Monday, January 25, 2010

Collective Punishment is Alien to Canada

Letter published in the Toronto Star January 25, 2010

Re Darts and Laurels, Jan 23:

The Star has awarded a Laurel to the principal of a high school for cancelling the hockey season because "one of the players directed a racial slur against an opponent." This is a most unfortunate decision by the principal, and a wrong opinion of the Star.

Canada does not have the concept of collective or tribal punishment. For wrong-doing, the perpetrator is penalized, not the community, in this case, the entire team.

As this event occurred among young people, its correction should be sought in their education, at home and at school.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Corporation equals Person and Other Legal Mischief

Why do our courts equate individuals and corporations?

The concept of free speech evolved to protect political, religious and social liberty and expressions thereof. Nowhere in this long evolution did anyone contemplate economic liberty and the legal protection of corporate interests. Not until corporations gained undue influence over the judicial process

The Supreme Court of Canada has declared, "Freedom of expression, even commercial expression, is an important and fundamental tenet of a free and democratic society." Thus, the Court placed corporations on the same level as people.

This absurdity springs from the legal fiction that corporations are persons. For breaking the law, a corporation cannot be jailed, whereas humans can be so punished. Thus the law protects corporations more than that humans.

There is no basis, historical or otherwise, for including advertising under freedom of expression.

American courts also have it wrong. Speaking for a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy overturned a ban on political spending by corporations: "If the First Amendment has any force, it prohibits Congress from fining or jailing citizens, or associations of citizens, for simply engaging in political speech."

 It's amazing how legal folk can massage "associations of citizens" into corporations. Nowhere does the U.S. Constitution equate corporations and individuals. Yet the courts, in the spirit of "constitutional originalism" ignore all this. In Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 2010, Judge Scalia found a corporate right to become involved in the election process, but also to keep their machinations secret.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Survival in Battle

In his book, Infidels: A History of the Conflict between Christendom and Islam, British historian Andrew Wheatcroft comments on the 1571 defeat at Lepanto of the Ottoman navy by a united European armada. The victory was due in part to the ease with which the Europeans adapted old techniques to new military use.

"In the Muslim ranks, by contrast, every innovation became a matter for argument even resistance. . . Guns and artillery were still necessary, but carried no mark of courage. Perhaps for this reason few of the developments and innovations in gun technology were adopted by the Islamic world."

Letter to the Toronto Star published January 16, 2010

Re Deciphering the news from the war on terror, Jan. 7:

Haroon Siddiqui complained: "But the reality is that NATO nations run from danger as far as they can and wage war from afar. Bombs are dropped by pilots from on high or from pilotless drones, and cruise missils are fired from hundreds of kilometres away. Mostly they die, not us."

Prussian war strategist Carl von Clausewitz could not have said it better.

In the film Patton, the U.S. general put it this way: "No poor bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won the war by making some other poor bastard die for his country."

That's what war is all about, one's own survival, not the enemy's. If one disapproves of such tactics, one must advocate the end of all war.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Drug Traffickers Must Compensate Society

On January 7, 2010, Ontario Superior Court sentenced three men to prison six to eight years. "We are not dealing here with small-scale street trafficking," the judge said. "We are dealing with large-scale sellers of cocaine."

Considering the human, social and economic damage that drugs inflict, sentences for trafficking deserve to be akin to those for murder. These relatively light sentences will not discourage drug dealers, only cause them to be more careful while increasing the price of their products.

Heavier sentences should include financial restitution. A percentage of the perpetrator's life-long earnings belong to the society they have permanently damaged. This penalty may be reduced should the convict implicate his associate drug traffickers.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A Third and Final Offer to Iceland

Following my two earlier offers (24/10/2008, 19/10/2009) for Iceland to become a debt-free province of Canada, comes the January 6, 2010 news the nation is unable to repay a$5.7 billion debt. The problem stems from the collapse of a privately owned bank. The island economy is in such dire straits that MacDonald's has left the island. (Of course, that may have been as a result of improved Icelandic taste.)

Iceland's parliament last month voted to pay off the debt. President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson vetoed the legislation after receiving a petition from a quarter of the population not to pay it. "The people are the supreme judge," the he said. A presidential veto automatically triggers a national referendum.

The referendum should also assess national feeling toward joining Canada.