Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Yes, this is in reference to Duck Dynasty and Phil Robertson

There is nothing wrong with being religious. If it gives people hope and strength, purpose and comfort, that is great, wonderful in fact. Religion can be a positive force to many people. But, when it is used as a smokescreen, to allow for bigotry, then it becomes an evil force. When the bible or Quran is used as a justification for homophobic speech, it becomes dangerous. They turn from books of hope to books of pain and discrimination. Furthermore, to say homophobic things and then turn around and say, "These are my Christian values!" reflects poorly on the religion. Worse yet, when people say something like, "But, I'm not for treating people who are gay badly," I can't help but think, "Really? You just said homophobic things based in a complete lack of understanding of human sexuality and relationships, justifying it using your holy book, thus saying things that treat people badly, then turn around and say you are not for treating people badly?" Is this like "Native people are all bums and alcoholics, but I believe in treating them equal." Really? Because a statement like that shows otherwise....and it's basically the same thing. The first one, however, is justified as being a religious view, and therefore, somehow, valid and unquestionable. Religion can be wonderful...but it can also be shockingly terrifying. We are celebrating Jesus' birthday this week. There are a lot of mysteries around him, his existence, who he actually was, BUT, if his mission was to teach peace, love, harmony, respect, understanding and fairness, I think it is fair to say that he would be against homophobia, and probably stand for absolutely NOTHING that Phil Robertson and his many supporters, including Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck seem to stand for which is basically the opposite of what it seems Jesus is all about. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

White Poppies, Red Poppies? Just Chill.

Remembrance Day has become a day surrounded with subjective symbolism. People should feel comfortable with the choices they make and the symbols they choose when marking this time of the year. Often these symbols just come down to what they mean personally. Freedom means that people have the ability to think and act of their own accord. Attacks on others about the perceived disrespect certain symbols show do more to destroy the meaning of the day than the symbols that people choose to adopt, in my opinion. Let's all mark a historic event without anger or frustration over who chooses what symbol. Let us all mark it in a way we each feel most comfortable personally.

Of course, the main issue at the forefront now, as in every Remembrance Day since Remembrance Day began (as Armistice Day) is around red vs white poppies (Yes, the white poppy has been around as long as the red poppy, a fact which some people aren't aware of). If you ask me, it isn't an issue of red vs. white...it's an issue of personal choice. They aren't at war with one another. Plenty of people wear both together. Everyone just needs to chill out and not worry about what others are wearing. It's their choice. It's their personal message. It isn't your choice. It isn't something you are forced to wear. You don't even have to like it. But when I see people on line threatening to beat up people who wear white poppies, which I see every year without fail, I just shake my head. That is completely unnecessary. Don't threaten violence over this (as is the case in exhibit A, below) . It isn't cool. It isn't appreciated. It isn't nice. Chill out. Let freedom ring, don't forget the past, look to the future.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Homophobic Hate Preacher Siraj Wahhaj coming to Winnipeg

Winnipeg has a vibrant and bright Muslims community. There are a lot of good people in the Muslim community that have found a home in this city. And it's wonderful to have a diverse community to celebrate and enjoy. It's wonderful to go around this city and see people from the four corners of the earth, representing all races, ethnicities, cultures and religions.

BUT, I have a big problem with the idea of Siraj Wahhaj coming to Winnipeg to the Winnipeg Grand Mosque on November 10th. Why? Well, although many right wing conservatives attach on to any scrap of evidence that he is associated with terrorism, my concern is his extreme homophobia. It is difficult to get the truth on terrorism connections when a Google search brings up every right wing blog out there that would connect anyone who is Muslim to terrorism. I'm not saying he doesn't have dubious connections or radical ideas in this direction, but I am saying that I don't know. There is talk about some connection to the first World Trade Center bombing, but I can't find much clarification that isn't heavily biased to know for sure.

What I DO know is that he did this lecture which can only be described as extremely homophobic and, in my mind, extremely concerning. In this lecture titled "Masculine Women and Feminine Men" which is readily available on YouTube, the man makes it very clear his disgust in homosexuality, as well as feminism and whatever else he is extremely angry and shouty over. At this point, I encourage you to watch the whole video below to see exactly what he has to say:

Now, I don't think he should NOT come to Winnipeg, necessarily. BUT, I believe that this is a man with some disgusting ideas that deserves to be met with protest. I believe that he should not just come quietly into our community and slip out without people knowing what this man stands for. It is obvious from his statements that he is an extreme right wing ultra social conservative religious man. I have a problem with social conservatism to begin with, especially when it becomes mixed with religion. His statements against LGBTs are not only offensive, but misguided, based on fallacies and religious dogma, prejudiced, reek of a sense of moral superiority, are extremely divisive, and, given his fire and brimstone approach, pretty damn scary. Oh, sure, he redeems himself at the end of this ranting to say that violence should not be done to LGBTs. Great, wonderful! BUT, using extreme rhetoric to fire people up first off, and then toss in a call for non violence makes it pretty darn hollow.

Here are a few points that I wish to make. First off, why is this man coming to Winnipeg? Apparently, this is a big deal with tickets expected to go fast, and apparently he is well loved and influencial and blah, blah, blah. Well, whoa now, this guy, who rails on about gays and how horrible homosexuality is and how there is no place for it in Islam and never will be, etc. etc., is someone that people in this community are looking up to?? And wish to bring him here as a representative of Islam??

Further more, on the poser for the event, he is called "One of the most influential Muslims in the History of North America". Oh great, that doesn't make me feel very good. Here is a guy who spreads horribly homophobic views who is one of the most influential Muslims in the History of North America?? That makes this lecture and these views all that much more repulsive and dangerous.

Here is the deal. As I have said before in previous posts on similar subjects, there are so many good, forward thinking, liberal Muslims out there. This guy doesn't do Islam many favours with his over the top, hateful rhetoric. And the fact that he is being welcomed, open armed into our community as a great man leaves me quite unsettled. Obviously, he is free to come. But, I do wish more knew about some of the things this guy has said. I mean, imagine if the Westboro Baptist Church folks were coming to Winnipeg. The outcry would be tremendous. Given Siraj Wihhaj's remarks, I'm not seeing a whole lot of difference between him and Fred Phelps.

Remember back when Anne Coulter came to Canada and the outrage she caused? And, it caused outrage for good reason. She is a vile, horrible woman who has made a pretty penny off of being a vile, horrible woman spreading far right wing ideas. Well, again, I can't see much difference between the lecture embedded above, and the disgusting rhetoric of Anne Coulter.

So, come to Winnipeg Siraj, but I hope that you are met with protest and serious questioning as opposed to just open, loving, adoring arms of people blinded by your influence and whatever greatness they seem to see in you. I hope you understand the danger of your statements and how not just damaging, but how cruel they are. What is different about the rhetoric you used and the rhetoric of a school yard bully? None. None at all. I want you to know that. I want all of these eager people who are snatching up tickets to see you to know that you aren't the great, wonderful man that people seem to think you are. But, you will probably be showered with love and gratitude and your disgusting, deplorable side will be ignore, and you will carry on your merry way to the next engagement where the same garbage will happen again and you will remain unchallenged in your false, dangerous ideas. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Abdul Qadeer Baksh: A Sick, Homophobic, Ideal World

Yo, Abdul Qadeer Baksh, you are a jerk. Recently in a BBC interview (highlighted in this article from Pinknews.com), you cowardly and cruelly stated that in a perfect society, homosexuals would be punished. Allow me to call you an asshole, because that is what you are. Since you stated this, you've slimed around and tried to justify your horrible statements by saying that you think this is how things should be in some utopian society and that you don't want to see it in the UK, necessarily. Here is the deal, I don't care. You said it and in doing so, you have implied that there is something wrong with being gay. Here is the bottom line...THERE ISN'T!

Now, the usual garbage has ensued, "Freedom of speech! My opinion!". Want to hear my opinion? You are a DICK. You are free to your misguided and warped opinion, but you are also accountable for your ridiculous statements. Your religious dogma is dangerous. It doesn't even matter what religion this is connected to. It's religious dogma, and it's extreme. You hold an extreme view that people that are doing NOTHING wrong, would be punished in a perfect society. That, my non friend, is spreading hate. You can try and worm your greasy little self out of this by your usual tactics of turning everything into a grand Islamophobic attack on your religion.

Here is the problem. You are in a position of power. You have influence. You are the chairman of the Luton Islamic Center in the UK. People look up to you. People listen to you. Now, here you are, on the record saying that in an ideal society, gays would be punished (Gawd only knows what you are saying off the record, or behind the walls of your Islamic center). Great, thanks so much for spreading hate. LGBTs have fought LONG and HARD against the very garbage you are spewing forth. And all you can do is hide behind your religion, like a coward, and trying to justify such inflammatory rhetoric in every way you can, trying to make you look like some open and tolerant guy who has been misinterpreted and misrepresented. You aren't. It's clear. There is no mistaking this. You have an extreme view, and it is one that needs to be fought against so that we can have peace and equality in our societies, where LGBTs don't feel marginalized or threatened by such rhetoric. It's the same kind of world you keep fighting for everytime you scream "Islamophobia!!!" when someone says something about your religion you find offensive. Here is a tip: If you are going to scream Islamophobia at the drop of a hat, try not being a big, cowardly homophobe.

As far as I can see, you are creating your own hole, making your religion look completely intolerant and barbaric when saying that in a perfect society, an Islamic state, people would be punished for their sexual orientation. And then you wonder why there would be a backlash against your views or your religion? I'll give you a hint....you and your view of your religion is insanely sick.

Fortunately, there are wonderful, smart, progressive Muslims out there who not only don't share your views but see people like you as an embarrassment to the religion and as someone who just makes it harder for good Muslims out there. You are letting your brothers and sisters in Islam down, and creating bitterness and anger towards your religion. Good work, sir. Consider that the next time you scream about the horrors of Islamophobia.

UPDATE: Since writing this, I have been tweeting him and others and watching his tweets. Today, he said this brilliant bit in regards to LGBTs: "nobody hates them or wants them killed .. We want them fixed and saved." Fixed and saved? Seriously dude? The one that needs fixing and saving is you....and your disgusting homophobia, and your vile sense of moral superiority. I should add in ignorance as well. Fixed? First off, there isn't a "fix". Second of all, there is no NEED for a "fix". There is NOTHING wrong with being gay. It is a normal, natural state of being, period. It is not an illness or disease. It is not immoral or wrong. There is no need to fix this. Another tweet? "maybe therapy or some way to help them change". What? Why? Therapy for WHAT?? Change?? WHY?? He just keeps digging himself in deeper and deeper.

I have to add that one thing that makes me angry is that while I am tweeting and fighting against his homophobia, the only people that have joined me or right wing conservatives, including EDL and BNP types. I am firmly left in my values and ideology. Why am I the ONLY leftist taking on this guy? Where are my fellow lefties on this! 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Egyptians slaughter Egyptians, and Somehow, it is America's fault?

Today has been a brutal and bloody day in Egypt, as the military rulers who ousted the democratically elected leader of Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, slaughtered Muslim Brotherhood supporters who have built protest camps. It ended in up to 240 death (more, many more if you believe some reports).

Now, as I do, I have been reading the comment sections on news stories, on Facebook, and various tweets. What I see is something that infuriates me. Somehow, this has turned into yet another reason for too many in the MENA to blame America for everything. Apparently, far too many people today say that the "American backed military" slaughtered unarmed, peaceful protesters. How dare the US back this military!

Okay, wait....isn't this the same military that had thousands upon thousands of people in Egypt flowing into the streets in support for, when ousting Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood from power? And, when anyone dared call what happened a coup, anti-Morsi folks would scream, "It's not a coup, it's a continuation of the revolution! The Military is on our side and doing what we want them to do!" CNN in the states made the mistake of calling it a coup and had angry Egyptians picketing their studios and organizing an online campaign to tell them it wasn't a coup. The hash tag #notacoup was used in social media by people furious that an obvious coup was being called a coup.

Interestingly enough, the US has been blamed for supporting Mohamed Morsi and backing the Muslim Brotherhood. What? Say that again? Yes, frankly, too many rather disillusioned folks seem to believe that the West is on the side of the MB. What? You know what the great mistake the US made was? Working with the democratically elected president of Egypt. The people put Morsi in power, and the US reluctantly went to work with him because it was the will of the people. They didn't exactly embrace Morsi, and when asked, Obama even said that Egypt wasn't necessarily an ally as a result of Morsi taking power, which got Obama in hot water with many Republicans in the US who feel that Obama ended up losing Egypt as an ally under his watch.

So, the US and other "Western" governments worked with Morsi. Then, bam, Morsi gets overthrown by the military in a coup that wasn't a coup. Now, Morsi supporters are blaming the US for supporting the military. Well, yes, the US has a long history of working with Egypt's military, and understandably so. Egypt is the world's most populated Arab country. It is a major powerhouse in the MENA, and stability there is vitally important for the entire region, if not the world. It is advantageous for the US to have a good working relationship with whatever government is leading Egypt.

And then, today happens. After Morsi was overthrown to the cheers of millions of Egyptians, the military that they were so excited about, who they felt was working for them turned around and slaughtered a few hundred Morsi supporters. Oddly enough, I have seen little online comments or commentary from those folks who cheered for the military just a few weeks ago. But, what I do see over and over is that the military that is killing these people...is backed by the US. Wait...hello....remember how the military taking power was the will of the people and the continuation of the revolution? YOU put these guys in power. YOU validated their power grab by showing support. YOU wanted these guys! Look what you got! Don't start blaming any other entity or country for this. This is all you guys.

I'm not saying the US is some innocent nation that has never done wrong. In fact, I used to be highly cynical and distrusting of the US, particularly when it came to Middle East politics. Then I moved to the Middle East and saw how the US (and of course Israel) is used as a scapegoat and a way to manipulate emotion. If a group doesn't like another group, aligning them with the US or even worse Israel, is a huge insult and makes that other group look bad. It's too often crying wolf.

Scapegoating the US for BAD domestic decisions does not help anyone or anything. Take responsibility! If you said you were happy the military took power, ADMIT IT and stand by what you said. Don't turn around and put the blame on the US or anyone else.You facilitated this just as much as anyone. It wasn't the US that caused all of this. It was Egypt. It wasn't the US that killed anyone today, it was the anti-Morsi, pro-Military backed Army that slaughtered those people, no one else.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

"People Like You Give Faggots a Bad Name": Straight Pride?

Oh the fun I have on social media. Today, I was on twitter. What a blast that always is. My focus today is on  the issue of "Straight Pride". It's the time of year for LGBT Pride parades and festivities around the world to take place, sometimes even in defiance of society and governments of the country they are being held. I support Pride events. I see the value in them. It is an opportunity for people to say "Hey, fuck you, I am NOT staying in the closet!" and rightly so. It's a chance to go out, have fun and show support for LGBT's who have faced so much discrimination, persecution and ill treatment all over the world! This concept of Pride seems completely lost on many of those calling for Straight Pride, and that is highly frustrating.

So, in my scrolling through tweets I run across this one guy on twitter, a "hip hop" DJ or rapper or whatever, from Toronto, a dude called Kadeem who appears to goes by the name Madniss, though he is Bruce Wayne on twitter. His comments were, first "Gay float at caribana? I'm not trynna hate on homosexuals but naaaahh bro none ah dat," followed by "If there's gonna be a gay float at caribana then I'm calling for a straight pride parade then. That's what I call #EqualRights". Oh, the whole straight pride thing pisses me off, so I gave it a go. My response was a snarky "One float is devoted to LGBT, and the rest are heterocentric. Congrats, you got a straight pride parade. Idiot". In hindsight, I shouldn't have made the last second decision to add "Idiot" to the end, but it was definitely in my brain, so I added it. His response was "People like you give faggots a bad name." Then he blocked me.

Well, this leaves me angry and feeling far less bad for using the word "Idiot". The use of the word "faggots" suggests that he doesn't exactly get the whole gay pride thing, failing to see that a statement like that is EXACTLY why gay pride is so important. Maybe he could have an "Idiot" pride day, seeing as I used that term, and that was derogatory. That would be interesting.

A follow up tweet read "I don't have anything against homosexuals. Caribana is the one thing that reminds me of back home and the gay stuff just makes it weird." So, basically, YES, you do have a problem with gays. That's like saying "I'm not a racist, but I really hate it when black people show up at basketball games".

Here, clearly, is a kid that doesn't get it. And the impression that I get is that he is a newer Canadian, possibly a first or second generation. I'm not against immigration. I believe in an open Canada that can be home to many people from all over the world. I do, however, hate that ideas such as homophobia are imported into a country where LGBT rights have been fought hard for. In Canada, of course, LGBT's have the right to marry, and I am proud of that, but there are still many issues facing LGBT folks in this nation that need to be tackled. So, more people coming in with homophobic ideas doesn't help the situation. That's not saying this kid doesn't have a place in Canada or that he should go home. I am just saying that we don't need more homophobia, from anyone! We need an inclusive Canada. That includes space everywhere for LGBT's!

Now, his wasn't the only comment denouncing gay pride, using a term like "faggot" or trumpeting this grand need for a "Straight Pride" event. There is no shortage of that. But, our brief interaction left me feeling angry, frustrated and disappointed. It left me feeling that, with all the progress made, there are still people such as him who do see a problem with a float placed in the parade by members of the LGBT community. It leaves me sad that, with so much progress being made within the younger generation who seem to be much more open to understand LGBT issues, there are still young folks with ideas like these. Times are changing, but the fight is still on. Sorry Kadeem, but you ARE part of the problem.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Doha Rants: Y Village, Doha

Okay, so, I have this going through my head and I thought I would write it down.

So, for three years we lived in Qatar. I've sorta covered that in past posts, though not much. Anyway, it wasn't my favourite place to be for a number of reasons, but the insane racism was definitely high on the list of issues that I had with being there.

Now, for the last stint of our time in Doha, Qatar, the company we were associated with decided that they would move us into a place called Y Village, a compound near Aspire Park, owned by Ramco. Now, this place was pretty nice, aesthetically anyway. It had the look and feel of a resort as a opposed to a compound which, well, was okay I guess. It was just a cold, not very friendly place in the end really. All looks, no substance, as most things are in Qatar. Completely devoid of character, completely devoid of everything that makes a true community.

Anyway, the number one complaint that I have about the place is what I see as their racist, discriminatory policies which shouldn't come as a shock in a region that, in my mind, defines the term racist. Now, there are some people in the compound who have live in nannies and maids. This alone is part of the culture that really got under my skin. Having a human servant on hand to raise children and do the chores? Not my favourite idea. But, regardless, it is the reality of living in Qatar. And to be fair, we did have a wonderful person who came to clean for us every two weeks, and babysit every other week. We really appreciated her help and she was a great person and we were so grateful to have her in our lives.

So what bugged me is that the facilities, like the pool and the clubhouse were OFF LIMITS to nannies on their spare time. Excuse me? These people who are such a big part of our lives, who live ON the compound, and who work hard, and they are not allowed in the pool?? These people are part of the community! They are part of families! They live there just like anywayone! So, hold on a second, what's the problem here. Well, these can easily be explained. Most domestic workers in Qatar are from countries like the Philippines (like most in our compound), Malaysia, Nepal, etc. Why could they not use the facilities? Basically because of their nationality. Because of their nationality, they are identified as domestic help and as such should not be in the public areas. Sound bad? Yes, that's because it is. But that's par for the course in Doha.

And it made me mad. I won't mince words about that. I sent the management an email over this. I heard no reply. I sent another one because I was also angry about another issue, which was that people just kept showing up at our door at weird hours to do little jobs that no one told us about that didn't seem to need to be done. So, in this second email, I was a little more angry. I used swear words. Oh yes I did. And I meant them, dammit. Boy did I. I was angry about these people showing up, but more angry that not only their racist discriminatory policies were in place, but that when questioned they didn't even bother to respond.

Well, turns out I rubbed some people the wrong way, and guess what. The company we work for got in trouble over this. Excuse me? Come again? This place that we were moved into has a racist policy, I call them on it, and the company has to face the music because I used swears or whatever it was that got things going? Now, should I have sworn in the email. Well, of course, that is up for debate. It probably shouldn't have been done, and I will admit that, although it did a good job of helping to express the anger I felt. But, was it wrong? Probably. But, what happened? Instead of racist policies being put into question, the big deal became swear words. And that's the kind of culture it is in Qatar. And, yes, I am glad to not be in it anymore, thanks for asking.

You know what, that place was horrible as far as I am concerned. I was completely disappointed and disgusted by Y Village. With these restrictions in place, it created a prison for several people we knew and cared for. It meant that they were second class citizens in our community who did not share the same rights and privileges we had merely because of their race and their jobs. This left me with a sour taste in my mouth that sticks with me to this day, even though we have been out of that country for 1 year now. I still can't believe I lived in a place like that. I feel rather sad, a bit ashamed and disgusted that I lived in a place with a policy like this. It mad me feel like I was also living in a prison, knowing that members of our community had restrictions placed on them and there was NOTHING I could do about it, and that the company that we worked for was completely indifferent about, even though it is a Canadian company. That will lead me to more posts. Just the idea that this company should be operating in a country like Qatar to begin with needs to be question. 

Monday, May 27, 2013

When Comedy Gets Weird: A Rant Against Douches

Okay, so, I've been doing this comedy thing that I haven't actually blogged about for some reason. Well, now I'm blogging about it here, so I can't say I haven't blogged about it anymore.

Here's the deal. I like doing comedy, right? By comedy, I mean the stand up kind...in front of people. I'm what one would call an amateur. And by amateur I mean that I am still actually working my way up to a level where I could be called an amateur. I am sub-amateur shall we say. But, I'm working on it, and I think I have improved from the first dark days of trying out comedy.

But, let's cut to the core of what I want to write about here. Tonight, at an open mic night that I regularly attend, was the first time I got truly pissed off and angry about a situation that happened. And by angry, I mean....well, angry. Now, this open mic that I regularly attend is a good, fun open mic. The people there are supportive, nice, easy going and the all important supportive. That part is so important that I put it there twice in the same sentence.

So, tonight, for some reason, this guy shows up at the open mic event who I had never seen before though apparently he has done comedy a time or two. Now, as far as I am concerned, when it comes to open mic, the more the merrier. It's always great to see new people come out and take part. Hey, that's where we all started, right? You have to start somewhere. And even if you are crappy, heck, you gave it a shot and you deserve credit for that.

But, then we get this guy. How do I best describe him? Well, I have to say that I really hate the word douche or douche bag. It's just not a very nice word that kind of makes me want to gag. I usually stay clear of it. It's just too unpleasant. However, in this case, I think it's perfectly warranted. We shall call this guy Douche McDoucheFace Douche Bag Double Douche. Yes, this is how poorly I saw this pretentious, self loving, backward hat wearing, cocky little wiener McDouche head!

What pissed me off was this. He had with him this group of his little douche bag buddies who obviously came along to support him. It was obvious because they were completely disinterested in any of the other comedians as they played pool and chatted loudly. Now, seriously, it is a bar, and I don't have a problem with people doing their bar things while comedians are on stage. These are things that we can't control and have to work with. BUT, Mr Douchey Douche himself wasn't even paying attention to a word we said. Everytime I looked over, he had his back to us, laughing with his friends, hanging out and just basically ignoring everyone on stage while his douchey buddies carried on as if nothing was happening on stage. And Mr. Popularity McDouche did have a lot of friends there, for some reason. Did he text everyone he knew to come out, cheer him on and blatantly ignore everyone else? Sure seemed like he did.

And then his name was called to come on stage. And the room fell silent. The pool tables cleared and crowd gathered around. And this is the point where I wanted to throw beer bottles. You fucking fucker fuckfaces! You ignore everyone else throughout the night....in fact, talk OVER everyone all night, and then when your little douche bag of a friend get's on stage, then you rally around him. FUCK!

Look, whether you fuckers care our not, all the rest of the comedians there work hard week in and week out, trying to become better comics, working to create a weekly event that is enjoyable and fun for all. Everyone is welcome and support is given. It's a great comedy night in the city for that very reason. Please, please, respect what we are trying to do. This little douche and his friends did NOT respect what we do, or us for that matter. And it made me angry.

And this is where it got weird.

The obviously slightly inebriated little douche had some kind of spiritual awakening in front of our very eyes which was about the farthest thing from comedy one can possibly get. I wanted to laugh, but it was just too weird to laugh at. Apparently, he is in the middle of some kind of spiritual crisis and he decided to turn the stage into a pulpit, telling us how wonderful Jesus is. Oh really? Oh that's interesting. You are half drunk on a stage after being a douche to all the comedians present and then all of a sudden you are some kind of Jesus follower? Which part of Jesus' teachings say "Thou shall go to the bar and make a mockery of a comedy open mic, get drunk and have thy douchy friends treat the other comics like background noise."?

Dude, you aren't a Christian. You are a Douchian.

So, yes, I was angry. I was very angry in fact at the disrespect I felt every comedian was shown. It was uncalled for, mean spirited, immature, childish, ignorant, arrogant and horrible. Now, if the guy shows up again and is let up on stage, you know what, if he wants to do comedy, hey that's cool. If he actually tells a few jokes and at least acts like he's trying, that's cool. If his friends don't treat the rest of the folks there like scum, great. I will support him. I believe in supporting other comics. It's a hard thing to do to get up on stage and try to piece together 5 minutes of material with the hopes of entertaining people. It really is. And I support my fellow comics, because I know it is a challenge for each and every one of them. So, making a complete mockery of everything we all try to do by being a complete douche just pisses me off. But, if you want to tell jokes and work at it....you have my support, whether I like your material or not.

Moral of the story....don't treat your fellow comics like shit, and tell your douchy friends to do the same.

ADDITION: Oh, and I forgot one of the best parts of it all. After the douche leaves the stage and all his friends surround him and shower him with love, he and all his friends LEAVE. There was still another comedian who went up, and he was good! But, no, they couldn't even be bothered to stick around. Another slap in the face. Just a sad display.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Irony: Homophobia on the International Day Against Homophobia

Is it getting better out there in the world for LGBT's? Is homophobia and transphobia being beaten? Today, Friday, May 17th, on the International Day Against Homophobia, it is worth looking at some of the ideas that are out there that need to be fought.

More often then not, I end up sucked in to the comment sections of news organizations on Facebook: Al Jazeera, CNN, BBC, CBC and several other ones that I follow. Sadly, regularly, when any of these news organizations post an article related to homosexuality, there are a large number of comments, and a scary number of them are homophobic. Today, of all days was no exception.

The BBC show World Have Your Say ran an article, and made a post that said:
We are LIVE asking what is it like being gay in Europe?
The European Union has called for action to counter homophobia after the publication of a survey that showed high levels of violence against gay and lesbian people.
Leave your comment below.
This was basically a calling out for the most homophobic bile that could possibly be put forth. It is nothing new if you have been following stories like these on Facebook and regularly get caught up in the comments. But, for those who don't, I am hoping that it comes across as rather shocking.

Now, for some reason, BBC World Have Your Say attracts a large African following. Sadly, it seems that Africa has a LONG way to go in the fight against homophobia. Most of these comments that I will be posting are from Africans. Now, that just happens to be the group who posted on this site. On other sites, I have seen horrible things written by other groups, so I don't want it to come across as picking on Africa. However, I have noticed that some of the most violent and blatantly horrible statements online too often come from that continent. But why? What is it about Africa? Why is homosexuality so vilified there?

Regardless of who made the statements, or where the commenters are from, it's fair to say that this is some horrible, horrible stuff:

And it went on and on like this. Like I said, this is nothing new. I have seen this over and over, time and time again. I have seen people say that LGBTs should be killed, jailed, raped, beaten, tortured and put into mental hospitals. I have seen this too many times. 

Clearly, there is a long way to go in the fight against homophobia and transphobia. Some parts of the world are still in the dark ages when it comes to this issue while others have progressed, but no society or culture is immune. There is still much work to be done. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

Dorje Gurgun is free!

It has been reported that Dorje Gurgun, the Nepalese teacher from Qatar Academy, who was wrongly jailed for alleged blasphemy of Islam has been released and is due to leave the country on Monday, May 13th.

Obviously, this is a happy ending, but also a stark reminder of how dangerous it is to work in Qatar. Dorje represents every expat in the country, who has few rights and is at the mercy of any Qatari that feels crossed and wishes to seek revenge. Fortunately, there are many wonderful Qataris who treat people well. But, it is those who don't that one has to be scared of, who hold a disproportionate amount of power over expats.

When I was an expat in Qatar, I always felt as though I had to watch over my shoulder with a bit of paranoia about "offending" delicate sensibilities. It was a difficult climate to live in, and I felt a weight life when we finally let the country.

I still strongly urge anyone considering working in Qatar to avoid the country. You have few rights there. No matter how good the country looks on paper, no matter how much money you could gain, no matter how tantalizing the idea of living in an exotic country may sound, in my opinion, it is not worth it. There are better options out there. 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Free Dorje Gurung, Boycott Qatar

I haven't written much about my time in Qatar. Our family was there for three years, ending last spring. We have since moved back to Canada. When it comes to the country and the overall experience, though there were positives, the negatives of living their ended up completely outweighing any good. I left disgusted by the culture and the country, and remain so. This is the first blog post I am making to try to start expressing the Qatar experience for me.

I wish to focus on a sad case that has hit Qatar in the past few days: The plight of Dorje Gurung. Dorje Gurung represents every expat who lives and works in Qatar. He could be ANY of us. By all accounts, he is a decent person who has been swept up in Qatari bullshit politics. I use the word bullshit because, quite frankly it is and I can't think of a more appropriate word.

Dorje Gurung is now in jail, accused of insulting Islam after a dispute with a small group of 12 year old kids at Qatar Academy. He now faces up to seven years in prison after this unpleasant and unfortunate situation which boils down to a few rotten, spoiled children's bullying.

As Doha News reports:

On Monday, April 22, Gurung said he had a sit-down chat with three 12-year-old boys who were making fun of him. Among other things, the seventh graders poked fun at his appearance, calling him “Jackie Chan,” a famous Chinese actor.
On Tuesday, April 23, the mocking again began in earnest while Gurung was in line for lunch. At first, he said the teasing was light-hearted, but then one student put his hand on Gurung’s shoulder and a finger in his nose. At this point, Gurung grew agitated and said remarks to the effect of, how would you like to be stereotyped i.e. called a terrorist?
On Wednesday, April 24, he had a meeting with school management. On Thursday, April 25, he submitted his account of what happened and was told to go home. On Sunday, April 28, he was fired.
Later that week, Gurung was jailed for his remarks. According to his friends, Gurung will remain there at least until his next court hearing, which will be held in two weeks. He still does not have a lawyer, but the Nepalese embassy previously told Doha News that it will investigate the case.
This is a disturbing case which highlights how vulnerable every expat living in the country is. And that is a large figure with well over 80 percent of the population of the country being expats, all at the mercy of any Qatari who has the desire to report you, too often out of revenge or pettiness.

Also highlighted here is the racism that exists in the country that is open, blatant and accepted. Generally speaking, if you are Asian (other than Qatari) you can expect to face racism. No one can escape this racism. This requires a whole new blog post to discuss, being both a cultural and an institutional racism unlike any I have seen in my life.

Add to this vulnerability the fact that gay men face stiff jail sentences. So, add in institutionalized homophobia on top of this and you have a culture that is dangerous and risky for many people.

Here is the problem. Because Qatar is the wealthiest country in the world, has deep pockets and is dying to get any and every major, prestigious university to set up shop in the country. Texas A and M, Carnegie Mellon, Weill Cornell and Virginia Commonwealth are a few of the schools that have been wooed to the country.

None of these Universities have any control or power, basically at the whim of the Qatar government. Yet, the big money has pushed the idea of ethics and human rights out the window. These institutions have turned a blind eye to human rights abuses that include, most predominantly in how thousands upon thousands of migrant workers are treated. They work long hours for little money often in unsafe and extremely hot environments. These people are segregated from society, are not allowed in major malls or tourists sites. They are treated worse than second class citizens, often living in horrible conditions, with next to no rights. It's a disgusting situation that is allowed to exist because of Qatar's laws which puts all power in the hands of employers, and the Qatari government. Unions are banned. And the attitude is "If you don't like it, don't come here." Millions have gone however, desperate to make money for their families back home. And Qatar has exploited this to the fullest. Every university in Qatar is in a building built by this virtual slave labour. Custodial staff and security, which are provided to schools by the Qatar Foundation, also face similar work issues, and the schools have NO control over this. So, terrible human rights violations exist within the institutions themselves.

I have painted a bleak picture of the situation in Qatar, and yet I feel as though I have barely scratched the surface. It bothers me that so many universities have bypassed ethics to establish themselves in the country. I feel that Qatar should be boycotted, and educational institutions should be reviewing their role in the country, and any new institutions planning to enter Qatar seriously reconsider. I also urge anyone considering going to work in the country to reevaluate their plans and to avoid the risks associated with working in the country.

I plan to write many more blog posts to try and fully explain the situation in the country because there is just so much that I found difficult to deal with there, that I didn't realize was going on until I spent time in the country. Now that I am out, I have the freedom to discuss these issues openly and freely. I hope to be able to do that.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Not Again! Jenny's Bridal Boutique in Saskatoon denies dignity and respect for transgender bride

Oh for GAWD sakes. I can't believe I still have to write about this stuff. How many rants am I going to have to go on about jerks deciding that their products aren't suitable for sale to certain people for ridiculous reasons? This time around, Jenny's Bridal Boutique in Saskatoon decided not to sell a wedding dress to Rohit Singh. Why? She is transgender. Apparently, although Rohit identifies herself as female, the owner of Jenny's Bridal insists that she is a man and can't buy a dress from her precious little bridal shop.

Why must people be like this? A person goes into a shop to by a dress for their wedding...one of the most special days of so many people's lives...and has to face bigotry and lack of respect? Why? Why does it matter WHO is buying the dress. Even if she identified herself as male, why does it matter? Why can someone not go into a store and buy a wedding dress for whatever reason they wish? Makes no sense to me. But, no, this owner had to be a royal jerk and treat the bride in such a mean spirited and undignified way.

Oh, but it is her store and she can sell to whoever she wants, or not sell to whoever she wants. Really? Really people? That is what some of you are arguing? So this is how we conduct business in Canada? Well, guess what, Rohit is going to file a complaint with the Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission, which is her right, and I do honestly hope that this complaint is taken seriously. And she has every right to go to the SHRC. She has every right to go public with her story. And I have every right to support her, and every right to speak out solidly and loudly against Jenny Correia and her decision NOT to sell a dress to Rohit.

Her reasoning? Apparently other people in the store would feel uncomfortable because Jenny sees Rohit as a man, not as a woman. Rohit identifies as a woman. What is so hard to understand here? Will other people feel uncomfortable? Well, sadly, there will be those who do not feel comfortable about it. However, instead of pandering to those who can't handle the idea of being around a transgender person when trying on their dresses, Jenny decided to decline service to Rohit, thus keeping transphobia, discrimination and injustice alive and well in Saskatoon.

But, Ms. Jenny seems to make a habit out of booting potential customers from her store, as she did this once before when she told Alyssa Pomfret, a girl shopping for a graduation dress to leave her store because her wheelchair would get the floor dirty. Apparently the wheels were wet. Wow, how low can a person go?

The question is, why would a person like this bother being in business? If you are just going to turn people away anyway, why bother? I know, I know, you think it is your right and you stand by your decisions and blah, blah, blah. Well, what you did was just plain mean and degrading. It's sad to see something like this happen, and it's sad that people still go to your shop and keep it alive, because, really, you don't deserve to have a successful business if you are going to be horrible to people. You deserve to have an empty store with no customers. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Fighting Manitoba's Bill 18: How Low Can They GO!

Good job to you, the religious leaders and school officials in the province of Manitoba who have decided to oppose Manitoba's Bill 18 which aims at creating safe and fair spaces for ALL students in ALL schools in Manitoba and opposes bullying. What's the problem? Oh, students would be allowed to create a Straight-Gay Student Alliance in any school, eh? Oh NO! That would never do!

Wow, religious leaders and school officials opposing this, you have taken the cake when it comes to missing the point. Trying to prevent kids from being bullied, and being able to form groups where they can bond and create a good place to be apparently is something that YOU see as a threat to your "religious freedom". Lovely, just lovely. So, now, you are the victim, or at least that is how you are portraying yourself. The Manitoba Government comes up with legislation to prevent bullying and you get pissed off because it will actually do it's job, and you can't have that, can you?

Good work, I'm sure this is exactly what Jesus would want....people representing him fighting AGAINST a bill that helps create a safe environment in schools for everyone, including LGBT kids. Good work in BEING the bully and setting an example in the community of how the problem of bullying is created.

What IS the fucking problem? Oh, you are against gays and lesbians. Right. Because they are an abomination to god or some ridiculous crap like that? And, you don't want the big bad government forcing legislation on you that will restrict your "religious freedom" while they try to protect the rights of CHILDREN! And you can't have groups in YOUR schools that might suggest that kids who are gay or lesbian are, you know, HUMAN! Of course the thing to do is to continue to alienate LGBT kids and let them know in no uncertain terms that they are WRONG and horrible for choosing that lifestyle.

But WAIT! Here's something that you should know: LGBT kids DON'T choose their lifestyle. They are who they are. It isn't a lifestyle...it's a fucking reality! Oh, but, wait, there are many religious CHOICES out there, and you have CHOSEN which religious path to follow....soooooo, YOU are actually the ones who chose your lifestyle. Isn't that interesting? People who actually DID choose their lifestyle wanting protection to discriminate and alienate against people that DIDN'T choose their sexual orientation. Well, isn't that interesting. Fucking idiots!

Sorry, yes, I am unleashing a volley of swears here because this subject absolutely PISSES me off. I can't believe the backlash that Bill 18, which, to steal from the National Post "... is aimed at preventing bullying in schools and promoting equality based on gender, race, sexual orientation and other factors." is actually causing an uproar! And of course, as the NP says, "A section that would require schools to allow gay-straight alliance groups if students wished to establish them has drawn the most criticism." How dare schools that get ANY public money whatsoever have the nerve to talk about their religious freedom when it comes to such an important issue as kids being bullied. Good work, religious leaders who are supposed to be fucking ADULTS in wanting to ensure the "freedom" of their little networks to discriminate and alienate children based on their sexual orientation. Nice job, adults. That's a great message to send to other kids.

Religion in general pisses me off, but this takes the cake I have to say, at least in Canada. It just blows me away how these religious jerks cling so heavily to this notion that "God Hates Fags" without actually saying it out loud, while absolutely ignoring 99 percent of the other things god isn't so keen on. For example, pigs. I wonder how many of those opposed to this bill eat bacon or farmer's sausage? Well, given that much of the opposition we have seen comes from the community of Steinbach where 1,200 people showed up to oppose the legislation are Mennonites, and farmer's sausage is a cultural dish, I would say that there is a whole lot of fucking hypocrisy going on here. If we look at Leviticus, doesn't god specifically say not to eat pigs! What part of this are you fuckers having trouble with exactly? You have no trouble with enforcing the gay thing as you perceive it, but then chow down when it comes to pigs. Ridiculous!

Even as I write this, I seethe with anger and rage. I'm disgusted that this is happening in our province. I'm disgusted that this level of homophobia exists in this province and that people are so against LGBT's that they are actually fighting against legislation to curb bullying. How fucking LOW can you get? I suppose we are going to see in the days and weeks to come just how low these people can actually go.

Sick and sad.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

My Much Neglected Blog

I am at the library. I am waiting for something. I am waiting for a page to upload, or to do....something. As I wait, I realize that it has been an awfully long time since I updated this blog which I seldom seem to update anyway.

So, I am now writing a little note....a note that says that I am still here.

And I shall leave it there until I have more to say....

Saturday, January 19, 2013

I Spoke Too Soon: Why I No Longer Support Theresa Spence

Time does change things, does it not? Since I wrote my last blog post about the plight of Theresa Spence, much has happened, and my opinions have changed dramatically. I no longer feel supportive of hunger striking Chief Theresa Spence as I once had. There are a good number of reasons which I will attempt to lay out.

Although there may have been political motives to the recent releasing a very damning audit report on how money on the Attawapiskat reserve that she is Chief of has been handled, it was still damning. Now, there is a fair amount of issues in the report that predates Spence's time as leader. However, there are still poorly managed funds that most certainly helped in making the housing crisis on her reserve, that she went very public about, considerably worse. In other words, her own people ended up suffering more than they needed to due to financial mismanagement.

It is frustrating to see someone who would go public about what is a serious issue, not take responsibility for at least a portion of the blame, which I believe she has completely avoided. As opposed to saying, "Yes, I screwed up, and I accept the mistakes I made," she has become more defiant, and still has not properly addressed the matter. She did come out of her hiding place in Ottawa just long enough on the morning of the meeting to speak to reporters (accepting no questions) and touched the subject saying that the PM and the media are all lying, and that the money went to taxes and lawyers. Well, yes, but this should be shown on receipts, right? One of the big issues with the audit is the lack of documentation. Just get the frickin' receipts  It would save so much heartache and hassle for everyone involved. And, I must point out that I was disgusted with her hostility and the hostility of her "handlers" who came across as complete assholes at that brief press conference.

There is much criticism from her and supporters that the government has failed her and her reserve. Not being accountable for her expenditures has failed her reserve as well. That means they have been failed on two fronts and she is no better than the Federal Government. So it is no longer Spence vs the Federal Government but Spence and the Federal Government against the people. But she has her diehard supporters who continue to dismiss any and all criticism towards her. Why? I don't get it. Even if I support someone I can admit that there is room for criticism. 

The final straw was when Spence ordered that a Global News reporter who had gone to the reserve to see how the situation may have changed since her very public declaration of a state of emergency at Attawapiskat over housing conditions. As far as I am concerned, this was completely unacceptable and has greatly reduced my trust of her. 

What has bothered me just as much is that so many of her (Spenceites?) supporters applaud her actions. I'm sorry, but after living in the Middle East where media is tightly controlled and freedom of the press is almost non-existent, I have little sympathy for similar actions happening in Canada, whether it be by her OR Stephen Harper. I don't see much difference in her actions or the actions of a dictator who threatens to jail reporters. Would Global do a report that Spence wouldn't like? Possibly! We will never know now.I would like to know what has changed on the reserve. At the same time, I don’t watch Global so in the end I still might have been clued out. 

At the start of her strike there was much anger that her plight wasn't getting enough media attention. It's safe to say that now there is near media saturation. The reality is, when one makes a public splash they are putting themselves out on a limb. There will be support and there will be detractors. Just as much as she deserves her side of the story to be told, she needs to accept criticism and other views as well. There is no reason she should go forth without there being some criticism and analysis. That's what media does. Her actions in trying to control the media and the narrative of the story are unacceptable. Trying to create an atmosphere of fear where reporters can't fully report without getting arrested is unacceptable, childish, counter-productive and hostile. She must be willing to accept that there will be press coverage that she may deem to be negative. If you can't deal with it in an effective matter you shouldn't thrust yourself into the spotlight.

Now, I don't like Stephen Harper. I dislike where he is taking Canada. I do not support many of his policies or how he actually governs. I am disappointed that he won a majority in the last election and how he has seemingly run roughshod over Canada since winning. I wish we could get rid of him. Unfortunately, the Spence story seems to have become a "You are either with Spence or with Harper" issue. Can't we disagree with both or not trust either of them? I believe removing environmental protections (a big catalyst for the beginning of the Idle No More movement which Spence has been associated with) within a giant omnibus budget bill was pretty low. And this came from someone who, until he became PM, was a strong critic of omnibus bills. So, no, I don't trust Harper, for this and many other reasons. But, obviously, as stated, I am having difficulty trusting Spence as well. 

Now, on to Idle No More. Here is what I support: CHANGE! We need it desperately in Canada. The issues when it comes to First Nations has been going on far too long. Too many FN folks are living in poverty, are dogged by addiction, violence and abuse. There have been many horrible injustices done! The boarding school crisis, for example...and that's just one tiny example. There are serious issues that need to be overcome and addressed!

As far as I am concerned, the Indian Act has to go, the Treaties which many are demanding to be respected inherently create inequality and lack of empowerment and have to be ripped up, and there must be self-government or at least far more control handed over the First Nations people over their own affairs. These need addressing! Instead, the day that Aboriginal leaders were to meet with Stephen Harper for the meeting that has been pushed for, and was a key demand of Spence's, there was infighting and up to almost the end it seemed that no one would actually be going! Why? The Governor General, who has absolutely no power in this case, wasn't going to be there. Now, all powers over Native Affairs have been handed over to the Federal Government. The Governor General, the (mostly ceremonial at this point in time) representative of the Queen's presence would be problematic for a number of reasons, such as the Queen not wanting to get involved in the affairs of a sovereign nation! So, his NOT attending is best for everyone involved. The British Empire as we once knew it is dead.

Fortunately, Shawn Atleo, the head of the Assembly of First Nations, did go to the meeting, and for that I am so glad. To me, HE is the center now. He is someone I believe can work with the Federal Government to make the changes that are absolutely needed. He is an intelligent, well-spoken, sensible man who impressed me yesterday like you wouldn't believe. Unfortunately, so many of his own people have turned on him! WHY!???!???!?? Is there something I am missing? Time will tell if he will be able to deliver, but at the moment, I like what he has done.

Unless Idle No More can back sensible people like Shawn Atleo, then my support for the movement will die. My support, my hope, my faith is with Atleo at this moment. He is the man who, by attending yesterday's meeting, showed that he does want to get things done. Good! That's what we ALL need as Canadians. You can't say you won't be idle anymore and then stay idle. I don't want to see Idle No More go the way of Occupy. This is an important movement. We need real change that will improve the lives of natives in this country, and to create a better, fairer relationship that includes more trust, respect and understanding. 

So, my support of Theresa Spence has shifted over to Atleo. Unfortunately, I see Spence working against the best interests of her people, and her decision not to go to a meeting she is starving for as undermining the whole movement. Atleo was brave. In the face of the anger of his own people, he made the right decision to meet with the Prime Minister! Good for him! Some of the best leaders take action not because it's popular, but because they know it is the right thing to do. I believe and I hope this is Atleo's inspiration...to do the right thing. I think he has started off doing the right thing. 

Now, what will tomorrow bring? This seems to be an ever changing story. Who knows.