Sunday, March 24, 2013

My Personal Response to Nina Waste

Nina Waste isn't exactly a household name in Canada. She's one of the co-founders of the Idle No More "movement."

In the realization that the "movement" she started is dying, she recently issued this plea via Facebook:

"I know it has been a long hard four months...but we need you...we need the messengers...the ones who love this land and water, and want it safe and clean and pure....the farmers, the unions, the educators, the poets, the writers, the singers, the artists, environmentalists, the settlers, and all allies....we need you....i know it is so very hard to understand our differences, our divides, the hurtful and shameful legacies....we have both been fooled and we have been weapons against one this time we need you, as we have never needed you speak tell the world, that we are in deep crisis...that the Indigenous people are real ppl, with real lives, real loves for our generations coming, ...we are not our statistics, we are not our violence, our poverty, we are not invisible....your your the demise of a people...."

 Unlike far too many Idle No More activists I can't pretend to speak for anyone other than myself, so I won't even pretend to. The following response is from my self and myself alone, and it is as follows:

"Hello, Nina. Guess what? Idle No More is over. It's dead. And if you really want to know what killed it, it's this:

You insisted on trying to build Idle No More as an Occupy-esque movement, effectively with no leadership. As a movement, Idle No More failed to put down any foundations. It allowed any and every douchebag with an axe to grind to come along and speak as a member of the movement, and speak on its behalf. And in doing so it allowed a lot of people to hijack it.

Which doesn't actually undermine what the movement could stand for if those hijacking it were willing to allow it to. Aboriginal peoples in Canada face a lot of problems, and it would probably stun a lot of those associating themselves with Idle No More to learn that we want to see those problems solved. We want to see a better life for aboriginal people in Canada.

Here's the problem: Idle No More has gone out of its way to ensure that there can be absolutely no dialogue regarding how these problems can be solved. They seem to insist on a monologue: on solutions dictated by them. Which would be one thing entirely, if we all didn't have to live side-by-side as neighbours. But we do.

No one wants to see the demise of Canada's First Nations. But there are plenty of people who want to see the suffering continue, not out of malice per se, but simply because the suffering of your people gives them a soapbox they can stand on which they otherwise would not have. They pretend to be your allies, but the only power they have is in ensuring that the suffering of your people continues indefinitely. And they are the loudest voices opposing the necessary dialogue. Like any good villain, they simply want to monologue.

To conclude, what I'm saying is this: talk to us. Don't talk at us. Have a conversation with us. so we can find these solutions together. Until you can find it in yourselves to do that there can be no solutions."

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Peter Penashue -- Doing What Ruth-Ellen Brosseau Wouldn't

If you've taken note of what the left-wing is saying about the resignation of Intergovernmental Affairs Minister and Labrador MP Peter Penashue today, my advice is: don't.

But if you must, keep this in mind. amidst all of the howls of "scandal" is a little detail that the left -- particularly the NDP -- don't want you to realize. That detail being that Penashue's resignation in light of the apparent improper donation actually puts him on an ethical plateau lightyears above and beyond anything that the left -- particularly the NDP have themselves attained.

Indeed, Penashue has resigned as Labrador MP. The donation accepted by a campaign volunteer apparently should not have been accepted, and he's doing the right thing. He's also standing in a by-election for reelection. (This also has the left infuriated.) And in doing this he's only doing what the left -- especially the NDP -- themselves would not do.

Let\s rewind the clock a little bit to the days immediately following the 2011 federal election, when Berthier--Maskinongé MP Ruth-Ellen Brosseau made headlines for two reasons: first, she somehow managed to get elected despite spending most of the election in Las Vegas. Secondly -- and far more importantly -- the nomination papers her campaign submitted to Elections Canada featured falsified signatures.

It's illegal to submit any kind of false document to Elections Canada. But not only did Brosseau see fit to take her seat in Parliament rather than do what Penashue did and resign to stand in a by-election, but the NDP caucus gave her a standing ovation for doing so. That is just how untroubled the NDP was abut the chicanery surrounding her campaign.

Like Penashue, Brosseau herself was not responsible. This was the fault of a campaign volunteer. And while the acceptance of this apparently-improper donation can still be chalked up to a volunteer who didn't know the rules -- although the question must be raised about just why such a volunteer would be allowed anywhere near the fundraising arm of the campaign -- there is absolutely no question that the falsification of the fabricated signatures on Brosseau's nomination papers was deliberate. None whatsoever.

So the left may crow about the resignation of Peter Penashue as much as they want. It doesn't change the fact that all he's done is what the left themselves will never do: actually take responsibility for a mistake, be it his or someone else's.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Tom Flanagan Shows Why Idle No More Will Be the Death of Anything It Touches

Is Idle No More really still a thing? Really?

For the moment, let's take their word for it and pretend that it is -- even though this so-called "movement" is obviously dead as a door nail. Anyone who encounters an Idle No More activist in nearly any context ought to tread very, very carefully. Idle No More has been out to be the death of anything or anyone it touches. If you need any proof of this, look no further than Tom Flanagan.

In an understandably-combative interview with Macleans magazine, Flanagan manages to do something quite remarkable. It doesn't seem like he really means to, but he actually manages to pinpoint just why the Idle No More movement is so utterly toxic, not only to race relations in Canada, but to anything and anyone it reaches out and touches.

To whit:

"I was posing a question. And that was the wrong way to go about it in that forum. But in the classroom, I would pose the question the same way again. I’d say, 'What’s the harm?' And the student would say, 'You’re building a market for it.' And I’d say, 'Yeah, that’s a harm,' and dialectically, we’d go somewhere together."

Therein lies the rub. From actually watching the video of the interaction, one thing becomes crystal clear: this particular individual was unequivocally not trying to go anywhere with Flanagan, dialectically or otherwise. Regardless of whether or not Flanagan's detractors are willing to admit to it -- and it's clear that the sheer bombast of their malicious triumphalism has backed them into a corner where can't afford to admit to it -- it very much was a trap. The individual in question was trying to draw Flanagan into saying something that could be used to destroy him. Then they attempted precisely that feat. Whether or not they actually succeeded remains to be seen.

Later in the interview, Flanagan notes that the response to his comments has already worried many academics across the country. Suddenly, the prospect of an angry student attempting to tear them down by similarly trapping them may well become a more enticing idea, now that it's already been done. The chill, as it were, is in.

This is where it becomes necessary to consider the petty triumphalism of certain Idle No More-linked "academics." Suddenly, the apparent disgrace of Flanagan has spared them the hard work of having to lock horns with him over ideas. Ever eager to take such shortcuts -- and desperately in need of them because they aren't capable of it -- such individuals have apparently not spared a single thought for what such an academic chill might mean for them.

There are certainly various reasons for it. They've seemingly managed to convince themselves that their fringe ideas are in vogue in academia, and so no statement they could make, regardless of how outrageous -- and frequently racially-charged -- could be seen as so.

But really that's neither the long nor short of it. In reality, these individuals are not real academics at all. They're bullies who have donned the guise of the professional egghead. They see academia as nothing more than another schoolyard, and even if Idle No More were able to destroy academia as a whole, as opposed to merely diminishing it, they'd just find themselves another playground to rampage in.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Hey Rabblers and Babblers: Lookie What I Found

Who doesn't love a good pile-on? I'm not sure I have the answer to that question. But I'll tell you who does love a good pile-on:

In the days since Tom Flanagan's outrageous comments on child pornography, many Rabble commentators have taken it upon themselves to gloat about it. Flanagan has since explained his comments -- an explanation that I find satisfactory only to degrees -- something that the pile-on artists at Rabble will certainly ignore.

You would almost think that on the subject of child pornography was pure as the driven snow. If you actually believed this, you might have been stunned to stumble upon this on their "Babble" forum, as I did:
It's hard to say what's more stunning about this: the paranoid idea that legislating against child pornography is a means of indirectly targeting the LGBT community, or the tacit suggestion in these comments that it's a-OK for the LGBT community to depict children sexually, even if that were something especially prevalent within that community. Personally, I severely doubt that it is.

Certainly, it could be argued that Rabble isn't responsible for everything posted on its forums. Personally, I wouldn't accept that argument -- it's well-known that Rabble moderators can be downright stormtrooper-ish when expunging anyone who doesn't slavishly share their personal views.

So is Rabble soft on child pornography? Soft on producers? Based on the comments above, it may seem that it depends on who they think is producing it.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Two Faces of L'Affair Tom Flanagan

Did you hear? University of Calgary political scientist Tom Flanagan said something abominable.

He really did.

It's been enough to sever his ties with the Conservative Party of Canada, the Wildrose Alliance Party, and the CBC. It's also been enough to put him on leave from the University of Calgary.

In a sense, it's all justifiable. But there's also more to it than those braying most loudly about it -- the left -- are saying.

First off, here's what they're unquestionably right about: what Flanagan said was truly awful. More than anything, it was truly idiotic. Looking at child pornography is not really a victimless crime. Possession of it is prohibited for an and obvious excellent reason. For most people, this goes without saying, mostly because the reasons are so utterly and perfectly self-evident.

Flanagan is entitled to his opinion, and there is even an argument for it, even if that argument is incorrect. Yet it's an argument that could, from time to time, be heard from a libertarian. The argument, as Flanagan presents it, is that the act of looking at child pornography does not itself harm anyone. So as such, it does no good to punish someone for the mere possession of child pornography.

Right? Right?


To make this argument is to overlook the fact that the consumption of child pornography is reflective of the demand for child pornography. Flanagan is certainly enough of an economist to know that demand drives supply.Ergo, the consumption of child pornography directly encourages the sexual abuse of children by creating the demand for it. Separating the harm done by the producers from the appetites of the consumers is where Flanagan's argument meets its ultimate moral failure.

So is the Canadian left -- who despise Flanagan as they despise few others -- at liberty to condemn him? Certainly, they are. Are they in any position to?

Actually, no.

As it turns out, Flanagan's argument in opposition to the punishment is not that different than the one that the left frequently applies to drug users: that the use of drugs shouldn't be punished. The use of drugs harms no one aside from the user. This is the portion of the argument that they share with libertarians. But the left takes it one step further: that the user is themselves also a victim, and so should be largely excused from any criminal sanction.

But is a drug user any more insulated from the harm associated with the production of their product than is the user of child pornography? At least in terms of hard drug users, they can't. People are often killed by the cartels that produce hard drugs. They aren't above using slave labour. Those locals who they cannot buy off with a few baubles live under a state of constant intimidation.

So if the child pornography user is not insulated from the harm their product does, nor should hard drug users. Yet we provide safe injection sites for drug addicts in the name of "harm reduction." We certainly don't provide pedophiles with access to previously-existing child pornography in the name of preventing the continuing harm of children. Nor should we.

So is the left justified in the sheer bombast of their outrage over Flanagan's remarks? I don't think so. When you look at what Tom Flanagan has to say about child pornography -- as wrong as it is -- it isn't all that different than what the left says about drugs.

Of course, they gain no rhetorical advantage whatsoever from that. So of course they'll never admit it.