Archive for Equality

Idle No More Victoria BC. Year end protest in pictures.

Posted in Activism, Anarchism, Canada, Economy, Environment, Food, Food For Thought, Health, Idle No More, Justice, Law, Photography, Politics, Racism, Social Justice, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 31, 2012 by animal_static

It has been a long time since my last post!  My semester is finished and I finally have time to write something that I am not being graded on.  Not that I would expect anyone to read anything that I say without a critical lens.  I would be disappointed if that were the case.

It has been a busy couple of months and a lot of things have happened.  American elections, mass shootings, omnibus legislation, gun control, shady trade deals, attempted genocides, disastrous disaster relief, European general strikes, and the end of the Mayan Calendar just to name a few items that immediately come to mind.  It’s a lot, and arguably too much negativity on the global scale given that my last post was only in the first week of November.  Maybe it is the approach of 2013 but it feels like things are changing.  Negativity and hate are on the rise but are also accompanied by reactionary social awareness and action.  People are taking to the streets in greater numbers and at a greater frequency than I can remember.  Someone somewhere once said that things become more apparent as you immerse yourself in your reality.  Perhaps it is an increasingly critical political appraisal that comes with a personal struggle to understand what anarchism means to me that is bringing all of this action into focus or perhaps people everywhere have simply had enough.  It’s probably a little of the former and a lot of the latter.  We all have a personal and collective threshold of values which can and have seemingly been crossed for people all over the world.

Enough preamble.  I attended the Idle No More event yesterday (December 30) in Victoria BC and I wanted to share a few pictures of my last protest event of 2012.  The message is important, the weather was great, and so was the turnout.  It is always amazing witness the sense of community that emerges during such events.  The ongoing nature of Idle No More might actually give us a chance to foster this sense of community beyond the next rally, panel, action, etc., into something deservedly lasting.  Let’s hope.

I have a head cold right now and am wary of committing any more words to paper or screen so here are some pics for you.  Please ignore the time stamp. My camera is old and seems to think it is 2010.  I too found this alarming but thorough experimentation has revealed that my 8 mega pixle wonder is indeed NOT a time machine.  Alas


Happy New Years everyone

Comments and sharing are always welcome



Lets Talk About Transformative Justice…..YAY!?

Posted in Academics, Food For Thought, Justice, Politics, Racism, Research Tools, Social Justice, Society, Sociology, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 24, 2012 by animal_static

In order to talk about Transformative Justice we need to clear a few points first in order to provide some context.

Firstly, The system that we in North America (arguably every inch of planet earth) are engaged in is capitalism.  The “capital” in capitalism is the major leverage point for most interactions outside of personal relations and family contexts (also arguable as I cannot guarantee that you are not a professional son/daughter/mother/father). Distribution of resources in most instances is sealed by social contracts.  A valid contract cannot be entered by an agent under extreme duress but it is pretty obvious that most everyone enter into contracts that are to their disadvantage at some point or another.  For example, working for the crappy wages that most jobs pay, cell phone contracts written in blood, and surrendering first and last months rent for that ground floor apartment that smells like old soup and has the security doors don’t work but you really wish they did .  These elements fall into the realm of Distributive Justice which is backed up by a large body law that has been developed to support the rights of the money holders and to “protect” the rights of the masses.  Do you feel like you are protected?  I sure don’t.

What we can now observe is the evolution of a system that has seen the increasing dominance of the top 1% of earners  while the rest of us have been left out to dry.  We have been sold the individualist dream of rat race resource attainment.  The bar of illusory social mobility has been set high and regardless of statistics that say the bottom 10% of earners have a 0.25% chance of reaching upper middle class, most of us still jump just as high as we can.  People have been stripped of any kind of supportive solidarity and set adrift in a sea of resource scarcity where our successes and failures are ours and ours alone. Scarcity breeds desperation which in turn breeds “crime”.  Resources can include, money, food, health, the absence of fear, system security, and a million other things that fit your individual “needs”.

Image obtained from:

So the stage has been set for the incarceration of the young, the poor, uneducated, racialized, mentally ill, abused and otherwise oppressed portions of our society to fill the majority of our prisons. It is not difficult or far fetched to envision full prisons which utilize our disproportionately taxed incomes for providing three meals a day plus supervision for that one time pot dealer who couldn’t find a job for any of the above mentioned reasons, or for the dad who cheats the welfare system because his part time job at Wal-Mart pays squat and the kids need to eat.  Unless you have killed someone, it is at this point that the system decides how to “fix” you.

Up until recently, alternative programs have pursued a path of “Restorative Justice” where offenders reconcile with victims and the community gets its piece of the action too through the involvement of church groups, and neighbourhood committees, etc.  The ideal end result is the restoration of a criminally deviant individual into a contributing member of society who is ready to go out and pay some taxes while not assaulting or stealing anything.  Sound awesome? Maybe until you consider that these programs are often offered to individuals who forgo due process in favor of reduced sentences and engage with mediators whose supposed neutrality is erased by the fact that the offenders participation has been coerced through system manipulation. The only way for the offender to successfully navigate the process is to engage in language that validates the oppressing system.  The biggest point of consideration here is that an offender is being “restored” through the justice system to a normalized status within a society that is  by its nature unjust.

Relatively recently, Transformative theory has acknowledged these flaws in restorative justice and seeks to remedy its shortcomings by introducing critical analysis of the system that creates the environment within which the crime occurred in the first place.  In this type of model, you can have the same victim/offender/community interaction with a mediator who has no pretense of neutrality but instead serves as a kind of guide where a more complex understanding of the offense and its relations to the victim can be contrasted against a historical and systematic backdrop.  If you consider the percentage of the Canadian inmate population who claim first nations status, an approach that incorporates cultural sensitivity and the acknowledgment (positive) of historical oppression and  different ways of knowing has great potential.  Despite a human factor that is desperately needed in current legal process there are some holes in the practical aspects of transformative theory which negate its potential as a dominant model for justice within the legal system.  Some of the blame for certain crimes should obviously be shifted onto a system that is so stifling to vulnerable populations but until the entirety of the global capitalist system is overhauled this approach to justice seems akin to throwing small stones at a large mountain.  You can make a lot of noise but you’re not going move much.  And worse yet, if you throw that stone just right you might just attract the baleful eye of whatever bureaucrat is in charge of stamping your grant application.  Such is the peril of fighting within the system.

Comments and sharing are always welcome,


Why We Should Listen to What George Monbiot Has to Say, A Book Review.

Posted in Activism, Books, Economy, Environment, Food For Thought, Politics, Social Justice, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2012 by animal_static

I know that I posted a book review a few weeks ago but I am trying to cram in as much extra curricular reading as possible before I get locked into another eight months of academia.  Not to say that I don’t love what I choose to study but there is something to be said for freedom of choice.  I just finished a somewhat current (2009) volume by George Monbiot entitled, “Bring on the Apocalypse, Six Arguments For Global Justice”, which is definitely worth a read.  Monbiot is of the idea that the Right Wing approach to government which is prevalent in the most powerful (Western/Northern/G8) nations has enabled and cultivated social and environmental scenarios that are contributing to the ultimate demise of the planet and creating an expanding social divide between the rich and the poor.  I agree.

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The world is not what it seems, you are being lied to but the truth is out there and George would like to help you find it.  Government and media (sometimes synonymous) are experts at altering our perceived social and environmental realities.  We are stripped of collective identity and told that individualist consumer oriented goals (buy that house, car, second car, second house, lest you be left behind and find yourself worthless) are what we should be striving for.  Environmental disasters are downplayed or swept under the rug, an unsustainable auto industry is lionized as a true expression of freedom, social movements are under reported, and your governmental policies ARE being dictated by industrial lobbyist groups.  It’s all quite negatively overwhelming.  Luckily there are activists like Monbiot who are able to present us with some well thought out ideas that help to strip some of the veneer from the right-wing neoliberal agenda.  There are going to be some right-libertarians out there who will state that unbridled free markets are the ultimate expression of personal freedom but guess what;  that path has yielded enough blood and horror to prove it an inhuman pursuit.  Lets ask Chile, Argentina, and virtually every indigenous population on earth how they feel about it.

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The “arguments” in this book are collections of essays which fall under the categories of God, Nature, War, Power, Money, and Culture.  While not hitting the nail on the head with every single essay, Monbiot does a fantastic job of exposing some of the cracks in the informational facade that we are presented with by the government and media via popular news venues and “democratic” process .  Like all books dealing with current issues this one too shall eventually fall by the wayside but will not find itself in the tar pits of literary history.  The sentiments expressed within are valid critiques of problems that have thwarted humanity in one form or another since the arrival of surplus commodities which have freed parts of the population from the labour pool thus enabling religious/cultural pursuits and unbalanced power dynamics.  These easily accessible essays provide a decent foundation from which one can step stone to more in-depth critiques of sociopolitical factors that do affect most aspects of our lives and for that reason alone this book is quite valuable.

Not trying to be punny here but anyone willing to take on issues like the Vatican’s bigoted obsession with homosexuality, Americas love affair with oil and torture, the British governments submissive relationship with big business, shoddy climate change science, and media manipulation is OK in my book.  This is a guy who knows a lot about a lot of things that matter and has not been bought, hence a guy worth listening to, but as with all things, you decide.

I would love to hear what you think.



A Specter is Haunting Canada, and That Specter is Racism.

Posted in Canada, Economy, Food For Thought, Racism, Society, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2012 by animal_static

The life of unwitting social icon, Rodney King will forever serve to illuminate the shadow of racism that still darkens the world, and his recent passing prompts a painful admission that not much has changed since 1992.  Sure the U.S. has a black president which is a huge milestone, but systematic racism is still a fact, attempted genocide is still a fact, hate crimes are still a fact, and supremacy groups protected by constitutional law are still a fact.

Read about Rodney Kings life here:

I recently had the displeasure of encountering and addressing some racist behavior that has no place in todays “enlightened” society. I decided to take an extra shift at work last weekend and the result was an ugly confrontation with a co-worker.  My co-worker is a fishin, campin, get er’ done type (nothing wrong with that), and while there is a stereotypical ignorance attached to this demographic it makes it no less a slap across the face when you are presented with shameless proclamations of hate.   Anger and adrenaline have erased the context of the initial conversation from my mind but the sentiment expressed by my co-worker  in the two notable comments were, “I wish I could have a Canada with no immigrants”, and, “We don’t want the world being run by monkeys”.  My retort, “what the f*ck does that mean”!? and “That doesn’t work for me, or anyone!” drew a genuinely confused reaction. At this point it was an effort to put together a cohesive sentence but I managed to relay that I have zero tolerance for racism and that if I hear anything like this again there will be consequences.  I also told him that I would be doing a disservice to my Black, Jew, Japanese, Filipino, Thai, Native, Indian, and Chinese friends if I didn’t call him on his bullshit.  What I ended up getting was many apologies for the offense and some rather weak excuses regarding his behavior from his girlfriend who also was present.  In the end I told him I did not want to look at him any longer and that I was far to angry to keep the conversation going but I did demand that he think about everything that I told him which is considerably more than I am reporting here, and that we can talk about it when I have calmed down.  If it was some guy on the street the altercation would have started the same and I might be less careful in checking my conduct but as this is a person who I need to see on a regular basis I feel that the offer to talk it out was the right thing to do.

I posted a truncated version of this account to my Facebook adding that ones behaviours are not excused by social/financial status, place of birth or lack of culture, education or intellect and I have been received much praise and support since then.  I did not post for accolades or to reaffirm my values but the reaction from my friends illustrates that the act of confrontation is not the norm and that people tend to let things slide by in silence. It must be granted that the majority of racism we perceive is entrenched in media and economic/political systems that are seemingly too complex for one individual to engage, and that acute cases like the one described above are less frequent but regardless of scenario, silence is consent.  There are some obvious scenarios where the possibility of physical, emotional, or professional retaliation can be intimidating enough to silence a victim and individuals can’t be blamed for failing to challenge in the face of harm but there many more instances where this is not the case yet people choose to socially deflect awkward situations in favour of maintaining a tainted social peace and this is what needs to change.  Confrontation, no matter how justified requires bravery but when it’s time to step up we just need to remember the people we love who are hurt by the inaction of silent friends.

A brief departure;  Canada considers itself to be a “cultural mosaic” where we celebrate individuality and we like to consider ourselves a richly multicultural and welcoming country but acceptance of this simple portrayal of Canadian culture is naive at best.  The Canadian government is infamous for its racist ideals.  Our reserve system was the inspiration for Apartheid, the last residential school wasnt eradicated until 1996 (!!!), suicide rates for natives is more than double that of non natives, and the governments ministerial indigenous relations can only be regarded as grossly paternal, condescending and exploitative.

Canadian immigration up until fairly recently has favoured immigration from countries in Europe with predominately white populations.  There has always been ire directed to immigrants who “steal” jobs from “Real Canadians” but the shift from a social protectionism to a White Nationalist sentiment has been increasingly prevalent since Canadian immigration law has loosened its criteria regarding origin of potential immigrants.

The reality of the situation is that Canada is not “ours” as it is land stolen from the natives.  I personally am residing on unceded Coast Salish/ Lekwungen territory. The modern conception of  “Canada” was built by, maintained, and is dependent on a healthy immigrant population.  Canada’s population is aging to the point where if left to its own devices will be unable to support itself.  Our country fails to achieve the Replacement Fertility Rate of 1.2 as increased education and career opportunities in the post boomer era are proving more attractive options than dropping out of the fast track to raise a family.  If you want to be totally mercenary about it, Canada will quickly perish without a healthy immigration policy that ensures stable income from a sustainable working age demographic.  If you want to be a good human about it, People are the same everywhere.  The main goals of comfort and security are not culturally specific or defined by imaginary lines on a map.

A few months back I received an email from a person who I had blocked from my facebook account due to bigoted behaviour.  the following is a copy of a text that I received which is a fairly alarming display of nationalist ignorance that is openly present on the internet should you choose to seek it out.  He didn’t write the following text, and I will not link to any blog carrying the message as I don’t want to encourage any positive support but it is easy enough to track down.  I vehemently oppose the sentiment of this letter and present it only to illustrate previous points.

Here it is:

“This is My Country, my Canada…..Take A Stand
(A copy was sent to Mr. Harper)
This is My Country – Canada…. .

My grandfather watched as his friends died in WW1, my father watched as his friends died in WW II, and I watched as young Canadians and their friends died in Afghanistan . None of them died for a Foreign Flag.  Everyone died for the Canadian flag and values.

Bike laws in almost all Canadian Jurisdictions require bike riders to wear safety helmets. You guessed it… People who are required to wear turbans are exempt because a helmet is not designed to be worn over a turban.

Some ten years ago a Commission was assembled in Ontario (lobbied for by Muslims) to investigate the practicality of allowing Canadians of the Muslim faith to practice Sharia law.  The Commission head (a former Attorney General in the Bob Rae NDP Government) presented the Commission findings to the succeeding Provincial Government to allow limited use of Sharia Law for Canadians of the Muslim faith. The recommendation was rejected. It should never have gone that far and in fact, the issue should never have reached a discussion stage, let alone the formation of a commission.

It is now politically incorrect to wish our fellow Canadians Merry Christmas.  And the list goes on and on… Enough is enough. This message below needs to be viewed by every Canadian; and every Canadian needs to stand up for this great country Canada.

We’ve bent over to appease the new Canadian immigrants long enough. I’m taking a stand. I’m standing up for the Canadian flag and for the tens of thousands who died fighting in wars for this country to ensure the freedoms we have today.  They did this for us. They left this land for us…..

It is our responsiblity to keep it in tact and leave the same GREAT COUNTRY for our children and grandchildren Take a stand now….. If you agree, stand up with me.  If you disagree, then just ignore it. And shame on anyone who tries to make this a racist message.  THIS IS MY COUNTRY!And, because I make this statement, DOES NOT Mean I’m against immigration!!!  YOU ARE WELCOME HERE, IN MY COUNTRY! Welcome! To come in through legal channels:
1. Get a sponsor!
2. Get a place to lay your head!
3. Get a job!
4. Live By OUR Rules!
5. Pay YOUR Taxes!
6. Learn the LANGUAGE like immigrants have in the past!!!
7. Please don’t demand that we hand over our lifetime savings of Social Security Funds to you.

If you don’t want to forward this for fear of offending someone,  Then YOU’RE PART OF THE PROBLEM! When will Canadians STOP giving away THEIR RIGHTS???  We’ve gone so far the other way… Bent over backwards not to offend anyone. But it seems no one cares about the Canadian CITIZEN that’s being offended!

WAKE UP Canada !!! Think about the future of our CHILDREN and GRANDCHILDREN

Take a stand now…..”

Please comment, or link, or send any kind of question/story/idea that you might care to share.  Hateful commentary will not be tolerated.