Notes and Comment Blog

Chekhov’s preferences

Feb 21st, 2014 10:46 am | By

James Lasdun wrote a tribute to Chekhov in the Guardian in 2010.

Have a striking passage from it:

His father, Paul, ran a grocery-cum-general store where Taganrog society congregated to purchase rice, coffee, paraffin, mousetraps, ammonia, penknives and vodka, and were duly cheated by the proprietor. Family lore records an occasion where a drowned rat was found in a cask of cooking oil. Instead of throwing out the oil, Paul had it “sanctified” by a priest, and continued selling it – an ur-Chekhovian episode, complete with a climax that is at once a non-event (business going on as usual), and a pitiless illumination of the father’s character. A bullying, fanatically religious man as well as a total failure (he went bankrupt in 1876 and fled to Moscow with the rest of the family, leaving the 16-year-old Anton to fend for himself in Taganrog), the father too becomes a major generative element in his son’s imagination. His presence can be felt in Chekhov’s stories in the tyrannical father figures of “My Life” and “Three Years” as well as Jacob, the benighted zealot in “The Murder”. In a more general sense, his spirit becomes absorbed into what might be called the negative pole in Chekhov’s vision of reality: the force of oppression, petty-mindedness and outright cruelty that periodically discharges itself into the stories, sweeping over the characters as a sudden mood of melancholy or pure blackness (like the hallucinated Black Monk in the story of that title), or an impulse of vicious brutality, as in the notorious baby-killing episode of “In the Hollow”.

As a human being – a doctor who went out of his way to help the poor and needy – Chekhov was unambiguously repelled by this aspect of life, and many of his better known remarks are either denunciations of it or defences of its opposite, which he identified chiefly as culture, rationality and scientific progress. There is the famous retort to Tolstoy, whom he revered as a novelist but rejected as a teacher: “Reason and justice tell me there’s more love for humanity in electricity and steam than in chastity or vegetarianism,” while the much-quoted lines from his letter to the poet Alexey Plescheyev are perhaps the clearest articulation of his “beliefs” such as they were: “My holy of holies is the human body, health, intelligence, talent, inspiration, love and absolute freedom – freedom from violence and falsehood, no matter how the last two manifest themselves.”

Yes to all that.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

The right kind of child rape

Feb 21st, 2014 10:04 am | By

A good thing from last May – Stephen Fry chatting with Craig Ferguson about homophobia. In particular, he reports meeting with the Ugandan Minister for Ethics and Integrity. Progressive Secular Humanist has a transcript.

I actually got a Ugandan Minister to say on camera- he’s the Minister for Ethics and Integrity, it’s the only such ministry in the world. I said to him… there’s so much more to worry about in your country than the odd gay person going to bed with the other gay person. For example, you have almost an epidemic of child rape in this country, which is just frightening.

And he said “Ah, but it is the right kind of child rape.”

[Ferguson reacts.]

I said “That was on camera. Do you know that was on camera?”

He said “Yes.”

I said “Can you just explain what you meant?”

“Well, it is men raping girls. Which is natural.”

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Veto that bill

Feb 21st, 2014 9:07 am | By

So, yeah, the Arizona House passed that bill last night. The New Civil Rights Movement reports.

The full Arizona House just passed a religious freedom license to discriminate bill that will allow anyone, for any reason, refuse to provide services to anyone if they claim it violates their religious beliefs. The Arizona Senate passed their version of the bill, SB 1062, just yesterday.

The legislation is now headed to Republican Governor Jan Brewer for her signature or veto.

After several hours of debate, the Republican-led Arizona House in an unrecorded voice vote sent HB 2153, an Act Relating To The Free Exercise Of Religion to the full House for a vote. That vote happened only minutes later. The final vote was 33-27.

The free exercise clause – I hate that clause. It shores up a lot of the worst kind of American exceptionalism. Exceptions that allow parents to refuse to vaccinate their children for religious reasons; that allow parents to refuse medical treatment for their children for religious reasons; that allow parents to yank their children out of school at 14 for religious reasons; that allow parents to “home school” with zero oversight or criteria for religious reasons; that allow religious institutions to refuse to employ women for religious reasons; that grant conscientious objector status for religious reasons and not philosophical reasons; and so on.

Rep. Chad Campbell, the Democratic Minority Leader, delivered a very passionate speech, telling his fellow House members, “this is state sanctioned discrimination.”

“If you are gay, don’t come to Arizona. That’s what we’re saying to the nation,” Rep. Campbell said. “This is a direct attack on a certain group of people — the LGBT community,” he noted.

Later, he noted, “there’s only one type of equality, and that’s equal.”

But of course that’s not how the other side sees it.

“I’m sick and tired of the majority being trampled on by the minority,” Rep. Steve Smith said. “I won’t stand for it. We’re the bad people. Why? Because I dare to wear my religion on my sleeve?”

No, actually. The answer to that question is No. That’s not why. It’s because you demand the “right” to deprive other people of their genuine rights for reasons of your own gut-level unreasonable ew-ick feelings, which you disguise as sleeve-religion.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Nicely done, Rocco’s

Feb 21st, 2014 8:36 am | By

Hats off to Rocco’s Little Chicago Pizzeria in Tucson, Arizona – yes that’s ARIZONA, where the Senate and then last night the House passed a bill allowing people to refuse service to anyone provided they could claim it’s an expression of their sincerely-held religious beliefs. Hats off to Rocco’s for its reply on its Facebook page.

Photo: Funny how just being decent is starting to seem radical these says.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Selective secularism

Feb 20th, 2014 6:09 pm | By

An Indian site reports on an interview with Taslima in which she says Indian secularism is too selective. It has video of that part of the interview (which is in English) and a transcript.

Sagarika Ghose:Do you believe secularists in India are selective?

Taslima Nasrin: I think secularists in India are selective. I don’t think they are true secularists. I criticise Muslim fundamentalism as well as Hindu fundamentalism. Indian secularists defend those people who are attacked by Hindu fundamentalists but they do not defend writers and authors, filmmakers and people who are attacked by Muslim fundamentalists. This is very alarming.

Taslima has a much more extended version of her thoughts on her blog, which is right next door here.

Writers should have the right to write whatever they like. Everyone should have the right to offend people. Without the right to offend, freedom of expression does not exist. Nobody should have the right to spend his or her entire life without being offended. Don’t we all know that if “Free Speech” means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not like to hear! Without hurting the sentiments of misogynists, obscurantists, ignorant irrationalists — you will not be able to bring change in society. Throughout history always some people’s sentiments were hurt – had to be hurt – especially when society was about to change. In this country when sati was abolished, or girls’ education started, many misogynist sentiments were hurt. But should we care about their so called sentiments or should we help society to evolve, to make the world a better place?

Yes but sincere religious beliefs.

It is dangerous if the government tries to deny people’s freedom of expression in order to protect the sentiments of those who don’t believe in democracy. Many of my books are banned in Bangladesh. My book was banned in West Bengal too. The government of West Bengal not only banned my book, it forced me to leave the state too. The new government banned the release of my book Nirbasan in 2012 and a few months ago forced a TV channel called Akash Ath to stop telecast of a mega serial written by me. The serial was about women’s struggle and how three sisters living in Kolkata fight against patriarchal oppression to live their lives with dignity and honour. She (Mamata Banerjee) banned me in order to appease some misogynist mullahs.

And it’s a god damn outrage.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment

Feb 20th, 2014 5:34 pm | By

Now that you mention it, let’s just take a look at the 1964 Civil Rights Act, shall we? Let’s take a look at the law that says no, actually, you may not discriminate or segregate on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin. It does not say “sexual orientation” in that short list, nor does it say “gender.” Both should be added. But the fundamental point is clear: you don’t get to discriminate or segregate for bad reasons.


SEC. 201. (a) All persons shall be entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, and privileges, advantages, and accommodations of any place of public accommodation, as defined in this section, without discrimination or segregation on the ground of race, color, religion, or national origin.

(b) Each of the following establishments which serves the public is a place of public accommodation within the meaning of this title if its operations affect commerce, or if discrimination or segregation by it is supported by State action:

(1) any inn, hotel, motel, or other establishment which provides lodging to transient guests, other than an establishment located within a building which contains not more than five rooms for rent or hire and which is actually occupied by the proprietor of such establishment as his residence;

(2) any restaurant, cafeteria, lunchroom, lunch counter, soda fountain, or other facility principally engaged in selling food for consumption on the premises, including, but not limited to, any such facility located on the premises of any retail establishment; or any gasoline station;

(3) any motion picture house, theater, concert hall, sports arena, stadium or other place of exhibition or entertainment;

And so on into the fine print. It’s not an exhaustive list, certainly, but perhaps it didn’t need to be, or perhaps that was all they could do in 1964. At any rate we can see what the basic principle is. You can’t just make people get out because you dislike their race or ethnicity. You would think in 50 years that principle could have sunk in, even into religious bigots in Arizona and Idaho and Indiana.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Talk about a mess of pottage…

Feb 20th, 2014 5:09 pm | By

Well here’s a startling opening paragraph, in an article in the Guardian:

Home Office officials are being rewarded with shopping vouchers for helping to ensure failed asylum seekers lose their attempt to stay in the country, new documents reveal.

It’s hard to get the head around that. Life and death for asylum seekers, and shopping vouchers for the people who reject their asylum applications.

A process shaped not, as we fondly imagine, by the facts of each case, but by petty bribes.

Deluded people from countries ruled by dictators or theocrats or both combined into one SuperBully, thinking the UK is a bastion of liberal thinking and human rights, only to find that its officialdom would rather have a shopping trip than help someone escape a horrible fate.

Official guidance obtained by the Guardian shows that immigration staff have been set a target of winning 70% of tribunal cases in which asylum seekers are appealing against government decisions that they should leave the UK.

These officers are also incentivised by Home Office reward schemes involving gift vouchers, cash bonuses and extra holidays, according to information received under freedom of information laws.

Asked what rewards were given to presenting officers and case owners in the fields of asylum and immigration, the department confirmed high-street vouchers for £25 or £50 were handed out to “recognise positive performance over a short period of time”, including when officers “exceed their casework targets for a month”.

Critics said it was a new low for officers to be rewarded for outcomes that meant asylum seekers being asked to leave the UK for countries where they claim to be facing persecution or war. The incentives undermine confidence in the fairness of the system, they say.

It does, rather.

Fancy an afternoon at Marks & Sparks?

H/t Kausik

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

God says I can tell you to get out of my store

Feb 20th, 2014 4:25 pm | By

Now Arizona is doing it.

PHOENIX — State senators voted Wednesday to let businesses refuse to serve gays based on owners’ “sincerely held” religious beliefs.

Fuck sincerely held religious beliefs. Many of them are awful; anti-human, inhumane, hate-based, discriminatory, a pretext for treating a particular set of people badly. Sincerity doesn’t make them any less so.

The 17-13 vote along party lines, with Republicans in the majority, came after supporters defeated an attempt to extend existing employment laws that bar discrimination based on religion and race to also include sexual orientation. Sen. Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler, said that’s a separate issue from what he is trying to do.

But Sen. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, said that’s precisely the issue.

“The bill opens the door for discrimination against gays and lesbians,” he said.

Yarbrough, however, said foes of SB 1062 are twisting what his legislation says.

“This bill is not about discrimination,” he said. “It’s about preventing discrimination against people who are clearly living out their faith.”

What lying bullshit. Allowing businesses to refuse to serve people because of what they are (not because they’re behaving aggressively or drunkenly or harassingly but because of what they are) is indeed discrimination, whether the people doing it are “living out their faith” or not.

The push follows a decision by the New Mexico Supreme Court which said a gay couple could sue a photographer who refused on religious grounds to take pictures of their nuptials. Yarbrough’s legislation would preclude such a ruling here.

Next up: laws to let businesses refuse to serve atheists. And liberals, and people from New York and San Francisco, and vegans, and people who wear sandals.

Yarbrough said foes are missing the point of why the Founding Fathers crafted religious protections in the First Amendment.

“One’s faith, at least in America, extended to the workplace, to the public square and to all aspects of our lives,” he said. And Yarbrough said SB 1062 is “aimed at preventing the rising attempts at discriminating against folks because they are sincere and serious about the free exercise of their religious faith.”

No, not because they are sincere and serious about the free exercise of their religious faith, but because they want to discriminate against other people.

“A person does not lose their First Amendment freedoms when they start a business,” she said. “In America, people are free to live and work according to their faith.”

Within the law. There’s a federal law against discrimination in the provision of goods and services. Lyndon Johnson signed it in 1964.

I guess we need a new Civil Rights Act.



(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)


Feb 20th, 2014 10:15 am | By

They’re telling me to be tolerant? The boys in the boys’ club are telling ME to be tolerant? They don’t even let women in the fucking door. How about they be tolerant?

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)


Feb 20th, 2014 9:44 am | By

For a morning wake-up treat (stop that, it’s morning here) have Bella the Lab who uses Bubbles the African elephant as a diving platform.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

In the name of his highness

Feb 19th, 2014 6:08 pm | By

Why BenBaz Aziz was put in prison for a year.


In the name of his highness the prince of Kuwait

case no 108/2012 CID

sued by Public Prosecution

Against: Aziz ben baz


1- he broadcasted opinions include sarcams and insulting to islam via internet.

2- national security has reported CID that the blogger has insulted god and prophet abraham through a picture he posted.

3- he calls for atheism and insulting islam.

Sentence: 1 year + fine 250 dollars


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Fact-checking the orcs

Feb 19th, 2014 5:37 pm | By

Vox Day is annoyed that people are annoyed that there aren’t enough female characters in video games. He has a post about it, titled Why we don’t put girls in games. That’s silly; everybody knows why. It’s because “we” don’t want to, because “we” think “girls” are very nice for a few limited purposes but other than that they’re just a pain in the ass.

Yet another clueless wonder is yapping about the absence of the unnecessary from video games:

There is a point to including playable female characters in games…

Having taken it as fact that there is a point to including female characters in video games, why on earth are we still hearing excuses for their absence in 2014? Because it is an excuse. There is no reason not to do it. You won’t alienate your existing market by acknowledging the existence of women. You won’t take anything away from your existing market.

See? Vox Day says it right there. “Girls” are unnecessary.

He comments on the clueless wonder’s commentary:

I am a game designer. I am designing and producing a game that does not, and will not, have a single female character in it. This is not because I am misogynistic. This is not because I do not [want] women to play the game. This is because putting women in the game makes no sense, violates the principle of the suspension of disbelief, and will not make the game any better as a game.

Sums it up, doesn’t it. Let’s face it – putting women in anything makes no sense and will not make the anything any better as an anything. That’s just how it is.

Or rather, it’s how it looks to people like Vox Day, because it’s what he’s used to, and he’s not sharp enough to try to see around what he’s used to – while keeping the interests of people who are not Vox Day in mind – and realize it could be otherwise. Putting women in the priesthood makes no sense. Putting women in movies makes no sense except in very limited numbers and with very little to say or do. Just plain including women in the real world makes no sense.

I am the lead designer of First Sword, a combat management game. The game has orcs and men, elves and dwarves. It has goblins and trolls. But it has no women.

So…the orcs and elves and dwarves are all men too? And we’re just supposed to assume that, to know that without being told? Because being male is normal and being female is aberrant and weird?

Plus, as Man Boobz hilariously points out, he’s saying that women defy belief while [male] orcs and elves and dwarves are as credible as peanut butter or crew socks. Huh.

Why not? Because the game is a gladiator game. Women cannot credibly fight as gladiators. We don’t put women in the game for the same reason we don’t put bunny rabbits or children in the game. Putting women in the game would be an act of brutal sadism, an act of barbarism even by pagan Roman standards. While the Romans did occasionally put female gladiators in the arena, they were there as a comedic act. They were occasionally matched against midgets, which the Romans apparently found hilarious.

Wow. The guy really gets everything backward, doesn’t he. Human women are totally unbelievable, and on the other hand, putting female characters in a gladiatorial game would be an act of brutal sadism. Doooooooooood, it’s a game, you’re designing it, you can make the women invincible, plus besides it’s not sadism because they’re characters in a game.

Lordy. I’m not used to this level of…um…let’s call it innocence.

We could, of course, throw out historical verisimilitude. But we’re not going to. Because we value that verisimilitude far more than we value the opinion of a few whiny women who don’t play the sort of games we make anyhow.

Historical verisimilitude? Did he confuse himself by talking about Rome? Orcs and elves don’t have historical verisimilitude.

And when we design a game with a particular female market in mind, we don’t worry about hurting the feelings of men who we know have no interest in that sort of game.

But the woman is right. There is no point in debating. We’re not interested in debating her. We’re not interested in listening to her. As it happens, we couldn’t possibly care less what she thinks one way or the other.

Oh. I take it back about calling it “innocence” to be polite. The guy is thick as two short planks and he’s nasty.

Remind me who he is again?

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

A living child in the womb

Feb 19th, 2014 4:56 pm | By

Next trick in the anti-abortion playbook? Ban D&E procedures. South Dakota is working on it.

…the state has become a testing ground for messaging, ballot initiatives and trial-balloon legislation meant to provoke a Supreme Court review of the durability of the Roe v. Wade decision. Now, South Dakota may be laying new groundwork to end legal abortion at any point after the first trimester—first in the state but, also, if history repeats itself, for the country. What happens in far-off South Dakota, in other words, very likely won’t stay there.

Anything. Anything to make sure women can’t be in control of their own lives. Anything to keep women enslaved to fertilization.

House Bill 1241, which was filed in early February, would make it a felony to “dismember” a living fetus during an abortion procedure. According to the bill, “the term, dismember, means to use an instrument or procedure for the purpose of disconnecting any bones at their joint, completely severing any bones, or removing any organs or limbs, including the spinal cord, arms, legs, and internal organs.”

What this gruesome-sounding explanation means, in essence, is that H.B. 1241 would make it against the law to perform what is known as a D&E (dilation and evacuation) abortion, a common procedure used in nearly all second-trimester abortions.

This would make one priest very happy.

Father Frank Pavone, the director of the national anti-abortion group Priests for Life, has long urged abortion opponents to focus on D&E as the type of bipartisan abortion restriction that could once more change the national debate. Telling a crowd of more than 200 in June of 2011 that his organization was already looking into ways to outlaw D&E, Pavone said that by focusing on “dismemberment” of a fetus in utero, they might be able once more to pull traditionally pro-choice people to their side.

“Now it’s time for Act 2,” reads the Priests for Life website, where the organization lays out talking points and support documentation to argue in favor of a D&E ban. “Now is the time to ask the American public, whether pro-life or pro-choice, a simple question: Should dismemberment of a living child in the womb be permitted? Let’s go beyond the all-encompassing question of ‘Should abortion be allowed?’ and ask, ‘Should this specific procedure, in which a child’s arms and legs are ripped off, and head crushed, be allowed?’”

It’s not a child. Words have meanings. An embryo is not a child. There isn’t a little darling in footy pajamas in there.

But Frank Pavone is looking forward to the opportunity to convince people that little children are being chopped up by the evil abortionists at the request of the evil women who seek these evil abortions.

“There’s a challenge here that goes far beyond the debate of ‘should we outlaw D&E abortions?’” he says. “The challenge is: How do we even talk about this issue? The pure, simple question is that we know children are being dismembered, so should that be allowed or not? If these bills are introduced, it can be the testing ground for this debate. I’d like people to wrestle with this issue.”

Pure, simple and dishonest.

H.B. 1241 will be heard in the South Dakota legislature’s Republican dominated Health and Human Services Committee, and it will probably to sail through for a full legislative vote. Based on the state’s history with abortion restrictions, it’s likely to be signed into law, with the only question being whether the bill will be challenged or not. A refusal to challenge means a precedent will be set for banning abortion immediately after the first trimester. A court battle, on the other hand, gives those against abortion the chance to discuss “fetal dismemberment” graphically in the hope of moving more Americans to accepting a fetus as a baby that must be protected from harm.

For abortion opponents, either outcome is a win.

Oh well, it’s only women.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Lamenting the rise of increasingly vocal women and minorities

Feb 19th, 2014 11:42 am | By

Huh. It turns out that some guys in the science fiction community are still not happy that women and minorities in that same community won’t stfu.

Just when readers thought the dust had settled on last week’s debate about “political correctness” in sci-fi publishing, a group of highly influential writers spent the past few days lamenting the rise of increasingly vocal women and minorities in their community. The discussion happened on a list-serv thread where the participants apparently thought no one would notice them—at leastuntil they remembered all their posts were public.

Predictably, a new Tumblr is posting excerpts from the conversation, presumably as a way of highlighting just how real the problems with sexism and discrimination in speculative publishing really are. And spoiler alert: It’s not pretty.

It never is.

This isn’t a new debate. Last year the editor of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) newsletter resigned over widespread allegations of sexism. From numerous harassment incidents at sci-fi cons, to a systemic lack of diversity, to major uphill battles for women and writers of color for representation in all areas of the sci-fi publishing industry, tensions between the “old guard” of white male sci-fi publishing and the new diverse community who wants more progressive media are rapidly coming to a boil.

The new thread offers a glimpse into how systemic the divide really is. Fodera is the associate director of contracts for Macmillan, one of the industry’s largest publishers. He calls Kowal, who is a Hugo-award-winning author, “an unperson… no one you should have heard of.”

Gosh, what a pro.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

A legacy

Feb 19th, 2014 11:23 am | By

Brilliant. An unvaccinated Berkeley student rides a BART train. It turns out he has measles! Hahaha what a riot; joke’s on him, right? Well no, it’s more that it’s on everyone who was on that train.

Phil Plait explains the background.

People who are unvaccinated have a much higher risk of contracting it than people who are vaccinated. The young man, confirmed to have a case of measles, was unvaccinated and had recently traveled to Asia, where he may have contracted the disease. Measles had been wiped out natively in the U.S. by the 1990s, but local epidemics can be triggered when unvaccinated people travel to other countries. This has happened over and again here in America in the past few years, which is why measles cases tripled in 2013. Tripled.

This new case is particularly worrisome to me because that area has lower vaccination rates than it should. Ironically, that’s generally the case for areas where people are more affluent and better educated (including parts of California and my own home of Boulder, Colo.); they hear anti-vax propaganda, look it up online, and find the nonsense spouted by the anti-vaxxers which in turn confirms their bias.

More affluent and better educated but not better educated enough. Better educated enough to be susceptible to anti-vax bullshit but not enough to see through it and look for more reliable information. Not, for instance, better educated enough to know what kind of havoc infectious diseases used to wreak.

Remember: When you get vaccinated, you are not just protecting you and yours. You’re also helping protect babies too young for their shots, older people, and people with compromised immunities (for example, those who are on immunosuppressants for cancer or arthritis treatment). Herd immunity is real, and important.

People like Jenny McCarthyAndrew WakefieldRFK Jr.NVIC, and the AVN are wrong. Vaccines don’t cause autism, have very low risk, and have huge benefits. I hope this situation in San Francisco doesn’t turn into an outbreak because that could be very nasty indeed. We’ve seen it happen too many times before, and it’s the legacy of those people above and others who spread anti-vax nonsense.

Unvaccinated people? Stay off the trains. Stay out of shops, schools, libraries – well just stay home, really. With the windows closed.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

Not a good look

Feb 19th, 2014 10:07 am | By

I’m curious about Justin Trottier; I’m looking for more on his involvement with “Men’s Rights” and the Canadian Association for Equality.

There’s a blog post from March 2012, CFI Canada: Where are they now?

Justin Trottier continues as the public face and voice of CFI Canada, now holding the title of National Outreach Coordinator. Although I may have that title wrong since the CFI Canada website remains horribly out of date (with several people who have resigned remaining on the personnel list). He also continues to advocate for so-called men’s rights, now posting through the “Canadian Association for Equality”:


From the description of the CAE Facebook group:

This facebook group will be used to organize volunteers of a new coalition which will present an alternative and balancing point of view on gender issues like parental and custody rights, violence, education, health, safety & security, poverty and the workplace.
The coalition shall focus on major public educational events and outreach campaigns to finally bring these issues into the living room of every family in Canada.

We’ll lift the veil off revisionist history and make people wonder why
* Men are one-third more likely to develop prostate cancer than women are to develop breast cancer, yet 50% more funding goes to women’s health over men’s
* Men and women commit domestic abuse against each other at roughly equal rates (for every level of severity), yet there is 1 men’s shelter in all of Canada and it just opened this year
* Men now account for under 60% of undergraduate enrollment while boys are performing significantly worse then girls in grade school, yet affirmative action programs continue to “empower women and girls” only
* Female genital mutilation is considered a UN human rights violation yet male genital mutilation is supported by doctors, ethicists and is frequently the basis of mockery on TV

This Canadian Men’s Rights Coalition (CMRC) is the result of 2 years of carefully thought out and planned strategy considerations and 10 months reading over a dozen books by the leading men’s rights champions. When I do things I do them right and BIG. So if you’re interested in helping found this group, of which I am dead serious, contact me at Our plan is to host a major debate in September “Is Society Anti-Male” followed by issue specific lectures throughout the year: poverty, health, violence, safety, etc.

There’s a post at Mens [sic] Rights Help Forum promoting a Canadian Association for Equality event.

Our first public event Thursday: The New Sexism – Discrimination Against Men in Family Courts?
Hi everyone,

You might be interested in our first public event this Thursday night. Please circulate, advise on facebook, twitter, etc:


“The Evolution of Fathers Rights: Redefining The Best Interests of Children”

Thursday, September 22, 7:00 PM
Sidney Smith Hall, Rm 1083 – 100 St. George St, @ the University of Toronto ALL WELCOME

1950s gender stereotypes still determine the final results in Family Court. In the name of children’s best interest, publicly funded services are designed to separate fathers from children, treating them instead like wallets.

The tragic casualties are the children. Kids are routinely denied the benefit from an equal parenting relationship with both parents.

Join Danny Guspie, Executive Director of Fathers Resources International and organizer of several National Shared Parenting Conferences, to hear about his activism for reform of family courts.

Contact: | 416-402-8856 |

Hosted by the Canadian Association for Equality.
Part of our Men’s Issues Awareness Campaign

Danny Guspie, is Executive Director of Fathers Resources International. will share his perspective and experiences gained over the last 20 years as a national divorce-reform activist / educator, counselor, coach and law clerk, helping fathers secure justice for their children.

Justin Trottier
Candidate for MPP, Parkdale-High Park, Green Party of Ontario
Educational Non-Profit Executive Director, Community Activist, Writer and Public Speaker

There’s a bit of video from an event last September.

It’s strange, this Men’s Rights caper. You don’t see people like Trottier setting up or campaigning for racist organizations or homophobic organizations. You see people who do that, of course, but they’re not people like Trottier. But you do see them setting up or campaigning for organizations that are angry about women’s rights.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)


Feb 19th, 2014 8:46 am | By

What Edna Adan is up to these days – she’s in Australia with a young Somali woman who needs facial reconstruction because of a bullet that destroyed one side of her face when she was two years old.

Edna has traveled with Ayaan to Brisbane, Australia, where Ayaan will receive facial reconstruction surgery to restore her face which was injured during the Somali Civil War.

Ayaan has lived all her life with a hole in the side of her face and now, after many years seeking help, she will undergo surgery this week to have the injuries repaired.

This case has touched Edna deeply and she is so relieved that now – with the support of the Brisbane Rotary Club, The Wesley Hospital, and Dr. John Arvier who will perform the surgery – Ayaan’s sad story will get its happy ending.

It’s good that there are Edna Adans in the world.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

That pendulum is WAY over there on the wrong side

Feb 18th, 2014 5:58 pm | By

Justin Trottier belongs to (or for all I know is the ED of) a men’s rights organization called the Canadian Association for Equality, aka Café (geddit?). It has a Facebook page, which is currently full of Karen Straughan’s talk. It also has a website, which triggered a virus warning, so don’t go there.

The Toronto Star ran an article on it last August.

Adam McPhee is a man. In his eyes, that puts him at a great disadvantage.

“Women have the ‘Walk a Mile in Her Shoes’ campaign,” says the 32-year-old. “But I don’t see a campaign for women to walk around in steel-toed boots. Men have hard shoes, too.”

McPhee is one of a small but swelling group who believe men have become the new underclass. He hopes to open a mancave that will serve as a refuge for his downtrodden brethren. The Canadian Association for Equality, a men’s rights group of which he is a board member, has launched a campaign to establish the first “Centre for Men and Families” in Toronto.

The new underclass. Right, that’s why women dominate business and the law and movies and music and corporations and finance and government and the military and STEM subjects and…

Local women’s rights advocates agree today’s males face many hardships, but disagree with CAFÉ’s methods of solving them.

“They tend to be more frustrated about women’s rights being protected and women’s equality being promoted, rather than men’s rights being violated,” says Sarah Blackstock, director of advocacy and communications at YWCA Toronto. “If we’re trying to build a society marked by compassion and equality, this centre won’t help us do that.”

CAFE has attempted to open chapters at several campuses across Canada in the past year, only to be met with heated protests. In June, the Canadian Federation of Students put forth a motion to oppose “men’s rights awareness groups” like CAFE, alleging they “provide environments of sexism, patriarchy and misogyny to manifest and be perpetuated on campus.”

Last November, CAFE came under fire when several women who protested at one of their University of Toronto events, featuring guest lecturer Dr. Warren Farrell, were later profiled on the website The site is run by U.S.-based men’s rights website A Voice for Men and is dedicated to exposing females they allege are “false rape accusers” and bigots.

A Voice for Men…I was on their front page once. I did not like that.

SlutWalk organizer Colleen Westendorf agrees spaces are needed to discuss men’s issues, but questions CAFE’s motives.

“Their approach seems to blame feminism for the suffering of men,” she says. “They say they’re interested in gender equality, yet they deny the ways women are still hugely over-represented in experiencing violence and highly under-represented in positions of power.”

But McPhee argues feminists have swung the gender pendulum too far in their own direction.

Thus validating Westendorf’s claim. If the status quo now is swinging the pendulum too far in our direction…yes, that guy is decidedly opposed to equality for women.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

The plight of men

Feb 18th, 2014 5:03 pm | By

Somebody called Robert Cribb wrote a silly piece for the National Post in 2011 about men being the new underclass. (Jesus christ, people. Really? Are you serious?) He talked to Justin Trottier. There is a picture of Justin Trottier on it. Justin Trottier is front and center.

First for a sense of the careful thinking and research behind the article:

Proposition: In the shifting modern narrative of gender politics, men are the new women.

The once fortified white male empire, bowed and beaten by generations of women scorned by its bloated superciliousness, has born sons they barely recognize.

We, the offspring of assured, confident, self-realized men, are emerging as a new underclass.

Statistics Canada has gathered the data.

About 60 per cent of university grads today are women.

Following graduation ceremonies that have the feel of sorority house parties, the professional outlooks for women are on the distinct upswing compared to men, national data shows.

Right, and little things like goverments and the military and religious institutions and corporations and popular culture and a few other things being firmly dominated by men – those don’t count, because university graduation ceremonies “have the feel of sorority house parties.”


So then Justin Trottier comes in.

There is another side to the gender shift: A growing revolutionary man-power backlash.

Toronto’s Men’s Issues Awareness Campaign, for example, is a fledgling pushback to the male feminization trend that seeks a realignment of the gender power scales.

“In gender issues, it’s not as simple as women are always victims and men are always the victimizers,” says Justin Trottier, the 28-year-old leader of the campaign. “There’s a far more nuanced debate that we should be having.”

Listen to Trottier for a while and you’ll start to recognize some of the same language uttered by feminists a generation ago.

“We’re about equality and equalism,” says Trottier, who recently ran unsuccessfully in the provincial election as a Green Party candidate. “Look at the landscape and for all our talk of equality, it’s ironic that our societal investments have really been on women’s issues. We should be equally open to appreciating men’s issues.”

Compare, for example, public and private donations for male versus female health programs such as gender-specific cancer research, he says.

Or consider the array of publicly funded programs for immigrants to Canada.

“We see plenty of services for women but we don’t see them available for men,” he says. “These are stark differences.”

Then, to stretch the point, he raises the issue of public investment in shelters for domestic abuse victims.

“They are almost entirely set up for women victims but if you look at the statistics, there are a surprising percentage of cases where men are being victimized.”

Well just push the women out then, and take the shelters for men. It’s only fair.


(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)

MRAs in Canada

Feb 18th, 2014 4:32 pm | By

Oh gosh there was a fun occasion in Toronto a couple of weeks ago, at Ryerson University. Karen Straughan, aka GirlWritesWhat, gave a two hour talk on the kind of thing she talks about. (Men’s rights, that would be, and the evils of feminism.)

The introductory remarks were made by…Justin Trottier.

I haven’t watched it, because I’m not a fan of Straughan’s (or of Trottier’s, for that matter, though I did watch a few seconds of him just to confirm), but here it is in case you want to.

(This is a syndicated post. Read the original at FreeThoughtBlogs.)