Wednesday, March 25, 2009

public broadcasting

Stephen Harper's Conservatives have once again proved their level of dissent for non-partisan media. His government has previously attempted limiting the freedom of the media within the National Press Gallery, and now has moved to cutting $171 million from the CBC's budget.

This decision has forced the CBC to cut 800 jobs as well as several programs. It is also resorting to selling some $125 million worth of assets, which must then be approved by Culture Minister James Moore. The CBC has served as a national unifying force since its foundation more than 100 years ago. Its purpose was to create and foster Canadian nationhood through the broadcasting of programs and news that was significant to Canadians.

Contemporary times have seen the CBC airing Canadian content such as Degrassi, Corner Gas, and Little Mosque on the Prairie; these shows are distinctly Canadian and their popularity speaks to the role of the CBC in the lives of Canadian citizens. The programming cancellations that are to result from Harper's funding cut will certainly serve to divide and anger the Canadian population.

A public broadcaster is not the same as a private broadcaster in the same way that socialism is not the same as capitalism. While one is reliant and vulnerable to market forces, the other is nationalized and (ideally) sheltered from the goings-on of private entreprise. Harper said that "broadcasters, both public and private, are having a difficult time with the recession," yet the differences between the two are profound. While CTV is private and operates within the realm of the private sector, the CBC is publically funded in the same way that Catholic schools are in Ontario.

Rather than cutting funding to a historic national institution, why not make cuts to other publicly funded institutions such as Catholic school boards? Certainly the push towards a single rather than dual school system could provide plenty of money that could be used to help organizations such as the CBC. One would be hard pressed to say that society would be at a loss without a religious school system; the same can not be said if society were to lose the CBC because of Harper's authoritarian approach to non-partisan media.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

"out, damn'd spot!"

Of all the shortcomings of our modern justice system, the insanity plea has got to be the most damning. Individuals can be acquitted for murder if they can prove that they lack criminal responsibility, which in the case of Vincent Li, is being done through the insanity plea. Li admitted in his trial that he thought he was being guided by the voice of God, who told him to stab, decapitate, butcher, and cannibalize Tim McLean. This horrific act captured the attention of Canadian media, and shocked us to the core that such atrocity could happen in the back of a Greyhound bus.

Yet desbpite the brutality of the murder and the suffering of the victim, Li is now pleading not guilty by reason of insanity, and will most likely be found as such due to his schizophrenia. I do not care whether he was guided by God, hearing voices, seeing halluinations, or in any way otherwise crazy. He did what he did, and deserves to be punished on an equal scale with others who have committed such atrocities. Robert Pickton, who butchered innumerable women on his farm, committed terrible atrocities, the likes of which a typical person would consider crazy. Yet he is facing time as a sane person.

To me, arguing that an individual is not guilty by reason of insanity opens the door to a whole myriad of opportunites for individuals to excuse and justify their crimes. How long will it be before a religious fanatic is let off for murdering a non-beleiver and then claiming that they were acting on God's orders and are thereby insane?

By choosing to live in Canadian society, every single citizen is agreeing to abide by the laws and regulations that govern it. As such, they should be liable and responsible for any action done by them while they are a part of that society. No one should be exempt from justice, no matter how much they may dislike serving that justice. If Li resumes a place in society at any point in his life, I feel it is only a matter of time before he snaps once again, and who knows what other atrocity he will then commit. He deserves to spend the rest of his life locked up with others of his kind; cold-blooded murderers like Robert Pickton and Paul Bernardo.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

israeli apartheid?

so it's Israeli Apartheid week on campuses across Canada, and the media hasn't had this much controversy since Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament. This is an issue which has captivated people around the world, yet at the same time has misguided multitudes. It seems the popular thing to adopt the attitude of those who call out and condemn Israel for its attacks on Palestine. To so many, Israel is the schoolyard bully, the oversized ruffian who gets it thrills from picking on those smaller bespectacled loners.

When CUPE called for a boycott of Israeli academics earlier this year, it pointed the finger at Israel for its continued bombing of Palestine. What few people seem to realize is Israel's justification in trying to safeguard its citizens. Do they expect Israel to sit on her hands while Palestinians launch rocket attack after rocket attack into the homes of her people? It would seem so, as Israel remains the scapegoat for this conflict while Palestine sits quietly in the corner, wiping its eyes every now and then and plotting its next rocket attack.

I find it ironic how so many people are willing to condemn a state for its tactics of self-defense, when the United States has been involved in an unprovoked war for the last 7 years. They went in and attacked Iraq without provokation, without justification, and without care for the thousands of civilians who would die as casualties of Uncle Sam's incessant thirst for oil.

When millions of Tutsis were slaughtered in the Rwandan genocide, how many people sat up, paid attention, and condemend the United Nations for standing by? Very few. Yet we are willing to look upon Israel and condemn her for protecting her people from Palestine's aggression. This campaign against Israel is nothing more than a new face of anti-Semitism. No longer are people targeting Jews as a people, but rather the focus is on the Jewish state. People are looking for a way to Other-ize it, to cast it as this giant aggressor that will strike fear into the hearts of people.