Terrorism strikes again in Táchira

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A truck belonging to the national electric company was set on fire this afternoon in San Cristóbal, capital of the Venezuelan state of Táchira, by hooded vandals. Here’s the story, via Aporrea:

A vehicle registered to the Venezuelan national electric company, Corpoelec, which was at the Catholic University of Táchira in San Cristóbal to serve the student community, was hijacked and burned in front of the university’s main building, located in the La Guayana sector of the city.

According to Major-General Efraín Velasco Lugo, Commandant of the Strategic Integral Development Region of Los Andes, the terrorist act was carried out by a group of approximately 40 hooded individuals, who at around 1:00 p.m. tried to cut off the neighboring roadways to the university and attacked persons passing through the sector with rocks and firecrackers.

Velasco Lugo said that when security officers arrived at the scene to re-establish order, the hooded men hid in the office building, taking advantage of the respect for university autonomy that exists in the land.

Velasco Lugo also mentioned that they tried several times to exit the university to provoke chaos and that they were unable to do so in the face of the effective response of the police and military officers. They then opted to hijack the Corpoelec vehicle which was there, take it out in front of the university, and burn it, around 5:00 p.m.

Velasco Lugo stated that the way these hooded men acted follows the same pattern of the violent, terrorist acts which occurred during March and April of this year, when there were guarimbas in Táchira, which affected all of the local residents.

Major-General Velasco Lugo doubts that students were the ones responsible for promoting these actions, saying that these were infiltrators, and for that reason, he invited the university community to join in the eradication of violence in their schools, and to denounce those who try to use the image of the university to generate chaos.

The commandant reiterated that he would not allow these disturbing actions to occur, and ratified his commitment to guarantee peace and order to benefit all the people of Táchira.

Translation mine.

Ah yes, that ever-peaceful and democratic Venezuelan opposition. Yet again, when confronted with their own failure, they reach for the ol’ guarimba. Will they stop at nothing to achieve their peaceful, democratic, public-spirited goals?

Icelandic funnyman wants to mack on Julien Blanc. Dafuq?

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Squeal like a pig!

While Ireland is working hard to make sure Julien Blanc doesn’t get so much as a look-in on their green and rugged turf, a very different situation seems to be brewing in a country just one letter different. In Iceland, comedian Hugleikur Dagsson, of Reykjavík, has other ideas. Instead of keeping him out, argues “Hulli”, why not chase him out…the same way he chases women?

I do not think we should prevent him from coming here. Barring people from coming here is stupid. Why make a martyr out of him? Scumbags like him are always the first ones to celebrate censorship and deportation. Because fuckwits like him like to pretend they are the true champions of freedom of speech, and use that rhetoric ad nauseam to justify the diarrhoea that flows from their throats so freely. If we deny him entry, he’ll brag about it on Twitter and probably get loads of retweets from a sad army of braindead, semen-reeking, backwards-baseball-cap-wearing humanoids. He’ll be a hero among skunks and shitheels, and this is what he wants. Let’s not do him that favour.

[…]

I’m now speaking to the men of Iceland: It’s time we use our privilege for good. Chauvinists like this creature are almost without exception homophobic. They fear nothing more than someone treating them like they treat women.

I say we hit on Julien Blanc. Every single one of us.

If we see him in the street, we’ll give him a wink. Whistle at him. If we meet him at a bar, let’s pinch his ass. Blow him a kiss. I urge every male reporter to stroke his thighs while interviewing him. I urge every large man to tell him what a purdy mouth he has. I urge every male bartender to whisper in his ear how much they want to be inside of him.

I think this will be the funniest thing ever. Let’s not help him feel like a hero. Let’s make him feel like the one thing he most despises. Let’s make him feel like a chick.

I have to admit, I kinda-sorta hope somebody does that and catches it on video, and posts it to YouTube for the world to see. It’s not like he doesn’t have it coming. Julien Blanc’s biggest humiliation would be good for a laugh and a half. And it would be nice to think that he might learn a bit of empathy by seeing what it feels like to have his own throat grabbed on the streets of cute little Reykjavík without warning, or his own puny head forced into some strapping, red-bearded Viking descendant’s big, sweaty ol’ crotch.

But at the same time, assault is still assault, and even if it’s funny to the rest of us just to imagine it, the eyes of the law might see it very differently. I don’t know what the legal situation is in Iceland regarding assault, but an international incident is really not the best way to squelch him.

Worse, it probably won’t teach Julien Fucking Blanc a thing. He’s beyond help. He will NEVER learn to respect women, not even if he’s placed in the same position as one by a dude brawny enough to fold him up and tuck him in the ticket pocket of his lumberjack jeans. He will always hate them, and that will guarantee his endless, epic failure with them, no matter what he does, and no matter how much he charges to tell men differently. World without end, amen.

Happily, nobody but RSD’s little ass-barnacles (and the occasional contrarian media idiot) is seeing him as a “martyr”. Most people, once they know what bag Julien Blanc comes out of, have no problem with barring their nation’s doors to him. Because who wants a violent criminal, who also promotes violent crime for big bucks, on their soil?

And besides, he’s a colossal wimp. Canada didn’t even have to formally bar him; the mere existence of a couple of popular petitions against him, plus a smattering of unfavorable news reports, was enough to make all RSD’s odious stable of pickup coaches cancel their dates here. Not to mention that his tweeter’s still on lockdown, and likely to remain so for the duration. I’d say that the simple, nonviolent use of our own free speech to expose this nest of cockroaches* to light was sufficient to send them scuttling.

And we didn’t even have to ask any big, strong machos to sacrifice their heterosexuality for it, either.

*Apologies to actual cockroaches for the odious comparison. And thanks to Hulli for the mental imagery!

Dear Emma Teitel and Maclean’s: Don’t tell me how to feminist, and I won’t tell you how to journalist.

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You tell ‘em, kitty.

Every so often, I get to wondering why I haven’t picked up a copy of Maclean’s in years. And then I do, and I’m instantly, disgustingly reminded: Oh yeah, Barbara Amiel is still writing for them. Booooooring. And so are her little clones. Like, for instance, one Emma Teitel, who thinks it’s time we big bad meanie feminists stopped picking on pickup artists, just because she felt sorry for some poor little pizza-faced kid who once accosted her at the Eaton Centre:

About a year ago I was walking through the Eaton Centre mall in downtown Toronto when a teenage boy approached me and asked me very meekly if he could have a few minutes of my time. I said sure, assuming that he was working for a charity and hadn’t had much luck attracting donors during rush hour in the dead of winter. (I did a similar, soul-crushing job in college.) I waited for his pitch about poverty, child soldiers or land mines, but it never came. Instead, he told me how “cool” my glasses were and asked me if I had a boyfriend. It became instantly clear that he didn’t want a donation; he wanted a date. I told him I was a lesbian in a hurry (my go-to exit strategy with street preachers) and I was soon on my way—confused about why a teenage boy would so boldly pursue a four-eyed woman in a ski jacket 10 years his senior, but flattered nonetheless.

It wasn’t until the next morning that I realized my age and attire were irrelevant to the equation, because my adolescent suitor didn’t have eyes for me; he had eyes for literally any woman with a pulse. According to multiple news outlets, Toronto’s biggest downtown shopping mall had recently become ground zero for so-called pickup artists (PUAs as they are known online), a loosely connected international community of guys who share seduction tips with each other on the Internet and take to the streets to “woo” as many unsuspecting women as humanly possible. Their techniques range from corny (showering women with compliments) to cruel: “Negging,” a PUA technique popularized by American pickup artist and journalist Neil Strauss in his 2005 book, The Game, consists of showering women with low-grade insults. According to Urban Dictionary, “negs” are “meant to undermine the self-confidence of a woman so she might be more vulnerable to your advances.” (An example, used frequently by my own grandmother: “Wow, you have beautiful eyes. It’s a shame I can barely see them behind your bangs.”)

The Eaton Centre, obviously displeased with the fact that some of its female shoppers were being subjected to this bizarre breed of socially awkward male interference, issued a statement on Twitter alerting customers about the PUA presence on its premises. “Rest assured security is briefed and your health and safety are our top priority,” mall staff tweeted before Christmas last year.

The pickup artist who tried and failed to woo me on account of my cool glasses was, as far as I could tell, a threat to nobody’s health and safety. In fact, I felt a little sorry for the guy. Spending one’s free time trying to engage strangers romantically in a shopping mall doesn’t merely reveal an absence of social grace, but quite possibly, an absence of friends.

Gawd, it sure is windy out there in beautiful downtown Toronto today, eh? But wait, here comes something that looks like a nut graf…finally:

But it is no longer socially acceptable to pity the PUAs, because they are apparently—in these socially divisive, Ghomeshi-saturated times—a viable threat to the feminist cause. That cause has been active against the PUA culture, and has borne fruit. For example, Julien Blanc, the 25-year-old pickup artist of the PUA organization Real Social Dynamics—and author of such promotional gems as: “Develop panty-dropping masculinity with this rock-solid structure to self-generate the powerful emotions girls crave”—was banned from Australia this month on the grounds that his dating seminars (for which he charges more than $1,000) incite violence against women. Several petitions asking the Canadian government to bar Blanc from entering Canada are in the works here too; the outcry against him has been so strong on Twitter that Canadian Immigration Minister Chris Alexander issued a statement on the social media platform last week condemning the pickup artist’s teachings, and ensuring the public that his office is “looking at all options and will consider using every tool at our disposal to protect the rule of law on Canadian soil.”

Er. What’s with the “apparently” there, Emma? And what’s with all the sneery commentaries on “these times”? This isn’t some new thing. This is the same old shit that has always been with us. Why are you undermining efforts to stop it?

If a guy walks down the street randomly grabbing women by the throat and shoving their faces into his smelly crotch, do you not see that he’s committing blatant, overt violence against women? Because that is what we feminists oppose, among other manifestations of sexism and the patriarchy.

And if a guy makes it his mission to preach this same violence like it’s some kind of gospel, and make big money at it like Jimmy Fucking Swaggart, do you not see a problem there, one worthy of feminist efforts to expose and eradicate?

Nope, apparently she doesn’t:

Blanc, by comparison, is a sophomoric ass so blatantly trolling the feminist community with idiotic rape jokes and a following that is insignificant in comparison to the number of people speaking out against him. He has 8,200 Twitter followers; the petition to have him barred from entering the U.K. just reached 150,000. In other words, he isn’t Hitler. He’s Stifler. Which makes the current media blitz he’s enjoying all the more annoying. The most ironic thing about Blanc’s notorious hashtag is that the vast majority of people who appear to be using it are feminists. (I searched the hashtag and scrolled down the results for roughly 25 minutes trying to find one tweet that championed the sentiment rather than derided it. I failed.) Were it not for the scores of women using it in their posts to denounce Blanc, it would likely cease to exist.

Huh. I see she bought his “only joking” defence. Poor dear, she doesn’t realize it, but she’s the one being trolled.

Emma, I’m with your grandma. You really do need to pin back your bangs. An unobstructed view of reality is so much better than looking cute but being unable to see past your own cutesiness. When even the stuffy old Torygraph says nobody’s buying that “apology”, doesn’t that tell you anything? Here, let me brush that wool out of your eyes:

Before he locked down his Twitter account (probably because he realized, belatedly, that no one was actually finding his rape “jokes” funny), Julien Blanc was promoting the Duluth Power and Control Wheel as a “checklist” on how to “Make Her Stay With You”.

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Does this sound “funny” to you, Emma? Because it’s actually a teaching tool which feminists helped to develop, and which is used by counsellors of abused persons to help them recognize common strategies of control used by abusers. And there is nothing “sophomoric” about that. On the contrary, it speaks to just how controlling, abusive and downright cynical Julien Blanc really is.

But hey! Let’s throw a few bones to the feminists before we throw them to the dogs, eh Emma?

It appears that out of a laudable and deeply felt outrage at a potential injury to women, some in the feminist movement have amplified exactly the misogynistic messages they’d like to snuff out. They’ve effectively become Julien Blanc’s spokeswomen, his PR firm. Kirsty Mac, a feminist and stand-up comic whose activism was instrumental in the decision to ban Blanc from Australia, disagrees with this idea wholeheartedly. “Australia said no to violence against women and the world followed,” Mac wrote to me in an email. “Social media might very well be the beginning of the end of the misogyny in pop culture.”

Drawing attention to a problem in an effort to eradicate it is not the same thing as promoting it, Emma. And knock off that divide-and-conquer shit about “some in the feminist movement”. This is something we can all get behind, and should. As the AIDS activists used to say, Silence = Death. You might want to remember that before you start prattling about nuance.

Oops, too late. She’s prattling about nuance, now…

It is certainly the beginning of the end of nuance. Feminist causes have exploded on Twitter in the last year, from #YesAllWomen (the viral hashtag that emerged in the wake of misogynist murderer Elliot Rodger’s violent rampage in May) to #BeenRaped­NeverReported, the infinitely powerful and informative viral hashtag that emerged in the wake of the sexual assault allegations against former CBC host Jian Ghomeshi in October. The social media movement against “street harassment” (a.k.a. cat calling) is just as lively. So too, whether we like or not, is the backlash against the Rosetta mission scientist Matt Taylor who wore a tasteless shirt on TV during the live broadcast of the comet landing, emblazoned with hundreds of miniature pictures of semi-nude ladies; a problematic message, many argued, in an industry that employs so few women.

These conversations are overdue. Yet the downside to their playing out on social media is the lightning speed at which online feminism has amalgamated sexist offenses of wildly varying severity—pickup artistry, cat-calling, date rape—into one melting pot of equivalency. The result is that the difference between what’s idiotic, what’s lecherous, and what’s criminal is lost.

This is the hapless kind of false equivalency that has infected so many worthy social movements and reduced their stature, with moral persuasion replaced by ideological bullying. The greatest heresy is for anyone, male or female, to suggest that there might be another side to the story—like, for instance, Brandon Thomas, an 18-year-old self-styled pickup artist who lives in Tulsa, Okla., who told me he was virtually friendless before he got involved with the PUA community two years ago. “I had no idea how awkward I was . . . Parents and friends tell you what you want to hear,” he said. “A dating coach tells you what you need to hear.” (He claims that every PUA technique he uses is imbued with respect for women.)

Not all pickup artists are equal; and very few of them are the spawn of the devil. (Most, I suspect, are merely virgins.)

Yes, Emma, and I was a virgin too, once upon a long time ago. But it never turned me into a serial harasser of strangers in shopping malls.

In fact, I was still technically one on the night this one very slick operator, who I thought was my friend, first “rescued” me from his, er, over-enthusiastic roomie, then took me out of their basement apartment, and later, after a few beers, brought me back to my place, ostensibly safe and sound. On my parents’ own living-room floor he made out with me for a couple of minutes. That was fine; he was a buff, good-looking guy, and I kind of fancied him. But then, without warning, he undid his pants, clambered up over me until he was straddling my neck, and popped his half-masted cock into my mouth.

I was so confused that I didn’t know what to do, other than docilely lie there and let him, so as not to risk offending him and maybe getting myself hurt. (Nice Girl Training, goddamn.)

Perhaps he sensed that there was something ironic and not quite kosher about what he was doing, because after a few half-hearted ins and outs, he stopped, put himself away, and zipped up. He left shortly thereafter. I locked the door behind him.

Then I silently slunk upstairs to bed, bewildered and still a little tipsy, and feeling — not violated or traumatized exactly, but still somehow betrayed. Because he had just a few hours ago saved me from getting raped, and I honestly expected him to know better than to do it himself. He could have asked, and I might have said yes.

But he didn’t. And I didn’t. He never gave me that chance.

I never reported this as a sexual assault, because what would have been the use? I can’t say I was injured, because I wasn’t. My technicalities were still intact, and he hadn’t used any overt force. (Overt is the operative word here. And maybe it’s kind of a moot question when someone’s in a position to crush your windpipe merely by sitting his ass down.) Worse, I knew how it would look if I told the cops, my parents, and maybe even a judge and jury everything that happened: “Well, first we made out on the floor…” Who would believe me if I told them that I did not want him to do that, I did not ask him to do that, and I most certainly did not give him permission to do that?

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Not saying “no” does not equal “yes”. But pickup artists don’t teach you that, they teach you the opposite. “Make the ho say no” is just one of their many rapey mottoes. In fact, there is even such a thing in pickup artistry as “rape game”, and yes, that is exactly what you think it is. (Google it. And be sure to take your ulcer meds first.) The entire thing, in fact, is nothing BUT rape, because honesty is not a pickup artist’s strong suit, and especially not when you’re trying to up your notch count by any means possible.

Yes, Emma, nuance is a very important thing. And nowhere more so than in your black-and-white world of “rape rape” versus mere “pickup artistry”, eh?

It is profoundly important for both its relevancy and survival that feminism retain the ability to distinguish between the handsy jerk who pushes his luck on the dance floor, and a man who allegedly assaults women in the presence of a stuffed bear.

And then, to judge them accordingly.

Uh, Emma? In case you forget, Jian Ghomeshi did both. He was, by all accounts, both a pickup artist AND a violator of the law. There is no rule saying you can’t be both. In fact, there is no rule that you can’t smoothly segue from the one to the other. Feminists have long understood that. It’s time you did the same.

And Maclean’s? Yeah, you suck too for publishing this rag-load of hog snot. But I won’t be holding my breath for you to improve. You’ve been full of crap-ass suckitude for the longest time. Nearly ten years ago, as I recall, you published a fluffy, uncritical feature on PUAs, portraying them merely as a titillating, mildly goofy bunch of totally awesome he-men. That article nauseated me then, and still does now. Seems you haven’t yet twigged to the fact that they are, in reality, all scungy-ass woman-haters. Particularly one of your profilees, the PUA who called himself Gunwitch — who turns out to be not only a would-be “ladykiller”, but a bona fide aspiring lady-killer, too.

PUA coaches are worse than the slimiest snake oil salesman. They are not a source of hope for the socially awkward; quite the opposite, actually. Their methods don’t work, except to lure unwary males. And among those poor saps there is many a ticking time bomb. Who can forget the “sexual frustration” of that poor ignored virgin, Elliot Rodger? When he failed to pick up anyone, he churned out a misogynous “manifesto”, then went on a murderous, suicidal rampage.

No, PUAs are not funny. Nor are they harmless. And they are most certainly not a separate entity from violent, even murderous abusers. On the contrary, they are all on the same continuum. It is a question of degree, not kind.

And since Maclean’s has abdicated its social responsibility to make that connection, I guess it’s little wonder that I haven’t read them in years…and don’t feel like I’ve missed out in the least. They’ve sold out information in favor of titillation, and thrown women under the bus. None of them has any business telling Canadian women how to do feminism, because none of them know how the hell to do journalism.

Bad news for ammosexuals

Music, Maestro Cummings:

Ah, that was lovely. And now, the news.

First, the sublime: It looks as though John “Mary Rosh” Lott has been definitively debunked, by real scientists not in the pocket of the gunmakers’ lobby. Instead of “More Guns, Less Crime”, it’s “More Guns, More Crime”:

Across the basic seven Index I crime categories, the strongest evidence of a statistically significant effect would be for aggravated assault, with 11 of 28 estimates suggesting that RTC laws increase this crime at the .10 confidence level. An omitted variable bias test on our preferred Table 8a results suggests that our estimated 8 percent increase in aggravated assaults from RTC laws may understate the true harmful impact of RTC laws on aggravated assault, which may explain why this finding is only significant at the .10 level in many of our models. Our analysis of the year-by-year impact of RTC laws also suggests that RTC laws increase aggravated assaults. Our analysis of admittedly imperfect gun aggravated assaults provides suggestive evidence that RTC laws may be associated with large increases in this crime, perhaps increasing such gun assaults by almost 33 percent.

In addition to aggravated assault, the most plausible state models conducted over the entire 1979-2010 period provide evidence that RTC laws increase rape and robbery (but usually only at the .10 level). In contrast, for the period from 1999-2010 (which seeks to remove the confounding influence of the crack cocaine epidemic), the preferred state model (for those who accept the Wolfers proposition that one should not control for state trends) yields statistically significant evidence for only one crime – suggesting that RTC laws increase the rate of murder at the .05 significance level. It will be worth exploring whether other methodological approaches and/or additional years of data will confirm the results of this panel-data analysis and clarify some of the highly sensitive results and anomalies (such as the occasional estimates that RTC laws lead to higher rates of property crime) that have plagued this inquiry for over a decade.

“RTC” = “right to carry”.

Higher rates of robbery, rape, aggravated assault AND murder (not to mention accidental gunshot wounds and deaths) go hand in hand with “right to carry” laws. Who’d of thunk? Guess that puts paid to the whole “if guns are outlawed, only outlaws will carry guns” canard of the NRA & Co. Seems that the more legal guns are, the greater the number of outlaws who find themselves free to carry the same. And consquently, the more powerless the cops will be against them, unless they happen to be better armed. What a coincidence, right at a time when even small-town police forces are starting to look more and more like miniature armies, while weapons manufacturers all rub their hands and yell “Ka-CHING!!!”

And now, the ridiculous. Since carrying a gun creates an automatically greater risk that you will wind up on the outlaw side of things, it’s getting harder to tell the cops from the robbers. Particularly in Ferguson, Missouri, where racism is uniting bigoted ammosexual cops with bigoted civilian ammosexuals like never before:

Some suburban St. Louis gun dealers have been doing brisk business, particularly among first-time buyers, as fearful residents await a grand jury’s decision on whether to indict the police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown.

Metro Shooting Supplies, in an area near the city’s main airport, reports selling two to three times more weapons than usual in recent weeks — an average of 30 to 50 guns each day — while the jury prepares to conclude its three-month review of the case that sparked looting and weeks of sometimes-violent protests in August.

“We’re selling everything that’s not nailed down,” owner Steven King said. “Police aren’t going to be able to protect every single individual. If you don’t prepare yourself and get ready for the worst, you have no one to blame but yourself.”

[…]

Protest leaders say they are preparing for non-violent demonstrations after the grand jury’s decision is announced, but they also acknowledge the risk of more unrest if the panel decides not to issue criminal charges against Darren Wilson, the white officer who shot Brown, who was black and unarmed.

No word on what color most of the gun buyers are, but you can pretty much guess. It’s the same color as most of the NRA’s membership. And all of the KKK’s. Ammosexuality is, when all’s said, a white man’s disease.

Julien Blanc gets choked by CNN

Well, well. What have we here?

Credit where it’s due to the the guy from the Chicken Noodle Network…he did a pretty good job of holding the world’s most unconvincing con man accountable there. He brought up everything from the “Diss Fatties Bang Hotties” shirt, to the choking video (which was part of his actual technique that Creep Stubble there teaches in his grossly overpriced “seduction” boot camps). And all Julien can do is babble canned and unconvincing platitudes about how sorry he is, and how it was all just a joke (oh really? Then why did he delete the “Choking Girls Around the World” video?), and how he’s attended the weddings of people who met using his non-starter techniques, blah blah blah.

Yeah, right. Pull the other one, Julien…nobody is buying. And with any luck, no one else WILL be buying your courses from now on, either. Because if this is how you perform in interviews, you’re not likely to be any more convincing when you spring your stupid spiels on random women in the street.

PS: It gets worse. Julien’s boss, Owen Cook, has openly bragged of raping a stripper. The video in which he did so is also down, no doubt because it makes RSD look even worse than the “Choking Girls” one did, but a graphic description of its content is here.

The sexual “wisdom” of Jian Ghomeshi

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I know I probably shouldn’t pay any more attention to this wanker until he gets perpwalked or something, but Jian Ghomeshi really is the shitshow that keeps on showing. Today, the Toronto Star published a collection of his bons mots regarding life, love and le sexe, and…well, let’s just say the man reveals more about himself that way than he probably intended at the time.

First up, a snippet from his memoir, 1982:

Kim Inglewood and I had stripped naked at her house (in Grade 8), and I had pursued a forensic fascination with her chest. I stared at her breasts with a mixture of excitement and curiosity and then tried to caress them in a seductive way that would turn her on. I had no idea what I was doing. I remember looking up to see a befuddled expression on Kim Inglewood’s face as she stared at me staring at her naked breasts. I had done my best with my caresses. I’m not sure she really enjoyed it.

Poor Kim. I guess having your boobs gawked at and ineptly manipulated by a dorky 13-year-old would be rather confusing, eh?

But hey! Here’s the wisdom that Jian drew from that little bit of early sexual failure:

Without porn, how were we supposed to learn how sex was done? Of course, pornography was often sexist, exploitative, patriarchal, and full of the wrong messages about human relationships and intimacy. But even so, it could have served as a handy tool for seeing how this foreplay and intercourse thing happened.

Sadly, no, it couldn’t. One thing that never ceases to amaze me about studio-made porn (and homemade porn that mimics it, too) is how very much the opposite of erotic it is, never mind instructive. What passes for “foreplay” in it is some truly pathetic dialogue along the general lines of “Hey, wanna fuck?” And what passes for intercourse in it would be at best mechanical and unsatisfying, and at worst, life-threatening and extremely painful. But hey! At least Jian is upfront about the faults of the thing. Just a pity he can’t tie that into the understanding that no, you really can’t learn how to have sex from it.

Of course, if he’d looked hard enough, he’d probably have found something of the porny persuasion anyhow. Was he really that naïve and incurious? It’s not as though Thornhill was the boonies; that would be where I grew up. And even here, it was not hard to get your hands on a stolen Playboy. Or in my case, Cosmopolitan, which was pretty damned explicit in 1982. There was actually a pull-out sex guide in an issue from that year, and yes, I pored over it and learned from it. A LOT. Well in advance of my ever needing it, in fact. But I have a good memory, and let’s just say that when I finally did need that advice, my memory served me very well indeed. Granted, I didn’t fool around at 13, which may have helped some; I was over 20 by the time I finally put that advice to use, and I don’t regret having waited. I was a lot better at reading other people at 23 than at 13. And that, not the mechanics of sex, is really the key to the whole thing. A point which Jian seems to have sadly missed here.

Onwards. Here are some amusing little notes from Jian’s boner to Marlo magazine, in 2003:

1. Good communication. When a woman is gregarious and talking with other men, celebrating her attractiveness to others, but still sending subtle signals that she’s with me … that’s sexy.

2. Taking initiative. Saying, ‘Oh whatever,’ when we’re planning what to do, where to go or what to eat is not attractive.

3. Doesn’t get too dressed up, unless the event is explicitly formal. But I always prefer someone who cares about her appearance and looks great but hasn’t spent three hours pulling it together.

4. Never get too drunk. And yet consuming is good. I like someone who eats and drinks and doesn’t just order a salad.

5. Oh, at the top of the list should actually be, to be honest and real. It’s a cliché, but it’s true and it’s a turn-on.

Every one of these is a study in irony and walking contradictions. Let’s parse this, shall we?

Point #1. From what we now know of Jian’s so-called “consensual” activities, it turns out that he’s not a good communicator of his own intentions. His idea of “obtaining consent”, it seems, was to tell someone he “tend[ed] to get aggressive”. This would be followed up by a nonconsensual, unpredictable punch upside the head, or something equally awful. So to claim he’s attracted to women who communicate well is…well, you know.

Point #2. Again ironic, considering that this dude is a noted control freak and probably wouldn’t care what the woman wanted. All he really cares about is what HE wants. Her initiative would probably be quite an irritant to him.

Point #3. Does Jian have any idea how much time and effort it takes to look pulled-together, but not like one spent a lot of, well, time and effort on it? No, he doesn’t. He’s never apparently been with anyone long enough to have the slightest clue as to what’s entailed here. I reiterate: Dude should have read Cosmo when he was a teenager. If he did, he would know that.

Point #4. Again, very ironic, considering that he’s known for dating women who look like twigs, and unless they’re all blessed with the metabolism of hummingbirds, they are not going to be consuming a whole lot of anything. Even the woman “doesn’t just order a salad” when she’s on a date is bound to be compensating for that, and hard, when she’s not around him. Again, as in #3, he has no clue as to what’s really going on there.

Point #5. Perhaps the most ironic of all, considering how honest and real Jian himself has NOT been for at least two and a half decades now, and maybe ever. And how turned-off we all are now that we know.

And here’s Jian talking about ethnicity to the Toronto Star, in 1998:

(I feel) different around them (Iranian women); I don’t know the protocol and am deathly afraid that I’ll make a mistake.

Uh, dude? You’re Iranian. You could always just have asked your parents, if you were really that concerned about ethnic protocols. Would it have killed you to ask? (One gets the sneaking feeling that Jian really doesn’t know how to carry on a normal conversation with anyone, doesn’t one?)

And finally, here’s Jian, being a “good” feminist guy on Q:

The term most often used to describe that complex of attitudes and behaviour is rape culture. The term has become common in feminist discourse and popular media, but not everyone agrees it is helpful or accurate. The notion of rape culture has been criticized in the pages of national newspapers and even by some advocates for victims of sexual assault. So we’ve decided to convene a Q debate. Do we really live in a so-called rape culture? Is that term accurate or is it alarmist?

Seriously, Jian? You took Women’s Studies at university, and you think that’s a matter of question, and up for debate? Even I, who only majored in English (and, briefly, Life Sciences) know that rape culture is a real thing…but then again, that’s because I was a woman student. I got most of my education in feminism the hard way. I was at Queen’s when male students postered their dorm windows with lovely messages like “No Means Yes”, “No Means More Beer”, “No Means Kick Her in the Teeth”, and so forth. I was also there when the Montréal Massacre went down; I volunteered at the Queen’s Women’s Centre, and spent much of my last semester’s shifts wondering if anyone was going to bust in there and gun me down, too. And yep, I got hit on in some mighty gross ways during those four years, by men who were invariably older and definitely skeevy. Not to mention scared shitless by talk of prowlers in the bushes in Sir John A. Macdonald Park (alias Pervert Park), and paroled rapists from Kingston Pen driving cabs around the city. And outraged by the blatantly sexist, rapey nature of Frosh Week activities. Even before I arrived on campus (where I promptly refused to let guys do pushups over me at Tindall Field), there were lurid signs all over the student ghetto, welcoming me with messages like “Shave yer dotter’s box” [sic] and “Kiss your virginity goodbye”. We got warnings coming and going, all about how not to get raped. Typical advice: Watch what you drink, and don’t dress like a slut.

And all this was after Queen’s had kicked out the fraternities in an effort to clean up its “party school” image. You tell me if that’s just me being “alarmist”.   

Oh, but of course. How could I forget? This is the guy who thinks nonconsensual choking actually qualifies as BDSM. And he was well known for being a “bad date”, and handsy even with other men, during his long stint at York.

He might just be tipping his hand a wee bit there.

“The Game” is up for Jian Ghomeshi

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Could this book (or another cheesy, overpriced volume just like it) be on Jian Ghomeshi’s shelf, right next to the now-infamous “Big Ears” teddy bear? I don’t know for sure…yet. But if this National Post report holds true, it looks an awful lot like the recently fired CBC radio host has been taking leaves from just such books. They may look harmless, but they are NOT. They are practically manuals for the physical and mental abuse of women. And the behaviors they endorse make ideal cover for a sadistic sociopath, as well as giving him fast-track access to more victims.

Take, for instance, this description of how Jian allegedly trolled for dates:

The woman, now 35, also said she observed some unusual dating strategies by Mr. Ghomeshi. He would search for messages about him posted on Twitter or Facebook by women who appeared attractive, then contacted them directly, she said.

“He did this every single night,” the former producer said. “He was soliciting non stop. It was his playground.”

“Soliciting non stop”? That, right there, is something pickup artists do all the time. It’s a numbers game to them. Whenever they see an attractive single woman, they try to move in on her. That flashy, handsy guy at the club, the one who keeps oozing around from one woman to the next, always getting too close for comfort but never within striking distance of a good hard No? Probably one of them. Jian has been described in similar terms.

And he’s far from alone.

The point of “The Game”, insofar as there is one, is to “seduce” any woman who’s not nailed down. The strategies vary, but the basic objective is the same: Chat up as many ladies as you can, try to get their phone numbers…and whatever else you can out of them. Uncomfortable escalations of physical contact are common in “The Game”, and are meant to lead to only one thing…and it is not real intimacy. To a PUA, sex isn’t something you do (with a willing and happy partner), it’s something you “get”, by hook or by crook, from a person who is (understandably) reluctant to “give it up”. And the implication of that, if you’ve read any of their sleazy writings, is that the man gains, and the woman loses. Fun, wow.

PUAs are ubiquitous sex pests. And they’ve existed, in some form, throughout history; Casanova was the prototype of the modern PUA, and Don Juan is the archetype. I’m so old (ha, just two months younger than Jian!) that I can remember sleazeballs who spouted corny pick-up lines at women being the butt of many a silly movie or TV sitcom. (The punchline invariably came when their targets shot them down.)

But with the advent of the Internet, they’ve become much more organized. They also have a greater volume of women to pick on, and thanks to social media they can do it at high speed. The danger they pose has grown exponentially, but — thankfully — so have the means of organizing a resistance. Last December, the Eaton Centre in Toronto was slated to be the scene of a PUA “training” session, in which hordes of harassers tried to put the teachings of their “seduction guru” into practice by hanging out in front of stores known to be frequented by teenage girls and women in their early twenties, and throwing their hastily rehearsed spiels at anyone unlucky enough to be in their path. They were foiled by an alert group of Torontonians on Reddit, who in turn alerted the mall’s security staff. The PUAs had move their harassment — oh sorry, “day game” — operations elsewhere.

Sometimes, PUAs use “seduction” strategies only as preliminaries to an actual relationship — the idea being to get lots of dates, and hope that something eventually sticks. Many of them drop out once they find a steady girlfriend, and some come to regret their gloopy phases. But even when they’re involved, some others are still playing games. The idea there, it seems, is to control women by keeping them guessing, presumably so that they don’t lose interest and wander off with someone better. Or so that they become subservient, cowed, afraid of losing the loser who’s got his hooks in them. Or to string them along as one of several, playing each off against the other(s). And here, again, we see shades of that last “game” in Jian Ghomeshi’s skeevy behavior at CBC:

At work, the former Q employee said the host would usher her into his office and talk about personal matters, leading her to think she was a friend and not just his colleague. But he would also play her off against another young, female producer, she said, treating one nicely and the other very unkindly one week, switching roles the next.

She said she and the other employee would take turns crying in the privacy of a nearby disabled washroom.

Nice, eh? Classic PUA abuser strategy, right there. Georgie Porgie, pudding and pie, kissed the girls and made them cry. Well “played”, Jian.

By the way, this is the same young woman who also says she endured Jian’s butt-groping and “hate-fucking” remarks on the job. And it sounds like he did a bit of gaslighting on the side, too:

Then during a script “read-through” meeting when she kept yawning, Mr. Ghomeshi said quietly, “I want to hate f— you to wake you up.” Later he talked of wanting to “grudge f—” her.

Two years later in 2009, he reached out and groped her bottom as she passed his desk, saying “I couldn’t help myself.”

That, of course, is straight-up bullshit. Did his hand just suddenly develop a mind of its own, à la Dr. Strangelove? No. He was on the other end of it, in control at all times. And since we now all know what a control freak he is, the excuse that he just suddenly lost control at the sight of a woman’s pretty little derrière won’t wash. This is another classic abuse-and-control strategy: Say “I couldn’t help myself” after doing something you know perfectly well to be abusive and unacceptable in the workplace, so that the victim feels guilty and to blame, and sorry for you, too. Make her second-guess herself constantly. That way, she’s less likely to complain to management and get your ass fired.

And that’s just one news story. There are others. Apparently, half of young Toronto has gotten creeped on by Jian at some point or other…or knows somebody who has. Word gets around. Women — and men, too — have been warning vulnerable young ladies away from him for friggin’ YEARS. Jeebus, this dude even majored in Women’s Studies; talk about your perfect places to learn all the right “politically correct” pickup lines!

And now he’s on the verge of becoming a very lonely man indeed. Since Lucy DeCoutere and Reva Seth have come out publicly to denounce him, the tide has shifted against him, just as I predicted yesterday. Lights has dumped him as her manager, and Amanda Palmer won’t be letting him tag along on her book tour, either. His promoter and “crisis management” firm have both deserted him. CBC just now revealed that it even has ironclad video evidence against him. (Oops, so much for that $55 million “defamation” suit, eh Jian? Ha, ha.) Rumor has it he’s currently scurrying around in Los Angeles, where fewer people know him…or his grungy history. (Heads up, LA ladies!)

The problem with making “The Game” your lifestyle, fellas, is that it inevitably backfires. Karma’s a bitch, and she’s got your number; lord knows you gave it away often enough!

And in Jian’s case, that bitch just bit him right on the ass. Non-consensually, as Karma is so often wont to do.

Jian Ghomeshi: Kinky, or hinky?

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“Hey, ladies. Want a piece of this? Better lawyer up, because I am gonna FUCK YOU UP.”

No, Jian Ghomeshi didn’t actually say that to anyone, as far as I know. But that, in effect, is what he said this week, when he announced that he was suing the CBC for $55 million, following a sudden dismissal after 14 seemingly very successful years. And when he posted a 1,586-word Facebook status (yes, I counted) claiming he was just a poor innocent kinkster, being let go by a bunch of sex-negative fuddy-duddies who were afraid of, in his words, a “jilted ex-girlfriend and a freelance writer” wreaking havoc on their family-friendly brand.

On the surface of things, it was a masterstroke in terms of PR and pre-emptive strikes. However much Ghomeshi paid that “reputation recovery” firm for their services, it would appear to have paid off handsomely. The women in question (four of them, initially) were more afraid than ever to go public with their stories, much less press criminal charges. If it were a simple matter of “he said, she said”, then what he said carried the day. Even though there was way more than one she. Even though he’s officially out of the CBC, Jian Ghomeshi is by no means out of power and control.

And of course, right away, his fans only amplified the big noise he made. Reactions ranged from purblind defences of male privilege and sexual-satisfaction-at-any-cost, to an unbelievable amount of very ironic slut-shaming aimed at the women (eight of them now) who have accused him of assault, harassment and stalking. There’s even a Change.org petition (which I will neither link to nor endorse here) to sign for his reinstatement, and it’s racked up thousands of signatures in just a couple of days. Remember the Fukushima tsunami? This was, easily, the media equivalent. The sheer magnitude of his chutzpah, the unheard-of damages he’s seeking in this far-from-litigious land, the avalanche of slut-shaming, victim-blaming and fan outcry combined — well, who wouldn’t be intimidated by all that? And who wouldn’t be cowed into silence and submission?

If one reads between the lines, however, a very different picture emerges. And it is one that bears talking about, and criticizing, rather nicely. It may even spell a turning of the very tide he has tried to steer in his own favor.

For starters, it seems highly unlikely that the CBC would turn their most profitable radio cash cow out to pasture over a little thing like a naughty-naughty kinkster image. Ghomeshi’s radio show, Q, is not only popular north of the 49th Parallel, but also syndicated to some 180 US public-radio stations. At a time of deepening government cutbacks, CBC is keen to keep the cash flowing from wherever they can get it. Letting him go, lawsuit or no, is already costing them money, and that’s not something they’d countenance unless they had a compelling reason to fire him in the first place.

And private matters like a consensual BDSM lifestyle don’t, generally speaking, count as such. Q is, after all, a pop-culture show by and for mature adults. It’s not aimed at small children. The discussions featured on it are not “family” fare. Not everything that CBC does is strictly family-oriented, nor do Canadians expect it to be. We’re a liberal country, and CBC is a liberal network. So the idea that an overt-but-consensual kinkster would be fatal for CBC’s wholesome “family” image simply doesn’t wash.

Also, it’s hardly the first time a CBC radio host has had a brush with sexual controversy. In 2006, Sook-Yin Lee (of Definitely Not the Opera) appeared in the indie film Shortbus (whose focus, significantly, is open sexual experimentation), not only fully nude but masturbating. To an actual, unsimulated orgasm, yet. And while it drew a lot of outrage from the usual pearl-clutchy places, she was not let go. DNTO is still alive and well. After all, Sook-Yin’s erotic movie role had no bearing on her CBC radio antics, which were already pretty irreverent. And, more to the point, she also didn’t go around hitting and choking people, grabbing people’s asses, forcing them to supply sex, and making lewd propositions to unwilling ears.

All of which Jian Ghomeshi stands accused of doing, in and out of CBC’s downtown Toronto broadcast centre. The accusations against him are not about sex, but about violence.

Granted, no charges have been filed…yet. And there is no police investigation…yet. Nobody has even filed civil suit against him…yet.

And yet, and yet.

I’ve perused an eye-glazing number of comments on various websites breaking news of the story. And while the commenters are anonymous, a startling number of them are saying the same basic things: Jian Ghomeshi is arrogant as hell; as he’s grown older (he’s 47), he’s hit on on progressively younger women, the most recent ones a good 20 years his junior; he routinely oversteps the boundaries of propriety too; and yes, physical violence is a prominent part of that. And no, it’s NOT consensual.

A damning pattern, to be sure. And one easily dismissed as just hearsay, not legally actionable, and so forth. But it constitutes a groundswell of sorts, and one that he’ll be absolutely unable to control if it continues to grow, as indeed it has.

But anonymous scuttlebutt commenters aren’t the only ones with the power to undermine his carefully-wrought PR campaign. Sex educators — and specifically, ones specializing in kink issues — are also calling him out. And they’re pointing out the flaws in his argument with the meticulous communicative skills that are vital to their practices. After all, in kink, you have to use your words, safe and otherwise. People can get hurt badly if you don’t. Accidental deaths due to kinky activities are rare, but they have been known to happen. And, all too predictably, the kink community has also seen a number of straight-up abusers hiding behind the kink shield, and thus endangering real kinksters, especially women, in ways that go far beyond just a battering of the community’s reputation. This sort of thing is just what they don’t want, or need, to raise their profile. So whenever a well-known and reputable kinkster says “hell no, Jian’s not one of us, what he’s doing isn’t safe, sane, OR consensual”, you can be sure I’ll chalk up one more point against him on my mental scoreboard. (And yes, I’m keeping one.)

If it ever comes down to a civil lawsuit, or a criminal prosecution in this case, kink educators and writers should be called as expert witnesses. They are undoubtedly the best ones qualified to poke holes in Jian Ghomeshi’s assertions that his troublesome behavior was just a “lite” version of Fifty Shades of Grey. (And for the record, that god-awful trilogy isn’t about BDSM, it’s about physical and mental abuse. Actual kinksters have said as much. Which makes that reference just one more creepy little red flag among many.)

Legal experts like Brenda Cossman, too, are weighing in on where “consensual kinky sex” ends and actual, sexualized violence begins. And what they’re saying points, again, not to sex but to violence. Because in Canadian law, the more extreme forms of BDSM are not treated the same as the lighter stuff. If it can cause serious injury or death, it doesn’t matter if you gave consent beforehand; you have to be able to withdraw it at any time. And this, too, is important; in matters of life and limb, there’s no such thing as no-holds-barred. Some holds are legally barred for safety’s sake. It’s one thing to be open-minded about sexual experimentation; quite another to let one’s brains fall out. And when it comes to the risk of severe brain damage (or psychological harm equivalent thereto), the law errs on the side of barring that hold.

Our law also errs on the side of refusals being non-negotiable safewords, incidentally. No means no; you cannot legally negotiate no, don’t, and stop into meaning “no, don’t stop!” Because there is always a chance that a sub may accidentally forget to say “pomegranate”, “brambleberry”, “palomino”, or whatever. No is a perfectly good safeword to fall back on when you can’t remember anything else.

And if the word NO isn’t respected in kink, where negotiation is key to all interaction and even a weak demurral should spell an immediate halt, then that sets a bad precedent for the non-kinky world as well. Rape culture, which Jian Ghomeshi earlier this year reprehensibly characterized as a mere “debate”, is already so pervasive everywhere. There is no “debate” about it; it is a constant, horrid fact of women’s lives. Do we really need to have a former pop singer turned radio host blurring those lines out of all recognition with a whiny, windy, possibly scripted but definitely douchey manifesto, full of “nutty and slutty” dog-whistles?

Yeah, NO. Because that’s not kinky. That’s hinky.

And that creepy screed, like the rape culture that spawned it, is just downright stinky.

UPDATES:

Looks like Jian is strangely silent now that the first of his named accusers has bravely come forward to tell on him. He issued a terse tweet, but no new manifestos about “jilted girlfriends”. Meanwhile, the big long whine on his Facebook page is losing support by the hour. Cheese with that, Jian?

Also, there is a petition to show love and support for all the women in question. Several leading Canadian musicians have added their names to it; please consider doing so as well. There’s also this one, to Change.org, asking them to take the other ones supporting Jian Ghomeshi down.

Dramatic shoot-out on an Argentine roadway

Could this have been an attack by paramilitary thugs?

The federal prosecutor’s bodyguard shot it out with criminals who, from cars and motorcycles, assaulted a motorist in front of the official vehicle in which the functionary was riding, on the Illia highway.

In those circumstances, according what sources with the Federal and Metropolitan police forces told the Telam news agency, delinquents in a Citroën and a VW Bora intercepted, with possible intent to rob, the driver of the other car, which the guard intervened to prevent.

Seven men of Colombian nationality were detained at the scene, while other suspects fled on motorcycles. There were no injuries, according to the sources.

Prosecutor Carlos Stornelli told the press that they were driving along Costanera Rafael Obligado Avenue, just about to turn onto the freeway, when his escort “noticed strange movements on the part of some motorcycles”, whose occupants had “cellphones connected to earpieces”.

“They had all the appearance of being about to commit some illicit act, some got off their bikes, opened the door of a car, which is why my bodyguard got out and yelled at them, and they started to run away then,” said the functionary.

According to Stornelli, one of the delinquents passed in front of the car where he was sitting, and then there was “an exchange of shots”.

“I heard three or four shots. My bodyguard was able to stop two cars, seven of the delinquents, all of Colombian nationality,” Stornelli said.

The functionary of the Public Ministry stated that seven other assailants fled using three motorcycles and a car.
“I was in the line of fire for one moment, but the delinquent took off. I kept a prudent distance until all were arrested,” said Stornelli.

A Nissan Tiida was found this afternoon, bullet-riddled and parked in front of the Jorge Newbery Metropolitan Airport, metres away from the Fishermen’s Club. Investigators worked to determine if it might be another of the cars used by the gang.

National security secretary Sergio Berni told the press that “this week began with seven Colombian criminals who came to Argentina to commit crimes.”

“Due to the type of crime [they committed], I believe that tonight they’ll already be free, and I can assure you that in thirty, sixty or ninety days, one of them will be detained again by the Federal Police,” Berni complained.

Berni said that his declarations “are not xenophobic”, nor does he want to blame all crimes “on foreigners”, but he did emphasize that last week, there were 25 detentions of “criminals of Colombmian, Peruvian and Paraguayan nationality.”

“This is what society has to know, we have to discuss the Criminal Code in order to give the Justice Department the tools so that these persons be deported immediately and not come back again,” the secretary concluded.

Translation mine.

So, were they paracos? Let’s do the math.

Fourteen Colombian criminals, obviously banding together, wearing earpieces. Clearly a very well-organized criminal gang. Were they really only out to commit highway robbery? It’s not as though THAT never happens in Argentina…

The idea that this was just a common highway robbery gone awry falls apart when you realize that right behind the apparent “robbery” victim, there happened to be a federal prosecutor, riding with his bodyguard. In Latin America, federal prosecutors have what are easily some of the most dangerous jobs in the land, since they investigate and imprison every kind of nasty thug from drug smugglers to political assassins. And those who don’t submit to corruption are often marked for extermination. Was Carlos Stornelli one of those?

Oddly, according to this Yahoo story, Stornelli, a former minister of security for the capital city of Buenos Aires, asserts that no shots were aimed at himself. Which means that either these foreign “robbers” were incredibly unlucky in their choice of random targets to stick up, OR they were mistaken in which car they were being directed, via their earpieces, to overtake and shoot up.

Getting busted in flagrante by no less than a federal prosecutor and his bodyguard seems a bit too coincidental to be merely coincidental, though. A bigwig like Stornelli getting caught in such a close call, just a botched highway robbery aimed at somebody else? Yeah, just a total coinkydink. Uh-huh. Surrrrrrre.

Canada’s real terrorism problem

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This mosque in Cold Lake, Alberta, was spray-painted by xenophobic vandals. The town is home to an airbase from which CF-18 jet fighters recently departed en route to the war zone of Iraq. The people of Cold Lake have since banded together to clean up the graffiti while the police search for the perpetrators.

Oh, Canada. What’s happening to you?

You used to be such a nice place. Liberal. Socialist, even. And it worked out great for you while it lasted.

You used to be such a livable, lovable place. The country to the immediate south of us may have billed itself the Land of Opportunity, but when it came to real opportunities, we had them beat. Our social safety net ensured that no one got left too far behind by the ups and downs of the mixed economy.

Everyone who came here used to feel so welcome. We got immigrants from all over the world, and they helped make this the most diverse country on the planet. And the most multicultural. And the place where the most disparate people had a chance to coexist peacefully. From Vietnam War draft dodgers to Iraq War refugees, we’ve been enriched by the presence of people who were outcasts in their own lands. And the religious and ethnic clashes of the old country were left far behind, much to the relief and joy of all. Here, it didn’t matter who you were, what you were or where you came from; you were accepted. You were always at home.

And now I feel like a stranger in my own land, even though I was born here.

We seem to have caught terrorism-itis from south of the border. Everyone’s so paranoid now. Instead of waiting to learn what’s going on, we start jumping to false conclusions. The embarrassing truth leaks out too late every time.

Like this week. These past few days saw us “attacked” by two “terrorists” who, it turns out, were something else altogether. One was a paranoid schizophrenic; the other, a drug addict. But since both were Muslims, and chose to attack and kill soldiers of the Canadian army, with a confused mess of ISIL propaganda and madness roaring through their heads, they just automatically got labelled as terrorists. As if they had flown fully loaded passenger jets into the Peace Tower and the banking district of downtown Toronto on a suicide mission co-ordinated from a cave somewhere near the Pak-Afghan border.

The truth is stranger, and sadder, and nowhere near as dramatic as that.

In fact, the “terrorists” were not foreigners, as was initially reported/speculated. They were both native-born French-Canadians. And they both had mental problems that could easily have been treated. This tragedy was totally avoidable, and neither a war nor even changes to our nation’s security systems was necessary to avert it.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at who these guys were, and how they acted.

Martin Couture-Rouleau was a convert to Islam; he converted only last year. He was not an immigrant. He was not even remotely an Arab, or Muslim by birth. His religious conversion appears to have arisen out of a growing heap of personal problems. Apparently he made enough radical-sounding noises that the RCMP was investigating him, and his passport was revoked, preventing him from travelling to Turkey (and presumably, from there, to Syria to join ISIL forces). He was alienated from his family, and everyone who knew him was bewildered by the recent changes to his personality. He was divorced, and his ex-wife was apparently frightened enough of him to seek sole custody of their child. It was not Islam that had made him that way, though; it was his own schizophrenia. His “radicalization” was concurrent with the worsening of his illness. And his own imam struggled in vain to dissuade him from supporting ISIL or taking up battle — or terrorism — on their behalf.

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was also not an immigrant, although his father was one (from Libya), and his mother a deputy chair at the federal immigration department. At school he was simply known as Mike Bibeau, the big, gregarious good-time guy voted most likely to succeed, especially with the ladies. But drug addiction shortly after his graduation from high school put an end to all that. He was known to police, but only as a petty criminal and drug abuser. His parents are long divorced, and bewildered as to what has become of him. Like Martin Couture-Rouleau, he was alienated from his family; his mother said she hadn’t seen him in five years. In that time, he had fled to BC, looking in vain to escape his addiction (which had shifted from marijuana and PCP usage to crack cocaine). He tried everything from religion to prison to cure himself. He wasn’t jailed long enough to keep him away from the dealers, and the imam of the mosque where he broke in at night to sleep on the floor locked him out. His religious fervor was a direct outgrowth of his efforts to replace one drug with another. At the time of his final desperate acts, he was homeless and so isolated from humanity that even at the Ottawa homeless shelter where he’d taken refuge, he was an outsider.

Neither man was connected to the other, nor to any known terrorist groups. Both were entirely isolated, and more so thanks to their respective mental conditions.

Meanwhile, our social safety net has eroded. Mental health services have faced severe cutbacks in all provinces. People who should have been hospitalized, as much for their own safety as anyone else’s, are instead left to roam the street, helpless and untreated. A few years ago, we were horrified by a beheading on a Greyhound bus; the killer, in that case, was a schizophrenic too, and should have been hospitalized. Not until he’d killed and partially eaten a complete stranger in the thick of a psychotic episode did he finally get the help he needed. If by “help” one means psychiatric incarceration, that is.

Six years after Vince Weiguang Li began his treatment, our mental health system has not improved a whit. It is still chronically starved of funding and professionals. The mental hospitals we so desperately need are still closed, with no new ones opened to replace them. The few still remaining have waiting lists a mile long. Those who can’t afford private counselling and rehab are shit out of luck.

And worse, we no longer have a federal long-gun registry. That’s right; a crime-fighting tool born out of a terrorist attack in Montréal was scrapped by the same wonderful Conservative party that’s also behind all the other rips in our social safety net! The police are thus officially hamstrung. Who knows if we’ll ever find out how Mike Bibeau, who was legally prohibited from owning firearms due to his criminal and drug record, managed to get his hands on the rifle that enabled him to kill Nathan Cirillo, who was standing guard at the federal War Memorial?

Yeah, tell me the Conservatives are not the real terrorists in all this. They’re using the hysteria surrounding these events, even now, to push their own very anti-Canadian agenda. And the sad part is, too many people are all too happy to LET them.

Of course, salient facts like that have escaped the major media, or the myriads of know-nothings who pontificate in the comments sections of their websites. Most of them seem quite convinced that if we only shut our doors tightly enough, ramped up the security high enough, and went to war in enough foreign countries to “bomb them back to the Stone Age” and “teach them a good lesson”, the “terrorist” problem would be best addressed. Never mind that neither of these guys was a foreigner, and that both in fact were born right here.

Or they’re all full of self-righteous Islamophobia, oblivious to the fact that in both cases, imams actually tried to deter these guys from taking the criminal turns they did. And oblivious, too, to the fact that Canadian Muslims are right on the same page with all the rest of us in condemning such attacks, and terrorism in general.

And above all, they’re oblivious to the role that a too-easy access to guns, and a too-hard access to mental health care, played in this whole goddamn mess. They simply cannot and will not see those connections, even though it doesn’t take a brilliant sociologist to draw them.

Oh yeah, and that’s another thing: We’re not supposed to commit sociology in times of terrorism, according to none other than Stephen Fucking Harper himself. Yes, that’s right…the tough-talking macho PM, who bravely, bravely hid in a broom closet while his underlings barricaded the door with spears made from flag poles!

But hey. At least the parliamentary Sergeant-at-Arms, Kevin Vickers, proved that his role is not merely ceremonial, even though his costume may be. Like René Jalbert many years before him, he was the one who engaged a confused, deranged gunman hellbent on wreaking terror. Unlike Jalbert, though, he couldn’t talk the shooter out of it; he ended up having to kill him. “Terrorist” crisis ended, either way.

And all this without recourse to war.

Now the PM’s security detail has modified its protocol so that they can enter the Commons chamber and protect him at all times. That’s fine; at least it doesn’t unduly curtail anyone’s civil liberties. Not so fine, however, is the legislation the government apparently passed on the same day as Martin Couture-Rouleau ran down Patrice Vincent in a fit of psychosis. We’re now facing intrusive, unconstitutional online surveillance under the pretext of “crime prevention”! Yay!

So, now you know. And if this is the last post you see from me, you’ll know why. I’ll have been arrested for committing the supreme terrorist act of daring to think un-conservatively and sociologically, and tying together all the things they don’t want us to understand are related. If you think Martin Couture-Rouleau and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau were crazy (and they were, alas), you ain’t seen nothin’ . My own country just totally outclassed them in the losing-one’s-shit department.

And since it’s already at war in Iraq, too, it’s also outdone them in terms of real terrorism.