Lessons learned

Could it be as simple, as terrible as monkey see, monkey do? As this article by Joshua E.S. Phillips so convincingly illustrates, depictions of violence, and increasingly, war-crimes level violence are being learned all too well by those who watch it.

That is what is happening to young people, young men in particular. They are taught from a very young age that violent death is a big turn on, totally cool, even a laugh. Film and television teach this every day. In an age of murder spree video games, media downloads and cheap DVDs small kids are frequently exposed to gut-churning imagery, and naturally kids do what they are designed to do – they learn from it.

When the violence is then wrapped in justice, the Stars and Stripes etc. it becomes that much more palatable – even desirable. How this plays out ten or twenty years down the road is hard to know for sure, but initial indications are ominous. Not only on a personal level – but what meta-effect it will have on the politics and culture of days to come is something we should all be concerned about.


Posted in 2011 onwards, Culture, Democracy, Politics | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Au revoir Rob Ford

What a bizarre, infuriating mayoralty Rob Ford managed to inflict on the City of Toronto. Today’s court ruling against him, and his apparent deposition as a result, is very welcome. That the chief magistrate of one of the largest cities in North America has been an incompetent, lying overgrown child is simply unacceptable. Here Toronto Star urban affairs critic Christopher Hume sensibly suggests that it’s time to move on and be constructive. I heartily agree.

Christopher Hume November 27, 2012

Posted in 2011 onwards, Democracy | 1 Comment

Vellacott’s Heroes

The media coverage of anti-choice harassment across Canada has been deplorable. If it makes the news at all, they present the issue as “protesters vs clinics.” While the anti-choice may indeed be against the clinics, their primary activity is harassing patients. By patients I mean ordinary Canadian women – ranging in age from early teens to early 50s – who find themselves in difficult, even crisis situations. The situation is simply unacceptable.

Why Is Canada Rewarding Anti-Abortion Activists?

The awarding of the Queen’s Jubilee medal to two chronic clinic harassers is a travesty. Linda Gibbons, 65, and Mary Wagner, 39, have been given medals for repeatedly attempting to invade abortion clinics and “counsel” patients not to end their pregnancies. They are regularly sent to jail for their actions. They are also assiduously cultivating public martyrdom.

They were awarded the medals thanks to the recommendation of Saskatchewan Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott. It’s important to be clear that their mission of trespassing at abortion clinics is not an act of charity but rather is part of a long history of harassment of patients and clinic staff by organized religious fanatics across Canada and the United States.

Read the rest of this article @ The Huffington Post

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The Abortion Rights Looking Glass: Canada Reflects Women First

I wrote this for the respected American feminist quarterly, On The Issues. It is intended to explain, for a specifically American audience, how the abortion rights struggle north of the border was so successful. In the U.S., where there are at least three large and influential organizations (National Organization of Women, NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood) working hard for reproductive justice, women’s right to control their own bodies is hanging in the balance.  I particularly want to thank my editor and friend Chris Lombardi for this opportunity and for her constructive approach to editing the piece.

Abortion Caravan activists demonstrating on Parliament Hill, May 1970

Currently, Canada is the only country in the world where there are no criminal laws pertaining to abortion. Combined with our publicly-funded universal health care system, this means abortion is available on demand, period.

Many in the United States don’t know that, or how that right was secured, or why — despite facing renewed anti-choice activism and a horrendous right-wing federal government in Ottawa — abortion rights are likely here to stay.

Canadian feminists worked for decades to create a pro-choice culture, and the effort has paid off. Carolyn Egan, originally a Boston native, is a director and founder of the Ontario Coalition for Abortion Clinics. She sees Canadian feminists’ success as a result of building a movement rather than focusing on politicians and legislatures. “I think we recognized there was a large pro-choice sentiment in this country that had to be organized,” says Egan. “We felt a direct challenge to the law [that declared abortion a criminal act] would be the spark to do that. If a clinic was opened it could — and did — become a symbol of women’s resistance to an unjust law. So we tried to build a movement that went beyond the women’s movement, that had trade unions, immigrant communities, students, etc.”

Read the rest of this article @ On The Issues

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