Feb 162012
 

237 - Interpol 168x100On February 4th a 23 year old Saudi journalist, Hamza Kashgari posted three tweets on his Twitter account referring to Mohammad.

 “On your birthday, I shall not bow to you. I shall not kiss your hand. Rather, I shall shake it as equals do, and smile at you as you smile at me. I shall speak to you as a friend, no more.

“On your birthday, I find you wherever I turn. I will say that I have loved aspects of you, hated others, and could not understand many more.

“On your birthday, I will say that I have loved the rebel in you, that you’ve always been a source of inspiration to me, and that I do not like the halos of divinity around you. I shall not pray for you.”

Within hours there were tens of thousands of Twitter responses calling Mr. Kashgari an apostate and a blasphemer and that he should be executed.  A Facebook page was created to call for his execution with over 13,000 people joining it.

Fearing for his life, Kashgari boarded a plane for New Zealand on Sunday.  Unfortunately for him it had a stop-over in Malaysia, a predominantly Muslim country.  Upon landing he was arrested and repatriated back to Saudi Arabia.  Malaysian police in Kuala Lumpur said Kashgari was detained at the airport “following a request made to us by Interpol” the international police cooperation agency, on behalf of the Saudi authorities.

Interpol has issued a rather vague statement distancing itself from the case.

 “The assertion that Saudi Arabia used Interpol’s system in this case is wholly misleading and erroneous.

“(Interpol) has not been involved in the case involving a Saudi blogger arrested in Malaysia and   deported to Saudi Arabia. No Interpol channels, its National Central Bureaus in Kuala Lumpur and Riyadh nor its General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon, France were involved at any time in this case.”

It is difficult to determine whether or not Interpol was involved because the statement it released does not answer the question directly.

It says that it is misleading and erroneous that Saudi Arabia used Interpol’s system. Erroneous perhaps but how is it misleading? Did any other Muslim country ask Interpol to red flag Mr. Kashgari’s flight? They don’t say.

Interpol also refers to a “Saudi blogger” which may or may not be Kargashi who is a journalist and not primarily a blogger. There is a lot of evasion and possible misdirection in Interpol’s statement.

On the other hand the Malaysian police have been pretty clear that they arrested the man due to Interpol’s involvement at the request of Saudi Arabia. If this is true then Interpol has a lot to answer for.

Here are some facts regarding Interpol:

It is not a police force. It does not make arrests. It is primarily a central hub of information between national police forces from 190 countries. It collects and relays information on individual criminals and suspects alerting police departments as to their whereabouts. It’s headquartered in Lyon, France and has several offices throughout the world. In Canada it shares offices with the RCMP in Ottawa. Canada’s annual contribution to their budget is $2 million.

According to Interpol’s website it does not involve itself in political or religious matters and follows the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights when determining when to get involved in disseminating information. Part of the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights is the right to free speech which is contained in its preamble, and freedom of religion.

Clearly, if Interpol had any involvement in the arrest of this man for simply saying that he did not want to pray for Muhammad, and if Mr. Kashgari gets executed for his beliefs then Interpol should consider itself complicit in his execution. If such is the case, whoever was responsible for passing on to Malaysia the fact that Mr. Kashgari was on the flight to New Zealand must be held personally accountable.

Malaysia should not get off scot-free either. Their extradition of Mr. Kashgari, without any due process, back into the hands of the Saudis is unforgivable. They don’t even have a formal agreement on extradition with Saudi Arabia. Anyone traveling anywhere near Malaysia should take note that if at any time in their past they may have said anything about Islam which might be taken as offense they may end up being executed for it, thanks to Malaysia. Besides Saudi Arabia, a despotic, backward country of homophobes and misogynists which should be ostracized by the civilized world we can now add Malaysia to the list of pariah nations.

As for our own involvement in Interpol I think our government should demand a clearer statement from Interpol regarding this case, and if they find they were involved should seriously consider restricting the information it shares with this organization for fear that innocent Canadian be rounded up for their religious or political views.

To be sure, on the face of it an organization like Interpol which has been around since 1923 may very well play an important role in the capture of real criminals and terrorists but since many of its member nations are predominantly Muslim (including Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iran) then its commitment to non-involvement in political and religious crimes is suspect.

Feb 022012
 

235 - 12 Angry Men 168x100“Is it proper to compel someone to sit as a juror?”

The issue has come about due to a rather unusual event which took place here in London where 20 people were rounded up in the street and told to appear before a judge the next day as potential jurors.

Here is what happened:

On January 17th, three men were being tried for the serious offenses of assault, forcible confinement, and threats.  It had been over two years since the crimes and this was the third attempt at beginning the proceedings when the judge ran out of jurors having vetted over 130 already.  There was still one vacancy for an alternate juror called a talesman.  Not wishing to see trial delayed any further Justice Kelley Gorman ordered the Middlesex County Sheriff and the London police to round up 20 bystanders off the street and order them to appear in court the next day as potential jurors.

Here are the observations (from the London Free Press) of one of these hapless people, a mister Scott Johnston who likened his experience to bullying.

 “I was walking to my car on a darkened street corner when approached by a woman.  I was asked if I could be spoken to for a minute. I decline and politely indicate am in a hurry.  All of a sudden, out comes a sheriff’s badge pointed towards me and I am told that I “have to speak to her and that I cannot leave.

“At that moment, a uniformed officer who was standing a bit of a distance away walked over to the side of the woman and looked at me but said nothing.  I thought to myself that I have no option but to remain because if I tried to leave there would have been a chase or worse.

“I was asked two questions: Are you a Canadian citizen? Are you over 18? I answered yes. I was then presented with a piece of paper and asked for identification in the form of a driver’s license. I produced it and the sheriff started writing down my name and address information on a clipboard. I was informed I must show up in court the very next morning at 9:30 am for jury duty.”

These 20 people were being rounded up under a little used provision of the Canadian Criminal Code called section 642(1) Summoning other jurors when panel exhausted.  It reads:

 “If a full jury and any alternate jurors considered advisable cannot be provided notwithstanding that the relevant provisions of this Part have been complied with, the court may, at the request of the prosecutor, order the sheriff or other proper officer to summon without delay as many persons, whether qualified jurors or not, as the court directs for the purpose of providing a full jury and alternate jurors.”

When I first asked the question whether or not people should be compelled to sit as jurors I am willing to bet to anyone not familiar with these events that you might find it reasonable to receive a letter in the mail asking you to report in two to three weeks’ time, plenty of time for many of us to put their affairs in order, and report to the courthouse for jury duty.  You might also have expected that you would be given the opportunity to get out of jury duty due to extenuating circumstances.  And you would be right.  This is how it is usually done.  But many of those rounded up had missed trains (as Mr. Johnston had), or work, or had to arrange for baby-sitting, or any other myriad of excuses that 20 people might have had given the order to forget about what you had planned for tomorrow because you are going to court.

This Criminal Code provision, while an obvious attempt to allow for speedy justice, is unjust in itself.  What it does is take innocent people, subject them to force and given no option but to comply regardless of circumstance.

But is jury duty under any circumstances justified?

Consider this quote from Cicero:

“We are all servants of the laws in order that we may be free.”

By this I take it that the Roman Statesman was acknowledging the fact that in order to be free in a political context there must be laws, and by implication a system of justice.  If we accept this then must we accept to have our rights infringed upon from time to time as a price to pay for the enacting of this system of justice?

On the one hand I would agree that the right to a trial by a jury is a fundamental component of a system of justice.  The alternative would be that for every serious offense you are to be prosecuted by the state and judged by an employee of the state.  To be able to plead your case to a community of peers is a fundamental component of our judicial system.

But must we compel citizens to sit in judgment of us?  I don’t believe so and for the following reason, you are compelling someone to think.

Put yourself in the shoes of those 20 people rounded up.  Section 642(1) states that while it is the judge who gave the order it was at the request of the prosecutor.  So here you are, totally inconvenienced and possibly at great expense sitting in judgment of three people the same prosecutor wants you to find guilty. Do you think that it is possible that out of resentment for the actions of the prosecutor you find in the defendants favour just to spite the prosecutor?  In other words, the compulsion to attend has tainted your ability to think through the facts of the case without bias.

I would contend that only a jury made up of volunteers, properly compensated for their time, is able to properly consider the facts of any court case without bias for or against the accused due to the manner in which they were asked to act as jurors.

There are thousands of eligible citizens in this city willing and able to perform the function of a juror if they were treated with respect, if their rights were not violated, if they were properly requested to attend, if they were given opportunity to decline, and if they were compensated for their time.

Yes, by today’s law you may be able to lead a juror to court but you cannot make him think.  And that after all, is exactly why he is there.

(Originally broadcast on Just Right #235, February 2, 2012)

Feb 022012
 

235 - Shafia Family 168x100This week a jury in Kingston, Ontario convicted three people of first degree murder: Afghan immigrant Mohammad Shafia, his wife Tooba Mohammad Yahya, and their son Hamed Shafia. Dead are Mr. Shafia’s three daughters and his first wife.

While the facts of the case were interesting in their own right, to me the most important feature of the trial was the labeling of the murders as either “honour” killings or simply just another case of domestic violence.

After the verdict was handed down the local talk shows gave considerable air time to a prominent local feminist. During that time she correctly pointed out that “This is about violence against women. This is about power and control.” I would agree with these obvious facts as any would. She then tried to pursued the listeners that there was no comparison between these killings and other common domestic disputes involving a dominating male over a female. Her claim was that any any distinction in culture or religion was irrelevant to the case. To her the fact that a man killed females is all that is of interest to this case and all that should be focused upon.

This is a superficial simplification of what is actually a much more complex affair. Yes, honour killings are typically men murdering their wives and daughters but it is not simply the same as any other domestic violence.

The reason for the crime is what is at issue here, not simply that a man killed another women (ignoring Tooba Yahya’s involvement) or that it is inherent in the male sex to want to dominate and control the female sex, which is a patent falsehood. Many feminists see this as simply a male-female issue ignoring or misidentifying the root cause of this kind of violence, that being the culture, the religion, or the philosophy of the killer. Why does one kill his wife or daughter? That is the question that can’t simply be glossed over with the pat statement that it is a lust for control by a man over women.

The feminist’s argument runs like this: since women are being killed in Canada as well as Islamic countries and since some Christian men have also killed their wives then the issue is not one of religion or culture but one of men and women.

Of course it is true, that domestic violence occurs in Canada to non-immigrants and that Christian men have been know to murder their wives or daughters. What is also true but is being deliberately ignored is that the prevalence for non-Muslim male-female violence in Canada is lower than similar violence in Muslim countries and that the reason non-Muslim men kill their wives or daughters is substantially different than the reason Muslim men kill their wives and daughters.

Shafia Family MurderA man and women get into a fight. Who do you think will come out the survivor? The stronger of the two of course (in most cases.) The fight could be over money, jealousy, housekeeping, what to watch on TV, drunken idiocy or any number of motives. Rare is it that a non-Muslim Canadian will kill his daughter because she went out on a date or chatted with someone on Facebook or didn’t want to wear a particular piece of clothing, or gave birth to a daughter.

Although honour killings are not exclusive to Muslim societies, the fact is that predominantly Muslim societies have a long tradition of treating women as property. Men often, quite literally get away with murder in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan or Saudi Arabia because their tribal cultures, rooted in Islam, has given the authority over women to men.

Canadian Muslim, Tarek Fatah, founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress published an article in the Canadian edition of the Huffington Post on December 7th called “A Man’s Honour Lies Between the Legs of a Woman.” In it he quotes the particular verse in the Koran, verse 4:34, sanctioning the right of a husband to beat his wife:

“Men are in charge of women by right of what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend for maintenance from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in the husband’s absence what Allah would have them guard. But those wives from whom you fear arrogance – first advise them; then if they persist, forsake them in bed; and finally, strike them.”

If we cannot acknowledge this part of the Muslim religion as being key to the second-class status Muslim men give women then it will be impossible to move towards true liberation for women in predominantly Muslim societies and Muslim families here in Canada.

Mr. Fatah goes on to say that Sharia law sanctions the stoning of women for adultery. A practice that is continued today in many Muslim countries. He cites Professor Shahrzad Mojab of the University of Toronto, who testified at the Shafia trial that women embody the honour of the men to whom they belong – first fathers and brother, later husbands.

“A woman’s body is considered to be the repository of family honour. Honour crimes are acts of violence committed by male family members against female family members who are held to have brought dishonour onto the family. Cleansing one’s honour or shame is typically handled by the shedding of blood.”

It wasn’t until 9/11 that many Canadians even heard of “honour killings.” But since then our focus has turned, as it has been forced to, to Islam and Muslim culture. Since then our knowledge of this common practice of the ownership of women by Muslim men has increased and we can properly address the situation.

Many of us correctly identify the murders based on the motive of keeping the family’s honour. For prominent feminists to disregard motive in the murder and abuse of women is only prolonging the suffering of these people. To fix a problem you must first properly identify the root cause of it. In the case of honour killings it is the religion and the cultural practices of the men and women who commit the murders. We can’t forget that women also take part in committing these honour killings.

It is ironic that in Canada we have people refusing to call something by its real name when in Muslim countries it is identified for what it is. In Pakistan, for example honour killings are known as “karo kari.” While the Pakistani government is supposed to prosecute these killings as they would any ordinary killing the practice by the police and prosecutes is to often ignore it. In a sense there are some Canadians who are ignoring it as well. Not the crime but the cause.

If we consider the problem of honour killings even further we understand that it is not simply a matter of religion or culture but of social metaphysics. In an article for the Objectivist Newsletter of November, 1962 (vol. 1 no. 11), Nathanial Brandon defined social metaphysics as

“…the psychological syndrome that characterizes an individual who holds the consciousnesses of other men, not objective reality, as his ultimate psycho-epistemological frame-of-reference.”

He explains,

“There is an invisible killer loose in the world. It has claimed more victims than any other disease in history. Yet most of its symptoms are commonly regarded as normal. That is the secret of its deadliness.

“These symptoms may be observed all around one: in the lives of all those who are dominated by an obsessive concern with gaining the approval and avoiding the disapproval of their fellow me.; who lack a self-generated sense of personal identity and who feel themselves to be metaphysical outcasts, cut off from reality; whose first impulse, when confronted with an issue or called upon to pass a judgment, is to ask not “What is true?” but “What do others say is true?”; who have no firm, unyielding concept of existence, reality, facts, as apart from the judgments, beliefs, opinions, feelings of others.”

This defines the perpetrators of honour killings. They seek honour in the approval of others, be it their family, their friends, or their tribe. While this syndrome crosses all religious and cultural spectra it is more prevalent in those countries lacking the history of individual freedom we enjoy here in the West.

It is this syndrome which must be argued against when dealing with the warped sense of honour which would cause a parent to kill a child or a man to kill his wife because of any perceived shame they may have brought them in the eyes of others.

(Originally broadcast on Just Right #235, February 2, 2012)

Dec 222011
 

One of Christmas’s perennial favourites is Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life starring James Stewart and Donna Reed.  What apparently makes this a classic is its underlying theme that one’s life, however ordinary influences many others like the ripples in pond.

While this might be a truism it does not in my mind make this a great film.  In fact, I would describe “It’s a Wonderful Life” as homage to the dominant philosophy of our time, that of altruism and certainly not a great piece of cinema.

George Bailey is the protagonist.  An ambitious young man with dreams of seeing the world, going to college and becoming an industrial engineer or architect.  He has planned out his whole life and can hardly wait for the day to leave his “crummy little town” of Bedford Falls.

George’s personal flaw, instilled in him by his father, who by everyone’s account is a poor businessman as the Chief Executive of Bailey Bros. Building and Loan, is both a sense of duty to others in his community and a personal hatred for the successful banker Mr. Potter.

Mr. Potter has a hard nose for business with little empathy for others.  It is this lack of altruism that riles the Bailey’s to the point where their hatred of Potter has made for very poor business decisions, giving loans to people the bank declines, which leaves the Building and Loan in a perpetual state of near bankruptcy.

George’s personal dreams are put on hold when his father dies and he ties up fathers’ dealings with the Building and Loan.  Potter, a member of the Board makes a motion to dissolve the company but George’s hatred for Potter gets the better of him and he persuades the Board to keep the business. They do so, but with the condition that George stays to run it.

George’s sense of duty to the down-trodden of the community and his personal hatred for Potter convince him to sacrifice (and I mean this in the strictest definition of the term) his life-long dreams and run the Building and Loan.  He marries Mary, they have four kids, and throughout the years the embittered man constantly regrets his decision to forsake his personal dreams.

Along comes the great depression and the Company narrowly escapes bankruptcy.  Potter tries to give George a way to escape his failing business by offering him a job at $20,000 a year.  This would solve many of George’s problems but once again his personal loathing for the banker causes him to refuse the offer with an onslaught of vitriolic, vulgar epithets hurled at his nemesis, Mr. Potter.

His deep-seated rage finally boils over when his absent-minded uncle loses the Companies deposit of $8,000.  With Mr. Potter and the Bank Examiner breathing down George’s neck he finally loses it.  He ruffs up his uncle, trashes his living room, frightens and yells at his wife and kids, tells off one of his child’s teachers, gets drunk, and drives his car (while drunk) into a tree.

Wonderful Life - Children 168x100Unsatisfied with his not so wonderful life and realizing that his life insurance policy will save the Company he prepares to commit suicide.

So far I have described the first hour and fifty minutes of this two hour and ten minute movie.  Up until this point George Bailey has undoubtedly hated his life.  It has been one disappointment after the other.  He never wanted to get married and yet he did.  He never wanted anything to do with his father’s company and yet he now runs it.  He never wanted to live in Bedford Falls but he has never left it.  None of his dreams have been fulfilled.  It has not been a wonderful life for George Bailey.

If you ask any who have seen the film this first part is often forgotten.  The last twenty minutes are what seem to matter to most viewers.

George’s guardian angel, Clarence, saves George from committing suicide in the most insightful way.  Knowing of George’s sense of duty to others, Clarence throws himself into the river first, thereby forcing George to save him, and thus himself.  So, even George’s desire to kill himself has been sacrificed for the sake of a perfect stranger.

While drying off from his dip in the river George tells Clarence that he wishes he was never born.  That’s how wonderful he thinks his life is.  Clarence grants his wish and shows George a Bedford Falls where he had never been born.  It is a town now called Potterville with nightclubs and gambling halls.  His wife, Mary becomes a spinster librarian, his taxi driver lives in Potter’s slums and the Building and Loan is closed down.

George becomes unhinged.  He tries to drink away his problem in a bar but gets thrown out.  He breaks into the house which was supposed to be his home. He punches a cop and gets shot at.  In utter despair he returns to the river where he was going to commit suicide and prays to God to return him to his real life.

His wish is granted and he finds himself surrounded by his friends who bail him out of his financial troubles.  The guardian angel leaves him a note saying “No man is a failure who has friends;” A nice sentiment to be sure.

The character of George Bailey is today’s everyman.  He believes his highest virtue is not himself but in helping others, while at the same time denigrating and hating the successful among us who do not share his ethic of self-sacrifice.

The end result of his philosophy is a life not worth living, a life of regret, disappointment, frustration, guilt and a mounting hatred for success.  At one point in the story George is deliriously overjoyed that he has just given away his life’s saving of $2,000 which was to go towards his honeymoon.

It is fitting, if not timely, that the villain in the story is Mr. Potter the banker, paralleling today’s Occupy Wall Street altruists who call for an end to capitalism, the destruction of the rich and the imprisonment of bankers.

Ayn Rand described the moral code of altruism thus:

“The basic principle of altruism is that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue and value.”

This describes the motives of George Baily perfectly.

I’ll paraphrase Rand when I say that;

  1. George Baily lacks self-esteem – since his first concern in the realm of values is not how to live his life, but how to sacrifice it.
  2. He lacks respect for others – since he regards mankind as a herd of doomed beggars crying for someone’s help.
  3. He has a nightmare view of existence – since he believes that men are trapped in a “malevolent universe” where disasters are the constant and primary concern of their lives.

The movie is reminiscent of another Christmas favourite, “Scrooge,” based on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”  Scrooge is portrayed as a banker, or money lender.  The casting of successful, rich, corporate executives as heartless, selfish, unsympathetic villains has become commonplace in popular literature and film.  The latest Disney movie, “The Muppets” has as its antagonist, oil magnate Tex Richman.  His name says it all.

The real villain in “It’s a Wonderful Life” is not Mr. Potter.  It is George Bailey, a man who lives for others, forsaking his own selfish desires, plans, and hopes; a man of duty to the community; a man of altruism and sacrifice.  These are the attributes of a man who finds his own life distasteful.  So much so that suicide is his only escape.

Allow me to take some license to propose an alternative to Capra’s “It’s a wonderful Life.”  Let’s suppose we look at George’s life if had followed his dreams and left to explore the world, go to college and build bridges and airports.  What would have happened?  Could he have impacted as many lives as he did as the Executive Secretary of Bailey Bros. Building and Loan?

I’m reminded of Frederick Bastiat’s piece written in 1850 called The Broken Window, or “That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen.”  Don’t just see what would happen if George Bailey never lived but see what he would have accomplished if he followed his dream.

I suspect he would have influenced more lives in his travels, his adventures, his education and vocation as an architect or industrial engineer than as a lowly officer of a loan company in the dead-end town of Bedford Falls.

But that is not the point.  It is not as important how many lives you affect, what is important is how you live your own life, whether or not you follow your own dreams and desires.  You have but one life to live.  Cultivate friends of course, but not at the expense of fulfilling your own dreams and following your own path.

I don’t know if that would have made for a better movie to have Clarence show us an alternative world where George lived his life with his own self as the standard of his morality, but it certainly would have been a more honest treatment of the evil and morally destructive philosophy of altruism, and a much more uplifting film to view whether at Christmas time or at any time of the year.

Dec 082011
 

Cristian Fernandez 168x100There is an increasingly alarming trend in society today and that is the practice of punishment which is excessive to the crime.

The Canadian government’s Omnibus Crime Bill has passed third reading in the House and has moved onto the Senate for its rubber stamp approval.  One of the more disturbing elements of the Bill is the provision for mandatory minimum sentences to be meted out to cannabis users and growers; sentences which are longer in some cases than those given to child rapists.

Mandatory minimum sentences have the effect of rendering a judge impotent in his furnishing a sentence fitting to the crime and its circumstances.  With mandatory minimums in place a judge can basically only pass judgment on whether or not a person is guilty or innocent.  The punishment for many will be prescribed by law regardless of any mitigating circumstances which legislators cannot be privy to. They have determined that regardless of circumstance a criminal must serve a certain amount of time for a certain crime.

These mandatory minimums are a reaction to past lenient sentences handed out be liberal judges to hardened criminals.  On that face of it alone one could somewhat agree with the reaction.  But that is only one facet of the problem.  The particular offences our government has chosen to apply mandatory minimums to are non-violent offences such as growing, or possessing a plant, cannabis.

As offensive as these changes are to our criminal justice system it could be much worse.  Marc Emery, the Prince of Pot, a Canadian citizen turned over by the Canadian government to a foreign power, the United States, for selling cannabis seeds by mail to Americans, a crime punishable by a fine in this country, is serving five years in an American prison for his actions.  From his prison cell in the Yazoo City Correctional Institution in Mississippi Marc has posted to his blog several  examples of outrageously excessive sentences given to some prison-mates, most of whom, like Marc, are in jail for non-violent drug related offences.

Christopher Norman – sentenced to 21 years, 10 months for conspiracy to distribute five kilograms of cocaine.

First time offender, Jacob Esquibel – 21 years, 3 months for ‘Possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.’

Travis Rogers – 21 years for conspiracy to distribute 500+ grams of methamphetamine.

Antonio Andrews – 48 years – Convicted of being a felon in possession of firearms.  The guns were not used in any way and no one was harmed.

Cedric Jones – Conspiracy to possess and distribute crack cocaine. – Mandatory life sentence.  No drugs were ever found on his person nor were any amount specified in his indictment.

Nathan Carter – Possession with intent to distribute crack cocaine – Life without parole.

Bryan Jones – Conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine – sentenced to life without parole PLUS FIVE YEARS!

Billy Wheelock – life without parole for possession of 99.64 grams of crack cocaine.

Curtis Bell – Conspiracy to distribute crack cocaine – Life without parole.

Marc concludes his blog post with this warning:

“In Canada, the cruel mandatory minimums for cannabis and drugs soon coming into law will be augmented by the on-going appointment of Conservative judges to the courts.  This situation will produce much longer and harsher sentences, fill the jails, increase the debt, expand police powers, reduce the safety and freedom of the citizens, escalate the drug war, raise drug prices, increase the lucrative nature of the drug trade, and drain the taxpayers.”

One further and chilling example of an excessive punishment is the case of twelve year old Cristian Fernandez of Jacksonville, Florida.

This young boy, just into puberty, pushed his toddler brother.  The two and a half year old suffered a head injury which was ignored by his mother who only reported the injury after several hours.  The boy died two days later but doctors claim that he could have been saved had the mother acted quicker instead of taking time to download music on her computer.

While the mother is being tried for her negligence what is tragic is that young Cristian is being tried as an adult for murder.  If he is found guilty the mandatory sentence is life with no chance of parole for 75 years.  Did I mention that Cristian is only 12 years old?

My reaction to these sentences is in no way a comment on the serious nature of some of the crimes, nor on the fact that some of these people deserve to be punished for their crimes.  My reaction is strictly to the excessive and barbaric treatment these individuals are experiencing.

We often pass proper moral judgment on the behaviour of the governments of uncivilized countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or North Korea.  The stonings, beheadings, public amputations, and torture that so-called “criminals” receive in these countries go beyond the pale.  But given the current trend in Canada and the United States to increase sentencing for non-violent crimes and putting 12 year old children in jail for life we are not far behind these medieval countries and catching up.

Dec 082011
 

229 - Bibi Aisha 168x100In my writings and on my radio show I have continually passed moral judgment on the actions, writings, and sayings of others.  Although I do not judge indiscriminately, or lightly, I do not shy away from such judgments and I do not adhere to the biblical commandment “Judge not that ye be not judged.” Matthew 7:1.  Instead I adhere to the Objectivist principle “Judge and be prepared to be judged.”

It is common in our society today to think that we are not worthy of passing judgment on others.  This has been drummed into us from our not only our Christian upbringing which teaches us to be humble (as destructive as that is), but also from our secular public schools which teach us moral relativism, or more precisely, moral agnosticism.  The hypocrisy is of course for our priests and teachers to make the pronouncement that people should not judge they are elevating themselves into a position of moral superiority.

Two weeks ago I lambasted the Ontario public school system for their political indoctrination of children.  I stand by my assessment of the system but today would like to honour at least one teacher in that system, in this very city in fact who has come out and revealed a personal observation about the effect of such indoctrination on his pupils.

Dr. Stephen L. Anderson, a high school teacher in the Thames Valley District School Board, and a recent PhD in philosophy from the University of Western Ontario, has published an article called “Moments of startling clarity : Moral education programming in Ontario today” in the Ontario Secondary School Teacher Federation’s publication Education Forum. This is what he had to say:

            “…I was teaching my senior Philosophy class.  We had just finished a unit on metaphysics and were about to get into ethics, the philosophy of how we make moral judgments.  The school had also just had several social-justice-type assemblies – multiculturalism, women’s rights, anti-violence and gay acceptance.  So there was no shortage of reference points from which to begin.

“I needed an attention-getter: something to really spark interest, something to shock the students awake and make them commit to an ethical judgment.  This would form a baseline from which they could begin to ask questions about the legitimacy of moral judgments of all kinds, and then pursue various theories…

“I decided to open by simply displaying, without comment, the photo of Bibi Aisha.  Aisha was the Afghani teenager who was forced into an abusive marriage with a Taliban fighter, who abused her and kept her with his animals.  When she attempted to flee, her family caught her, hacked off her nose and ears, and left her for dead in the mountains.  After crawling to her grandfather’s house, she was saved by a nearby American hospital.  I felt quite sure that my students, seeing the suffering of this poor girl of their own age, would have a clear ethical reaction, from which we could build toward more difficult cases.

“But I was not prepared for their reaction.  I had expected strong aversion; but that’s not what I got.  Instead, they became confused.  They seemed not to know what to think.  They spoke timorously, afraid to make any moral judgment at all.  They were unwilling to criticize any situation originating in a different culture.  They said, “Well, we might not like it, but maybe over there it’s okay.”  One student said, “I don’t feel anything at all; I see lots of this kind of stuff.”  Another said (with no consciousness of self-contradiction), “It’s just wrong to judge other cultures.”

This refusal to take a stand, to make a moral judgment on members of another society or on that society itself is the result of years of indoctrinating children into the cult of multiculturalism, into the dead-end, and I mean that quite literally, of moral relativism or as Dr. Anderson goes on to describe, ethical paralytics.

Moral judgments stem from a moral standard, an ultimate value, the survival of which determines our reasoning for judging something either good or evil.  Normally one would make moral judgments based on a standard or ultimate value.  For today’s educators and intellectuals this standard is the group or collective one belongs to.  Such moral standards are, for example race, gender, sexual preference, economic class, cultural, and religion.  If it is good for my race, my gender, sexual preference etc. then it must be good, if is bad for my group then it must be bad.  But who is to determine what is best for the group?  And what if I belong to several groups?  What if I was a Catholic, black, middle class, bi-sexual woman?  Who am I to make moral judgment for my group mosaic?

Obviously the answer paralyses the person into making no moral judgments at all and resigns the person to relying on the expert’s judgments on what is right or wrong.

In fact the only standard one should use to make a moral judgment is one’s own life and its survival.  What benefits the survival of one’s own life is the good what is detrimental to one’s own life is the evil.  When your own life becomes the standard upon which to make your moral judgments then you are standing on a firm ethical ground.  You are then in a position to place yourself in the position of another and judge empathically what is right and what is wrong.

In The Virtue of Selfishness, Ayn Rand responded to the question: “How does one lead a rational life in an irrational society?” thusly:

            “I will confine my answer to a single, fundamental aspect of this question.  I will name only one principle, the opposite of the idea which is so prevalent today and which is responsible for the spread of evil in the world.  That principle is: One must never fail to pronounce moral judgment.

“Nothing can corrupt and disintegrate a culture or a man’s character as thoroughly as does the precept of moral agnosticism, the idea that one must never pass moral judgment on others, that one must be morally tolerant of anything, that the good consists of never distinguishing good from evil.

“It is their fear of this responsibility that prompts most people to adopt an attitude of indiscriminate moral neutrality.  It is the fear best expressed in the precept: “Judge not, that ye be not judged.” But that precept, in fact is an abdication of moral responsibility:  It is a moral blank check one gives to theirs in exchange for a moral bank check one expects for oneself.

“…so long as moral values are at stake, no moral neutrality is possible.  To abstain from condemning a torturer, is to become an accessory to the torture and murder of his victims.”

Using one’s own life as the standard upon which to make a moral judgment and accepting Rand’s principle that “One must never fail to pronounce moral judgment,” the students in Dr. Anderson’s class should have responded to his challenge by saying that the family of Bibi Aisha were committing an evil act in siding with her evil husband by mutilating her and leaving her for dead.  The staff at the American hospital acted morally in offering her aid and protecting her.

The students could have gone one step further as I now will.  Any culture which permits, encourages, or abets in any way the subjugation of a woman or the mutilation of someone as a punishment for escaping an abusive pig of a husband is inherently evil.  To the extent that this is tolerated by the Afghani people is the extent to which they are all complicit to this evil.

Originally broadcast on Just Right #229 December 8, 2011.

Oct 202011
 

Yue Yue and MotherLast Thursday a little girl was run over on a street in Foshan City in Communist China.  A dozen passersby ignored her writhing moaning body as it lay in a pool of blood.  Another truck came by, slowed down, and then ran over her legs.  Yet more passersby ignored her until a garbage collector came and moved her to the side of the street and looked for her mother.

The images were gruesome and horrifying.  The fact that so many ignored her as just some piece of road-kill has become the topic of controversy around the world.  Why would someone ignore a small child in obvious need of help?  If but one of them stopped to help she wouldn’t have been run over for the second time.  What goes through the minds of people who choose not to get involved when such little effort could have prevented so much suffering?

An article in the National Post on Tuesday enumerated several possible reasons.  The driver of the truck which initially struck the toddler said that,

“If she is dead, I may pay only about 20,000 yuan.  But if she is injured, it may cost me hundreds of thousands (of) yuan.”

Some said that would-be Good Samaritans are usually held liable for damages or wrongly accused of being a perpetrator and do not assist out of fear of being arrested, imprisoned or sued.

Some blamed a lack of morals brought on by the destruction of the family unit, a lack of religion in officially atheist Communist China, a population crisis of too many people in such a small area.

Unmentioned in the article is neither the official one-child policy of the Chinese government nor the extremely high incidences of female child abortion or infanticide in that country.

What is highlighted in the National Post article is a belief that capitalism is to blame for the lack of compassion in Chinese society.

Professor James Miller of Queen’s University in Kingston was quoted as saying that,

“There is a gold-rush mentality – people are clambering over other people to try to make ends meet, to try to get ahead.  With the adoption of capitalism, it is seen as being all about self-interest.”

There is so much wrong in Professor Miller’s statement it is hard to know where to begin.

People are trying to make ends meet all over the world including in this country and yet a child run over by a truck would receive immediate aid here as it would in many parts of the world.

To say that Communist China has adopted capitalism is laughable.  It would be laughable for anyone who knows what capitalism means.  For this I will need to distinguish between a person being a capitalist and the overriding economic term of capitalism.

Throughout history there have been capitalists, in every country, in almost every period of history.  A capitalist is simply an individual who uses his property or capital as a means to create a profit.  A land owner who rents out his land, a money lender who gives a loan to someone and charges interest, a wage earner who has saved enough to invest in somebody else’s venture, a Bed and Breakfast owner who rents out their bedroom for the night, an industrialist who owns a factory employing thousands to produce widgets.  All are capitalists.  They use their property or capital to earn income or profit.

Such people can be distinguished from others who, rather than having or using capital for gain, sell their skills or brawn for a wage: a line-worker at an auto plant, a farm hand, a government bureaucrat, a clerk in an office.

Prior to the mid19th century capitalists were referred to as individualists.  But whether it was in 20th century America or 17th century England the individualists relied on government to protect their individual rights to use their capital to earn money.  For many it was just a livable wage but for the fortunate and adept the rewards amounted to fortunes.

For the workers, this disparagement in wealth was inexplicable.  They did not realize what efforts the capitalists took to gain their initial capital nor could they appreciate the risk the capitalists took when they invested their capital in ventures.  This ignorance, led to envy which has led, in some corners of the world to civil wars.  In the West it may not have led to such bloodthirsty revolutions as in Soviet Russia or Communist China but it has led to envy and hatred.  Emotions fueled by a complete ignorance.

Capitalism is a political system which protects the individual rights of its citizens.  When a person’s right to their life, liberty and property (amongst others) are protected then they can pursue economic activities beyond menial labour.  They can invest, enter into long-term contracts, develop their property and employ people to create wealth.  Without the assurances that their rights are being protected their risks are multiplied.  They may find themselves victims of government bureaucratic whims, police corruption, graft, and bribes.

That is why it comes as no surprise when I hear a well-healed Canadian university professor blame China’s capitalism on the indifference shown to the little toddler run over in the street.

Professor Miller, like so many, has very little understanding of what capitalism means.  Although a scholar of religion and Chinese culture he is ignorant of his own society’s history and culture.  He is not alone.  The thousands who are occupying Wall Street have proven themselves to be utter morons when it comes to understanding the society which has given them so much in terms of wealth and opportunity.

But capitalism is more than just a political or economic system.  An ideal capitalist, or to use the arcane term, an individualist is a person who has come to an understanding about nature and knowledge.  He knows that nature to be commanded must be obeyed.  How else could an auto manufacturer mold the metal from the earth into cars and buses?  He respects knowledge and years to learn as much as possible about his business.  How else it to succeed in a world where there are many others to compete with?

But there is a virtue, held not only by capitalists but by many workers as well, that drives them to perform above and beyond their competitors and their co-workers.  It is a positive sense of life.  A understanding that life is good, whether you make $20,000 a year as a busboy or $20 million a year investing in other people’s companies.  It is this love of life, your own life that drives many of us.  It makes us be the best we can be at whatever we do.

It is this love of one’s own life which is the fountainhead for our ability to feel compassion for others.  Only those who despise their own lives can walk casually by a dying child on a road side.  And only those who love their own life and their own existence, to whatever degree, will stop to help the child because compassion comes out of love of life.

The fact that so many Chinese walked by the little girl is a symptom, not of capitalism but of 62 years of being told by a Communist government that your life is not your own, but belongs to the state.

The 1949 victory of the Communists in China marked the beginning of the end of any love individuals could have for life, their own or anybody else’s.  The fact that only within the last few years that some have been allowed to start and grow businesses under the iron fist of a one-party state has not overturned two entire generations of death at the hands of communist rule.

Capitalism and the necessary government protection of an individual’s right to their life, their liberty and their property are integral in the cultivation of a love of life.  Communist China is years away from achieving such a condition.

We should not only pity the little girl, dying on the street we should also pity those who walked by her as they are also dying.  But their death is just taking a little longer.

(Originally broadcast on Just Right #222, October 20, 2011.)

Update: It was reported on Friday, October 21, 2011 by Guangzhou Military District General Hospital that Yue Yue died of her injuries.

Oct 132011
 
Crappin on the Flag

Crappin on the FlagIt’s been over three weeks now since the start of the Occupy Wall Street protest.  We can now see a little more clearly the facts surrounding who started the protest and why.  The first few days of the protest reminded me of the scene from the movie Network where crazed TV anchorman Howard Beale, played by Peter Finch, rants at the television audience about the economy and suggests that people yell out their windows that they’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.

A pointless gesture to be sure.  The Wall Street protests, however, have become anything but pointless.  The protests were started by American Unions to create a new class struggle in the US, the rich vs. the rest of us; the rich being incorrectly defined as 1%, the rest of us as 99%.  It is worth noting that only about 15% of Americans fall below the arbitrary federal poverty threshold and less than 10% of Americans are unemployed.  Not promising figures to be sure but still a far cry from the 99% claimed by the Occupy Wall Street organizers.

Another fallacy surrounding the protests is that they are grassroots driven and lack any coherent leadership or organization.  Brian Lilly of Sun News Network reported recently that members of the SEIU, the Service Employees International Union are partially responsible for creating the Occupy Wall Street movement and advertised the fact about two months prior to the first event.  Adbusters, an anti-consumerism group, were also instrumental in promoting OWS.  The impetus for Occupy Wall Street is no doubt in direct response to the widely successful and much more popular Tea Party rallies.

The fact that organized labour had a hand in the protests should come as no surprise to anyone who has seen the list of demands coming from the protesters.  Free university tuition, tax the rich, end capitalism, have the government take over the banks, and a guaranteed annual income for all are but some of the demands, all of them coinciding with the demands of organized labour for the past several decades.

These dystopian demands of the protesters are only a superficial reason for the occupation.  The real goal, I believe, is to create a class struggle in the United States, a struggle that President Obama can get behind and champion.  He has already coopted one of the so-called one percent to be a spokesman for the new bourgeoisie, Warren Buffet.  Buffet’s false claims that he pays less tax than his secretary and his call for greater taxes on the wealthy have flamed the hatred of the new proletariat and have given fuel to their envy.

Remember that Buffet, the third richest man in the world, with a net worth of $50 billion only paid himself a salary of $100,000.  His tax bill was $48.1 million taxed at a rate of 19% because it was from dividends and capital gains.  His salary was taxed at the same rate as his employees so his claim that he pays taxes at a lower rate than his employees was a deliberate deception of the facts.   It is this now false belief that the rich pay less in taxes than the rest of us that has given the Occupiers ammunition to fight for greater taxation.  Obama has been quick to take advantage of this falsehood.

The protests have become an excellent case study in politics, the labour movement, left wing ideologies, and by comparison right wing ideology.  The internet has gathered videos, photos and speeches from both the Occupy Wall Street protests and the Tea Party rallies and many pundits have put the two movements side by side to come up with some fascinating dichotomies of beliefs and actions.

The Occupiers have been accurately depicted as young people who despise the rich and the system which allowed them to create more wealth than they have.  They leave behind garbage at their rally sites, they have been seen to be naked, having sex and taking drugs while protesting.  They have broken several laws including trespass laws which has resulted in hundreds of arrests.  They have been seen defecating on the American flag, burning the American flag and destroying the American flag.

The Tea Party on the other hand has been documented to be primarily middle aged folk who love their country, display their flags proudly and respectfully at their rallies, have correctly targeted government as the cause of their frustration, are well behaved, and peaceful and leave their rally sites spotless.

What is common to both sides, the Tea Partiers and the Occupiers, is anger at an America that is a shadow of its former self.  The United States is failing and the blame runs deep; from the creations of Fannie Mae, Ginnie Mae, Freddy Mac, the Federal Reserve System, to crony capitalism, to the edict by all Presidents since Jimmy Carter that bank’s must lend to sub-prime mortgagees.  This is the macroscopic view of blame.

A microscopic view of the blame for what ails America can best be summed up in two letters by two very different college women who wrote letters about their predicaments and posted them online.

One letter reads:

 I’m a college senior with $40K of debt.  There are no jobs in my feild (sic).  My toughest decision now is whether to sell drugs or my body.  I am the 99%.

 

The other letter reads:

 “I am a college senior, about to graduate completely debt free.  I pay for all of my living expenses by working 30+ hours a week making barely above minimum wage.  I chose a moderately priced, in-0state public university.

I started saving money for school at age 17.  I got decent grades in high school and received 2 scholarships which cover 90% of my tuition.  I currently have a 3.8 GPA.

I live comfortably in a cheap apt., knowing I can’t have everything I want.  I don’t eat out every day, or even once a month.  I have no credit card, new car, iPad or smart phone – and I’m perfectly OK with that.  If I did have debt, I would NOT blame Wall St. or the government for my own bad decisions.

I live below my means to continue saving for the future.  I expect nothing to be handed to my, and will continue to work my ass off for everything I have.

That’s how it’s supposed to work.  I am NOT the 99%, and whether or not you are is YOUR decision.

The difference in the attitudes is striking and acts as a perfect demarcation between what is right with America and what is wrong.  It comes down to individual choices.  The first lady continues to borrow money she knows she can’t repay to remain in college studying for a career she knows she cannot attain.  Whether or not there no jobs in her field as she claims is highly doubtful and belies a deep seated self-doubt.  Her resignation to either sell drugs or her body reveals a self-loathing and destructive nature.

The second lady studies hard, works hard, is confident of her future, and most importantly blames nobody but herself for either her successes or failures.  This used to be the mind-set and attitude of the people of the once great United States.

If every American adopted the attitude of the second college senior there would have been no sub-prime mortgage failure as people who could not afford mortgages would not have taken on such a liability.   People must realize that their problems will not be solved by government, by Wall St., by the banks, by Corporate America or by anyone but themselves.  This is how it should be.

When we deviate from this view and expect others to provide for our education, our health, our welfare, we can only expect a collapse not only of the economy but of something more important….our self-esteem.

(Originally aired on Just Right #221, October 13, 2011.)

Sep 222011
 
Ethical Oil

Ethical OilThe recent ethicaloil.org advertisement asking us to support Alberta oil sands over Saudi oil begs the question, Why?  Because the Saudi’s won’t let women drive?  The Saudis won’t allow women to work?  In Saudi Arabia a women’s testimony is only worth half of that of a man’s?

Well, not to make light of these egregious violations of individual rights, only 100 years ago here in Canada women couldn’t drive.  (Mind you cars didn’t exist so it wasn’t much of a concern).  One hundred years ago in Canada women had to be clothed in such a way as to not show any skin except face and hands.  One hundred years ago women were not recognized as persons and prohibited from voting and very few worked as it was considered a man’s responsibility.  Canada has matured since our Victorian coverture laws.  It has evolved into a country which respects (to a degree) a person’s individual rights regardless of gender.

If Saudi Arabia’s faults were only their oppressive treatment of women then the thrust of ethical oil’s ad is very week.  What Ethical Oil should have exposed to the light of day were the many other violations of civility that Saudi Arabia is guilty of.

Saudi Arabia has existed as a nation state for only 79 years.  Its ruling family, the House of Saud, has its roots in murder and thievery.  Abdul-Aziz bin Saud, the patriarch of the Royal Family, earned his kingdom by murdering opposing tribes and stealing their wealth.  But that is history and even our own monarch’s family tree is replete with bloodshed and war, although certainly not as recent as the House of Saud.

Twenty First century Saudi Arabia however, is no less violent than its bloody past.  In fact it can be considered even more bloodthirsty and cruel.  The Ethical Oil ad, when it says that women aren’t allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, gives us the impression that if a woman is pulled over by a cop she could get a ticket and maybe a ride home.  Not so.  If a woman is found driving a car she could be pulled from the car by a gang of government sanctioned thugs and beaten to death.

There is a government bureaucracy in Saudi Arabia called the “Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice.”  Agents of this committee are called the Mutaween or the religion police. Armed with thin wooden canes the Saudi Mutaween patrol the streets enforcing the official religion of Saudi Arabia, Wahhabi Islam.  Their job is to enforce Sharia Law.  They look for violations of dress codes, strict separation of men and women, prayer by Muslims during prayer times, and other behaviors it believes to be commanded by Islam including;

  • checking that women wear the abaya, a traditional all-enveloping black cloak.
  • making sure that men and women who are spotted together in public are related.
  • arresting anyone engaged in homosexual acts, prostitution, fornication, or proselytizing of non-Muslim religions.
  • enforcing Muslim dietary laws (such as the prohibition from eating pork).
  • enforcing store closures during the prayer time.
  • prohibiting the consumption or sale of alcoholic beverages.
  • seizing banned consumer products and media regarded contrary to Islamic morals.
  • preventing the religious practices of other religions within Saudi Arabia. 1

Punishment is Saudi Arabia is swift and brutal.  The Mutaween can beat you to death on the spot for infractions against Sharia.  If found guilty of crimes in a court punishment may range from caning, to the cutting off of hands, to death by hanging or public decapitation.

In May 2007, a man alleged to have alcohol in his home was reported by Arab News to have been arrested and beaten to death by CPVPV members “The father of the deceased said that commission members continued to beat his handcuffed son, even though he was already covered in blood, until he died

In August 2008, a young Saudi woman who had converted to Christianity reportedly was burnt to death after having her tongue cut out by her father, a member of the Committee.

On 5 April 2006 a Catholic priest, “Fr. George [Joshua] had just celebrated mass in a private house when seven religious policemen (muttawa) broke into the house together with two ordinary policemen. The police arrested the priest and another person.

One of the most widely criticized examples of mutaween enforcement of Sharia law came in March 2002, when 14 young girls died of burns or smoke asphyxiation by an accidental fire that engulfed their public school in Mecca. According to the statements of parents, firemen, and the regular police forces present at the scene, the religious police forcibly prevented girls from escaping the burning school by locking the doors of the school from the outside, and barring firemen from entering the school to save the girls, beating some of the girls and civil defense personnel in the process. Mutaween would not allow the girls to escape or to be saved because they were ‘not properly covered’ and the mutaween did not want physical contact to take place between the girls and the civil defense forces for fear of sexual enticement. ibid

King Abdulla of Saudi Arabia is an absolute dictator.  Unlike the monarchs of more civilized countries where they are mere figure-heads Abdulla’s word is law.  Saudi Arabia is perhaps the second most oppressive and despotic regime on the face of the planet but for North Korea.

Members of the Saud family have been indicted for drug trafficking, and when a Saudi Royal traffics drugs we are talking shipping 2 tons of Columbian cocaine to France aboard their private 727 jet. 2

The Kingdom is being sued by Lloyds of London for their alleged role in funding Al-Qaeda and making the attacks of 9/11 possible. 3

It has been alleged that members of the Royal family knew Mohamed Atta, one of the Saudi nationals who participated in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  These members of the family fled the USA only 2 weeks before 9/11. 4

The Kingdom is the second biggest military spender as a percentage of GDP. 5

Why are they our ally?  Why do we even trade with such a regime?  Why aren’t these despots hunted down under the UN’s so-called “Responsibility to Protect” provision and brought to trial for their barbarism?  Oil, of course.

Saudi Arabia has the largest reserve of easily accessed oil in the world.  (Oil which was discovered by American oil giants, Texaco, and Exxon. 6) The Saudi government in the 1950s effectively nationalized the Saudi branches of these American companies with the help of the US government.

The ads by EthicalOil.org are tame and timid and do not do justice to the atrocities perpetrated by the Saudi dictatorship.  And yet, the Saudi government has the nerve to send a “cease and desist” letter to the Television Bureau of Canada 7.   Bell Canada owner of CTV has capitulated to the Saudi threat probably in fear of losing their lucrative Saudi business which amounts to billions of dollars.  Sun News Network, true to form, has continued to air the ads and has called on the Prime Minister to call in the Saudi Ambassador over the threat to free speech.  It is least he should do.

What Prime Minister Harper as well as the rest of the free and civilized world should do is ostracize this regime.  Stop buying their stolen oil.  Prevent them from spreading their hateful Wahhabism by blockading the country and preventing any of their citizens from emigrating.  They should be shunned and condemned for their medieval political ideology.   Why we continue to have truck and trade with these dictators belies our own tenuous understanding of what it means to be free.

Originally broadcast on Just Right #218, September 22, 2011.

  1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Committee_for_the_Promotion_of_Virtue_and_the_Prevention_of_Vice_%28Saudi_Arabia%29
  2. http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/Investigation/story?id=633967&page=1
  3. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/lloyds-insurer-sues-saudi-arabia-for-funding-911-attacks-2356857.html
  4. http://whowhatwhy.com/2011/09/22/saudi-royal-ties-to-911-hijackers-via-florida-saudi-family-0/
  5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures
  6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saudi_Aramco
  7. http://www.ethicaloil.org/news/saudi-arabia-moves-to-censor-canadian-tv-ad/

 

Aug 182011
 

London RiotsBy now we are all familiar with the England riots of a few weeks ago.  By now we are all familiar with all the reasons given to explain the violence, the poor education system, single parenting, lack of father figures, lack of political leadership, ineffective policing, racial tensions, multiculturalism, football hooliganism, Facebook, twitter, cell phones, violent  music lyrics, the poor economy, youth unemployment, lack of religion, lack of values, lack of empathy, or my favorite…hoodies.  All of these and many more reasons have one thing in common which, with rare exception, is going unmentioned.  What many of these have in common is a philosophy, the philosophy of altruism, the philosophy of selflessness, the philosophy of despair, the philosophy of Emmanuel Kant.

For every human action there must be an underlying philosophy of the person taking the action.  The decision to stay in bed or to get out of bed is based on your philosophy.  Whether you are able to explicitly articulate your philosophy or not does not negate the fact that you have a philosophy.  The vast majority of us are unable to properly define their philosophy or even have the vaguest notion that they even have one.

Whether you are happy in your work or home life or miserable is based on your philosophy.  Whether or not you vote or do not vote and who you vote for is based on your philosophy.  And whether or not you participate in a riot or stay at home and lock your doors while the world goes to hell in a hand cart is also a consequence of your philosophy.

I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and I can still remember political pundits arguing over the cause of youth crime, in the major American cities of New York, in Detroit, in Los Angeles.  Canadian major cities had much less but given time and the deliberate attempt by our socialist governments we can now say we have fully cosmopolitan cities which can rival the world’s greatest cities, at least in crime and rioting.

The philosophy of altruism and of sacrifice is drummed into our heads from the day we are born.  Are parents tell us to share our toys with our siblings even though they are our toys and we don’t want to.  Our teachers tell us of the evils of capitalism and materialism and of how we should conserve and deprive ourselves or the pleasures of convenience lest we destroy the environment.  Our priests and mullahs preach that we must be good Samaritans and give to the poor or we are being immoral and selfish and will go to hell for our greed.  Our politicians tell us to cut back, conserve, and pay more in taxes so that starving Somalians can eat or so that your neighbour can have that chemotherapy to remove that tumor on her nose from getting too much sun while she was in Mexico.

Everywhere we turn, from our music our newspapers, schools, churches, television programs and political commercials we are told to give, give and give until we are left a hollow shell so that others can benefit.

And the reciprocal side of this we have the recipients of our forced generosity.  We have children growing up knowing full well that they don’t have to work in order to survive.  They will be given free subsidized housing, free abortions should they get pregnant, free baby bonuses should they decide to keep the children they bear, free education, free medical care, free food, free welfare payments and when they are ready to retire from such a tough life, free pension and Old Age Security payments.

The incentive to work is driven out of us from two fronts.  Should you choose to work you are taxed, regulated and controlled at a rates and extents that makes you wonder why you should get out of bed in the morning.  If you don’t have a job you wonder why you should even look for one since the state will provide you with all you need to survive quite comfortably in a style our grandparents would only think is luxury.

What these disincentives to work do for the self-esteem of a person strikes at the root of the violence we have seen perpetrated by mobs of youth around the world.  Our nature as humans, as rational beings dictates that in order to survive we must work productively.  Left to nature alone we will die.  The fruit will not fall off the tree into our open mouths, the trees will not fall and arrange themselves into shelters to keep out the cold on their own, sheep will not sheer themselves and knit sweaters for us to wear.  We must conform nature to fit us.  We must engage in productive work using the only tool nature provides us, a rational mind.  We have to create, build, cultivate, exchange value for value in order to survive.  It is what makes us human beings.  To take this away from us either by robbing us to provide for the welfare of others or by providing for us at the expense of others destroys who we are.  It violates our very nature.  It destroys our self-worth.

The person who does not have to lift a finger in order to live can value nothing.   With nothing to value there can be nothing to motivate us into action.  We become immune to the stimuli around us.  The lines between good and evil become blurred and indistinct.  Out actions, if we take any, become random and haphazard.  We lash out indiscriminately at anybody and anything for no good reason.  Or, conversely we turn inward and wallow in a depressing stupor.  We turn to drugs to stimulate our starving minds.  We turn to suicide to end the meaningless existence.

Only by having needs, and desires do we determine our values and only by having values do we set goals for ourselves and only by having goals do we have the motivation to create and produce and do what is necessary to try and reach our goals and attain that which we value.

The welfare state is robbing us at every turn not only of the fruits of our productive effort but at the motivation to even try to achieve anything.  The results of 70 years of creeping welfare-statism has turned us from productive humans into mindless, valueless, animals who either work for the benefit of others or lay about and reap the rewards of the efforts of others.

In Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged she talked about the moral necessity of productive work in Galt’s Speech:

Productiveness is your acceptance of morality, your recognition of the fact that you choose to live – that productive work is the process by which man’s consciousness controls his existence, a constant process of acquiring knowledge and shaping matter to fit one’s purpose, of translating an idea into physical form, of remaking the earth in the image of one’s values – that all work is creative work if done by  a thinking mind, and no work is creative if done by a blank who repeats in uncritical stupor a routine he has learned from others – that your work is yours to choose, and the choice is as wide as your mind, that nothing more is possible to you and nothing less is human – that to cheat your way into a job bigger than your mind can handle is to become a fear- corroded ape on borrowed motions and borrowed time, and to settle down into a job that requires less than your mind’s full capacity is to cut your motor and sentence yourself to another kind of motion: decay – that your work is the  process of achieving your values, and to lose your ambition for values is to lose your ambition to live – that your body is a machine but your mind is its driver, and you must drive as far as your mind will take you, with achievement as the goal of your road –  that the man who has no purpose is a machine that coasts downhill at the mercy of any boulder to crash in the first chance ditch, that the man who stifles his mind is a stalled machine slowly going to rust, that the man who lets a leader prescribe his course is a wreck being towed to the scrap heap, and the man who makes another man his goal is a hitchhiker no driver should ever pick up – that your work is the purpose of your life, and you must speed past any killer who assumes the right to stop you, that any value you might find outside your work, any other loyalty or love can be only travelers you choose to share your journey and must be travelers going on their own power in the same direction.

The cult of the altruist has permeated all walks of life and all social strata.  When Bill Gates feels the need to give away his billions (which is his right of course) out of some misplaced sense of guilt many successful people feel, and when Obamas’ stooge, Warren Buffet calls for greater tax rates on the rich, a strictly evil suggestion, then we know that even men of great productive capacity are not immune to Kant’s philosophy of selflessness and despair.

The cure for this philosophy and subsequently for the violence we have seen in England this month and likewise riots throughout the world is to arm ourselves with a philosophy which rejects mysticism and the evil notion that we are our brother’s keeper, which extols the virtues of man as a rational being, which champions the individual over the group and which establishes a moral code for living peacefully and productively.  This philosophy is called Objectivism.

Originally aired on Just Right #213, August 18, 2011.