For my regular visitors, if you find that this blog hasn't been updating much lately, chances are pretty good I've been spending my writing energy on my companion blog. Feel free to pop over to Home is Where the Central Cardio-pulmonary Organ Is, and see what else has been going on.

Monday, August 23, 2010

New Project!!!

I haven't posted in a little while, but I'm excited to share some amazing news about a new project I will be able to start!

For anyone who's been reading my blog for a while, you know that I grew up on the farm. It's there that I developed my love of guns.  To a farmer, guns are a tool.  We used them to dispatch animals quickly and humanely for butchering, to kill larger animals that attacked our cows and chickens, and for hunting to put food on the table.  Most farms in our area had at least 3 long guns - a .22 for general use, a shotgun for hunting birds and a heavier gauge for hunting deer, elk, moose, etc.  I have many happy memories of wandering through the bush with our .22, practising my aim on trees or shooting crows (though I stopped doing that when I discovered not even the barn cats would eat them).

I've long thought that, in Canada in particular, guns are greatly and unfairly maligned.  Especially with the formation of the wasteful long gun registry.  Yes, people do use guns to commit crimes, etc., but more people use knives and other weapons in crimes than guns.  There are thousands of gun owners that enjoy the skill required to shoot targets at a range, or the challenge and self sufficiency of hunting to put food on their table.  It's been my belief that, given the educational opportunity, people would learn to at least understand that gun ownership and gun owners are not as terrible as they've been taught to believe, and that maybe, just maybe, they'd learn to enjoy a new skill.

Well, thanks to a private backer (who wishes to remain anonymous), this dream may actually come true!  We've been able to acquire some property and get all the permits to build a gun education centre.  Of course it will have a shooting range, but that won't be the focus of the centre.  Anyone will be welcome to come in and visit a library and a museum housing some rare and beautiful old guns.  Some were truly works of art!  Visitors would be able to talk to instructors and facilitators and learn more about guns and gun history.  Those who are interested would be able to learn how to safely handle guns and use the shooting range.  More importantly, they'd be able to learn how guns can be used to protect themselves, should the unthinkable happen. I really think it would be a fantastic way to reach out to people and educate them about guns.

Unfortunately, I do foresee a few problems.  There is a very loud and vocal segment of the population in Canada that would see all guns banned.  Most of them are far-left extremists - quite bigoted and intolerant, but with powerful lobbies.  Some may also have problems with the location.  It's a great property, and we have the permits to build.  Being private property, they can't really stop us, but it happens to be in Montreal, just a couple of blocks away from the École Polytechnique.  Still, it's been more than 20 years since the Montreal Massacre.  I think, by now, people would be more open and understanding that not all gun owners are potential mass murderers.  What better place to remind people of that?  Most gun owners are responsible, peace loving people who would never dream of doing something so horrible.  I think the education centre would be an excellent way to reach out to non-gun owners and help them understand the truth about guns, even if they would never want to own one themselves.  One would have to be quite intolerant and prejudiced to have a problem with the facility, but hey... this is the far left we're talking about.


If you haven't figured it out yet, not a word of what I've written is going to happen.  I think it would be in extremely poor taste for anyone to build a gun range near the site of Canada's most infamous massacre, even though technically, it might be perfectly legal to do so - I just don't think anyone would ever get permits required to do so.  People would be, understandably and rightfully, up in arms over the proposal.  I do actually like guns, and do have happy memories of shooting (I was given a WWII Polish sniper rifle as a wedding gift, though we got rid of it before the long gun registry kicked in.  I miss that thing.  Wow, did it have a kick!!).  I would fully support an educational facility like that one I just discussed - but not one so close to the site of a mass murder.  It would be highly disrespectful and offensive.

Kind of like the "Ground Zero mosque" that is in the news right now.

No, I didn't come up with the shooting range analogy.  I borrowed that.  I still think it's apt, though.

When the "Ground Zero mosque" idea first hit the news, lots of people were up in arms over the idea.  Of course, the usual crazies came out of the woodwork and, also as usual, everyone who disapproved to the project was painted with the same brush as the crazies.  Lately there's been more of a shift towards people voicing their displeasure at those who voiced their displeasure.  I'm seeing the usual people jumping into that fray, calling anyone who's against the project intolerant, racist, bigoted... you know, far-right.  Because only the far right would be against such a lovely project, and we all know that far right equals undemocratic, racist, Christian, intolerant, etc.

Which is pretty ironic, when you think about it.  The far left is quick to make accusations of intolerance on the part of the right (and one doesn't have to actually be on the right; you just have to disagree with them to be instantly labeled a rightwing nutbar), yet they are incredibly intolerant themselves of anyone who disagrees with them.

What would be funny, if it weren't rather alarming, is that I'm seeing the people ranting against the anti-mosque people (yes, I know, it's not really a mosque, it's a cultural center or something, but mosque is the word being used on both sides of the issue) and making accusations that the right is "undemocratic," are the same people that were perfectly okay with the idea of our second-time democratically elected government get over-thrown by a coalition of losers that couldn't come up with a combined number of MPs to do so without jumping into bed with a separatist party.  The same people that don't really believe in private property (some actually believe private property is a crime) are now saying that, well, it's private property, so they can build whatever they want.

I've seen some writers mocking the opponents of the project on a number of invalid points.  They'll say, for example, that it's not really on Ground Zero, but two blocks away.  That would imply that Ground Zero is only where the twin towers stood, but in reality, it's quite a bit larger then that.  The location this complex was going to be built on had a building on it already - a building that was destroyed when a piece of one of the towers fell on it.  It, too, is part of Ground Zero.

Another writer mocked people for referring to Ground Zero as "hallowed ground."  Growing up Catholic, I learned that hallowed ground was land blessed by a priest, such as the land a church is built on, or land blessed for use as a graveyard.  However, I recognize that other places are considered hallowed without prayers being said over them or whatever is involved in the process of consecrating something.  After all, there are a great many land development projects being stymied because nearby Native groups claim that land is sacred to them, therefore no one should be allowed to build on it.  That they haven't had possession of that land or used it in any way for a few hundred years doesn't seem to make a difference.  It's still being successfully argued in the courts.  Can you imagine someone mocking these claims the same way people are now mocking those who describe Ground Zero as sacred or hallowed ground?

What really chokes in my craw is when I hear the folks using the private property argument.  When talking about this project they use the argument that, because it's private property and the owners have all the permits, no one has any right to object to this complex being built.

These same people's heads would explode over my gun education centre near the site of the Montreal Massacre idea, private property and permits be damned.

In this area, I actually happen to agree with them, even if they are being hypocritical about it.  I believe firmly in private property rights, and believe that people should be free to do as they wish on their own land, so long as no one is harmed because of it. People aren't free to do what they wish on their own land, though.  We are constantly controlled and regulated over what we can or can't do on our own property.  We need permits to build, which makes sense to a certain extent, but I think the regulations have gone too far in many places.  Our properties are zoned, controlling how we use our land as well as what we can build on it.  Just recently on the news, there's a family being prosecuted for allowing their son to use their land for an event, which he's been holding for the past 10 years.

While we may be somewhat free to build what we want, once our permits are in order, we can still be stopped by others who have have nothing to do with our property.  The monster house craze was in full force when we lived in Richmond, BC, where people would buy a piece of property, raze whatever house was already on there, then build a new house so big, it would cover almost the entire plot of land, with multiple stories.  There was a huge outcry against them, with people working to change regulations to prevent more of these houses being built. We moved away, so I don't know if they ever succeed.  People are constantly trying to tell others what they can or can't do on their own private property.

For those currently using private property as a reason why no one should be complaining against the building of this complex near the site of the twin towers, I say this.  Never again do I want to see them complaining over some old building being torn down to make way for a Starbucks, even if it is historically significant.  Never again do I want to hear about people complaining about their neighbour's back yard firepit.  Never again do I want to see people trying to prevent someone from cutting down a tree on their own property because the roots are damaging their house, even if it is  100 + years old and they really, really like it.  Never again do I want to hear them complaining because people are watering their lawns when they think it's a waste of water.  Never again do I want to see them fighting to block development on land that they think should be used to grow food.  Never again do I want to hear complaints because someone's got vehicles parked in their yard, on or off blocks.  Never again do I want to hear of them supporting the prevention of development on private property because the rare, possibly extinct Woolly Spotted Sapsucking SomethingOrOther might be living there.

When it comes to the "Ground Zero Mosque," the people who own it have every right to build that complex, once they've got the permits for it (though I find it curious that they got those permits for this project cleared so quickly, when you consider that an existing Greek Orthodox Church damaged during 9/11 still hasn't been able to get the permits necessary to rebuild).  It may be offensive and disrespectful, all things considered, but they can do it.  And others have every right to object to it and try to stop it, just like other people have been able to successfully object to and prevent people from cutting down trees in their own property.

For those people who've suddenly discovered private property rights and democracy over this issue, they'd do well to remember that those rights extend to BOTH sides of the issue, not just the side they support.

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