banner photo:

"Each individual should allow reason to guide his conduct, or like an animal, he will need to be led by a leash."
Diogenes of Sinope

Banner photo
Thousand Flowers tapestry (15th Century) - Beaune, France (detail)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

And there were riots in Denmark over a cartoon?

Powerline has a story about the resignation of Gene Nichol, the President of Virginia's College of William & Mary. Nichol, you may recall, was embroiled in controversy for ordering the removal of a cross from the college's Wren Chapel so as not to offend non-Christians. Nichol is apparently claiming that "ideological opposition" on the college's board of governors forced him to resign:

Nichol also cites his decision to permit a “sex-worker” show on campus (which he refers to merely as a "program") as a basis for ideological opposition to his administration. Perhaps so. But Nichol fails to explain why it was illegitimate to raise questions about the relationship between supporting that "program", which featured among other things a stripper sucking on a gun shaped dildo and dancing to Schubert’s Ave Maria while wearing a cap with the symbol of the Red Cross, and the educational mission of William & Mary.

Predictably, Nichol's departure has prompted protests from students at the college who want him to stay.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Gay Cubans & Castro's Legacy

I'm always astonished when I hear Canadians rhapsodize dreamily about their vacations in Cuba; many go so far as to advocate the "Cuban Model" as a system that Cubans should emulate. After all, Cubans have universal free health care, you know. Most Canadians, when presented with evidence of the abject misery in which most Cubans live, conveniently blame the American embargo for all of Cuba's problems.

I have a few gay friends who vacation regularly in Cuba, and it astounds me that gay Canadians of all people can feel comfortable propping up that dictatorial regime by spending their vacation dollars there, given the history of brutal repression of the island's gay population at the hands of Fidel Castro.

This article provides a nice summary of the mistreatment of Cuba's homosexuals since the revolution, and outlines the expectations that gay Cubans have that life will get better for them now that El Presidente has stepped down. An excerpt:

Sexual diversity was seen by Fidel Castro as a corrupt consequence of capitalism. Cuban poet Jose Mario, an important artistic figure in the country, suffered in Cuban labour camps as Castro's regime 're-educated' homosexuals.Gays were incarcerated in Military Units to Aid Production (UMAPs) between 1965 and 1968. Castro believed that hard work would rid the men of their "counter-revolutionary tendencies."At the entrance of the camp there was a sign which said "work shall make you men", similar to the motto of the Nazi concentration camps, "work shall set you free."Homosexual sex was partially decriminalised in 1979 and an equal age of consent was introduced in 1992. While social attitudes towards gay people are generally negative, the capital city Havana has a thriving gay scene but all gay rights organisations are banned.

But they have free health care, you know.

UPDATE: See this related post at Citizen Crain: Adios, Dictator

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Tale

Brilliant satire from Iowahawk (with apologies to Geoffrey Chaucer): The Tale of the Asse Hatte. An excerpt:

25 Sayeth the pilgryms to Bishop Rowan,
26 "Father, we do not like howe thynges are goin'.
27 You know we are as Lefte as thee,
28 But of layte have beyn chaunced to see
29 From Edinburgh to London-towne
30 The Musslemans in burnoose gowne
31 Who beat theyr ownselfs with theyr knyves
32 Than goon home and beat theyr wyves
33 And slaye theyr daughtyrs in honour killlynge
34 Howe do we stoppe the bloode fromme spillynge?"
35 The Bishop sipped upon hys tea
36 And sayed, "an open mind must we
37 Keep, for know thee well the Mussel-man
38 Has hys own laws for hys own clan
39 So question not hys Muslim reason
40 And presaerve ye well social cohesion."

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

The Obama personality cult

As I mentioned in this post, some pundits are getting a little weirded out by the creepiness of some of Barack Obama's supporters. Want more? Check out this website: Is Barack Obama the Messiah? Some highlights:

A big black vehicle came past, escorted front and back by mounted police to hold the crowds away. People rushed forward screaming hysterically. Police edged them back and the vehicle moved slowly forward. I asked a woman, “Who was that?” She’d been one of those who pushed herself up toward the SUV. She turned to me as if I were out of my mind, “It was HIM!” she yelled. “But,” I questioned, “how do you know? All the windows were darkened.” She replied, “I felt it.”
Seattleite Wendy Malabuyo, a 31-year-old engineer, said she couldn't name any specific accomplishments that qualified Obama to be president but pointed to his career of "serving the underserved" in Chicago after graduation from Harvard.
"He inspires me. I can't even say. … He gives me so much hope," Malabuyo said. "It makes me feel like something will actually change. So I'm speechless. I love him. I love everything he stands for. I love everything that he can bring to this country. And we just need to get him there."
Asked what the senator has accomplished that makes him fit to become president, Cruce said: "Well, I think the biggest thing is he is like a key. He's going to unlock a door that's going to allow us now to pass and finally be able to do some things we would like to do. There are not going to be as many barriers as there have in the past."
Jan Young, 56, of Maple Grove, said the size and diversity of the crowd was unlike anything she had seen in politics in her lifetime. "It's almost like the Messiah, you know?" said Young, a woman who said she originally backed Clinton but was drawn to Obama over the last year. "People really, really want change, and you feel it. You don't just hear it -- you feel something coming from him."
"He looked at me, and the look in his eyes was worth 1,000 words," said Mack, now a regional field organizer. Obama hugged her and whispered something in her ear – she was so thrilled she doesn't remember what it was.
"My job is to be so persuasive that if there's anybody left out there who is still not sure whether they will vote, or is still not clear who they will vote for, that a light will shine through that window, a beam of light will come down upon you, you will experience an epiphany ... and you will suddenly realize that you must go to the polls and vote for Obama"
. . . Obama's finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I've heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence. . . .

This is getting a little unsettling. Obama's primary campaign has become almost completely self-referential, and primary voters in the US are being swept up in a wave of hysteria generated by a charismatic demagogue who says almost nothing substantive about policy of any kind. This can't end well.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The increasing creepiness of Obama supporters

Jake Tapper at ABC News has noticed that Barack Obama's campaign has taken a turn for the weird and is starting to look increasingly cult-like:
It's as if Tom Daschle descended from on high saying, "Be not afraid; for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all the people: for there is born to you this day in the city of Chicago a Savior, who is Barack the Democrat."

Mitt Romney blames porn for black babies?

Katherine Mangu-Ward at Reason Magazine has a hilarious take on Mitt Romney's farewell speech at the CPAC convention today:

By the logic of this paragraph, you download a two minute clip of girl-on-girl action, and the next thing you know there are little black babies popping up everywhere, wishing that George Washington was their daddy.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Does Dalton McGuinty really believe this stuff?

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty had this to say recently about the Toronto District School Board's plans to open a "black-focused school":

“We believe it’s a matter of principle: that the single most important thing we can do for our kids is bring them together so they have an opportunity to come to know one another, to understand one another and to learn together and grow together,” McGuinty said Wednesday before a cabinet meeting.

“We think that’s the foundation for a caring, cohesive society.” Instead of separating
students from different races, McGuinty said he would be open to the idea of making more changes to the provincial curriculum so all Ontario children learn more about black history.

“There have been some changes made to the curriculum in the past and if we need to strengthen that further to ensure that it is truly inclusive, then let’s have that dialogue,” he said.

“And let’s do it in a way that ensures kids continue to come together and share the same classrooms.”

I don't know how the Premier can say this with a straight face. He is the product of a separate publicly-funded Catholic high school education; he sends his own children to separate publicly-funded Catholic schools, and his wife teaches in a separate publicly-funded Catholic school. I have news for Mr. McGuinty - in his idyllic Ontario, Catholic kids are not going to "come together and share the same classrooms" with their Protestant, Muslim, Jewish or atheist neighbours - in fact, it is government policy to fund a school system that prevents exactly that.

His government and his party evade the issue when this is pointed out to them by mumbling "well, it's in the Constitution, there's nothing we can do about it". Nonsense. If he really feels that "it’s a matter of principle that the single most important thing we can do for our kids is bring them together so they have an opportunity to come to know one another" then I expect him to announce a timeline for amending the Constitution and cutting off funding for Catholic schools in Ontario. Newfoundland & Quebec dismantled their parochial school systems - why can't Ontario?