On the eve of International Women’s Day, allow imagery to speak my mind –
On the eve of International Women’s Day, allow imagery to speak my mind –
Pakistan 2007, Jamila Bibi was accused of adultery. Accusations stemmed from a land dispute – land awarded to Bibi – property her husband’s family wanted. Outraged family members accused Bibi of adultery – in Pakistan, morality under Sharia Law trumps all else. Ponder hard line Islamic fundamentalists as extreme right wing Christians on steroids – self proclaimed keepers of the faith oblivious to proof, reason, fact or human rights – the punishment for adultery is “stoning”.
Based solely on the word of disgruntled relatives, authorities in Pakistan arrested Bibi. Released from jail in 2007 pending judgement – Bibi fled to Canada, claiming refugee status. In 2011 a deportation order followed denial of her refugee claim – the order placed in temporary limbo by the United Nations when her Lawyer asked the UN to intervene. The UN said it needed time to review the case.
For the next 22 months, Bibi went to work at a restaurant in Saskatoon, reported dutifully to authorities and waited for a UN ruling. Apparently Canada had little interest in reviews by the UN Committee Against Torture – by the time her Lawyer received a copy of the judgement enforcing immediate deportation, Bibi had been arrested by Canadian authorities – 5 days later Canada put her on a plane to Pakistan with $183 dollars in her pocket.
“Stonings” are legal in 14 Islamic countries. According to a Washington Post article published in May of this year (linked below) – 943 women in 2011, 869 in 2013 – were killed to restore “honor” to their families. Courts rarely bother with the minor details of murder for honor, preferring to look away as families dispatch horrific ends to innocent lives.
Jamila Bibi doesn’t know her date of birth, the assumption being her early 60’s. Her brave decision to flea Pakistan, escape death in the name of “honor” for greedy people capable of getting away with murder, and hopes of politely living out the rest of her days – callously shredded by a Canada oblivious to human rights.
Shame on you Canada. This Canadian is appalled by your lack of regard for the United Nations, ludicrous justification, and embarrassing demonstration of absurdity. The country I’m proud of wouldn’t hesitate in protecting a terrified sixty something woman from sanctioned torture. What happened to common sense? On what planet did she threaten the fabric of our nation?
I hope you’re proud of yourself Canada. Take a long hard look at the face of the “adulterous prostitute” you sent to meet “justice”. Pat yourself on the back – your asinine decision solidified this Canadian”s resolve to campaign for a country without Harper at the helm. Any decent Canadian would have done the right thing – shame on you Canada.
Canadian Border Services refused comment on details of individual cases – the court “removal order” stated in part….
“The applicant has not presented evidence before this court that could support a finding that she will face risks if she is removed to Pakistan that have not been already assessed on two occasions (by immigration officials),” Justice Marie-Josee Bedard wrote.
“Therefore, and considering that the applicant’s allegation of irreparable harm is based on risks, she has not met her evidentiary burden.”
As of June 26, 2014 the United Nations officially recognized same sex unions between any of their 43,000 employees, regardless of legal status in the employees country of origin. Of the 192 UN member countries, same sex marriage has legal status in a paltry 18. Undaunted, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon boldly epitomized everything the United Nations stands for – the protection of human rights for all people.
Countries like Uganda, who passed a law in February requiring imprisonment for life greet any citizen caught in same sex union, or Dominica in the Caribbean where not only a maximum sentence of 25 years, but psychiatric “therapy” is deemed appropriate – I won’t hold my breath thinking you’ll figure this out any time soon. Likewise the Middle East, Africa, or Putin’s Russia.
Regardless, this is a monumental step for the rights of all people. It may not be in my lifetime, but one day history will acknowledge the UN for the message delivered to purveyors of asinine tyranny around the world.
I had an idea, far from claiming it original or earth shattering; just a thought crossing my mind. One of those little moments of clarity, akin to that instant when Algebra makes sense or you understand “cereal box French” – for the first time in your life not having to flip to the English side.
I’m still bargaining with “promise” – I assured her I wouldn’t write about religion. Promises born of good intent are common – minuscule snippets of idea arrive when least expected. My apologies for a flippant promise – little ideas will trump every time.
Worn to my last nerve at the thought of defending my “Godless” views, sick of the label Atheist, and steadfast in belief that religion will be the death of us all – I had an idea. Instead of the “Godless” patting themselves on the back for cleverly debunking the faithful; they need to organize and form a recognized “religion”. Before fundamentalist Atheists vow to jump down my throat – hear me out. We pride ourselves on analytical thinking, minds open to possibilities and truth. The truth is – this idea has some merit.
Like it or not our world is based on religious bias. Values such as freedom of speech and religion become contentious when a segment of society is deemed void of religion. The Godless can justify their position till blue in the face – truth is, nothing less than official recognition will level the playing field. If the Godless stepped down from their fortified positions, organized, put their minds to good use and refused to take the bait dangled by fundamentalists mouth pieces – think of all the good we could do.
Wouldn’t irony rule the day if the Godless behaved with dignity, respect, inclusion and charity? How perfect would it be to exhibit virtues so many faithful overlook in their rabid agenda to eradicate the Godless?
No one will win a pissing match of egos, intellect, common sense or values. I’m tired of the game. A proposal to change the rules – more accurately a “game changer” set in motion by tactical planning aimed at putting an end to the madness strikes me as a refreshing summer rain. Forming a “religion” isn’t hypocritical – it’s smart, decisive, and pivotal towards getting on with more important issues. Granted, the Godless might have to choose something to “worship”. I say – suck it up people, look at the big picture. Maybe we could worship “seeds”, the implications could vastly alter genetic modifications if we put our minds to it.
I could care less if my neighbour was waiting for the rapture or a reincarnated soul from the planet Xenu. As long as they don’t shove it down my throat, making the world a better place should come easily. It wouldn’t be difficult to find a qualifying niche. The link below is for the IRS rules regarding tax exempt/ non profit religious status. Following is an excerpt regarding the validity of religious belief. At least give it a ponder – somebody has to take the high road for the good of us all – why not the Godless?
My last gasp on hate – at least for a while – has me pondering its definition depending on where you live. It’s been pointed out to me that people need to concentrate on similarities rather than differences; while agreeing in principle, I think this subject needs some dissection. Hate is a big word, a word meaning different things to different people, a concept seemingly open to interpretation.
In Canada under the Human Rights Act of 1985; no person or group is allowed to publish or display notices, symbols, signs or emblems that might express or imply discrimination or intent to discriminate. This law covers verbal intent, specifically banning telephone conversations of a hateful nature; also including communication by computer, be it email or the internet. The link below highlights a few of the more prominent convictions under Canada’s hate crime laws.
America on the other hand doesn’t seem to define hate until a physical assault has taken place. Section 249 of the Hate Crimes Act covers bodily harm inflicted on the basis of race, religion or sexual orientation.
In the United Kingdom, under the Criminal Justice Act of 2003; a judge must consider a crime “aggravated”, thus ruling a tougher sentence if the crime was motivated by ethnic or religious bias.
Hate laws vary drastically from country to country; Turkey for instance has no laws whatsoever regarding hate, the Sudan defines hate as “blasphemy against religion”. All of which take me back to my original ponder – one without a definable answer. I wonder if hate is the wrong word, perhaps the word is too subjective. Maybe we should put “hate” to another test. Obviously “hate” is a strong word, a word that tends to divide and muddy the waters.
It could be that we need to settle everyone down and take it back to playground rules. Trash talk wasn’t allowed at school so why should it be allowed when we “grow up”? Children aren’t allowed to talk smack about anyone – that is defined as a bully. So why should they “grow up” and be allowed to say anything they damn well please? I realize I’m over simplifying things, yet put that aside for a moment and ask yourself if replacing “hate” with “bully” might help put the issue in perspective.
Pondering hate has my head in a spin, who decides what is or isn’t hate? The sobering fact being; my views of right and wrong are considered equally hateful by millions of people who see things differently. Last night I wrote about Christian Kerodin, the convicted felon behind plans for “The Citadel” – a fortified city accepting applications from prospective residents who want nothing more than to live with “like minded” people. Like minded in this case meaning an insular society free from “liberals”, city government or taxes, recycling, and criminal or background checks. All “The Citadel” asks in return is that you arrive with your own weapons, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and the attitude needed to use them.
As repugnant as I find this, the reality is – Kerodin has served his time for extortion, isn’t breaking any laws, and under his constitutional rights can say anything he pleases. Stock piling guns and ammunition, wilfully excluding those who don’t fit your “mould”, and building a utopian society in a remote corner of Idaho are completely within the law.
Strictly speaking I have no right to criticise or condemn his actions. The flip side being that I wouldn’t want my voice or opinions to be squashed just because others didn’t agree. All of which takes me back to pondering hate.
I wonder at what point freedom of speech crosses the line? Are we so consumed with freedom of speech and religion that we allow hate to poison society? Is there anything wrong with a fundamentalist preacher attacking homosexuals; does that fall under freedom of speech or is it a hate crime? Are my pro-choice views hateful, and if so who decides? Freedom of speech appears to guarantee racist organizations the right to spread hate, at what point if any does that become a hate crime?
There isn’t an easy answer – I wouldn’t want my voice silenced any more than a fundamentalist radical would want their views snuffed. That said – what is hate and where do we draw the line?
While speaking to my mother this evening, I learned she told her friend about my blog. She said her conversation came with a warning about my Atheist views. They got into a discussion of fanatic atheism, her friend recommending books I should read to temper my point of view.I`ve never met this person in my life, nor had he read a word I`ve written – he heard the term Atheist, which apparently sent him into salvation mode.
My initial reaction was disbelief – not only for my mother choosing to share my blog with a disclaimer, but for the reaction of this man. Not often do I feel the need to set the record straight; in hope that this phantom stranger actually takes a peek – a definitive ponder on my religious views…..
The idea that God didn`t create man, man created God has been discussed for ages – I agree completely with this statement. My agreement isn`t dismissive or judgemental; it comes with the understanding that what sets mankind apart from other species on the evolutionary ladder is our ability to not only question, but reason. Since the dawn of time `faith` has comforted, guided, and shaped our destiny. Without it, man would never have become mankind. There isn`t a civilization in history without a creation myth. One of the first questions children ask is `where did I come from`, answers given by parents serve as comfort or reassurance – that is how I see faith. Some parents answer `the stork brought you`, some say `I found you in a cabbage patch`, others `from mommy`s tummy` – I see these as different religions. Not a question of right or wrong, merely a personal decision based on family values. Not one of us would take issue with this, or force parents to respond `you came from God`. My respect goes out the window when religion becomes a matter of public scrutiny.
I believe `faith` and `church` are two very different things. Millions upon millions of people quietly draw strength from belief in their God. When I write about religion my words aren`t meant for these people – it doesn`t make the slightest difference to me if people worship God. The fact that I don`t should be a non issue; what matters is how we spend our brief lives. What matters is that we respect others right to answer `I found you under a lily pad` if that`s how they want to.
I strongly believe anything less than complete separation of church and state infringes on basic human rights.
The term `fanatic atheist` makes me gag. Fanatic anything alludes to a one way ticket on crazy train; that said, what`s the worst thing a fanatic atheist could do – stalk forums and bait religious fanatics for amusement. I can`t imagine how the average Godless persons actions hold a candle to Pastor Michael Stahl of Florida wanting to create an Atheist data base or George H.W. Bush saying `I don`t know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God`.
I don`t believe the `church` is above the law, the same rule of law should be applied to Catholic priests as your average paedophile or rapist. I see no reason for churches not to be audited more closely – in particular ministries preaching on television or in travelling tent shows – extracting a lavish lifestyle in the name of God is criminal. Religious groups who speak out against homosexuality or abortion should be prosecuted for hate crimes. Scientology should never have been given official non profit status in America. God should be banned from reference in political speeches or campaigns. No person should ever be asked to disclose their religious affiliation.
So there it is; my abbreviated views on religion. If this makes me a fanatic Atheist – I give up. If respecting another’s right to faith, while speaking out against despicable injustice or crime in the name of God makes me worthy of data base registration – there is no hope for mankind. As long as I have to wear the label ` Atheist`, closed minds will dictate the future.
Protest woke to the silence of tears dropping on the floor. Unable to move or feel her body. Familiarity steadied her enough to find a point of reference. Breathing slowed as she recognized herself; twisted in drenched bed clothes, her once beautifully sculpted arms lashing at the night beneath muffled cries. Struggles to comprehend the image of herself, immediately overshadowed by a blinding light.
Protest gasped as oppressive heat choked her lungs, acrid stench uncurled as dusty roads gave way to city streets, music filled the air. Songs of hope, freedom and purpose invited her into homes, corner stores and coffee shops. Her steps quickened; swirls of conviction laughed as they placed soft grass beneath her toes. Millions of voices buoyed her passage – she swears she saw a rabbit dance the jig.
Sharp pain stopped Protest in her tracks, blood pooling beneath stubbed toes as she stood on a bed of glass. She hadn’t noticed the ominous skies, stoked by icy winds, now taunting her with their cackle. The streets were silent, as if under a spell of darkness – opaque voices snickered, Protest managed a wobbly defiant walk, peering into cafes and shops once filled with promise. Thousands of mute heads cast downwards at flickering screens, fingers tapping keyboards assaulted her senses. One brave little puddle of reason wailed a hasty goodbye as it disappeared down a greasy drain.
Protest bolted upright, her dream vibrating taunts, her lobotomy complete. Protest wept; not for herself but for those who had forgotten her.
The province of Quebec is unique in Canada; many non Canadians know that Canada has two official languages – French and English – how many people know Quebec has it’s own legal system based on French civil law? It’s complicated; for anyone wanting to learn more the link below gives a good overview,
Quebec values is a term given to a bill expected to be introduced in parliament this fall by the Parti Quebecois – aimed at regulating religious symbols. If you worked at a government office, police station, public school or daycare, university or hospital you would be forbidden to wear a burqa, turban, hijab, yarmulke, or cross. Some exceptions would be allowed under the amendment to the Quebec Charter of Rights; a crucifix in the National Assembly would be considered an “icon of cultural heritage”, as it was a gift from the Catholic Church in 1936. The Marois government is also considering an exemption for staff at institutions such as hospitals, with a clause specifying the exemption be reviewed every 5 years.
Bernard Drainville, Quebec’s Minister of Democratic Values is the driving force behind the bill he originally called the Charter of Secular Values. The debate was sparked in 2007 when the Bouchard-Taylor Commission took a look at “religious accommodation” in Quebec. Last week Charles Taylor spoke in a televised interview saying the bill far exceeds recommendations of the commission.An excerpt of Taylor’s comments from a CTV news story….
“They are proposing such strict restrictions that it will create problems… People will feel rejected by Quebec,” said Taylor.
He said that widespread bans against religious icons would end up creating ghettos in Quebec.
“It tells a category of citizens ‘you are excluded, we don’t want you here.’ It doesn’t make any sense.”
While conducting their commission, professor Taylor and historian Gerard Bouchard found, early on, that Quebecers were almost paranoid with fear that Muslims were taking over society. Taylor and Bouchard found those fears were not rooted in reality, and said that Quebec should work to integrate all citizens.
“The rules we proposed were very clear: institutions are neutral, individuals are free,” said Taylor. ridiculous –
I’m still pondering “Quebec Values” – I believe it’s a step in the right direction, perhaps being taken a little too far. Asking a woman to remove her hijab when entering a government building seems a bit much. Then I remember I live in a country whose federal employees are forbidden to say “bless you” after someone sneezes – I’ll take attempts to extract church from state, however feeble or silly over the Tea Party any day.
As a little girl I remember chanting “eeny meeny miney mo, catch a n****r by the toe”, it was the early sixties, I was 3 or 4 and hadn’t the slightest concept of what it meant. Somewhere along the way the “N” word became “Tiger” – I can’t recall an explanation, all I knew was we had to decide whose turn it was to go first, so tiger it was. There wasn’t a hateful bone in my body; my family – decent hard working people who never spoke ill of anyone. It wasn’t the deep south, this was rural Canada in 1963 – parents passing along rhymes they learned as children – nary a thought to meaning.
I believe that “Tiger” was Martin Luther King Jr. Fifty years ago today, close to a quarter of a million people marched on Washington, D.C. Gathered at the Washington Monument, Martin Luther King spoke for nearly 20 minutes, delivering his iconic I Have a Dream speech. Powerful, articulate, compelling – I can’t think of words that do justice to this moment in history.
MLK was a proud American; a man who asked only that people uphold the American constitution, the promise of emancipation, the pursuit of life, liberty and freedom for all citizens. He calls for tolerance, understanding, and peace. He asks that the black community forgive white America and proceed in a spirit of understanding. If you do nothing else today – take 5 minutes out of your life – click below and listen to the words of Martin Luther King Jr.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”
Listen then ask yourself what it is you’re afraid of. Ask yourself what good it does to sabotage every move the Obama administration makes. Ask yourself if a “tiger” is just as capable of settling things as any other animal you could name. Ask yourself why you’re filled with contempt, ask yourself to snap out of the past and think for yourselves. Stop being afraid and ask yourself if America is worth fighting for. One of the greatest Americans in history answered that question 50 years ago today – to think his life was in vain breaks my heart.