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.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Rights of Vulgar Little Cowards

I thought this was well worth sharing.

The humiliation continues...

There has been a lot of talk these days about the tragic suicides of a number of young men recently.  They were teased, bullied and humiliated for being gay until they couldn't take it any more. 

At first, the resounding condemnation of bullying and support for gay youth was good to see.  As time went on, however, a strange sort of momentum has been building up, and I'm finding it quite disturbing.  These young people, who lived such short, pain filled lives, are still being used and abused, even in death.  Their new abusers, however, are those who claim to be their defenders.  Now, everyone from special interest groups with specific agendas, to individuals with their own bones to pick, are using these deaths for their own ends.  They are continuing the humiliation these young men killed themselves trying to escape to further their own ends, and it's beginning to sicken me.

Bullying has long been a problem, and it's one that has become increasingly vicious and widespread over the years.  In my own youth, I was no stranger to bullying, as witness and as target.  I'm ashamed to admit I did some of it myself.

I've known a few people over the years, young and old, who have committed suicide.  Mostly young.  I certainly had suicidal thoughts myself my youth. One young man I knew killed himself after his marriage proposal to his girlfriend was rejected.  Another young man (who's death was officially ruled an accident, but his friends knew otherwise) was troubled and probably depressive, with no support he felt he could turn to at home.  Another young man who killed himself was a total shock to all who knew him.  Probably the only person who knew why he killed himself was his identical twin brother, who also killed himself a short time later.

Of all the successful suicides I knew, only one was actually due to bullying.  This young man was a neighbour of ours growing up.  He was in the same age range as my brothers and used to come over to our place to play, but there was some sort of falling out among them that somehow ended up involving the parents. So even though this family were the only people who lived less than a mile from our own farm, I pretty much never saw him growing up.  He was even on a different bus to school and I just didn't see him much.  I do remember that he was teased rather horribly.  One of the things he was teased about was being gay, a concept I didn't even completely understand at my age at the time.  Whether or not he was actually gay, I have no idea. I doubt the bullies that were teasing him knew - or cared - whether he really was gay or not.  After graduation, he took a job up North with a logging company and was gone for a number of years.  When he came back, amazingly, the teasing continued as if it had never stopped. By then, of course, these were all adults doing the bullying.  Yes, he was still being teased for being gay, but he was teased just as much for being such a huge fan of Dolly Parton's.

One day, after supper with his parents, he complimented his mother on the excellent meal, then said he was going to go outside for a smoke.   He never came back.  It was a couple of hours later that his father discovered one of their rifles was gone, too.  This being the country, if anyone ever heard the shot, no one would have noted it as unusual.  It was a month before his body was found, hidden in some bushes.

I have no way of knowing if his tormentors felt any guilt for their part in his death.  The bullying was only one facet of the pain in this young man's life.  There were others who were bullied just as much as he was, but somehow they managed to keep on going, and the bullies eventually left them alone.  Why that didn't happen with this young man is something that can only be guessed at.

There's one thing to note about the bullies of this young man.  None of them were particularly religious.  Of the few that did go to church, it was because their families made them go.  Most were actually of no religious affiliation at all.  I mention this because religion is being blamed for these recent suicides I'm hearing so much about right now.

Bullies don't really need a reason to bully.  In fact, they might not even have a reason at all.  The one time I behaved in such a horrible fashion, the closest thing to a reason for doing it was because... well, I thought that that's how I was supposed to treat this particular person.  I was a terrible one for doing what I thought I was "supposed" to do.  It somehow got so ingrained in me to follow expectations that, after I got my driver's license, I actually would feel an overwhelming urge while driving to take every turning lane I passed,  I would actually feel guilty if I didn't, because people built these turning lanes to be used and, by not using them, I was somehow letting them down.  Yeah.  I know.  Bizarre.  It was this same mentality, however, that had me doing what I saw as an expectation - for some reason, I was *supposed* to treat this person badly, so I did it.  After all these years, my cheeks burn with shame just writing about it, and I wish I knew of some way to apologise to this person.

Pretty much everyone made fun of this girl.  For some reason, individuals become specific targets for bullying.  It may be because of a difference in their appearance, behaviour, interests - or just because someone decided that *this* person would be the target of their bullying, and others just followed along.

That these young men were bullied for being gay is horrible.  From what I've read, one of them wasn't gay but, like my former neighbour, that was irrelevant to his tormentors.  The thing is, all bullying, teasing, tormenting and humiliation is wrong and horrible and needs to be stopped.  It's not just gay kids. Kids (mostly girls) have killed themselves or wanted to do so after being teased for being fat - in fact fat kids and adults alike are being told outright they should commit suicide, just because they're fat (if you doubt me, spend a bit of time reading the comments after most obesity related news articles).  Like the gay taunts, it doesn't even matter if they really are fat.  Kids are teased and bullied for being skinny, too.  They're bullied for their skin colour, their hair, their economic status, their intelligence, their interests, their religion, their ethnic background, their clothing, their speech mannerisms... anything can and does become a reason to bully. 

This is where I'm seeing the tragedy of these young men who killed themselves being compounded by those who are now using their deaths to further their own ends.  Some people have been deeply moved and inspired to reach out by these deaths.  Others are using their deaths to lash out with their own hatred.

The most notable target for this hatred is religion - which it is clearly specific to Christianity in general and especially those who object to gay marriage (never mind that many gays also disagree with changing the marriage laws, and that there are Christian/religious gays out there who find comfort and peace in their faith).

The deaths of these young men has been a boon to those who hate Christianity. More and more, I'm seeing articles, editorials and letters where people are blaming these suicides specifically on (Christian) religion, which is inevitably described as being hateful.  I just read one particular response to a letter writer (who identified only vaguely as Christian) objecting to the accusations that, by being religious, they and their beliefs were somehow responsible for these young men's deaths.  The response article I read was angry, rude, expletive filled and very hateful.

The anti-religious people that are using the deaths of these young men to attack religion are in a sweet spot right now.  They can spew the most vile accusations and rhetoric, and that's okay, as it's considered justified.  After all, gays are dying! In fact, the writer even mentioned he'd just learned about more young people who had committed suicide, and laid blame for their deaths at the feet of religion, too.  That no mention of these other deaths having anything to do with being gay was irrelevant.  It's as if all teen suicides are now assumed to be because they were gay and being teased for it.  Blame for this is being put on religion, but people of faith cannot defend themselves against the accusation.  The mere act of objecting is viewed as proof of their hate and bigotry.  People of faith are supposed to just accept that they're guilty and meekly allow themselves and their beliefs to be trashed with abandon.  In fact, any disagreement of anything gays do is labeled hatred against gays (again, ignoring the fact that gays aren't all one homogeneous group that agrees on the same things to begin with).

Among the accusations made is that hatred against gays is being preached from the pulpits; that religious parents are indoctrinating their kids with this hatred at home, and that by these actions, their kids are being encouraged to bully other kids for being gay.

To those who actually believe this, I have this to ask.

How do you know that the people who bullied these young men are even religious?  What makes you so sure that religion had anything to do with why they are bullying?  Do you even know who the bullies were?  Do you know anything about their backgrounds?  Do you really think that the guy who recorded the young man having gay sex, then posted the video on the internet, did it because of his religious indoctrination?

Somehow, I don't think so. 

Bullies do not need religion to justify their bullying.  They don't need anything to justify their bullying.  Bullying is a completely separate issue that crosses all boundaries.  That some people actually do use their religion to justify their behaviour (and that applies to adults as much as kids) is irrelevant.  People who bully will use any excuse that is convenient to justify their behaviour.

Just as those who now spew hatred against religion are using the deaths of these young men to justify their anger and vile words.

How they killed themselves is being repeatedly described with morbid fascination, as are the methods by which they were tormented.  It doesn't matter that people are continuing the humiliation these young men suffered in life.  They're dead, and who cares what their families might be feeling, having salt poured on the wounds left by the deaths of those they loved, watching their sons, brothers, friends turned into public figureheads based on nothing more then their being gay (including the one that wasn't actually gay).  Tell me, do these people busily attacking religion actually care for anything else about these young men?  They are so obsessed with their deaths, they're forgetting about their lives.  These young men were people, with dreams and interests, talents and skills.  Their entire existences are being reduced to being gay (even the one that wasn't) and being bullied, teased and humiliated to the point of suicide.

Bullying and hatred is wrong, plain and simple.  Too many kids are being bullied to death.  It needs to be stood up against and stopped.  That people are using these particular suicides to further their own causes and to justify their own versions of bullying and hatred is also wrong.

I don't care what your cause is.  It doesn't matter if I agree with it or not.  If you are using bullying tactics and spreading hate to further it, you are just as much in the wrong as the groups you accuse of doing the same.

And for God's sake (am I allowed to say that?), please stop using these young men to justify and spread your hate.  Doing so makes you as abhorrent as those who drove them to suicide in the first place.

Friday, October 15, 2010

A travesty, huh?

Ah, the joys of reading articles in the TorStar.

My friends on the far left are at it again.  As I've mentioned before, they're really struggling to keep the G20 issues awake.  This usually involves sharing stories from the TorStar.  I can barely stomach that paper and usually ignore them.  My kids, however, are encouraging me to blog about this one. :-P

This story was shared with musings of "ZOMG!  I can't believe the media isn't freaking out about this like we are!" and how this is a travesty of justice.

Staggering conditions on accused G20 ringleader

The story begins with some rather trite literary tricks of sentencing and spacing that are supposed to pull us in to this travesty.  All they're saying, though, is this guy can't talk to the media.

Apparently, that's considered news to the TorStar.  As if they've never encountered a media gag before.

The man in question, one Alex Hundert, is an accused ringleader of G20 violence.

Now, let's be very clear on this, since the article sort of brushes passed it.

This man is AN accused RINGLEADER of G20 VIOLENCE.

This means that
a) he's just one of an unknown number of accused ringleaders
b) as a ringleader, he would (allegedly) be someone who organized and incited others and;
c) what he incited and organized was violence.

So we're not talking about someone who sat around singing kumbahya, here.  It was know well before the G20 that people were planning violent protests.  They were counting on violence.  Riots break out at pretty much every one of these G20 meetings.

Now then.  This guy, allegedly someone who organized or somehow inspired violence at the G20, was released on $100,000 bail and with 20 bail conditions.

Not long after, he was arrested for breaking one of those conditions.  He was speaking on a panel discussion at a university.  His bail conditions have now been clarified.  He is not, among other things, allowed to speak to the media.

This, according to his lawyer, is something "I've never seen before."

All that tells me is that he's either not a very experienced lawyer or he's lying.

The article goes on to say how bail conditions are intended to prevent further crimes from being committed, but that these conditions go too far.

Too far?  Really?

I love these lines.

“People have to be able to air grievances, and the media is a primary tool in which people can air grievances effectively.”

“Speaking to the media does not threaten public safety,” she said. “These bail conditions are only aimed at silencing speech.”

Let us look back again at what this guy is accused of being in the first place; being a ringleader of violence.

How does one do this? Well, in this day and age, a lot of it is done over the internet (I wonder if an internet ban is among those bail conditions?).  They also do it by getting together in groups.  Like... oh... I don't know.  Panel discussions, maybe.

How else does one incite violence?  By publicly airing "grievances" as far and wide as they can.  The best way to do that?  Through the media.  The media, in its various forms, is frequently used as a tool to incite violence around the world.  They're not exactly well known for checking their facts anymore, and aren't above publishing incendiary stories without bothering to find out if they're true or not.  Likewise, the spreading of rumours through groups of people by other means is also used.  What can the result be?  Around the world, stories reported in the media, or even just rumours spread through word of mouth, has led to rioting, destruction and death - like when some Christians were killed and churches burned on the rumour of desecrated Korans, or even when some "vigilante justice" was inflicted on someone rumoured to be a sex offender.

The point being, speaking to the media can and does threaten public safety.  It's not about silencing speech.  It's about silencing someone who is accused of using speech to incite violence.

Restrictions of this sort are not common, but they are not unusual, either.  If this man turns out to be innocent, he will then be free to lambaste the powers that be through the media all he wants, and his supporters will be free to use his story to flog their anti-[fill in the blank] views.

Of course, if he's found guilty, they'll just keep doing what they're doing now - passing on stories about these travesties of justice - at least in their eyes.

And the TorStar will continue to take something ordinary and try to make it into some kind of scandal.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The True Face of Islam?

First of all, a warm welcome to my new readers.  I never expected my posts on Obama's citizenship would get such a response!  Glad to have you all here, and thanks for the feedback.  I hope you enjoy my ramblings. :-)

Today has been a busy day of unexpected running around today (and having a friend of Eldest's move in with us), so I haven't had a chance to go through my morning news at all.  I did glance through my facebook news feed, since it's my home page.  One of my Muslim friends shared a video.  Unfortunately, I can't find it anywhere else but on facebook, including the site listed after the clip, so I can't post it here.

The video is titled "The TRUE face of Islam."  It consists of a news clip that included some security video, then ended with "Proud to be a Muslim" and a URL to a pro-Muslim site that I thought was the source, but I'm not sure.

Anyhow.  I had time to watch the video and read the comments some other friends had made below it, and that's it.  The comments were all going on about how this clip showed the truth about Muslims being generous and kind.

I wish I could embed the video so you can see for yourself.  Hopefully, some of you tv watching folks have seen it and know what clip I'm talking about.

The news clip includes some security video footage of an attempted store robbery with voice over, and a few seconds of comments from the store owner.  Basically, a guy came in to rob the store.  The store owner pulls a gun out from behind the counter, instead.  The would-be thief drops to his knees and apparently starts apologizing and giving a sob story about how he's unemployed and has a family to feed.  Which may even be true.  The store owner ends up giving the guy $40 and a loaf of bread, then letting the thief go.  The interview clips of the store owner had him telling us that he'd felt sorry for the thief.

Understandably, this was the part my Muslim friends and the people commenting under the video are talking about when they were saying that this was the true face of Islam.

I didn't have time to comment myself, or even really think about it, before I had to head out.  It stayed with me, though, because the whole thing was bugging me.  It didn't take long for me to figure out why, and it has to do with details of the clip I haven't described yet.

After the would-be thief dropped to his knees and gave his story of sorrow, the shop owner - gun still trained on the still kneeling man - gave him the money and bread.  The thief apparently also said he wanted to become a Muslim (I'll have to trust the voice over for this).  To this, the shop owner, gun still trained on the man, had him raise his right hand and repeat a Muslim prayer.

Now, I can understand why people are going on about this guy's generosity to the man who wanted to rob him, but I don't think this video is really showing the "true face of Islam" they think it does.  First off, how difficult is it to be generous to someone begging on their knees while you've got a gun on them?  Unfortunately, what I'm seeing is a man who clearly felt that his life was in danger, and that claiming he wanted to be a Muslim would save him (how did he even know the shop owner was a Muslim?).  He was then made to recite a Muslim prayer while staring down the barrel of a rifle.

I'm afraid "Would-be Thief Converted to Islam at Gunpoint" isn't the politically correct headline that could have been used.  I would apply this to any other religion, but I haven't heard of anyone from another religion doing something like that.

Not that I haven't heard of other victim to victory incidents. Over the years, I've heard of a few, but as far as I know, they haven't been making the news (keep in mind that 1) I don't usually watch tv and 2) I especially avoid tv news, but that I am actually a news hog that follows stories online around the world).

Here's the difference.  In most (actually, all the ones I've heard, but I'm sure there are plenty of others I haven't) stories, the victim isn't the one with the gun.  In fact, the victim never physically turns the tables at all.  Yet they still managed to turn the situation around.

I'll use one story as an example, simply because I know more about it.  A young woman was the victim of a carjacking.  She's stopped at a light when a man with a gun jumped into her car and ordered her to drive.  The woman was, understandably, terrified.  As she drove, she prayed silently to herself for courage.  After a while, she started talking to the carjacker, who'd only spoken to her to give orders.  She began talking to him of God and Jesus and faith.  He said nothing, so she kept talking.  After a while, the carjacker ordered her to pull over.  When she did, he simply got out of the vehicle and left.

I've heard similar stories, and while most were about other Christians (understandable, since most people I know are Christian), I've also heard of the same involving Buddhists and others with no religion mentioned at all.  The thing they have in common is that the calm strength and generosity of the victim somehow won over their aggressor who had the upper hand.

Which is not what I saw in this clip.  In this case, the victim became the victor with a gun.  The victim became the aggressor.  Not to say the shop owner should have been a passive victim or not used the gun.  Far from it.  I believe he had every right to stand up to the thief.  Good for him.

If the shop owner had simply given the man the money and bread and told him to "go and sin no more," then I would have agreed with my friend.  But was this really the "true face of Islam" she intended to share?  I don't think so.  In fact, I think this shows quite a different face of Islam, and not one she meant to promote.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Worthy of it's own post

Originally, this was going to be a reply in the comments of my previous post asking, Birther, or just wanting answers?  In the end, I decided I needed to make this a whole new post.

First, a bit of an explanation.

I've been writing on this blog for quite a while now.  More than five years, in fact.  Over all these years, this blog has remained largely invisible.  I post under a pseudonym for a number of reasons, which have a lot to do with why I don't make any real effort to promote this blog.  A few people I know in real life know about this blog and occasionally visit it, but otherwise, people who find this blog do so either by accident/keyword searches, or by following my name through comments I leave on other blogs.  Which means that I get about as many visitors now as I did five years ago - not many at all.  Of those, hardly anyone leaves any comments.  So when someone does leave a comment (that isn't spam), I appreciate that they've visited my blog and cared enough about a post to make the effort to say something in response.

So it was when someone posting as Anonymous left a comment on my Birther post.  I was a bit surprised by how quickly a comment showed up, but appreciated the information left.  I responded with thanks and added my own commentary on what I felt was still at issue.

With surprising speed, Anonymous answered my reply.

As mentioned above, I was originally going to respond in the comments, but decided I needed to do a bit of research first.

My first confusion was with this answer.

Re: “It still leaves the question of why due process wasn't followed, as it was for McCain. “

Answer: Exactly the same process was followed for Obama as for Bush, Clinton, Bush41, Reagan, Carter, Ford, Nixon, LBJ, JFK, Eisenhower, Truman, FDR, Hoover, Etc. In short, for all of them.
The reason this confused me was because I'd never heard of people claiming Bush, Clinton et al. were not natural born citizens, as Obama and McCain were, nor did any of them go through the court system to prove their citizenship as McCain did, but Obama refuses to do.

Then there's this.

McCain was the exception. He got special treatment by the senate largely because he was a senator and, of course, because there was an issue with his birth being in the Panama Canal Zone and not in the territorial USA. 

Wait.  Hold on.  McCain got special treatment?  Because he was a senator? Implying, that Obama (also a senator) didn't get special treatment? 

Anon then goes on to claim there is no issue with Obama because he was born in Hawaii, which makes even less sense.  If there really was no issue, there would be no Birther movement and I would never have written my post.

On we go...

Re: “Or why his records were instead sealed, etc."

Answer. His records are NOT sealed. The records you are referring to are private, all of them.


The other records, kindergarten, grade school, high school, college, etc., are all private.


In the next presidential election, if Obama’s opponent shows his high school records, then Obama may do so too. Or not, it is his decision, and it should be.

This part started to get me suspicious.  Private?  Seriously?  During the election campaign, McCain and Palin had every aspect of their past and personal lives dug up, dragged out and flailed around for all the world to see.  People even made up complete lies about Palin's family that refuse to die even now.  They sure as heck didn't make any decisions as to whether or not the general public could have this information.  That decision was taken from them.  When objections were raised we were told that, being public figures, they were fair game.  Especially for people running for president/vice-president.  In other words, public figures have no private lives.

Obama, on the other hand, was treated with kid gloves (what was that about special treatment?), with little to no attempt to look into his background.  The double standard in the media was so obvious that even this Canuck with no real interest in US politics and an overall avoidance of mass media could see it.  Usually, the mainstream media would be all over the tiniest hint of something as major as the legal qualifications of a potential president, and eager to find and flog any bit of dirt they could dig up.  They didn't, and that alone makes me sit up a bit straighter and take notice.

Once I started looking around (more on that later) I began to see that his records and past really has been sealed, with or without an executive order, in the US, Kenya and, apparently, Indonesia as well.

Next point...

Re; “I'm still confused by how US official birth certificates are handled. As I mentioned, if anyone asked for mine, I could show it to them because I have it."

Answer: So does Obama, and he has shown it. The Certification of Live Birth is the official birth certificate of Hawaii, used by thousands of people every year.


Further, if Congress were to pass the so-called birther bill, Obama would be able to comply easily. The bill would require presidential campaigns to submit “a copy of the candidate’s birth certificate” to the Federal Election Commission. The certificate Obama has released publicly would meet this requirement.’ 

My suspicions already raised, I decided to start doing a bit of digging for myself, rather than rely on Anon for information.  In the process I've read the pertinent portions of Hawaiian regulations, about long forms and short forms and learned the difference between a Certificate of Live Birth (which is issued only to those actually born in Hawaii) and a Certification of Live Birth (which can be issued to anyone, even adults, and which Obama has - they are not the same thing).  In the process I got to look at the official Obama Certification of Live Birth and see it compared to others issued in the same year (1961).  They look completely dissimilar.  I've also seen the "evidence" put forward to show that the official Certification of Live Birth is a forgery, and even read about a person who claims to have done the forgery, on request.

This also had me go searching for more information about Obama's grandmother, and Anon's claim that she didn't actually say she was at Obama's birth or that he was born in Kenya, and that they first found out about his birth through a letter from Hawaii.  Well, I didn't find anything about a letter from Hawaii.  I got distracted from looking, I suppose.  Too busy listening to an interview with Obama's paternal grandmother, who very clearly claims to have been present during Obama's birth in Mombasa.  I also found a sworn affidavit from the person who translated the interview claiming that, not only did she insist she was at his birth, but that her family members in the room kept trying to interject and tell her to stop saying it.  When the translater asked a grandson why he was trying to stop his grandmother from saying she was present at Obama's birth, he wouldn't answer.  Meanwhile, Obama's got a half-brother and half-sister who also say he was born in Kenya.  Oh, and his Indonesian born half sister, Maya, apparently also has a Certification of Live Birth from Hawaii.

I also found a telephone interview with the Kenyan Ambassador to the US where he talks about the marker that's going to be built at the place of Obama's birth - in Mombasa.  He mentioned that in Kenya, it's common knowledge that Obama was born there.  That was no surprise to me, having already seen the clips of Kenyans, after he won the election, dancing and singing about how their Kenyan Muslim was now in the White House.

I found all sorts of other interesting things.  Like there being a Kenyan birth certificate which, when compared to others issued in 1961, actually looks like it should.  There are theories that Obama is actually an Indonesian adoptee, and so on.  There's lots out there, most of which can be dismissed out of hand.  Others, not at all.

As I was going through all this, there was something else niggling in the back of my head.

As I mentioned earlier, mine is a pretty invisible blog.  I found myself wondering just how Anon came upon my blog, and why s/he would bother making such effort to respond to a Canadian about the eligibility of Obama.  Especially after I'd already written that I, personally, didn't really care.  My point was that the defenders of Obama were actually feeding the Birther conspiracy theories.

My curiosity was piqued even higher when I looked more closely at my stats.  My dear Anonymous, you have broken a record.  No one - not even the people who know me in real life - has spent 7 hours, 8 minutes and 11 seconds on my entire blog, never mind at one post.

I also found that Mr. Anonymous found me through a google search under the terms obama citzen kenya and obama citzen hawaii.  Seventeen times.  In fact, Anon came to me via the kenya version three times, the hawaii version ones, six times through the comments, and seven times either via bookmark or history, as there is no longer a referring link.

How dedicated!  I'm rather flattered.  Especially when I see that the first six visits were within only two minutes.

Now my curiosity is even greater, Mr. Anonymous from Arlington, Massachusetts.

I checked out the referring google links (it's spelled citizen, by the way, not citzen) to see how easily I was found.  I tried the kenya version, first.  After 25 pages and not finding my post, I was truly at a loss as to how Mr. Anonymous found my post.  Then I noticed the "search blogs" button next to the "search the web" button at the top.

I'm on the second page.

The hawaii version found me on the second page, too.

So what do I have on my hands?  Someone who is specifically searching for blogs that talk about Obama's citizenship in either Kenya or Hawaii.  Someone who, for some reason, singled out the blog of a Canadian to spend so much time (7 hours, 8 minutes and 11 seconds) on.

What more could I find out?

Well, very little - yet something very interesting.  Mr. Anonymous shows up elsewhere.  It seems that there's a "Rapid Response Team" (or multiple teams, it seems, that go back to the election campaign) of volunteers who search out blogs and other media that question Obama's eligibility and the write comments to refute them.  Mr. Anon (aka Granite elsewhere) appears to be one of them.

I've been hit by a "Birther Refuter."

addendum: One more note to Mr. Anonymous.  Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and leave your comments.  You have achieved something I totally did not expect to happen when I first wrote my post.  Thanks to the curiousity you piqued and my susequent searches, you have me convinced.

I am now officially a Birther.

Friday, October 08, 2010

They have GOT to be kidding!

So there's another petition link being passed around by the leftists/liberals I know (why is it only the left leaning folks I know that pass petitions around?  My right leaning friends almost never do, and when they do, it's in support of something (or some one), not against).  This time it's a petition to stop "Fox News North."

It's driving me nuts.  Do the folks on the left just not research anything?  Do they just automatically assume anything against the right, the CPC or PM Harper is true, so long as it paints them as evil?

I won't put the link here.  If you want to sign it, go to the Care2 site and find it yourself.  If you just want to read it, I'll save you the trouble.

This is what's on the petition, with my comments added.

First, let's just start with the name of the petition:  Keep Hate Media Out of Canada.

Okay.  Fair enough.  But what is this "hate media" they're taking about?  Here's the overview.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is trying to create a "Fox News North" -- 

Uhm.  No.  PH Harper is doing no such thing.  Despite rumours and innuendo, the PM has nothing to do with this channel.  Quebecor, a private corporation which owns Sun Media, is creating an all-news, conservative/right leaning channel called Sun TV.  They're going to combine various forms of media, including TV, print and the internet, which is something other media companies are working towards as well.  It's going to be a right-leaning station, trying to balance out all the left leaning channels we already have.  Currently, there is NO right, or even centrist, Canadian channel.  How does that make it a "Fox News North?"

similar to the kind of hate-filled propaganda Fox News displays.

Fox News is hate-filled propaganda?  Look, I don't watch tv news for a reason, but I especially can't stomach the US news channels.  CNN is every bit as obnoxious as Fox.  Any accusation made against Fox for that sort of thing can equally be made against CNN.  Or CBC, Global and CTV for that matter.  Here's some news to the folks on the left: just because something supports a position you agree with or comes from the left, that doesn't make the vitriol any less hateful then when it comes from a right/conservative viewpoint.  Personally, I'd like to see news channels just report the news, not have their anchors and reporters making rude or snide comments, or twisting stories into some made up controversy full of allegations and suspicion, but no facts or evidence - like the CBC did when trying to make a connection between anti-long gun registry people and the NRA.  One of the most pathetic attempts to manufacture a controversy I've seen in a long time.  It totally disgusted me.  Ah, well.  That's what I get for watching the news in hopes of catching a local story. 

The channel will be run by Harper's former top aide

 So?  Seriously.  Are you trying to say that, just because this guy used to work with Harper, he can't get a job in the media?  Would this also apply to any Liberal former aides?  Are they, too, banned from media jobs?

Oh, and it isn't going to be run by him.  When people made a big stink about his connection to Harper, he chose to step down rather than allow the haters (and yes, they are haters - the things being said about him have been pure poison) drag down the proposed channel because of him.  He didn't have to do that, but he believed enough in what he was doing that he gave it up.  I believe it's called integrity.  Look it up.

and will be funded with money from Canadian citizens' cable TV fees!

 No.  It won't.  The station is being funded by Quebecor.  They were applying for a specific license.  Actually, one type first, then the other.  One type of license would have Sun TV as part of the basic cable package cable companies offer.  CBC is on there, as is Global and CTV and a whole bunch of other channels we never watch but pay for anyway.  The other type, if they couldn't get the first one, would have required cable companies to have Sun TV available to customers.  The customers could still choose not to buy it, but the companies would have to offer it.   

Now, from a purely business perspective, it makes sense for a start up channel to apply for the first type of license.  It also makes perfect sense to try for the other, if they got turned down for the first.  What company wouldn't?  It would be stupid not to.  The whole point of having a tv channel is to have it available to as many people as possible.  How else are they going to be successful?

Quebecor, however, has pulled its application completely.  They're going to have to convince individual carrier companies to take them on.  This actually gives them a lot more freedom, even if it might make it harder to get carrier companies to offer them in their line up. 

Of course, pretty much all the stations are funded by our cable fees (plus advertisers, shareholders, etc).  That's part of what the fees are for, after all.   What cable tv channel isn't funded by cable fees?  The thing is, until Sun TV is actually out there and people start buying the channel, it's going to be funded by Quebecor, shareholders and advertisers, not cable fees.

One major opponent of this new media outlet is the Chairman of Canada's Radio and Telecommunications Commission Konrad von Finckenstein. As a result, Harper is trying to get him out of the job well before Finckenstein's term as chairman is up.
Well, that's just plain bull.

This type of biased, hateful media will bring no good to Canada. Show Harper that you do not approve of his new idea.
Take action -- prevent this biased media from entering Canadian airwaves!
Hold on... what biased, hateful media?  Fox News North?  There is no such channel.  Fox News?  How can people claim that a TV station that isn't even up and running yet be biased or hateful?  In fact, the only biased and hateful commentary I've seen has been coming from the people who oppose the channel.

That's the overview.  Click on a tab, and you see the letter meant for PM Harper.

Prime Minister Harper,

I am writing to express my disapproval of the proposed "Fox News North."

Note that they don't use the channel's actual name, Sun TV, at any point in this petition.  They're fixating on the Fox News connection, even though Fox News has nothing to do with this channel.

This type of biased and hateful media will bring no good to Canadian television -- and I refuse to fund and support such a program. I do not want this type of television to be aired in Canada.
Again, how can a channel that isn't even up and running yet be biased and hateful?  Because they're intending to be right leaning/conservative?  Is that really it?  If they don't want it, how does that give them the right to tell everyone else they can't have it, either?  We're all grown up enough to make those decisions ourselves, thank you very much.

 The U.S. Fox News Network has already sparked enough controversy, we do not need any of that negativity here.

Once again, it's all about Fox News.  Fox News has nothing to do with this channel.  This is not going to be a carbon copy of Fox News.  

Then there's the whole "controversy" and "negativity" comment.  Seriously?  Is this a joke?  The news - ALL news - thrives on controversy and negativity!  They go out of their way to find and report on controversy and negativity, even if they have to make it up themselves.  Since when was it anyone's job to shielf viewers from controversy and negativity?  Of all the possible reasons to ban a station from airing, they picked a couple of really lame ones, here.

Please spare the people of Canada this expense and type of media -- we do not want a Fox News North.

[Your name here] 

You know what?  I'd rather be spared from busybodies who think they can dictate to the rest of us what "type" of TV we can watch, or what we are willing to pay for!  If they don't want to watch it, they can change the channel.  No one is going to force them to watch Sun TV, nor is anyone (despite insinuations to the contrary) going to force them to pay for it, like we're forced to pay for the CBC through our tax dollars.   

There is room for Sun TV on Canadian TVs.  There are even people eager to have an alternative station to what we have now.  Personally, I'd like to at least see it before I make up my mind as to whether or not it's any good.  Heck, I'd even prefer it to be offered with the basic cable package.  I'm already paying for a whole bunch of channels I don't want, and at least this way I wouldn't have to pay extra just to check it out.

So here we have a petition that is filled with lies, insinuations and misinformation.  A petition against a channel where they won't even use that channel's real name.  A petition against "hate filled media" that is... well... biased and hateful; the very things the petition is supposedly against.

Needless to say, I won't be signing it.

What I can't get over, however, is just how amazingly threatened the left is by this channel.  So much so, that they are willing to put up petitions full of lies like this one.

What are they so afraid of? 

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Birther, or just wanting answers?

Flipping around on the internet, I found a few more stories disparaging "birthers" for questioning Pres. Obama's legal eligibility to actually be president of the US.

Now, I know that some of these Birthers are pretty far off the deep end when it comes to conspiracy theories and so on.  They've clearly got other issues and are using the "birther" controversy to support them.

On the other hand, a lot of people are honestly wanting to know, and not buying the official responses?


Well, let's go back to the presidential election.  It was claimed that one of the candidates was not eligible to be president because he was not born in the US and was therefor not a "natural born citizen."  The accusation was half right.  The Democrats were correct in saying the John McCain wasn't born in the US.  He was born in Panama.  Rather than make a stink about it, though, due process was used.  A couple of months after Obama was sworn in, I happened to catch a news article stating the court's conclusion.  It was ruled that McCain, having had 2 American citizens for parents, who's military father was posted in the Panama, who was born in a US military hospital on a US military base, was legally considered a "natural born citizen" of the US.  One does not actually have to be born in the US to be a US citizen.

No big controversy.  No hiding of records or sealing of files.  No angry and indignant rebuttals against the accusers.

Compare this to the same accusation being made against Obama.  Rather than following due process, a number of things happened.  First, those raising the question were accused of racism.  On top of that, Obama's records were sealed and no one was allowed to see his original birth certificate, which is apparently sealed in a vault in a hospital in Hawaii.

Now, I don't know how it's done in the US, but I have my official birth certificate in my wallet.  I also have my kids' certificates in a safe place until they are on their own, when they will then be responsible for them.  In Canada, every time birth is registered, a certificate is issued.  There are specific rules about them, too.  You're not allowed to laminate them, for example.  My husband's birth certificate accidentally ended up in the wash with the rest of his wallet, and is barely legible. He currently keeps it in a plastic holder, where it is still removable, to protect it, but he legally cannot laminate it to keep it from deteriorating.  If he wanted to replace it, there's a whole lot of bureaucratic red tape he would have to go through to get it done. 

The thing is, if it is necessary for someone to see my official ID, I have my birth certificate on hand to show them.  Proof, right there, of where and when I was born, with my full birth name.  I find it surprising that the US doesn't have the same thing, which led to some initial confusion on my part when doubts about Obama's citizenship were first brought up. 

So why are there still doubts, even though it has officially been stated that Obama is a "natural born citizen?"

Well, there's a few things.  It may have been changed fairly recently, but the rules of citizenship in the US has been that for a single mother, her children have her citizenship, but if she's married, they would have their biological father's citizenship.  Obama's biological father was Kenyan and, from what I've read, his parents were married when he was born, though I don't think they were when his mother became pregnant with him.   When did those rules get changed, and is the change retroactive?  I don't know.  That should be a simple thing to clear up, though.

Then there's the date and place of birth question.  Obama's Myspace page had his birthdate on a different year than what is now considered his official birth date.  It could have been a typo, but if so, why was it there for so long, even after the controversy arose?  It is also claimed he was born in Hawaii - but two different hospitals were listed.  Meanwhile, his paternal grandmother claimed to have been present during his birth - in Kenya.  Whatever the official story, Kenyans certainly consider him both Kenyan and Muslim (his faith being a whole different question).

Then we have the paperwork from when he attended school in Indonesia.  A Catholic school, if I remember correctly, where he went to school under the name Soetero (his step-father's name) and was listed as both an Indonesian citizen and a Muslim.

All of these questions should have been simple to answer, had due process been followed, as it was when the same question of citizenship was raised against McCain.  Why hasn't that happened?

The thing is, the more people (perhaps rightly) demonize the "birthers," the more they fuel the doubts.  More people are questioning Obama's legal citizenship now, because of this refusal to just go through the process and answer the question through the courts, then when these accusations first came out. 

Personally, I don't think a person has to be a "natural born" citizen to qualify for leadership of a country.  In fact, I've seen far more people who are passionately interested in their adopted country's well being than people who were born there.  I know my own parents have shown more pride and gratitude for their Canadian citizenship than most Canadians I've met who were born here, or who's families have been here for generations.  There's a tendency to take the country of one's birth for granted, I think. 

The US, however, has a requirement for their president to be a "natural born" citizen.  If there is any question about that status, why attack the questioners?  If McCain could follow due process and have his citizenship proved beyond any question, why won't Obama?  Doing so would answer the question once and for all, to the satisfaction of all involved.  A successful result would even allow the Democrats and Obama to rub the noses of Birthers in it, too. 

Instead, the courts refuse to hear the challenges.  Appeals are rejected. 


That on its own creates more doubt than any official announcement stating otherwise.  If Obama and his supporters want to end the Birther conspiracy theories, it could be easily done.  Obama would be vindicated and the Birthers humiliated.

Unless, of course, it turns out the Birthers are right.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Double standards, once again.

While going through my morning news and blogs, I've noted something.  A few blogs have been writing about the protesters arrested at Carleton University.  These were peaceful protesters, who were also tuition paying students at the university.  There was no aggressiveness, belligerence or... well, see for yourself.

There are a couple of things that stand out when I watch this.  Number one is how incredibly polite everyone is being.  The students stood their ground, verbally defending their right to free speech and their rights, as students of the university, to have a public protest.  Even while being arrested, the students were polite, with no resistance of any kind.  No shouting, rudeness, mockery, violence... nothing.  A bunch of students, wanting to exercise their free speech rights, were arrested for it, and it was all amazingly calm.

The other thing I noticed was how little was written about this in the news.  It was just another story that quickly went away.  Where were all the stories about how free speech is being squashed?  Where are the loud admonitions of police unjustly arresting peaceful protesters?  Where are the loud admonitions from bloggers and free speech advocates?  Where is the hue and cry to release these protesters immediately and have all charges dropped?  Where are the folks so eager to attack the powers that be (whether it's the university, the police, Conservatives and Stephen Harper) for allowing this authoritarian rights abuse?

Oh, wait.  These are pro-life demonstrators.  Never mind.

Don't think there's a double standard?  Well, how about this for comparison.

You'll note, for starters, that no one is arrested in this video.  The protesters are loud and in-your-face.  There's the two guys being obnoxious and behaving rather offensively; especially the one pretending to cup the genitals of one of the police officers.  (Yeah, there's a girl there, too, but she clearly doesn't know how to do a lap dance.) The protesters are shouting a mocking chant.  Their attitude towards the police is mocking in general, and while, judging from the looks on their faces, they seem to think it's all fun and games and a big joke, the behaviour is actually quite aggressive and threatening.

So on the one hand, we've got a bunch of obnoxious "peace" protesters behaving like idiots, then everyone is surprised when the police end up arresting the whole lot of them.  A small segment of people is struggling mightily to keep this 'atrocity' - as they see it - in every one's minds.  Every chance they get, they're bring up the G20 arrests, along with speeches about how our government is so evil.

Then we have a small group of protesters who actually behave peacefully, as well as respectfully.  They get arrested, again peacefully.  Yet the same people who are bursting blood vessels in anger over the G20 protesters being arrested are completely silent over this abuse of rights on behalf of a university. On the contrary, when this sort of thing happens (and it has happened before) if there is any comment, it's to condemn the protesters.  

As is so often the case, it's all about freedom for them and their points of view, but not for those who hold opposing points of view.