Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

In reply to Stephen Woodworth

If you’re not living in Canada you probably haven’t heard of Stephen Woodworth. He’s my MP. He’s also apparently decided to make a name for himself by re-opening the abortion issue in Canada.

A recap: currently there’s no abortion law in Canada, and there hasn’t been since the 1980’s. This has been fine, really. There’s also a section of the criminal code which says “A child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state from the body of its mother…”. Stephen Woodworth, along with various pro-life groups, has been making a big stink about how that’s a “400-year old law” and is proposing a parliamentary motion to “study” it.  It’s only a study, they claim. You can’t possibly object to a study, can you?

At which point I say: pull the other one, it’s got bells on.

Woodworth’s motion got a sound tongue-thrashing from the whip of his own party during the first round of debate. But now the actual vote is coming up…June 13…and I guess Woodworth wants to march into the House of Commons claiming his constituents have his back, because I’ve just gotten a survey in the mail. And I quote:

“Do you agree Parliament should study our 400 year old definition of human being with available 21st century scientific information?”

I hardly know where to begin.

There was a tiny little “Comments” box on the survey. Here’s my reply so far:

It’s disingenuous to claim you’re only after debate when the subject evokes as much passion as this. Furthermore we’ve seen where this “debate” has taken the U.S.A. and it’s a dark place. The existing law is fine. Keep your government nose out of it.

There’s just enough room left in the comment box after that for a shortened URL. So let me expand on my reply, and then I’ll add a URL to my reply to the survey. Who knows, maybe he’ll read it.

So, to the Honourable Stephen Woodworth, MP:

Just a study? Who do you think you’re fooling? Is there anyone in the country with the sense of a cabbage who thinks that the definition of human being is a scientific question? I’m a 38-year old skeptic atheist with a Ph.D. in mathematics and a healthy respect for the Age of Reason, and even I don’t think this is a scientific question. By any scientific standard, the definition of human is an arbitrary human construct. You’re just trying to move the goalpost from one arbitrary standard to another one you like better.

What’s more incredible, you apparently expect me to believe that you and your allies will be satisfied with just a study. Except that I have decades of history of this same debate in the United States to use as a guide, and it’s painfully clear from that history that you and your allies will never be satisfied with just a study. There’s a slope leading from “just a study” to Scott Roeder and coat hangers and people like you and your allies have greased that slope to within an inch of it’s life.

But don’t take my word for it.

If the legal definition of when one becomes a human being were to be adjusted so that a fetus is declared to be a legal person at some earlier stage of gestation, then the homicide laws would apply.

As a necessary consequence, aborting fetal development anywhere in the potentially new adjusted period would be considered homicide. Thus the ultimate intention of this motion is to restrict abortions in Canada at some fetal development stage.

That was your party’s whip, Gordon O’Connor. Remember?

It’s not “just a study”. To claim otherwise, on this topic of all topics, lies somewhere between naivety and an outright lie. It’s you sticking your nose into one of the most tragic situations a woman can face.

Let’s talk about your endgame, the Honourable Stephen Woodworth. What, in the end, do you think you’re going to accomplish?

Do you think you’re going to put an end to abortion? You’re not.

Do you think you’re going to put an end to the tragedy of unwanted pregnancies? You’re not.

Do you think that you’re going to make some women’s lives miserable? Do you think you’re going to drive desperate women into back alleys and medically dangerous folk remedies? Do you think you’re going to compound existing tragedies by heaping shame onto women who’ve done nothing wrong?

What’s your goal, the Honourable Stephen Woodworth, MP? What’s your brass ring? Because you’re never going to convince me in a million years that it’s just a study.

Shaking off the dust

Yeah, work’s been busy.

What’s new? I voted. You don’t know how significant that is until you can’t.

The weird thing is, I voted strategically. I hate that. I think voting strategically is, in general, a stain on the whole idea of democracy: nothing but an opportunity to throw away the one chance most citizens get to express their political opinion. But I now live in a riding where the margin of victory in the last election was only double-digits, and the local member of the party I voted for seemed like a decent guy, and despite my distaste for his party’s leader the other big party appears to be run by disasters and atrocities given human form and stuffed into suits.

Those are all just excuses, of course. The fact is, it seems the boundaries of my moral positions are slighty fuzzy, at high magnification. I’m okay with that, upon reflection. I still hate strategic voting, I’m just not an absolutist about it.

Oh yeah, and I own a house now. My recent sideways career change? I’m not regretting that one little bit. The house has its warts, its blemishes, its out-and-out glaring flaws. But it’s mine. Well, the bank’s. Whatever. The point is, I was years away from getting anything like this kind of personal stability on the academic treadmill. I’m a case study in how modern academia is a con job, a pyramid scheme perpetrated by university administrations on untenured faculty and post-docs. I don’t mind. I got out.

If you want a glimpse into how I think…

If you’re at all curious about the workings of my head, you could start by reading the following:

Letters from a Birmingham Jail…actually, why haven’t you read that already?

Atheists and anger

And lastly, for now anyway, Fuck your civility. That one has a certain amount of “inside baseball”, and if you don’t know the context you won’t get all of it; for that I apologize. It also has naughty language, for which I don’t apologize.

When I get really steamed about something political, with surprising frequency one of those three documents comes into play.

Violent rhetoric

Lots of people out there right now, spinning furiously, trying to absolve Sarah Palin of any responsibility for her violent rhetoric now that some nutbar has tried to shoot up a Congressman, killing a nine-year-old girl and others in the process.

And you know what? It’s entirely possibly the nutbar in question never listed to Sarah Palin at all. But even if he didn’t, Sarah Palin is still responsible for her violent rhetoric.

Palin, Bachmann, Beck, O’Reilly, Limbaugh: they’re still hateful demagogues. Whether they inspired this lunatic or not, whether they inspired George Tiller’s murderer or not, they’re still part of a vicious circle. Shootings, rhetoric; shootings, demagoguery. And at the end of the day, these right-wing blowhards are still talking irreponsible smack which is chilling political discourse and they’re responsible for that.

Not that they’ll ever admit it. Rhetoric is power to them and they’d sooner give up oxygen than power.

Long time no see

Apparently moving from Australia to Canada takes the oomph out of my blogging spirit. Go figure. But in the spirit of the blog’s name, here’s a little something that’s not topology related, but rather just me getting something off my chest: the people who are up in arms, screeching about Cordoba House and how it’s somehow defiling the site of the 9/11 attacks, need a good smack.

The people who are building Cordoba House are not al-Qaeda, for the simple reason that al-Qaeda doesn’t speak for all Muslims. Get that through your frikkin’ heads. Al-Qaeda doesn’t speak for all Muslims any more than abortion clinic bombers speak for all Christians…and yes, forcing all Muslims to answer for al-Qaeda without requiring all Christians to answer for abortion clinic bombers is just a wee bit bigoted.

And Ground Zero is not hallowed ground. Sorry, but any site that plans to lease retail space to anyone with the money to rent it does not qualify as hallowed in any sense of the word. Not that Cordoba House is being built at Ground Zero anyway. Just how “hallowed” do think a random block in downtown Manhattan really is?

And, what’s the endgame, for those screeching against Cordoba House? No mosques in downtown Manhattan? (Never mind those that are already there.) For how long? How about elsewhere in the United States? For how many years will religious freedom have to be thrown out the window, to respect the precious feelings of people scared by 9/11? (Never mind the Muslims victims of that attack.)

Freedom means something, people. It doesn’t mean freedom only when it’s convenient. It doesn’t mean freedom only when it doesn’t make you uncomfortable. It doesn’t mean freedom only when you’re not scared.

Religious freedom means that, by and large, people get to worship or not however they please. Even Muslims. And freedom in general means that by and large what people do in their own place of worship or business is none of your business. Even when those people are Muslims.

The truly hilarious part, of course, is that most Manhattanites understand this from what I’ve heard. It’s people outside of Manhattan, by and large, who’ve decided that the people who actually lived through the 9/11 attack aren’t being sufficiently hateful about it. Can’t let those liberal east coast elites dictate the conversation, dontcha know. What do they know about freedom?