more reflections on free speech

I’m still slowly reading a big book about 17th century arguments for and against religious tolerance. It is called John Locke, Toleration and Early Enlightenment Culture by John Marshall. I’m really not used to being stuck in the middle of one book for this long, but it seems like the kids are still always talking to me or climbing on me, and this book requires some concentration to be able to follow it. The book is worth reading though. I’m enjoying learning about the different arguments. I’m enjoying reflecting on it in light of questions about free speech. Arguments for Continue reading

free speech and fair play

I’ve been fascinated by discussions of free speech recently. Now even a right-wing American group has decided to uninvite a horrid right-wing troll from speaking at their event. The topic of his speech was supposed free speech and how the left is trying to curtail it, but apparently since it has come out that he advocates pedophilia even the right wing want to limit his freedom of speech – or at least, not to host his speech. So apparently there are standards, after which a person is disgusting enough they should be no-platformed. Dru Oja Jay said it wonderfully: “The Continue reading

recognizing racism in Northern Ontario

So there’s a story around here about a company promoting ice huts that said in their ad: “Please no status card users! You are not welcome in our huts. Equality for all or you will not get the time of day from us and will lose any deposit paid to us.” Since the uproar over it the owner has tried to claim he was just saying that everyone (including natives) has to abide by fishing regulations at his huts (even though legally those fishing regulations don’t apply to natives). I‘m watching on the local news as commenters try to defend Continue reading

December 6th – day of mourning for victims of men’s violence against women.

Today is December 6th. In Canada we remember the women killed this year in a massacre at École Polytechnique. Women were killed because they were women seeking training and jobs in a field that a deranged man considered to be the territory of men. I think about when I was a young child, how I dreamed of being a doctor and a lawyer. I was suprised in grade five by a school assignment where we had to research a field of employment traditionally employed by the opposite gender. It surprised me to find that those two careers were seen (at Continue reading

responding to those who voted for Trump

I’ve been thinking a lot about the questions of what it means to vote for Trump and who the Trump supporters are. I’ve seen lots of posts about how Trump won because he spoke to the working class, and the working class wants change and human dignity. There are some who say that making this about race and homophobia is a mistake… that it is an attempt to tarnish the good people who voted for Trump, to write them off as “deplorables” rather than to hear their legitimate concerns. On the other hand, we now have Christian supremists and probably Continue reading

Optimism vs Hope

I’m thinking about the difference between optimism and hope. One can be optimistic because one believes things will go well. In some cases optimism is good and natural. However optimism can also be due to a lack of information about the potential problems or because one deliberately rejects the facts that disagrees with one. Therefore optimism itself is not a virtue. We should not be trying to “choose optimism” when the situation does not warrant it. I picture NASA scientists preparing for a rocket launch. We want them to be optimistic because all the tests, models and simulations suggest they will Continue reading

the day after the American election

I started blogging right after Stephen Harper was re-elected. Back then my blog was called “Another Step to Take…” I was sitting in shock, staring at election results, and feeling horrified that Canada could re-elect someone so blatantly bad. I had been out knocking on doors during the election. I had helped drive people to the polls. Blogging was something I started doing as another step, started the day after an election, for trying to work for changes the next election. I started off blogging about politics. Since then my blog has shifted. I’ve blogged more on homeschooling. I changed Continue reading

Gretta Vosper and the atheist church

Gretta Vosper is a minister in the United Church of Canada, at least for now. A committee in Toronto has recommended that she not be allowed to continue as a minister, given her statements that she does not believe in God or call herself a Christian. The United Church, of which I am a part, is a church that recognizes that people’s understanding of theology changes. When someone says they don’t believe in God, the reaction is not necessarily shock as much as the question “what God is it you don’t believe in?” There is space a lot of space between believing Continue reading

politics in Gulliver’s Travels

I’m reading Gulliver’s Travels again right now and wanted to share this excerpt from when Gulliver is explaining about British government to the king of the giants: He then desired to know, what Arts were practiced in electing those whom I called Commoners. Whether, a Stranger with a strong Purse might not influence the vulgar Voters to chuse him before their own Landlord, or the most considerable Gentlemen in the Neighborhood. How it came to pass, that People were so violently bent upon getting into this assembly, which I allowed to be a great Trouble and Expense, often to the Continue reading

reading 18th century history, reflecting on today

I’ve been reading about various wars in North America during the 1700s. Several things stand out to me. One is the idea that the governments were not able to control their people. Native elders were not able to prevent individual or small groups of native warriors from going off and killing colonists, and the colonists were unable to prevent individuals from going off and killing natives. The acts of individuals were then used to justify the acts of more individuals and of governments. The second thing is that the elites were manipulating everyone into war. Before the American Revolution, the Continue reading