What difference, at this point, do these unsecured emails make?
Well, here is just one of many valid answers….
What difference, at this point, do these unsecured emails make?
Well, here is just one of many valid answers….
“F” stands for “Free Dominion”.
That is what Dr. Michael Geist wrote in his ‘internet freedom countdown’.
“F” could just as easily could have stood for “Fournier” – as in Connie and Mark Fournier, who have done more for the freedom of speech and freedom on the Internet than any other Canadians. And this time, I am not using hyperbole!
20 years to the day and in the very building I had signed my marriage license, I came to observe and blog about a court case involving Free Dominion: Connie and Mark Fournier. It was a civil case involving anonymity on the internet and both the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Dr. Geist’s Electronic Frontier Foundation were intervenors in the case. Having heard of the latter two and considering any court case they both thought important enough to intervene in to definitely have a significant impact on my own internet and speech freedoms, I came to spectate. (OK – I have to admit – I am a Geist ‘acolyte’.)
While following this particular case and many, many more, I came to deeply admire Connie and Mark. Over the years, they have made significant impact on the evolution of our speech and internet rights, always from a deeply principled perspective.
Now, before you get the idea that I agree with Connie and Mark’s political views, let me stop you right there. They are social conservatives who come from a Christian perspective. I am a libertarian, just this side of turning into an-cap. And a militant ignostic as well as a registered Kopimist.
Despite the greatly different views we hold on a myriad of topics, I came to like and deeply respect the Fourniers. Even when we discussed topics we disagreed on, they were respectful and principled and debating things with them has always been a pleasure.
Full disclosure: the one principle both the Fourniers and I completely and totally agree on – and it is perhaps the most important principle of them all – is the importance of freedom of speech.
I came to understanding the true and essential need for freedom of speech as the cornerstone of our civilization and the internet as the vehicle through which it is anonymously and effectively delivered because I was not only born on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain, I was also born the daughter of a political dissident. Perhaps because of this, I learned early on that without the freedom to criticize and ridicule political and religious ideologies and figures, you lose the means of defending all your other rights and freedoms. And while I don’t know the route that brought Connie and Mark to the same conclusions, it is a demonstrated fact that they have not only lived by that principle, they have sacrificed all to preserve freedom of speech in Canada (and, by extension, all Magna Carta countries) and have put their financial and physical security – their very well being on the line to protect anonymous speech (in their case, on the internet), which is so very crucial in preventing the abrogation of free speech in public spaces.
OK – I have now sketched in the background so that you, my dear reader, are aware of what I know, think and whatever prejudices I may have regarding my review of Connie Fournier’s new book: ‘Betrayed! Stephen Harper’s War on Principled Conservatism’.
One more thing before I start: here is a most excellent review of the book by Jay Currie (and, no, I did not read his review before I had made my own mind up). The comments are excellent!
‘Betrayed! Stephen Harper’s War on Principled Conservatism’ by Connie Fournier is a truly scary book.
Connie Fournier is both intelligent and eloquent and has the skill to line the little pearls up, one by one, till they form a brilliant necklace – or an effective noose…
Yes, I saw a part of the journey that Connie so accurately describes in her book – but I truly only saw a small part. Yet, step by step, event by event, convoluted happening by convoluted happening, she lights the path and puts forward some very convincing evidence that points not just to the corruption of our ‘progressive’ leaning bureaucracy but also demonstrated how the Harper ‘iron fist’ is affecting things behind the scenes (whether through direct action or through carefully selective inaction). Limited by the legal rulings still muzzling her, she succeeds in getting the important points across in a logical, accurate and believable manner.
This book has bought into focus the consistency with which the Harper government has sought to control, regulate and stifle internet communication. The book stops before the Trans Pacific Trade Treaty – again, a Harper government ‘baby’, the leaks about which prove the veracity of everything else written in the book.
Yes, I would recommend it as a read – even though I disagree with Connie’s conclusion that the Green Party would be the natural place to cast a protest vote for. No – I think the Pirate Party of Canada is a much better candidate, as their abid opposition to Bill C-51 is coupled with opposition to copyright consumer right abuses that the TPTT imposes as a supra-national law. If there is no Pirate Party candidate in your riding, please, do consider running for them. If my health were better, I most certainly would do my best to try to run for them!
But, again, I digress…
This is an important book to read for everyone who understands the crucial role freedom of speech plays and who would like help navigating the legal jungle of bills and attempts to deny it to us, the citizens – especially as it relates to the electronic medium.
Whether neo-Con or not, this book will open your eyes to the systematic process that is already in place to persecute political foes of the party in power and is written in such an accessible way that even non-techies will understand the implications of the proposed muzzling legislation coming from Harper’s ‘Conservative’ government.
Everyone of my relatives and friends will be getting a copy from me!
Frankly, when the UN continued to fund Gaza even though it became ruled by Hamas, it became an accessory to terrorism.
Frequent readers of my blog know that I have a strong opinion on the United Nations: FIRE THEM ALL!!!
Un-elected, un-accountable, corrupt and arrogant beyond belief.
Frequent readers of my blog will also know that I was one of the first Western voices raising alarm over the horrific and unconscionable – frankly, inhuman – treatment Raif Badawi, the Saudi Liberal, had suffered simply for creating and running a website.
The fact remains that the corrupt and tyrannical theocracy that is Saudi Arabia has no business being accepted as an equal member in organizations that pretend to be a platform for civilized countries.
Saudi Arabia is not exactly the bastion of ‘human rights’.
After much international outcry on behalf of Raif Badawi, he was permitted to appeal his sentence of 1000 lashes (that’s flogging, no ‘falsies’ here) and 5 years in prison just because his blogging ran afoul of the religious police and their fancy fetishes.
It is important to note that Raif is to be flogged in many instalments, because 1000 lashes at oncewould, effectively, remove the skin from the back part of his body and kill him long before the punishment could be carry out in full – which, of course, would spoil the whole ‘fun’.
So, instead, the punishment is given a bit at a time, giving the man time to at least partially heal and recover from it before the next instalment of torture. This both extends the physical suffering and creates incredible psychological torture as one is awaiting the next torture session.
Of course, any ‘healing break’ is too short to allow complete healing. This will lead to a progressively weaker and more sick Badawi at each ‘session’ – ensuring he will, eventually (but not too soon) die of his flogging.
The only good bit in this story is that his wife and babies are now safely in Canada – and I wish them all the best!
And, enough people have volunteered to take Raif’s place in each instalment of the floggings that, had the Saudis accepted the swap, he would be safe. At least there is some moral support in knowing that people were willing to put their hides on the line for him!
So, no sooner had the Saudi courts ruled and upheld the 1000 lashes and 10 years in jail (upped from 5 by an in-between court, I presume) than…
…and I kid you not…
Please, please, PLEASE!!!
Contact your political masters and beg them to get out of the cesspool of corruption that is the UN!
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:
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!
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!