Archive for August, 2011

You Can, Once Again, Say Faggot On Canadian Radio

August 31st, 2011

Earlier this year, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruled that the Dire Straits’ song Money For Nothing was inappropriate for air-play on Canadian radio. This caused a lot of buzz and outrage. In my opinion, a lot of the criticism was unfounded. People were saying our free speech was being threatened, especially as there is not much that is censored in Canada. We do not have a list of words that can’t be said in the media. Every thing is looked at on an individual basis. Even so I do not agree with censorship, I did support this decision. If you haven’t read my original post on this subject, you can do so here.

Today, the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council reversed their decision. Well, in a round-about sort of way. What they are now saying is the follow:

The Canadian Broadcast Standards Council ruled Wednesday that a homosexual slur in the Dire Straits hit Money for Nothing is inappropriate but has to be taken in context and suggests individual radio stations choose whether the song is acceptable.

The CRTC had asked for a review of the council’s January ban on the song, which created a public backlash.

The outcry occurred after the council ruled the 1985 song was unfit for radio because its lyrics include an anti-gay slur.

On Wednesday, the council released its review and said the original decision was correct in deeming the song inappropriate.

But it added that the context of the tune must be taken into consideration.

The majority of the council’s panel felt the song used the word satirically and not in a hateful manner.

It noted alternative versions of the song are available and suggested broadcasters choose which to play based on the sensitivity of listeners.

The panel deemed the Grammy-winning 1985 rock tune unfit for Canadian radio in its unedited version, after a listener of CHOZ-FM in St. John’s complained about the use of the word “faggot” in the song’s lyrics.

 

I consider this another win for free speech in Canada. I consider this a win for artistic integrity. I also think this somewhat reversal will spark a different set of controversies. But we live in a country that allows you to speak freely about such things. And if you don’t want to listen to this song in its original format, if you are one who finds it offensive, then don’t listen. Turn off the station and find another one that suits your needs. Nobody is forcing you to listen, just like nobody is forcing you to watch blue movies on network television or forcing you to hear profanity during interviews on the news. You have choice. Take advantage of it. And be happy that your right to free speech and artistic expression is being upheld.

Are All Religions Created Equally?

August 28th, 2011

Are all religions created equally? The church I grew up in would answer that question with, “Yes. As long as those beliefs are not doing harm to others.” Other churches would tell you quite differently and want to tell you that you are going to go to hell unless you believe what some man has decided is “the WORD.”

The last few days I’ve been rather disgusted by some of the things I’ve seen and read, said by “men of faith”. These range from calling for the creation of a Registry Of Atheist, comparing Atheists to terrorist, pedophiles, the KKK and more. More examples are those who are blaming homosexuality for the recent bursts of earthquakes and hurricane Irene.

Yeah… disgusted is an understatement to how I feel about such things. It makes me want to vomit. If you’ve followed me for any length of time, on any of my various social things, you will see me speaking out against religion, quite often. Because of this, many people assume I am an atheist. I’ve even received death threats as a result of this. And this is where some may be surprised to learn that I am not an atheist. I have a very strong faith. The church I grew up in played a huge role in shaping my current world views. And not in the way some may think.

I grew up in the United Church of Canada. I grew up in a church that has always been the center of great controversy for its very liberal and socialist views. We experienced a huge split in 1988 when we started to ordain openly homosexual ministers. The United Church testified in favour of gay marriage during the House of Commons Justice Committee hearings, when Canada was deciding whether or not to recognise gay marriage across the country, instead of leaving it up to individual provinces. The controversy does not end there.

The United Church helped draft dodgers from the US during the Vietnam War. During the 60s, the church took a pro-Palestinian stance. Over the residential school issues, it was the first to apologise and offer to make reparation, while the rest of the churches were trying to get out of their responsibility and live in denial. We had one Moderator (he’s kinda like the Pope but not) said that he did not believe Jesus literally rose from the dead; he believed that story was just another fancy metaphor, the same as the stories from the OT.

It is because of the church that I believe a women have the right to choose, premarital sex is not bad and is even encouraged, women should have the right to birth control and proper sex education, and the list can go on. God is both male and female, and hymns are sung to both aspects of the Divine. The church also taught me that all religions are equal, that the Holy Spirit is at work in all religions, we have a very limited understanding of what God is but choose to try and find some sort of understanding through Jesus. The bible is not to taken literally but is inspired by faith and written by man.

Very recently, the church came under more fire because we welcome Atheists as members of the church. Why? Not to convert. That has never been the churches role, except during the dark part of Canadian history when we had residential schools, but even then, we closed them soon after inheriting them from other denominations. The role of the church is to be a guide and to answer your questions in order to help you find the answers for yourself. In the United Church, faith is a very personal matter; it is a journey between the person of faith and their God, whatever that God may or may not be. Nobody has the ‘real’ answers. We all could have it wrong.

I am the first to admit that what I believe (I’m not a Christian, by the way. I label myself as an Abrahamic Spirtualist because the ‘big three’ resonate the most with me) could very well be wrong. There could very well be no God. I was never under the belief that Adam and Eve were “the first.” What I was taught was that in the Jewish faith, when giving the story of a family, you start so many generations before the person you are wanting to talk about. Because Abraham was the ‘father’ of the big three, the first to convert from poly to monotheism, you had to begin his story at Adam and Eve. They were not the first people but the first of this faith. This is even recognised in the OT when Cain leaves and finds “the others”, one of whom later becomes his wife. I think I am going off on a tangent again.

The point of all this? I just want to say that not all Christians are hateful and not all Christians believe you have to believe in Jesus to gain acceptance in Heaven or the afterlife or whatever you want to call it. There is a good number of us who are the first to admit, “We don’t know. We could be wrong. But we believe the lesson of Love taught by Jesus are valuable lessons. We will continue to have our faith until something demonstrates otherwise. Science and the law of your country come first. Faith is something else and very much a private relationship.”

It is because of this that I stand up for my Atheist friends. It is because of this that I stand up to anything where people are using their faith as an excuse to do harm to others or to refuse medical care, etc., for their children. It is because I’ve had Sunday School students come to me in tear, after I’ve encouraged them to spend a few Sundays in other churches, asking, “We were told we are going to hell because the United Church has fag ministers. Is this true?” that I speak out against such hate. No-one should ever be left in tears or feel guilt and shame because of who they are. That isn’t what Jesus taught me. Jesus taught me to love and accept every one.

Anyway, the point as I went on a tangent yet again, not all of us people of faith are bigoted and mean. A lot of us are quite secular and don’t care what you believe as long as it isn’t harmful. Unfortunately, because religion is such a political thing in the US, I find myself having to hide some of my beliefs. After seeing all the hate spewed these last few days, I just wanted to say that some of us are quite groovy and are fighting for the same things you are.

Also, if you are curious about the United Church of Canada, if you want more information, FOR INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY, then read this fairly accurate wiki article on the United Church or ask a question in the comments and I’d be happy to discuss it, as long as you remember I’m sharing for information purposes only. I don’t want to change your beliefs and I don’t need you to change mine. I’m capable of changing my beliefs, on my own, as things are presented to me.

Also, anything hateful said, I will not respond to. I’ll leave them in the comments for the world to see, but I will not engage you in hateful or mean dialogue.

 

 

 

My Thoughts On Jack Layton: A Personal Canadian Hero

August 22nd, 2011

I don’t know if it is a Canadian quality or just a me quality, but my heroes have always been people who have given me hope and caused me to aspire to be something better than I am. My grandma and my dance teacher were my heroes. Astronauts are my heroes. Terry Fox is a hero. Jack Layton was one of my personal heroes. And his memory will continue to be my hero.

This morning, I woke up to the news that he lost his second battle with cancer, less than one month after announcing that he had to temporarily step down as the leader of Canada’s Official Opposition. He had hoped to return to Parliament in the Fall. I have been in tears ever since.

One of the definitions of hero is:

A man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for hisbrave deeds and noble qualities.

In less than a decade, Jack did what many thought was impossible. He turned the NDP from a party that had lost its official party status, and became a running joke, into a party that would go on to make a lot of history in our last Federal election. Jack made me believe in politics, once more.

When I was a teen, I couldn’t wait for the day that I could vote. I looked up to my politicians. They were role-models. And then in my adulthood, things changed. At election time, our leaders had forgotten what it meant to be Canadian. The campaigning started to look American. Fear tactics were used. Name calling became the norm. Respectful debate stopped. I became disgusted and disenchanted. I had lost hope. I felt as if our leaders had forgotten what sets Canada apart and made her truly unique and loved, not only by Canadians, but by countries around the world.

Then Jack Layton stepped into the scene. He was a gentleman. He was soft-spoken but spoke with such power, enthusiasm, integrity, dedication and love for his country and its people that he renewed my faith in the leaders of this country. He made me believe that our political system was not becoming corrupt and that we still had people of integrity willing to stand up for Canada and her people. He had courage. Not only did he battle a system that was beginning to become disenchanted with itself but he battled cancer, twice, whilst doing so. He was never afraid to stand-up for his beliefs. He never stopped believing in Canada and the ability of Canadians. He never stopped being a champion for the disenfranchised.

In less than a decade he turned Canada from a country that was Red and Blue into a country that was Blue and Orange, in the process, making the Liberal party and the Bloc a former shadow of itself.

Even when facing death, Jack though of Canada and Canadians first. If you haven’t already, read Jack’s letter to Canadians, written two days before his death.

Jack Layton made me proud, once again, to be Canadian.

My heart goes out to his wife. My heart goes out to Canada. I hope the NDP honour Jack’s memory and legacy and continue to make many of us proud to be Canadian. You have mighty big shoes to fill.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

RIP Jack.