Nobody’s Perfect

I’ll admit it. I am prejudiced, judgemental, and tend to sarcasm when I’m waiting for the rest of the world to catch up to speed. I was reminded of this when an article I recently wrote (Caledon Councillors Get Crackin) got widely circulated, causing some audiences to wet themselves with laughter, and others not to appreciate the evicerating humour.

My Dad had a great expression: “Let the person who has not screwed up cast the first snide remark,” … his down-to-earth take on the glass house and stone throwers lesson. My Mom, on the other hand, always went for the jugular, with a lighting speed judgment of good or evil.

I suppose this dichotomy lives in most of us, the constant strain between the light and dark of our characters, For example, when a speeding driver cuts me off, my first reaction is to pursue and get the licence; my wife, on the other hand always counters my sword of justice balloon by saying something like, “Gee, Skid maybe he’s rushing to the hospital to help his sick child.” Deflated, I slow down and take a breath.

However, for some things, I have drawn my line in the sand and picked my hill upon which to die. I am allergic to stupidity and will fight it at every appearance of its “Burn The Witch”  cattle call whenever I hear it. To be perfectly clear, there is a distinct difference between ignorance and stupidity. An ignorant person is simply unaware of the background to a situation and can be taught. A stupid person has been given the opportunity to learn and chooses to ignore that opportunity: the don’t confuse me with facts, my mind is made up mentality.

I also admit that I am prejudiced against misogynistic race supremacists and nationalists, the KKK, Nazis, and totalitarian dictators. Sorry, but the “good people on all sides” argument  doesn’t fly with the Khmer Rouge, or the Roman Catholic Spanish Inquisitors, or the architects of Canada’s residential school system, or the racists that marched through the streets of Charlottesville. Or the rat packs of stupid white men who daily pontificate their love of the alt-right perspective in coffee shops across this country.

Yes, I will be judgemental here. Your opinion is only valid if formed from valid information – otherwise garbage in, garbage out. Climate Change is real, there is no link between vaccines and autism, there is more danger of radiation from cell phones than cell towers, and Evolution is NOT a theory. The problem in getting to these valid conclusions is that there is a plethora of fake news sites and fake degreed professors who will try to panic you into believing otherwise.

So, I continue to teach and to write and to try my best to bring light into the darkness. Be warned, if I find someone beating up on a woman or child, violating the norms of social justice, denying civil rights, or generally being an inconsiderate, disrespectful, antisocial jerk, the sword of justice will be in my right hand and I won’t bother to ask if you might really, deep down inside, be like one of those good people from Charlottesville who marched proudly chanting ” Blood and Soil” and “Jews will not replace us!”

Sorry, if it chants like a Nazi, and it marches like a Nazi, it’s a Nazi. It may look like a whining old man in a restaurant, or a skinhead with a swastike tattoo, or a well-dressed politician but the mentality is still the same and deserves no place in our civil society. Silence in this case, is not golden – it is consent.

They drew a line in the sand at Vimy Ridge, they drew a line on the beaches of Normandy, Time to draw a line in the communities of Canada.

***

Skid Crease,

Caledon

 

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Caledon Councillors Get Cracking

To paraphrase Shakespeare and with apologies to Hamlet, I call upon Caledon Town Council to “Avenge this fowl and most unnatural by-law!”

Or perhaps. “To lay eggs, or not to lay eggs? That is the question.”

Alright, I may have been cooped up over my keyboard for too long, but this ongoing debate seems to be “full of sound and feathers, signifying nothing.”

Well, the chickens are coming home to roost, so to speak. On Tuesday, August 28, 2017, Caledon Councillors held a lengthy, confusing, and, at times, heated debate on the pressing issue of the right to lay eggs. Specifically, why does Caledon, a boastfully glorious rural area, not permit its citizens to have backyard chickens?

It is absolutely unnatural indeed for a rural municipality like Caledon to be dithering about whether residents should be allowed to keep backyard chickens. There are plenty of successful case studies elsewhere in Ontario. Kingston, Kitchener, Niagara Falls, Newmarket, and Guelph have all allowed backyard hens, although each municipality has slightly different rules. Urbane Brampton seems to be dealing with backyard chickens, and Toronto is wisely running a pilot project to see if it flies. So, why not Caledon?

The debate on Tuesday was very revealing. Most Councillors were trying to find a reasonable middle ground, looking to the Town staff for more details. However, there was also some disturbing misinformation and incomplete information coming from two councillors.

To save them total embarrassment I will refer to the two councillors in question only as Chicken Little and Henny Penny. Chicken Little is of course famous for “The sky is falling!” false alarm that threw the entire barnyard into a tizzy. In this case it is the threat of avian flu spreading from tiny backyard coops into the large factory chicken farms of Caledon. And, Foghorn Leghorn forbid, what if families started producing their own healthy egg supply. Why, all those huge factory chicken farms could go out of business!

Henny Penny had earlier clucked about her fears of death by salmonella poisoning. Oh, the horror! The Horror! And to the astonishment of every intelligent hen in the flock, Henny Penny added that it seemed a lot of fuss to go through this by-law process because the hens would only lay eggs for two years anyway. Hold the hollandaise!

When I started at the Mono Cliffs Outdoor Education Centre in 1986, we had a small agricultural program with a herd of Highland Cattle, and a coop of chickens. My favourite job was to gather the eggs in the morning. Some went to our kitchen, some to staff, some to friends. I got to know those Bantams and Rhode Island Reds and Guinea Fowl very well, and those girls laid eggs steadily from 1986 until I left in 1995. Sure, they slowed down in winter, and as they got older, but they had clean nesting boxes, a big run, the best of feed and lots of love from the over 20,000 students and teachers who visited our Centre over my tenure. And not a single case of avian flu or salmonella poisoning.

Of course, we washed our hands and cleaned our boots after every visit. That is exactly what the Centre for Disease Control recommends, along with not kissing your chickens on the beak, or rolling in their feces, and other common sense tips like that. So, both Chicken Little’s falling sky and Henny Penny’s egg production news were not eggsactly accurate.

When Foghorn Leghorn, the rooster responsible for the flock, asked for the names of the chickens in the flock who had been giving Henny Penny her information, she squawked, “No.” That really ruffled my feathers. So much for transparency.

I am going now to get my own protest flock from Frey Nurseries in St. Jacobs. I am naming my Golden Comets (also known as Golden Buffs, or red sex-links) after three women from Canada’s Famous Five: Nellie McCluck, Henrietta Eggwards, and Irene Plucky. The by-law officers will have to pry that organic free-range produce from my cold, dead fingers! I will not surrender their right to bear eggs.

The cluck stops here!

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

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Secessionists are Alive and Well

When Bannon and Trump began their rise to power, I thought that it was a bit of a bad joke. After all, what intelligent nation could fall for the alt-right fake news spewing from Breitbart and the ravings of a delusional megalomaniac who wanted to be King.

I was so wrong. It turns out there were enough disenfranchised, and/or ignorant, and/or unemployed, and/or alt-right white Americans and a dysfunctional Electoral College to elect a President who is now starring in the best rated comedy/drama/tragedy show on cable television. As one late night pundit observed, this is the first time in history we don’t have to write anything to get a laugh – we just show the video and play the audio and print out the tweets.

It would be laughable except for one thing. The white nationalist, white supremacist, alt-right agenda of this sad new truly White House is not Union but Secession. The enablers of this agenda included at one time or another Steve Bannon, Milo Yiannopoulos, Sebastian Gorka, Alex Jones, Dan Scaravino, Julie Kirchner, and of course Donald  Trump Jr. and Sr.

Milo Yiannopoulos from Breitbart News didn’t last long into Trump’s presidency, his extremism being too difficult to ignore. But Bannon, the true architect of Breitbart’s alt-right agenda continued to contaminate the national agenda until the horror in Charlottesville, Virginia revealed his true intentions: the revival and ascendency of white political supremacy – in other words, a new Civil War.

The mob of well-organized Nazis, KKK clansmen, and alt-right ideologues that marched to defend the glorification of defeated Confederate icons were not marching to support the United States of America. They were marching to advance white nationalism. The White House support for that cause was clarified by the president’s attempt to bring moral equivalency to the Nazis and those opposing the Nazis. Remember World War 2 when the Allies were the good guys?

When it became obvious that the tide of public opinion and political support from business and industry were turning, Steve Bannon was fired as a Trump advisor. Now a wiser man might have bowed out quietly to give thoughtful time to his next moves. But an unchained Bannon proved to be a megalomaniac equal to the president: he declared he was free to use his weapons (fake news hate speech from Breitbart), declared “the Trump presidency over” (actually that is going to take Impeachment and prosecution, or resignation), and promised to “crush the opposition”.  Make America Hate Again.

Now at this point it is hard to tell if Breitbart News, which I have renamed Reichbarf News, is going to attack just the Trump White House, or all those moderates who seek to protect the United States of America, and/or try to incite another secessionist civil war to promote white political supremacy. Or maybe, just maybe, it may just disappear in an ever decreasing spiral of negativity chasing its own hateful tail.

Never forget, the purpose of the secessionists of the Civil War was to preserve slavery, promote the independence of States over Union, and ensure political liberty for whites. When a Confederate statue stands, it celebrates those goals. When a Confederate statue is removed and stored in a history museum, it celebrates freedom, social justice, and political equality for all.

Be very, very careful America. The secessionists are alive and well, and more dangerous than ever now that they are wounded.

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

p.s. Breitbart roughly translated from the German means: to spread fake news

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On Losing the Moral Authority to Govern

It happened to Britain and Prime Minister David Lloyd George  on April 13, 1919, when Indian troops under the command of Brigadier General Reginald ‘‘Rex’’ Dyer fired on demonstrators in a walled garden in the city of Amritsar in the Punjab. 379 people were killed and more than 1,000 wounded in the Amritsar Massacre.

It happened to the United States of America and President Donald John Trump on August 12, 2017 when Trump failed to name the white supremacists, white nationalists, KKK, Nazis, and Alt-Right racists in his response to the violence that erupted that day in Charlottesville, Virginia. Instead, Trump tried to place the blame “on many sides” rather than offend these deplorables who form the most despicable of his base.

Let’s name them, Donald:

Jason Kessler, American hate speech author who organized this “Unite the Alt-Right Rally”

David Duke, KKK, who said yesterday, “We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump.”

Richard Spencer, president of the white nationalist alt-right National Policy Institute, best known for leading followers in Nazi salutes while chanting, “Hail Trump.”

Matthew Heimback, white nationalist and neo-Nazi who started the Youth for Western Civilization and White Student Union while at university in Maryland.

Mike “Enoch” Peinovich, alt-right, anti-Semitic podcaster and blogger.

Tim “Baked Alaska” Gionet, rapper – maybe only half-baked … enough said.

All should be charged with treason and as accomplices to murder, not have their hateful actions dismissed with a morally indefensible “on many sides” Presidential Pardon of their well-orchestrated violent march in Virginia. Your true colours are on display now for all to see, Donald. If you defend the bullies, you are the bully.

My father was a Hurricane fighter pilot in WW2. While defending our freedom over the skies of Europe he got shot down and spent nearly 4 years under the heel of the Nazi jackboot in Stalug Luft III prisoner of war camp, digging tunnels for the Great Escape.

You don’t get a pass on this one. So, Donald, either get out and push for our freedoms, or get out!

***

Skid Crease, Caledon

 

 

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Jon Snow, You Know Everything

This was the summer of our great cross-Canada camping trip through the National Parks for Canada’s 150th (Travelogue coming in the next posting). The only drawback was … missing the opening of Season 7 of Game of Thrones. So, as soon as we got home at the beginning of August and cleaned up our gear, I caught up on the first two episodes, and then got the third as it was released – the long awaited meeting of Fire and Ice.

Now, for those who are not followers, I apologize, but for a storyteller this series is superb. The lessons for those watching today’s real  and fake news stories unfolding daily on the Trump Show are cautionary tales indeed. But, as a practicing environmental science educator, the lessons from the last episode were particularly pertinent. Jon Snow is trying to explain the deadly dangers coming from the North now that Winter is Here, and the chaos that will ensue if we are not ready. He asks the same question that every scientist studying accelerating climate change around the world has been asking since 1988: “How do I convince people who don’t know me that an enemy they don’t believe in is coming to kill them all?

We are going to need a lot of dragonglass, Jon Snow.

****

Skid Crease, Caledon

 

p.s. On a more humorous note, when I returned I heard that the Twit Who Cannot Be Named had fabricated a story about getting supportive calls from the Mexican Boy Scouts. I have the Mexican Boys Scouts response here as verified by Truthful Hyperbole International: “Presidente Trump, ¡Eres un loco!

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