Thursday, September 20, 2007

It would be so much easier to run from the world than to change it...

An Immodest Proposal

I do not intend a heavy allusion above, notably because I am not about to engage in a work of biting satire, nor even shall my treatise be written on a subject identical or pertinent to the original. No, I intend a reversal of the comical understatement, for the proposal which follows can by no stretch of the imagination be called modest. Actually, I may have to re-title this section, because after a little reading here and there, I think that a single proposal would be very clumsily-worded indeed if I were to attempt the brute-force compression of my many-faceted argument into a single decree, Hence:

Immodest Proposals

Shall be the order of the day.

I will begin more or less where the central idea for this post came from: the upcoming election/referendum in Ontario. How could a self-respecting blogger with strong political views not spend his or her evenings bashing out those opinions on a keyboard? In my case, the first weeks of first-year university intervened, along with an intense feeling of intimidation. How to write for an audience that knows what to expect, praises what they have read, and - no matter how much they insist to the contrary - I have a duty not to dissapoint? Moreover, how to avoid repeating myself - a particular issue when one is most vocal about an exceptionally persistent theme in the news. I have finally jumped that first hurdle, namely typing words on the page at all. At present, I (and you, dear reader, by extension) are experiencing hurdle #2: starting to write real content, instead of egotistical musings on the nature thereof.

Returning to the election - in the hopes of overcoming the latter obstacle - one is confronted with the usual glut of ad-hominem assaults which now seem to characterize "western" democracies moreso than real issues, or for that matter the actual practice of exercizing one's franchise do. It is an unfortunate element of our democratic system that all the good and evil of each and every party is projected upon a single figurehead, inseparable and indivisible from the base ideals and platform of those parties. I care not for their so-called issues of "leadership", nor for "what they love about x or y in Ontario". Our current democratic system is based upon voters in each riding choosing the best candidate to represent them in provincial parliament, an ideal which is confounded - if not crippled - by the second name, face, and agenda which comed attached to every vote for an MPP of a particular party. With signs that say things like "your John Tory candidate", there seems to be an increasing desire to erase the faces and party affiliations of MPPs, replacing them instead with a monolithic all-leader. It has apparently been said of MMP (which I will visit in due time) that MPPs elected by list-PR serve no constituents, and are therefore not accountable (duly credited to a myth-busting segment on Fair Vote Ontario's website). Though this is false at the outset, it is certainly preferable to a system in which the party line is replaced by the leader's line, and whatever individual voice that an MPP can possess is removed such that only the dear leader's voice emanates from his or her mouth.

I have argued before (although whether or not I have done so in this space I know not) that a system which enforces a conformity of opinion among members of a party is intensely undemocratic. I recall once advocating that the parties such as they exist be abolished, on the grounds that individual MPPs or MPs should have the right to vote how they choose on matters concerning their constituencies at all times. Indeed, voting freely is not unheard of (hence the need for a party whip in the first place), but it is the institution of controls to prevent it which offends my sensibilities. The same goes for issues where there is a moral/ethical controversy, even though it presents great difficulties for the system. Consider that in the case of same-sex marriage, it could be possible for a number of otherwise egalitarian representatives to have a negative bias on religious grounds (for example). It may or may not be the case that the constituents of those representatives share this view for the same reasons. That being said, imagine the feeling of betrayal in a voter who was not told the full story about a candidate's moral stances, or approves of that candidate's policies more than with those of other hopefuls, and yet must withhold a vote being informed of those convictions. A system which allows for independent expression from each and every representative is a system in which to be informed, a voter could potentially have to scrutinize the moral code of all candidates in his or her riding. While in some cases (the Family Coalition Party, or as I like to call them, the "deserve to be called human in the biological sense alone" party comes to mind) it is easy enough to ascertain and extrapolate the values of a given party member. The same could be said of almost any party. With no parties, however, subtle variations would begin to matter more and more. In light of this, the only fitting solution is to retain the idea of a political party, but in the ideological sense alone. Politicians would be required to identify with a given party, based upon their own judgement (because an impartial test, besides being unobtani-document, would assign a person to a definition, which I believe says less about the person than their own free choice does). The parties would be characterized by general political philosophies, rather than by platforms or leaders, and legislation would be proposed and passed in a matter analogous to the existing process used for private members' bills. The obvious hitch is funding, because this system would seem to favour the independently wealthy (ie. those who can afford to self-finance their campaigns). A novel idea which has just occurred to me is the separation of campaign activities from the members or parties. An independent body would print signs, and set up all-candidates meetings, and generally remove the "marketing" aspect of politics. Granted, it seems odd for a system which allows independent expression inside parliament would curtail it outside, but it makes a certain amount of sense: remove the "flash" from campaigns, and the voters are forced to *gasp* CONSIDER THE ISSUES!?!?

It is a testament to my own distractable nature that the entire proposal above wasn't included in my original concept of this piece. What I meant to get into was this election's star topic: funding for faith-based schools. Naturally, I am vehemently opposed to the practice of funding for all [faith-based schools], even though I will admit that it would be an improvement over the status quo (which has, in fact, earned us a UN reprimand or several). Indeed, we are told that it is a Canadian value to celebrate diversity, so why not allow children of every faith to be educated in an environment designed by and for members of their own culture? Because, and I say this with the least possible patriotic bravado possible, WHEN YOU GAIN CANADIAN CITIZENSHIP, YOU CONSENT TO THE SOCIAL CONTRACT! Yes, Canada is not a melting pot, but it is also not a nation where multiculturalism should be used to defend the practice of teaching children to hate other humans who are different! I'm not referring to intolerance of other faiths, but specifically to homosexuality. Some of you may recall that I wrote here of words I saw written in childrens' writing on a school blackboard which I can only assume to be in reference to a film which portrayed at least one pair of lesbians in a negative light ("selfish", was one word used). NO ONE HAS THE RIGHT TO DO THAT TO CHILDREN. This I do not mind repeating. This brings me to a point - Parental Rights - that I will also visit later. This digression aside, I have no confidence that faith-based schools will uphold values such as gender equality, especially where some religions have counterveiling positions on that topic. If every Catholic, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, Hindu, etc. had the courage to approach their religion as anything less than the absolute truth, then I would be more forgiving. In fact, in searching for "Right to sexual education", to see if the concept existed in our law (again, a related topic to be discussed later), I found this little gem. Somewhere, somehow, I have the suspicion that the poisoned tongues of David Warren and his ilk would find an avenue to whisper into religiously-educated childrens' ears. Perhaps the public curriculum can be no less biased, but it just so happens to be biased in support of established social values, far in advance of those advocated by religious hardliners.

The only compelling reason to fund all faith-based schools is that they could be made accountable to the government. This is the only reason that I can think of to even consider the practice. The province cannot allow science classes to be watered-down to be made "consonant with Christian Science", or "Muslim Science", or any other supposed "Science" which inserts God into the fundamental equations and constants of the universe in a last-ditch effort to remain relevant. Science is about observation, and religious censorship runs directly against the empiricism upon which research is based. If this, and other transgressions can be stopped by attaching conditions to public funding, then perhaps there is less to worry about than I suggest. On the other hand, why not simply introduce formal religious studies into the public system? Many schools have held World Religions classes in the past. Interestingly enough, it was the people of faith who couldn't handle the heat. My own high school stopped offering the class after some people of undisclosed faith(s) apparently became too agitated at the prospect of questioning or examining their beliefs. The conclusion that I'm drawing from this is that in order to present a religion class to religious people, one must avoid philosophical debates, and instead present the class with the comforting knowledge that, although they should respect people of all faiths, theirs is the only true one, and needs no questioning. This leads me to my conclusion on the nature of faith-based schools: They exist to segregate and censor such that no parents will have to face the horror that their child met someone or learned something that caused them to *shock/horror* THINK about what they have been told to believe.

On a side note, Dalton McGuinty loving our Public schools "[because] they're public" in those TV ads not only SOUNDS redundant, cheesy, and hypocritical coming from a Catholic-schooled man, it IS all of those things! Combined with his appalingly un-democratic assertion that this election is a 2-party race (which may be true, but is no reason not to vote for what one believes in), and that NDP voters should elect a government they ostensibly don't want (they're NOT voting Liberal in the first place) in order to avoid the formation of a government they also ostensibly don't want, I don't believe the man has any feet left to stand on. Even removed from his position as head of the party (see earlier), he's running for election IN MY RIDING, and despite a conspicuous lack of worthiness, is essentially certain to win.

The time for me to retire to my bed looms near, and I fear that I have time for perhaps one more proposal before I must put down my keyboard for the night. This final proposal is the original "Immodest" one of my original title. It is a response to the fact that the Catholic School board has been debating whether or not they will allow HPV vaccines to be administered in their schools. Fortunately for Catholic-schooled girls, more moderate heads seem to have prevailed, and the vaccinations will be an option. The very nature of the opposition is offensive to me. Some believe that vaccination is a tacit admission that girls will engage in premarital sex, and should therefore be given protection for that purpose. Connecting this back to faith-based schooling, the most IMPORTANT thing that would have to be mandated and carefully monitored in those schools is sex education. In the debate, one bishop(?) remarked that the "primacy of parental rights" should be maintained, regardless of the outcome of the debate. FUCK THAT SHIT. It is not for me to say whether the parents or the state knows what's best for a child. If I had to take a guess, I'd say that neither was likely to be right any more often than the other. Why I'm angry about the idea that parent's rights to choose their child(ren)'s education should be paramount is that it opens the door for faith-based schools to be a place where backbirth parents send their children in order to minimize how much they learn about sex. To quote the earlier-linked article:

"It began in the spring of 1999 when the United Nations Fund for Population Activities carefully selected 32 young people and flew them to New York to speak "on behalf of all three billion of the world's youth" and add a set of demands to a bureaucratic document. And these demands were crazed: the "right" to abortions; the "right" to sexual orientation; the elimination of parental "rights"; the "right" to "sexual education" without parental knowledge or consent; the "right to sexual pleasure in a guilt-free way".

Anna and her friends decided to distribute a flyer which declared Those youth do not speak for us. It created pandemonium in the conference. And it immediately introduced them to dozens of young delegates from the poor and developing countries who like them felt betrayed by this horrific bureaucratic demonstration of the moral illness of our contemporary world.

But rather than whine and blather in the manner of leftish people they set to work. Having looked into the face of the destroyers of our humanity they resolved to build. Let the world see what youth can do -- youth who are not sick whose hearts are instead filled with faith and real love.

They have taken upon themselves the extremely uncool task of fighting the good fight within and around all the international organizations -- the U.N. the European Union and the rest -- which make aid to the Third World dependent upon following various guidelines that are morally depraved. For the culture of death of nihilism -- the peculiar product of the "death of God" in the post-Christian West -- is being imposed upon the poor and helpless of the world through endless bureaucratic machinations."

Having read this, you will all know the anger that I feel, and yet I still cannot resist the urge to describe it. If someday, some man or woman sees fit to murder my (as-yet-hypothetical) children in cold blood, I hope that I will bear them half the anger that I bear David Warren after reading the above. Those "crazed" rights, which he goes on to list are the most fantastically utopian that I can imagine, and yet he derides them as if they were Satan's own engraved tablets. Furthermore, the unwarranted shot at leftists is particularly rich coming from a man whom I have known to do nothing more than "whine and blather"! I want to meet this Anna, and ask why in all the world she has chosen to side against her gender, and why she would side with those who would have her be submissive to the male will. I want to know why this traitor to women, to youth, and to humanity itself can sleep at night. I want to know who supports her, and I want to know why THEY have turned against us all. I know it's awful to demonize an enemy, but this is not demonization: these people would condemn millions, if not billions to AIDS, poverty, and very likely violence and genital mutilation -- and they would all sleep well every night for the rest of their lives. Ironic that those who proclaim to be most interested in doing "God's" work invariably seem devoted to the Devil's cause!

My immodest proposal, by the way, was to be that Reproductive Rights be established, and that they include confidential access to education, contraception, and abortion WITHOUT PARENTAL CONSENT. Furthermore, I would co-opt the "pleasure sans guilt" clause which is so offensive to Mr. Warren. These rights should be universal, and they should be widely publicized. There would be no discrimination based on gender, sexuality, race, etc. And I'll be frank, it's not just about 'just in case'. I think it's time we fully supported the right of consenting teens to have (safe, natch) sex, whether their parents approve or not. The argument that sex should be reserved for marriage is a silly, and flawed one. If neither party has had sex before, how "meaningful" will their bumbling be? It will be memorable, yes, but I contend that if both parties enter the marriage knowing how to work in the interests of mutual pleasure, it would do naugh but enhance the experience. Sex education should be a right because it actually works (something that abstinence-only education fails to do), and because adolescents have a RIGHT to know what is happening to their bodies during puberty. I will elaborate on this with my first update, because I must ensure that my arguments are solid as tank plating to withstand the fire of any fanatical types who may pass this way.

I want this to happen because I believe it is right, and because it would deliver a metaphorical curb-stomp to people like David Warren. It would give me, youth, women, men, hermaphrodites, trans-sexuals, homosexuals, bisexuals, heterosexuals, metrosexuals, ubersexuals, and anyone else under the Royal Rainbow a victory which could not be achieved by any other means: we would get to see them VANQUISHED PSYCHOLOGICALLY, subjected to the neverending torture of knowing that people who are different, and people who count themselves in the majority but who have a strong sense of social justice can be happy, free, and be who they are in public and in private. People like David Warren would die surrounded by a perpetual pride parade, having been denied their role as inflictors of pain and suffering in the theocratic dystopia that I imagine occupies their wildest wet dreams.

This will be expanded, edited, improved tomorrow and beyond



To all Atheists, Agnostics, and Critically-Minded Religious People:

If you believe in peace, order, good government, human rights, democracy, equality, and other things similar thereto, I have a proposal for you.

Though it be our moral imperative to ensure that all humanity live freely as we would wish to, the efforts of certain others, whom I will refer to as "teamkilling fucktards", as well as certain engrained cultural attitudes, acquired prejudices, greed, and the unfriendly side of human nature are sure to hamper our progress at every turn. Clearly, our only recourse is to whip out a can of Bioshock on them, and build a bitchin' secluded art-deco city in space/on a moon or other planet/under the ocean/all of the above, and leave the unlucky sods behind until our technology is so vastly superior that we may...convince our detractors of the inherent superiority of a free and civil world without hatred.

Any takers?

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