"Ms. Sgro, whose rights are you going to take away today?"

Judi Sgro, a member of Paul Martin's newly minted Minority Cabinet, is adding dangerous folly to folly as she builds her governmental record. During the previous election campaign, she debased her former cabinet portfolio to the status of Minister of FUD by appearing at a campaign stop of the current and former Leader of the Opposition, with the sole intent of throwing heckling questions at him designed to raise doubts that he would re-open the abortion debate in Canada.

"Mr. Harper, whose rights are you going to take away today?" she squeaked from the sidelines. Never mind the very real philosophical doubt about when life begins and when a fœtus becomes a human worthy of protection under law — and no matter what side of the political debate you may find yourself on, you must deal with that question one way or the other. To do so flippantly in either direction is offensive. But in this case, it was just a whining innuendo that Mr. Harper would be sure to revoke 25 years of judicial and legislative ambiguity over the heads of any protest, given the chance. An implication that her party would be a better protector of civil society than Mr. Harper's.

But now, as Immigration Minister, she is perfectly willing for the sake of expediency to pressure the churches to relinquish their practice of offering sanctuary as a faint hope to those whose pleas for harbour from nasty countries of origin have met with a rebuff.

In Canada, we like to think of ourselves as a more civil society than that of our southern neighbour but knocking this notion of houses of faith as places of refuge flies in the face of that impression. Such a legal provision of final refuge goes back a long ways, beyond the Middle Ages, back to Græco-Roman times, back even to the ancient Jewish Torah. Perhaps the churches need to temper their offers of refuge once a "final appeal" has been lost as even the "Cities of Refuge" laws demanded. But to ask the churches not to offer themselves as final refuges places our legal system in danger of adopting some of the arbitrarily tyrannical characteristics of pre-Hammurabic law.

This is not a direction we want to go, people. Because even if you're in the majority today, one of your descendants may someday be in an oppressed minority and if you erase the recourse to refuge today, so as to stop the Terrorists! your actions will quite possibly expose your own flesh and blood or that of close friends and neighbours to the overzealous working of the long, strong arm of the law.

The right way forward here may not be that hard: Instead of asking the churches not to supply perpetual safe-harbour, perhaps the right thing would be for the churches to find other 3rd countries that would welcome (and give long-term safe harbour to) these individuals whose plea for refuge in Canada has fallen on deaf ears. But trying to pressure the churches into relinquishing their millenia-old role as the harbour of last resort is not just foolish (as the "heckle Mr. Harper" episode was) but dangerous in the sense that it increases the risk that unjust turns the law might take at the behest of tyrannical majorities would have no limit to their power of exercise.

Stop it, Ms. Sgro. Have none of your own forebears ever needed this safeguard? I cannot believe it. Will you nor any of your descendants never need it yourselves? It seems still more unlikely. You'd probably be hurting yourself if you succeed; but even if you aren't, removing this recourse isn't building up the civil society your anti-Conservative FUD was implicitly promising Canadians that the Liberals would be better at defending.


Bruce Cockburn does it again. From "You've Never Seen Everything", a reminder not to give up:
Don't Forget About Delight

Amid the rumours and the expectations
And all the stories dreamt and lived
Amid the clangour and the dislocation
Of things to fear and to forgive,

Don't forget about delight.
You know, what I'm saying to you.
Don't forget about delight, you know.

Amid the post-ironic postulating
And the poet's pilfered rhymes
Meaning feels like it's evaporating
Out of sight and out of mind. But don't forget...

Though you find yourself alone and stranded
With no friend to take your side
On the endless road afoot and empty-handed
Where the wild-eyed cossacks ride, don't forget...

Spring birds peck among the pressed-down grasses
Clouds like zeppelins cross the sky
Anger drips in pools and then it passes
And I say a prayer that I don't forget...
I'm sometimes in danger of forgetting delight.


A witty way of calculating primes:

Check it out if you need a way to calculate lots of primes (less than or equal to 2^64 if you have enough memory). Not only is it a useful program, it's a very clever algorithm.

Isn't the Internet fun!


Humor: John Kerry select his running mate

How soon do you think Buckaroo Banzai will show up? Or do you think he'll wait until John Bigbootee tries to take over?
Wish no evil

This last Sunday, an American friend made a remark implying that I probably didn't agree with his publicly stated well-wishes to the United States of America on its 228th birthday (we live in Canada). I have made no secret of my annoyance with the government of the United States of America -- I'm no good at all about keeping secrets that have any emotional impact on me, just ask my wife -- but I was shocked into mostly-silence, and it was only yesterday evening, 30 hours later, that I came up with a response.

I was grieved that he believed that I would wish ill on anyone from any country, even if I happen to dislike things that their government does. For anyone to exact terror on anyone for any cause is wrong.

I object to the terror the US has been exacting from other countries for the last 100 years. And I will understand when (not if) someone exacts that kind of terror on the population of the US. But I do not relish that day nor do I wish for its hastening.

You must understand, too, that nobody has yet exacted that kind of terror on the US, regardless of what 9/11 looked like.

9/11 was not an example of "that kind of terror" no matter how big its effects were made to appear. It was actually only a tiny pop-gun of terror compared to what the US has done to the Phillipines, Iran, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Cuba, Grenada, Afghanistan and Iraq. (If one included countries where US tacit approval or quiet support resulted in local tyrannies acting murderously towards their own people, this list would be much longer.)

The actual victims of 9/11 numbered only 0.001% of America's populace. A similarly calculated percentage of victims in the above-mentioned countries numbers at least two orders of magnitude greater.

"That kind of terror" is definitely coming -- at whose hands I know not. But it has definitely not yet struck. And I will grieve when it comes, long and deeply, even if I understand the cheers of the survivors of the US' brutal history in their countries.

"The word, 'mercy' is gonna have a new meaning
When we are judged by the children of our slaves..." -- Bruce Cockburn (who else)