Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thinking of Catcalling someone? DON'T!

Lately, the issue of street harassment has come front an centre after a woman in NYC released a video of the kind of cat calls and unwanted attention she got while walking around the city. Today, I read a news article from CTV talking about anti-street harassment posters that have gone up in Montreal.

Here's what has me completely outraged. There has been an enormous outcry by too many people who seem to think that harassing people in the streets is, you know, okay. Well, guess what, it really, truly isn't. Why do some people feel that as soon as a women enters the street, she is open to cat calls and "compliments", being approached, being hit on, and just generally being harassed? What is the thought process behind this?

And what do these harassers think they are gaining from this? Do they really believe for a second that their harassment is going to land them a hot date or a fulfilling long term relationship of some kind? I just don't understand the point. I see street harassment as pure selfishness on the part of the harasser. They seem to have this idea in their head that they are entitled to do this, that trying to tell them that it is wrong to do this is some kind of an afront to their personal freedoms. Sadly, they don't see the encroachment on other peoples right to walk from point A to point B without becoming a target for male attention as something that should be respected. These women are NOT on the street for you to prey on. They are on the street because that's what humans do, they go out, they walk on the sidewalk, they go to the store, they carry on with their lives. Let them for gawd sakes. There is no good reason to impede their day with your sexual overtures are "compliments".

If someone is going to the store because they ran out of toilet paper, do you really think hoping some strange guy on the street will "compliment" her is something she is desiring? No, she desires toilet paper. Why can't she go to the store and buy that toilet paper in peace? Is that really, honestly too much to ask? It seems that, for some men, the answer is yes, and to ask for that is some kind of PC gone mad, Femanazi madness taking away the rights of men to sexually harass women which is their god given right. For frick sakes!

I hate to say it, but being a man is a curse and a blessing. For starters, I don't have to put up with street harassment. On the other hand, I have to share the same gender as men who think it's perfectly okay to harass women in the street, and it is not only their right, but apparently their duty! Well, screw that.

And oddly enough, I have seen no shortage of women saying that other women are over reacting, and that just blows my mind. Fine, if you like to be cat called, hey, whatever. May I suggest you tell men then that you want to be cat called. No one should assume at anytime that a woman WANTS to be cat called or harassed just because some women feel that other women are over reacting, like this ladies comment...
 I think this is silly .... as a woman ..I don't agree with these feminist groups at all ...All it is is a form of oppression and causing fear amongst men... its ridiculous feminist groups want equality but what I see is not equality at all
Oh geez. Well, what can I say? She's a women. Her experience is different. Fine. But I feel for women who aren't exactly enjoying unwanted attention.

Now, some will argue that, "Hey, me saying 'hi' or smiling at someone isn't harassment". Well, yes, that argument can be made, but intent is important to consider as well. If you are approaching people and smiling and saying hi ONLY for self serving interests, then you might want to consider not doing it. If you are genuinely nice person and give off that impression, ya, I mean, people aren't so cold that they don't want to interact with other humans altogether. Just, be reasonable. And if someone doesn't say hi, you might want to consider that, perhaps, they have had one too many encounters with other humans that haven't been too nice to them to feel comfortable with your hello. Guess what. This can be a side affect of the street harassment that seems to be all too common that it seems too many people are condoning.

And of course, there are still those that say women are inviting this attention by how they dress, such as the person who made this comment....
Then I suggest that the women who are complained, to dress a little more conservatively. The whole world does not need to see your cleavage. If you expose it for all the public to see, then of course your going to attract attention.
Apparently, some people really do think that a women should wear a burqa or face the consequences. Come ON! Do we really have to go through this shit again? Do we really have to insist that it is the woman's fault for how she dresses? If someone dresses in a way deemed too provocative they are outright asking to be harassed and should just accept it? Dear lawrd.

The message I am trying to get across? Don't be a jerk. Think of someone other than yourself for once, would you? Women are not yours to do what you please with. They are humans. Treat them as such. Don't treat them as your personal toy to play with on the street. Because they aren't. They aren't there for YOU, believe it or not. There is more to the world than just YOU. I know, I know, it's so hard to believe. But, yes, you aren't the only person on the planet and it doesn't all revolve around you. So, just let people be, okay? Is that really too much to ask? It's not like someone is saying "You aren't allowed to eat food!". They are merely saying "Please, don't harass me!" Seems like a pretty reasonable thing to ask, no? I should change how I started this paragraph. The message that many harassed women are trying to get across is that they don't want to be harassed. Listen to them. For fuck sakes, just listen to them!

Friday, September 19, 2014

ISIS and Islam. Is it? Or isn't it?

Is ISIS an Islamic group? Yes. Does it represent all of Islam? No. Hopefully just these few simple sentences help to clarify the middle ground here. We have one side saying ISIS is Islam defined and that all Muslims are terrorists. We have another side saying Islam is perfect, that ISIS are UN Islamic and have nothing to do with the religion of peace. Both sides are wrong.

What we see with ISIS is far from isolated or unique. We have seen Al Quida, the Taliban, Boko Haram, Al Shabab and many other groups following a similar path in a wide number of countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Clearly, Islamic extremism is not just a case of a few bad apples. There is something deeper here. And, sure enough, when we look at the Quran the basis for these groups is in there. Here is a link to an article that does a good job of rounding up the specific parts of the Quran that can be linked to the thinking and actions of those in the Islamic State. It is a right wing, anti Islam site, but at the same time, this is handy because it compiles the issues into one page quite nicely. Furthermore, the Quran does an excellent job of demonizing non-believers and almost dehumanizing them as being ignorant, on the wrong path, misguided, untrustworthy liars. So, that adds to the problem as well. 

So why are all Muslims not following the same path as ISIS? Because, Islam has a wide array of interpretations. There are 1.2 billion followers of Islam and 1.2 billion interpretations. What it comes down to is which parts of the Quran the follower decides to cherry pick and how some wish to interpret the messages of the book and the prophet. Fortunately, many want to live in peace and want religion to be good, fulfilling, spiritual and uplifting. This is wonderful and deserves to be celebrated.

Extremists are still using the same book but are using different parts that inspire and support their actions. It would be nice to say this was the minority. Technically, yes, it is. But the numbers are far from insignificant as we see by the number and size of these groups and the severity and wide spread nature of the havoc they have wreaked. Clearly, these folks aren't just pulling stuff out of their butts. When you have groups across the Muslim world with similar views and goals, obviously there is a connecting factor, and that is, simply, the religion. 

So, both arguments as presented above represent two false poles with the reality being in the middle. And while peaceful liberal Muslims should not pay the price for the actions of extreme conservative Muslims, no Muslim is doing anyone any favours with denying that ISIS and related groups have something to do with Islam. The same goes for those who condemn all Muslims as terrorists or as bad people. Muslims not associated with ISIS or Al Quida, or whatever other of the many groups there seem to be out there, don't deserve to be mistreated because of the actions or rhetoric of those with a more worrisome interpretation of Islam. 

The truth of groups like ISIS is in the religion itself. The religion deserves criticism where criticism is due and just screaming "Islamophobia" whenever the subject is approached is counter productive to say the least. Questioning or even disliking the religion is both okay and important. Hating Muslims just for being Muslims isn't okay and that needs challenging as well. A middle ground where solid, reasoned, open, honest discussion involving use of critical thinking skills is needed. Both complete demonization of the religion and rose coloured glasses approaches to the religion are not helping get to the root of the problem as it relates to the role the religion and it's holy books play.

So, let's stop the games and start being honest. Islam covers a wide spectrum of ideas and manifestations that need to be acknowledged by all parties. Then we can start focusing on the problems we are facing from groups like ISIS. Let's be honest about the Quran and what it has inside of it. Let's be honest about Muhammad. Let's be honest about ISIS's roots in Islam. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Gord Steeves Tastes Own Foot

Oh Gord, Gord, Gord. Mr Steeves, you have completely blown it.

If you aren't aware of the situation, Gord Steeves, Mayoral Candidate for Winnipeg in the 2014 election has been hit by a bit of controversy caused by his wife's racist remarks on Facebook. No, okay, lets' revise that, let's say EXTREMELY racist remarks. I mean, really, very, very racist. I mean, come on, we are talking terribly racist.

Ouch. No, not just ouch. OUCH! Wow, that's.....mean! Now, as I listen to the Gord Steeves presser (which you can watch right here) happening now, all I can say is, boy oh boy, has Gord Steeves and his wife missed the boat. As he is saying, the comments on Mrs Steeves Facebook was said in a sort of "heat of the moment" sense, after a few incidents where she had been downtown and approached by people looking for money. Apparently she felt scared. Now, I can't take that away from her. I can see how at times it would be scary. I won't deny that. However, the way this post was worded doesn't seem to reflect fear as much as looking down on people, a pure, 100 percent racist rant, targeting a specific group, showing an extreme lack of understanding when it comes to issues facing Natives in Winnipeg. There isn't a sense of fear as much as a sense of disgust, of loathing, and definitely NO understanding of issues that might be leading people to a life on the streets, begging for money.

Now, to Gord Steeves campaign. Here is the issue. No, Mr. Steeves is not responsible for his wife's views. He didn't write them, she did. These are her views. He shouldn't necessarily be punished for them. However, Mr. Steeves policies for dealing with cleaning downtown up and getting rid of drunkeness, etc seems to directly reflect her views...without the racist rant. He wants to add more Police Cadets downtown to deal with these folks, not even seeming to be interested in looking at the roots of the problem. Just sweep out the unwanted people. This is worrying. I'm not saying that attention does not have to be paid to downtown, that there aren't issues that should be addressed. But when a major campaign promise seems to mirror the concerns his wife have (who made a vile, vile racist Facebook post about it), I can't help but feel suspicious. 

What we see here is just one example of an epidemic of racism in Winnipeg. Come on, face it, it's not like this is the first time any of us have heard similar rhetoric from other people. This is pretty common stuff. We all know and can't deny that. She isn't the first to say these things. Given this, here was Gord Steeves opportunity to maybe shine a bit, stand up against racism in Winnipeg and make a statement of solidarity with those that need a leader to help deal with the issue of racism. He blew it. He missed the boat. He defended himself and his wife and seemed to be oblivious or non commital to the idea that racism is a huge problem and that a Mayoral candidate might want to make statements to ensure that he understands the issue of racism and is willing to work with the community to fight it. He didn't. He didn't in the slightest. 

The way he handled the entire issue was just terrible, as far as I am concerned. The revelation of the Facebook comments his wife made happened 5 days ago. For some reason he chose today, Tuesday (August 12th), to address the issue. He set up a news conference, only telling news outlets where it would be an hour before the event. Media showed, he didn't, until several minutes past 1pm. Then, he began the press conference with some very dry and poorly presented information about zoning permits. It was rather bizarre I have to say. Clearly he wasn't looking forward to addressing the issue on everyone's mind and was stalling. Not overly professional and not overly smart. Finally, FINALLY, someone interrupted him and asked him to get to the matter at hand, which Mr. Steeves reluctantly did focusing almost solely on defending his wife and explaining the context (that doesn't really explain some of the worst statements she made about welfare, education and ass's) as opposed to acknowledging that this type of rhetoric is a serious issue.

After the press conference, which had an abrupt end when he had had enough, he walked out and left, not talking to anyone. He clearly does not want to deal with this issue. The problem is, there are many in the community who do, especially those directly affected by racism in Winnipeg. Instead of facing them and standing up for them, he dodged the issue and did everything he could to avoid it. This, ladies and gentlemen is NOT leadership material. 

Now, he loves his wife, which is lovely. I support him on that. I understand that. He wants to stick up for his wife. Fine. BUT, in the process he completely failed to realize the hurt that was caused by her statements and acknowledge the people affected by this type of racism. This was a chance to speak out, to reach out to those affected, to show at least a shred of understanding. Instead, it was just focused on how his wife was a victim and that led to her racist rant. He had a golden opportunity to address a serious issue that we face in this city....and he blew it. Instead, he seemed annoyed and fed up with even having to face any questions regarding the incident. 

We need a mayor who isn't afraid to look at the issue straight in the eye, understand what is happening downtown, why we have the "problems" we do and at least empathize with those his wife completely bashed in her comments. Yes, Lorrie made the comments, but in my view, Gord's lack of willingness to deal with the issue just made himself look bad. He blew an opportunity....squandered it. He showed lack of leadership. He showed lack of understanding. He showed lack of empathy. And he showed just how far away of finding a solution to one of the major issues we face in this city we truly are. Our leaders need to step up and face this problem. Gord Steeves showed he has no interest in doing that. 

Friday, July 4, 2014

Dead Baby Photos and the Israel/Palestine Conflict

Surprise! Israel and Palestine are at it again, swapping bombs, slaughtering teens, blowing shit up and generally just hating on eachother. And, as always, social media is booming with all the back and forth, tit for tat discussion that has been going on for, well, ever. As long as this conflict has been going on, it's the same back and forth arguments with no end. "Israel is worse than Nazi Germany!". "Palestinians are terrorists!", etc, etc, etc. It gets rather tiresome. It's the same old thing over and over and over. And then, both sides wonder "Why are we not getting the attention we deserve!!!!???". Well, maybe it's because you've been at this for 60 fucking years and it's always the same old garbage and you guys haven't been able to sort it out, and we're all a bit tired of hearing about it because there is not much we can do. It is, quite frankly, easy to tune out this conflict because, quite frankly, the story is getting old and tired. But, of course, it is still an important story because people are dying...mostly Palestinians, but that isn't to say that Israel hasn't faced it's fair share of death. I am not even going to bother arguing for or against anything here. Enough people have researched the issue to death (usually to suit their own predetermined bias) that there will always be someone who will come along, on both/either side that will say, "That's wrong, and you are an idiot!" Well, in some ways, yes, I am, and I have no clue what is true or false anymore. Not all that is said to be false is false, and not all that is said to be true is true.

BUT, BUT, BUT, here is what is making me quite angry at the moment with how social media, particularly the anti-Israel camp (thought the pro-Israel camp does this too) is conducting itself. If I see one more picture of a slaughtered baby with absolutely no source cited, I'm going to scream. Just throwing up a picture of a dead baby that could be a dead child from anywhere there is conflict and declaring that it is the work of Israel is just....wrong. Have children been dying in the conflict over the years? Yes, sadly, and tragically, children on both sides have been a victim. But, really, does tossing up a picture of a dead baby from three years ago, that no one knows where it was taken, really helping anything other than further inflaming an already toxic issue? Constantly, constantly, dead baby pictures, with an angry message that says, "Look what Isra-hell is doing! Wake UP!" or something. Again, I'm not trying to downplay the pain and suffering being felt in that area, but, come on, let's be level headed and rational about this. Find out before you post it what the picture is actually of. I keep seeing pictures of things being blown up that are attributed to today....that happened 3 yrs ago! Why? If you are going to lie about that through pictures, what else are you going to lie about?? Not everything you find on the internet is true folks. You aren't helping your side with these pics. You aren't helping to do anything but make the situation, dare I say....worse!

And, now, it's back to your regularly scheduled tit for tat war. Enjoy! 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Calgary Doctor Refuses to be a Doctor

So, lemme get this straight. Today in the Calgary Herald, there was an article about a doctor, Chantal Barry at a walk in clinic (Westglen Medical Center) who refuses to give prescriptions for birth control based on her "beliefs" and "morals" whatever they happen to be. Apparently, these beliefs and morals don't include the idea that the law of Canada allows people to have these things to, you know, prevent people who don't wish to get pregnant from getting pregnant. Of course, not having birth control will prevent people from having sex and everything will be fine. Oh, right, it won't, because then people will have sex, have unwanted pregnancies and then some of those people will wish abortions, which I am sure she is even more against. So, basically, I'm thinking, she is going with an abstinence angle here, despite the fact that we are humans and humans have sex because, it's a human thing to do....much like all animals. Maybe she also doesn't believe we are animals? Who knows. Regardless, she has her "morals" and "beliefs" preventing potential patients from getting perfectly legal birth control pills from her. Seems to me that refusal of medical services should not be allowed in Canada, or, anywhere for that matter, if the service is perfectly legal!!

However, despite the law allowing for people to have birth control, apparently, the law also allows physicians to refuse treatment to people based on their RELIGIOUS beliefs. Wait....WHAT?? Now, the law apparently also says there has to be timely alternatives made or given, specifically making sure someone else can attend to the patients LAWFUL needs in a timely fashion. That's easier said than done in Canada where, although we have a great health care system that I fully support, we have a definite doctor shortage, and thousands upon thousands of people don't have family doctors and rely on walk in clinics. Choice is limited. So a doctor picking and choosing what they will or will not prescribe based on religious beliefs puts many people in a tough spot.

How far can this spread? Is it possible that one day I could end up in an emergency room somewhere needing a blood transfusion and the only doctor on at that time is against blood transfusions because of his religious beliefs? If so, what happens to me? My life is in the hands of someone whose religious beliefs dictates the type of care he will give me, as opposed to the fact there is nothing illegal about this care being done and should be done, like, quick, before I bleed to death? I'm sure this will never happen, but clearly if the law states that people can refuse certain tasks based on their religious beliefs, it technically could happen. No? Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe someone more in the know could explain to me how I am wrong. Maybe?

Here, yet again, we have religious beliefs interfering with the rights and needs of others. Just like opposition to LGBT rights, or other forms of reproductive care, to beliefs where women and men should not work side by side, to whatever other holy rolling beliefs people hold. Here, we have a woman who has decided that because of her beliefs, others must live by her beliefs and screw what is best for patience or what is lawful in Canada. And in doing so, she is putting people in a compromising position, especially if she is one of the few access points to health care some people might have. To me, THIS is immoral.

How on EARTH can this be allowed to happen. If Chantal Barry has an issue with birth control then it is her problem. She doesn't have to use it. But, why should people she treats also have to live by these beliefs?? And how can Canadian laws allow this to happen? If the pill is legal, than it seems to me that no doctor has the right to deny a patient the pill unless their is a concerning health reason that should prevent someone from using it. It's time to start giving religion a free pass here. It's time to stop allowing discrimination based on religious beliefs. We still have a culture of religious exceptionalism where as long as someone has a belief related to some religion, they get to practice that belief over the rights of other human beings. How can this be? Apparently it is. But it's time to stop it, immediately so we NEVER see signs like this again at any health facility in Canada ever, ever, ever again.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

I Wanna Write a Book....

I want to write a book, people. Where do I begin? "It was a dark and stormy night..." seems to be overused a tad. "In the beginning..." maybe? Maybe I should start with proper grammar, spelling and punctuation. Maybe. This writing a book stuff is already hard and I haven't even figured out what I'm going to write about. 

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Tamara Johnson: Thunder Bay's Ann Coulter

Oh dear gawd, where do these people come from. Apparently, in this case, from a gift shop in the bowels of the Landmark Inn in Thunder Bay. It comes in the form of Tamara Johnson who could only be described as the Ann Coulter of Thunder Bay. Maybe a female version of Ezra Levant, the Sun News shit disturber that plays on extreme racial stereotypes to push forth far right ideas, with knee jerk, over the top reactionary rhetoric designed not to inform or make the world better, but simply to shock and piss people off. It's like a drug to folks like this. They seem to thrive on pissing people off, hurting people deeply, causing grief and just generally being ignorant pain in the asses. They accomplish little with their time in the spotlight other than that, really, and they have too much of an ego to see that what they are doing is completely unproductive.

So, this Tamara Johnson woman ran in the recent Ontario election in the riding of Thunder Bay- Superior North representing the Ontario Libertarian Party. Red flag? Indeed. As part of her campaign, just a few days prior to the election she put out a full page ad in the Chronicle Journal featuring her in some kind of a weird pose, looking like a cross between a high school kid trying to look sophisticated and a sophisticated lady looking like a high school kid. But, next to this rather odd image were a pile of words that caused a stir and for good reason.

Okay, wow, it sounds like Ontario has been taken over by money grubbing, ivory tower living, oppressive, ultra elite, ultra rich, super advantaged First Nations folks who have victimized poor Tamara to the point of tears. No wonder Ontario needs her! Only she can fight the unfair treatment that regular tax payers are facing as the result of the demands of Ontario's super citizen natives! She is the great white saviour for....whites. 

Now, I don't love jumping up and down and crying racist. But when the term is due, it's due. And here we have a textbook case of a racist. This is racism defined. The amount of ignorance crammed into the cheesy looking ad is ridiculous. It shows a complete lack of understanding, by a relatively well off white lady, towards the reality of life for First Nations peoples. It also shows a complete lack of understanding of Canadian history, the programs designed to force assimilation, the whole cultural genocide, the Residential school program, the fact that a Eurocentric system of governance and laws has been thrust on a population that didn't ask for it, etc. It shows a complete lack of understanding of treaties signed and promises made, which have often not been met anyway. Colonialism has been devastating to First Nations people in Canada. If there is a group in North America that can be described as oppressed, it is First Nations people. 

But, hark, somehow, we white people, and seemingly specifically Tamara, are the victims it would seem. How dare Natives get what they were promised. How dare Natives get high on their horse as super citizens and get unfair advantages and "handouts" that white people don't, thrusting them into a position of power and influence, giving them dominance and control over oppressed white people. Oh, wait, that's because that doesn't happen. It's the whites who have all the dominance and control. Damn, I guess Tamara didn't get the Facebook message. 

But, according to statements after she was criticized over this ad, she stands defiantly by them 100 percent and says that they are true. So, yes, apparently, Natives in Canada are the oppressors of the subjugated whites. And that's the truth, according to Tamara. Yes, she stands by that. Wow. At this point, can we say anything other than the fact that she is an idiot?

Now, I support her right to say these things, what with the whole free speech thing an all. Heck, in fact, I am more than glad she did run this ad. It shows how ridiculous and ignorant she truly is with a very racist agenda. In fact, it seems, based on this ad, that her entire agenda, her entire reason for running in the election was to stick it to the red man who has been oppressing whites for far too long. That appears to be about it. Her entire reason to run was based in racism! How pathetic is that! Imagine spending the time and money to try and get elected on a platform that seems based for the most part on hatred of an entire race. Why would you do that?? Has she been done horribly wrong or something? Has someone with brown skin caused her pain so she chooses to lash out in a knee jerk, random, stereotype driven way? What's the story here Tamara? I just don't get it. Well, wait, actually I do. Sadly, the rhetoric she uses is not all that uncommon in Thunder Bay, Northwestern Ontario, and here in my new home of Winnipeg. These worn out, tired and completely misguided stereotypes are repeated over and over when it comes to First Nations people. 

Basically, what I am saying, is that racism is rampant, brazen, open and generally accepted, in a way that it would not be accepted against almost any other group, and it has been this way for as long as I can remember. It's a part of the culture. It's just the way at has been, though hopefully not the way it will always be. Tamara coming forth with this ad has done the public a favour in helping to bring to surface the terrible reality of racism, and with her statements, she drew out some of the worst examples of racists in the area that supported her, loving her message of sticking it to Natives. This saddens me. It sickens me in fact. But, I look at it and wonder if this can be a catalyst for change. Maybe more people will look at what she has said, and will start changing views by getting educated about how her views are based in stereotypes and misconceptions. I, too, am on this journey, to grow and understand the relationship between Canada and it's First Nations people, often having to plow through this kind of racist bile to get to the truth. I now recognize more than ever just how dangerous ideas put forth by people like Tamara Johnson are. She is a racist. There is no two ways about this. Racist to the core. A text book example. And, as being such, we can learn from her. We can learn the direction NOT to take. We can look at the pain that she has created, the shitstorm she brewed, and the way she handles herself, in such a divisive and egotistical way, as a self centered, self serving bully with an over abundance of confidence and a complete deficit of understand and say , "I don't want to be that! I want to be better than that!" 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Will Mo Ansar Survive?

At this point, our good friend Mo Ansar has been thoroughly outed by a number of journalists (Nick Cohen, Milo Yiannopoulos, Jamie Bartlett) along with some well written and observant blogs. This will be my last observations on him, and in many ways I am not offering up a ton of new information, but hopefully a few things to think about. The question now that he has been outed is, what now? Will he weather this storm? Will be come out of this unscathed. Many careers have been dashed for far less than what Mo has done. But, is he a big enough "celebrity" to actually fall because of this? Or is he in that sweet spot where he's not big enough that enough people care about his lying and deceit but big enough that news organizations will continue to go to him and keep his career and ego afloat?

In the wake of observations and accurate allegations, Mo has been defiant and cocky, calling them all smears while not actually refuting any of it in the slightest. And, although the detractors are many with several strong voices, he does seem to have a loyal following and support which could keep him buoyed enough to prevent sinking too far. A recent video with Russell Brand, which came out at the same time as news of Mo's lying and deceit broke was poorly timed for critics and perfectly time for Mo, who suddenly gained a huge audience of devoted Russell Brand followers who seem oblivious to the controversy, and are more interested in conspiracy theories and off the wall ideas. (I do enjoy Russell Brand quite a lot, however, but some of his fans are tad bizarre).

So, what will happen with Mo. Will all of this egg on his face slide off to reveal a relatively unscathed fraudster who the media will still rely on when they need a costumed generic "Muslim Commentator" to discuss any issue remotely related to Muslims and Islam. Will Mo continue to be the voice of Muslims, despite being seemingly confused about Islam and most of the issues he chooses to speak on.

When the media need someone to discuss Halal meat, why on earth would they go to an expert who works in the Halal meat industry when they can call a generic "Muslim Commentator"? Folks, this is called laziness on the part of news organizations. And this is an important aspect of the Mo Ansar story that we should all be learning from. News organizations aren't always concerned about the information they put out as long as they are putting out information. That doesn't mean they are all bad or that there isn't good information that can be gleamed from what some people may call the "main stream media" which often is demonized and written off. There is a middle ground here where the MSM plays an important role and does provide good info, and then there is the reality of deadlines and a need for visuals and audio snippets. This is where Mo fits in and this is where news organizations prove to be lazy. As has been pointed out many times, the beauty of Mo Ansar to any news org is the fact that he is readily available at the drop of a little knit hat. He provides an authentic visual with his confusing costume, he is well spoken with a perfect English accent and provides exactly what they need, whether it be the info they want or a bit of drama. So, he is an attractive go to guy. As a result, ease of use trumps quality interview subjects and we are left with a generic commentator tackling almost any issue related to Muslims and Islam when someone else would be far more informative, interesting and valuable. Who is this helping? No one. It is not helping the Muslim community, it isn't helping non-Muslims striving to understand Muslims, it isn't helping our understanding of complex situations and it isn't helping to kill any stereotypes. We all lose. The only one who is gaining is Mo, whose ego continues to get stroked and who continues to be touted as someone he is not.

Again, we have a man who doesn't appear to possess most of the skills and experience that he claims to have. This goes beyond mere "sexing up" of a resume and goes right to creating a false identity. He has claimed to be a lawyer. He isn't a lawyer. He has claimed to be a visiting lecturer. There is no record of this. He has been a speaker at a few events, which is quite different than a visiting lecturer. He has claimed to be a theologian, but there doesn't seem to be any record of him studying anywhere or evidence that he has the knowledge and understanding you would expect a theologian to have. There seems to be no end to his claims, and no end to the lack of evidence backing up most of these claims.

It has been argued by Mo and his supporters that even if he is lying, though they deny that he is, he is still doing good by fighting Islamophobia, hate and doing good work for the community. Really? Is he? We are talking about a man who drops the word Islamophobia at the drop of a hat. He's rather like the boy who cried wolf in this sense, constantly accusing people of being Islamophobic. His constant demonizing of the UK, the US and the West hardly create an atmosphere of love, peace and unity. His very public battles with Tom Holland, Iain Dale, and Maajid Nawaz shows that he is willing to stoop pretty low to get revenge and he holds deep and dangerous grudges. He claims to have been an LGBT activist for 15 years, yet has publically said "Love the sinner, hate the sin". That, in no way, is a good LGBT activist. That is a cruel and ridiculous statement that, in my opinion, disqualifies him from being able to say he is an LGBT activist. Again, how is this helping the community? It isn't. And his seeming refusal to condemn homophobic speech by Muslim leaders or even backing Muslim leaders and organizations who are anti-gay raises serious concerns over his claims of LGBT activism. If he is an LGBT activist, it would appear that he is more of an enemy than an ally.

So, no, he is not on the road to creating peace, cohesion and fighting hate as he keeps claiming he is doing. In fact, he does the opposite. It does make one wonder what world he is living in. Does he ever actually listen to himself? Has he really deluded himself to believe that his rhetoric and actions are doing good as opposed to being divisive, frustrating, single minded, obsessive and often times just plain wrong? If he does know, then he keeps playing the game, acting as if he is the good guy and all his critics are bad guys, and in doing so continues to fool some. And, as long as people are fooled or distracted from asking important questions, blinded by some aspects of his character that some may say are charming, he will continue to act just like he is.

He also loves to rail against the "far right" which seems to include almost anyone who criticizes him, though the people who are calling him out on his lies are diverse and cover the entire political spectrum. What he seems to fail to see when he talks about the "far right" is just how right on the spectrum he is. Does he not understand that many of his statements are, in fact, quite conservative, socially and politically (when it comes to sticking up for ultra conservative religious players, his views on gender segregation in lectures at Universities, his REAL views on homosexuality, etc.)? He IS part of the right. His views ARE often right wing. So, his constant calling of everyone under the sun a right wing neo con once again rings hollow. This is a man that sucks all meaning out of terms like Islamophobia, Far Right and Neo Con. Does he not see this? Does he not realize that his everyday barrage of calling people these terms is not helpful? On this one, he seems truly clued out. He seems to believe that by calling everyone Islamophobic it is HELPING to end Islamophobia and bring cohesion and peace to communities. Really? Seriously? That's just ridiculous. It appears that the main way he uses these terms is to help belittle and demonize all detractors and people he doesn't like or agree with. Apparently, disagreeing with Mo means you hate 1.2 billion Muslims. Who knew? So, by using terms in such a way, he has rendered them meaningless. Overreactionary accusations of Islamophobia or being part of the EDL or UKIP or whatever way Mo chooses to deal with his critics isn't helping anyone. It just pisses people off and makes it harder for anyone to take these terms seriously. How does that help anyone?

And then, of course, there is the issue of his religion. He wants to play the role of pious Mo, the faithful Muslim. But, he seems to be missing the several passages in the Quran that tells Mo that lying, vengefulness, boastfulness, etc is bad and will not lead him to paradise. Interesting that. He, like pretty much every follower of a religion, cherry picks the hell out of the book that he holds be holy, stating that the Quran is the unchanged word of god down to the each and every period and comma. Well, this book he puts in such high esteem and loves to tell people offers the answers to the problems plaguing society, doesn't even seem to be able to be followed by him. If he won't follow the book and feels that it doesn't apply to him, why on earth should any one else follow it? If it's so damn perfect and is your guiding moral compass, then ignoring a big part of it means you are clearly off path. Don't pretend to be Mr. Pious if you ignore important parts of the book....yet still say it's okay to chop off hands in a perfect Islamic society.  He reminds me of people like Ted Haggard or Jim Bakker, who, even though they wish to give an out word identity of being godly and pious, are actually just lying scam artists using their religion for fame and profit more than as a guiding light. I'm sure he believes in his god. I'm sure he is happy to be Muslims. BUT, the religion really is more of a conduit to fame and a way to create an identity more than anything deep and spiritual.

Some of his supporters allege that all those critical of him just don't like him and will look for any reason to bring him down. Well, it cannot be denied, he has made a long list of enemies through some of his rhetoric and attacks on people. His own vengeful behaviour towards Maajid Nawez and Iain Dale are perfect examples of how low he will go and how he has managed to create enemies. But for the most part, people just don't like to be lied to and manipulated, especially by someone who is cocky and arrogant, which Mo most certainly is. And, quite frankly, he can be downright rude and ignorant on twitter. But in the end, whether people like him or hate him (there seems to be nothing inbetween), he has lied and deceived and that is a truth that won't change, regardless of what anyone thinks of him. And, he is now in the court of public opinion, which is where people who thrust themselves into the spot light are judged. If people disapprove of him or are tired of his antics, they will make it known...and they are. Now, the question is, where will this lead. Will this mean that Mo is off the TV and Radio for good? Time will tell. It is highly possible that he will weather this out and continue to be the easy go to guy for many news outlets. And, if that is so, we will have learned nothing. Mo will have learned nothing. News outlets will have learned nothing. And it is right back to status quo. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

What Now??

Just another random post. What do I have to say for myself this time? Ya, that's right. Nothing. Okay then, was that worth reading? Was it even worth writing? This new exercise of mine has a point. It really does. Do I know what it is? Not sure yet. Working on it.

Anyone else going to see Merzbow tonight?

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Photographing Things.

I've been photographing things for a long time now. Yup. Got myself a nice little DSLR camera. I take pictures with it. Mostly of things. People. People sometimes. I take pictures of them doing things. Or not doing things depending on what they are or are not doing at the time. I take a lot of pictures of fellow comedians. I take pictures of bands. I take pictures of street art and graffiti. I take pictures when I travel. I take pictures when I'm at home. I take pictures. It's fun. Do you take pictures? You should take pictures. It's fun. It's also hard. It can be hard to take pictures. The hard part is learning. But learning is fun. Fun. Yes. I like learning. I'm always learning. I'm always learning and usually learning when I am not even aware that I am learning. I am learning to take pictures better. But it's slow. Oh so slow. I don't get the whole F-stops thing. Do you do? It gets me all confused all the time. Stupid F-stops. Who decided F-stops were a good idea? Pfffft. F-stops.

Good night.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

To Halal or Not to Halal

Okay, I found another twitter topic to discuss. Yay. Good ol' twitter. Perfect for writing prompts. The issue this time? Halal vs non halal meat. There has been quite a kurfuful regarding the use of halal meats in the UK by some chain restaurants, which has brought a wide ranging discussion about how meat is slaughtered, the role religion plays in this slaughter and in society as a whole, the desire for people to have halal meat labelled as such and then outright right wing attacks on everything to do with Islam or Muslims (as well as right win religious attacks on all that is of the kufr).

Now, apparently, when the glorious Quran was revealed to everyone's favourite prophet, Mohammed, god had a specific way in which he wanted animals slaughtered. This involved a slitting of the neck of the animal and having a lovely prayer said over the beast. That god. He thought of everything, didn't he?

Some say that halal is a brutal, cruel way of killing an animal because it is not stunned before the life ending procedure. Others say is it more humane because....well, god said it was. Truthfully? I don't see it as being any better or worse than non halal slaughter. In theory, both are supposed to be humane or not humane depending on who is determining this (which is not the animals who aren't able to tell us what they would prefer). Too much of our meat comes from factory farms and mass slaughterhouses that hardly provide animals with a decent life. At the same time, there is a growing desire by people to have their meat prepared in more humane ways, wanting to ensure that it is free range and free of growth hormones. They want a better life for the animals they eat before eating them. So, this desire is growing. People want less brutality, but still love a good burger!

Proponents of halal meat say that their method is the antithesis to the brutality of non halal meat while proponents of non halal meat say their method is the antithesis to the brutality of halal meat. Both are right and both are wrong. On paper, both systems look good. In non halal, animals are supposed to be stunned before slaughter. The fact is, that this can often be botched or not adhered to in the most humane of ways. Likewise, the idea that a quick slice to the throat provides a snappy demise is often not properly adhered to with not sharp enough blades, slightly off slices, etc. In the end, both systems have their flaws and benefits.

The demand in the UK is at least for labelling of halal meat so that people know what they are getting and can decide for themselves. Seems fair and reasonable. Yet, for some reason, there seems to be a backlash against this idea. Why? I have no clue. Just label the stuff. There are others calling for an outright banning of religious slaughter like Denmark did. Is this right? Well, sure, I'm not against it, nor for it. I don't believe some god of some sort gave man the idea of how to slaughter animals. It was a man made idea and it's from 1400 years ago (at least in terms of halal). If we have better methods now, and we know how to kill an animal in a more humane way because, you know, we have evolved in our understanding of the world and the creatures we exist with, then we should go with the best method possible. I'm not sure that halal is necessarily, however, as horrible as some say. Again, not being an animal that is about to have it's throat slit, I have no clue what an animal would prefer.

There seems to be some ridiculousness on all sides. First off, I'm getting a bit tired of the Muslims who are critical of non Muslims who wish to not eat halal meat. I've seen them be called ignorant racists, over reactionaries, etc. At the same time, if Muslims were eating non halal meat that they thought was halal, the outrage would be significant. So, there seems to be a bit of a lack of understanding of peoples desires outside of the Muslim community, dismissing the requests of non Muslims. Basically, I say, if you would refuse to eat non halal meat, don't get mad at people because they don't want to eat halal meat. At the same time, we have people saying this is another case of creeping Sharia and must be fought and using it as another way to be right wing idiots. Whatever. Both sides are kind of clued out.

Basically, the solution is, just label the stuff. Make sure people know what they are consuming. We have/request labels for everything from GMO's, free range, organic, place of origin, quality, etc. I don't understand why labelling halal meat as halal meat as an issue. One person on twitter said that it would open up restaurants and people to attacks and they shouldn't be singled out. Huh? Look, just label the stuff. Nothing wrong with it.

It's interesting though that the fury echoes an experience had when we were living in Qatar. Qatar is a pork free country. You can't even buy proper marshmallows because apparently they contain pork by products. Alcohol could only be purchased at a few select restaurants, and at a store in the industrial area that you had to have a special permit to shop at. The store thought they might import some pork so that people with this permit could indulge. Oh man, the uproar. The store was run by Qatar Airways. There were calls to boycott the airline, and so much furor over the idea that a bit of pork may enter the country. The backlash was immense. There, however, when there is anger like this, it is called asking others to adhere to "cultural sensitivities". When it happens in the's racism...:) Mind you, I still can't figure out which race Islam is, or what race halal slaughter is associated with.

Russell Brand visited the East London Mosque (guided by non other than our good friend Mo Ansar) the other day and said something to the nature of "If you don't want to eat halal, become a vegetarian not a racist". Again, there seems to be a lack of understanding of the fact that Islam isn't a race. As I have said a million and one times, it is a religion, a set of ideas that are open to disagreement, debate, satire and even outright dislike. It is not, and should never be, immune to criticism. It is a religion. It's not okay to hate Muslims just because they are Muslims. That's hating people. But to hate ideas? Not an issue. The idea of halal meat is just that, an idea within a greater set of ideas of how the world should be. Therefore, it should not be protected. It should be questioned, and struck down if shown to be wrong.

So, the issue of halal vs non halal is complex yet simple as the same time. Let's go with the simple part of this: Just label the stuff. Accept that there are going to be differing opinions. If determined to be a completely inhumane way of dealing with slaughter, then consider banning it. It isn't racist to ban a practise that isn't good. Will people have an issue with it? Of course. But, first and foremost, animal welfare should come first here. At the moment, because I don't know enough because I am not an expert in this field, I say just label it. If there is conclusive evidence that halal slaughter is not a good way to go, then I'm not against banning it. At the same time, I think we should be looking at factory farming and mass slaughter practises as well. There is a huge movement scrutinizing them, so it's not like it is an ignored issue as some on the pro halal side claim. It is an issue and many are working on it. But there is no doubt, that is just as big of an issue as halal meat. Let's just do the best we can for the animals. Label meat so people know the source. And continue to research the best methods to slaughter.

Friday, May 9, 2014

When to Write?

I want to write at times when I don't have some news story or twitter outrage. These seem to be the main things that get me writing. I need to find new inspiration, to be able to write when nothing is happening, when things are calm, when my brain isn't filled with all of these thoughts on specific subjects. I suppose you could say writing for the sake of writing and see what the brain can come up with all on it's own without these outside prompts that usually end in posts that are more full of anger than they are happiness, creativity, joy or observations of a nice, warm variety. Did that even make sense? Probably not. It's rambling. Mind you, isn't that sort of what I want to do anyway? Ramble and see what comes out? I guess I just did it. Was it successful? You be the judge. Wait, don't. Just....don't.

Tea anyone?

That was a random thought. I'm not making tea. I don't want tea. I would make tea for you but you are over there, not over here. Make your own tea if you want some. Quit asking me for tea....dammit. 

Stupid Smart People

Do you realize how many people out there are way smarter than me? Stupid idiots, being smarter than me. How am I supposed to look smart when all these stupid smart people are being so stupidly smart and making me look like an idiot! What a bunch of idiots! Here's the deal. I am not a huge, big, fancy educated guy with a PhD label or some other kind of little thingy after my name. But, damn it, I want people to just shut up and accept that I am smart and right even though I am not compared to smart people who are more right while I am wrong and are able to show how wrong I am with their smartness. It's not fair I tell you. And why are so many smart people online anyway? How did all these smart people start using the internet to communicate with people who think they are smart but aren't smart at all, like me. Go away smart people so us fake smart people can get back to thinking we are smart, you stupid idiots. You think you are so smart, eh? Okay, you are so smart. But, shut up and stop being a stupid idiot about being so smart. 

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Troubling Reality of Mo Ansar (with update)

I have been rather drawn into the world of twitter as of late, focused on one individual from the UK who I feel is an interesting subject to focus on. His name is Mo Ansar, a self proclaimed twitter celebrity. You can follow the big guy on twitter here.  He is a "commentator" on Muslim issues, which is something that can't be argued. However, he lists off a whole variety of other titles on his website and twitter bio, the vast majority of which are unsubstantiated. Evidence for most of his claims, including visiting lecturer, Imam, and theologian just doesn't seem to exist in the slightest. No evidence. None. Zero. Nada. Complete goose egg.

This bio from his website SOUNDS incredibly impressive. "A theologian, public speaker and visiting lecturer on Islam in contemporary Britain, Theology and Islamophobia; Mohammed is a civil rights activist and legal advocate working with a number of organisations in the fields of politics, diversity and education. With a wealth of experience tackling extremism and radicalisation, Mohammed has lead and delivered cutting-edge local and national initiatives." So, where is the proof? Where is the evidence? Civil rights activist? Fine, we'll give him that. Anyone can be a civil rights activist. Legal advocate?  Questionable. Theologian? Zero proof of this. Basically, he's good at writing an impressive sounding paragraph. But, as you will see with links to articles below, there is plenty of gaps in some of the claims he makes.

So, why am I so fascinated by this guy? Because he is such an outrageous personality who HAS come up with all of these grand claims of who he is. He has developed this bizarre persona as a grand expert on all issues related to Islam. He wears this utterly pointless outfit all the time to show just how darn Muslim he is, dammit, and it just doesn't make sense. This long thobe, scarf and little hat look like a combined mess of cultural images tossed together to create some kind of official costume. It's mostly Arab in characteristics, which is odd for a Pakistani man who was born in Britain. It's rather farcical, to be quite honest. It smacks of trying too hard. But, it has been very successful and beneficial for him. I think part of the reason that TV stations love to call on Mo at an almost scary level is the fact that he comes out as a prepackaged Muslim complete with costume, who can speak well with no accent, and who can be called at a seconds notice and he will rush down to the TV station and give them exactly what they want. He is an interesting case study that anyone interested in psychology would be fascinated to look at. The type of person he is brings to mind are the ones focused on in John Ronson's brilliantly humorous and interesting "The Psychopath Test". I'm not saying Mo is a psychopath. Not at all. But, just like Ronson meets with these bizarre and interesting characters, I see Mo as a character that is bizarre and interesting that I wish to focus on. What is the point in focusing on a "normal", well adjusted person when you can track down a bizarre and interesting person. Right? Am I right?

I am right, and a number of others seem to be keen on studying him as well. For all intent and purposes, he appears to be nothing but an arrogant fraud as outlined well in this article at a blog called Harry's Place. Mo and his followers have written it off as just some right wing, "neo con" BS smear tactic, but it does raise some important questions that Mo himself doesn't seem willing to come clean about. Another great article questioning his credentials is this one by Adrian Hilton. Someone else, I'm not sure who, has done an excellent job of compiling information about our friend Mo here at Anarchopedia. Basically, we have people across the spectrum, from the left to the right questioning Mo Ansar. Sadly, Mo doesn't seem to want to give many answers, hence his nickname "No Answer". The only people who don't seem to be asking questions about his claims are the media outlets that keep calling on him to be on their shows. Why are they dropping the ball on this? Why are they continually giving a platform to a person, and putting up CG's under his name telling the public about grand titles (like theologian), who has little proof of what he claims to be. What does this say about these news organizations? Can anyone just walk in off the street, claim to be an expert in something and be tossed on air with a list of claims under their name they have no proof of having? It appears this is the way the media is working when it comes to our dearest Mo. How is this helping anyone? It seems like a giant insult to all viewers who depend on the media for truth.

A good insight into the brain of Mo Ansar can be found here in the report and results on a court case he was involved in where he took a former employer, Lloyd's Bank, to court over what he deemed to be discrimination based on race. He lost. Section 14 of the summary is uncannily accurate in it's assessment of the man and is worth reading. The court notices what so many of his critics have also noticed, including his manipulative ways, his lying and his arrogance.

Based on all of this information presented above, it appears that we have a fraud on our hands. "So what?", you may ask. Fair enough, if that doesn't bug you, then that's up to you. But a man who is regularly paraded on the TV as some kind of an expert on Islam and Muslim issues who has got there, not by merit or by proven knowledge or understanding of almost any subject, but by what appears to be lying deserves to be scrutinized. When you turn on your TV and there is Mo giving his views on everything from segregated seating at University lectures (which he is for) and the banning of Halal meat in the Netherlands (which he is against), you would hope that these views were coming from a position of understanding and knowledge. They aren't. They are coming from just another dude on the street who has an opinion. And you know what they say about opinions. They are like assholes. Everyone has one. So, why exactly is his opinion worth more than the average layman? It isn't quite frankly. It isn't in the slightest. And, generally speaking, he doesn't just address the issues, he tends to do it in the most dramatic way possible, using over the top, inflammatory rhetoric that easily riles people up. So, that makes it extra concerning. His twitter time line (his main way of interacting with the public) is filled with overly dramatic tweets like this recent one that I randomly selected:  "The US funded it, the UK supported it. Innocent people, children, massacred in #Egypt for our coup d'etat. The sheer inhumanity of it all." Wow, not only does this show an extreme lack of understanding of the very complex situation in Egypt and the rock and hard place reality of diplomacy between the West and a country that has had a few massive, bipolar swings in leadership changes in a short amount of time, but it further highlights his ever present contempt of "The West", in particular the US and his own country, Britain. He fails to have paid any attention to the fact that many Egyptians called for the ouster of Mohamed Morsi, and bristled at the very notion it was a military coup, saying that it was the continuation of the revolution that led to the downfall of Hosni Mubarek. A good number of Egyptians even showed up in front of CNN headquarters in New York City to protest the fact that CNN dared use the term "coup" to describe the events of the military overthrowing Morsi. That isn't to say most Egyptians are happy with the results, including the recent death sentences of hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood members and supporters. So, he rejects all this and presents his view, as you can see, in the most dramatic, over the top fashion he could muster in less than 140 characters. And this is but one of thousands upon thousands of examples that he is pumping out to 22,000 followers.To me, this is scary.

What is particularly bothersome about Mo is that he is an utter hypocrite who thinks that people cannot see what he is up to. I think he really looks at people as being stupid. I really believe this. I think he sees us all as too stupid to see through him. Well, maybe some are, but it is clear that many aren't and they are becoming more vocal about it, both on twitter and through blog posts and articles. Here is a man who screams Islamophobia on a daily basis who talks about love, peace, unity and tolerance. Then, he pulls crap like being part of a very public lynch mob against Maajid Nawaz over a tweet by Nawaz featuring Jesus and Mo, (one of my all time favourite web comics). You can read all about the infamous incident here. You can also read about it here. And here. Basically, you can find no shortage of information on this very public spat. But, here is what it boils down to. Mo HATES Maajid Nawaz. All of Mo's great talk about love, peace and unity seems to come completely derailed as soon as the subject of Maajid Nawaz comes up. There is no peace and love from Mo when it comes to Maajid and it renders his grand talks about it impotent. It is clear that he holds a grudge against Maajid. The reasons are many. After Mo Ansar did a documentary where he and EDL leader Tommy Robinson hung out and were little buddies, Mo thought he was the one who drew Tommy away from the EDL. So, when Tommy joined Maajid's controversial Quillium foundation (an anti-extremism think tank) Mo felt pretty slighted, as has been publicly evident. And Mo has held a deep grudge over this (and other things) and constantly runs down Maajid. The fact that Mo was one of those that led the drive to have Maajid removed as a Liberal Democrat candidate (supposedly) over the Jesus and Mo tweet shows just how far Mo is willing to go down a deep, dark path. What is particularly odd is that Mo himself said he wasn't offended by the tweet, yet, he wants to publicly lynch Maajid? I just don't get it. But, that's the mystery of Mo. But beyond Nawaz, he has had very public spats with LBC radio personality Iain Dale, who Mo reported to the police over what was an honest, open tweet asking Mo his views on homosexuality in the wake of Mo supporting an imam at a mosque that refused a BBC show on Free Speech because it discussed homosexuality...basically, homophobia. Why Mo wouldn't answer Iain is beyond me. But, somehow it ended with Mo reporting Iain to the police in a ridiculous fashion. Peace, love and unity? Out the window. Furthermore, his seeming hate of historian Tom Holland, who is, without a doubt, a brilliant and passionate historian, is very public. Again...where is the peace, love and unity? Mo constantly takes shots at Tom, and his most recent disgusting attack came in the form of suggesting that Tom Holland should be put on a poster of people who cause a "clash of cultures" which included famed mass murdering ultra nationalist Anders Breviek. What? Wha? Huh?? Wow. That shows a level of contempt and hate that is head scratchingly bold. And, it is the exact kind of thing that if done to Mo would result in Mo possibly calling the police in. Hypocrisy? Yes. Peace, love and unity? Not in the slightest.

Mo's central focus is his religion. He loves his religion, Islam. Can't fault him on that. He has his religion and it gives him something. Good. Great. Wonderful. Is he an expert in his religion? Hell no. Even though he claims to be a theologian and Imam, (again, no evidence of it), people are often scratching their heads as to what version of Islam he is even following, and what understanding of Islam he actually has. He has gone on the record as saying some bizarre things, like Muslims were the first to discover the "New World" and mingled very peacefully with the native population. What? Seriously? Yes, seriously he seems to believe this. He has gone on the record as saying there is no homophobia in Islam. What? Seriously? Well, depends on your interpretation of Islam, but the way it is too often practised we see no shortage of institutionalized homophobia. Basically, he wants to put Islam in the brightest light possible. He will go to seeming no lengths to point out how great Islam is....while at the same time spending no shortage of time completely running down the UK, and especially the US. His contempt of the US is strong. But, it is his contempt of Britian which raises some hackles. Recently, Al Shabab, the infamous Islam terrorist group, issued credible death threats towards Mo. Britain, his home, offered him police protection. So, Islamic extremists, who he rarely talks about and often downplays, threaten his life and the country he regularly condemns offers him....police protection? Wow. Someone has something backwards.

He recently was in a video put together using Parrell William's song "Happy" featuring British Muslims being, you know, happy. They dance, they sang, they had fun. Mo was in the video for a very short time, yet seems to think the thing revolves around him. He has been lambasted by conservative Muslims who point out in the Quran where it specifically says no dancing or singing. Mo, who says that the Quran is perfect, 100 percent the word of god, not changed, ever, not even a single period or comma seems to have missed this part of it. I do however back him on this one, with the idea that the Quran is open to interpretation and Mo's interpretation allows for dancing in a video...especially if it gives him a few precious seconds on screen. I wonder, however, what he would say if Maajid Nawaz was in the video and faced criticism for it?

So, in almost every context, we are dealing with someone who appears to be a fraud. He can't seem to tell a straight story on who he is, his qualifications or back up the vast majority of his outlandish claims. We have a man who cries Islamophobia, who contacts the police over ridiculous reasons, who stoops low when it comes to attacking his critics and who then turns around and talks about tolerance and love. Basically, we have someone that I cannot figure out how anyone can trust, and who should not be paraded around by the media as some grand expert on Islam and Muslim issues. But, the media insist on calling on him. Again, it's because he is the perfect little package. He has the costume, he is articulate, has a perfect British accent, and can be called on at anytime of the day and night to show up for an interview. He LOVES attention. He thrives on it. This is why I believe that he seems to have created this persona. He wants to be a big shot. He wants to be validated. He wants to by someone. What he doesn't want is to have to actually work to be that someone. This is what I have observed in him. That's what many have observed about him.

It bothers me personally that a man like this gets away with it. No one likes a con. No one likes a fraud. No one likes to be manipulated. I feel that he manipulates. He manipulates the media. He manipulates the public.He manipulates the Quran. He manipulates his religion. His lack of true knowledge and understanding pose a problem on a number of fronts. It means that we really aren't getting the truth. We are getting opinions from a guy who doesn't seem to really have much knowledge of most of the subjects he approaches, which does no one any favours. We have a man that constantly tries to silence criticism of his religion (and himself) by smearing everyone who does as being part of the English Defence League, and being a neo-con Islamaphobe. How is this helping anyone, exactly? What kind of peace, love and unity allows for the silencing of critics of Islam (and himself) by calling everyone who does an Islamophobe? Not helpful. Not useful. It's divisive. It's childish. There is no doubt that Mo has attracted the ire of many nationalists, racists and right wingers, and some of them say some scary things to Mo that are steeped in utter and complete ignorance. But, Mo isn't exactly showing a lack of ignorance himself. With Mo we have a man that is using his religion as a way to fame. He wants to be someone. His Mo Ansar character, which is essentially what he is, is offering him this fame. And people are buying into it. On the surface, he comes across quite charming, nice, kind and intelligent. Scratch the surface and we see a lottery ticket that doesn't pay out. And it is doing no one any good to keep holding on to it.

UPDATE: Iain Dale, who I referred to above, has been cleared by the police saying there was no reason for them to pursue the issue. Tell Mama said the same thing. In response, Iain Dale wrote an excellent blog post talking about this experience. You can read it here. It is an intelligent, interesting and insightful bit of writing that gives a good analysis of how Mo operates.

It is worth challenging Mo, much to Mo's chagrin. Mo wants to be in a position of power, a leader, an authority. Part of his persona revolves around the idea of challenging authority as a "civil rights activist" and "community leader". This also puts him into a position where he needs to be challenged as well. He seems wholly against the idea of being challenged, and resorts to attacks and accusations towards those asking questions, claiming they are merely right wing, neo con Islamophobes. If he wants to be in a position of power and authority, he must understand that people have every right to challenge him and ask questions, and given his dubious record, his shady claims of experience and his over the top rhetoric it is doubly important to challenge him. Iain has done just this. His blog is worth a read.

Reflections on Comedy (part 1)

Comedy. Oh you are an odd beast, you are. Yes, I do comedy. Am I a comedian? I don't know. At what point can you declare yourself a comedian? I get up on stage every week and I do my little jokes and sometimes people laugh and sometimes people don't. Sometimes I actually remember my jokes. Half the time I don't. There are times when I feel like the audience loves me, and times when the audience wants me dead....if there even is an audience.

It all seems so objective. I've seen some hilarious people get mixed reactions, and some terrible comics get a great reaction. Why? It's all down to the right people being in the right place at the right time in the right frame of mind. All factors have to come together perfectly for a really good night. How often does that happen? Maybe if you are Russell Brand or Louis CK or something it's every night. When it's a guy like me getting stage time here and there at open mics, with the odd contest thrown in and whatever else I can do, it's rare that all those factors come together. But, when they's magical. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

Suey Park, Racism, Whiteness, and Colbert

Oh geez. Great. Another twitter trend that leaves me wondering what the hell to actually think when it comes to being someone on the left, and a white male. Yes, this topic is terribly uncomfortable for me as a white male. I cannot lie. I do get defensive. I do feel hurt at times. I do feel like a punching bag. And, once again, this is the case. Yes, I am writing this from my own personal perspective and how it relates to me, my "race", my identity, my feelings, and so on and so forth. Let's make that perfectly clear. Yes, I am a human with feelings.

So, if you don't know the story by now, a new twitter campaign started by someone named Suey Park has emerged (and is subsiding) under the hashtag #CancelCobert. A good rundown of the controversy can be found in this New Yorker article. I'll give you a few minutes to read those before I continue. Done? Okay, good.

Okay, here is the deal. You can't tell someone who believes that something is racist towards them isn't racist. If they feel like it is racist towards them and they feel hurt or bothered by it, who am I or anyone else to tell them that they are wrong. But she is wrong. But it's bad to say that. And maybe she isn't wrong. I have no clue. From my perspective, my opinion, the joke was actually quite good and was also fighting the type of racism that Ms. Park is saying the joke is actually perpetuating. So, it sets off a nuclear explosion in my head. What the hell am I supposed to make of all this?? I'm on the left. How do I process this one. How do I reconcile of the fact that I don't think it's racist and want to call the whole campaign stupid with the fact that I also think racism is stupid. It's all just stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

One of the main arguements is that progressive white people are racist for not seeing the Colbert joke as a racist attack on an oppressed minority, of which Park sees herself. And because I don't see the joke as racist it turns out that I am racist...I think? I don't know. I'm guilty of something, that's for sure. I'm just not one hundred percent sure what I am guilty of. Therefore, I must resign from the whole conversation. But, I want to say a few things before I do. You know this whole fact that I am a white male? Screw it. I'm not. I'm tired of being accused of being a white male, and thusly part of a fascist system that oppresses everyone else. That's why I am not white...I am pink. And I am not male...I am human. So, just leave me out of it. Don't implicate me personally in any of this bullshit. I'm not part of any system. I'm just living my life, okay.

I'm not going to go into some grand thing about reverse racism, because that's stupid. But, I also hate the whole "Check your privilege!" garbage and the demonizing that too often goes with being a white male or whatever I am that I didn't choose to be and have no power over and must take all criticism of white maleness over or I'm not a good left winger that I think I am good at being. In other words, the whole thing is a mess and I have no clue where I fit in here, especially because I feel as rejected from most groups as it is and always have. I look at someone like Park who has more education, power and influence (and probably money and stature, or whatever) than I will ever have and can't help but feel horrible for oppressing her so badly with my whiteness. No, I don't know what it is like to be Asian. Has it been rough for her? Probably. I don't know. I haven't lived her life, just as no one else has lived mine. So, just as generalizations and jokes about her ethnicity can be seen as offensive, I think looking at me as a white male and making generalizations about that is offensive, and no one can tell me how to feel about it. I feel what I feel. And, yes, when it comes to the topic of me being part of a system and race that is the big oppressor, I have to stand up and say it does bother me because that means I am not being looked at for me...but as part of a group that I don't feel any strong association with! But, saying that turns me into someone someone else will say is saying, "Oh, I'm a poor oppressed white guy!" and will be told to check my privilege and shut up or whatever. Well...whatever, indeed. I know I'm not oppressed, although I have faced plenty of realities that have not made life overly easy. I hate the term privilege so much it makes me want to spit so I will just say I absolutely know that I have it better than so many people on this planet for a whole variety of reasons, not just my skin colour OR penis. I know these things. Privilege checked. Done. Complete. I understand this, okay. So, don't start on with that crap. Okay? Point clear? Good.

So, what am I trying to say here. Good question. Basically, I'm trying to say that issues around race, sex, heirarchy, oppression and all that jazz are more complex than sometimes it is made out to be by very academic approaches to these issues that too often want to categorize all this stuff into neat little groups and how certain people are supposed to feel, act and approach the issue, and that just doesn't sit well with me (but run on sentences do.). And I think that this whole #CancelCobert tag shows this once again even though some, including, I believe, Ms Park, want it to be a very cut and dry issue based on race and gender theory or whatever it is that this is all based in . And I refuse to be stuck in any of these categories and want to be able to make my own decisions about who I am and what I am going to think and hope, just hope, to avoid being labelled as something I don't want to be just as anyone else. Is that too much to ask? Probably, yes.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Kate Perry vs Islam

Oh dear GOD, spare us all from the ridiculousness of your followers. And when the ridiculousness of your followers collides with the ridiculousness of modern pop music, it just gets doubly ridiculous!

Case in point, the latest thing to piss off some Muslims, the fact that in Katy Perry's new, pathetically bad, ancient Egyptian themed music video for 'Dark Horse'. It shows a man being turned into sand. For some reason, this ancient Egyptian man is wearing a necklace that says 'Allah' in Arabic, even though Islam wasn't invented until centuries later. But, really, it doesn't matter. It's a music video. It's not meant to be a history lesson.

Here's what has some people pissed off. At 1:15 min into the video, the man (I believe it's "rapper" Juicy J?) wearing the necklace is turned into sand. The necklace, as well, is turned into sand. Now, you can't even notice the fact that he is wearing this particular necklace unless you actually pause the video and look for it at that point. Someone apparently did. And, now people are mad saying that Katy Perry has insulted Islam, interpreting the fact that the man turns into sand as him burning and thus the name of Allah being burned.

Now, there are a number of issues here, as far as I am concerned. First off, people are more upset that a necklace is turned into sand than a man turned into sand. Mind you, he isn't really turned into sand, nor is the necklace, it is merely fancy dancy special effects. So, not to worry, the necklace survives in the end. Hate to spoil that bit of music video wizardry for people. I know people know that, and see it as a symbolic 'insult' to Islam as opposed to believing the necklace was turned into sand, but, quite frankly, it's funny. It's funny how the 'symbolic' destruction of a human gets not concern, but the 'symbolic' destruction of a necklace does, merely because of it's shape.

Okay, fine, you know what, we know that some Muslims, and I stress SOME Muslims, get completely bent out of shape over anything perceived as an 'insult' to their religion, no matter how slight it may be. Most will walk away from this feeling possibly a bit mad. Some on social media, however, are demanding YouTube take down the video, ban it, say they hate that 'bitch' (interesting, seeing as swearing is haram in Islam), saying they will never listen to her again and people should boycott her. Now, fine, if you don't want to listen to her again, that's your choice. But, I think calling for an outright ban of a video for something that cannot even be seen without pausing it, or because the perception some have is that it is an 'insult' to Islam is going a bit too far. And, to me, it's all ridiculous.

I do get very tired of this demanding of respect for religion. I believe I have mentioned it before. Demanding respect for a homophobic, genocidal, ego-maniacal, sexist, arrogant, demanding god is a bit rich. Mind you, it's god. It doesn't exist. But, people believe it not only exists but MUST be respected. I don't agree with that. If something does not exist it isn't worthy of ANYTHING. It doesn't exist. Period. But, if we go for some notion that this god does exist, the idea that we should automatically, without question respect it is....well....ridiculous. Now, the demand is to respect the religion and not insult the god, prophet or followers. Welllllll, wait a minute. This is the same religion that says I am going to burn in a fiery hell for eternity for not believing in it. I'm supposed to respect this belief?? It's the same religion that condemns gays for being, you know, gay. I'm supposed to respect this belief?? No. Sorry. I can't do that. And no one should feel obligated to respect something they don't feel respectful of. Now, that doesn't mean I'm running out and burning Qurans on the corner. It just means that when something like this comes up, I want to scream out BULLSHIT, deal with it, when people get bent out of shape over an image that lasts a millisecond! And, the best place to do that, of course, is on social media, where we all scream out everything we want to scream out anyway.

So, here is the deal. If you are mad that Katy Perry's very bad video for a very bad song has a millisecond where Allah's name get's turned into dust because it is on a man who is turned to dust, who isn't actually turned to dust, nor the name, then, fine. It's your prerogative. But, really? Seriously? Honestly? Give me a break. Is it really worth being that upset about? I got it, your ultra sensitive about your religion because imams and scholars keep DRIVING into people's heads that these things are insulting. But, I keep seeing kids, not very old, saying how Katy Perry has disgraced Islam. Well, what? Is it really THAT big of deal in your early teens? Who is instructing you to see this millisecond of video as so highly offensive that it should be banned? It seems to me that the propaganda and dogma within ultra conservative interpretations of the religion is being blasted into the minds of young kids who just repeat what their imams, parents and scholars (a term I use loosely) as opposed to really feeling the deep insult that they report they feel. But, at the same time, who am I to say who should be insulted by what.

But, frankly, if we are talking about banning videos, oh dear GAWD this is no shortage of Islamic assholes attacking the West, atheists, Christians, Jews, Israel, gays and lesbians, and whatever else they can completely lay hate on, and yet it's this Katy Perry video that people want taken down? Give me a break, people. Spare me. It's too rich, to ridiculous, in my view. You don't have to like the video. I don't like the video or the song. But, it is what it is, and the millions of Katy Perry fans out there love it, so more power to them. And, if your god gets angry about a necklace shaped into it's name being turned to dust in a music video, then that is a scary god that I want nothing to do with! That is not a loving god. That is a vengeful, angry, spiteful, self loving, arrogant god that is spending too much time focused on a millisecond of video and not enough time on saving sick children. Please, keep that god away from me, because frankly, that god is an asshole. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

There is NO Atheist Movement.

Am I an atheist? Ya. It appears that I am. I cannot escape from the idea that I am. Face it, I am. It's not the easiest thing to admit in this religion obsessed world, when so many people you know and love are believers. But, face it, I'm an atheist.

Today, I read, for the first time, about the "atheist movement" and I shuddered. Atheist movement??? What is this! Atheism is NOT a movement. It's not as if it is a religion. There are no popes, priests, imams, or anything of that nature. There is no central spokesperson. It doesn't need a spokesperson of any sort. It is not a movement. It is what it is. It is a natural state of being before indoctrination. It is not an organized belief. The vast majority of atheists prefer the logic of science over the dogma of religion, however, that doesn't define atheism. Atheism is what it is. It is not having a religious belief or affiliation. Organized movement? No way.

There is no need to proselytize atheism. It is not something that needs to be proven to anyone. The proof for atheism lies in the complete absence of proof of any kind of god or gods. It speaks for itself. No atheist speaks for any other atheist. Some people would like to put Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens or other famed atheists on top of the heap, as some kinds of leaders. They aren't. They are not leaders. They are atheists. They have their views which are open to like, dislike, challenges, praise or what have you. They don't speak for me. They don't speak for anyone but themselves. They are who they are. We all are who we are. That's it. No leaders. No followers. No churches. No dogma.

So, when I hear someone say "atheist movement", I sort of feel like they are missing the boat and not understanding what atheism is. Mind you, this is my opinion and my opinion only. Like I said, I do not speak for other atheists. I challenge strongly this notion of a movement. I don't see atheism as being a movement nor needing a movement.  It does not need leaders or spokespeople. It is not that kind of -ism. It is not a religion. It is not a system of governance or finance. It is not a cohesive belief system. It is not even a belief system, period. So, how can their be a movement?

Some are arguing that because of years of persecution, there is a need to band together to fight religion. Not really. No. I mean, you can stand up against religious superiority and persecution without a cohesive movement. We know persecution is wrong, right? Therefore, we fight persecution because we are humans who know that it is wrong. One does not need to be an atheist to fight against persecution.

Is disagreeing persecution? No. Can people hate, criticize, mock, dislike or laugh at atheism? Of course. Who cares. Go for it. It doesn't change facts that exist that make atheism a logical conclusion. It is not something that has to be fought for. There is no jealous god or hyper sensitive prophet needing defending. Dawkins and Hitch don't need defending. They are grown men who can stand on their own two feet (well, unfortunately, Hitch can't anymore...RIP). They don't need defending. They defend themselves quite nicely, and good on them. They take tons of criticism and they deal with it (must stop using present tense for Hitch) in their own way. So, no, atheism is not some movement. It isn't meant to be on the same plane as religion. There should be no grand fight for followers like the other religions have. We don't have to claim that we are the "fastest growing religion in the world!" because it doesn't matter. You either accept it or don't. There is no number count. You are either with logic, or with a religious belief system. Your choice. Up to you.

To sum up, as if I haven't already....atheism is not and should not be seen as a movement. Again, my opinion. My view. I speak for no other atheists. That's the point. Atheists are atheists. They think for themselves. They represent themselves. They view the world in their own way. Period. Each is responsible for their own beliefs. This is mine. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

The Ups and Downs of World Hijab Day

You know what the world needs? A straight white males perspective on World Hijab Day. That's right. It's the opinion you all have been dying for. I know you have all been clammering, waiting to hear viewpoint from a white man. Sure, there are plenty of, say, Muslim women, who talked about this topic today, but it's really the white guys opinion you want, right? No, you say? Oh.

Well, I'm going to write a blog post about it anyway, because that's just what I do, dammit. I stick my nose in everywhere. I have an opinion about anything, and I have a few things to say about this one. 

I spent much of the day following (and sometimes posting to) the twitter hashtag #WorldHijabDay. I knew this day had been coming. I saw the tag days before. I anticipated the excitement. This was going to be awesome. What was going to be said on this hashtag? Gawd only knows. 

Here's what I did see. I saw a lot of Muslim girls and women who seem very proud, happy and blessed that they wear a hijab. To them I say, "Kudos!". If you like it, good. Wear the sucker, I don't care. If it gives you a positive feeling, then that's good, right? Of course not everyone is forced to wear the hijab. There are many people who choose it and love it and that point was driven home to excess today. Mind you, this was mostly by Western based Muslim women who have never had to live in a country where they didn't have the choice. But, that's just a small issue....sort of. 

Of course, there have been a small number of Western countries, France being the main one that I know of, that has banned face veils although not hijabs. There has been debate and controversy in other places, including here in Canada, in Quebec about bans or restrictions of some sort. Quebec is working on a law that would ban headcoverings and religious wear from provincial government institutions. My feelings on that? Complex. I would need another blog post. And, when I lived in Turkey, women weren't allowed to wear hijabs in government institutions or Universities. That has since been overturned but, there you have it, a country with a 90 percent Muslim population banning hijabs. Doesn't just happen in the West. Doesn't just happen in non-Muslim countries. Actually, for the most part, people are quite free to wear what they want in the vast majority of the West. Not so much in the Muslim world. 

Now, there are also many tales of discrimination, dirty looks, and even violence towards women wearing a nijab. What? Come again? WHY??? Why would anyone attack anyone for wearing the hijab. That is appalling and disgusting in so many ways. No way, in any society, should this ever be looked at as acceptable. I am not going to play stupid and naive. I know it has happened. I have read sad, sad news stories about it. I condemn this in the fullest. Attacking another human being for what they are wearing is low, disgusting and wrong. Don't do it! Don't! Just don't. No. Not acceptable. Ever. 

Okay, so that is out of the way. 

The other major thing I learned today is that not everyone was happy about World Hijab Day. A fresh new hashtag came on the scene: #notohijabappropriation. Oh boy. Just when things seemed simple and straightforward, this one came along. 

So, the thrust behind the main campaign, the World Hijab Day, was more of a "Walk a mile in our shoes" sort of thing. Come on, try the hijab for a day, it ain't so bad! You'll like it! See what we go through! Seems innocent and well meaning enough. No. It isn't it turns out. Apparently, all these innocent, well meaning people are guilty of appropriation for taking part in this world wide campaign in 100 countries. This irked me a bit. Here are all these people being stopped in malls and schools and on the street and asked to take part in the event, and then another group comes along and accuses the people of appropriation. Well, that backfired spectacularly. If you took part and didn't get the full Muslim experience, you are screwed, you have appropriated, you evil, evil person (sarcasm). 

Now, despite me saying that, the anti-appropriation crowd had the far better argument. You can't understand a culture/religion or the lives of the people living it by putting a scarf on your head for a day. Fair point. Can't argue with that. I agree. It's like someone dropping into Winnipeg in July for a few days, going home and telling everyone who beautiful, warm and friendly it is. Unless you are here year round, when the snow is chin deep and the temperatures will freeze your appendages off, and your car won't start, and you can barely drive on the poorly maintained roads, you don't know what Winnipeg is truly like. Bad analogy? I'm sure someone will think so. 

Really, all you are doing by putting on the scarf is....putting on a scarf. That's the argument anyway. Can't argue against it really, unless one really invests the time into finding out the trials and tribulations of those who wear it everyday in the name of their religion, you really can't know what it's like. In others words, if you aren't a Muslim woman who wears the hijab faithfully, you won't get it. The message from these folks? Don't just stick on the to Muslim women, get to know them, get to know what they experience, find out. As was pointed out, the hijab is not the sole defining point of a person. It is an important part, but there is much more. And, the experiences that come with being a Muslim woman and wearing the hijab can't be duplicated unless you are in that position. Makes sense. Can't argue with that. However, it seems that telling other well meaning women off for taking part in a highly publicized campaign is a bit....mean. Maybe break it to them gently? Just a suggestion. 

Now, the hijab itself? Honestly, people swear it is not a sign of oppression, it's a sign of freedom. Okay, well, if that's what you feel, good. You can't tell someone who feels free that they are oppressed. That makes no sense. It's hard for me to understand this freedom that is often talked about, but that's okay. It's not up to me to understand. If someone says they feel free, good for them. But then, all of these lovely analogies popped up. Oh, the analogies. "A women in a hijab is like a pearl in a clamshell!" or "Would you rather a peice of unwrapped discarded candy? Or a new, fresh wrapped candy!" Oh dear gawd. I've always hated these analogies. People aren't pearls. They aren't candy. They are people. So, reading these things again was just painful. But, if someone wants to see themselves as a precious piece of candy, that's up to them. 

The biggest, biggest problem I have with the whole hijab thing? Along with the defending of the hijab comes the innevitable slut shaming of women who don't wear the hijab. Oh, man, how many times did I read about how a woman in a hijab is far more beautiful than a woman walking around half naked. Of course the hijab means you have more respect for your body (sarcasm). Wearing the hijab means that people look at your mind, not your body (sarcasm). UGH! This makes me want to scream! Basically, the implication is, "What? You don't wear a hijab? What an immoral slut you must be!" Exaggerating? Yes and no. Depends on the person making the comment and the ferocity of their opinion on it. But, come ON! Can't you enjoy the hijab and what it means to you without slut shaming other women or implying they are immoral, indecent or don't have respect for themselves?? That doesn't help the image of the hijab at all. If a person wants to wear a bikini, that isn't saying they are immoral or they don't have respect for themselves. It's saying, "Right now, I've decided to wear a bikini." And there is nothing wrong with that. The thing is, we all have bodies. We are humans. We know what flesh looks like. The vast majority of us can go through life seeing women in bikinis and NOT be driven to rape. Many of us can look at another being with maturity and confidence and not just want to have sex with them. We can do that! So, don't shame us folks who aren't buying into this whole modesty trap as being essential to a well oiled society. Just as you have your views on what you want to wear and want respect, so does everyone else. For that matter, I want to be able to wear a Jesus and Mo t-shirt and not be threatened with death....:) (Sorry, that is in reference to another "scandal" I have been following on twitter lately, the Mo Ansar and Mo Shafiq vs Maajid Nawaz face off over the posting of a Jesus and Mo cartoon)

And for gawd sakes, I wish I could read a tag like this and NOT feel like a dirty rapist. Look, I don't have lustful eyes for every woman on the planet. Please don't look at me or see me as someone who does. More likely than not, if I see a girl in shorts and a tank top at the grocery store, and I go up to her, it's to ask where she found the toilet paper in her basket and how much it costs and not even notice anything else. You know what? A good number of us men really are like that. We just do our thing. Men, just as women, just as Muslims, just as anyone else, are diverse. We are not a homogenized block of humans who all act and think the same. Please, before you say how you are protecting yourself from the lustful gaze of men who sometimes just can't help themselves when they see someones hair from molesting them, count me out of that equation. I'm not part of that. If this is how you see men, then I am not one. I am other than that and don't wish to be put into that category, okay?  So, yes, there is an element of this that I do find personally insulting....and insulting to many men. 

So, with all that said, everyone go back to wearing whatever suits them best, relax, enjoy, chill out and do your thing. If you are thinking of assaulting anyone for any reason....DON'T! We only have one life to live (despite what religious folks might say). Do we really want to spend the whole thing judging each others clothing choices, and their personal morals and values? No. We don't. Yes. I did just answer that for you.