Categories
LGBTQ+

Pride

When I was younger the movement was called ‘Gay Pride’ and it was very much about making a political statement. These days it’s just called ‘Pride’ and is more inclusive than it was back in the day. That’s a good thing. And this weekend I was at the annual Pride parade, just as I have been many times previously.

Today, it should be a celebration of who we are. Not just gays and lesbians and trans and questioning and goths and bears and all the rest, but all of us. To me, at its heart, Pride is about celebrating a fundamental value in our society, that we can be whatever we want, love whomever we want, and express ourselves and our love freely and openly.

But there is, to be sure, an element of Pride that is very much about defending the rights of LGBTQ+ in our society, and very much about them asserting their right to be who they are. And that it is still necessary to make that statement saddens me.

And make no mistake, it is still necessary. There are societies outside Canada where homosexuality is frowned upon and there are places where it is actually illegal. And even inside Canada, there are people who in the name of one doctrine or another argue it should still be illegal, and that they should be denied the rights the rest of us take for granted such as, for example, the right to be married.

And there are some people in our society who are just mean and are happy to use this as much as anything as an excuse to beat someone up. Because that’s the inevitable result of intolerance and hate. You can say “love the sinner, hate the sin” but someone else will take your words as an excuse for bigoted violence.

None of that sits well with me. My support for LGBTQ+ rights is rooted in the very simple principle that we should leave people alone to live their lives as fully and completely as possible, and if that means getting married, or kissing in public, or whatever, then they should. It’s not something we should hide from the kids. It’s something to celebrate.

And what does not help is dredging up this whole debate all over again, as though we still think in Canada in this day and age that these are still rights that are open for discussion, that we could still turn back the clock and return to the dark days of legally sanctioned repression and discrimination.

That’s one reason why people were upset with the Liberals dredging up an old anti-gay speech by Conservative leader Andrew Scheer. It’s not simply a question of whether or not Scheer was intolerant a decade ago, it’s that the Liberals are saying that they still want to have this debate with him. As though that would help anyone in this country other than the Liberals.

And that’s why some people were very rightly upset with today’s CBC call-in show again on the question of same-sex marriage. The show provoked the unsurprising response of someone calling in and arguing that these rights should be overturned. What good is served by that? Why not also a call-in on revoking the women’s right to vote? I’m sure this also has supporters out there somewhere. It doesn’t mean the question should be open for debate.

So I guess maybe I was fooling myself when I thought of Pride as mostly a celebration of who we are. I guess it’s still necessary to tell those in power and in the media that we have moved on from their narrow and binary interpretation of society. I guess it’s still necessary to tell them that they are not being helpful, and that they are, simply for their own purposes, hurting people.

Meanwhile, to all my friends in the LGBTQ+ community: peace and love.

Categories
Ethics Justice

Handmaiden to Despots?

Responding to Heather Morrison, who writes,

As any movement grows and flourishes, decisions made will turn out to have unforeseen consequences. Achieving the goals of the movement requires critical reflection and occasional changes in policy and procedure.The purpose of this post is to point out that the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) appears to be inadvertently acting as a handmaiden to at least one despotic government, facilitating dissemination of works subject to censorship and rejecting open access journals that would be suitable venues for critics of the despotic government. There is no blame and no immediately obvious remedy, but solving a problem begins with acknowledging that a problem exists and inviting discussion of how to avoid and solve the problem. OA friends, please consider this such an invitation.

Sustaining the knowledge commons full post:

https://sustainingknowledgecommons.org/2019/08/14/doaj-handmaiden-to-despots-or-oa-we-need-to-talk/

This is an issue I have thought a lot about. My work takes me to various countries, some of which might be classified as despotic. I have worked with the governments of those countries, always from the perspective of advancing open access and free learning. The question I have asked myself is whether it is appropriate to work with them.

I have decided that it is, and for a very simple reason: any principled selection process would leave me with very few countries to work with, if any.

It is easy to point to a particular country and suggest that we should not work with that country. But if we apply the same principle that led us to that decision the we are left with a significant practical problem. And if we extend that principle to agents of the country, including companies that support that country, or customers of that country, or suppliers to that country, as we most surely should, then we are left with no countries in which to work.

And at a certain point, when a recommendation to boycott a given country is made, I find that I have to ask, why this country? What made the person select this country to address, as opposed to one of the many others engaged in the same practice?

I will most certainly concur with Heather Morrison that a problem exists. There are countries in the world that murder their own citizens, either extra-legally, or by some sort of state sanctioned capital punishment. There are many countries that interfere with the publication of academic materials on political grounds. There is definitely a problem, one of many problems plaguing our world today.

How to address this? It is easy to identify what we oppose and to work against it. But my experience is that, in the long term, if is much more effective to work for something. It is also a lot harder, which is maybe why we don’t see so much of it.

We need, globally, to build the structures and institutions that will address issues such as this. Support for entities such as the United Nations and the World Court will go a long way toward addressing oppressive regimes. It is essential to build international trade regulations that prioritize justice, human rights, and environment as much as they do the needs of global capital.

It is tempting to short-cut this process, to have (say) DOAJ stand on its own against countries that oppress their citizens. But this is not justice, nor can it be seen as any pretense of justice. Only by building the institutions that serve all people, on a global scale, will we be able to address the injustices that we, as individuals, seek to redress. Any other approach would be parochial and sectarian.

Meanwhile, as an individual, I stay firm and unwavering in my own commitment to individual autonomy, celebration of diversity, an open society, and collective governance. Change happens not by changing governments, but by changing people, and the only way to change people is to be an example of the change you want to see in them.

Categories
Health

Scheer’s Promise

Andrew Scheer has made a pledge – and put it in writing – to “maintain and increase” health care funding to the provinces if he’s elected Prime Minister.

He had to. We know what happens when Conservatives are elected to office in Canada. They undermine the fairness of the health care system, cutting funding and eliminating programs.

We in Ontario are fresh from seeing the most recent evidence of this trend. One of the first things Conservative Doug Ford did after being elected was to start cutting health care and social services.

We know that it doesn’t matter what Conservatives say while they’re on the campaign trail. They want to cut health care and other services, and they’ll find a reason to do it. That’s why Scheer underlined that he had put his pledge in writing.

Should we trust Scheer this time? Well, no.

Here’s why: even if he keeps his pledge there are many ways he can keep it while at the still time undermining public health care in Canada.

After all, that’s why Conservatives cut health care funding. It’s not that they hate sick people. It’s that they think our health care system should be privatized, so it can make as much money for their business friends as the health care system does in the U.S.

If we look at what another recently elected Conservative is doing, we see where the road leads. In Alberta, Jason Kenney is looking to cut public health care and add private services. He has given Ernst & Young $2 million to figure out how this is to be done.

Andrew Scheer can keep his pledge by throwing money at private companies in an ongoing effort to undermine public healthcare.

He can undermine the Canada Health Act (which requires that provinces spend transfer money on public healthcare and that bans practices such as extra-billing) without cutting a dime from Federal transfer payments.

Nothing in his letter suggests he won’t do this. Everything in the performance of Conservative governments past and present suggests that he will.

This is the plan. Cut public services and privatize them. Look at how Scheer wants to spend public money providing rebates to people who send their kids to private school.

Scheer’s promise is worth nothing, not even the paper it’s written on.