Monday, March 31, 2008

Live Leak Faces Death, Faints, and gets up and Fights

We previously reported that Live Leak, the original distributor of
Fitna the Movie: Geert Wilders' film about the Quran (English) had withdrawn the film due to threats. Now it is back up, with this explanation:
** 30/3/2008: Liveleak Update **

On the 28th of March LiveLeak.com was left with no other choice but to remove the film "fitna" from our servers following serious threats to our staff and their families. Since that time we have worked constantly on upgrading all security measures thus offering better protection for our staff and families. With these measures in place we have decided to once more make this video live on our site. We will not be pressured into censoring material which is legal and within our rules. We apologise for the removal and the delay in getting it back, but when you run a website you don't consider that some people would be insecure enough to threaten our lives simply because they do not like the content of a video we neither produced nor endorsed but merely hosted.
Good show.

Converting the neo pagan: Can Muslims lead the way?



This story has been out a week and already gotten a lot of coverage in the blogs, but since we often talk about the nature of conversion at our meetings, I don't want anyone to miss it. Writer, Raymond Ibrahim is quite revealing about the nature of Islam as it is experienced in Egypt today:
Though he is little known in the West, Coptic priest Zakaria Botros — named Islam’s “Public Enemy #1” by the Arabic newspaper, al-Insan al-Jadid — has been making waves in the Islamic world. Along with fellow missionaries — mostly Muslim converts — he appears frequently on the Arabic channel al-Hayat (i.e., “Life TV”). There, he addresses controversial topics of theological significance — free from the censorship imposed by Islamic authorities or self-imposed through fear of the zealous mobs who fulminated against the infamous cartoons of Mohammed. Botros’s excurses on little-known but embarrassing aspects of Islamic law and tradition have become a thorn in the side of Islamic leaders throughout the Middle East.

Botros is an unusual figure on screen: robed, with a huge cross around his neck, he sits with both the Koran and the Bible in easy reach. Egypt’s Copts — members of one of the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East — have in many respects come to personify the demeaning Islamic institution of “dhimmitude” (which demands submissiveness from non-Muslims, in accordance with Koran 9:29). But the fiery Botros does not submit, and minces no words. He has famously made of Islam “ten demands,” whose radical nature he uses to highlight Islam’s own radical demands on non-Muslims.

The result? Mass conversions to Christianity — if clandestine ones... Indeed, Islamic cleric Ahmad al-Qatani stated on al-Jazeera TV a while back that some six million Muslims convert to Christianity annually, many of them persuaded by Botros’s public ministry. More recently, al-Jazeera noted Life TV’s “unprecedented evangelical raid” on the Muslim world. Several factors account for the Botros phenomenon.

First, the new media — particularly satellite TV and the Internet (the main conduits for Life TV) — have made it possible for questions about Islam to be made public without fear of reprisal. It is unprecedented to hear Muslims from around the Islamic world — even from Saudi Arabia, where imported Bibles are confiscated and burned — call into the show to argue with Botros and his colleagues, and sometimes, to accept Christ.
[...]
Botros’s mastery of classical Arabic not only allows him to reach a broader audience, it enables him to delve deeply into the voluminous Arabic literature — much of it untapped by Western writers who rely on translations — and so report to the average Muslim on the discrepancies and affronts to moral common sense found within this vast corpus.

A third reason for Botros’s success is that his polemical technique has proven irrefutable. Each of his episodes has a theme — from the pressing to the esoteric — often expressed as a question (e.g., “Is jihad an obligation for all Muslims?”; “Are women inferior to men in Islam?”; “Did Mohammed say that adulterous female monkeys should be stoned?” “Is drinking the urine of prophets salutary according to sharia?”). To answer the question, Botros meticulously quotes — always careful to give sources and reference numbers — from authoritative Islamic texts on the subject, starting from the Koran; then from the canonical sayings of the prophet — the Hadith; and finally from the words of prominent Muslim theologians past and present — the illustrious ulema.

Typically, Botros’s presentation of the Islamic material is sufficiently detailed that the controversial topic is shown to be an airtight aspect of Islam. Yet, however convincing his proofs, Botros does not flatly conclude that, say, universal jihad or female inferiority are basic tenets of Islam. He treats the question as still open — and humbly invites the ulema, the revered articulators of sharia law, to respond and show the error in his methodology. He does demand, however, that their response be based on “al-dalil we al-burhan,” — “evidence and proof,” one of his frequent refrains — not shout-downs or sophistry.

More often than not, the response from the ulema is deafening silence — which has only made Botros and Life TV more enticing to Muslim viewers. The ulema who have publicly addressed Botros’s conclusions often find themselves forced to agree with him — which has led to some amusing (and embarrassing) moments on live Arabic TV.

Botros spent three years bringing to broad public attention a scandalous — and authentic — hadith stating that women should “breastfeed” strange men with whom they must spend any amount of time. A leading hadith scholar, Abd al-Muhdi, was confronted with this issue on the live talk show of popular Arabic host Hala Sirhan. Opting to be truthful, al-Muhdi confirmed that going through the motions of breastfeeding adult males is, according to sharia, a legitimate way of making married women “forbidden” to the men with whom they are forced into contact — the logic being that, by being “breastfed,” the men become like “sons” to the women and therefore can no longer have sexual designs on them.

To make matters worse, Ezzat Atiyya, head of the Hadith department at al-Azhar University — Sunni Islam’s most authoritative institution — went so far as to issue a fatwa legitimatizing “Rida’ al-Kibir” (sharia’s term for “breastfeeding the adult”), which prompted such outrage in the Islamic world that it was subsequently recanted.

Botros played the key role in exposing this obscure and embarrassing issue and forcing the ulema to respond. Another guest on Hala Sirhan’s show, Abd al-Fatah, slyly indicated that the entire controversy was instigated by Botros: “I know you all [fellow panelists] watch that channel and that priest and that none of you [pointing at Abd al-Muhdi] can ever respond to him, since he always documents his sources!”

Incapable of rebutting Botros, the only strategy left to the ulema (aside from a rumored $5-million bounty on his head) is to ignore him. When his name is brought up, they dismiss him as a troublemaking liar who is backed by — who else? — international “Jewry.” They could easily refute his points, they insist, but will not deign to do so. That strategy may satisfy some Muslims, but others are demanding straightforward responses from the ulema.
[...]
But the ultimate reason for Botros’s success is that — unlike his Western counterparts who criticize Islam from a political standpoint — his primary interest is the salvation of souls. He often begins and concludes his programs by stating that he loves all Muslims as fellow humans and wants to steer them away from falsehood to Truth. To that end, he doesn’t just expose troubling aspects of Islam. Before concluding every program, he quotes pertinent biblical verses and invites all his viewers to come to Christ.

Botros’s motive is not to incite the West against Islam, promote “Israeli interests,” or “demonize” Muslims, but to draw Muslims away from the dead legalism of sharia to the spirituality of Christianity. Many Western critics fail to appreciate that, to disempower radical Islam, something theocentric and spiritually satisfying — not secularism, democracy, capitalism, materialism, feminism, etc. — must be offered in its place. The truths of one religion can only be challenged and supplanted by the truths of another. And so Father Zakaria Botros has been fighting fire with fire.
Now I think it likely that the Covenant Zone bloggers will have few occasions to attempt conversion of Muslims. What about the yet dominant religion in our own neck of the woods? Last week, the Vancouver Sun had an article that is telling on what a good number of Vancouverites consider the epitome of the sacred: no, not the traditional symbols of Christianity, but a good piece of real estate with a good view:
A controversial piece of public art depicting an inverted church will soon be removed from Harbour Green Park.
The sculpture, by world-renowned artist Dennis Oppenheim, has generated "mixed reviews" since its installation, said Vancouver park board arts coordinator Jill Weaving.

Device to Root Out Evil was first stuck, spire-down, in the ground as part of the Vancouver Biennale in 2005.

Although an offer was made to donate the piece to the city on a long-term loan, Weaving said Wednesday: "We're recommending it come out in part because of the mixed public responses."

That includes, she said, concern from area residents that the seven-metre-high piece blocks view corridors and takes too much of a small patch of green space.
These would be view corridors for some of the million-dollar condos in Vancouver's Coal Harbour.

"Some people have also contacted us to say that they feel the subject matter isn't appropriate," said Weaving.
[...]
Vancouver Biennale chairwoman Michaela Frosch said the Oppenheim piece is "a very important work because of the magnitude of the artist's reputation worldwide."
Frosch, who said the Biennale is very pleased with their partnership with the park board, also said that the removal of Device to Root Out Evil is in keeping with their agreement with the board.

"It was an 18-month deal," she said. "Pieces would then be removed to make room for the next Biennale."

Extenuating circumstances, including last year's civic strike, extended the sculpture's stay at the foot of Bute Street beyond the original plan of 18 months.
Currently there is a proposal to make Echoes by Michel Goulet - a series of stainless-steel chairs planted in the sand at Sunset Beach - another piece from the 2005 Biennale, a permanent fixture in Vancouver.

Device to Root Out Evil was purchased from Oppenheim by Vancouver's Benefic Foundation for $300,000 in 2006. The foundation subsequently offered it to the city on long-term loan.
[...]
Permanent or long-term installation on park property, said Weaving, must be "subject to public process where site-specifics such as view corridors are taken into consideration, as well as community response."

The park board will hear opinions from the public about the removal of Device to Root Out Evil, and about extending the stay of some Biennale pieces through 2015 at their meeting Monday night.
That's tonight, by the way, in case you want to get out and point out that the so-called "device to root out evil" is an upside down church, a postmodern pseudo-irony, seemingly ignorant that it is Christianity above all other religions, including the esthetic cult of the modern artist, that goes farthest in discounting apotropaic (casting out evil) gestures and objects. Christianity normalizes human evil, as a question of original sin: that's to say, as an anthropological question. And it tends to teach that more primitive sacrificial gestures and violence have reached their conclusion in, and been unveiled by, the crucifixion.

Anyway, what is really at stake in our cultural war between those who hold view corridors sacred and those who take the model of Christ, that God who is almost human, and secular, in nature? (I've got nothing in principle against good views. I don't think people should live in dark holes, but you have to know Vancouver to know how seriously, above many other things, view corridors are taken.)

Ultimately, what may be at issue is who gets to convert the pre-modern masses of humanity that still dominate, demographically, this world. The neo-pagan nature and consumerism crowd? or the modern people who also happen to be Christians? What will bring order and relative peace to the world?

Let us consider the words of Dr. Mabuse, at Kraalspace
Creeping Sharia Watch: Muslims should be seen and not heard

That seems to be the opinion of The [Ottawa] Citizen's religion writer, Jennifer Green, in this post on her blog (it was also printed in this morning's Citizen).
The Vatican has always had a sublime talent for getting its message across without saying a word. So what is Pope Benedict really communicating by baptizing a Muslim convert who mouthed off about his former faith?
Excuse me? Mouthed off? MOUTHED OFF???

Let's try that sentiment again, transposed into a higher key:
So what is President Reagan really communicating by insituting a special day to honour Martin Luther King, Jr., a black leader who mouthed off about civil rights?
Or maybe
So what is Stephen Harper really communicating by urging China to "use restraint" in dealing with Tibetan monks who mouthed off about oppression in their homeland?
Just what is GREEN "really communicating" by her mealy-mouthed complaint that the Pope of Rome, IN ROME, should watch his step when carrying out his duties to his own flock?

Let me try to answer her question: He's communicating that we Catholics are VERY HAPPY that another person has become a Catholic. We are CELEBRATING. We think it is a GOOD THING to be a Christian.

This insinuation that if a person absolutely HAS TO convert from Islam to Christianity, he should at least do it in a shamefaced, hole-in-a-corner way, and keep it as secret as possible because otherwise the dogs will start snarling and baring their teeth, is offensive and outrageous. It's as offensive as insisting that a woman with a violent, jealous ex-husband should have to keep her remarriage a secret.
The majority of Vancouverites probably see no need to convert the angry millions with only one foot in the global economy - those who feel the new economic demands and hence cultural pressures, but without yet sufficient material and spiritual relief - other than to provide them, soon enough, good condos with nice view corridors. But the Pope's convert, Mr. Magdi Allam, is rather more insistent on the centrality of conversion to our present global struggles:
My conversion to Catholicism is the touching down of a gradual and profound interior meditation from which I could not pull myself away, given that for five years I have been confined to a life under guard, with permanent surveillance at home and a police escort for my every movement, because of death threats and death sentences from Islamic extremists and terrorists, both those in and outside of Italy ...

I asked myself how it was possible that those who, like me, sincerely and boldly called for a "moderate Islam", assuming the responsibility of exposing themselves in the first person in denouncing Islamic extremism and terrorism, ended up being sentenced to death in the name of Islam on the basis of the Koran. I was forced to see that, beyond the contingency of the phenomenon of Islamic extremism and terrorism that has appeared on a global level, the root of evil is inherent in an Islam that is physiologically violent and historically conflictive.
One might question whether in trying to turn Muslims away from the violence in their midst, it is useful or pragmatic to insist that their faith is inherently violent. Ultimately, it is accepting the universality of human evil that is the key to the kind of conversion Allam has undergone:
The miracle of the Resurrection of Christ has reverberated through my soul, liberating it from the darkness of a tendency where hate and intolerance in before the "other", condemning it uncritically as an "enemy", and ascending to love and respect for one's "neighbor", who is always and in any case a person; thus my mind has been released from the obscurantism of an ideology which legitimates lying and dissimulation, the violent death that leads to homicide and suicide, blind submission and tyranny - permitting me to adhere to the authentic religion of Truth, of Life, and freedom. Upon my first Easter as a Christian I have not only discovered Jesus, but I have discovered for the first time the true and only God, which is the God of Faith and Reason...
The columnist "Spengler" notes:
Magdi Allam presents an existential threat to Muslim life, whereas other prominent dissidents, for example Ayaan Hirsi Ali, offer only an annoyance. Much as I admire Hirsi Ali, she will persuade few Muslims to reconsider their religion. She came to the world's attention in 2004 after a Muslim terrorist murdered Theo van Gogh, with whom she had produced a brief film protesting the treatment of women under Islam. As an outspoken critic of Islam, Hirsi Ali has lived under constant threat, and I have deplored the failure of Western governments to accord her adequate protection. Yet the spiritual emptiness of a libertine and cynic like Theo van Gogh can only repel Muslims. Muslims suffer from a stultifying spiritual emptiness, depicted most poignantly by the Syrian Arab poet Adonis (see Are the Arabs already extinct?, Asia Times Online, May 8, 2007). Muslim traditional society cannot withstand the depredations of globalized culture, and radical Islam arises from a despairing nostalgia for the disappearing past. Why would Muslims trade the spiritual vacuum of Islam for the spiritual sewer of Dutch hedonism? The souls of Muslims are in agony. The blandishments of the decadent West offer them nothing but shame and deracination. Magdi Allam agrees with his former co-religionists in repudiating the degraded culture of the modern West, and offers them something quite different: a religion founded upon love.
It is not very insightful to simply write off the modern West as decadent and degraded, however lacking many are in the finer arts and higher aspects of culture and faith. This post is already too long to get into that argument now. Suffice it to say that in making the individual sacred and giving him or her access to all the good and bad of consumer society, things and signs to use in telling the story of one's life and making of each life a sacred model for others to bounce off in building their own story, consumerist modernity too has its ways of recognizing the sinfulness and redemptive possibilities of all people. Consumer society is an important process for keeping order, for deferring potentially violent desires, whatever its many downsides and weaknesses, and it has emerged when other seemingly "higher" forms of order failed.

Still, it is certainly unwise to jettison the religion or high culture questions as we embrace consumer society. Bear this in mind as we decide whether our quest for transcendence will end with a good view corridor and an annoying denial that the Islam question need rock the world, or even with a willing acceptance that it be simply hidden from view, as Western elites and media are presently doing with the Fitna crisis, using nasty political correctness in an attempt to hide a film.

If the modern secular Westerner tries to end his quest for transcendence with a smart-assed rejection of all religious culture, he will be living in denial of what we, as humans are. Religion is the original form of anthropological thinking about human origins. Thinking religiously is one thing; it works for some, but not all condo dwellers; but thinking seriously about religion shouldn't be optional. Without the latter, the Vancouver condo dweller won't really be able to understand what our worship of nature is all about, and any sense of transcendence will be fleeting.

It is the beauty of our struggle with and within Islam that it returns us to the most fundamental questions of our shared humanity, as Magdi Allam sees. And in taking the fate of all involved seriously, we will appreciate the centrality of conversion, or of living with a regard for a living and shared human history, endlessly open to new revelations into the nature of our shared humanity. A regard for an open-ended history is the only way to limit our desire to find transcendence by sacrificing churches or people to nature or to false gods who demand violent war against the non-believer, in order to hurry-up the end of history.

I've linked the following video (in three parts) before. It may not give a representative idea of the dhimmi Coptic life in Egypt, I don't know. But it at least shows how bad dhimmi life can get. And yet you will see among the scenes of this documentary, an Egyptian convert from Islam to Christianity. She is willing to accept the worldly hell faced by the convert in Egypt. It should force us, once again, to reconsider what we love.

Egypt. Treatment of Christians (1-3)





What the faithless man thought impossible has almost happened

There are 29 comments so far posted at the CBC website on Sunday's
CBC News story on the Canadian Human Rights Commission. I don't expect anyone else to care much about my opinions, or their popularity, but as an index to a certain emerging reality, it may be worth saying that, with fair reason, and insufficient good faith, I never thought i would see the day when I was in almost universal sympathy with so many commenters on cbc.ca.

One or two comments denied the unanimity that was erstwhile impossible to imagine happening, but one thing should be coming clear to our politicians: those citizens who take the time to inform themselves on the issues of the day are outraged by Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act, and much else besides concerning the "Human Rights" Commission. The politicians had better act. There are still a lot of Canadians who care about preserving a free society and democracy. And they have a good idea what that entails.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Recipe for an Insane World


Mark Steyn:
The Internet will keep Fitna alive in odd corners hither and yon, but only to those who actively seek it out. In the wider world, it goes without saying that such a film is unacceptable, and that this time round the pre-emptive rage (as Diana West calls it) was so successful the next Fitna will have an even harder time: no movie theaters or broadcast networks or obscure cable channels would even consider showing it, and Google and YouTube and the other Internet biggies have grown increasingly comfortable with political speech-policing, and now one more small net operation has learned that, unless you want to be a 24/7 crusader on this issue, it's not a business worth being in. In effect, the Islamobullies have been rewarded yet again for threatening physical violence. The best way to end the debate is to make the price of having one too high.

To reprise Douglas Murray's point below, a film such as Fitna might not even be necessary were the western news organizations not so absurdly deferential toward Muslim sensibilities that they go out of their way to avoid showing us anything that might cause us to link violence with Islam. Even that footage of those depraved West Bankers jumping up and down in the street and passing out candy to celebrate 9/11 appears to have been walled up in the most impenetrable vault of the archives these last six years. Both CNN and the BBC could only bring themselves to show the Danish cartoons by pixelating Mohammed's face - the first time this technique has ever been applied to a drawing, as if the Prophet had entered the witness protection program. At one level, they make Wilders' point for him, but, at another, they make it less likely anyone else will step forward to try to make the point next time.

In reality, it's the small band of people trying to resist the de facto universalization of Islamic prohibitions that have to enter the witness protection program.
Wretchard the Cat:
An ex-Muslim cartoonist is authoring the first R-rated cartoon film showing Mohammed and his 9 year old bride according to the Gateway Pundit. The Sugiero blog writes: "Ehsan Jami decided to reject Islam after the 9/11 terror attacks. Since then he has defended the right of religious freedom, with the usual consequences ... "

Jami is in hiding in the Netherlands. Sugiero remarks that Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende, who "has written a letter to Indonesia's largest Muslim organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) in which he says that the views presented in the anti-Qur'an film of populist leader Geert Wilders do not represent those of the Dutch government" will be writing a lot more letters. Yesterday for Wilders, tomorrow for Jami, and the day after for who knows who?

In an earlier post I predicted that European leaders, "Human Rights" committees and all the assorted enforcers of politically correct speech would eventually be trapped in a whack-a-mole mode. They'll be busy fighting a cultural counter-insurgency.

If al-Qaeda is smart it will do the unexpected and refrain from issuing any more fatwas; to quit presuming a veto power over Western cultural and political institutions. If Islamic radicals back off, most people will lose interest in these Mohammed parody cartoons, which frankly have a limited market on their own merits and whose attraction is principally that of symbols of resistance. But if groups like al-Qaeda continue with a campaign of intimidation and terror, they will be met with a campaign of blasphemy the likes of which they never imagined possible. And who knows where it goes from there?
[...]
And my guess is that the instruments of political correctness will shatter under the effort of waging a sustained cultural counter-insurgency. They will use up their own jihadi cultural fifth column in futile attacks against never ending targets. Political correctness works when applied in small, gradual steps. What the Mohammed cartoons have done is force political correctness to overreach.

One of the enduring lessons of history is that the worm, tormented long enough, always turns.

People's Cube:
Following the misery inflicted on Islam by a toy bear that ended up with calls for the execution of an English woman, more Muslims are stepping forward with stories of long-suppressed emotional trauma imposed on them by so-called reality. This has led to the creation of support groups and social networks that help followers of the Prophet Mohammed cope with the agony of learning about life outside of their immediate environment, offering assistance with technical resources, practical guidance, and strategies for early intervention and punishment of those who offend Islam.





And there's more at the Cube
Claudia Rossett:
At least Kofi Annan considered it sufficient to style himself merely as “Chief Diplomat of the World.” Ban Ki-Moon has just taken that a step further, offering his services as World’s Chief Film Critic — or, more precisely, Chief Internet Censor. Following the internet broadcast of Geert Wilders “Fitna,” Ban lost no time in personally denouncing the video as “offensively anti-Islamic” and stating — (whatever this quasi-diplo-speak is really supposed to mean) — “I acknowledge the efforts of the Dutch government to stop the broadcast of this film” and “Freedom must always be accompanied by social responsibility.”

For the Secretary-General of the United Nations to start vetting individual video productions seems ill-advised at best. According to the UN charter, Ban’s job description doesn’t actually extend beyond serving as chief administrative officer of the UN — a role in which he has already failed at matters as basic as protecting whistleblowers or fulfilling his own promises of financial transparency. But if Ban insists on exercising the freedom to pipe up from his stage-center UN podium with his opinions on individual broadcasts, then is it responsible — “socially,” or in any other sense — for Ban to focus his attentions so narrowly on Geert Wilders?

If Ban has now appropriated as part of his UN portfolio the job of vetting broadcasts that he thinks might disturb viewers somewhere around the globe, where are the rest of his critiques? Following his targeting of Wilders, surely we now have every right to expect from broadcast-critic Ban a flow of daily, specific, individually targeted condemnations of the videos, TV shows and films emanating from places such as Egypt, Hamas-controlled Gaza, the Palestinian Authority, Libya, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV. Where, for instance, is Ban’s statement deploring the grotesquely offensive Iranian TV cartoon propaganda series for kids, translated recently by the monitoring service, MEMRI TV: “The Child and the Invader” — ?

Some art worked

Blazing Cat Fur: Spiffy new marketing collateral from the Canadian Human Rights Commission: among her fine pieces:

Yet, while admiring BCF's work, I must say I've not been very happy with the term "entrapment" to describe the practices of certain agents of the Canadian Human Rights Commission who have gone about posting hate messages on web sites in order to facilitate their prosecution of these same sites for hate speech. Entrapment is encouraging someone to commit a crime, not committing a "crime" and then pinning it on someone else. One has to put scare quotes around "crime" to keep mind that the thing criminal in respect to Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which is designed to prosecute thought "crimes", without all the fuss and bother of criminal law and due process in real courts, is the appallingly worded - in true totalitarian, catch anything and everything style - legislation itself:
13. (1) It is a discriminatory practice for a person or a group of persons acting in concert to communicate telephonically or to cause to be so communicated, repeatedly, in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a telecommunication undertaking within the legislative authority of Parliament, any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.
And what are the prohibited grounds of discrimination?
3. (1) For all purposes of this Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination are race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for which a pardon has been granted.
That's right, if you criticize, say, an evil religion in a way that is likely to bring one of its practitioners contempt, you're guilty. And there is a 100% conviction rate under Section 13, which is not surprising given the lack of rights a defendant has in these "courts" and the "criminally"-worded, catch-all legislation.

Yes I know the lawyers have hemmed and hawed with this legislation, to come up with some reasonable standards for limiting our constitutionally-guaranteed (or so we thought) right of free speech. But those who have been following the stories coming out of the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Tribunal know how easy it is to get convicted. (More to the point, absent direct calls to violence, or absent concrete acts of violence, there is no reasonable argument for limiting "hate" speech in a free society that doesn't want to turn its supposedly disinterested "judges" into arbiters of what kind of social criticism is politically correct, and hence acceptable, and what not.)

And what happens when those put on trial are, as is inevitable, found guilty under Section 13 of the Canadian "Human Rights" Act?
Orders relating to hate messages

54. (1) If a member or panel finds that a complaint related to a discriminatory practice described in section 13 is substantiated, the member or panel may make only one or more of the following orders:

(a) an order containing terms referred to in paragraph 53(2)(a);

(b) an order under subsection 53(3) to compensate a victim specifically identified in the communication that constituted the discriminatory practice; and

(c) an order to pay a penalty of not more than ten thousand dollars.
So let's now look at sections 53(2)(a) and (3):
(2) If at the conclusion of the inquiry the member or panel finds that the complaint is substantiated, the member or panel may, subject to section 54, make an order against the person found to be engaging or to have engaged in the discriminatory practice and include in the order any of the following terms that the member or panel considers appropriate:

(a) that the person cease the discriminatory practice and take measures, in consultation with the Commission on the general purposes of the measures, to redress the practice or to prevent the same or a similar practice from occurring in future, including

(i) the adoption of a special program, plan or arrangement referred to in subsection 16(1), or

(ii) making an application for approval and implementing a plan under section 17;


Special compensation
(3) In addition to any order under subsection (2), the member or panel may order the person to pay such compensation not exceeding twenty thousand dollars to the victim as the member or panel may determine if the member or panel finds that the person is engaging or has engaged in the discriminatory practice wilfully or recklessly.

R.S., 1985, c. H-6, s. 53; 1998, c. 9, s. 27.
In other words, if you criticize an evil religion, you can be sentenced to substantial fines and ordered never to talk or publish on the subject again. Your free speech can be permanently limited, for life.

Criminal. Duly constituted by act of Parliament.

We need a new word. Entrapment won't do. I call for your suggestions. How do you sum up psychological warfare by passive/aggressive nice/nasty bureaucracies infused with Utopian nonsense about ending all forms of "discrimination"?

How do you sum up Maoism with a Canadian smiley face?

Canadians, now is the time to get off your duffs and complain to your politicians, at one of the few moments in our history when they are actually listening a little on the evil Parliament has sown with this legislation. As the Free Mark Steyn blog likes to remind us, Remember your Actionables

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Islamic Terror strikes Wafa Sultan

Wafa Sultan, a brave woman, who very sincerely tries to speak what she sees as the truth about Islam, has had to go into hiding. A woman who has become famous for her accounts of life under Islam, of the terror she felt growing up in Syria, and of the freedom she has come to love in the United States, has had to return again to the night of terror.

According to Brigitte Gabriel's website ACT For America!
We posted on courageous Dr. Wafa Sultan's second al-Jazeera interview that included a debate with Egyptian Islamist, Tal'at Rheim on the republication of the Danish Mohammed cartoons. Subsequent to the March 4th Al-Jazeera interview, Egyptian Islamist Sheik al-Qaradawi issued a Fatwa against her. Sultan and her family have gone into hiding.

Our ally , Bob Spencer of Jihad Watch has called Sultan " a national and international treasure". Having met Dr. Sultan, we agree.

Yesterday, we received email s from Joyce and Persia expressing concerns about the lack of 24/7 personal security protection for Dr. Sultan. Note that in Holland, Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders received 24/7 security from his government with the release of his important film, "Fitna". Her safety is the equivalent of what the British government did for author Salman Rushdie when the Ayatollahs of the Islamic Republic of Iran issued a Fatwa calling for his death with the publication of his book, 'The Satanic Verses". Our government should consider doing the same for Dr. Sultan, an American citizen who is the subject of a death threat from an Islamist Cleric, Sheik al-Qarawadi.

She asked us to help her by submitting a letter to the Embassy of Qatar. Qatar hosts the 24/7 Arab language satellite TV channel Al-Jazeera....
If this is what can happen to citizens of free countries for speaking their minds, we need to start doing more than asking our governments to protect our citizens from Fatwas. The US should proclaim a policy of seeking the death, by any means, of anyone who proclaims a fatwa against its citizens, when the reasonable expectation is that the fatwa is a call for someone to kill the condemned.

We have a moral obligation to seek to maximize reciprocity in human affairs, and when we are faced with people who simply refuse the minimum of human reciprocity to others, simply for what they say (as if some cleric's words are of a fundamentally different order than Wafa's, or your's) then we have to begin again by pursuing the most minimal forms of reciprocity which entail insuring that those who turn to violence can expect the same in return. When people are deep in the resentful delusions of their supremacist ideologies, it may be that the only way to remind them of their primary human obligation (an obligation that comes from the origins of human culture, from a time long before any religion on earth today) to engage in reciprocal exchange with others, is with a violent tit for tat.

It's not pretty to have to say it, but sometimes tit for tat is the only realistic form of justice, and the only possible teaching method. And we must have the courage not to go silent in face of the threats received by those who speak their minds.

We have posted these videos before. Have another look at the wonderful Wafa Sultan as she insists that Islamists like Qaradawi learn the most basic lessons of reciprocity that they have forgotten thanks to their hateful ideology. But as you can see in the video, there are (surely not atypical) Islamic leaders and journalists who cannot accept a woman as their equal. While Wafa gets the best of them verbally, they turn to condescending hate. That is the world in which hundreds of millions of women live in violent (physically and psychologically) oppression. (And we have just returned from debating comfortable, middle-class Canadians who would somehow blame, at the most fundamental level, such oppression on American imperialism and America's support for certain oil rich Islamic regimes: no doubt Wafa Sultan would have some choice words to send to those with such delusions that the limit to reciprocity in the Arab world is somehow caused by the freest nation on earth.

More Dutch Politicians with anti-Islam films


There's another film, reportedly coming soon from a Dutch Politician, says Andrew Bostom:
His new animated film reportedly shows the Muslim prophet, accompanied by his child bride Aisha, on the way to a mosque to “deflower” her. Wilders’ film (and the reaction to it) may be humdrum, in comparison!

As the world awaits the release of Geert Wilder’s much anticipated film, “Fitna,” we learn that ex-Muslim Ehsan Jami’s animated feature entitled, “The Life of Mohammed,” will also be released within weeks. Jami (b. 1985) is an Iranian √©migr√© to the Netherlands, and member of the city council of Leidschendam-Voorburg, belonging to the Dutch Labour Party. He was one of two founders of the Central Committee for Ex-Muslims in 2007, is a routine recipient of death threats, and at one point, beatings.

Today from Expatica (Netherlands) we learn that Jami’s animated film on Islam, which “..is bound to come up against opposition. The Contact body for Muslims and the Government has already announced it will take legal steps against the film,” is nevertheless slated to be released April 20th.

An acute decapitation prevention alert may be in order for Mr. Jami, if and when his film is shown, based upon these pre-release details:
“Netwerk [a current affairs program] showed a drawing from the film, which is entitled The Life of Mohammed. The drawing shows the prophet Mohammed in the company of his 9-year-old wife Aisha. The prophet is on his way to a mosque to deflower his bride.”

Fitna Analysis

Since I know that some readers cruise the net with old computers that don't play videos, or not at a watchable speed, I thought I would pass along this link to a transcript of the words spoken in Fitna, as compiled by the Creeping Sharia blog.

While a transcript hardly gives one the impression of a film filled with evocative imagery, it does go a little way to helping us think through exactly what there is in the film that could be logically used by critics of the film to denounce it and call it to be banned. I'm not saying these critics are being logical. But if...

Creeping Sharia has counted the words in the film and categorized them according to their source. It claims 59% of the words are directly from Muslims and/or the Koran. This is lower than I would have thought, but it still shows the point that Wilders' strategy was not to present Western voices, or any voices analyzing Islam, and thus not to provide much of an obvious target for those calling the film Islamophobia. Wilders is of course responsible for his editorial voice, but in focusing on that we have to face up to Wilders' challenge to understand which voices are presently influential in Islam. The legions of kids who follows al Qaeda videos are paying relatively less attention to the Ulema or to the leaders of the various Islamic states and affiliated teaching institutions. This is why films like Fitna should be viewed alongside many others portraying contemporary Islam in Europe, such as Undercover Mosque

Friday, March 28, 2008

Live Leak Faces Death, and Faints

UPDATE: Live Leak Lives

Live Leak, the original host of Geer Wilders' film, Fitna, has removed the film from its site and posted the following notice:
The Removal of “Fitna”
Official LiveLeak statement

Following threats to our staff of a very serious nature, and some ill informed comments from certain members of the British media that could directly affect the safety of some staff members, Liveleak has been left with no other choice but to remove Fitna from our servers.

This is a sad day for freedom of speech on the net but we have to place the safety and well being of our staff above all else. We would like to thank the thousands of people from all backgrounds and religions, who gave us their support. They realised LiveLeak.com is a vehicle for many opinions and not just for the support of one.

Perhaps there is still hope that this situation may produce a discussion that could benefit and educate all of us as to how we can accept one another’s culture.

We stood for what we believe in, the ability to be heard, but in the end the price was too high.
No doubt a business has to take into consideration many factors when deciding how far it can put the lives of its employees' and investors' on the line for free speech, when faced with the kind of thuggery which some disciples of Mohammed consider the epitome of the defense of the sacred. But the internet is probably beyond the control of any criminal gang. And as long as free Western societies exist with people willing to defend them, I imagine Fitna will still be found somewhere on the net. Here are some at present:

AJM
Bivouac-ID (French subtitles)
Daily Motion (must register to see "inappropriate material")

Google video
Isohunt (links to torrent sites)
Rapid Share (flv format)

Rapid Share (wmv format)
The Pirate Bay (bit torrent)
Common Sense Against Islam
YouTube(requires registration)
Dust My Broom

HT:Gates of Vienna and Infidel Bloggers Alliance (and VV)
Check these sites for more links...

Fitna Frenzy: Muslims Huff, Puff, Stare at shoes, Shuffle off

As Geert Wildes inflamatory film Fitna hit the Aether today like an atom bomb, Muslims mobs across the globe screamed, howled, tore at their forelocks, and then mozied on over to smoke pot at the nearest Dutch cafe. No one in a position of Muslim authority told Muslims to be homicidally violent, so they didn't know what else to do but do nothing much. So it stands, wannabe Muslim rioters smoking cigarettes, and drinking fruit juice, gazing into space, wondering what else to do with the long and cold Dutch day. Maybe get a job? Naw, it's Friday.

The following comes from Esther at Islam in Europe:

Netherlands: Dutch fear of riots drops, fear of Islam increases

TV show EenVandaag ran a survey of opinions about Wilders' film and Islam.

44% agree with Wilders that "Islam is out to destroy Western civilization." 88% of Wilders' supporters think so.

At the beginning of March 52% of the Dutch feared riots in the Netherlands and 62% expected attacks on Dutch embassies and companies abroad. Now just 20% expect riots at home and 30% expect riots abroad.

90% thought the film exceeded their expectations. 82% says that 'a lot of fuss was made about nothing'. 70% think the film is not insulting to Muslims.

About three quarters of those surveyed who had seen Fitna said their image of Islam did not change. 23% think of it more negatively. Three quarters of Wilders' followed had seen the movie in its entirety and the rest want to see it. 93% of supporters thought the film was good to very good.

The study was conducted among 10,000 member of the EenVandaag opinion panel.

Source: EenVandaag (Dutch)

http://islamineurope.blogspot.com/2008/03/netherlands-dutch-fear-of-riots-drops.html

Well, nevermind that the Muslim furor over the release of Fitna is a fizz, the Dutch are still seemingly unhappy about the state of things as they are and will be:

NIS News Bulletin
Dutch: Mass Immigration Our Biggest Mistake Ever

AMSTERDAM, 27/03/08 - The majority of the Dutch are negative on Islam and immigration. Additionally, their knowledge of Dutch history is meagre, according to a survey by three history professors.

According to 56 percent of the Dutch, Islam is a threat to the Dutch identity. As well, 57 percent named admitting large groups of immigrants as "the biggest mistake in Dutch history".

http://wildersnews.blogspot.com/2008/03/dutch-mass-immigration-our-biggest.html


I knew a woman-- briefly-- who made it her life's reason to apologize for the behaviour of everyone around her to strangers. When I first met her she apologized for the state of her house, which looked fine; and she apologized for the state of the neighbours' lawn, which being seen in the night was some kind of stretch; then she apologized for her mother's behaviour at dinner; but when she apologized for my behaviour to a stranger on the sidewalk I said goodbye and didn't apologize at all.

That girl, (I'm not making up that anecdote,) is too much like liberals today and in our past years: They thrive on apologizing for everything so to make others look like fools and bullies and slobs and to make themselves look like the helpless victims of brutes and philistines whose behaviour they can't control. They no doubt feel smug and superiour doing so. Metaphysically speaking, I say: "Fuck 'em."

Wilders: Balkenende Must be Terribly Embarrassed


THE HAGUE, 29/03/08 - Party for Freedom (PVV) leader Geert Wilders considers that Premier Jan Peter Balkenende "must be terribly embarrassed" about everything he has said in the past about his anti-Koran film Fitna.

Balkenende repeatedly stressed in recent weeks that the film could lead to attacks and deaths. When the media asked him if he was not exaggerating, the premier even replied last week that the word 'crisis' could turn out to be a euphemism.

The reactions from the Muslim world so far appear to be moderate. "Muslims are acting much more responsibly than the premier," according to Wilders. "He should offer his apologies in front of the camera with a red face of shame. Actually, he should resign, but this will not happen," he added.

TV programme EenVandaag held a poll Friday among its permanent opinion panel of 10,000. A large majority (82 percent) consider that there has been "a great fuss about nothing." Only 20 percent now expect riots over the film, compared with 52 percent recently.

[....]
http://www.nisnews.nl/public/290308_3.htm

We live with the affected reign of the Brenda Lee-generation anthem ringing in our ears. Yes, we even have back-up from our politician signing drunkenly under the dim lights of after-hours parliamentary meeting rooms, "It's my political party and I'll cry if I want to." Many of us are ready to puke, but certainly not our intelligentsia; they simply sob and weep, drowning out all complaint. Well, it's come out in the open now. Geert Wilders has shown his 15 minute movie to the world, and all the crying and apologizing prior has shown itself to be so much maudlin sentimentality on public display for no other reason that to make the majority of Westerners look like fools in the eyes of the rest of the world. It didn't work. None of us are embarrassed, none of us are ashamed of our behaviour. Nope, it's the cringing fools who make a livelihood and a mission of weeping and pointing and covering their eyes in dramatic flourishes who come out now as third-rate dinner-theatre acts in Hoboken who look like fools for this antic noise they've displayed for these months on end. Time to dump then and find some companionable people to represent us as our political and moral leaders rather than to retain this lot of weeping fools.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Fitna: the movie: released

UPDATE: Live Leak has removed Fitna from its site: see our following post for details and altnative ways to view Fitna. Thanks to commenter WASPY for the heads up.

Judge for yourself:



http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=7d9_1206624103

Meanwhile, Pastorius has a tale of death threats going around the blogosphere.

UPDATE: Reporting from Radio Netherlands:
The film is set to incite strong reactions, not only in the Muslim world, but in Europe as well. For that reason, the Dutch government had recently warned Mr Wilders, an MP for the rightwing Freedom Party (PVV), not to release the film. Dutch broadcasters refused to show it and a US-based web service deactivated the site for the film at the weekend after receiving complaints.

"No provocation"
The first to address the assembled press was Mr Wilders himself, who said the film was not intended as a "provocation", but as a "final warning" and an invitation to Muslims to join the debate about Islam. Fitna, he said, "depicted the hard realities" of modern life and "now we have to draw the political conclusions".

Speaking on prime time news, Islam expert Maurits Berger agreed that the film should not be seen as a provocation, nor dismissed as blasphemous. "It presents a succession of images which we have all seen in recent years," he said. The anticipated widespread demonstrations in the Muslim world, Mr Berger added, "would be an exaggerated response".

Spokesmen for Muslim organisations in the Netherlands were quoted as expressing relief: "The pictures are atrocious, but the film is not as shocking as expected" and "Fitna represents a caricature of Islam". National alert levels, which recently went up, have not been raised any further.

Leaving the future behind to the beat of a different drummer


Innovation is seen by many to be individualistic and original, as if it were both daring and interesting. Take, for example, music from "new artists." Often it's marginal and meant only for the small group of friends the musicians might have in some circle of fashion that excludes the majority, willingly n both parts, one would guess. "The latest" is something few if any actually care for, putting anyone who indulges in a category of near uniqueness. It passes for hip. And when, in turn, something unique and daring is adopted by millions if not the vast majority as unique and daring, as revolutionary and moderne, it becomes the standard conformist rubbish the vanguard of the masses despise as old and worn, as anti-individualistic. Thus I find myself disgusted by the childish Conformity Hippies among us who rail at what they see as counter to their coolness: they rail against quality and authenticity per se in the mistaken belief that the "new" is too cool to be trifled with or dismissed as the same old same-old. Conformity Hippies just don't get it. The same crap in a new bottle is the same old crap,however noisy.

Thomas Sowell's name caused some recent time ago a book dealer to launch into frenzy of choking fury against "racist hate-mongering" when the book dealer was asked about Sowell's work. No, the book dealer didn't realize that Sowell is a Black man, and it wouldn't have mattered, Sowell likely being thought of by such a book dealer to be an Oreo anyway. Or so his friends would tell him, and he, being a hip and trendy guy would accept that anyone whose a "racist" is a racist. Or, as one girl said to us some years back: "My friends don't say that."

How daring.

Ilan Pappe is coming to the Vancouver Public Library soon to discuss his dhimmitude in front of the limited public. How daring, he. He will stand before the eyes of the world and rehash the same old cliches and lies of the times in the full expectation of receiving accolades for his daring too. Yes, an Israeli will say vile things about Israel. Cool? There is no end to it. We, of course, being Rightwing religious bigots who will protest his presence, are, well, Rightwing religious bigots. Forget the facts, it's the words one say that count for cool.

These days in Canada we witness the unfolding if not the unraveling of the Human Rights Commissions in this benighted land as we find that the people in charge of said commissions have been running wild in the streets protecting victims from -- themselves, actually. (What pronoun reference?) No, there is no end to the parodic antics of the Social Gospel fanatic Christian/Gnostics who are too cool for the rest of us to truly understand. They are on the edge of some grand revelation, on the other side, as it turns out, beyond us, and aware, unlike those left behind. We who are uncool talk about them. We talk about Thomas Sowell as well. And yes we will this evening talk about the racist neo-Nazi hate-mongering reactionary and ya ya, Geert Wilders. We discuss such people and their ideas, ideas not new but old, and we do so openly in the hope of attracting others to join us in this discussion. We miss out on the latest bands, it's true, and we aren't the most fashionably attired, as someone mentioned to me recently at the second-hand store for the blind; but we have our various ways of being interesting nonetheless. We're interesting, that is, if you aren't one of those who is so locked into the reigning conformities of the time that you are one to shove a reader of Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism out of your local Starbuck's.

We meet at Blenz coffee bar in the atrium at VPL each Thursday evening from 7-9 p.m. If you're not a blinkered Conformity Hippie so wrapped up in what your friends think that you have no ideas of your own, if indeed you have some concerns that perhaps your friends really don't know much beyond the latest news of the latest bands, come and join us. Retro? No, I have no interest in pretending to be from my father's generation, some uninformed imitator of the Beat Generation. I'm not that cool, having seen it all before and having been unimpressed by it when it really was new. If you care for open debate and free discussion unbound by the dictates of conventional conformity hippiedom, we await you.

For those of you who were lonely as you read this, allow me as a Canadian guy and a nice personoid to leave you with some reassurance that the world is still yours as you have always known it and that you don't have to go away feeling alienated: Death to Israel, Death to America, Stop Global Warming, Fair Play for Cuba and so on.

See you this evening.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What have you done today to denormalize the Canadian Human Rights Commission?

Don't miss Ezra Levant's excellent analysis of the mockery of Canadian justice that was on display in Ottawa, Tuesday. Read it and weep; and if you're convinced that no citizen, however contemptible, should have to face the state in this form of Kafkaesque, truly banal, para-judicial, evil, get on the phone, fax, or email some politicians. And then write your local paper and request they get on the story. Yes it is all too banal to get many sober folk off their evening rocking chairs. And that's the point. This is how evil creeps into a truly modern "progressive" society.

UPDATE: Here's an example of citizen blogging at its best: barrelstrength has made a semi-complete transcript of the Lemire v. Warman hearing.

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Eric Gans: Transcendence is a Human Fact

The intellectually curious should not miss the latest essay from Eric Gans: Chronicles of Love & Resentment CCCLVI, which takes on the dialogue of the deaf between the currently fashionable camp of atheist polemicists and the defenders of religion.

What neither side has, as Gans never tires of pointing out, is an adequate anthropological account of how our shared human consciousness or transcendence works, or could have first come into being, something that Gans' Generative Anthropology (GA) serves to hypothesize. To those of us familiar with GA, it is clearly a superior way of approaching the question of transcendence, and yet the science vs. religion polemicists keep on fighting, showing little interest in GA's way of minimizing the difference between the two camps. GA is founded on an "originary hypothesis" concerning the minimal conditions for the simultaneous origin of human language, religion, and our transcendent consciousness, and GA's work is to continually refine this hypothesis:
I am currently in the preliminary stages of a project that will address the question raised by the current wave of anti-religion books and the replies they have received from the faithful. Now that I've read a few works in both categories, I am able to provide an update. At this point I will not address the specific points raised in these works. Although eventually I will have to respond to their chief arguments, such as they are, my readings confirm my conviction that no one conceives which I shall call the question of transcendence in anything like the same terms as GA.

As might be expected, although the common assumptions of both sides exclude consideration of the originary hypothesis, the arguments in defense of the transcendental are more congenial to it. As a rule, those who attack religion assume that the universe can be understood as composed entirely of matter and that the human does not put into question this overall materialist ontology. The a priori exclusion of a transcendental realm, which reduces representations to forms of matter associated with other forms, more complex but not ontologically different from the strands of DNA that are "expressed" in bodily traits or functions, makes the construction of a hypothetical originary scene a waste of time. In contrast, for those who defend God or the "spiritual," the originary hypothesis can be understood as a minimal reading of a scene of creation, and even if the defense drifts off into the cosmos, the human battleground remains the essential one. What these defenders do not do, however, is propose a minimal hypothesis of their own. Either they accept in some sense a specific religion's account of creation or, more commonly, they avoid discussing origin altogether, since the "spiritual realm" is simply assumed to exist independently of humanity. Neuroscientist Mario Beauregard and Denyse O'Leary's The Spiritual Brain (HarperSanFrancisco 2007) is the best example I have seen of this kind of argumentation. This book's claims for "spirituality" are not in real contradiction with the principles of GA, but there is no expressed concern for restricting these claims to the domain of anthropology.

Of the atheists' various theories of how religion came into existence, the most serious are founded on evolutionary psychology. If religion is widespread despite its costliness in time and energy (not to speak of its absurdity, criminality, imbecility, etc.), it must somehow be adaptive, so we may assume there exist for its central traits genes, or brain modules, or complexes of "memes"--unless religious activity is merely a "spandrel," an indirect consequence of genuinely adaptive traits, such as our love for stories. As for what might make religion adaptive, perhaps the best guess is that it satisfies our (or our children's) tendency to attribute intention to ostensible agents, whether truly animate or not, including the dead, whose agental status we tend to prolong as their bodies decay. Aside from the pseudo-scientific vocabulary, most of these arguments are not measurably more sophisticated than the 19th-century figure of "primitive man" bowing down to the god of the thunderstorm. In perhaps the most serious of these explorations, Daniel Dennett's insufferably long-winded Breaking the Spell (Viking 2006), the set of possibly useful analogies with which the author begins his investigation includes such things as our excessive fondness for sugar and behavior influenced by parasites. The idea that a complex institution bound up with the whole of human culture can be approached by means of such analogies is a category error of astounding intellectual arrogance. Concerning those works that dispense with both diatribes and evolutionary speculations and limit themselves to philosophical demonstrations of the Impossibility or merely the Improbability of God--the titles of two collections of philosophical essays--they commit a less dramatic version of the same category error by discussing the God-concept independently of its necessarily anthropological context.

Beyond Voltairean religion-bashing that has no bearing on the question of transcendence, the bottom line of the atheistic side's arguments is that what we know about matter and its organization gives no evidence of a creator-designer, that is, a world-creating mind gifted with intentionality. Everything from the big bang to the emergence of life to that of humanity can be reasonably attributed to matter's self-organizing properties, as manifested in particular in the Darwinian evolution of life.

My claim is that this line of argument is simply irrelevant. It fails to address the real question at stake, which should not be posed--by either side--in terms of the existence or non-existence of a "designer." Religion is about the human, and God's existence in realms not inhabited by humanity is of at most allegorical significance. Christianity makes this explicit with John's "In the beginning was the word," rewriting what was already strongly implicit in the Genesis original, where God creates the universe with language. Speculating on what God was or was not doing at the big bang, or whether he created just one universe or a zillion alternative ones (to respect the "anthropic principle") is the contemporary equivalent of counting angels on pinheads. As for the "proofs" of God's impossibility or improbability, it suffices to say that if God exists, he is no doubt capable of arranging things as he likes, including dealing with the logical impossibility of being at once omnipotent and omniscient. To suggest, as some do, that if God really existed, he would almost certainly have made the world differently reflects the cosmological arrogance that scientists display whenever they forget that to present quantum indeterminacy and the decomposition of matter into quarks as the definitive ontology is to declare the end of (scientific) history.
[...]
Our possession of representations is the central feature of what we call our "consciousness." Animals have intentions and make calculations, but they lack a "theory of mind" that allows them to understand and predict not merely the actions but the intentions of other beings. As Richard van Oort has pointed out, based on Michael Tomasello's studies of chimpanzees, even the highest animals, although clearly able to react to the intentions of others (as a prey animal avoids its predators), are unable to attribute intention to their fellows, for example, in teaching/learning a new technique. From this we may conclude that these creatures lack a theory of their own mind and cannot attribute intention to themselves. Humans acquire an intuitive grasp of others' and their own intentionality through the shared use of representations. Unlike the tool-like actions of chimpanzees, speech acts are intrinsically intentional--intentionality is all they are. We are able to guess each other's intentions because they can in principle be formulated in language.

A familiar point against the materialist denial of human specificity is that a robot or computer has no internal mental state. Computers use signs, but they are our signs; to the computer, they are so many bytes--in fact, there is no "to the computer" at all. As Beauregard and others point out, the claim that our mind is nothing but the activity of our brain is an act of faith, not a scientific truth. What the originary hypothesis adds to this debate is to clarify what it is that humans share with respect to the use of representations: their creators' originary and subsequently virtual community. The individual brain does not "contain" the representations it uses; it borrows them from a communal source to which they always remain attached. It is their dependence on the human community that distinguishes the signs of language from the indexical signs employed by our animal forebears. Whereas animals' signaling systems are rooted in individual, genetically inherited behavior patterns that have been refined by evolution to arouse the appropriate reaction in their fellows, requiring at best some postnatal training, humans invent, use, and modify language in a collective setting. Each use of a word or symbol takes place before this virtual community, whose members' mutual recognition as fellow language-users is ultimately dependent on a shared sense of the sacred. The virtual presence of the human community generates the scenic space within which we become conscious of ourselves.

The arguments given above do little more than summarize, with some added refinements, ideas I first put forth on this subject in 1981 in The Origin of Language. I am prepared to continue repeating and refining these same ideas--in dialogue with the handful of free spirits who take them seriously--while I am able to think at all.

So long as the two sides in the public debate agree to disagree about "the existence of God," there will be no progress. It is only when both sides come to accept the fact that--as I think Derrida realized in his last years (see Chronicle 340)--the distance between the faith of the possessor of human language and that of the believer in sacred revelation is vanishingly small, that the understanding of what these two "believers" have in common can become the focus of a way of thinking about the human that will finally be worthy to be called anthropology.

Christianity's Good News

Chuck Colson reports and comments, from a Christian perspective, on a wave of conversions from Islam to Christianity:
In Sudan, as many as five million Muslims have accepted Christ since the early 1990s, despite horrific persecution of Christians by the Sudanese government. What is behind the mass conversions? According to a Sudanese evangelical leader, “People have seen real Islam, and they want Jesus instead.”
[...]
These conversions have not escaped the notice of Islamic leaders. In 2001, Sheikh Ahmad Al Qatanni, a leading Saudi cleric, delivered the disturbing news on Al-Jazeera: Every day, he said, “16,000 Muslims convert to Christianity . . . every year, that is six million Muslims becoming Christians . . . A tragedy has happened.” It is possible the sheikh was inflating his numbers to incite a reaction against Christianity. But clearly, something is happening.
Then again, it may be the debates on Al-Jazeera between Islamists and modernists that will plant the necessary seed of doubt. Here's Wafa Sultan in fine form:

The Schaidle on the Avid Lewis


FrontPage Magazine
millions of Canadian tax dollars helped groom Avi Lewis for the cameras since he first joined the CBC back in 1998. Now he's taken that expensive training and precious exposure – which countless Canadian citizens who didn't win the gene pool lottery will never have the opportunity to enjoy – and gone to work for a network that actively supports the destruction of the culture that made his career possible. Not a few of those citizens are wondering where they go to get a refund.
I suggest people make a point of attending Avi Lewis' parents public-speaking engagements and politely requesting, on behalf of the Canadian people, a refund, in lieu of Avi's intransigence, to be donated to a pro-Western charity of choice. You won't get the money, but it's the thought that counts.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Details on Toronto 18 terrorist plot starting to come out as first trial begins


But evidence presented at the first trial will be partly subject to publication ban, in order to protect the other accused from prejudiced trials, once evidence such as this surveillance video transcript is broadcast:
"Rome has to be defeated," the suspect allegedly said. "And we have to be the ones that do it. No holding back. Whether it's one man that survives, you have to do it."
[...]
"What happens? What happens at the Parliament?" one person is heard asking.

"We go and kill everybody," another responds.

"And then what?"

"And then read about it ... we get victory."
Also:
A copy of a videotape showing a member giving a sermon was recovered during a covert search of the home of one of the accused.
Full transcript of one video here:
“But you know what? Your minds gotta be on this place. Your minds and your hearts have to be here. You go back, you're living with society and you have to put on that face, you know what, we're a bunch of peace lovers you know what, I love all this *non believers* yup I love your wealth … [GROUP LAUGHTER] … I love your women, I love everything about you …
[...]
“So although our bodies will be with the *non-believers* roaming around, going to work, trying to get money, sucking up to your boss, and this and that, you know, the typical idea of nice uh, do *favours* with the parents this and that … our hearts are with the people of *heaven* our hearts are with this group right here and everybody else that's given the Covenant for us and be part of this, who are not here but *God willing* they are here with their hearts, all right?

“So you go back, *God willing* remember, doesn't matter what trials you face [GROUP SIGHING] it doesn't matter what comes your way. Our mission's greater, whether we get arrested, whether we get killed, we get tortured, our mission's greater than just individuals. It's not about you or I or this *leader* or that *leader* it's not about that. It's about the fact that this has to get done.

“Rome has to be defeated. And we have to be the ones that do it, no holding back, whether, it's one man that survives, you have to do it. This is what the Covenant's all about, you have to do it. And *God willing* we will do it. *God willing* we will get that victory.

“... Well who's gonna say anything about it. We destroyed your armies, you got nothing. We broke your knees. Rome, Rome, you guys realize who you're messing with? This is Rome. This is the one empire that's never been defeated.

“... But you know what? this empire has never been defeated. It's like a friggin' monster man. You cut off one hand, another one grows here, cut that one off, another grows here, cut that off, another one, another one, another one.

“Finally you had to leave the entire Europe because the Muslims are close to their shores. And here they came to North America and they got their fortress, they got their wall, they got their um, Patriot missiles, or whatever the heck they call them, trying to you know defend their airspace, this and that, but you know what?

“Here we are we entered your lands, we already started striking cause you know what? This training is striking at them. Saying *There is no God but God* …

“It's just we gottta stick with it man. If it takes long so be it. We just gotta stick with it because this is our mission. This is our life's mission and Allah – has already purchased us, lives and our wealth in exchange for *heaven.* He's already purchased it. We are fulfilling that, living it, alright.”
Like they say, Islam can look a lot like a Judeo-Christian heresy.

"Human Rights" Round ('em) Up

UPDATE: See also reports by Mark Steyn and John Pacheco
(with audio)
And don't miss Ezra Levant's comments.
In the eyes of Free Dominion, this drawing of CHRC investigator, and the day's chief witness, Dean Steacy, sums up the day at the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal:

FD's Mark Fournier adds:
Today was the first anyone had heard that jadewarr was not Dean Steacy's private investigative account. Whether this is true has yet to be determined, and while the revelation may give Dean Steacy some wiggle room, it also put responsibility for what was done with that spying account directly into the collective laps of the CHRC.

If jadewarr was used by many people and nobody had control over it and nobody kept track of who was doing what with it and when, as Steacy has testified, it certainly opens up the CHRC to more subpoenas to force the CHRC to reveal their own computer records.

And why was the CHRC's favourite in-house internet spying ID being used by someone in a private residence a couple of blocks from the CHRC headquarters? And why was it being used at that location by someone who doesn't work for the CHRC?

We were happy to see Barbara Kulaszka ask Dean Steacy several questions concerning his activities at Free Dominion. Dean Steacy first admitted he signed up at Free Dominion on April 5, 2006 and reiterated that his registration at this site was the result of a complaint against us. He didn't have a quick answer when it was pointed out to him that the date he registered was half a year before the Marie-Line Gentes complaint against Free Dominion was ever filed. After stumbling around for a while trying to come up with an explanation he settled for - there must have been some telephone complaints or something that prompted him to begin his investigation of Free Dominion.

When asked who had complained he outright refused to answer, claiming he had to protect the identities of the complainants. I suppose he has a point, but I would find his whole story a lot more believable if he produced some documentation proving those complaints actually existed. They could easily black out the names of the complainants. It also would be very interesting to learn the content of those complaints.

If Dean Steacy is telling the truth about these previously unheard of complaints, why were we never charged with anything as a result of these complaints? If there were several of these complaints, and they were all deemed to be groundless (as they must have been since no actual complaints from the time were ever filed), why didn't it occur to him that maybe these complaints were politically motivated rather that genuine complaints?

But the most damning piece of testimony of all was when Dean Steacy testified that the he and the CHRC are now in the business of potential crime investigating. The reason he was snooping around FD was because his version of a thought crime might happen here.

This last testimony, in and of itself, should be grounds for the deletion of Section 13.
Connie Fournier is interviewed at noapologies.

Deb Gyapong:
I spent a bit of time talking with the representatives from B'nai Brith, the Canadian Jewish Congress and the Simon Weisenthal Centre. Basically they were all singing from the same song sheet that Human Rights Commissions and Section 13 were good things and should get credit for the fact that hate speech from the right has been pretty well marginalized. The CJC guy also talked about the need to regulate the Internet.

They also liked the good work HRCs have done in areas of discrimination. Maybe some tweaking is in order, perhaps funding "respondents" or finding a way to get rid of nuisance complaints like those against Steyn and Ezra Levant, but that's about it.
[...]
Steacy got questioned quite a bit about the relationship of various police forces to the CHRC. Seems police have been out in force posting hate on various sites too, so that between the police officers and the multi-identity pseudonymous CHRC staffers and complainants posting on various sites you have to wonder how many actual hate mongers (on the right) there are in Canada.

At one point he denied that there was any agreement or cooperation between the RCMP and the CHRC or other police forces on Section 13 hate issues, only on matters of discrimination and sexual harrassment. But when the rest of a heavily blanked out correspondence one of the lawyers had obtained through Access to Information showed that in fact the police and the HRC were cooperating on investigating hate crimes, he kept repeating there was no formal agreement that he was aware of.

Some of the proposed cooperation between the RCMP and the CHRC include establishing direct contacts between RCMP and CHRC officers; sharing of information;
[...]
Another interesting thing came up. Marc Lemire apparently tried to launch complaints against the various police and others who were posting hateful comments on his site. Steacy rejected the complaint because he included too many respondents on a double-sided sheet or some such procedural thing. In other words, he didn't fill out the complaint application properly. (Steacy did acknowledge that under the law even police officers could be vulnerable to hate prosecution for hate posts)

However, someone else, whom he adamantly refused to reveal, either casually phoned or emailed a casual complaint and that was enough for Jadewarr to start snooping over at Free Dominion. This complainant did not need to fill out the single-sided form.
[...]
Gentes withdrew the complaint last summer, but FD has a record of Jadewarr logging on to their site in January of this year, raising questions about whether they are being monitored. Steacy also said Free Dominion was similar to Stormfront. Well, no, Mr. Steacy it is not. FD is run by two members of the Salvation Army who love Israel and are anything but anti-Semitic. Connie and Mark Fournier allow some rather raucous and crusty people to post on their forum, but there are no White Pride "crosses" or positive links to Ku Klux Klan activities or crap like that over at Free Dominion as there is on Stormfront. It is a conservative site and sometimes a bit freewheeling and immoderate.
[...]
Steacy said his manager John Chamberlain was aware of his use of the Jadewarr identity. He said he was not directed to do so. Chamberlain, Kozak and Steacy's assistant also know the password to this identity. It did not seem like there was a clear system of accountability concerning when and how this identity was used. To me, it seems that having the password available to several people makes it easy for any one of the staffers to have plausible deniability when it comes to accountability for posts.

"What I did as an investigator I did not at any time consult with Mr. Warman." But he said he did not know if someone else might have given Warman the password to Jadewarr.

The whole thing had that same kind of banal, bureaucratic, mushy hard to get a handle on it sense to it that Ezra's "interrogation" would have had if Ezra had not seized control and given the event a narrative shape.
See also, this and this from Joseph Brean of the National Post. The latter article suggests the possibility that a member of the CHRC staff may have been secretly (without permission) using a private citizen's wireless internet service to post as Jadewarr.

Live blogging at the CHRT

Kady O'Malley of Maclean's is doing some live blogging at the Canadian "human rights" tribunal in Ottawa. Part 1; Part 2
Highlight:
2:15:23 PM
Under questioning, Steacy remains adamant that he *had* to join the various sites, including freedominion.ca, in order to use the search engine and access the full site. He also claims that there were "security concerns" about the safety of CHRC staffers working on "hate files," which is why he logged in to see what had been posted about JadeWarr's identity.

2:18:27 PM
So why *was* he on freedominion.ca before there was a complaint? Because there was the *potential* for a complaint to come in, he says - prompting muffled gasps from the group beside me, which includes the two founders of Free Dominion.

Now Doug Christie is on his feet, and expressing grave concern over the fact that a CHRC representative was investigating the site before a complaint has been made. Barbara K wants to know *who* - othe than Gentes - was considering making a complaint, and Steacy refuses to answer. Well, that was dramatic, at least.
The CHRC can only investigate complaints; it can't start it's own. Were they thus encouraging someone to lay a complaint against Free Dominion?

Deborah Gyapong has a lunch-hour update:
The most common answer during today's proceedings has been:

"I don't recall." or "I don't remember" or some variation thereof.
Part 3:
4:45:33 PM
Christie keeps pressing Steacy on information sharing between the CHRC and the cops - the Winnipeg police, in this instance - but he maintains that there is no such arrangement - at least, not one of which he's aware.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, CSIS has come up: doesn't it bother Steacy "as a human being" that CSIS - Canada's secret spy agency - is involved in regulating hate on the internet. He seems as confused as, well, everyone else by this tangent. "It doesn't trouble you?" Christie asks him. No. That's the answer.

That was unsettling.
[...]
5:09:19 PM
Are we back to Free Dominion? Apparently. Christie reiterates the question posed by Barbara K earlier: why *was* he investigating the site "half a year" before any complaint was filed. Answer: he wasn't. He may have logged in, but only because of previous inquiries.
Steyn
According to the signs plastered all over the courtroom, this case is "Warman vs Lemire" - ie, it was Richard Warman who brought the suit against Marc Lemire, no doubt thinking it would be another easy-peasy tax-free 35-grand Christmas bonus for him. Instead, Mr Lemire fought back, since when Mr Warman has been conspicuous by his absence. Today was the 20th successive day in court when the supposed complainant was a no-show. Evidently, Warman's moved on: places to go, people to sue.

This is why the system is fundamentally unfair. As David Warren says, the process is the punishment. Richard Warman is off sunning himself at Malibu or checking out the latest collections in Paris or seeing his tailor in Hong Kong, while Marc Lemire expends vast amounts of his own time and money. I emerged from the CHRT with total contempt for a system so openly gamed.
See also Marc Lemire's blogging.