Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Big Red A at the Bottom of the Page

You may have noticed the big ole' A at the bottom of my page; it's part of an internet campaign that I'm proud to be a part of. It's designed to let people who might otherwise be isolated in their non-faith know that they aren't alone. Any website or blog bearing that big A is a website run by a person proclaiming their atheism to the world. Not everyone is as lucky as me - big city, secular province, etc; not everyone lives in an area where it's OK to be an atheist.

Yet it is part & parcel with the next step in human intellectual advancement; philosophy, ethics & morality can not advance much further with ancient fairy-tales holding them back. Those people hiding their non-faith in the intolerant regions of the US, europe, etc, know this as well as the rest of us, but they naturally fear rejection and loneliness. So this is mine & others' gesture towards them, letting them know that it is safe to proclaim their understanding of the universe and their doubt of the fictional framework of their oppressive society.

So here's to the next step.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Pauline Marois is a Wad

"Il faut briser la perception voulant que le Québec soit bilingue et expliquer aux immigrants que le Québec est une nation francophone qui respecte les droits de la minorité anglophone." -Pauline Marois
More on this when I'm less pissed off.

I sent a letter to my MNA, Pierre Curzi. Chances are nothing will happen, but I figured I'd republish it here and hope for the best:

Monsieur Curzi,

Mon nom est Steven Alleyn, je suis un membre de votre compté électorale et je n'ai pas manqué la chance de voter depuis que je suis rendu à l'age légale de voter. Je vous écrit pour vous communiquer mon inquiétude par rapport au propos récents de la dirigeante de votre parti.

Je parle, bien sûr, de sa déclaration alors qu'elle parlait à l'assemblé nationale, au sujet de l'immigration: "Il faut briser la perception voulant que le Québec soit bilingue et expliquer aux immigrants que le Québec est une nation francophone qui respecte les droits de la minorité anglophone."

Elle a raison qu'il y a une perception qui se doît d'être briser, mais ce n'est pas celle là; la perception qui a réussi à s'insinuer au centre du débat nationaliste, celle que les droits de la collectivité prennent précedence sur les droits de l'individu.

L'individu est l'unité de base de la collectivité et on parle ici d'une question de la liberté d'expression. Alors que le droit de l'individu de s'exprimer se trouve brimer, l'habileté de la collectivité de faire pareille est abimé; détruite, complètement. L'immigration n'est pas une question d'assimilation des immigrés à notre société, mais plutôt d'une ouverture de notre société aux bienfaits que les immigrés peuvent nous apporter. Les lois protégeants les individus du danger n'ont pas à être changer; l'abus des femmes et le port d'armes dans les places publiques ne sont pas des questions d'ouverture culturelle: on parle ici seulement d'une ouverture par rapport au droits d'expression et de religion des nouveaux venus ainsi que ceux des Québecois "pure laine."

J'aimerais, s'il l'est possible, que vous puissiez faire parvenir cette lettre à Madame Marois. De ma part, je la republirai sur mon blogue ( sous mon nom-de-plume en espérant suciter l'intérêt des citoyens de notre province. Il n'est plus acceptable de brimer la liberté d'expression de nos propre citoyens au nom d'une entité qui ne peut exister sans ces mêmes citoyens.

Merci de votre attention,
Steven Alleyn
Otterburn Park, Québec
Compté de Borduas

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Debate on Accommodation

Welcome to the new racism.

The fact that we even need to have these accommodation hearings is disturbing in the extreme. Religious acceptance isn't what I'm known for, but I don't think that other people's minds is any more my jurisdiction than anyone else's. We have to realize this, collectively, as a society. Ideas in people's heads are important because, as John Stuart Mill said in his trailblazing essay On Liberty, very rarely are the opinions we possess the entirety of the truth; it is through discussion and interaction with people of different mores, values, opinions, ethics and traditions that we continue to approach a more complete, more factual version of reality and truth.

I saw a headline today on a newsstand; rough translation "Is diversity detrimental to society?"

That question is offensive simply for being asked. Diversity is the engine of improvement for a society. The most heinous, totalitarian and immoral societies in history have been homogeneous; united in all their ideas and opinions and mores and values. The more I see this sort of thing pop up, the more I believe that On Liberty should be required reading in ethics & diversity classes in high school and recommended reading in every level of higher education.

These roving hearings are going to reveal one thing; the isolationist sentiment which has dominated Québec politics for nearly forty years has had a detrimental effect on the social and political (sociopolitical?) climate and has left the province (are we still saying nation?) outside of the island of Montreal virtually inhospitable to immigrants; there's a certain spillover effect as the venom from the more isolated regions of the country and the current global climate of xenophobic paranoia (thank you, Osama) gradually infiltrates Québec's multicultural metropolis and poisons the citizens there against immigration. It is ironic that some of the most vocal opponents of integration (reasonable accommodation, I guess) - in my experience, not in any sort of scientific polling - are italians, second only to Francophone proles.

There is no accommodation, accommodation implies an expected standard; we must tolerate all actions and ideas and hold no standard, as long as those actions and ideas affect only those who they belong to and are not detrimental to anyone else. This is not for their good, but for ours; we benefit from the polylogue (dialogue means two interlocutors) of multiculturalism, just as everyone else does. We would be remiss were we to pass up such an opportunity.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Russian Roulette Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

The argument that we aren't in colonial times anymore, that planting a flag somewhere is not proof of conquest anymore, is not really a valid one. This is because it is redundant; it isn't valid because it isn't valid and that's why it's not done anymore. There are other arguments, however, which invalidate the Russian bid to secure arctic control with a flag and a submarine. One of them stands out above the rest.

Occupation. Use. They are the sole determinants of whether or not a piece of land belongs to anyone - short of a land deed, proving ownership through acquisition. Unfortunately, this doesn't bode particularly well for Canada's land-claim, either, but the fact of the matter is that, unless either country can prove that it has the means, desire, opportunity & motivation to make use of the arctic and arctic waters - even if those motivations are martial & defensive in nature.

The deep water port & icebreakers proposed by Harper's government would prove that martial intent, but until they're actually built & deployed, it's still anyone's game. The arctic is no man's land and the Russian flag sitting on the bottom of the ocean under miles of ice won't change that. Not until they decide to use it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Rushing to Get Things Done

Québec's agriculture lobby (farmers' union, whatever) has asked for a grace period (moratorium) in order that they might be able to comply with recent changes to environmental laws without bankrupting themselves in the process. The union represents independent farmers who cannot afford the massive technological, technical and chemical changes that their massive corporate cousins can get away with and, let's face it, their grace period is not an unreasonable one - the government has agreed to it for that reason; the environment has survived some very abusive conditions since the beginning of the industrial revolution (150 - 175 years ago...) and three years to allow some hard-working people to keep their livelihoods is a perfectly acceptable compromise which will not adversely affect the environment very much more than is already the case.

Greenpeace disagrees; they have demanded that the Québec government rescind their moratorium so that a few thousand fish may live while dozens to hundreds of farmers get deeper into debt or go altogether bankrupt, robbing the food supply of some of its power to stay as cornucopian as we're used to here in North America in the process. Their claims that there is no time to allow for any sort of transitional greening of the UPA would be more credible if they weren't in the habit of using scare tactics to force government hands.

It is unfortunate that Canadian libel laws prevent me from saying that Greenpeace is a terrorist organization without any proof. I have to find more roundabout and indirect ways of saying Greenpeace is a terrorist organization. What is true is that Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth advised a Zambian leader not to accept food offered to his country in foreign aid that Zambia desperately needed because they said it would cause allergies in his citizens, essentially they scared him into not taking food that could feed thousands, saving them - at least temporarily - from starvation and death, by saying it was poisonous. They used fear to get a high-level political leader to say something bad about GMOs so that they could claim that capitalism is destroying the world.

The use of fear and sacrifice of innocent lives to achieve a political aim... Wow, I really shouldn't say that Greenpeace is a terrorist organization.
A side note - I'd like to thank 'This Hour has 22 Minutes' for teaching me about how libel laws work.