Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Eddie Greenspan's Scary Crime Blunder

Appearing in the National Post today was something that could be considered Eddie Greenspan's last public words. In the article he condemns Prime Minister Stephen Harper's approach to crime.

He calls Harper's approach to crime "scary."

"We know of no person knowledgeable about criminal justice in any democratic society who has ever proposed imprisonment for all convicted offenders. But earlier this month, Canada’s Public Safety Minister, Steven Blaney, who oversees our penitentiaries, bluntly told Parliament that 'Our Conservative government believes that convicted criminals belong behind bars.' No qualifications, no exceptions.

An opposition MP understandably replied, 'Mr Speaker, that is scary to hear.' Scary? It’s more than scary. It is hard to imagine such a statement being made by someone who supposedly has knowledge about crime and the criminal justice system."

Of course, Minister Blaney's comments in Question Period should not be confused as a comprehensive position on crime, as Greenspan seems to have done. But as a general principle -- criminals belong behind bars -- one could do far worse. Greenspan himself manages.

"Imprisonment is certainly appropriate for some offenders. But it is worth examining two arguments that are often made for imprisoning offenders who could be punished in the community. Some believe that crime will be deterred if punishment severity were increased. Scores of studies demonstrate this to be false. This is inconvenient for Mr. Harper since many of his 86 so-called 'crime' bills (33 of which have become law) are based on the theory that harsh sentences deter. Canada’s first prime minister, John A Macdonald, understood deterrence better than does Mr Harper. Macdonald noted that 'Certainty of punishment …  is of more consequence in the prevention of crime than the severity of the sentence.' Mr Harper, who could benefit from empirical evidence, chooses instead to ignore it.

Some believe that offenders learn from imprisonment that 'crime does not pay.' This, too, is wrong. Published research — some of it Canadian and produced by the federal government — demonstrates that imprisonment, if anything, increases the likelihood of reoffending. For example, a recent study of 10,000 Florida inmates released from prison demonstrated that they were more likely subsequently to reoffend (47% reoffended in 3 years) than an almost perfectly equivalent group of offenders who were lucky enough to be sentenced to probation (37% reoffended)."

Why are these two paragraphs so terrifying? Because Greenspan was considered an elite criminal defense lawyer, and so represents the legal thinking of Canada's legal establishment. And because it's perhaps the most shortsighted and limited view on criminal justice imaginable.

For one thing, the study Greenspan cites is perhaps one of the best examples of unisolated variables on record -- Florida is not exactly a jurisdiction known for its historic dedication to rehabilitation. As one of the key pillars of any criminal justice system, rehabilitation is key to preventing inmates from reoffending. Florida has pursued this route with renewed diligence only since 2011.

Prior to this renewed focus Florida's inmate population had grown by 40% in 11 years. It doesn't require a criminal defense lawyer to recognize this as undesirable. But Florida's growing prison population was not due strictly to imprisoning criminals, but rather what the state was not doing for them on the inside.

So there's the first point on which Mr Greenspan's final words are disturbingly lacking.

Mr Greenspan treats imprisonment of a criminal strictly as punishment. And while it is punishment, it serves a goal key of any criminal justice system: protecting victims from their victimizers by keeping them locked away.

So Mr Greenspan seems to prefer punishing criminals "in the community." Which often entails releasing criminals into the same communities in which those whom they victimized live. And Greenspan, as a criminal defense lawyer, was very successful in helping push this agenda into policy.

What did this bring us?

Well, the RCMP report on missing and murdered indigenous women is very illustrative. Hauntingly illustrative, in fact.

Indigenous women were disproportionately likely to be murdered. More than this, they were disproportionately likely to be murdered by a family member. More still, they were disproportionately likely to be murdered by someone with a prior history of violent crime. Even more yet: they were disproportionately likely to have been a prior victim of a violent crime at their killer's hands.

And via the Gladue ruling, a worrying number of aboriginal are effectively turned loose in their communities under a preference for so-called "restorative justice techniques." And while the Gladue ruling is often treated as inapplicable for more serious and violent offenders, and repeat offenders, this has often come far too late for missing and murdered indigenous women. Far too often the recidivist crime to which Gladue was considered inapplicable was their murder.

That's a tad too late for "restorative justice" and "punishment in the community," as Mr Greenspan clearly preferred.

I've previously written that there in fact should be a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, but not on the terms that the activists, lawyers and social workers who created this problem would prefer. Instead, this should be treated as an opportunity to call the legal establishment that created this problem on the carpet, and put them and their policies on trial once and for all.

Were he alive today Eddie Greenspan would almost certainly be among them: called to answer for the problem that his ideas, his agenda and his shortsightedness created.

Fortunately for him he did not live to see such an inquiry. Which is by no means a reason why he should be excluded from such scrutiny now that he's passed on.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Here Lies Critical Theory, Slain by #Gamergate

Recently, I was alerted to the deeper issues of #Gamergate. Perhaps you've heard of it. It's been going on since August of this year.

From the tone of the hashtag by which it proliferates, one may think that #Gamergate is a scandal of some sort. When I first began to hear of it in August that was the conclusion that I drew. My understanding of it at the time was that the hashtag was for discussion of a scandal regarding collusion between video game developers and video game journalists. That was partially true.

More recently, Victor Vargas explained to me that the real importance of #Gamergate was in defending the artistic medium of video gaming from so-called "social justice warriors" who demanded that the medium be subjugated to their extreme agenda.

For the uninitiated, #Gamergate is less a cohesive social movement and more a group of individuals who are concerned about the state of video gaming in general. They don't want to see the quality of video games as an artistic medium degraded by journalists who will not report honestly or ethically about games. That includes not only game "reviewers," but also those who report on video games via an op/ed format. This is where the social justice warriors become an issue.

If there's any one thing that these social justice warriors -- or SJdubs as I call them -- seem to excel at it's misrepresenting the medium in order to magnify, exaggerate, or outright invent examples of sexism or misogyny in gaming.

A prime example is that of Anita Sarkeesian. No one has dismantled and revealed her misrepresentations nearly so well as Thunderf00t has.
It turns out that Sarkeesian is not the only one misrepresenting video games in order to try to advance her toxic ideology.

Recently, a game developer by the name of Henry Smith published a blogpost mocking the notion that gamers could feel oppressed as gamers. It's as confused, disjointed, and internally inconsistent as any other piece of SJdub pontificating. For example, he dismisses gamers commenting on their perception of oppression as "white men with expensive toys."

Strangely, this overlooks the number of women, people of colour or LGBT gamers who may feel oppressed specifically as gamers. Surely Smith believes that such people are oppressed as women, people of colour or LGBT, but seems to insist that they cannot feel oppressed specifically as gamers.

Well, with gamers intermittently targeted by the media, government and assorted busybody groups, who could blame them? It seems like every time there's a mass shooting in the United States video games are put under the microscope and gamers examined as ticking time bombs.

Perhaps what troubles Smith about this idea so deeply is that "gamer" is self-identification that crosses the boundaries of race, gender and sexuality. Given the idea, popular among SJdubs, of intersectionality -- an idea that holds that individual identities are multi-faceted, and so an oppressed person may experience oppression on any one or multiple bases -- Smith simply isn't adhering to the critical theory ideology very well.

I suspect that what alarms him most deeply is that, despite the idea of the intersectional identity, a white person can even possibly be oppressed, or even permitted to feel oppressed. And in order to deny any white person who feels so oppressed that sense of entitlement, Henry Smith -- by all accounts himself a white male -- instead sets out to dictate to PoCs, women and LGBT how they may or may not feel oppressed.

It seems like he's failed to check his privilege... if you believe in that kind of tripe.

It's very lazy thinking. But it turns out that lazy thinking is something he excels at. Here's an excerpt from his blogpost, another little bit of kvetching that he didn't bother to give even the most basic amount of thought to:
It's enough to make you wonder if Smith has actually seen that ad, or bothered to think about it any further than using it as a jab against the so-called "sexist" video game industry.

That's a notion disabused by doing something so simple as actually watching the advert:
Just as Anita Sarkeesian blatantly misrepresented Hitman as allegedly "inviting" the player to murder strippers, Smith misrepresents the Advanced Warfare advert by amputating the context.

In Sarkeesian's case, she claims that Hitman "invites" (her words") players to murder strippers. And while the player does, indeed, permit the player to murder some strippers, Sarkeesian ignores the detail that the game mission in question not only does not require the player to do so, but discourages the player from doing so by penalizing them for the act. In fact, the game encourages the player to avoid any interaction with the stripper NPCs (non playing characters) altogether.

Not to mention that should the player listen in to the stripper NPCs' conversation they learn that these women have been traumatized by their exploitation at the hands of a man named "Dom." Listen to that conversation and it becomes clear that the game developers intended for the player to be disgusted by these women's suffering.

Many feminists would applaud that commentary on the exploitation of strippers -- unless they're one of those "sex work is empowering" lunatic third-wave types.

That's how Sarkeesian misrepresents Hitman. Smith misrepresents Modern Warfare by simply pointing out that it -- le gasp! -- features a skantily-dressed and breathtakingly-hot woman in it. And doesn't bother to acknowledge the context in which she's presented.

In the ad, the player falls into a stall in a bazaar from a very tall height. Instead of being killed on impact, he is instead stunned. While stunned the player sees a gorgeous woman is approaching him, cooing with romantic interest.

Then the "expert player" character -- played by Taylor Kitsch -- commands his immediate attention by shouting at him "what are you doing!? We don't kiss goats."

When the player looks back to where the woman was he sees that she has been replaced by a goat -- or rather that she had been a goat the entire time.

She was never real. She was a hallucination. And that's very telling. A deeper analysis of the ad could suggest that this even offers comment on the standard of beauty this woman represents: she isn't real. Her beauty is fleeting, and perhaps even illusory. And even if she was ever real, the idea that she is available to the player, sexually, romantically or otherwise, is just as illusory.

Who should be offended by that ad? Perhaps people who kiss goats. Henry Smith seems to think the answer to that question is "women," or at least "feminists." Yet when we examine the advert more deeply than he does, we find that the cause for offfense is far more questionable than he implies.

This is just one example of why I feel video gaming, and #Gamergate in particular, will ultimately provide critical theory with the grave this toxic ideology so requires. They've picked their target poorly this time.

The modern video gamer is well-educated and not particularly fond of being told what to do or what to think; perhaps less about themselves and their hobbies than anything else. The intellectual battle being waged over #Gamergate has laid bear the bag of tricks preferred by the SJdub hordes, and gamers are proving not especially susceptible to it. They excel at identifying and outing dishonesty and deception, and that has not worked to the advantage of the SJdubs. Not in the least.

Very soon we can look forward to the following epitaph: "here lies critical theory, slain by #Gamergate."

The world will be very much better for it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Free the Interview!

Even though he's as firmly entrenched on the global naughty list as his father ever was, North Korea dictator -- and the only fat person in that entire country -- Kim Jong-Un got his Christmas gift early.

Sony Pictures has scrapped The Interview.

After threats of "9/11 style attacks" on movie theatres Sony has cancelled the film's release. They have no plans to ever release the film... or so they say.

But if Sony truly has no commercial plans for the film this is an opportunity to give the ultimate middle finger to Kim Jong-Un and the North Korean hackers who prove that some how this narcissistic twit's bruised ego -- not the millions of starving people in their country -- is somehow that country's greatest priority.

How do they do this? That's simple. All they have to do is give the movie to the internets.

They could do it under the guise of an deliberate act or they could orchestrate a "leak." But even in the extremely unlikely event that somehow Kim Jong-Un does have cells of terrorists ready to attack movie theatres,they'd be rendered utterly redundant against the faceless mobs of the internets downloading and sharing the film at will.

The movie's already been made, the money's already been spent. At least by giving the film up to the internet Sony can gain some return on their investment... even if that return is jamming their thumb in the eye of a hopelessly-narcissistic tyrant.

I know that would at least get them on my nice list.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Let's Not Call it Jihad After All

I know what you're thinking: he must be joking right?


I know what you're thinking now: then he must be nuts. Right?


I know what you're thinking now: has he gone soft on Islamic terrorism?


In writing this blogpost I fully expect a lot of my readers to have an impulse to disagree vehemently, especially considering the as-of-this-writing-ongoing terrorist hostage taking in Australia. I'm prepared to accept that. I also have faith in my readers to fully understand the argument I'm going to make. Whether or not you agree with it is, of course, entirely in your hands.

But I'm fully serious when I say that we shouldn't call Islamic terrorism "Jihad." And I'm entirely sincere when I say that we should call Islamic terrorists "Jihadis."

Here's why:

In calling their terrorism "Jihad," and in calling themselves "Jihadis," these terrorists are seeking something absolutely vital to their cause: a sense of justification. A means to aggrandize their barbarism. We shouldn't strengthen their claim.

Muslims do, indeed, treat Jihad as a religious obligation. Canadian traitor/walking bullseye Abu Anwar al Canadi said so himself. But then the question remains: what, exactly, is Jihad?

ISIS and al Canadi seem to think Jihad may be declared against anyone who takes up arms against them. Many Islamic scholars --
among them those of the Ahmadiyyah Jiamat -- would disagree. They would contend that Jihad has specific conditions which must be met. Those conditions, in short, are:

1. Muslims may only fight against those who prevent themselves or others from practicing Islam.
2. Muslims may only fight against those who fight them without cause.
3. If the above conditions are met, Muslims may only fight battles they have the means to win. They are not permitted to sacrifice their lives in vain.
4. Moreover, Muslims may only fight in the way in which they are fought.

Such scholars would contend that Jihad can take several forms, and the fourth condition described above is particularly crucial in this. Jihad could very well be an armed conflict. But it depends on by what means Islam is being attacked.

If the "attack" is religious criticism, then Muslims are encouraged to respond by debating their critics. If the "attack" is one of poverty, (the attacker need not even be another person or people) then Muslims are encouraged to give of their time and money to alleviate that suffering. If the attack is by force of arms then they are allowed to protect themselves by force of arms.

Taking a close look at these above conditions, it's clear that ISIS cannot truly justify any attacks they perpetrate as Jihad:

1. Neither Canada nor Australia prevent Muslims from practicing Islam.
2. Although Canada and Australia are both fighting against ISIS in Iraq, ISIS has given us cause to do so.
3. Even if condition #1 were met and even if condition #2 were met, ISIS does not have the means to defeat us in Iraq or Syria or in Canada or Australia.
4. Even if all above conditions were met, ISIS is permitted to fight us only in the way we fight them. In this case that means with their fighters operating openly, in uniform, under a declared state of war.

If any of the above conditions are not met, they cannot truly and rightly justify their actions as Jihad. And it isn't merely "any" of the above conditions that are unmet. It's "all."

So according to Islamic doctrine, the battles ISIS is waging, the attacks they are threatening us with, are not truly Jihad. It's merely terrorism. But if we ourselves call them "Jihad" we are helping them establish a religious pretext for their actions that they otherwise cannot truly and rightly establish.

Here is the reason why we should not call this Jihad: because if we do we are actually doing them a favour, and doing much of their dirty work for them. And we shouldn't do that.

We should just call it for what it is: terrorism. Barbarism. Because that's what it is. But let's not call it Jihad. Because that's what it isn't.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Loopy Logic of Abu Anwar al Canadi & HIs Apologists

It was almost like clockwork: no sooner had John Maguire -- aka Abu Anwar al Canadi -- released his propaganda video threatening Canada and calling upon Canadian Muslims to kill non-Muslims, opponents of Canada's anti-ISIS mission began blaming this on the government.

Their argument? Terrorists would not be attacking Canada if we hadn't sent our forces -- first military advisors to the Iraqi military and now CF-18s -- to fight ISIS.

It's not a strong argument: one that suggests ISIS should be able to dictate Canada's foreign policy just because we're afraid that some Canadian Muslims have taken up ISIS' cause. It's an inherently cowardly argument: a suggestion that Canadians should submit to living under de facto occupation by the Islamic state.

That's a bad idea.

Anyone who thinks that such a strategy would protect Canada from attacks are sadly mistaken. And if they're using al Canadi's speech to support that argument they didn't listen closely enough.

From the treasonous little monster's speech:

"Have you forgotten that Allah tells us how the disbelievers will behave towards the believers? Allah says that the disbelievers will never cease fighting you, they will never cease fighting you until they turn you back from your religion, if they are able to do so. 

So, the mujaheddin continue to call you to one of two options: hijra [migration to the Islamic State] or jihad.

You either pack your bags or you prepare your explosive devices. You either purchase your airline ticket or you sharpen your knife.

You either come to the Islamic State and live under the laws of Allah or you follow the example of brother Ahmad Rouleau and do not fear the blame of the blamers."

Al Canadi -- he has comically taken a name meaning "the light of Canadians" -- has declared that Muslims in Canada must kill non-Muslims essentially just for being non-Muslims. He argues that non-Muslims will not refrain from oppressing Muslims and preventing them from practicing their religion, so it is permissible for them to kill us.

This is false and al Canadi knows it. The fact that he was not prevented from converting to Islam while in Canada is proof of it. The religious freedom of Muslims is guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That freedom does not exist in lands dominated by ISIS, not even for Muslims. In the so-called "Islamic State," it's Islam or death. Hell, it's one specific sect of Islam or death.

There are thousands of murdered Christians, Kurds, and even Muslims of what ISIS deems to be the "wrong sect" scattered across ISIS-occupied Iraq and Syria to attest to that. Many among them are children.

And al Canadi somehow musters the gall to accuse Canada of committing atrocities... all while he knows full well that his ISIS friends have been murdering children.

In short: Abu Anwar al Canadi is a liar. When al Canadi is not lying he's making claims -- that ISIS only threatens and attacks Canada because Canada fights them -- that even if he actually believes them cannot possibly be true.

They're relying on the lies and demonstrable absence of logic in Canadi's speech in order to justify their position. And in doing so I'd argue that they're effectively giving aid and comfort to the enemy.

The Canadian passport bearing the name John Maguire has now been revoked. There are only two ways he can ever return to Canada: either in handcuffs, or with a bullet embedded between his eyes.

Personally, I prefer the latter.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Should Veterans Trust the Liberals?

Let it not be said that Julian Fantino hasn't fouled up his portfolio at Veterans Affairs. It's undeniable: he has.

The Conservatives don't have much time to right this ship before the 2015 election. The election is actually the least of reasons to do it... the best reason to do it is because it's the right thing to do. But right that ship they must, and they should do it with a minister who is up to the job. Someone like Laurie Hawn or Leon Benoit.

The Liberals are gearing up for the 2015 election by promising that they are the party to right that ship.

Yeah, right.

It should also never be said that the Conservatives haven't done far, far better on Veterans' Affairs than the Liberals did the last time they were in government. It should also never be said that this wasn't hard.

Consider, for example, the sad story of Stephanos Karabekos.

The year was 1995. David Collenette was then the Minister of National Defense. Karabekos was a close associate of Collenette who had campaigned for him during the 1993 federal election.

Trouble began to brew for Mr Collenette in his own riding when the Chretien government decided to cut veterans' benefits to former members of the Greek resistance living in Canada. As of 1997 there were 8,400 former members of the Greek resistance in Canada.

It turns out this was a problem. Department of Veterans Affairs projections suggested that, under the renumeration plan of the day the $65 million paid out to such members would account for 60% of the budget. Clearly something had to be done, and did the Liberals ever. In the 1995 budget they stopped all support payments to veterans of any resistance movement, including the Greek resistance movement.

All the VA offices were open, but it didn't matter. Former resistance members could find no assistance there.

Collenette's riding, Don Valley East, has a very large Greek community. Many of them were either relatives of a Greek resistance member, or had been themselves. The problem for Mr Collenette was obvious.

He set out to solve his problem in the way that any Liberal would do. He didn't reach out to the Department of Foreign Affairs to reconsider their decision to financially abandon all former resistance members now living in Canada. Instead he paid Stephanos Karabekos to go out and "soothe the feelings" of the Greek community.

For this -- an activity that had clear implications for his ability to be reelected in his riding -- Collenette paid Karabakos $95,000. By the law of the day, any contract of $30,000 or more had to be put up for tender, allowing any individual with the skills to perform the work to bid on it.

Instead, Collenette hired Karabakos -- who, again, had campaigned for him in 1993 -- in contract installments of less than $30,000 apiece. In doing so he was able to sneak DND spending that conveniently helped his reelection prospects past the Treasury Board.

The Greek resistance fighters never did get their benefits restored. But Karabakos got his $95,000 and Collenette did get reelected in 1997. If Collenette really was relying on the Greek vote then Karabakos did a good job of "soothing hurt feelings" in Don Valley West. Collenette was reelected by the same 21,511 votes that elected him in 1993.

The purely-political approach to Veterans Affairs was one the Liberals took constantly during their time in government. There's no compelling reason to take them seriously now.