Je suis Charlie

The horrific terrorist attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris today was an attack on free speech everywhere. Why so? Can you honestly believe the vicious nature of this attack won’t make journalists everywhere consider what they write, or in the case of editorial cartoonists draw, before submitting it for publication?

Those of us who write blogs here on WordPress or other sites are usually anonymous unless we choose to reveal our identities. Some of us use that anonymity to take shots at various institutions that others may consider sacrostant. We rely on our avatars and screen names to keep us safe from retribution and use filters to prevent adverse or threatening comments from appearing following our offerings.

The journalists and artists at Charlie Hebdo didn’t have that privilege. When you publish a newspaper, of any type, your name appears on your copy. I understand from news reports that Charlie Hebdo made a habit of aggravating the Muslim community to the extent the office was firebombed in 2011. Today’s massacre seems to have been the culmination of that aggravation, especially considering the murderers were heard yelling (in French) “we have avenged the Prophet Mohammed” and, in Arabic, “Allahu akbar”.

Like it or not, or accept it or not, we bloggers are journalists reporting on the vagaries of life around us. Sometimes we talk about major events – in my case I had great fun ripping into the former mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford and I have received much praise for my on-going series “Bring him to justice” – and sometimes it’s just the little things that irk us personally. But in any case, we are reporting on news for the benefit of others.

There have been many vigils around the world tonight in honour of the staff of Charlie Hebdo. Many people are holding up pens and signs reading “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie). Take a few moments after you read this to honour the memory of these people, our fellow journalists, who paid the ultimate price for freedom of speech.

Cat.

Get a life

Found an interesting article on the CTV news site this morning that really shows just how much people feel their standards should govern the lives of others.

Some idiot petitioned the Toronto Public Library system to remove a book from its shelves because they feel it is too violent. Well, that complaint has been registered before against various books, so it isn’t the first time the library has heard it. But it may be the first time the complaint has been lodged against a book by Dr Seuss.

That’s right. Someone well, here’s an excerpt from the article that explains it much better (and with less sarcasm) than I could manage:

A library patron asked the library’s materials review committee to pull “Hop on Pop,” a children’s classic written in 1963, because of the book’s violent themes.

The complainant said the book encouraged children to use violence against their fathers, according to the document that listed books patrons have asked to be pulled from Toronto Public Library shelves, which was posted online Monday.

The patron recommended the book be removed, and requested the Toronto Public Library not only apologize to Greater Toronto Area fathers but pay damages resulting from the book’s violent message.

The library said the book actually advises against hopping on pop and is keeping the book on its shelves.

Now, we’ve all heard the expression that someone lives in their own little world, but in my opinion, the person who complained about “Hop on Pop” is living in their own universe. My advice would be as the title of this posting suggests: get a life. Surely there are more important things to worry about than a children’s book.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat.

Are they listening to themselves?

I’ve been thinking about this for a little while now before I decided to write something because there are times I’m a little hot-headed.  That usually means much more time editing that I actually spent writing.

Through a UK website, pinknews, I’ve been reading about some of the pronouncements of the anti-gay crowd and I have to ask myself two questions.  First, as the title says, “are they listening to themselves?” and second, “does this lot have a brain among them?”

Here are some examples of what I mean:

– (I can`t find the article any longer and don`t recall if the Representative in question was state or federal).  From the context this was written shortly before the Supreme Court decision on DOMA.  This man said that overturning DOMA would lead to straight men pretending to be gay so they could marry other men just to take advantage of the benefits.  He compared it to a foreign national marrying an American to gain citizenship.  Is there a brain in that head?  These are benefits that married couples already enjoy and this will only extend them to same-sex couples.  And if this hypothetical man pretending to by gay were to marry a woman an additional benefit would be sex.  Was this Representative listening to himself when he made his pronouncement?

– Two pastors in Colorado blamed the recent wildfires in that state on a photograph that appeared on the front page of The Denver Post that showed the Majority House Leader kissing his partner on the steps of the legislature.  According to one of these pastors, God reads the Denver Post, which is how He became aware of this incident. Funny, I thought He read the Globe and Mail from Toronto. The straw man from Wizard of Oz has more of a brain than these two put together.

– Finally, Westboro Baptist Church is at it again.  This time they not only proved they are homophobic, but bullies as well.  According to the brief article, an anti-bullying group was running a lemonade stand to raise some funds.  The stand was painted pink and at the time in question was being run by a five-year-old. I presume a parent was hovering nearby.  Westboro took exception to the colour of the stand and raised a fuss.

I know that at one time there was a petition being circulated to have WBC declared a hate group.  Don’t know what’s happening with that but I certainly hope that petition receives serious consideration by American lawmakers.  After all, they were banned from Britain for a reason.

Now, I have no objection to anyone having and expressing an opinion – after all, when you read these postings, you’re getting my opinions.  I like to think there is some logic in my writings.  I also think it would be nice if others would put a bit of logic in their pronouncements as well.  These three individuals and one organization appear to be so blinded by their homophobia that they can’t see there is no logic in their actions and statements.  They are obviously not listening to what they’re saying.

Cat.

They’ve done what??

Time to pick on some governments at various levels, which I haven’t done in a while.

I suppose I should start with the feds.  Ever since Stevie got his majority government there hasn’t really been much to pick on him about because there is very little Parliamentary debate on things – he just pushes them through – so we aren’t really aware of how badly he’s screwing us.  Earlier this week, Stevie announced the formation of the long-discussed Office of Religious Freedom. On the surface, this sounds as if it would be a fabulous idea.  Don’t get your hopes up.  It’s part of the Department of Foreign Affairs.  That’s right.  The purpose appears to be to ensure that people in other countries have the freedom to practice their faith.  Never mind that there are some people here in Canada who are still persecuted for their faith, Stevie wants to make sure others have religious freedom.  We get more prisons.

To give the feds their due, they have decided to shelve the internet spying bill – you know, the one of which Vic Toews said “You’re either with us or with the pornographers” – because of all the flak it set off.   I’m not sure if this is proof Stevie and the court jesters aren’t brain dead, or if it’s just a bit of early politicking.

Okay, now to cross the Ottawa River to La Belle Province – Quebec.  In the last election in that province, the voters decided to give the Parti Quebecois another chance at being the government.  Reason didn’t lose out completely, for the PQ only has a minority government, but that hasn’t stopped Pauline Marois, the leader, from reviving some of the policies from previous Pequiste governments.  The main policy being a newly invigorated language law.  This law, in its most basic form says “Francaise bon; Anglaise mal.”

There is an article on today’s CBC News site that shows just how exuberant some of these language police can be on occasion.  First, you must keep in mind that French as spoken in Quebec is basically unintelligible to the average Parisian.  Quebec French is frequently called ‘joual”, which is roughly how Quebecers pronounce “cheval”, or “horse” in English, and is not meant as a compliment.  So right there I find the idea of the government trying to preserve the purity of the French language laughable.  According to this article, the language police have told an Italian restaurant – an upscale one the article states – to change their menu because Italian words such as “pasta” appear far too often and they should find the French equivalent.  The Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) has backed off on this and said it will look at exceptions for things such as foreign foods.  I can’t speak for how it is now, but at one time, people referred to a certain fast food item as “le Big Mac”.  Don’t know how that would translate.

So there you have it, insanity from Quebec and the feds doing things overseas while the same situation in Canada is allowed to fester.  And to think some people actually voted for these idiots.

I won’t pick on Ontario just yet because the new Premier, Kathleen Wynne, has only been in office about a week.

Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.

Cat (le Chat) 🙂

May as well use loose leaf textbooks in school

I caught an item on the early news just now and I’m ashamed to say this was a Canadian idea.

We’ve all heard of the poem “A Visit from St Nicholas” by Clement Moore, or maybe you know it better by its first line “Twas the night before Christmas”.  Some publisher in Vancouver thinks it needs to be updated for the twenty-first century.  Her new version omits the following two lines found in the original:  The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;  I would imagine illustrations will also reflect this change.

This poem has been around about 180 years, so why does it need “updating” now?  Is this political correctness run amok, or something else?  Yes, I know smoking is no longer as socially acceptable as it once was, but is that any reason to revise a poem that has reached icon status?  If so, how long will it be before any reference to tobacco is removed from history texts, despite the fact it played such a huge role in the settlement of North America?

If history as we know it is subject to revision at the whim of the god called political correctness, history texts may as well be published in loose leaf binder format because any page could be changed at any time.  All it would take would be one person objecting to the way something is portrayed!  And as we are aware, all it takes is one person to point out something they personally find politically incorrect and they will have no problem getting supporters for having that banned.

If you’re of a certain age, you may have studied Shakespeare in high school.  One of the plays I studied was “Merchant of Venice”.  It’s been fifty-odd years and I can still remember parts of Portia’s courtroom speech.  To my mind, that speech is still one of the better monologues in all of Shakespeare: “the quality of mercy is not strained …”  Today’s students can’t study that.  It isn’t politically correct and has been removed from classrooms as being anti-semitic.  Shakespeare was only reflecting the general view of Jews that existed at the time he wrote that play, yet because it doesn’t fit today’s modern view, students are being deprived the opportunity to study it.  History is the same.  Things happened, be they good or bad.  We can’t change them.  Even if we revise history, we still cannot change the past no matter how hard the political correctness police may want to.

Sorry, got carried away there.  As I was saying, changing “A Visit from St Nicholas” is just as bad, just as serious, as attempting to change history because you don’t like how something turned out.  Leave it alone.   I don’t know of any kids who, upon hearing those two lines, decided to go out and try smoking a pipe because Santa smoked one.  Most people don’t even remember those two lines are there.

That lady’s gonna get a lump of politically incorrect coal in her stocking this Christmas.

Cat.

It’s too one-sided

Following is a quote taken from an Associated Press item of today:

Algeria is proposing an initiative under the auspices of the United Nations that would limit freedom of expression in order to prevent the stigmatizing and denigrating of Islam.

I can’t speak for you, but I have a problem or two with Algeria’s proposal.  First problem is the attempt to further restrict the right of freedom of expression. This is nothing more than censorship and that it would under be the umbrella of the UN wouldn’t change that. There are already too many restrictions on who can say what to or about whom.  These restrictions masquerade under such names as racism; homophobia and many other “isms” and “phobias” you can think of without too much difficulty.  If you find the word “censorship” too harsh, try “politically correct”, which in my view is just a politically correct term meaning “censorship”.

The United Nations has lately proven itself amazingly inept at solving any problem put before it – Kofi Annan and Syria anyone? – so why on earth would Algeria think having the UN back their proposal would do any good?  I’ve read that many nations now consider the UN to be as antiquated and out of touch as a dial telephone and that attitude, if correct, means those nations probably would just ignore such an initiative.  Algeria, being a Muslim country, perhaps isn’t aware, or more likely overlooks, the fact that some countries, such as the US and Canada, have in place legislation to protect freedom of speech, which includes the freedom to criticize other religions.  Perhaps Algerians would be more amenable to a law that prevents them from speaking against Islam, but I can’t see any western country even attempting to pass such an act or amend an existing act.

Second, I find, as I said in the title, this is very one-sided.  The Q’ran tells its readers that Christians and Jews are considered “people of the book” and are to be treated accordingly, with the same respect due another Muslim.  Of course we are aware that fundamentalists in the Muslim faith, much like fundamentalists in any other religion, pick and choose which verse or sura is going to be used to justify their personal belief and that one is usually ignored.  If Algeria were truly serious, their proposal would have extended that to preventing stigmatizing and denigrating all religions.  But they couldn’t do that because many fundamental Muslims would rebel against them.

The extremists, and yes let’s be honest with ourselves and admit it is the extremists who are waging their war against the non-Muslim world, castigate Christians and Jews and even some other Muslim sects who they don’t feel are “Muslim” enough.  Not only castigate, but on occasion kill these others. Remember the song from the sixties recorded by Original Caste, “One Tin Soldier”?  It contained a line which religious fanatics of all stripes have taken to heart and seem to apply when dealing with “infidels”.  That line is “Kill them in the name of heaven, we can justify it in the end”.

Algeria’s proposal is nothing more than a blatant attempt to muzzle all criticism of a religion that appears to have been taken over by extremists and fanatics, while at the same time allowing that religion the freedom to say or do anything they wish against every other religion in the world.  It is far too one sided and if the United Nations has any sense and balls at all, it will vote it down.  But we both know that is unlikely, don’t we?

Enjoy your weekend and remember to hug an artist (that hasn’t been banned yet) – we need love too.

Cat.