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 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 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 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 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.