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Dr. Dreimer's Diary, 1st Q, 2015
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3rd Q, 2014
2nd Q, 2014
1st Q, 2014
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3rd Q, 2013
January - June, 2013
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Back to Dr. Dreimer's Diary
Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. (Oscar Wilde, 1854 -- 1900)
The idea for Dr. Dreimer’s diary came from the excerpts from the diary of Samuel Pepys published daily in the National Post. We thought it would be interesting to write a modern diary using the more formal language of an earlier era – in this case we have attempted an approximation of 18th Century expression. What is perhaps most evident is the capitalisation of nouns, which gives an emphasis, and suggests a cadence entirely missing from current written expression. The language is more cumbersome and formal, and tends to favour the use of parallel structure for rhetorical emphasis.
Style is inseparable from attitude and tone. Dr. Dreimer observes mankind as if from a great height, or from another, more sensible century.
His judgements are often unflattering, and his scorn and disdain
palpable. They may be expressed directly, but are often revealed through an
ironic approval of some mindless folly. He may appear to some as a pompous
windbag; to others as a curmudgeonly but correct observer.
As it has turned out, the diary is not a conventional diary at all. Apart from the occasional references to the mythical Aunt Myalgia, languishing in the Shady Hollow Psychiatric Facility in downtown Toronto, or to the Lumpenbangen Studios in the inner reaches of Hamilton, or to the Haven of Wind-in-the-Pines at Silver Lake, we gain little insight into the trivia of Dr. Dreimer’s own life.
The diary is, in fact, a commentary on events in the news.
March 26, 2015
The Paradox of Certainty: Certainty is asserted with most Assurance and Confidence in the Absence of Facts.
We are intrigued to see the Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, a significant Pooh-Bah of the Anglican Religion has declared us to be immoral.
We had always suspected our Immorality, and we confess that it is something of a Relief that it has now been publicly proclaimed; the Worst is out: we have no Fear of further Exposure.
The good Bishop, formerly an Oceanographer, has said that she believes "those who deny climate change are not using God’s gift of knowledge." (Breitbart.com, March 26)
We are given some Pause by this Remark.
We assume, of course, that Ms. Jefferts Schori is referring to anthropogenic climate Change. The Climate on Earth has been changing ceaselessly and relentlessly from the Time it was a Ball of Gas, or a dust Bunny, or as Ms. Jefferts Schori might have it, a brain-burp in the Mind of God.
This Interpretation is confirmed by the Fact that her Remarks have been made at the Beginning of a month-long Campaign to encourage Anglican Believers to reduce their Carbon Footprints from Sasquatchian to infinitesimal.
Secondly (we wish, sometimes, that we were not such a Stickler for Accuracy in Expression) -- we must note that those denying anthropogenic global Warming -- as immoral as they may be (mea culpa) -- could hardly be accused of not using "God’s Gift of Knowledge."
Such a Statement assumes that Knowledge is not acquired through Experience and an Interaction with the World, but is dispensed equally to human Beings by God at a Knowledge Bazaar. Or perhaps it is done in the Fashion of Gumballs -- intellectual Gumballs – one to a Customer – obtained from a handy Dispenser at one’s local Place of Worship.
Had the good Bishop referred to a God-given Capacity for attaining
simple and self-evident Truths, we might have a higher Regard for her
But enough of this Levity.
There is a serious Matter at Stake.
It has been frequently observed that Belief in Anthropogenic Global Warming is very similar to religious Belief – a Belief in God.
Both God and anthropogenic global Warming are non-existent, and yet attract fervent Belief. Both have their Priests who spread the Word of Salvation. That Salvation requires an Acceptance of Error and Sin, then Repentance, and then a Degree of human Sacrifice in order that the Promised Land may be obtained.
Thus both Religion and the Theory of man-made global Warming tap into some deep Wellsprings of the human Psyche: Fear of the Future, Hope for Salvation, and an Abyss of Guilt. The Guilt is for Sin which is the Cause of Distress, but also the Mechanism by which the Heart may be changed, and Nirvana may be achieved.
What we notice particularly with Believers is their Certainty. The Climate Alarmists have no Hesitation in warning of Climageddon, and requiring, if necessary, the Destruction of our industrial Economy in order to save the Planet.
Ms. Jefferts Schori, similarly, sees Skeptics as morally culpable – somehow culpably defiant in the Face of God’s Wisdom.
Is it not odd that the greatest Certainty arises in those Situations in which Fact are absent? That is because, of Course, while Science is always subject to Modification on the basis of new Facts, mere Belief is not similarly vulnerable. The greatest Certainty is obtained through Faith – where Facts are completely and blessedly irrelevant.
March 19, 2015
An implacable Force and an Immovable Object
We note with Interest that the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that the religious Freedom of Loyola College has been infringed upon by the Requirement of the Quebec Government that a Course in Ethics and religious Culture be taught in all Schools.
Loyola College had sought an Exemption from the Program; the Supreme Court Ruling allows Loyola College to teach it from a Catholic Perspective. (CBC News, March 19)
We find it interesting that the decision was not unanimous: the Vote was Four in Favour, Three against.* The Majority Opinion has been reported thus:
"To ask a religious school's teachers to discuss other religions and their ethical beliefs as objectively as possible does not seriously harm the values underlying religious freedom," Justice Rosalie Abella wrote for the majority.
"But preventing a school like Loyola from teaching and discussing Catholicism in any part of the program from its own perspective does little to further those objectives while at the same time seriously interfering with the values underlying religious freedom." (CBC News)
The Minority argued that this View did not strike a correct Balance between the Protection of religious Freedom and the Need to follow the Law.
It is our Opinion that our Society is witnessing a Clash between the implacable Force of Public Opinion – and the immovable Object of Religion. Public Opinion is in the Process of Change informed by common Sense –sometimes based on Scientific Discovery; Religion clings to comforting Certitudes sanctioned by Tradition. The Bedrock of Tradition is often no more than the Quicksand of Fancy hardened through Habit and Mindlessness over the Centuries.
For Example, we have had Quebec propose a Charter of Values which would deny the Claim of Government Workers to wear Symbols of religious Faith during working Hours. The Proposal was met with Gasps of horrified Outrage by otherwise sensible Commentators.
On the other Hand, we have, for some Years, accepted that it is legitimate for Members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to wear Turbans. Some Canadian Police Forces have announced their Intention to recruit Officers who would wear the Hijab.
We have seen the Notion of Equality extended to those with different
sexual Orientations, based on the scientific Discovery that sexual
Preferences are not deliberate Choices inspired by the Devil, but
Variations arising in the Complexity of human Development.
On the other Hand, we have Trinity Western University requiring its Students to make public Declaration that Marriage has a sacred and exclusively heterosexual Origin. Some Law Societies have voted not to accept Applicants from a proposed Trinity Western Law School. The School is challenging such Decisions.
Many Canadians are offended by the wearing of the niqab, both generally and in particular Situations, such as in giving Testimony in Court, or while swearing Allegiance to Canada during a Citizenship Ceremony.
But the Supreme Court of Canada has refused to take a Stand on the Niqab in the Courtroom, and many Lawyers seem to see a Ban on the Niqab in Citizenship Ceremony as contrary to a Charter Right to "Freedom of Religion." **
Our Crystal Ball is beset with Clouds. We are aware that Religion is a powerful Force, in large Part because it offers an Escape from the unwelcome Conclusions based on rational Thought. Although we cannot predict the Outcome, we think that Religion, the immovable Object, should be pushed aside by the implacable Force, Reason.
Religion should have its own sheltered Refuge, a cosy Pillow of Clouds in the Realm of comforting child-like Fantasy. But it should not be allowed at the Table where Grown-up Discussions are taking Place. The World has been too long torn and riven by competing Fantasies based solely on Hopes, Fears, and Suppositions.
The Prospects for a World continually so fractured are not pretty.
* Even more interesting is the Fact that the National Post Article on the Subject makes no mention of the Narrow Victory. The National Post, we have long suspected, is run by a Cabal of religious Enthusiasts; their Editorials consistently reflect a Bias in Favour of Religion.
** The Fact that Mr. Trudeau sees no Difficulty in accepting Masks worn in the Name of Religion is a sure Sign that the Lawyers are wrong. They may not, of course be wrong in a legal Sense; we claim no Expertise in Matters of Law. They are simply stupid.
March 17, 2015 -- The Fallacy of proportional Efficacy.*
(a) Life is a long lesson in humility. (James M. Barrie, 1860 - 1937)
We have learned that a study has been undertaken to determine whether Praise has the Power to turn Children into Narcissists. (National Post March 11).
We think, before commenting on this Matter, we should indicate our Bias. We grew up in an Era in which the Phrase "Self-Esteem" did not exist Or, perhaps, if it did, it was never thought to be a worthy Project to be incorporated in the Construction of the Psyche of a Child.
Indeed, the Doctrine of Original Sin was very much in Vogue: it was thought that all human Beings were irrevocably tainted, and that every Effort should be expended to constrain the Taint. Complete Eradication was impossible, of course, but Children should be urged and – if necessary -- bullied into a respectable Acquaintance with civilized Values.
Consistent with this Idea was that Infants perceived themselves to be the Centres of their Universes, and gradually became aware that they were not. Thus, Mr. Barrie could proclaim that "life is a long lesson in humility" – as people age, they gradually become aware of their Insignificance.
(b) "Self-esteem" acquired without accomplishment is nothing but a dangerous arrogance. (Observation #37)
Thus not a Moment’s Thought was given to the Creation of "Self-Esteem." We know not whether Humility was actively sought as a Goal, but we would not be surprised if this were, in Fact, the Case. An Escape from Humility might be found in the surmounting of Challenges. Indeed, we blush to admit that we still hold to that retrograde Belief – that Praise is mere Alchemy – a false Philosophy which holds that Lead may be transmuted into Gold with a Mumbo Jumbo of Incantation, and a quick Misting with a Can of Gold Spray Paint.
In our antediluvian View, Self Esteem can come only from Accomplishment.
Of Course, much Progress has been made since the Days of Ignorance and Darkness of our Youth.
The depressing Notion of Original Sin has been replaced with the more optimistic Doctrine of original Goodness. Human Beings are born good, and are then subject to Corruption by a flawed and uncaring Society. The "Root Cause" of any Unpleasantness is to be found, not in human Frailty, but in Societal Failure.
Thus it is not surprising that every Effort must be made to
establish-- in Children -- powerful Feelings of Self-Esteem which are
consistent with the Theory of innate Goodness. Accomplishment will
derive from Self-Esteem – not the other way around. The Individual who
is confident, and full of Self-Regard will easily surmount the
Challenges of Life and emerge a certain Winner. Self-Esteem is a
Snowball rolling down an easy Slope of Accolades, gathering Bulk and
Weight, consuming all in its Path of implacable Superiority.
(c) An idealistic view is often as dangerous as it is attractive. (Observation # 314.)
Now – the Study we mentioned at the beginning – conducted in the United States and the Netherlands -- is, perhaps, one of the first Suggestion of a Skepticism about modern Theory. It was designed to determine whether Praise leads to Narcissism – or – our preferred Word -- Arrogance. In Fact, the Study concluded that "overvaluing a child can in turn lead them to overvalue themselves." (National Post)
Narcissism, it appears, can lead to inappropriate Responses when the over-inflated Ego is pricked with the Pin of Reality. It can lead to "anxiety and depression."
The Conclusion is that Praise should be doled out "like penicillin: With care."
Thus Praise should not be excessive, as in the Remark "You’re the smartest kid in the school;" but tempered with Reality: "You did a great job on that math test."
We see this Matter as falling neatly into our Theory about the Relationship between the Ideal and the Real.
The real World is harsh, and it is a common Desire that our Perceptions of it should be leavened with optimistic and idealistic Thinking. The great Difficulty, as we see it, is the Fallacy of Proportional Efficacy. This Fallacy may be described thus: if a Modicum of Idealism, Optimism, or Praise is a good Thing, then a great Deal of it must be very much better.
Noting could be further from the Truth. Idealism should be doled out like Penicillin: with Care.
The underlying Reality is that human Beings are born a Muddle of Potentials. The Danger of original Sin is always there; the Assumption of universal human Goodness is more than two Steps too far.
Similarly with Self-Esteem. A very modest Amount of Praise may lift the Spirits and gladden the Heart. But too much is like Helium in a Balloon: the Device soars beyond the grounding grip of Reality. True Self-Esteem, as we have always held, is acquired through Accomplishment.
In many other Areas of Life – as shown by Religion, Multiculturalism, Socialism, the Universal Health Care System, Human Rights Commissions – the Dangers of an Excess of Idealism are plainly evident. Excessive Praise as a Means of achieving Self-Esteem is merely another Addition to the List.
March 13, 2015
The Advantages of Doublethink.
We have scarcely recovered from the Shock of the News that Rick Nicholls, a Conservative Member of the Legislature does not believe in the Theory of Evolution. Yet the Universe has decided, in its infinite Wisdom, to discombobulate our Equanimity once again: Gordon Dirks, the Minister of Education for the Province of Alberta, has declared himself to be an "Old Earth Guy."
We confess that we first imagined an "Old Earth Guy" to be One who eschews the Importation of Bags of Topsoil and Cow Manure from Home Depot, preferring to use the existing "old Earth" in the Flower Beds for Spring Planting.
This shows the Deficiency of our Imagination.
It appears that an "Old Earth Guy" is one who believes in Creationism, rather than gradual biological Evolution. (National Post, March 12)
In the Light of the Fact that the Theory of Evolution is supported by a Multiplicity of Bones in various Layers of Sediment, and that it seems a more reasonable and logical Explanation of the Forms of Life which we observe Today than the Waving of a Creative Wand by an imagined Deity, we think that those who oppose it stand on uncertain Ground. They are on a geologic Fault which, at any Moment, may open beneath their Feet, and send them into the Crevasse of utterly hopeless Causes. What they believe to be a Rock of divinely inspired Certitude is a Quicksand of Folly and Error which has the Power to absorb and bury both their Protestations and Reputations.
It is particularly difficult, we imagine, for a Minister of Education to hold Beliefs which are in marked Contrast to those suggested by the Science Curricula in the Schools.
The Difficulty is described thusly by Brian Alters, President for the National Center for Science Education, a Professor at Chapman University in California:
With the education minister, if this is something that he practices in his place of worship with colleagues of similar faith, I think most scientists wouldn’t have the slightest problem," Mr. Alters said. "The problem is if the education minister says ‘I’m an Old Earth creationist because I think there’s credible evidence against evolution. I find evolution to not be credible.’ Then we have big problems, Houston. (National Post March 12)
The Distinction between private Worship and the public Statements of an Education Minister has given us – we believe – a significant Insight.
For while we are committed to Atheism – until something better comes along -- we recognize that, in an apparently indifferent Universe, it is natural to seek comfortable Narratives which suggest that, in Fact, it is not indifferent -- and that there is some sort of ultimate Meaning. Above all, we understand the Desirability of thinking that there is actually Someone in Charge -- Someone kindly – a sort of generous Grandfather Figure, sufficiently befuddled to forgive our worst Transgressions, and sufficiently generous to provide a shiny Bicycle for every Birthday, and to bestow a happy Afterlife when the mortal Coil has been shuffled off.
The Solution to the Awkwardness of the human Condition --the Need to deal with Reality, and the Desire for a happy Story, is, of course, Doublethink. Not exactly the unconscious Doublethink of Mr. Orwell’s Novel, but a conscious Doublethink in which two contradictory Notions can be selected, with perfect Ease, with no Anguish of Inconsistency, as the Occasion demands.
Thus, in ordinary Life, People should be able to see the World as it is – Something rather unsatisfactory – but better than Nothing – Something that we try to make the best of.
As an Escape from the Reality – People should allow Themselves to believe all Sorts of comforting Nonsense. Let there by Hymns of Praise, the Music of harmonious Spheres, Exultations in the Wonders of dear old Gramps and the Beneficence of his magical Gifts.
But – for God’s Sake – don’t let the two Worlds become mixed. Do not confuse Hope with Reality.*
Indeed, we think a beneficent Doublethink could be the Salvation of Humanity.
*Observation #369. Faith confuses hope with reality. The faithful become dangerous when they insist that others share their confusion. (Cf. Dr. Johnson: Hope is necessary in every condition. Mencken: Men get into trouble by taking their visions and hallucinations too seriously.)
P.S. Mr. Dirks has been observed on Limerick Lane
March 6, 2015
We see that there is much Brouhaha in the Papers over the Matter of Suicides assisted by Doctors.
We have long cherished the Hope that, when we have concluded that Life has become sufficiently unpleasant, we will have the Courage to bring it to an End, rather than endure a patient and pointless Suffering.
The Notion of Suicide assisted by a Doctor comes into Play when One is sufficiently incapacitated to manage the Procedure on One’s own.
We admit that, when the State sanctions Suicide by allowing Doctors to assist, it is an encouraging Reinforcement of a personal Conviction, and a comforting Refutation of the long-held religious View: that One’s Life is not one’s own, and that One should submit to an imagined Plan of the Deity, and wait, passively, for a divine Decision.
Thus, in general, we are pleased that Public Opinion has moved away from a religious Conception of Life, and towards a rational One.
The Difficulty which has now become apparent is that there are many Doctors who subscribe to a religious View of Life, and do not wish to assist in Suicides, or even refer Patients to those Doctors without religious Scruples.
In this Day’s National Post, there is a Letter from a Number of Doctors to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, pleading for a Recognition of the conscientious Objections of Doctors.
We think that such Objections are perfectly legitimate.
The Problem, of course, is not in the Desire of Patients to receive
Assistance in Suicide, nor in the Desire of Doctors to act according to
Rather, the Problem lies in the Fact that the Government has assumed the Task of being the sole Provider of medical Care. It gives no Option for Patients to seek Care elsewhere – unless they are prepared to pay significant Fees to Doctors practising outside the Country.
The Cost of socialist Security is always Liberty, and this is a perfect Example.
Because the Government is the sole Provider of Care, and the Government has decided that Patients may receive Assistance in Suicide, there is Pressure on – what are essentially Government Employees – to perform the Government approved Tasks.
It is simply another Aspect of the Coercion of the System, whose primary Arrogance is to require Patients to patronize only Government sanctioned Providers of Healthcare.
Imagine – we know it is difficult for Canadians steeped in the Philosophy of the Nanny State – how different it would be if there were Freedom in the Matter of Health Care – if Patients had the Option of private Insurance, and the Ability to choose Doctors not functioning as Galley Slaves in Government Ships.
Then rational Patients could choose rational Doctors, and pious Patients could choose the divinely inspired Doctors of their Choice.
And we could all live – rather more happily -- into a less disagreeable Future.
March 5, 2015
Men crave certainty, since certainty encourages dashing, bold initiatives, and approves the ruthless confidence of the heroic quest. In the real world, certainty is rare, but it is provided in abundance by religion. Thus it is that religion sanctions awful absurdities and calculated cruelties which would otherwise -- in the real world – be fatally beset by a hesitant anxiety -- a troubled and reluctant doubt. (Observation # 381)
We are intrigued by the Account of the Trial of Chibeb Esseghaier in Today’s National Post.
Mr. Esseghaier is on Trial for plotting to damage a Railway Bridge and cause the Derailment of a Train. He apparently gained Inspiration for this Project in Conversation with Jihadists in Iran. The Derailment was to be merely the first of a Series of Attacks, which would continue as a "general conspiracy to murder persons unknown until Canadians leave Muslim lands." (National Post, March 5)
Mr. Esseghaier and his Co-conspirator, Raed Jaser, considered hiring a Cook to poison Soldiers at a Military Base, exploding a Volcano in Yellowstone National Park, or engaging a Sniper to kill "prominent Jews and political leaders, perhaps at Toronto’s annual Gay Pride parade."
Mr. Esseghaier is, in other Words, completely mad, but his Madness is of that very special Kind which has Religion as Inspiration.
Mr. Esseghaier has refused a Lawyer, and has suggested that the legal Process in which he is involved lacks Legitimacy. It is illegitimate because it involves mere man-made, rather than divine Law.
From his exalted Position as One privy to the inner Workings of the Divinity, Mr. Esseghaier has seen fit to make a "closing address" in which he gives "sincere advice" to the Jury:
Anything good we do, me or you, we do it only for the good of our own soul. How come you believe that many human beings are judges, and God, creator of humans, is not judge.
Claiming Status as a Scientist, Mr. Esseghaier claimed that:
...the Qur’an provided by the prophet Mohammed in the 7th
century contains scientific statements that you can never reach without
issuing [sic] the technology of the 20th century.
Surely this is the most excellent Example of the Folly of religious Belief. A Man who claims to be a Scientist – one who relies on Evidence – takes as Evidence the Claims of a human Being living in the 7th Century.
Does this not illustrate the terrible Weakness of the human Mind? In a world of unfathomable Mystery, the Desire for Certainty is so great that People grasp at the Straw offered by those confident enough and convincing enough to proclaim that they are the exclusive Repository of Truth.
We suspect that the ready Belief in Nonsense may be traced to some Propensity in the human Psyche which has given some evolutionary Advantage. Human Cooperation and Organization has undoubtedly allowed Homo Sapiens to thrive. The Tribe is more effective than Individuals acting alone.
But what makes the Tribe? It must be that the greatest Numbers of Homo Sapiens are of such a Nature that they are easily persuaded by a strong and confident Leader.
No Tribe could function if it were composed of Ninety Leaders and Ten Followers. Tribes must fall into the Pattern of One, or a few Leaders, and a Multiplicity of Followers.
This is why we see "Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds." This is why the Scientific Method, suggested by Francis Bacon some Four Hundred Years ago, finds no essential welcoming Place in the human Brain.
This is why Someone claiming to be a Scientist can be bewitched by an Idea which offers a Wagon Load of Manure, the Stench of which is overcome by the perfumed Claim that, in the Heart of the Poop, there is a golden Nugget of Certainty.
We see little Hope for Mankind until those primitive Impulses for Certainty – for the Belief in a Deity constructed by Man’s desperate Imagination – are modified and curtailed.
March 2, 2015
We were not surprised to read that Vince Li has now been granted Permission to travel, unescorted, from the Selkirk Mental Health Centre into the nearby City of Selkirk. (National Post, February 27)
Mr. Li beheaded Tim McLean, a Fellow Passenger on a Greyhound Bus, in 2008.
We are not surprised because, from the Time of the Incident, we have been kept informed of Mr. Li’s Progress in dealing with his Schizophrenia. The only possible Purpose for these little Snippets of News is to prepare the Public for Mr. Li’s eventual Release.
As early as June 3, 2011, we learned of Mr. Li’s "rapid progress," and commented:
We have the uneasy Feeling that Mr. Li is being regarded by the medical Profession as a somewhat challenging Problem of Engine Repair, which sees the Correction of faulty Brain Circuitry akin to the Replacement of an erring Microchip.
We fear that it is only natural that one charged with such a Project look forward to some halcyon Day which will produce the following News Item:
Vince Li now Cured.
Dr. Ima Success, of the Selkirk Mental Health Centre, announced today that Mr. Vince Li is now cured. "As long as he’s on his meds, Mr. Li is fine," said Dr. Success. "We look forward to the successful Completion of his upcoming Cross-Country Tour, courtesy of Greyhound Bus Lines."
Our Fears may well be unfounded, but we are not sure that Hubris has been yet expelled from the human Psyche.
It is our View – and we have no Claim to any Expertise in these
Matters – that Mr. Li has the Misfortune to have a Brain which is
subject to severe Malfunction. We have no Doubt that the Malfunction may
be prevented by Medication, but we do not think that the Public should
be expected to rely on Mr. Li’s Judgment in the taking of that
If a Relapse should involve only some bizarre Behaviour – such as spreading Marmalade on the Carpet – we might be less concerned. The Fact that a Relapse might involve the Death of another Citizen gives us Cause for Alarm.
We note that Editorial Opinion runs counter to our own Skepticism. There seems to be a Feeling that the Universe is unfolding as it should.
We suspect that there are three Factors involved in the Enthusiasm for returning Mr. Li to Society.
First, as we have suggested, there is the Hubris of the Medical Establishment. It is their View that Mr. Li represents no more than a tricky Matter of Toaster Repair – if the two frayed Wires may be soldered together with a little Olanzapine, the Device can be returned to the Kitchen for many more Years of useful Service. Such a Success is a Feather in the Pointy Cap of the Medical Profession; it will pave the Way for even more spectacular Success in the Future.
The second Reason for this Enthusiasm is none other than a general Optimism: People more readily believe in happy Stories than in gloomy Ones. It is pleasing to think that our medical Profession has advanced to such a Degree that we are able to alleviate Misery in the World. Mr. Li, instead of living a Life blighted and useless in Incarceration, will return as a happy, joyful, and productive member of Society. The Humming of the Hive will have, thankfully, one more harmonious Voice in the Choir.
Finally, We think it should not be overlooked that the Dead cannot speak. They are easily forgotten; our Attention is naturally focussed on the here and now, not on the dead and gone. We wonder whether, if Mr. McLean were alive, confined to a Wheelchair, and exhibiting the Distress of the injured Living, the Enthusiasm for returning Mr. Li to Society might, in some minimal Measure, be dampened.
February 26, 2015
We are intrigued that a Conservative Member of the Provincial Legislature, Rick Nicholls has seen fit to broadcast -- to an astonished Public -- that he does not believe in the Theory of Evolution.
Of course, Mr. Nicholls’ Opinion is his to cherish. And indeed, the Fact that we ourselves hold many Opinions which are contrarian in Nature, make us less likely to suffer a Conniption Fit of the immediately fatal Variety to think that Someone opposes the common Wisdom.
In fact, all People hold Opinions which are not based on personal Experience, but which are borrowed from the Body of generally accepted Knowledge.
For Example, we believe that the Earth circles the Sun; we do not have the scientific Expertise to test the Theory. We also believe that the Earth is round, rather than flat, but have never made a personal Circumnavigation of the Globe to prove the Point.
We confess that we put the Theory of Evolution – to some extent -- in the same Category. We have not personally studied the Alteration of Species over Time.
However, we have seen Television Programs on Science showing Layers of Soil containing fossilized Bones, and Pictures of giant Fossils of Dinosaurs no longer being encountered alive. We have also seen Dissertations on the Effects of Isolation and Travel in creating different Adaptations of Species.
And we find it a little difficult to believe that such Programs have been falsified in Order to convince us of a Theory without Foundation.
But there are two other Elements which make us tend to believe in the Theory.
The first is the Similarity we observe among Mammals. Who can view the Behaviour of other Primates and not believe that we are, in some profound way, related? And anyone who has had, as a Pet, a Dog or Cat, must appreciate not merely a Similarity of Function, but also of Emotions.
But the strongest Argument in Favour of Evolution is the Lack of any credible Alternative.
The only one put forth is that a mysterious God created all the differing Species – presumably on some peculiar, whimsical Basis. And that would include the Creation of some particularly cruel Parasites, and the enabling of some repellent Behaviours. As Mr Darwin concluded:
I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created parasitic wasps with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of Caterpillars.
Our own favourite Example natural Friendliness and dinner-time Bonhomie is that exhibited by the Larva of the Epomis Beetle, which slowly eats its would-be Predator, the Frog, alive.
Indeed, the essential Premise underlying most Life is that Survival of one Species depends upon its Ability to hunt and kill another. This System shown a considerable Deficit in that Warmth and cheerful Cosiness usually attributed to a kindly, beneficent Creator.
It is ironic that those who oppose the Theory always seem to have that ulterior Motive: to preserve a comforting Narrative that makes the World a charming, agreeable Place in which their own God-like Superiority is assured. In Fact, the Notion that "God" created all the Species in Predator-Prey Relationships suggests a deliberate Cruelty on his Part which is at Odds with that Narrative.
Thus, we must find that, in this Case, the conventional Wisdom is correct.
Mr. Nicholls' Opinion seems unlikely to enhance the Reputation of the Conservative Party. It suggests that the Party has preserved a Fossil which has the unanticipated Effect of refuting, rather than confirming, the widely held Theory of Evolution.
February 25, 2015
The great tragedy of science -- the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact. (Thomas Huxley, 1825 - 1895)
One of the great Disadvantages of Science is that it is pitifully dependent upon Facts. As Mr. Huxley has noted, if the Facts should prove uncooperative, scientific Theory flounders and is humiliated. In the Case of an unfortunate Intrusion of contrary Evidence or the Alteration or Removal of a foundational Fact, a magnificent towering Theory will tremble, shudder, and collapse in an unseemly Heap of Dust and Rubble.
How much superior is Religion, which is founded not on Fact, but on Fancy. Fancy is supple, twisting, flexible, ever malleable to the Shape desired by the Mind’s Eye.
Facts may intrude or be found absent; they may engage un unseemly cavortings, wear red Trousers and gold Earrings – or disappear into the Mists. It is all of a Piece -- Fancy will continue, unperturbed, on its pleasant Path paved with Air and reinforced with Supposition.
We are led to this Reflection upon learning of the Resignation of Rajenda Pachauri, the Chief Pooh-Bah at the revered United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
It appears that Mr. Pachauri, the Author of Novels of a titillating Nature -- concerning the Adventures of an Indian Climate Guru -- has been the Subject of Allegations of sexual Harassment. (National Post, February 25)
And what does this News – of a titillating Nature – have to do with our weighty Observations concerning Science and Religion?
Surely you do not have to ask!
We were certainly not the first to make the Comparison between the "Science" of Climate Change and Religion – but we have certainly made it often in these Pages.
Religion threatens Destruction to the Unbeliever, but holds out Hope for Salvation through an Expression of Faith, and a Renunciation of Sin. The High Priests control the Message on the Basis of their superior Knowledge, and enforce a Compliance in Faith and Practice from which they, because of their exalted Status, are exempt.
Climate "Science" threatens a Climageddon of boiling Oceans – but Salvation is possible through human Sacrifice – an Expression of Faith. The High Priests rely upon their Claim of Superior Knowledge – their Expertise in Computer Modelling -- to compel Belief in their dire Predictions. Yet the Carbon Footprint of a High Priest – is unabashedly Sasquatchian.
And, as with Religion, Facts are irrelevant to Climate "Science." Predictions of disappearing Glaciers, Millions of Climate Refugees, the Flooding of Manhattan – none of these has come to pass. As a Refutation of Computer Models and Gassy Theory, Warming has ceased for Eighteen Years, despite an Increase in Greenhouse Gasses.
But these Facts have done Nothing to Damage the Theory.
That is because the Theory is not scientific, but religious in Nature.
Indeed, Mr. Pachauri’s Resignation has confirmed this Truth. In his Letter of Resignation Mr. Pachauri stated:
For me the protection of Planet Earth, the survival of all species and sustainability of our ecosystems is more than a mission. It is my religion, and my dharma.*
Religion, of course, transcends Science, and is unconcerned with Facts. It has its own cosy sphere in the Clouds with the Angels. As we have often observed, being on the Side of the Angels invariably comes with an extra Benefit – a sort of Get-Out-of-Jail-Free Card:
Being on the side of the angels allows for many a pact with the devil. (Observation #243)
That is why we should expect no more Honesty from the "Science" of
Climate Change than we do from Religion.
*Dharma: a key concept with multiple meanings in the Indian religions Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. (Wikipedia)
February 20, 2015
Tact – a certain Talent for Diplomacy – doubtless has many Advantages. Our Appreciation of those Advantages, is, alas, largely theoretical: we confess that we are usually too stupid to be aware of those Occasions when Tact on our Part is clearly called for.
However, we can imagine certain theoretical Circumstances: if one believes one’s Employer – or immediate Superior – is dull-witted, it is perhaps not wise to broadcast that Opinion at one’s Place of Employment – or in any other Place from which that View might become widely disseminated.
We suppose Tact may have its Value in two rather different Circumstances. The first and most admirable is that in which one wishes to be kind: stating the Truth as one sees it may be hurtful to Others. The second, more practical, is that in which stating the Truth may provoke a Reaction of such Magnitude that it is hurtful to Oneself.
As we watch Mr. Obama’s uncertain and wavering Engagements with Reality, we are led to wonder at what Point Tact becomes divorced from both Kindness and Self-Preservation, and become wedded, most clearly, to Stupidity?
It has been well noted that Mr. Obama studiously avoids any linking of "violent Extremism" to the Religion of Islam.
As a Symbol of this Reluctance, we recall the official Reaction to the Shootings by Nidal Malik Hassan at Fort Hood in 2009. Mr. Hassan announced his Murders by shouting "Allahu Akbar." This Term, seen tactfully, is no more than a bit of random Glossolalia,* the Product of a Tongue temporarily unhinged from its Jamb of Reason. Thus Mr. Hassan’s Outburst was characterized as an unfortunate Case of Workplace Violence. We have little Doubt that the most tactful of those in Charge argued for the Phrase "A regrettable Manifestation of Employee Dissatisfaction," but were overruled.
Most recently, Mr.Obama has seen fit to pronounce at a three Day Conference on Extremism at the White House. He has said that the United States is "not at war with Islam – we are at war with the people who have perverted Islam."
This is certainly a tactful Declaration. We know not whether it is considered to be a Kindness to Muslims, or whether it expresses a practical Fear of Muslim Response. What it overlooks is what we see as the unfortunate Truth – a Truth that –apparently -- dares not speak its Name.
That Truth is that all the "violent Extremism" which is of such Cause
for Concern – can be linked to Verses of the Koran. It is undoubtedly
pleasant to declare that the Evils perpetrated in the Pursuit of a
Caliphate are a mere Perversion of a wonderful Religion. But if the
Flower of those Evils can be traced to the Seed of the Koran, it is
questionable whether Tact is an appropriate Herbicide.
If the Koran justifies Violence, is it best to pretend that it does not? Is there any Hope of destroying a noxious Flower by refusing to examine, honestly, its Seed?
Mr. Obama’s Solution seems to involve a peculiar Perversity: the Flower should be destroyed, but the Seed should remain in the Soil of Ignorance and be encouraged with the gentle Rain of Tact.
Of Course, we would be remiss if we were not to point out that Mr. Obama’s Tact is not merely a Response of Kindness or of Self-Preservation to a Threat of Violence.
It is also informed by a Left Wing Philosophy of unjustified Optimism about the human Condition. In this Philosophy, Difficulties have their "Root Causes" not in the Perversity of Human Nature, or the Folly of Human Desires, but in the Flaws of Society.
The great Attraction to this Philosophy is that it suggests a relatively easy Remediation. If one can but simply change Society, Nirvana is within Reach. The Crystal Palace, once built, will prove to be a fit and pleasing Home for the essential Harmonies of Humankind.
Thus, Mr.Obama has written in the Los Angeles Times that groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS "exploit the anger that festers when people feel that injustice and corruption leave them with no chance of improving their lives." He has also pointed to the "grievances" of Muslims living in poverty under corrupt governments where "resentments fester." (New York Post, February 18)**
Alas, Crystal Palaces will not solve essential Contradictions and primal Dissatisfactions. Folly and Evil are not convinced by Sweetness and Light.
We think Mr. Obama, not surprisingly, shows the Limitations of
Tact. When it is used to downplay a serious Evil, the Face of Tact seems
virtually indistinguishable from the Visage of Stupidity.
**For those on the Left, Violence never occurs except when it driven by Poverty, and the legitimate but frustrated Desire for better living Conditions. That People might be motivated by a religious Puritanism, or a Belief that Seventh Century Thinking represents the Apogee of human Wisdom, has no Place in their Universe of Possibilities.
February 16, 2015
We note that a Terrorist has made Attacks on a Café and Synagogue in Copenhagen.
There was a Meeting at the Café to discuss Freedom of Speech, and one of those attending was a Swedish Artist, Lars Vilks, who had drawn Cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in 2007.
We find it interesting that the Prime Minister of Denmark, Helle Thorning-Schmidt described the Incident as revealing "a fight for freedom against a dark ideology." (New York Times, February 15) At the same time she has said: "This is not a war between Islam and the West." (The Sydney Morning Herald, February 16.)
We tend to agree with the first Statement, but are puzzled by the second.
The more we have pondered these Matters, the more we have come to see that there is an unbridgeable Gulf between Western Values and those expressed in the Koran. The Attacks on Charlie Hebdo and on the Swedish Café both suggest Islamic Notions about Freedom of Speech diametrically opposed to our own.
If one takes the Koran seriously – something we would not recommend – it appears that Islam is a Religion which brooks no Dissent: Unbelievers and Apostates are to be killed. All that is worth knowing about the World was discovered in the Seventh Century: Sharia Law represents the one and only Path to Nirvana.
If this Sort of Thinking is given any Credence, it appears that Islam and Western Thinking can never be reconciled. Islam can only be accepted if its Fundamentalism is tempered with several heaping Tablespoons of Common Sense.
There is no doubt that not all Muslims are Fundamentalists; but, in our View, there are too many to justify Complacency.
James Barrie once said: Life is a long lesson in humility.
The Truth of this Statement is suggested if one thinks of the newborn Child, whose Consciousness extends only to his own immediate Needs: He is the Centre of a very small Universe. With Time, his Awareness increases: not only does the Universe expand, but the Hypothesis of his own Centrality comes increasingly under Question.
Gradually – except, perhaps, for a few Dictators – the Sense of one’s own Importance is diminished as it is modified, of Necessity, by encounters with unyielding Realities.
Life is a long lesson in humility.
If that is so, it seems that Islam – at its Koranic Core -- is a Religion long kept in infantile Ignorance. Sequestered in the Nursery, it has acquired no Humility through Interaction with the other Children on the Street, or the Adults next Door. If its Prophet is mocked, the first Response is a Tantrum. There is Pouting, Stamping of Feet, and – because the Infants have mature Bodies but primitive Brains – Killing in the Streets.
Tantrums work when Everyone pays Attention, the Favourite Toy is procured, and Chocolate Ice Cream is served with Sprinkles.
On the other Hand, Tantrums take a considerable Effort. A Lot of Energy is expended. One Tantrum every few Days may be doable; One Tantrum every few Hours becomes exhausting.
Playing Whack-a-Mole with Fervour becomes more and more difficult as the number of Moles to be whacked increases.
Our View is that Children who get their Way with Tantrums should not be coddled, should not receive the Care of constant, solicitous Catering. They should be told that they are not, in Fact, the Centre of the Universe, and that Life is a long Lesson in Humility.
Indeed, we think Mockery – of the very Sort which induces Tantrums – might be the very Prescription which will lead to an eventual Cure of Infantilism:
While it may not be appropriate in every venue, and on every occasion, mockery is the guardian of reason, the enemy of pretension, and the mirror to folly. No belief, no passion, no commitment should be considered immune from the acerbic test of ridicule. (Observation # 47)
This, of course, is not seen as a good Idea by the Compassionate, Kindly Bien Pensants who have been brought to believe that Self-Esteem – entirely divorced from Deeds and Accomplishment --is the Quality most important for the human Animal.
Mockery is, to them, inconsiderate, rude, and unkind.
That is why so Many in the Media refuse to publish Cartoons which mock Islam.
We happen to believe that Rudeness ranks somewhat lower on the Scale of Undesirability than Murderous Tantrums.
We are not saying, of course that Mockery should be directed at Individuals, but rather at those Beliefs which seem so inimical to the Rest of the World, especially as they touch on such Matters as Freedom of Speech and the Separation of Church and State.
We think that, by constant and unrelenting Criticism, Islam should be forced to rethink some of its fundamentalist Tenets, gain some better Sense of the Size of the Universe, and acquire an appropriate Degree of Humility.
The Alternative to Criticism seems to be the Continuation of an anxious Solicitousness, a prompt Provision of Toys, and a scrupulous Serving of Chocolate Ice Cream with Sprinkles at every Mealtime.
Doubtless, under those Circumstances, the myriad Attractions of Sharia Law will become increasingly evident.
February 13, 2015
The Sun News Network passed away this Morning at Five O’Clock.
We think the Demise is unfortunate, not only for the Loss of an important Perspective on Events in Canada and the World, but for what it symbolizes: that Canadians much prefer happy Myths to Truths about the real World.
The Sun News Network provided much Information which most other Media seem to have agreed to ignore.
From Sun News, we learned of foreign Involvement in the Funding of Groups protesting against Development of our Resources of Oil.
Similarly, we learned that many Environmental Organizations hold charitable Tax Status – in Effect a Kind of Government Subsidy -- in spite of a significant Engagement in political Lobbying Activity.
It was Sun News that tackled the omnipresent Climate Nag, David Suzuki, revealing the political Dimensions of his "charitable" Foundation, his own manifest Hypocrisy, and his shaky Grasp of the Study of Climate, the Topic upon which he ceaselessly expounds.
The Sun News Network revealed that there is a robust Element --in the real World --of Skepticism concerning Climate Change. This Element is almost entirely ignored by the other Media.
Many Media are accustomed to show Protestors – of various Categories -- engaging in their popular Pastime. But they always manage to imply that Protestors are concerned Citizens, sensitive Souls anguishing over their Perception of a Mother Earth ravished by the selfish Savagery of a modern Industrial Society. But it was Mr. Levant who actually interviewed some of the Protestors, showing that they were largely Members of a paid Rent-a-Mob. Their Knowledge of the Subject of their Protest was virtually non-existent, and the same People had an uncanny Habit of showing up at different Protests in different Parts of the Country. They were merely the mercenary Pawns of a particular Brand of political Posturing.
It was Sun News which drew our Attention to the illegal Activities of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police during the Flooding at High River in 2013, and the Inappropriateness of Moosa Jiwaji’s Tenure as a Human Rights Commission Judge in Alberta in 2014.
It has been Sun News which has consistently exposed the vapid Vacuity of the Liberal Leader, Justin Trudeau. The Lengthy History of Trudeau Gaffology, hidden or minimized in the mainstream Media, has been detailed – with a not inappropriate Glee –by the Sun News Network.
Most recently, Mr. Levant has been exposing the Realities of Muslim Extremism in Canadian Mosques at Canadianjihad.ca.
The conventional Wisdom is that expressed recently by Mr. Mulcair,
who leaped on the convenient Bandwagon of "Islamophobia" to denounce Mr.
Harper for even suggesting that someone might be radicalized in – of all
Places --a Mosque!
Mr.Mulcair prefers the comfortable Narrative consistent with the flawed Idea of Multiculturalism: all Cultures are equal, and equally benign. In that pleasant Fairy Tale, Radical Islam is an extraordinary Aberration which has no Roots in the Koran, and is completely divorced from anything that might be heard in those Models of Moderation – mainstream Mosques.
Indeed, it is the comfortable Narrative about Canada that most Canadian Media prefer. Canada, so the Myth goes, is a Nation which has never engaged in War, but is renowned for its Peace-Keeping.* It has a socialist Health Care System which is the Envy of the World – largely because all Citizens have equal Access and are treated with perfect Impartiality -- once they get past the Wait Time. It is a kind Country, where every Effort is made to ensure that no one gets upset or is offended. Universal Benevolence, like the universal Health Care System, is enforced. Human Rights Commissions represent a giant Leap forward in Benevolence – in Civility and the Provision of Equality.
In the Myth, Canada has a unique Role to play in the Limiting of Industrialization in order to preserve the Planet. It is a Scandal that the present Conservative Government seems oblivious to the clearly righteous and scientifically-based Appeals of the United Nations. The United Nations with admirable Morality, seeks to achieve the Nirvana of the pre-industrial Golden Age, when Men lived in Caves. Democracy should, quite rightly, be replaced with Government by Experts. Dr. Suzuki would probably be an appropriate Choice for Emperor. In the Meantime, any Protests against Industry, Capitalism, or Commerce, should be encouraged – both actively where possible -- and covertly where prudent. Laws should be subservient to the Moral Imperatives implied by a Nirvana clearly attainable, but currently just out of Reach.
No greater Jewel in the Crown of Canadian Superiority is to be found than in its Multiculturalism. Although the Idea seems to fail everywhere else, Canada has that special Brand of Tolerance and Goodwill -- that Eagerness for Compromise which extends well past the Limit of Self-Abasement -- which will make it work. Indeed, Canada is a Model for the World in this Matter; any minor Elements of contrary Evidence should, at all Costs, be kept hidden. Great and Good Ideas are often legitimately supported by harmless little Deceptions.
It is against this Myth that the Sun News Network battled.
But that Voice is now silent.
We are not optimistic for a Nation which seems so determined to prefer Fantasy over Reality.
*This is why Mr. Trudeau -- an almost perfect Exemplar of a Believer in the Canadian Myth -- thinks that warm Blankets are the best Option for defeating ISIS.
February 12, 2015
We are in a Frenzy of mental Discombobulation.
The reliable World of Medical Certainties seems to be collapsing all around us.
The Gurus of Medicine, so comforting a Sight at their Places of Pontification –at the Oracular Desk of the Delphic Declamation Centre -- are abandoning their Posts.
Where once there was calming Reassurance from the Paladins of Dietary Protocol, we see painful Admissions of Apostasy.
First, we have noticed – over the past couple of Years – some occasional Murmurings to the Effect that Saturated Fat is not quite as toxic as Arsenic, Anti-freeze, or Ant Poison – contrary to the accepted Wisdom for over Fifty Years.
Now, in the United States, the Dietary Advisory Panel for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture has decided " to drop its caution about eating cholesterol-laden food, a move that could undo almost 40 years of government warnings about its consumption." (Washington Post, February 10.)
We simply do not know what may be coming next.
Perhaps it will be discovered that Smoking is, after all, good for the Arteries, and Alcohol has a restorative Effect on the Liver.
We confess that, since we were impelled to do some Research on the Causes of Heart Disease nearly ten Years ago, we developed grave Doubts about the Harm caused by saturated Fat, and became extremely skeptical about the Theory that Cholesterol was a significant Factor in causing Heart Attacks.
We were pleased to discover The International Network of Cholesterol Skeptics (THINCS) at www.thincs.org.
Our skeptical Stance did not endear us to our Doctor. In his Eyes, we were transformed -- in a remarkably short Period of Time -- from a reasonable, sensible Patient – that is, one who took his Word as Law – to a certifiable Kook.
We remained in that Category until our Doctor retired about two Years ago. We have avoided the Topic with our new Doctor as a prudent Strategy in our Project for Self-Preservation.
It is interesting to speculate on why bad Ideas gain – and maintain – such Currency.
We suspect it has something to do with the Commitments bad Ideas get
from those of Prominence or those in Authority. If Willy Loman happens
to believe that the Moon is made of Green Cheese, it is not a matter of
the World being reduced to Shards when it is discovered that the Moon
is, in Fact, made of Play-Doh.
However, if someone of Prominence declares that the Moon is made of Green Cheese, the Play-Doh Discovery may represent a considerable Threat. Prominence may teeter uncomfortably on the Edge of Obscurity.
Beyond the Matter of Reputation – there is a powerful Motivation to the Maintaining of the Green Cheese Theory if one’s Livelihood is connected to the Proposition. Perhaps One has published a popular Book on the Topic, or One chairs the Lunar Cheesology Department at an important University.
Although there are doubtless other Factors, we suspect that the Maintaining of Religious Belief owes Something to public Commitments by the Preachers and Social Elites.
The Catholic Church was certainly not pleased with the Notion of Solar Centricity, and made every Attempt to deny it.
Similarly with Anthropogenic Global Warming – the Notion is so central to the World View of the United Nations, the Climate Change Industry, or the Suzuki /Gore/Obama Popularizers – that the Fact that the current Hypothesis seems to be vulnerable to obstinate Facts is not widely advertised.*
We wonder, too, whether long-lived bad Ideas usually involve a certain Element of Control of the Public.
Religion, Global Warming, and dietary Restrictions, all seem characterized by a robust Nannyism: Those claiming superior and recondite Knowledge set up Sects, Committees, Foundations and Departments which will instruct those lacking that Wisdom – in what to do, and how to do it. This must create an immeasurable Sense of Worthy Superiority.
We are not sure what the Remedy is for "extraordinary popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds."**
On occasion, we have suggested a Course in Skepticism at the High School Level.
But we suspect that once a fanciful Idea has taken Root in the Soil of Ignorance and Misunderstanding, it is like a Dandelion, which spreads unchecked through the Landscape of popular Conventional Wisdom, almost impervious to the Round-Up of Reason.
*The great tragedy of science -- the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact. (Thomas Huxley, 1825 _ 1895)
**Charles Mackay, 1841
February 7, 2015
Obama strikes again!
Mr. Obama never ceases to engender an extraordinary Degree of Interest. He has, remarkably, managed to become President of a Country whose Ethos he despises. In a Country founded on Initiative and Self-reliance, with a perceived Sense of "manifest destiny" – Mr. Obama has sought to create a cosy, unambitious, social Democracy which can best serve Humankind by withdrawing from the World and keeping its Mouth firmly shut.
Indeed, speaking of closed Mouths, we would note that even on the Matter of Free Speech – a traditional Feature of American Thinking -- Mr. Obama has suggested that it might reasonably be considered secondary to the Sensibilities of those who cannot abide Criticism of the Prophet:
The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.
Overall, we have concluded that Mr. Obama is a rare and unusual human Being, whose Like we will not see again. It is difficult to imagine that the Birth Lottery will produce another Creature with such an unerring and reliable Capacity for Error.*
Mr. Obama’s latest Foray into that Landscape of Misjudgement and Misapprehension appears to be a Statement at a recent "prayer breakfast." Speaking of the Barbarity of ISIS, he said:
And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. (National Post, February 7)
As Rex Murphy points out in Today’s Post, Christian Barbarity in the Name of Christ at the time of the Crusades was matched by Muslim Barbarity in the Name of Allah. Thus, if Mr. Obama wishes to compare Christian and Muslim Beliefs on a Barbarity Index, the Score Board does not read: Muslims, 1; Christians, 1; – but rather, Muslims, 2, Christians, 1.
Beyond that Calculative Error, we must ask -- what is the Purpose of responding to a current and immediate Barbarity by some Muslims with a Reference to an old Barbarity by Christians?
Surely the only possible Intent can be to minimize the Importance of the current Barbarity.
Indeed, Mr. Obama has a History of Partiality towards the Islamic World.
In some of our more reflective Moments, we wonder whether he envisions Himself as a modern Messiah, come to heal the Divisions between the Muslim and non-Muslim Spheres.
We have many Times noted that the Idealists on the Left believe that all Conflict is superficial. Deep down, we are all the same, with Desires and Motivations that differ by only the Breadth of a Hair. Some People prefer Mild Salsa, others prefer Medium. When All is said, and All is done, every Dispute can be settled over a Glass of Beer on a sunny Afternoon.
True, there are a Few who prefer their Salsa hot – but Two Glasses of Beer will be more than sufficient to settle any Disputes among Salsa Lovers.
It would not surprise us – were we able to delve into Mr. Obama’s secret Life of Fantasy – that he imagines future Generations holding annual Three Day Celebrations in Honour of the mystical Great Obama.
The central Reading at this Event would be as follows:
The Great Obama (Blessed be his Name!) came among Us, and lo, he saw there were Divisions among the Peoples of the Earth.
And this troubled Him sorely, for He knew that these Divisions were as Chaff in the Wind, and that all Peoples, with enough Glasses of Beer, could come together, and be of one Mind, and be joined in Harmony for the greater Good. Yea, just as the Lamb lieth down with the Lion, and feareth not, so those of different Beliefs can be forever united in mutual Trust and Admiration.
And yea, the Great Obama (May his Name be praised!) went to Cairo, and announced that the Muslim World should fear not, and should pursue its own Path of Righteousness, and that America, formerly a Nag and Bully on the World Stage, would Exit Left in order to stick to its Knitting. The Clicking of Needles would signal the Knit One, Purl Two of myriad social Programs, and the Provision of Warm Booties for Obamacare.
And thus it came to pass.
And, after a fleeting Pot Shot at Osama bin Laden, the Great Obama (May his Name live forever!) withdrew from all Conflict in Muslim Lands, and was happily re-elected.
And when there was Unrest and Barbarity in Muslim Lands, the Great Obama (O Saviour of our Peoples!) was not afraid, and pointed out that Barbarity had a long and ancient History, and there was not too much to worry about.
And those in the West heard his words, and were soothed, and went back to their Knitting.
And the Barbarians heard his Words, and were soothed, and began studying Agriculture and Accounting. Subsequently, they enrolled in Knitting Classes.
And soon the World, for the first Time in its History, was at Peace. The Lambs frolicked with the Lions on an endless green Meadow, and, in their spare Time, when they tired of Frolicking, they attended Classes in Knitting.
And Everyone praised the Great Obama (May his Name be ever holy!), and lived happily ever after.
Alas, Fantasy and Reality rarely take Knitting Classes together. There is a significant Portion of the Muslim World which has gone back to the Koranic Texts, and is committed to Beliefs entirely incompatible with the Values and the Functioning of Western democratic Societies.
More than a few Glasses of Beer will be required.
February 6, 2015
Beware those who claim to know the "mind" of "God;" they are deluded or evil, fools or liars. (Observation #255)
We are pleased to learn that the Supreme Court has struck down a Ban on the Act of Assisting someone who wishes to commit Suicide. (Sun News, February 6)
It is interesting that the Court – from which one expects a certain determined and monotonous Consistency – has reversed the Position which it held in 1993, in considering the Case of Sue Rodriguez.
It gives us some Comfort that the Court can actually adapt to changing Circumstances. It appears that a considerable Majority of Citizens now favour the Idea of assisted Suicide.
Indeed, when we were young – when the Cry of Dinosaurs could still be heard in the Distance on a windless Day at Supper Hour -- the Attempt at Suicide itself was subject to legal Penalty. The Law which provided that Penalty was removed in 1972.
We always understood that the Prohibition against Suicide had its Roots in Religion. It was considered that one’s Life was not one’s own, but belonged to God. God had given Life, and it was solely the Prerogative of God to take it away, at the appropriate Time of his divine Choosing.
It was considered, somehow, sacrilegious, to meddle with God’s Impeccability in the Matter of the Timing of the Demise of Members of the race of Homo Sapiens.
That Deference was limited, of course, by some earthly Considerations. Human Beings could, with divine Sanction, engage in Wars, or Self-Defence, or Capital Punishment. And, of course, the Inquisition had certain presumptive Wisdom of its own.
While there may have been some awareness that Nature was "red in tooth and claw," and that most Animals were engaged in a deadly Struggle for Survival, it was conveniently argued that Man was part Animal, part Angel, and therefore had a special Place in God’s Hierarchy.
How Times are changing! How Times have changed!
We have now learned that all Creatures are constructed of the same genetic Building Blocks. Human Beings are, inescapably, Part of the vast, blind, Struggle for Survival. It has been said that God cares about the Fall of a Sparrow – but that View seems somewhat sentimental, when one considers that Survival of most Creatures is dependent upon the Deaths of others.
Once one includes Mankind as just another Element in the Circle of Predation, one is led to wonder about God’s wonderful Notebook – the One in which he has listed the preferred Time and Manner of human Deaths.
Indeed, the Notion that God wishes Mary to suffer for Months with a painful and incurable Disease, while he is willing to let Bill off with a quick Heart Attack seems to be one of Many which expose the patent Rationalizations used to prop up a Faulty View of Existence.
Those who are so anxious to preserve the Idea of divine Beneficence and omnipotent Meddling, have been forced to argue that the manifest Injustices of Life are either absurdly "deserved," or Part of some Plan which, admittedly incomprehensible, is subject to some wonderful and sensible Clarification beyond the Grave.
Indeed, we note that a Few of those commenting on the Sun News Website are trotting out the old Idiocies – arguing that the Supreme Court is interfering with God’s Plan, and that He will exact an appropriate Revenge.
As Einstein observed, the Difference between Genius and Stupidity is that Genius has its Limits.
We constantly find ourselves in the Position of declaiming against the Follies of Religion. We do this, in spite of the Fact that Religion – conveniently – claims to be beyond Rational Consideration. We can only hope that this Lie is simply like any other; in the Fullness of Time every Prevarication will be seen in its true Light.
The Decision of the Supreme Court suggests that our Lives do not belong to "God." Nor should we defer to what some People imagine to be God’s Wishes.
For this small Bit of Progress, we thank – not God – but Reason!
February 4, 2015
Free Speech and Terrorism: an uneasy Balance.
The Government of Canada, rightfully concerned about Terrorism – which, in the present Day, seems the exclusive Preserve of those claiming the Supremacy of Islamic Precepts – is proposing a new Bill which would make criminal the Acts of "promoting" or "advocating" Terrorism. It also gives Judges the Power to seize "terrorist propaganda."
In this Day’s Post, Jesse Kline expresses Concern that "Promotion" and "Advocacy" are not defined. Nor is there adequate Definition of "terrorist propaganda," and "Seizing" of Propaganda may be equated to the Burning of Books.
He does note that, in the Bill, Advocacy of Terrorism must involve Statements made "while knowing that any of those offences will be committed or being reckless as to whether any of those offences may be committed as a result of such communication." He expresses the Hope that advocating Statements will be prosecuted only if there is actual Incitement to Violence.
This is the difficult Question raised when our Desire for Security seems at Odds with the Notion of Freedom of Speech.
It has always been our Contention – following Voltaire -- that the Preservation of Freedom of Speech is never more important than when the Speech runs counter to generally accepted Ideas. For, while generally accepted Ideas have, by Definition, the Sanction of the Majority, they are not necessarily justified or appropriate.
As George Bernard Shaw said: "All great truths begin as blasphemies."
Thus, Mr. Kline is correct in observing that "if people have the right to insult Islam, they must also have the right to support Islamism – even when the rest of us don’t."
The practical Application of that Principle may provoke Discussion.
Consider the Case of Imam Hamza Chaoui, who wants to open an Islamic Youth Centre in Montreal. Mr Chaoui thinks that Islam and Democracy are incompatible. We suspect that, in this, he is correct – depending on how important the Koran is in Islam. If Islam can be selectively divorced from some Verses in the Koran, then Compatibility may be possible. If Islam says that the Koran is the Truth, the whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth, Compatibility is not possible.
But Mr. Chaoui thinks that Democracy should defer to Islam – since Democracy allows for the Election of "an infidel or a homosexual or an atheist who denies the existence of Allah." (National Post, January 31)
In this, of course, Mr. Chaoui argues against Ideas which are centrally important in the Country in which he has chosen to reside. And while we think Mr. Chaoui has the Right to make those Arguments, we can see some Justification for limiting the Venues in which he may express them.
Context is all.
One of the most famous Examples of the Limitation on Freedom of Speech is the Proscription against falsely crying "Fire" in a crowded Theatre. Such an Act involves not only a false and malicious Statement, but is likely to cause Injury and Loss of Life. Similarly, we suspect that a School Board might have a good Argument in rejecting –as an Applicant for a teaching Position – a known Advocate of Black Slavery, or a vocal Proponent of the Revocation of the Vote for Women. This would be especially true if their Views were based on a Religion. While such Advocacy might be accepted in Society at large – it might be considered dangerous and inappropriate in a Classroom.
Thus, while Mr. Chaoui might legitimately express his Views in a Book, Newspaper Column, or on a Street Corner, we think that an "Islamic Youth Centre" – especially in the Context of the current Climate of Radicalization of young Converts to Islam – is not an appropriate Venue.
On the same Basis we have argued – much against the Opinion of the bien pensant Majority -- that the Wearing of religious Symbols by Government Employees is inappropriate because of the Context: it is legitimate for Government to proclaim its secular Nature, and to prescribe a Code of Dress to that End.
Freedom of Speech is important; at the same Time, some Ideas are better than Others. Not to make that Distinction is to surrender to Stupidity. Indeed, that Kind of Stupidity is the very Error which has led to the Insanity of Multiculturalism -- which is based on the Notion that all cultures are equal. Ideas based on religious Conjecture should not be silenced – but nor should they be welcomed where they are irrelevant and have a significant Potential to be disruptive and destructive.
Our Conclusion is based on a simple Distinction, which we think is fundamental to human Progress: Ideas based on Hypothesis, Supposition, and Superstition should not be considered as relevant in the Conduct of human Affairs, as those based on Reason and Evidence.
As Thomas Jefferson has said: "Man once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind."
Freedom of Speech should be preserved – but there are also practical Limitations which seem legitimate. Thus – we think that Mr. Chaoui should be free to express his destructive Opinions. But those Opinions are based, not upon Evidence, but Superstition. In an Islamic Youth Centre, they might be considered the Equivalent of a false Cry of "Fire" in a Crowd vulnerable to hastily desperate Measures.
We also think that it is legitimate to screen Immigrants in order to determine whether they have any Comprehension of the philosophical Basis of a free Western Democracy. We see nothing wrong in reducing the Expression of Ideas inimical to our relatively successful Approach to the Operation of a civilized Society – based on the Evidence of superior Comforts and Freedoms – through this Stratagem.
February 2, 2015
How truth, and laws of science stand
(Observation #374 – with a deferential Nod to the Master of rhymed Couplets, Mr. Alexander Pope.)
We note that, as a Result of the Murders of Charlie Hebdo Journalists on January 7, Groups of Atheists around the World are planning to fight Laws against Blasphemy. (National Post, January 30)
We can think of no more pernicious and unjustified Laws than those against Blasphemy. As we have noted elsewhere, those Propositions most doubtful and vulnerable to the Light of Reason seem to attract the most implacable and cruel Measures of retaliatory Protection.
Those Ideas based on Facts and verifiable Evidence are left to shift on their own – for what is self-evident seems to require no Defence. Thus religious Belief requires whole Armouries of Blunderbuss Laws against Blasphemy, while the Three times Table is allowed to walk naked and alone, with no Arrow in its Quiver but its proven Usefulness and a Record of impeccable Reliability.
It may be of Interest to list those Countries* which have the Death Penalty for Blasphemy. They would not appear to represent Jurisdictions renowned for scientific Advancement, Sweetness and Light, or Freedom of Citizens:
Other Countries prescribe Prison for Blasphemy:
Still others Countries punish "religious insults" and "hate speech:"
In the United States, there are no federal Laws against Blasphemy, but some States have such Laws that are no longer used.
It has been pointed out by Michael de Dora, Director for the Center for Inquiry’s Office of Public Policy in Washington, that if the democratic Countries with Blasphemy Laws were to repeal them, a message would be sent to the Rest of the World that "there is broad support for freedom of conscience." (National Post, January 30)
If one is in Doubt about the pernicious Effects of Laws against Blasphemy, one has to look no further than the Paradise of Pakistan, where, since 1987, over 1300 People – mostly non Muslims – have been accused of Blasphemy.
Over 50 of those accused have been murdered before the Conclusion of their Trials. Prominent Politicians who have opposed the Laws have also been murdered.
It is alleged that the Laws are overwhelmingly used to persecute Minorities or pursue personal Vendettas. (Wikipedia)
Laws against Blasphemy represent a Restriction on the Expression of Thought in precisely that Area of Belief most absurd, irrational, and unworthy of Deference – hypothetical Conjectures about the Unseeable, the Unverifiable, and the Unknowable.
We have no great Optimism about the Future of Mankind. But that Future seems measurably darker as Reason continues to defer to Absurdity.**
*from freethought nation
January 30, 2015
We note that the Nova Scotia Supreme Court has dismissed a Decision of the Law Society of that Province. The Decision of the Law Society was to deny the Right of Graduates in Law from a proposed School of Law at Trinity Western University to practise in Nova Scotia. (National Post, January 30)
The Difficulty arises from the Fact that Trinity Western University requires its Students to agree to a Code of Conduct which prohibits:
...sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.
The Belief thereby expressed runs counter to the more recent Apprehension that Marriage should not be denied to those with Partners of the same Sex. This is seen as a matter of Equality, and rejects the Notion that those attracted to the same Sex are "disordered" according to a religious Precept or Definition.
Since Religion is based on Supposition and Conjecture, and sexual Attraction is genetically determined, the modern View seems more in Accord with Reality. In that Reality, those attracted to the same Sex may be considered perhaps unfortunate in their minority Status, but not "sinful" or deserving of being shunned by Society at large.
In Essence, there is a Conflict between the established Right of religious Freedom as expressed in Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and Rights of Equality in our more modern legal Framework.
Our own View is that, while individual Christians holding anti-egalitarian Views should be accepted by Societies of Law, we have grave Reservations about those belonging to an Institution which requires its Members to endorse, in a public Manner, Views which are in direct Contradiction to the established Laws.
We note that there is some Consternation expressed in Montreal that Imam Hamza Chaoui wishes to open an "Islamic Youth Centre" in the Hochelaga-Maisonneuve Borough next Month.
Mr. Chaoui is noted for his Views that Democracy and Islam are incompatible, and that the political Configuration should defer to the Religion. This is because Democracy allows for the election of "an infidel, or a homosexual, or an atheist who denies the existence of Allah."
While we think Mr. Chaoui should be able to express his Views, we question the Prudence of encouraging him to influence impressionable Youth. Should he go on to found an Islamic University with a Law School, we think it might not be appropriate to welcome as Lawyers those Students who had made a public Commitment to replace the existing legal System with Sharia Law.
In other Words, in spite of our Approval of the Notion of Freedom of Speech, we accept that there are some Limits. Is the Call for the Annihilation of our political System on the Grounds of religious Belief the Equivalent – in Terms of malicious Destructiveness -- of falsely crying "fire" in a crowded Theatre?
We confess that we have Difficulty in divorcing the Motivation for a particular Viewpoint from its Specifics.
If Graduates of Trinity Western Law School held merely to the Philosophy of the Good Old Days Society -- that Gay Marriage, widely accepted, would lead to civil Unrest, Alcoholism, societal Grumpiness, minimalist house Design, and excessively-elaborate Dinner Parties – we would not be concerned: because such Notions could be countered in a rational Manner.
But when their Opposition to Gay Marriage is based on Religion – simply a Superstition old and fortunate enough to have gained Respectability -- it seems foolish to give it any Element of Deference.
It is interesting that the Judge in this Case, Jamie S. Campbell, argues that while many believe that "equality rights have...jumped the queue to now trump religious freedom" – they have not:
Religions with views that many Canadians find incomprehensible or offensive abound in a liberal and multicultural society...The law protects them and must carve out a place not only where they can exist but flourish. (Selley, National Post, January 30)
This, it seems, is the very Essence and Nub of the Problem. Indeed, we have predicted the very Outcome which Mr. Campbell’s Ruling represents: in the present State of Ignorance, Religion is accorded an unseemly and entirely inappropriate Deference. We find it fascinating that Mr. Campbell links that Deference to Multiculturalism – a Notion based on the Insane Premise that all Cultures are equal.
It may well be that Mr. Campbell is applying the Law as it exists at this Time. The Law, then, is, as Mr. Bumble observed, "a ass." Indeed, we see, according to Mr. Selley’s Article in the Post, Mr. Campbell finds the Law’s Protection described above as "discomforting."
As do we.
While Societies continue to place religious Belief above secular Sense, we do not think the Prospects for Homo Sapiens are in the least enhanced. We see no Force more destructive than that which appeals, not to Reason, but to the mindless Superstitions of primitive Times.
The Belief in Marriage as a "sacred" Institution between a Man and a Woman and the Belief that Allah desires Mankind to live under Sharia Law differ only in Degree -- not in Kind.
While Mr. Levant and the editorial Board of the National Post see this Decision as a great Victory for religious Freedom, we see it as a Measure of the Power of superstitious Folly. We look forward to the Day when Freedom from Religion finds its rightful Place above Freedom of religion.
January 27, 2015
It has come to our Attention that many of our Views run counter to those held by a Majority of Citizens.
Thus, we think that Religion is a Form of tribal Insanity, that Multiculturalism (the Belief that all Cultures are equal) is idealistic Folly, that political Correctness is Cowardice, that Equality is a God with unexamined Feet of Play-Doh, and that Belief in anthropogenic Global Warming reflects a Triumph of politically-motivated Propaganda over Reason.
It is a constant Source of Amazement to us that our own Opinion reflects such Wisdom and sound Judgment, while the great Majority of Homo Sapiens seem lost – with some apparent Degree of vacuous Contentment --in the Wilderness of serious Error and Misapprehension.
We were most pleased, therefore, to see in this Day’s National Post, an Article concerning Ms. El-Rhazoui, a Journalist with Charlie Hebdo, who, at the Age of 33, sees the World with much admirable Clarity.
She asks: "Are we for freedom or for something else?...Muslims must learn to accept that when it comes to satire, no subject is out of bounds – including their religion."
This, of course, is our View precisely. As soon as we decide –like the Pope, like Mr Obama, like the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, like the Country of Pakistan – that Faith is something which must not be ridiculed – lest Believers be upset or offended – the Foundation for Repression, Fear, and vindictive Evil has been established.*
As we have noted before – Ideas founded in Fact and Evidence are not subject to irrational Taboo. No one thinks that the Three Times Table should be shielded from Criticism; nor that Mr. Einstein’s Theory of Relativity should be exempt from Ridicule.
As might be expected, only those Ideas which have no Basis in Fact, which depend for their Health and Well-Being upon Supposition, wishful Thinking, or Conjecture – only those Ideas are most vulnerable to the Light of Reason, and seek a hallowed Haven -- a sacred Protection from Analysis -- in the crepuscular Gloom, the fogged, dark Pits of Irrationality.
To give bad Ideas a special, protected Place in our social Discourse, is to surrender Reason to Absurdity.
We are especially pleased that Ms. El-Rhazoui has said that she favours the Charter of Values proposed by the former Parti Québécois Government. We were appalled that this Proposal was – as far as we could tell – universally condemned by all the "pusillanimous pooh-bahs of punditry"** in English-speaking Canada.
Those Pooh-Bahs, short-sightedly, saw the Attempt to restrict the Wearing of religious Symbols by Government Employees having Interaction with the Public as restrictive of Freedom. On the Contrary, such Employees would merely be restricted from expressing their religious Affiliation on a particular Occasion -- in Public -- when it was inappropriate. It amounts to no more than the Restriction on Employees from expressing their Views on Political Parties, Gay Marriage, Blood Transfusions, Abortions, the Death Penalty – or a Hundred other irrelevant Topics while interacting with the Public.
Such temporary Restriction is a Symbol of Freedom from Religion. It is a Statement that the Government maintains secular Values, and does not consider that Irrational Belief should triumph over common Sense.
Finally, we must note that Ms. El-Rhazoui has criticized the "useful Idiots" in the West, who tolerate religious Views which hold that Women are, in Essence, second class Citizens, subject to particular Restrictions based on their Sex.
She sees, for example, the Hijab as a political Symbol of Subjugation of Women.
We see it more as a religious and cultural Symbol – the Symbol of a Culture replete with Ideas incompatible with the Values of a free and democratic Society. We have been appalled that Police Forces in Canada have actively sought to have Officers wearing such an incongruous and antithetical Symbol. It dilutes the Notion that Officers wear a Uniform precisely to indicate that they represent the Values implicit in our legal System. To have Officers wearing the Hijab suggests that they represent some undefined Mixture of the secular legal System, an irrational Faith, and a hostile Culture.
In Short, we are pleased to see that there are at least some other sensible People in the World.
*Indeed, we suggest doubtful Readers examine how the Laws against Blasphemy actually function in the fetid intellectual Backwater which is Pakistan.
**The pusillanimous pooh-bahs of punditry have postured in paroxysms of outrage and moral superiority. (Observation # 258)
January 25, 2015
There are some ideas so wrong that only a very intelligent person could believe them. (George Orwell)
We are most fortunate to live in an Era of unparalleled Progress! Each day some new Discovery is made, some superior Method of accomplishing old Tasks is devised, or some extraordinary Idea is proposed which has the Capacity to improve the Lot of Humankind.
The latest such Innovation is that practised by Professor Judy Haiven, a Professor at the Sobey School of Business, at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.
Ms Haiven, fed up with the pervasive Misogyny of our Age, and the Tendency of Men to monopolize Conversations, has decided to fight back: in her Classroom, Women speak first, while Men – known for their Aggression and Assertiveness – are relegated to the Back of the Contributory Bus. They are allowed to speak only when their Superiors in Refinement and Gentility have been heard.
We think this is a most admirable Advancement towards a much needed Equality! The Forward should, in all Areas, be pushed back, while the Backward, should be pushed forward, so that there is a wonderful Concentration of All exactly in the Middle.
Only through such far-sighted Initiatives can Nirvana be achieved -- within our Lifetimes -- on this troubled Planet.
We can see only two possible Criticisms – and they are of a very minor Nature.
The First is that the Identification of those in a Backward State involves some small Degree of Condescension. There is some very slight Chance that those chosen as needing Advancement might feel some Mark of Opprobrium. To this we would reply with the well-worn Wisdom: some Cracking of a few thin-shelled Eggs may be necessary to create the Omelette of social Engineering so desperately needed by our disordered and disorderly Society.
The second Criticism is only that Ms. Haiven has not extended her Philosophy to the Lengths quite obviously required. There are many Groups whose Voices are of varying Strength in the general Discourse -- who are deserving of an equalizing Megaphone.
Those who have a skin colour different from that of the Majority, those of different cultural Backgrounds, sexual Orientations, Athleticism, Attractiveness, Handedness, and Eye Colour – all have a Claim to greater Prominence than that which they currently possess.
It would appear prudent to classify all Individuals according to their Membership in a Minority Group, and give them a Priority Number, which would be tattooed on their Foreheads. There might be some minor Disputes as to Precedence -- especially considering those claiming Membership in two or more Groups -- but we have an infinite Faith in those of benign Intent, and superior Intelligence.
Once all Citizens have been given their proper Priority Number, the current Plagues of Feelings of Inferiority, false Strivings, and invidious Competitions will, mercifully, be Things of the Past, of the antique Days of Folly, Ignorance, and Misery.
The Brave New World will be upon us.
January 20, 2015
We suffered a Conniption Fit of Alarm the other Day. A powerful Fever began to burn in our Cerebellum, and great Waves of Heat washed outwards towards our Extremities. We put on our Bermuda Shorts, Sandals, and a colourful, short-sleeved Shirt.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration had just released the News that 2014 was the hottest Year since Records have been kept – starting in 1880.
When we opened the Front Door, we encountered – not the balmy Breezes expected, the new Warming accelerated in its capacious Sweep by the fevered Exhalations of Climate Scientists – but, rather, the antique Chill of a not untypical Canadian Winter.
Even so – we know that Climate is Tortoise to the Hare of Weather – it moves slowly, with deliberate Determination. The Heat of 2014 may simply be gathering its Forces, collecting its Energy in order to transform Canada – slowly -- to a Land of Palms and Hibiscus.
Visions of the concomitant Changes – the sinking Islands, the Climate Refugees, the Disappearance of the Antarctic Ice-Cap, the Dust-Bowl of the Midwest -- weighed heavily upon us.
We reflected. We had been postponing a Trip to New York. Would it not be prudent to make Arrangements now, before the Trip became a Diving Expedition? Similarly, we had imagined -- but not taken Steps towards – the Buying of several Thousand Acres of Arctic Land, the Future Site of Orchards and the Playground of the Rich – the Riviera of the North.
But, before we could spring into Action, further Information – somehow omitted in a Gremlin Attack on the original NASA News Release – came to Light.
NASA – not having Access to Information concerning approximately One-Half the Land Mass of the World – could, with scientific Accuracy, only accord its Conclusion about the Status of 2014 a Likelihood of Thirty-Eight Percent. (The Mail Online, January 18)
And indeed, it was discovered that that Conclusion – the "2014 Record" was a relatively modest Increase over the Mark of the previous Title Holder – 2010 – of two-hundredths of a Degree.
Now, we are certainly not one to quibble, or to question the Credibility of NASA. Gremlins are a common Problem. They often work to omit Information which runs counter to the general intended Effect – Facts which might possibly put tiny Puncture Holes in the great Balloon of Hot Air which is meant to rise to a great Height, convey a significant Message, and awe the Multitudes.
Instead, we would like to laud NASA in making a sober and sensible Choice in its Pronouncements.
As we reflect upon our own limited Experience, we think that Statements with a 38 % Chance of being true represent a Prudent Choice, considering the Realities of an essentially uncertain World.
While Claims with a 36% Likelihood of Validity might suggest a Failure of Seriousness, Statements in the Range of 40% seem – in the light of the Uncertainties of human Existence – to represent an unseemly Arrogance.
Indeed, Assessments in the 38% Likelihood Range have always filled us with Confidence, while not alarming us with a Sense of Presumption and Hubris. We recall our Medical Practitioner declaring that he was 38% sure that the odd-looking Mole on our Arm was not cancerous. Similarly, our Lawyer, commenting on our last Purchase of Property was pleased to claim that he was 38% certain that we had clear Title to the Lands in Return for our Expenditure of Funds.
Finally, we were well satisfied when our Mechanic, having repaired the Brakes on the Serviceable Six, opined that he had a 38% Belief that depressing the Brake Pedal would, in fact, stop the Vehicle.
In all three Cases, we were not alarmed by a low Degree of Certainty, nor led to an inappropriate Foolhardiness by a Claim of excessive Assurance. Rather, we basked in an appropriate, moderate Degree of Confidence. Thus, it appears to us that the 38% Degree of Certainty in Assessments of Climate Conditions seems to have been well-chosen by the Space Administration.
Forceful and Wide-ranging Actions based on such Assessments seem entirely reasonable.
We hope we can look forward – in the coming Months and Years -- to NASA for their careful, sober, and realistic Assessments of the Facts of Climate Change.
January 18, 2015
Faith confuses hope with reality.
The faithful become dangerous when they insist that others share their
confusion. (Observation #369)
We see that the Pope is not content to devote himself to the arduous Work of deciding how many Angels may conveniently dance upon the Head of a Pin.
We understand that such Matters have been an abiding Concern for those with a religious Turn of Mind. Indeed, we can see that there is a Myriad of Variables to be considered: the Size of the Pin, the Size of the Angels, and the Nature of the particular Dance in which they are engaged: the Foxtrot, the Rhumba, the Bunny-Hop, and so on.
We understand that a Preoccupation with the World of the Theoretical – a World in which no credible Evidence is available for the Reaching of any Conclusion -- must eventually grow wearisome. It must be somewhat akin to playing Soccer with an imaginary Ball: after a Time, the Racking up of imaginary Goals against a Team of fancied Opponents – and then publishing the Results to the assembled Multitudes -- begins to lose its Savour. This must especially be the Case when the Multitudes are no longer subject to inquisitorial Methods of compelling their submissive Wonderment.
Recently, the Pope has seen fit to engage with the real World on
the Matter of Climate Change. He, like those Exemplars of Prescience and
Good Judgment, the revered Errobama, and the apocalyptical Kerry, has
decided to address the United Nations on the Subject. Further, he has
Plans to hold a Rally for all the major Religions in order to stir up a
Whirlwind of Holy Enthusiasm against Changes in Climate. We assume the
Gathering will be held at the Canute Hall, just outside the City of
Sisyphus, in the Principality of Utopia.
But the latest News is that the Pope has weighed in on the Matter of free Speech, a Topick of considerable Interest following the Murders of Cartoonists at the Magazine Charlie Hebdo on January 7.
The Pope has noted that there are limits to freedom of expression "especially when it insults or ridicules someone’s faith." (National Post, January 16)
The Pope reinforced his point with a Jest, referring to his Aide, Alberto Gasparri:
If my good friend Dr. Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, he can expect a punch...It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.
Now, we are not so foolish as to think that the Freedom of Speech is
absolute. Libel, Slander, Incitement to Violence, falsely Crying "Fire"
in a crowded Theatre – these are well-known Exceptions.
Beyond that, Speech is subject to Appropriateness of Time and Occasion. Rising to declare one’s Atheism during a Sermon seems inappropriate. We would be against Clothing with Slogans of any Kind in Classrooms. We would not object if the Salesperson selling a Manure Spreader to a local Farmer were required to keep his Opinions about the Death Penalty a private Matter. Similarly, we think that the wearing of religious Symbols, or Markers of political Affiliation by Police or Government Workers sends – in the Context of Interaction between State and Citizen -- distracting and irrelevant Messages.
Having recognized such Limitations of Harm, and Appropriateness of Occasion, we still think that Freedom of Speech should not be curtailed. In particular, Mockery and Ridicule serve important Functions:
While it may not be appropriate in every venue, and on every occasion, mockery is the guardian of reason, the enemy of pretension, and the mirror to folly. No belief, no passion, no commitment should be considered immune from the acerbic test of ridicule. (Observation # 47.)
What the Pope is suggesting is that there be a Prohibition of Blasphemy.* This is the most dangerous Prohibition imaginable, for what is considered "sacred" has no Basis in Fact or credible Evidence. A Prohibition against Blasphemy is to uphold Superstition over Reason. As Jefferson said:
Man once surrendering his reason, has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous, and like a ship without rudder, is the sport of every wind.
In the End, we are not displeased that the Pope has turned from the Contemplation of Pins and the terpsichorean Capacities of heavenly Inhabitants. The more he interacts with the real World, the more are his Perceptions and Commitments revealed. The more the Deficiencies the World of Fantasy are exposed, the closer we may approach to that difficult State of seeing Things as they are.
* All great truths begin as blasphemies. (George Bernard Shaw)
P.S. The Pope has been observed on Limerick Lane, providing infallible Entertainment.
January 14, 2015
While it may not be appropriate in every venue, and on every occasion, mockery is the guardian of reason, the enemy of pretension, and the mirror to folly. No belief, no passion, no commitment should be considered immune from the acerbic test of ridicule.
(Observation # 47)
We are groggy and disoriented. The World is not as we have come to know it. It is topsy and turvy; it appears as if our favourite Alice’s Looking Glass – through which we imaginatively view the World – has been replaced with a distorting Carnival Mirror.
We stepp’d through the Mirror this Morning to discover that the Mayor of Rotterdam, Ahmed Aboutaleb, had made Comment, apparently addressing his fellow-Muslims, concerning the recent Charlie Hebdo Attacks in France:
It is incomprehensible that you can turn against freedom. But if you do not like freedom, in Heaven's name pack your bag and leave.
There may be a place in the world where you can be yourself. Be honest with yourself and do not go and kill innocent journalists. And if you do not like it here because humorists you do not like make a newspaper, may I then say you can f___ off.
How admirably simple is the Case when presented thus! How we wish one hundred Others in Positions of Prominence would gird their symbolic Loins, step up, and make a similar Statement!
If you do not like Freedom of Speech, then go elsewhere where your Means of Expression will be restricted according to your Taste.
Yet how unlikely are we to hear such Statements.
Firstly, the Muslim World seems much committed to the Notion that
there be no Criticism of their Religion. The Proof lies in the Fatwa
against Salman Rushdie, the Outrage generated by the Danish Cartoons,
the Suppression of a Speech by Pamela Geller, the recent murders in
Paris – and even – as noted yesterday – the variable Message sent by
Dalil Boubakeur, Rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris. That Message
called for an Abandonment Political Islam, yet retained the Notion that
the Justice System might be a Recourse for those offended by Cartoons.
In passing, we should note that Islam suffers in that it has no Pope – no single Leader who can interpret the Religion to its Followers. Rather, Islam has been "reformed" from an Era of judicious Interpretation to a Return to "Fundamentals" – the original Texts. Thus every fanatical Imam can go to a Text full of Exhortation to Intolerance, Hatred, and Murder, and promote the Insanity of his Choice.
We would like to think that North America represents a Bastion of Freedom of Speech.
But Mr. Obama is the One who blamed the Attack on Benghazi, not on the Perpetrators, but on a Video, Innocence of Muslims. It was the same Mr. Obama who said:
The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.
And here, in our own fair Land, our Commitment to Freedom of Speech is of a so-so, lukewarm, tepid half-heartedness.
Mr. Steyn and Mr. Levant were pursued by Human Rights Commissions for what appear to be Crimes of Blasphemy. Hate Speech Laws are still alive and well in many Provinces. The Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that Mr. Whatcott, in distributing Flyers opposing Homosexuality, was guilty of a Crime. In the same Year, a Comedian, Guy Earle was ordered to pay $15,000 for Insults to Lorna Pardy, a Lesbian who had Heckled him at a bar Performance. The Owner of the Restaurant had to pay $7,500 for failing to prevent the Incident.
Indeed, it has been speculated that a Magazine like Charlie Hebdo would have been quickly silenced had it appeared in Canada.
We must congratulate Mr. Aboutaleb.
Perhaps his Statement, and the Events in Paris on January 7 which prompted them, will lead to a more careful Assessment of those Matters which are of fundamental Importance in a free and democratic Society.
January 13, 2015
Last Evening, on The Source, our Attention was called to an Interview of Dalil Boubakeur, the Rector of the Great Mosque of Paris, by Christiane Amanpour. (CNN, January 12)
Mr. Boubakeur seemed to sound some welcome notes of Reason with Respect to the recent Attack and Murders at the Offices of the satirical French Magazine, Charlie Hebdo.
He called for a change in religious Thinking -- an Abandonment of "Political Islam"– which involves the Use of Violence. Rather, Islam should be a Religion of Peace and Tolerance, and Muslim Citizens would act in Accordance with the Ethics and Morals of the democratic Jurisdictions in which they may live.
Such Statements are most welcome, since it seems to us that, increasingly – in Canada – all Citizens are expected to conform to Muslim Principles.
Muslim Services are held in secular Schools. People are fearful of using the Words "Merry Christmas" for Fear of giving Offense. The Supreme Court of Canada has failed to uphold the Notion that those testifying in Court should be required to reveal their Faces. It would appear that Muslim Sentiment was instrumental in the Cancellation of a Speech by Pamela Geller – a Critic of Islam – in a Thornhill Synagogue in 2013.
It is said that the CBC has always declined to use the word "terrorist" with respect to Muslim Attacks. Recently they have justified their refusal to publish an Example of Hebdo Cartoons on the Grounds that their main Function is not to report the News, but to promote Tolerance of Islam, which holds that it is offensive to make Depictions of the Prophet.
Police Forces are in a Frenzy of politically Correct One-Upmanship in calling for Officers who will wear the Hijab. One wonders whether the "Uniform" is supposed to represent the Principles of the legal System, or the Principles of Islam.
Eric Brazau was recently held without Bail and subsequently sentenced
to a Year in Jail for criticizing Islam in a Subway Car. And Mr. Levant
was pursued by a Human Rights Commission over the Publication of the
Danish Cartoons in 2005. Yet, despite Evidence of Statements by Muslim
Imams that Unbelievers should be killed, no Muslim has been charged by a
Human Rights Commission.*
However, as welcome as are the Comments of Mr. Boubakeur, we must record that the Chasm between the secular and the Islamic Views of the World requires a longer, and more sturdy Bridge.
For Mr. Boubakeur, in admitting that Muslims might find satirical Cartoons offensive, suggested that their Recourse should be to the System of Justice, rather than to Violence.
While that Alternative is admittedly more benign, the Principle has remained unchanged: The Religion of Islam must not be mocked.
That is not good enough. Mockery, as we have often repeated, is the Guardian of Reason, the Enemy of Pretension, and the Mirror to Folly.** To hold – in Law --that some Things must not be mocked is to make a Crime of Blasphemy. Such Laws can only become convenient Weapons – either for the State – or for Individuals seeking personal Advantage. If one is not convinced by the theoretical Argument, one has only to look at the foul Mess of religious Folly which is Pakistan.
Mr. Boubakeur has suggested a promising Start – but he is a great Distance from understanding the Concept of Freedom of Speech.
*This is not to suggest we think that Human Rights Commissions are legitimate; we are simply pointing out what appears to be an Inconsistency in official Attitudes to those holding different Views of Religion.
** Observation #47
January 12, 2015
While it may not be appropriate in every venue, and on every occasion, mockery is the guardian of reason, the enemy of pretension, and the mirror to folly. No belief, no passion, no commitment should be considered immune from the acerbic test of ridicule. (Observation # 47)
We are intrigued to see – on the Sun News Website – the Content of an Email purportedly from Salah-Aldeen Khadr -- the English Network Editor for Al Jazreera -- to his Staff. His Perspective on the Matter of Free Speech reveals the Gulf between those for whom it is important, and those for whom it is not:
Was this really an attack on ‘Free speech'? Who is attacking free speech here exactly? Does an attack by 2_3 guys on a controversial magazine equate to a civilizational attack on European values..? Really?....
Well, yes, "an attack by 2-3 guys on a controversial magazine" is a "civilizational attack" when the stated Motive is Revenge inspired by Religion. The Gunmen were heard to exclaim, " Allahu akbar!," and a Video of some Portion of the Event showed Men shouting: "We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad. We have killed Charlie Hebdo!"
In Western Countries, it is no longer considered in good Taste to kill People because of religious Differences.
Mr. Khadr continues:
Danger in making this a free speech aka "European Values" under attack binary is that it once again constructs European identity in opposition to Islam (sacred depictions) and cements the notion of a European identity under threat from an Islamic retrograde culture of which the attackers are merely the violent tip of the iceberg.
It seems to us that this is an accurate Description of Fact. European Identity is in Opposition to the Notion that "sacred depictions" should be banned. Islamic Culture is in fact, retrograde. It harkens back to a View of Mankind which might have been understandable in the Seventh Century, but which, since that Time, has failed to produce scientific Advancement, or much Freedom or Convenience for those Countries in which it is a dominant Force.
Finally, from Mr. Khadr:
Defending freedom of expression in the face of oppression is one thing; insisting on the right to be obnoxious and offensive just because you can is infantile. Baiting extremists isn't bravely defiant when your manner of doing so is more significant in offending millions of moderate people as well. And within a climate where violent response _ however illegitimate _ is a real risk, taking a goading stand on a principle virtually no one contests is worse than pointless: it's pointlessly all about you.
Mr. Khadr, in classifying the Insistence on being offensive as "infantile," overlooks an important Fact. There is an enormous Difference between Someone complaining, in a rational Manner, of Insult who, perhaps, claims Mis-characterization, or Error – or who appeals to a Sense of Compassion, Kindness, or Bonhommie. It is quite another Matter if the one claiming Insult not only threatens Death, but can show Evidence of the Seriousness of that Intent.
Then, the Matter becomes one of important Principle: When Death is threatened for Ridicule, Ridicule becomes important to defend. To betray the Right to ridicule, is to brush an insidious Oil of Assent along the Edge of the Wedge of craven Superstition. If that Right is given up, then what Freedom will be next?
What is being demanded by the Islamists, is, in Effect, is Submission to an entire Way of Thinking and Believing -- a Way of Thinking and Believing, which, as we have pointed out, has been significantly ineffective in moving towards "the greatest happiness of the greatest number." The Word "Islam," in Fact means "Submission to the Will of God."
The "Will of God" is, of course, entirely a Matter of Conjecture and Supposition. Conjecture and Supposition also go by the Names of Fantasy, Superstition, Whimsy, Credulity, Stupidity, and Error.
Our Observation # 225 reads: Beware those who claim to know the "mind" of "God;" they are deluded or evil, fools or liars.
This is why the Murder of Cartoonists represents a Clash of Civilizations – and is not a Matter of " an attack by 2-3 guys on a controversial magazine." It is a Question of which should be triumphant in the Affairs of Mankind: Reason, or Superstitious Folly.
January 11, 2015
We are intrigued to see that Mr. Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, has put on his Cap of Solomon – his chapeau de sagesse infinie – to declare that the Murders of satirical French Cartoonists on January 7th had nothing to do with Religion.
Mr. Ki-moon said:
...this is not a country, a war against religion or between religions–it is not anything on religion or belief by somebody or some country. This is a purely unacceptable terrorist attack – criminality. (Breitbart.com., January 9)
This Sentiment has been echoed by François Hollande, the President of France who gave his Opinion – no Doubt after consulting the Oracle at Delphi –that:
Those who committed these acts have nothing to do with the Muslim religion.
We are led to wonder whether a certain elevated Ranking in the Fatuity Index is necessary before one may be elected Secretary-General of the United Nations or the President of France. We confess that we are uncertain about the Matter. In the Case of Mr. Ban Ki-moon, it is possible that his present Ranking is simply a Result of a Process of Osmosis occurring from his Submersion in the murky United Nations Context of bad Ideas and chronic Dysfunction.
As for Mr. Hollande, we know too little of French Politics and Culture to pronounce with any Authority. However, we would note that Mr. Hollande is reputed to be of the leftward Persuasion, which is traditionally characterized by bad Ideas and chronic Dysfunction.
When confronted by a nonsensical Idea, we sometimes feel compelled to make Sense out of it.
In this Case, we suppose the Argument must run thus:
(a) The Muslim Religion is entirely peaceful; there is no Justification anywhere in its Teachings for violent Jihad or being unkind to those who ridicule the Faith.
(b) Therefore, even though those who commit Murder claim, as their Justification, Revenge for Allah, their Motivation can have nothing to do with Religion.
(c) Thus, those committing such Acts fall into that great Category of Malefactors who commit Acts of Murder, Terror and Intimidation simply because they are bored, restless, dyspeptic – or, perhaps, suffer from some unaccountable and regrettable genetic Abnormality.
Hmmm. We think we detect a false Premise. Building Arguments on Premises which are unsound is like to lead to wobbly Structures. Wobbly Structures are not safe; entering them and making Pronouncements from the Upper Balcony is fraught with Danger. There is a real Possibility that the Balcony will give way, and that Declaimers will land, struggling in the Muck of Unintelligibility, and soon submerge in the Quicksands of Fatuous Folly.
As is our wont, we have consulted the Internet:
The Quran contains at least 109 verses that call Muslims to war with nonbelievers for the sake of Islamic rule. Some are quite graphic, with commands to chop off heads and fingers and kill infidels wherever they may be hiding. Muslims who do not join the fight are called 'hypocrites' and warned that Allah will send them to Hell if they do not join the slaughter.
Unlike nearly all of the Old Testament verses of violence, the verses of violence in the Quran are mostly open-ended, meaning that they are not restrained by the historical context of the surrounding text. They are part of the eternal, unchanging word of Allah, and just as relevant or subjective as anything else in the Quran. (The Religion of Peace.com.)
Here are just a few of those Verses:
Quran (3:56) _ "As to those who reject faith, I will punish them with terrible agony in this world and in the Hereafter, nor will they have anyone to help."
Quran (4:89) _ "They but wish that ye should reject Faith, as they do, and thus be on the same footing (as they): But take not friends from their ranks until they flee in the way of Allah (From what is forbidden). But if they turn renegades, seize them and slay them wherever ye find them; and (in any case) take no friends or helpers from their ranks."
Quran (5:33) _ "The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His messenger and strive to make mischief in the land is only this, that they should be murdered or crucified or their hands and their feet should be cut off on opposite sides or they should be imprisoned; this shall be as a disgrace for them in this world, and in the hereafter they shall have a grievous chastisement"
Quran (8:12) _ "I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them"
Quran (9:123) _ "O you who believe! fight those of the unbelievers who are near to you and let them find in you hardness."
Yes, we think that we have discovered a false Premise. The Violence of Murderers seems permitted by the Religion of Peace.
We would suggest that a Failure to recognize the Enemy, an overpowering Desire to see Sweetness and Light where Darkness and Destruction hold Sway, is unlikely to lead to a vanquishing of Darkness and Destruction.
Rather, it would seem that the Success of the Enemy is thereby ensured.
Mr. Ban Ki-moon and M. Francois Hollande have a Deficiency of Vision. They cannot apprehend the Reality of the Darkness which surrounds them; a Pane of clear, unblemished Glass does not suit their Fancy. Rather, their Focus is on the pretty Colours and Patterns of a hopeful Kaleidoscope which they hold, with an Element of desperate Determination, before their unsettled Eye.
January 8, 2015
There is, this Day, only one Topick upon which we can comment: the Attack by religious Barbarians on the Offices of Charlie Hebdo, and the Murder of Twelve People.
There is a Sense in which this Attack has been invited by the previous Appeasement in Western Democracies. Confronted by those with a Determination to take Offence at any Slight to their Religion, and to employ Violence to make a Measure of their Sense of Outrage, Many in the West have decided that Discretion is the better Part of Valour.
It is a Clash of Cultures. On the one Hand, we have some primitive Cultures based on Submission to the Dictates of a Religion developed in the Seventh Century, a Religion which, to a far greater Degree than Christianity, has rejected both the Scientific Advancements of the intervening Period, and the Movement towards a System of Governance based, not on Superstition, but on the Will of the People governed.
The "Reformation" of Islam – the harsher Aspects of which were often modified in the Past by Interpretation by religious Leaders for a less literate Population – has not resulted in a more enlightened View of the human Condition – but, rather – in an increased literacy uninformed by enhanced Judgment -- a Return to the actual Texts of the Koran and the Hadith.
In those Texts are to be found Justification for Killing of Unbelievers, Death for Apostasy, and the harsh Vindictiveness of Sharia Law.
On the other Hand, we have a Culture, which, in many Respects is more realistic and advanced, but which also suffers from significant Misconceptions. It is a Culture, not mired in the Primitivism of the Seventh Century, but mesmerized by the Twenty-First Century Possibilities of Nirvana – a Shangri-la of Equality and universal Bonhomie in which no one is to be offended, challenged, or allowed a momentary Hiatus in the Enjoyment of a Cornucopia of Contentment.
At the Banquet, how does the Aesthete, schooled in the Niceties of the correct Choice of Fork, and preoccupied with the Murmurings about the latest Human Rights Commission Ruling against Belching in Public, respond to the Barbarian, armed with a Rifle, making loud slurping Noises in the Enjoyment of his Soup?
The Answer is: with a refined Tolerance bordering on Stupidity.*
As Mr. Levant noted last Evening on The Source, when the Publication of the satirical Danish Cartoons in 2005 sparked Riots of Outrage among Muslims, scarcely any Newspaper dared to reprint them.
After all, it is hardly polite to offend those so easily offended.
But the Message sent is that Intimidation works.
Indeed, in our own Country – where it is the Fashion to favour certain Groups over others – Environmentalists, Natives, and Occupiers over ordinary Citizens -- Women over Men -- Tenants over Landlords – Doctors over Patients – Whiners over the Silent – Slackers over the Industrious – the Followers of Islam are accorded special Treatment, handled with Gloves stuffed with Down and encased in the Billowing Softness of a Fluffiness of Cloud.
The CBC, we are told, will not use the Word "Terrorist" in its News Reports, preferring the more neutral Term "Militant." According to Mr. Levant, the Corporation is now starting to refer to "The Prophet Muhammad" – suggesting an Agreement with his Prophetorial Status – akin to saying "Our Lord Jesus Christ."
Mr. Levant, who did publish the Cartoons in 2005, was pursued by a Human Rights Commission Prosecution for Nine Hundred Days. His cost of Defence was $100,000. This is simply the Government of Canada validating Muslim Sensitivity.
In spite of the Fact that Imams have pronounced prejudicially towards
Unbelievers, no Muslim has ever been Prosecuted by a Human Rights
Commission. For Example, consider this Paragraph about, Imam Al-Hayiti,
a Montreal Salafist Imam:
Al-Hayiti had written that Allah has taught that "If the Jews, Christians, and [Zoroastrians] refuse to answer the call of Islam, and will not pay the jizyah [tax], then it is obligatory for Muslims to fight them if they are able." Christianity, in particular, was denounced as a "religion of lies," which is responsible for the West's "perversity, corruption and adultery." Al-Hayiti's book refers to "the incredible number of gays and lesbians (may Allah curse and destroy them in this life and the next) who sow disorder upon the Earth and who desire to increase their numbers." (Wikipedia)
The Human Rights Commission refused to consider the Case. We cannot say for certain, but we suspect that had anyone else suggested that Islam was "a religion of lies," or that Followers of Islam be cursed and destroyed – the Commission would have acted with an enthusiastic Alacrity.
In 2013, Police appeared to pressure a Thornhill Rabbi to cancel a Speech by Pamela Geller scheduled at his Synagogue. Ms Geller is a noted Critic of Islam. A Police Spokesman, Inspector Veerappan declared:
If he had not cancelled the event – and again, that was his decision – then we would have had to re-evaluate his relationship with York Regional Police because it would be clearly be in contravention of the values of our organization. (National Post, May 2, 2013)
Finally, we should refer to the Case of Eric Brazau. Mr Brazau was not allowed Bail, and has now been sentenced to a Year in Prison through the Solomonic Wisdom of Judge Gerald Lapkin. Mr. Brazau engaged in a Condemnation of Islam on a Streetcar in Toronto, and a concerned Passenger stopped the Train. Mr. Brazau was convicted of Breach of the Peace, Causing a Disturbance, and Breach of Probation on an earlier Hate-mongering Conviction. (National Post, January 6).
In adding a Weapons Ban in sentencing Mr. Brazau, the Solomonic Gerald Lapkin pronounced that "Language can be a weapon too, Mr. Brazau."
Outside our Country, we should note that the Shooting Rampage of Major Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood in 2009 – accompanied by the Shouting "Allahu Akbar" – was termed an Example of "Workplace Violence."
And, as we noted Yesterday, Mr. Obama, in condemning the Film Innocence of Muslims, which he erroneously claimed as responsible for the Attack on Benghazi in 2012, pronounced that "The future must not belong to those who slander the Prophet of Islam."
The Suggestion is that the Prophet of Islam deserves some special Protection, and that Freedom of Speech should suffer some special Restriction when dealing with this particular Religion.
We note that there has been an outpouring of Outrage over the Murders of the French Journalists, with many declaring, with Signs: "Je suis Charlie."
But this is Statement more careful and muted than what is required. Surely what should have happened in 2005 should happen now: all Western Newspapers should publish Charlie Hebdo Cartoons deemed offensive to Muslims – because they are Part of the News.
It won’t happen,** of course, because it would cause some to be offended. We’re too polite for that. Our Time is better spent choosing the Fork deemed the most correct and fitting at the Banquet. We do hope the Caviar is Almas, and the Champagne Piper Heidsiek, 2002.
**In Fact, we understand that the Danish Newspaper Berlingske and the Italian Corriere della Sera plan to publish such Cartoons.
January 7, 2015
We are not surprised at the News that Mr. Obama is determined to block Approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline. (National Post, January 7)
Mr. Obama has, over the Years, found every Excuse for his Determination. We have been told that Due Process must run its Snail-inspired Course, that the Pipeline would be used for Export, and benefit only Canadians, and that encouraging the Development of Oil Sands would contribute to Greenhouse Gasses.
In Fact, a State Department Report in 2014 found no significant environmental Objections to the Pipeline. Russ Girling, the President of TransCanada Corporation, has pointed out the economic Unlikelihood of shipping Oil to Gulf Coast Refineries, and then paying again to ship it overseas. Finally, Oil Sands Oil would only replace Oil from other, less careful and friendly Jurisdictions; Gas Emissions – even assuming that they are relevant – would be unaffected.
The Fact is that Mr. Obama has made a political and emotional Commitment to Climate Alarmism. He cannot be seen to betray his symbolic Stance.
We have a grudging Admiration for Mr. Obama.
We cannot remember any other political Figure so admirable in Consistency. Mr. Obama has been wrong on virtually every Matter on which he has acted or pronounced.
Mr. Obama was the Man who declared Peace with the Muslim World in Cairo in 2009. He indicated that America didn’t stand for any Values in particular, and what other Countries wished to do would not risk any Disapprobation on his Part.
The Middle East responded accordingly, and is now in an unprecedented State of Prosperity, Peace, and Contentment.
Mr. Obama claimed that the Attack on Benghazi in 2012 was the Result of a Film, The Innocence of Muslims, rather than a deliberate terrorist Act. He later said that the Future should not belong to those who would slander the Prophet of Islam, raising some Question about his Commitment to the Notion of Freedom of Speech.
Mr. Obama thinks Society is best served by an active – probably all-embracing -- Government. Although the Rise of the United States has been built on Notions of Freedom, Initiative, and Entrepreneurship, Mr. Obama has opined – famously – that: If you've got a business—you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. So much for Initiative: it is a Chimera.
In his Attempt to Launch his Plan for Health Care, Mr. Obama was "economical with the Truth" in stating that Citizens could keep their existing Doctors and Plans.
In 2012, Mr. Obama declared a "Red line" on the Matter of Syrian use of chemical Weapons:
We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized.
Yet, when the "Red Line" was crossed in 2013, Mr. Obama did Nothing – except allow Mr. Putin take the Initiative in claiming that he would ensure the Syrians gave up their chemical Weapons. It seems likely that this Show of Weakness on the Part of Mr. Obama emboldened Mr. Putin in his Annexation of Crimea in 2014.
Mr. Obama withdrew from Iraq in 2012 for Reasons of Appearance rather than Prudence. He wished to claim Kudos for ending the War just in Time for the Elections. This Move appears to have allowed ISIS to bring its own Version of Peace and Prosperity to the Region.
Mr. Obama recently (November, 2014) achieved a much-ballyhooed "Landmark" Deal with China on Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Mr. Obama agreed to cut back Emissions about 26% by 2025, and the Chinese agreed to keep on their present Path of Emissions until 2030.
In dealing with Iran, in 2013, Mr. Obama lifted economic Sanctions in Return for the Iranian Agreement to continue the Operation of some significant Number of enriching Centrifuges. Final Agreements seem to be continually pushed on into the Future, allowing Iran to do whatever it thinks is appropriate while Negotiations continue.
Indeed, in Mr.Obama’s Dictionary of Foreign Engagement, the Terms "Negotiation" and "Appeasement" are exactly synonymous.
In Short, Mr. Obama seems to be the most anti-American President conceivable. At a NATO conference in 2009, he made this Statement about America’s Role in the World:
I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.
With all that being said, we think that Mr. Obama – when he leaves the Oval Office – should be given a comfortable House on a Golf Course, with a Lifetime Supply of Balls. It would be arranged that he appear at least once a Week on a Late Night Television Show. In Return, Mr. Obama would be expected to give his Opinion on all important Political and Foreign Policy Matters of the Day.
This Arrangement would be of incalculable Benefit to the Nation. Since Mr. Obama has such an unmatched, consistent Record of Failure, it would only be necessary for the incumbent Government to take the diametrically opposite View, and act accordingly.
Through this clever Stratagem, we have little Doubt that the United States of America would progress from Height to Height, and gain some significant Measure of its former Prominence in the World.
January 6, 2015
Western societies are engaged in a slow, determined march from liberty to security. (Observation # 195)
Most will give up an acre of freedom for a closet of security. (Observation #279)
We see that our Citizens are under an increasing Threat from the dastardly Enterprise of Tobogganing.
Behold the Toboggan – a simple Device shaped and constructed of Wood which allows the Enthusiast to descend snowy Hills with greater Rapidity than can be afforded by the Use of original Equipment – the Legs.
But, as harmless as it may appear, motionless and quiescent in its storage Habitat – the Basement or the Garage – it is capable, when allowed free Rein on a wintry Hill, of causing great Injury. Seven People were killed in Canada between 2003 and 2007 as a Result of their Engagements with the insidious Device. (National Post, January 4)
This Fact, combined with the Rise in litigious Sensibility, has led many Municipalities to ban the Toboggan. The City of Hamilton – where the Lumpenbangen Studios are located – was required to pay a Lawyer, Bruno Uggenti, $900,000 after he suffered a spinal Injury at a Toboggan Run.
Other Cities, such as Dubuque, Des Moines, Montville, Lincoln, and Columbia City are taking Steps to restrict or ban the dangerous Practice.
We admit that we occasionally made use of a Toboggan – in the Foolishness of our Youth – at the Campus of Western University in London, Ontario.
But Times have changed. The Days of careless Freedom, the Days of ignorant Flirting with Disaster, are long behind us.
Kenneth Bond, a Lawyer in New York who represents local Governments has aptly summed up the Matter:
Most people realize that cities must restrict potentially dangerous activities to protect people and guard against costly lawsuits. In the past, people might have embraced a Wild West philosophy of individuals being solely responsible for their actions, but now they expect government to prevent dangers whenever possible.
The Search for Security moves less like a Toboggan, and more like a Snowball down the Slope of Civilization. When Life was not very secure at all, and Death and Injury were commonplace Events, the Dangers of Tobogganing, or Slipping on Sidewalks, or Being hit by a Baseball in the Schoolyard were hardly worthy of Note. But the more Security we obtain, the more noticeable becomes the Lack of it. The Desire for Security, like the Snowball rolling downhill, feeds upon itself, and grows larger with every Turning.
With every gain in Security, of course, there is some Loss of Liberty. We move from the Freedom of the Savannah to the Security of the Hive.
The Bees, of course, are Insects, which appear to operate as if following a computer Program. Perhaps the Day is not too far off when human Beings will be implanted with a computing Device which will not only track their Movements and Interactions with the State Health Department, but steer them away from Behaviour which is risky or anti-social.
We were going to point out that the Injuries from Tobogganing pale in Comparison with those arising from Driving an Automobile, or Walking on the Street. Then we remembered that one of the newest new Things is the Self-Driving Automobile. Can the programmed Driver be that far behind?
We hear, in the Distance, a soothing, pleasant Sound. It is like the Buzz from a sunlit Meadow, the Sound of an untroubled Busyness, a quiet Emanation from the Home Sweet Home of the Hive.
January 4, 2015
We have learned of a forthcoming Book – to be published in February – entitled The Apostates: When Muslims leave Islam. The Author is Simon Cottee, a senior Lecturer in Criminology at Kent University in England.
It is well-known that Islam does not look kindly upon those who are not Believers, and, in some Muslim Countries, Apostasy -- the Transition from Believer to Non-Believer – is a Crime for which Death is considered an appropriate Penalty.
It is not, therefore, surprising, that even in Western Countries, Muslims who question the religious Beliefs to which they have been exposed through an Accident of Birth, are not showered with Smiles of Approbation, or congratulated on their Sense of sturdy Independence. Hallmark, as we understand, has yet to provide Cards to mark the Occasion -- of Good Wishes – or even of Condolence, or Hopes for a speedy Recovery.
Mr. Cottee interviewed Thirty-Five former Muslims in Britain and Canada for his Book; in an Article in the National Post (January 2) he describes Three living in Canada.
What emerges is a Picture of great Difficulty for those of independent Mind.
"Halim," 18, a Student of Biology, has retained conservative Dress, but no longer fasts or prays, and has almost forgotten the Koran which she once knew by Heart. She is quoted as saying: "I just couldn’t agree with most of the stuff – especially with the treatment of women – that got me out of Islam."
Under pressure to marry a man from Yemen in his mid-fifties, she escaped, by Subterfuge, to a Shelter for Women. Her Father, a religious Leader who once burned her Hand because he thought she had torn a Page – we assume it was a Page from the Koran – has warned: "Come home – or you’ll regret it."
Zain, 27, who concluded "there really isn’t any defence" for Religion was, at the Age of 19, taken to Pakistan so that an Imam could cleanse him of the evil Spirit which was prompting him to marry outside the Faith. When he did marry, his Parents were shunned by other family Members.
What is shown here, we believe, is that the weakest Arguments always require the most vigorous and spirited Defence. Those Things which are most readily apprehended, and have a Justification in Evidence and Experience, are seldom enforced by the Threat of Death and social Ostracism. No Laws are passed enforcing a Belief in the Theory of Relativity, or the Three Times Table.
The Beliefs most strongly enforced are those which have no Basis in Reality. Christianity – with the Inquisition – showed exactly the same fanatical Defence of the Indefensible.
The Question then becomes – Why? Why is it so important for People to believe the Unbelievable?
While we admit that there is a certain Comfort to be gained from religious Belief – there is usually the Promise of an Afterlife for the Faithful -- and while there is also a concomitant Factor of Fear of Retribution for the Unbeliever – we believe that there is more to the Phenomenon.
Indeed, we have a Theory.
It is this.
Irrational Belief is a unifying Factor for the Tribe. Rational Belief is too easy*; it doesn’t count. Irrational Belief is difficult, and it counts a lot. Belief in the Unbelievable is a Measure of the Degree of Submission of the Members of the Tribe. The Intellect is sacrificed to the Myth; the Myth is the Life Force, and, in a Sense, the Power of the Tribe.
The sillier the Myth, the greater the Sacrifice that is required to believe in it. The greater the Sacrifice the more powerful is shown to be the Tribe. Religious Commitment is, in the End, a Barometer of tribal Control.
As more is learned about the real World, Myths become more and more difficult to believe. In our own Lifetime, we have seen the Power of Christianity wane.
The old Certainties, exposed to the Light of Reason, have become more and more difficult to defend. We have Contraception, Abortion, Sunday Shopping, and Gay Marriage. Legalization of assisted Suicide is being contemplated. Quebec has had the Temerity to suggest that it is inappropriate for Government Employees to wear religious Symbols at Work. Graduates of Trinity Western University – who make a great Fuss over their Belief that Marriage is a "sacred" bond between a Man and a Woman -- are facing Difficulty in being accepted as Lawyers in some Jurisdictions.
In these last two Cases, there has been a Backlash from the Tribal Elders – but we have some Hope that Religion in Government and in the legal System will find its true Place.
That Place -- as we have noted elsewhere – is mere Inches from the Unicorn Shed.
Islam is a Religion as yet untamed by Reason.
If we have a Faith – it is the Faith that, ultimately, Man’s
rational Mind, informed by Evidence and Observation of how the real
World actually functions – will restrict the Power of Religion to
control our Lives. Myths are interesting, romantic Tales; sometimes they
contain symbolic Truths. But sometimes they are mere Nonsense. It is the
rational Mind which must be the final Arbiter of that Distinction.
*It is too "easy" in the Sense that it does not require a Suppression of independent Thought. From the Perspective of the Tribe, such Suppression is, with Difficulty, engineered through Fear, and is a measure of Loyalty. One might argue that, from the Perspective of the Individual, Rationality is also difficult, because independent Thought does not provide the emotional Comfort of Thinking with the Tribe. Perhaps the only Hope for Civilization lies in aligning its tribal Myths more closely with Reality. Recent Events -- as noted above -- give some Grounds for Optimism. But the Requirement is of some Magnitude: Reality is often blunt and uncompromising; it tells us Things we would prefer not to hear.