Woke up this morning to the news that Jian Ghomeshi has been arrested. It’s like rainbows exploded in my head. So this is Schadenfreude, eh?
I’m not someone given to delighting in the misery of others (aka Schadenfreude), but this time I’m not fighting it.
There are still some early defenders of this ass who’ve not publicly reversed their opinion on social media, and that’s sad, but hopefully they’re starting to realize that, yes, when you have a number of women coming forward, there’s probably a lot of substance behind those charges, and to not give them any credence is just another form of attack against them.
Those courageous women had NOTHING to gain from coming forward. They stood to have their lives dismantled. Lucy Decoutere could never have guessed that, instead of being hounded and harassed, Twitter would explode and “#IBelieveLucy” would be the first of several hashtags empowering all women to talk more about this oft-dismissed topic of sexual assault and violence against women. But thankfully, that’s exactly what happened.
Today, Ghomeshi’s on $100,000 bail, has dropped his $55 million suit against the CBC, owes them $18K in legal fees, is the topic of social media for deleting all his public accounts, and even has to go live with his mommy until completion of the trial, the duration of which will be spent without a passport in his possession.
Cops don’t proceed much on sex cases like this unless there really is something solid somewhere, which is often so hard to obtain given the nature of the crime.
With any luck, these charges being laid will give faith to others who’ve been hedging their bets. Maybe still more women will come forward.
The guy looks like a mess — sleepless and lost. The photo above is from his brief appearance in public today, which I think is his first since all of this news broke a month ago. Life’s hard on a narcissist like him, when they think everyone hates them.
Hate him I do, but I’m proud of the victims, thrilled with the cops, deeply sorry for Ghomeshi’s mother, and still curious how the CBC side of things proceeds, since I think they’re not taking responsibility for his almost legendary misogyny.
I hope every woman who’s ever had a bad encounter with this man, or any man, is enjoying watching his downfall. There are so few victories in the fight against misogyny and sexual violence against women that I think a little Schadenfreude today has been a long time coming.
Now we can allow the courts to do their thing, but here’s hoping the journalists keep digging too. One small victory for women, but it’s a good ‘un.
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Boy! Lots I could write about today. So, let’s do that then.
The Funny-Hat Guy is Leaving
The Pope’s retirement kicks in today. Fuck the Pope. I’d like to wish a happy retirement to the Nazi Pope & his child-molesting friends he’s protected during his papal ascendancy. Now fuck off and die. Oh, right, that’s what he’s trying to do.
“I certainly have no sympathy for child molesters, but I do have some grave doubts about putting people in jail because of their taste in pictures,” Flanagan said. “I don’t look at these pictures.”
After saying that he has long been on the mailing list of the Man Boy Love Association, Flanagan made the statement that triggered the loudest jeers from the audience.
“It is a real issue of personal liberty, to what extent we put people in jail for doing something in which they do not harm another person.”
Fuck you, Flannagan. Child porn pictures don’t just happen by magic. A kid was violated for them.
If you look at child porn, possess it, or share it, you are condoning the commission of that violation.
I can’t even fathom the notion of defending looking at child porn as a personal freedom. Possessing child porn to me is on the level of knowing a rape is happening at a party you’re attending and choosing to do nothing to stop it.
It’s against the law, we all know it, and to be consuming child pornography while claiming you’re just another Average Joe Citizen, man… I wish shit-kickings were legal, some days, because some things are just so reprehensibly wrong my skin crawls. Enough said on that.
Science Says I’m Happy to Be Grumpy
My worldview in a photograph, shot this Monday by moi on Victoria’s Dallas Road. Sun, storm, turbulent ocean — it ain’t clear sailing, but isn’t it fucking beautiful? And that’s life.
In happier news, a study says being a pessimist will likely lead you to a longer life. From the Telegraph:
Older people blighted by pessimism and fear for the future are more likely to live longer, according to scientists.
A study, into 40,000 adults across ten years, has found those with low expectations for a “satisfying future” actually led healthier lives.
In contrast, people who were “overly optimistic” about the days ahead had a greater risk of disability or death within ten years.
I can’t stand when people are always insisting I cheer up or smile or whatever online. (You would likely not say that in person, because I smile a lot and tend to be real funny and engaging.)
My worldview is just fine, thanks, kids. I can come across biting, jaded, and cynical, but I describe myself as a realist. My worldview in short form?
Few problems are insurmountable. I believe people working together can accomplish incredible things. I think politics are, by and large, corrupt and that dreaming of radical Utopian change is kind of futile because a good chunk of mankind is, by nature, corrupt. Things will never be perfect, but they’ll always be worth getting up for in the morning.
I think for every awful person I’ve ever known, I’ve probably known five who took the bad taste out of my mouth. For every person who’s crushed me, several have lifted me up. And yet I don’t think there’s more than a handful of people I can trust with my life, but I also believe we kind of stop looking for more as we grow up as we get comfortable in our routines.
I believe my life will never be perfect, and my health will probably never be perfect either. I believe long stretches of life will occur where I’m moody or depressed.
And yet I think those times will pass. I will have good days that make all others worth enduring. I will always have my wit and wisdom to get me through.
Whatever my flaws, whatever life’s imperfections, I think the world’s full of surprises. Not all good, not all bad.
And that’s fine for me.
But if you wanna run around trying to make yourself upbeat, believe that EVERYTHING is possible, and have this YAY, EVERYTHING’S WONDERFUL worldview, knock yourself out. Because here’s the thing. Nothing’s ever always wonderful. Shit happens. That’s life. And when you perch yourself on a high pedestal of happy expectations, don’t be surprised when that knock to the ground one day comes and you’re not able to be resilient because you weren’t expecting realism.
Instead of dreaming everything’s perfect, enjoy the ups and downs, because like most great philosophers have said, that’s where life comes — in the Yo-Yo of good/bad existential juxtaposition. Happy, sad. Extremes. Like the mystic Kahlil Gibran writes:
“Only great sorrow or great joy can reveal your truth. If you would be revealed, you must either dance naked in the sun, or carry your cross.”
And that’s not a bad thing. My losses, my injuries, all my worst moments make my present fantastic, even in its boring consistency, because I know how tough life has been in the past and I have a realistic appreciation of how good it is to just be able to work and live a simple life. I enjoy the moment right now, and do so more often than I likely have in a decade or more.
I need nothing extraordinary for happiness today. I feel, realistically, that this is as good as it gets this week, and that next week is not yet written.
Muhammad Parvez and Waqas, his son, murdered Aqsa Parvez on December 10, 2007, in the guise of avenging their family pride in the face of her scandalous embracing of Western culture and lifestyle, even though they lived here.
These cultural-killing cases weigh heavily upon me.
I loathe what they do to the image of Islam, and what they do to my thinking, despite my best efforts.
Honour killing: image from The Baltimore Reporter.
I used to teach ESL a long time ago. Here, there. In people’s homes. It always gave me an interesting perspective on cultures I’d only ever seen from the flipside of a take-out menu or on the big screen.
For the most part here in Vancouver, that meant working with Taiwanese, Koreans, and the Mainland Chinese.
Once, though, I worked with two young Islamic women from Saudi Arabia. They were both married, under age 25, and would wear full burqas when out in the world, but, at home, wore tight jeans and cute trendy t-shirts that clung tightly to their breasts.
Their husbands were charming kind men who spoke to me often about our culture and tried to compare that with their traditional culture at home, so I could know more about them.
Their hospitality and the respect they showed me was warm and sincere. I always felt welcomed and appreciated, and never judged for being “Western” and very liberal. They even knew I wrote about sex, and the men found my blog entertaining.
I truly thought they were all wonderful people, and the kindness and graciousness shown me by them has lingered long in my memory as an example as what the true basic beliefs in Islam are — very similar to any a “good Christian” might follow.
But the burqas never sat well with me — the hypocrisy of bouncy, beautiful breasts being savoured in private but the pretense that this feminine beauty doesn’t exist in the world, or the suggestion that they’re doing what is right and good by Allah when hiding the feminine form from the world at large, despite the fact that Allah created all they hold in esteem.
But that’s a whole other issue that’s too large in scope to tackle, and which I’m not nearly informed enough to weigh in on without research.
It is, however, indicative of just how large a chasm exists between fundamentalist Islam and the standard Western world-view.
So, when a family like the Parvez move here from Pakistan, there’s a galaxy of culture-clash to contend with.
Me, I’m so white I’m of the fish-belly variety of humans. With Irish/Scottish and French dotting my ancestry, I don’t even have a culture, let alone any experience with culture-clash — except for that which lands on our shores.
But that’s who we are. We’re Canadians.
We’ve got an open-door policy, and because we’re the most multicultural country on the planet, we’re constantly shaping who we are as a result of the immigrants who land here and build lives, for better and for worse.
You know what? I love that.
I love that, when Pierre Elliott Trudeau died, I had to take a cab that day and my driver was a man from South Africa. He was constantly wiping his eyes and sniffling as we moved slowly through rush-hour traffic.
In his thick, thick accent, he told me how hard he’d struggled to move to Canada two decades ago, that it had become his dream after this Canadian Prime Minister had been the only leader in the world to cry out against Apartheit in South Africa in the 1970s, that he saw Canada as being a place that held true to the belief that all men were equal — even beyond our borders.
This man made me cry that day — this immigrant, he and his love for my country, what we stood for, and what he wanted it to keep standing for now that he had given up his S.A. citizenship to become a Canadian. We cried together over a leader who divided the country but ultimately contributed more to what “being Canadian” meant than any leader in our history.*
It’s conversations with men like him who make me believe deep down inside that the majority of those who emigrate to Canada are those who ultimately admire our lifestyle and our tolerance of others.
So, yes, when I hear of honour killings, I’m left wondering how much it hurts the progressives who’ve immigrated long before these fundamentalist assholes, and how hard it makes life domestically for them.
Muhammad and Waqas Parvez are not your typical Pakistani-Canadians.
Honor crimes are acts of violence, usually murder, committed by male family members against female family members, who are held to have brought dishonor upon the family. A woman can be targeted by (individuals within) her family for a variety of reasons, including: refusing to enter into an arranged marriage, being the victim of a sexual assault, seeking a divorce — even from an abusive husband — or (allegedly) committing adultery. The mere perception that a woman has behaved in a way that “dishonors” her family is sufficient to trigger an attack on her life.
Let’s face it. Much of what women have gained in the West, in terms of freedom to be who they want to be, has come in the last 60 years. We’re a young culture, too.
Islam, however, and its main regions of practice (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq) forms the seat of all of civilization.
For thousands of years these principles have been in place. They’ll come undone, but it’ll be slowly.
The world needs to stand against honour killings, and while these sentences are a start here in Canada, they’ll do little to effect change in the high mountains of the Khyber Pass and throughout Mohammad’s land in Saudi Arabia.
Here, in Canada, some will experience anger and disdain toward Islam, as if these men represent all of what the Qu’ran teaches.
Like most religions, Islam teaches some pretty fucked-up things. Ask any cartoonist.
Any religion has proverbs that, taken word-for-word, could unleash hell with the devout. Islam is certainly not far from the path of nuttiness with ideas like Jihad and honour killings and the rants against cartoons and Salman Rushdie.
It doesn’t mean Islam’s unholy and hell-bent on destruction or death. That’s bullshit.
What men like the Parvezes do, though, is, they give validity to those who would tar Islam and rail against its practitioners with the belief that all who practice it are extremists who are literal about Allah’s messages in the Qu’ran.
And they make women like me scared of dating Islamic men.
I hate that.
The thing is, I’m not particularly afraid of dating a Muslim man — as long as he’s not a fundamentalist.
But I wouldn’t date ANY religious fundamentalist. I’d probably try to avoid most men who practiced religion of any kind, really, but I would think a Muslim would better understand why I’m not following his faith than a Christian would, since I was raised in Christianity and now reject the practice of it. Try to make sense of THAT, eh?
So, yeah, I’m not afraid of dating a Muslim man at all.
I’m afraid of dating his extended family.
Let’s face it. Families are nuts. You should meet mine.
There’s some serious fuckin’ wackadoos in the extended-family works here, and I would hate for anyone to judge me on the basis of being related to them. But they’re there.
And that’s the thing. A Muslim guy might be incredible, and god knows I find men of Persian descent incredibly hot, but I’m scared what Uncle Mojinder might be like or what distant Cousin Navez might get up to if I get a little rowdy one night, since I’m not exactly Miss I Don’t Drink.
It’s hard enough keeping philosophically on-page with a lover, but when there’s a cultural heritage that has the potential of honour killings in their extended family, it’s a little unnerving a concept for some of us who are given to misbehaviour.
I’m not sure how to end this piece, I don’t think there’s a comfortable “pat” conclusion I can offer.
It’s a terrible thing, honour killings — for what it does to women, for the rise of the fear and suspicions we nurse against an entire faith, all because of what some select group of them do.
It’s horrible that I feel justified in my fears, that I’m apprehensive of men based on their faith, not because I don’t trust them but because I fear their families.
And even that is hard on me, because I love what I know of the traditional Indian, Pakistani, and Middle Eastern family lives.
Yet this one thing exists, a small niggling fear — this negligible concept of “honour” and what it is for and to others, and the price one can pay for damaging it.
In the end, there’s a reason I’m not religious anymore. I stopped believing in Catholicism in my teens, and by rights all other religions, because of the fear and judgment they sought to have me live life under.
Life has many chains that will bind me, but religion will not be amongst them.
I want to know, I guess, how honour killings affect you.
What do you think of them? How have they changed your thoughts on Muslims?
If you’re a woman, does it make you apprehensive of dating men who are Muslims but super-hip and very liberal, just because you fear their family?
Have you ever had a friend who has been under the thumb of this religion and wanted out?
Talk to me. I want to hear about this.
*On his death, the stories I heard from second-generation Canadians who immigrated to Canada with their parents when Trudeau was leader, just blew my mind. The reverence they held for P.E.T., and the esteem they held Canada in, made my heart explode with patriotic pride. Yeah. That’s who we are, Canada. We’re the port in the storm.
I work a couple blocks away from one of the nastiest parts of my beloved city, Vancouver, Canada. It’s like a whole other world when you stumble into the Downtown East Side, just two blocks east of my office, a place that held, in the early ’90s, the highest urban rate of AIDS and HIV infection on the globe.
People like me who’ve lived in this city our whole lives know more about the disenfranchised in that area, and I have my own speculations on how it’s gotten so out of hand, but I’ve never looked into it all that much.
Suffice to say that at that two-block point east of here, it’s like an invisible wall has gone up. People sleep on streets, heroin is shot in alleys, fights break out over drugs, and everything’s out of control.
This area houses most of the prostitution and all of the meth and heroin junkies in the city. The mentally ill who are deinstitutionalized run rampant in this hood, and I’m faced daily with heartbreak and hopelessness when I see how much work is left to be done to help all these impoverished, seemingly forgotten members of our city.
We’re beginning to get a reputation internationally for what’s largely gone unchecked in this city, and that saddens me, considering all else this city has to offer — the natural beauty, the unforgettable cuisine, the multicultural population, the sports, and more. What the world doesn’t see and doesn’t seem to understand is how stacked against success the odds really are in dealing with this travesty.
This city is a magnet for the nation’s homeless — even for America’s homeless. They all want to be here because the climate is so tolerable year-round and because the cops tend to empathize rather than penalize these impoverished people. After all, if you’re homeless, where would you rather be in the winter, the snows of Toronto and Montreal, where it can go far below freezing every winter, or in the temperate climes of Vancouver?
Add to that the fact that so many drugs land here in Vancouver, where an average of 150 million massive cargo freights pass through annually, where we barely have the staff to search them, and where drug laws are so much more relaxed than in America, and you have a ticking time bomb that no easy solutions will patch.
The world’s about to hear more regarding this harrowing part of Vancouver, though, with the release of a controversial new “fictional” horror film by Australian filmmakers that focuses on one of the most legendary bastards ever to live in this province. Robert “Willie” Pickton is facing trial for the brutal murders of 26 Vancouver-area prostitutes, but is suspected of killing more than 125 of these women over the course of 20 years. A pig farmer by trade, Pickton covered his ass well by having his pigs devour the corpses of these women. As a result, little DNA evidence was recovered by what was the largest criminal investigation in Canadian history.
I’m saddened by the news that the families of these missing and dead women will have to endure a film that will probably sensationalize these brutal murders. And while I’m further saddened by the continuing downward spiral of this incredible city’s reputation, perhaps international attention will finally convince both the British Columbian and Canadian governments that this absolutely is NOT a problem that can be solved by Vancouver’s government alone. Our cops are stretched as thin as cellophane and there’s no money to be had.
In less than four years, the world will be on our doorsteps when the 2010 Olympics unveil. And what will have happened to the disenfranchised and forgotten by then? God only knows, but many, including myself, suspect they’ll be shifted out of the downtown core, pushed off to the side just to become some other neighbourhood’s problem. Out of sight, out of mind, and, possibly, out of hope.