felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Anyone worried about the religious right in the US (or elsewhere) - or who's ever wondered where America's frequently evil foreign policy comes from - should read this old interview with Jeff Sharlet, the journalist who's done more than anyone to expose the activities of a Christian fundamentalist group known simply as The Family.

These are the same people who are responsible for the extreme anti-gay initiatives in Uganda right now.

It makes me wonder if Stephen Harper has connections to the family. Anyone who doesn't think Christianism hasn't deeply infiltrated Canada should read this article I put up here last year.

This is stuff everyone should know.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Well, the American election is over. I don't expect the US to transform into a utopia and I expect there's going to be a lot of disappointed people -- no one gets to be president without being friendly with megacorporations, and you don't step on those people's toes without losing all your funding for the next election.

Still, there'll probably be some changes for the positive. He's talking about closing Guantanamo, and it's after the election so he has no reason to say that unless he really intends to. Let's hope Omar Khadr can catch a break.

Don't get me wrong. I'm glad he won, but mostly for the things he won't do than for the things he will. He's not likely to invade Iran just because it's there, not likely to strongarm Canada into further nasty trade agreements. He's not likely to take his economy (and the world's) into another tailspin.

It's also nice to have a neighbour who at least pays lip service to socialized health care and cap-and-rade policies. It'll take the wind out of the sails of our neo-cons, who are constantly harping on about we should be more like the US.

But what this election was really about was keeping the Pandora's Box of the uglier aspects of the US psyche firmly closed. It was those uglier aspects that Sarah Palin embodies -- that combination of might-makes-right evil and intolerance of all things different from the evangelical Chrisitan worldview. The better half of America's psyche won out for four-to-eight years.

That buys time. But there's got to be some serious changes -- structural and cultural -- or every election a near miss of this kind. And there's nothing the rest of the world can do except watch, so that change has got to come from within the US.

And a good reminder of how close a miss it was, was Proposition 8 in California. The lid came off that Pandora's Box just enough to strip a people of their fundamental right to equality. The theocrats got the measure passed. And while activists are already working hard to overturn it in court, the fact that it passed at all is a major moral failure for the state.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
We're still waiting for a Quebec election. I'm not exactly enthused. I'll be voting for a party that I hope does well, but has never won a seat in the assembly, so I'm not exactly expecting to be overjoyed on election day.

I have higher hopes for our neighbours to the south. The good news is that in state-by-state projections of electoral college votes -- the only ones that count in that most-broken-system-in-the-Western-world -- Obama has 259 solid electoral votes out of 270 needed, while McCain has 157/270. Forty-seven are leaning toward Obama, which isn't the same as victory, but if he only wins eleven of those -- or eleven of the 75 too-close-to-call -- he wins the presidency.

More American political stuff here, for those who are interested )
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
So I made it successfully to Victoria, and I've been on the run most of the time I've been here,seeing old friends.

I've been writing in the mornings, and I'm sadly not as far into my major edit as I'd like (only 15% so far).

I haven't had time to read my friends' pages -- I will when I get back. Let me know if I've missed anything vital. I'm keeping up mostly on Facebook, as it's faster.

In the meantime -- so this is more interesting than just an update post -- some real news and fake news:

Real news: Gay Italian man has to retake driver's test for "sexual identity disturbance." Apparently, being gay makes you dangerous on the road. Who knew?

And this is why I love The Onion -- a perfect sense of irony. In this case it's being used to explode that loaded term in the American media of "values voters" (which they use to refer to homophobic, anti-abortionist, anti-woman evangelicals). Probably not work-safe, unless your workplace is really fun:

video follows )
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I wrote another instalment in my LGBT history blog -- the invention of the "gross indecency" laws.

I've been reading about some pretty horrendous gaybashing in Pink Blood. I think the worst is a 50-year-old school teacher named David Curnick who was stabbed 146 times in Vancouver by a guy he'd picked up.

The guy claimed at his trial that Curnick had molested him as a child until it was established that Curnick couldn't have met the murderer before said murderer was 19 years old at the earliest. The murderer had also previously attacked two trans women.

Claims of having been molested are one of the most common defences in gaybashing, it seems -- so common that I suspect defence lawyers coach their clients on it. Even when it's proven to be impossible in court, the media frequently portrays it as if it happened that way anyway.

It seems gaybashers have also learnt that if they take something during the crime -- say the wallet, or credit cards, or a microwave oven -- they can get their charge downgraded from a hate crime to a robbery if it comes to trial. Even in a case where the basher tossed the victim's microwave oven in a ditch afterwards (the only thing he took) it was called "robbery."
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
I finished Gentlemen of the Road yesterday. It was a brilliant novel. At first the pacing seemed odd -- too breathless -- until I discovered that (true to its 19th-century style) it was originally published in weekly instalments in a newspaper. Probably, also, it's that Chabon is used to writing 500-page novels, not 200-page ones.

It really does have all the hallmarks of a Victorian adventure story. It's meticulous in its portrayal of dress and historical details, but fully modern in its morals (modern in this case being 21st century, not 19th). There's a vaguely anachronistic mood hanging over it that's hard to pin down to any one thing, but just seems to be the characters' conception of the universe.

Also, I note that all the drawings are just slightly inaccurate. Knowing Chabon, this is probably intentional. He did write those missing-the-point footnotes to Kavalier and Clay, that miss the point exactly how actual footnotes would have.

Now I've on to much heavier fare -- Pink Blood, an examination by a Canadian journalist of a hundred homophobic/transphobic homicides in Canada over a ten-year period, and more than 300 violent acts over the same period.

Before I move on to the utter uselessness of the Canadian justice system when dealing with hate crimes, I'd like to point out that even Janoff -- for all his brilliance -- still uses that poorly-translated tagline of Michel Foucault's, the supposed, "The sodomite was a temporary aberration; the homosexual was a species."

Actually, Foucault said, "The sodomite was a relapsed heretic [relaps]" -- that is, someone who reverts to their original state, rather than adopts a temporary new one. So Queer Theory's been marching under a motto that's more apocrypha than canon.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
For the first time, one of my letters was read on CBC. Nothing major -- just about three sentences (about Tom Lukiwski's homophobia) on the political program, The House.

(For anyone actually interested, the podcast is here. I'm somewhere between 40 min and 50 min in.)

Since I wrote that letter, I discovered another homophobic vote by Lukiwski just two years ago. I should also have mentioned that it was an "unwhipped" vote -- Lukiwski had the right to vote however he felt both times, without it affecting his career.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Brad Wall, the Conservative premier of Saskatchewan, is suing the Canadian Press newswire because he feels he was misrepresented by one of its headlines: “Tape with Sask premier and Tory MP has racist, sexist, homophobic comments: NDP.”

The problem? Premier Wall only mimicked a bad Ukrainian accent to mock Roy Romanow, the child of Ukrainian immigrants. He feels that the headline unfairly links him to sexism and homophobia, when he was only being racist.

The premier must be trying to capture that elusive gay-but-racist-against-Ukrainians swing vote that makes or breaks Saskatchewan elections.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
For those of you who aren't on [livejournal.com profile] montrealais's LJ, I re-post the following snippet of a story that appeared in Canada.com about an ex-gay therapist abusing his patient:

"WINNIPEG - A former Manitoba Bible college counsellor was convicted Thursday of repeatedly molesting a young student during a role-playing game in which he promised to make the sexually confused man "go straight."

The 60-year-old accused pleaded not guilty to sexual assault at the start of his Queen's Bench trial earlier this week.

The alleged victim testified Monday about months of "touch therapy," which included sexual encounters with the accused at various locales, including at a retreat in Gimli, Man., Winnipeg's Fun Mountain waterslides and even in the floodway surrounding the city."
I think it's important to draw stories like this to public attention. In Canada especially, LGB folk tend to be quite complacent about our situation. Gaybashing doesn't often make the news, and neither do ex-gay programs, nor queer teen suicide, and so we've lulled ourselves into believing these things aren't happening.

Yet there are ex-gay programs operating in this country. Some use electroshock or physical torture methods. Others use emotional abuse to scar young people just on their way out of the closet. And -- as this story reminds us -- these programs attract abusive individuals who are eager to prey on the vulnerable in their care.

The operation of these programs ought to be a criminal serious offence, though that's not likely to happen under a prime minister who hired a former head of Focus on the Family -- one of the country's leading anti-gay organizations -- to be part of his inner circle in the PMO.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
Pride Montreal

In case you haven't heard, Montreal's local pride parade, Divers/Cité, has been cancelled this year. This comes after years of strange experiments, like holding the parade at night (which pleased no one), everyone is wondering what the Divers/Cité committee is thinking.

In 1994, the city of Victoria organized a pride parade. It was a simple march with no floats, few banners -- just people marching, with a few in drag. Only 500 people marched, and I was there.

What Victoria could manage in 1994, Montreal can't seem to in 2007. I say we just take out a city permit and go for a no-frills march here like we did in 1994 in Victoria.

Naturally, with the news, the usual people are already coming out of the woodwork asking why a parade like this is necessary.

Rant continues )
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
  1. There was a lovely windstorm last night. They were predicting 80 kmph winds, but I don't think it actually topped 60. Too early to tell yet if trees were uprooted, like they were last week.

  2. It's been fun catching up with friends. I saw Sean Monday and Tuesday, and hopefully will see him again today. Sam -- for those of you keeping track of these people -- is married now. It's funny thinking that the kid you used to babysit for is married.

  3. I spotted Victoria's Gay Guy -- this city only has one at any given time, and when he flees to greener pastures another appears to take his place. This one was a gorgoeus redheaded twentysomething working the counter at Zydeco, a novelty and kitsch shop.

  4. Victoria has more novelty and kitsch shops per capita, I suspect, than any city on Earth. If you need a t-shirt boasting your sexual prowess, Jesus action figures, boxing nun puppets, or those crystal balls full of electricity, you have plenty options. Strangely, I have yet to find a store specializing in DVDs, which perhaps says something about the entertainment tastes of Victorians.

  5. Tofu causes male homosexuality. You heard it here first. I suppose, conversely, nothing promotes male heterosexuality like filling your mouth with a nice, big slab of meat.
felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
This one ain't going behind an LJ-cut.

"Four years after the end of the brutal excesses of the Taliban government, Afghan authorities supported by the U.S.-led coalition, including Canada, are still jailing teenagers convicted of homosexuality and women accused of adultery, eloping or running away from their husbands."
From Les Perreault of the Canadian Press, on 365gay.com.

In other words, we're possibly helping to round up gay and bisexual men and lock them up in prisons -- prisons that are still in a horrible condition.

Major Ron Locke, from the Canadian unit assigned to train the local security forces, protests that "We are in a different culture. Different laws and different treatment standards are normal here."

This is sickening. There have to be limits to moral relativism. Our troops are there, so at this point it's not a question of getting involved in a foreign country. We are involved, and if even one person has been sent to jail for homosexuality with our help, that atrocity is on the hands of the whole country.

The Postmodern Plague has clearly clouded our judgement if we're aiding and abetting authorities to enforce homophobic and misogynistic Taliban law -- the modern equivalent of Nazi law. No legal system that included homosexuality as a crime deserves any respect whatsoever.

Anyone wanting to protest this can write to members of parliament. Postage is free, if mailed in Canada. The address is the same for all of them, so I've listed it at the end.

List of relevant MPs to write to )

Sorry for the early-morning rant. I hope it's coherent -- I haven't had coffee, yet.


felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)

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