized countries in the world at that time (as Czech was), a country where people had unlimited ‘class mobility’ (my own grandfather had gone from ‘farmer’ to ‘engineer’ to ‘industrialist’), it took very little for his status to ‘devolve’ to that of ‘a son of a kulak’…

I must stress, before WWII, Czech was philosophically a fully ‘Western’ country, with emphasis on individual rights, even if located in Central Europe.

Yet, it took a few short years for the decades of individualism to devolve into judging a person by their parents’ and other relatives’ actions.  Guilty by blood association!

Now, please, let me jump to the second story.

This one takes place in Canada in the late 1990′s.  I had been running my own company and an ex-employee of mine approached me with a very unusual request…

When I had first hired him, I had not realized I already knew his father.  I had met him about 5 years earlier, at a party, under the table – we were both trying to sneak food to the host’s dog.  Anyhow, he was a capable young man and worked his way up, so that for about 5 years, he had been my second-in-command, and only left because his dream opportunity of working in the intelligence community presented itself.  By this point, I saw him as more of a brother to me than an employee and we not only parted on the best of terms, but remained close.

Which is why I was thrilled when he brought his girlfriend to meet me – and asked what my opinion of her was.  He thought she was ‘the one’, and I was happy to tell him I thought she was intelligent, beautiful and a perfect match for him.  They truly made a wonderful couple and I was very happy for them.

Yet, the path to their happiness was more complicated than I could have suspected!

When he had proposed to her, he came to me with a most unusual request:  would I please write a letter to the government of Iran to certify that I was still his employer, and that he had a sufficient income to comfortably support a wife and a family?

His fiance had not been born in Iran – she was born in Italy, to Iranian emigres.

Yet, if she were to get married without this certificate to the Iranian government that her fiance had sufficient income to properly support her and her children, the extended family she still had in Iran would be penalized for her parents’ acceptance of a marriage proposal without this document!!!

And, he did not want them to know of the particulars of his current work for the Canadian government, and so he had approached me for help…and as I had right away contracted him to do a ‘job’ for me, I could honestly write that letter – which I did.

Ok, enough stories…let us now look back to the origins of Islam.

Islam originated in Arabia in a deeply tribal society.

‘Right and wrong’ were not based on any absolute morality, but on tribal membership:  ‘right’ was what the leaders/members of your tribe deemed was ‘right’, ‘wrong’ was what their opponents/enemies deemed was’right’…

In such a tradition, ‘morality’ is a vastly different concept from what it is the ‘individualist’ tradition (though not nearly as different from the ‘communitarian’ tradition…which may explain the ‘socialist’ empathy for the Islamists):  rather than measuring ‘right vs.wrong’ based on some objective values (whatever their source), ‘right vs. wrong’ becomes ‘what gives an advantage to our group’ vs. ‘what gives an advantage to their group’.

In a tribal society, members of one clan/family are interchangeable for each other.

Aside:  Actually, that is where the ‘Western’ tradition of ‘bridesmaid’ and ‘groomsmen’  originates from:  if the bride or the groom were found to be unsuitable for the marriage union, the next-best-maid/groomsman’ would step in and replace them so that the clans could enter into a socioeconomic union through that particular marriage contract.

In such a society, if one member of a family/clan steps out of line, any other member of the family/clan can be harmed/killed in retaliation… because the bloodline’s ‘politics’ is answerable for by ALL the members of the bloodline.  Thus, if one of your relatives commits a crime, and cannot be caught, it is ‘fair’ for YOU to pay the price.  The ‘individuals’ are subordinate to the ‘clan’, instead of having individual rights and freedoms.

Now that I have set the stage, I need to go a bit into the history of the Koran.

Mohammed, the Islamic prophet, had, at one point, been excommunicated by both his mothers and his father’s Arabic clans.  Thus, Mohammed had been forced to seek shelter with other communities.

During this period, he had spent time with a Christian sect, and when he had been excommunicated from there, with a Jewish sect.  It was only after he had been excommunicated from the Jewish sect that his uncle had agreed to adopt him and thus gained a permission for him to re-enter the Arabic society…which is where he caught the eye of his uncle’s employer, Khadija, who then extended her protection over him by marring him (and thus defying her society’s standards).

While among the Christians. Mohammed saw just how splintered the Christian sects had become:  some believed that Jesus was the son of God who died on the cross and was bodily resurrected and lifted into heaven, others believed that he was a human who had been crucified and died on the cross, others yet believed that (whether the son of God or Man), he had escaped death on the cross (either by the use of a substitute or because he had been removed while unconscious but still alive and had then been revived by Esenne healers).  Yet other Christians believed that Jesus Christ could never ever have been imprisoned in a corporal body by ‘Rex Mundi’, but had always been a being of pure energy…

Mohammed really, really did not want his religious movement to be fractured among various factions the way Christianity had become.  Therefore, he said often that his revelations were literal and not open to interpretation – and that is why he stated clearly an openly that anyone who wishes to or attempts to ‘reform’ Islam of interpret any passages in any other way than literally is ‘a hypocrite’ and ‘an apostate’ and, according to the Koran, ‘hypocrites’ MUST be put to death…

Summary:

Mohammed decreed that anyone who attempts to interpret his teachings in any way other than literally is a ‘hypocrite’ and that ‘hypocrites’ MUST be put to death…and it comes from a tribal society which holds ALL members of a family/clan accountable for the tansgressions for all of your relatives…

Thus, if a moderate Muslim in Canada, the US or another Western country speaks up against the extremists’s interpretations of Islam, their (even distant) blood relatives who live within Islamists’ jurisdiction will pay the price for it with their lives.

It is one thing to stand up to an oppressor if it is your own life/well being on the line:  it is quite different if your relatives, even distant relatives and their children might be killed for you speaking your mind!!!

And THAT FEAR  - not for their own selves, but for the well being of their even distant relatives’ children – is why most moderate Muslims are silent…

After all, if it were not just your own neck, but the necks of your cousins’, their children, and their children’s children – how likely would YOU be to stand up to the radicals?!?!?

Pat Condell: Message to offended Muslims

Why do people laugh at creationists? (part 41, Ken Ham, Bill Nye debate)

 

Thunderf00t: when faith in God will kill you!

 

Video dedicated to the Kenyan terrorism victims

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