Monday, November 22, 2010

Toronto Life Magazine and Prostitutes

In an overwrought piece of journalism, the December 2010 issue of Toronto Life presented prostitutes and their clients as well-balanced people. My letter to the Editor published in the February 2011 issue:

No matter how you dress (or undress) them, men who consort with prostitutes admit their deficiencies.

The media, in their own cute way, present them as up-scale swingers, the prostitutes as strong in family values.

Men's lack of self-containment, self-confidence, communication skills, and interesting things to say, renders them unable to attract real women -- women who come to men on women's terms and not as marketable flesh.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The "R" Word

What is the appeal in the words racism and racist?

The Ontario Human Rights Commission, in its own ungrammatical way, describes Islamophobia as " a contemporary and emerging form of racism".

The U.K. report of the Commission on British Muslims and Islamophobia presents the case "for seeing Islamophobia as a form of racism".

In explaining Belgium's banning the burqa, a member of parliament claimed, "We are not a racism kind of country".

In a legal dispute over Muslim women wearing veils, a lawyer "raised the spectre of racism".

Airport security screening of turbans called "elements of racial profiling".

A letter to the Toronto Star of June 18, 2014, dealt with our failings towards our aboriginal people. The writer avoided the word racist. The headline writer editorialized this complaint into "our racist history."

Not one of these examples involves race, other than in the minds of the accusers. (In the case of the Toronto Star, in the mind of the editorializer.) Such words trip off the tongue more readily than intolerance or bigotry or racial discrimination. Is it the snake-like sibilance hissing through clenched teeth that appeals? Or because it's but a short linguistic step from fascism and fascist? Or because the perpetrator is linguistically challenged?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Philosopher of Despair

Princeton philosopher Peter Singer denies the humanity of people with special needs.

In his 1975 Animal Liberation, he argued that highly aware animals are owed more respect and protection than mentally-challenged humans.

Singer claims that babies "are not born self-aware, or capable of grasping that they exist over time. They are not persons ... The life of a newborn is of less value than the life of a pig, a dog, or a chimpanzee." He teaches that it is permissible to take human life if the person lacks awareness, such as the mentally disabled.

Under Singer's influence, the Spanish government has enacted The Great Ape Project. Henceforth in that corner of the world, apes (gorillas, chimps and orangutans) will enjoy greater rights than humans. For example, from the moment of conception, abortion and fetal experimentation are now illegal. He permits such procedures and experimentation on humans.

The original promoter of the law, a socialist government of a nation with no indigenous apes, The Great Ape Project director said: "This will doubtless be remembered as a key moment in the defence of our evolutionary comrades."

The Director believes he himself evolved from these comrades. That's why apes have been granted standing in Spanish courts. No human can kill them, except in self-defence. They cannot be used in circuses, movies, or television commercials. Experiments on great apes are now outlawed, even though there is no evidence of any being carried out.

Should apes in Spain be granted the vote and allowed to run for office? Why not? Then the government and their evolutionary kin may concoct more freedoms, such the right to swing from trees into parliament. As they are higher on the evolutionary ladder, apes should officiate at bullfights.

Speaking of which, this beneficence of rights does not extend to horned animals. Bull taunting in Pamplona, and the wholesale slaughter in bullrings continues unabated, more than 7,000 annually. The government does not want to lose those tourist dollars. No one visits Spain to see non-existent apes. This government knows when to rise above principle.

Singer has acquired a Princeton bioethics professorship from which he claims that, as ours should be the last generation of human life, we can party ourselves to death, that concern for human life is "medieval". [To use "medieval" as a pejorative, indicates limited historical knowledge.]

Nothing new in all this. The nihilist opinion of Benatar and Singer -- that life is not worth living -- has slithered down through the ages. In the 11th century, Syrian philosopher Abdul Ala Al-Ma'rri recommended that no children should be begotten, so as to spare them the pains of life. In the 18th century, the Marquise du Deffand complained that the only misfortune was to have been born. Certain overly-sensitive people are still with us, distorting young minds.

The Great Ape Project administrators intend to spread their compassion. "We are seeking to break the species barrier," the manager states. By equating himself to an ape, he is well on the way to that noble aspiration.

Letter to The Globe and Mail, August 14, 2011. Unpublished 

Professor Peter Singer speaks of "the moral gulf" humans have dug between ourselves and the animal world (A planet for all apes, Aug. 13). Humans did not dig any gulf, moral or otherwise. Nature put it there. Any attempt to blur or bridge it, a chasm actually, is wrong. It is a form of self-loathing.

Yes, some animals behave in some respects like humans, and others can be taught to imitate human actions. And the DNAs may be close.  That does not justify comparing humans with "our closest non-human relatives," as Singer describes apes. He may consider apes his relatives. I do not.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Chatter about D.H. Lawrence

"The trial that untied our tongues" claimed the headline in The Globe and Mail's shrinking literary section of October 30, 2010. The piece by feature writer Ian Brown celebrated the 50th anniversary of Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence being declared not obscene in law. Before the trial, the then British attorney-general expressed hope for a criminal conviction. For that, Mr. Brown declared him "anti-intellectual."

Law is not the standard thinking people use to judge obscenity.

The wrong charge was leveled against the book. Oscar Wilde said that boredom (he called in ennui) "is the one sin for which there is no forgiveness."  By Wilde's standard, the book is undeserving of forgiveness. I found it a soporific eye glazer. Were it not for the book's mention of naughty bits (Monty Python phraseology), we would today not even be discussing it.

More plausible as the basis of the lawsuit is class distinction -- a lady taking a gamekeeper as lover.

This trial was a money-making lesson for today's scribblers. No matter how inconsequential, no matter how encased in ennui, no matter how hackneyed your book may be, work in something sexual. Too much is not enough. That's what the media and the sub-literati look for.

 Should anyone object, mock them as "anti-intellectual."