Posts Tagged ‘ No Apologies ’

Opponents of Social Progress – In The Bedrooms of the Nation II (Revised)

Update: This article has been revised and reposted.  This was originally done in response to a concern raised that even though I discourage retaliation, naming names might inspire someone to do so.  Which is not my intent.  But in removing those sections, the narrative changed, and had to be rewritten for the sake of flow.  Comments on the original post also displayed a huge amount of Islamophobia, so it became necessary to address that as well.  So the post has changed, but the premise remains the same.

Replies to this post will be moderated, due to the escalating level of bigotry displayed in response to the original post (most of which have been left in the moderation queue).  I’m not big on censorship and believe in free speech in Canada, but this is my place, and I won’t have it turned into a platform for bigotry aimed at minorities.  That’s my prerogative.  (And Jadis, I’m a little confused as to whether your threat was meant for me or for a commenter, but neither scenario is appropriate).  I also reiterate that I am not likewise aiming bias at Christians: my issue is with efforts from a small group which is not representative of all people of faith to assert any one specific faith system as law and dictate to everyone else how they should live their lives or whether they even should have a place in our society.

Conservative leader Stephen Harper keeps trying to assure voters that he won’t reopen social debates like abortion and same-sex marriage, since he knows that won’t earn him mainstream votes.  Instead, he tries to run on a platform of crime punishment and McJob creation.  And yet if one looks further, one overturns a rock which reveals a political base that is a coalition of usually-divided groups working together to oppose social progress.  In part one, we saw what led to the rise of the new Conservatives.  Here, we’re mapping out the network that makes up his base. Continue reading

Opponents of Social Progress (In The Bedrooms of the Nation II)

Update:

Due to a moderation queue flooded with mind-numbing racist, Islamophobic and homophobic freeps as well as a reasonable question about singling people out, this post is withdrawn for the moment, until I can decide how I should address that question and also re-examine my moderation policy.

I’m normally not that big on censorship, but apparently, I’m going to have to make exceptions.

This post will be back, although perhaps tweaked.

Flushing the “Bathroom Bill” Fear Once and For All

As I write this, the LGBT community is struggling with a situation in Maryland where the provision for “public accommodations” has been removed from a bill that proposes to extend human rights to trans people, due to the ongoing “bathroom bill” panic-generation tactic.  In Canada, Bill C-389 passed despite this same fearmongering, but faces an increasingly precarious situation in the Senate.  In Montana, the state is proposing legislation that aims to erase the protections for all LGBT people that had passed the previous year in the City of Missoula, where the “not my bathroom” rhetoric failed… and where most pretexts of it have now been dropped in the battle against equality.  Elsewhere in North America, potty panic has been used to stir up an emotional “ick” response to any legislation that protects trans people, and even some non-inclusive LGB protections.  And once the emotions have been engaged, logic has to work five times harder to dispel the myths.

But in Maryland — which in 2007 was the birthplace of this wave of “bathroom bill” spinmongering — the tactic needs to be addressed head-on before it forever changes the face of how we accord and apply human rights.  Because the recent removal of “public accommodations” affects far more than washrooms, all because of an irrational fear of the possibility of behaviour that isn’t actually facilitated by trans protections and doesn’t actually happen in real life.

Human Rights In Principle

The whole premise of human rights is that all people should have equal access to employment, housing, medical and social services, and opportunities.  The understanding is that people should be judged on their individual merits or faults, and not on characteristics that other people may have prejudicial associations about.  We specify classes because bigoted people keep trying to make excuses to assert exceptions to the rule.  You shouldn’t have to tell society that it’s wrong to place life barriers for people just because others find their body weight objectionable, for example, but as it becomes increasingly demonstrated that discrimination persists, it becomes apparent that you do.  Without specifying these classes, a false equivalence is asserted in which one’s human rights can be trumped by another’s irrational fear of having to coexist with them.

Because classes are open-ended (i.e. “race” includes white people as much as non-white people), the whole idea that people in codified classes have “special rights” is a myth.  The intent is that a person should not be excluded from participating in society because of assumptions or constructions associated with a trait, but rather their own merits or failures should form the basis of how we decide to interact with them.  The playing field needs to be levelled to that there is equal opportunity in principle (although it doesn’t always happen in practice).

You don’t narrowly define these classes: once you start doing that, you start codifying into law when it becomes legally acceptable to discriminate against a group of people.  That is why when you include a class like “disability,” you don’t make an exception for people with mental illness. There is an example of this in the ironically-named Equality Act, in the UK, where legislation outlines when it is considered perfectly lawful to disenfranchise trans people.

Maryland

The good news is that this has not happened in the current situation in Maryland.  Although public accommodations have been dropped from the bill, there haven’t been any codified exemptions to create legally-sanctioned discrimination.  Consequently, areas not outlined in legislation become a matter for the courts, and the incrementalist perspective expresses hope that if there is no opportunity to introduce a better bill later, then the judicial system will at some point read in these protections on the basis of what is already codified in law.  LGBT Marylanders who have taken the “anything is better than nothing” approach have this to place their hope in, and it’s not substanceless.

However, we know that anytime unabashedly homophobic and transphobic people perceive that they can push LGBT people into the margins, they will almost always attempt to do so.  There is no guarantee that public accommodations will be read in or added later, and in the meantime, there will be people falling through the cracks of an incomplete bill.

There is also a concern that if Marylanders see it as acceptable to drop public accommodations from trans human rights legislation, then future legislators will see it as reasonable to do the same.  In a way, this move surrenders the washrooms to our opponents.

And more.  As Monica Roberts points out, “public accommodations” cuts a far wider swath than simply gendered stalls, showers and urinals:

A place of “public accommodation” is defined as “an establishment either affecting interstate commerce or supported by state action, and falling into one of the following categories: (1) a lodging for transient guests located within a building with more than five rooms for rent; (2) a facility principally engaged in selling food for consumption on the premises, including such facilities located within retail establishments and gasoline stations; (3) any place of exhibition or entertainment; (4) any establishment located within an establishment falling into one of the first three categories, and which holds itself out as serving patrons of that establishment; or (5) any establishment that contains a covered establishment, and which holds itself out as serving patrons of that covered establishment. Bishop v. Henry Modell & Co., 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104830, 39-40 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 9, 2009)

In other words, if this bill is passed and I travel to Maryland, I potentially lose my rights when dealing with hotels, restaurants, theatres, shopping malls… all because irrational people assume that being trans somehow automatically makes me a sexual predator.

The Porcelain Red Herring

That’s the infuriating part of all of this. I’m transsexual, and have been using the womens’ restroom ever since I transitioned, years ago.  It has never been illegal for me to do so.  Making it an issue at this point in time is archaic on a level that is mind boggling.  The Transgender Law and Policy Institute notes around 130 jurisdictions in the US where explicit legal inclusion for transgender and transsexual people exists (some back to 1975), and yet the only incident of the kind being imagined by opponents was staged by opponents (more on this in a moment).  The conflation of trans people with sexual predators is a fallacy.

It’s also ludicrous to speculate that a cisgender / cissexual sexual predator would risk drawing attention to himself by crossdressing, in order to access a washroom that he’d have better luck just sneaking into when no one is looking.  This is simply a meme designed to generate a quick panic response, and exploit the “ick” factor for people whose idea of what trans is hasn’t evolved past Shirley Q. Liquor.

In the US south, decades earlier, there was reluctance to desegregate washrooms because of “delicate sensibilities” and beliefs in the inferiority and impurity of entire groups of people.  In the advent of HIV, there were ignorant comments about gay men in washrooms, borne by fears that had not yet been dispelled by science that AIDS could be contracted from a toilet seat.  I even remember discussions in the 1980s when disabled washrooms were first proposed, in which people expressed their “discomfort” of encountering amputees in intimate spaces (which is a pretty chilling and disgusting objection nowadays, isn’t it?).  And every time, there was hysteria.  Every time, it was unfounded. Every time, our society ultimately moved toward progress, inclusion and accommodation, anyway, and bigots just had to bloody well get over it.  And every time, we looked back and realized that the potty panic was just plain offensive.

Exactly Because This Persists

What people are failing to see is that potty fear is in fact the strongest argument FOR trans human rights inclusion.  And I strongly believe that the moment we realize that and confront Bathroom Bill rhetoric head-on and turn it back on the homophobes and transphobes, we will have human rights opponents tripping over themselves to disavow it.

If we are prepared to stand up and say something.

Human rights protections are necessary exactly because this irrational fear persists.  It’s necessary exactly because trans people still get conflated with sex predators and child predators, or labeled as “sick,” “perverse,” and “freaks.”  It’s necessary exactly because people become so clouded with assumptions and myths that they argue for our deliberate exclusion from human rights under the pretext that granting them would be “dangerous” or “scary.” It’s necessary exactly because this bias is so entrenched that people think nothing about broadcasting it openly as though fact.  It’s necessary exactly because this “ick factor” response is seen as justification for not allowing an entire group of people to share the same space, to terminate their employment or to evict them.  It’s necessary exactly because it is so pervasive that discrimination becomes not only likely but inevitable — especially if there is no explicit direction in law to the contrary on the matter.

Maryland Redux

Politics is local.  In 2007, Montgomery County, Maryland teleported itself into the middle of the conflict between far right Christian Nationalists (as opposed to Christians, some of whom are affirming) and LGBT people, when the NotMyShower website was established and “Citizens for a Responsible Government” (CRG) took the “ew, ick” impulse that cisgender people had about their mythic impression of trans people, mixed it with their feeling of vulnerability in washrooms and came up with the modern version of the “Bathroom Bill” formula.  The meme was originally about showers (where actual nudity could theoretically happen) before they discovered that making it about public restrooms better enabled their scaremongering to go viral.  This probably wasn’t a previously unheard-of objection, but it was polished and perfected into a political technique in Maryland.

Complete with a washroom invasion at a gym and spa in Gaithersburg.   Here is how it was reported on by a local ABC television affiliate, on Tuesday January 15, 2008:

A man dressed as a woman walked into the women’s locker room at the Rio Sport and Health Club in Gaithersburg Monday, spawning concerns over a new controversial law designed to protect transgendered people.

Around 1 p.m. Monday, a man wearing a dress walked into the women’s locker room surprising Mary Ann Ondray who was drying her hair. “I could see his muscles, I could see his large hands. He was wearing a blue ruffled skirt that came down to above the knee.”

The male left without saying anything, but Ondray says, “I was very upset, I’m still upset. There’s a lot he could’ve seen.”

Club officials say he is a male club member, but it’s still unclear why he was dressed as a woman or why he didn’t use a designated family restroom.

(Incidentally, the use of a single-stall locking restroom is in fact the policy for pre- or non-operative trans people at the health club in question)

Speculation abounded almost immediately afterward, and was so blatantly obvious that CRG’s Theresa Rickman eventually admitted to having staged the incident — but it’s still sometimes pointed to by opponents, since the media didn’t as widely report the deception:

THERESA RICKMAN: Yes, at Rio Sport and Health up in Germantown. A guy dressed as a girl went into the ladies bathroom. And, ah you know, essentially what uh, that was meant to get some media attention, you know, and the guy left immediately apparently, I mean but there was, this is the Rio Sport and Health Club, you know and Sport and Health has steam rooms, and there are ladies changing in those locker rooms, people in various stages of undress [laughing] all the time, so there’s lots a guy can see.

Transphobia has fomented in Maryland with a peculiar intensity in the past four years,where an odyssey unfolded which saw trans protections pass in Montgomery County, only to have opponents push a petition drive fiercely enough to put the option on the ballot for voters to repeal it… only for the courts to then recognize that enough of the petition’s signatures were questionable or likely to have been obtained under false pretenses to invalidate it.  Montgomery County also saw a murder attempt that was investigated as a hate crime in 2009, and attempts to destroy Dana Beyer’s political career.

Context is everything, and it’s important to recognize how the “Bathroom Bill” spin cycle progressed in Maryland, and where it differs or is similar to what happened elsewhere.

Oh Canada!

Transsexuals — those people who are primarily being villainized in the washroom territory dispute — face challenges to their very existence regularly during a transition process that is recognized by medical authorities as valid and necessary.  Zoe Brain outlines quite vividly the kinds of hoops we need to go through when we begin our transition… and how it is far from a whim.

That’s not good enough for Charles McVety.  He feels that:

“Bill C-389 is a danger to our children,” said Charles McVety, president of the Institute for Canadian Values. “If ‘gender identity’ is enshrined in the Criminal Code of Canada, any male at any time will be permitted in girls’ bathrooms, showers and change rooms as long as they have an ‘innate feeling’ of being female.”

If one has the innate feeling of having a doctorate — and the cash — on the other hand, why not?

McVety and other homo/transphobes started up the spin cycle almost from the moment that trans protections went to committee for second reading. Gwen Landolt of REAL Women of Canada tried to exploit mental health prejudices by repeatedly citing a pamphlet by the American College of Pediatricians (a legitimate-sounding medical body that screens its membership according to far-right views on abortion and homosexuality, and whose publication has been disavowed by the American Academy of Pediatrics — the accepted authority in ACP’s domain).  The website No Apologies openly proclaimed allegations that trans people are “sexual predators and voyeurs.”  The Association for Reformed Political Action (ARPA) Canada was notable among several online initiatives by automating the process so that with a click of a button, people who were sufficiently frightened by the rhetoric could click a button and mail every Member of Parliament with a prepared letter.

And although mainstream media — outside the Harper government -influenced Sun Media, which is currently trying to launch a preferentially-treated television network that is referred to as “Fox News North” — refused to dignify much of the washroom scare tripe (and sometimes printed notably positive editorials), trans voices were largely excluded the conversation about trans rights almost altogether.  This happened despite the fact that trans people across Canada approached media with a willingness to speak on the issue.

But regardless of all of this, on February 9th, 2011, the Government of Canada passed Bill C-389, An Act to Amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code (gender identity and gender expression) on a narrow vote of 143-135.  In a nation that hadn’t encountered “Bathroom Bill” spin before and had been somewhat insulated from similar discussions that happened south of the border, it had fared better… but still (thus far) failed.

Incidentally, McVety runs an organization directly funded by John Hagee and Focus on the Family, Landolt uses talking points that are almost verbatim those used by Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition (and derived from CRG), and Tristan Emmanuel — mentor to Timothy Bloedow and the original founder of both No Apologies and a centre dedicated to training Evangelicals and Christian Nationalists to try to form a biblically-driven government — now runs a company that publishes Matt Barber.  If we don’t think these folks are trading strategies, we’re fooling ourselves.

Missoula, Montana: The Little City That Could

Alberta is very much a community caught between Montana’s ranchman culture, Texas oil culture and our trademark Canadian complacency.  As well as being the birthplace of the Harper government and a hotbed for Christian Nationalism, we were home to the Stephen Boissoin “religious persecution” hate speech case heard around the world, provided a home (and tenure!) to a military psychiatrist who was accused of using horrific techniques to cure gays in South Africa, and witnessed the firing of a teacher by a publicly-funded Catholic school board that explicitly stated the termination was because of his transition to male.  At some moments, we’re embarrassingly regressive, and yet there is a fiercely progressive streak among the public not often reflected by provincial politics or social issues.  It is this stubborn live-and-let-live silent majority that has endeared me to Alberta and kept me here, and it is because Montana is quite similar in this regard that I had followed the events in Missoula closely.

To me, Missoula signaled the beginning of the end of the Bathroom Bill tactic.  There, opponents took the (by this time) highly original approach of creating the NotMyBathroom website and engaged in several distortions.  But there was a difference.  With a little information, people saw through the fearmongering.

In a panel hosted by Forward Montana and featuring a Wyoming Republican, a pastor, a veteran and a past chairman of the Montana College Republicans, the latter stated in support of LGBT protections: “I cannot believe we’re fighting issues like this in 2010.”  And although members of CrossPoint Community Church and senior pastor Dr. Bruce Speer disrupted a meeting of community religious leaders who came together to express support for the ordinance, the affirming leaders soldiered on, forming Flush the Fear, which declares:

“All people should be free from discrimination based on their sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.  Faith communities value dignity, fairness, diversity, and justice, and we know our strength as a community is based on treating each other fairly and with respect.  Our group will be a strong and peaceful voice for the full inclusion of the LGBT community in non-discrimination policy.”

Allies and affirming people of faith stood with us.  Cisgender people who realized that they too were the focus of hatred for thinking outside the stereotypically male and stereotypically female boxes stood with us.  And on April 10th, civic legislators passed an ordinance to protect LGBT people at a margin of 10-2.  Don’t get me wrong — this didn’t happen without vile rhetoric and loud opposition… but enough people saw through it to do the right thing.

“Fool me once…”

Once that happened, opponents of LGBT rights (because it wasn’t only trans people who the ordinance protected) realized they couldn’t use pee fear in an overt capacity, and pushed the state government to pass legislation that would invalidate Missoula’s ordinance under the pretext of making human rights protections consistent throughout the state, thereby avoiding confusion.  If that sounds spurious, you’re not the only one.  Especially when cast against the disgusting comments by Dr. William Wise during discussion of a concurrent bill to remove sodomy from the Montana penal code.

Although, that hasn’t stopped the “Bathroom Bill” meme from being used under the radar:

Sen. Bruce Tutvedt, R-Kalispell, defended the right “not to be overregulated.”

He said he has heard comments from people asking about whether a business, under the ordinance, could legally keep “a certain sector” out of a multi-stall public restrooms. It was an apparent reference to transgender men [sic] using women’s restrooms, an issue raised by some people testifying against the bill in hearings.

But ultimately, washrooms (which — like anywhere else trans protections exist — have not experienced an actual trans predator since the ordinance passed) were never the issue at all: refusal to coexist with lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people was.

(Montanans who want to petition legislators or find out how they can be involved can find out info via the Montana Human Rights Network.  The bill was recently amended to narrow it so that it specifically changed ONLY Missoula’s protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity)

Maryland Revisited

So the struggle comes right back to Maryland, with a state-wide ordinance HB235.  This time, because peoples’ concerns about washrooms had put intense pressure on her, Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk (D-Prince George’s and Anne Arundel Counties) dropped a provision for “public accommodations” from it.  Pena-Melnyk had sponsored trans-inclusive legislation since 2007, and this was reportedly a difficult decision — but ultimately, the support that she would have needed to overcome the “Bathroom Bill” meme just wasn’t there.

Noting that supporters were unable to get the bill out of committee during the past three years, [Equality Maryland Executive Director Morgan] Meneses-Sheets said most supporters believe an incremental strategy of advancing employment and housing protections for transgender people this year is a “far better” option than seeing the bill go down to defeat and having no protections at all.

An online petition has been started to have the provision reinstated and a Facebook group has been set up to”Tell Maryland Legislators NO to HB235 Omitting Public Accommodations.”  Equality Maryland has come under fire for silencing critics of the move.  On Tuesday, activists from Trans Maryland rallied outside the Supreme Court to try to have the provision reinstated (although commenters have questioned whether the rally might have been more effective at the MD state legislature).

Meanwhile, opponents continue to oppose the bill — this time, because it “redefines gender.”  And even when acknowledging the removal of the public accommodations provision, they continue raising the specter of “bathroom rapes” by citing violent acts committed by people who aren’t trans at all and weren’t enabled in any way by an extension of human rights protections to trans people.

The underpinnings of every community’s political situation is always different from situation to situation.  Maryland is not Canada is not Missoula is not ENDA.  Toilet terror has been waged longer, fiercer and and more bitterly than anywhere on the planet so far.  It is inevitable that some LGBT Marylanders will feel that something is better than nothing, at this point.  But even if a best-case scenario unfolded for incrementalists and HB235 passed, with public accommodations being added in some way shortly thereafter (and before someone could be negatively affected by its absence), the act of removing the provision has already seriously fractured pro-trans forces in that state.

Missoula was the beginning of the end of washroom tactics… unless we wave the white flag of surrender.

So What is the Answer?

It’s one thing to condemn and criticize.  It’s another to come up with a solution, and that is the challenge we face both in Maryland and anywhere the “Bathroom Bill” talking points are exploited.  This is the moment we either rise to that challenge or turn on each other.  “All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”

In some private discussions during the quest to pass Bill C-389 in Canada, there was some talk about doing a “sit-out” protest (either at a visible government building washroom entrance or with the iconic male and female symbols put on the doors of the government buildings themselves) that uses the theme of being shut out of washrooms as a metaphor for being shut out of legislation, human rights and basic necessities. Media releases sent out the night before would use the washroom angle to generate interest, and then during a daytime rally (in the media cycle), speakers could focus on that, telling stories of exclusion from within the trans community, and having a handout.

Ultimately, too many people were afraid of possibly lending credence to the meme, and it never happened.  And depending on what happens in the Senate, it may not have been necessary.  But I do believe that by effective communication, and by including a diversity of people — especially cisgender people who queer their gender a bit (making the point of how gender expression protections are of value to far more than trans people) — it can turn the conversation right back on the fearmongers.  Because that’s what we need to do.

But politics is local.  Is Maryland the time and place to revisit this?

All of a sudden, these things just started appearing in womens’ washrooms everywhere.

And then, there’s the possibility of a stickering campaign, which could be employed anywhere that washroom panic is used to attempt to deny trans people legal protections.  It would require the participation of those trans people and allies who do use a ladies’ restroom, to cumulatively make it be noticed and be effective.   Because if a sticker like this started appearing in washrooms all across North America, the discussion would likely change.  Completely.

(I have the URL, and would be more than happy to employ it to flush the fear on an international level.  I would not, however, be able to fund and maintain it on my own.)

This would require people to have the stickers printed and place them, and is a relatively inexpensive approach that could be done on a grassroots level.  It could, however, cause some blow-back, from those who would portray us as “men invading womens’ spaces.”  It is the only part of the discussion that the general public will see as having merit, but it is one of the central foundations of the “Bathroom Bill” argument, and something that will need to be addressed.  If we proceed on a sticker campaign, we will need to be prepared and equipped to do this.

This would be a bit different from initiatives like that of a coalition of Illinois groups, who started a campaign to highlight businesses that have trans-inclusive washroom policies.

I’m sure there are more ideas.

It’s infuriating that we should have to dignify washroom predator rhetoric with a response.  But if we must, then let’s turn it right back on the fearmongers and use it to show exactly why it demonstrates that trans-inclusive human rights legislation is needed.  Starting right where it all began and moving all across North America.

Because with ENDA being about to be reintroduced in the House soon (albeit more symbolically than otherwise), and being championed by a legislator who has done more to perpetuate the washroom scare than to challenge it, I doubt American trans folk can afford to let this tactic run amok, anymore.

This has been diaried at DailyKos.  If you feel it should have wide visibility, please vote there for it to be promoted to the front page.

Also crossposted to The Bilerico Project, DentedBlueMercedes and Progressive Bloggers.

Edit: Thanks to Dana Beyer for reviewing the Maryland information in this article.

Timothy Bloedow’s Sugar Daddy: How the Canadian Government is Funding Anti-Everything Agendas

[Final update: since all of this has happened, the No Apologies website has gone offline.  Consequently, many of these links will not work, and can only be checked through the use of the Wayback Machine.  Bloedow and some of the Christian Heritage Party -aligned contributors have moved to Bloedow's blog at christiangovernance.ca]

Updated below.

If Canadians realized the views and agendas their tax money was funding, I’d suspect they’d be pretty angry.  Because in a way, Timothy Bloedow’s sugar daddy is Member of Parliament Maurice Vellacott.  But in another way, Bloedow’s sugar daddy is us.

I want to preface this by saying that my intent in this column is not to silence Timothy Bloedow altogether.  He is entitled to his opinion, and he is entitled to speak his opinion.  While I believe in censure (reprimand — because part of the value of free speech is calling out those who speak bull$#!t) and voting with our feet and dollars (i.e. the right to not contribute to the financial, political and social fortunes of those who hate), I’m still not partial to censorship, since that is a two-edged sword that cuts both ways.  I want my right to be heard, so consistency demands that I not interfere with others’ rights to do so as well.

I am also not out to deny Bloedow a job.  His opinion doesn’t mean that he should be denied employment, provided he abides by what is required by the job during his time on the job. However, if his employer is essentially the Canadian taxpayer, I think I and other taxpayers should have some say about whether he should be promoting anti-gay, anti-trans, anti-Islamic, anti-woman agendas on company time, not to mention advocating for a government that is run by his personal belief system, rather than the democratic will of all Canadians, of all faiths and races and genders and orientations.  Which is what is happening right now.

Legislative Assistants (LAs) to Members of Parliament (MPs) are employed by the Government of Canada, and directed in their jobs by the MPs for whom they work.  So in a way, Timothy Bloedow’s “sugar daddy” is MP Maurice Vellacott, the Conservative MP for Saskatoon – Wanuskewin, and one of the most radically far right MPs in the Harper government, with anti-gay, anti-woman agendas that Bloedow fits right in with.  But in a way, Timothy Bloedow’s sugar daddy is us, taxpayers who pay his wages for the purpose in assisting Vellacott to perform his job as a government representative.

Somehow, I don’t think that Vellacott’s job on behalf of Canada is to promote the anti-democratic / theocratic agendas and views daily disseminated in billionuplicate on the website No Apologies and its predecessor, ChristianGovernance. Posts at No Apologies and ChristianGovernance are not timestamped, which is atypical for weblogs.  As a random sample, on Friday January 21st, 2011, I count a total of 10 posts, the majority of which were posted without attribution — which is currently only done by Bloedow, who reacquired full administration of the website at the end of 2010.  (There’s a bit of a drop in activity recently, which makes sense given that a Legislative Assistant should be busier now with helping the Harper Conservatives and his boss prepare for an election).  It’s pretty much accepted universally online that unless it’s attributed to other occasional contributors in the headline, then the post is by Bloedow.

Part of the reason for the lack of attribution is that a significant percentage of the articles are reposts of news or commentary items not authored by Bloedow, but retitled and prefaced by his own skewed spin of what the article means or represents, sometimes carelessly signed by him.   And although the posts are not timestamped, they usually roll in on his RSS feed during the course of the morning or afternoon.  A number of the reposted articles go live on No Apologies within hours of them going live at their originating websites, during the day.  And his Twitter feeds at @ChrGov and @NoApologiesca have no such ability to mask his posting at all hours.  At least some of his postings inevitably reveal blogging on the taxpayer’s dime.

What the Taxpayer’s Dime is Funding:

I wrote about Tim Bloedow’s retitles and commentaries before, when discussing the efforts of another website (LifeSiteNews) to trumpet Uganda’s anti-gay work to Canadians while whitewashing how these efforts led to that country’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which calls for the execution of “repeat offender” gays and lesbians, and 7-year prison terms for people who fail to report them or who provide assistance of any kind to them.  The article apparently even comes up near the top of searches so that people can be aware of LifeSite’s obfuscations when they type “donate to lifesite.ca” into Google.  Oops.  Unfortunate timing, that(A cautionary note, too: going to the Google link and clicking on “The Canadian Religious Right’s Obfuscation Fetish” might cause it to be ranked even higher, so be careful.  Also be careful about doing the same with similar search terms, wherever else you might find that post in Google searches)

In [Bloedow's] consultation to the 2011 federal budget, he recommends “shutting down the enslaving Indian Act and setting Aboriginal people free to be entrepreneurial and to abandon dependency” (voiding treaties with First Nations peoples and cutting off all reparations payments), defunding all Non-Governmental Organizations “so that only those with a real membership base” (i.e. [dedicated religious congregations]…) will survive, eliminate Marxist graduated taxation ([stop taxing businesses and individuals according to their earnings, inevitably causing the insanely wealthy to either have to pay more or work harder to fudge the numbers]), “encouraging voluntary social supports and reducing expensive and destructive dependence on the state” (cut off all social programs), “sharply reduce red tape, and roll back the micro-managing, paternalistic developments of recent years with the increase in oppressive regulations under the guise of health and safety” (because deregulation works oh so well, such as when it was applied to banks in the US, offshore oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico or even the deregulation of power and natural gas in Alberta)

If that’s not enough, here are a few others. In “Canada’s socialists terrified of media freedom,” he discusses a decision by the CRTC to amend its rules to allow news sources to broadcast “false or misleading news:

“Some of the best evidence of the irrelevance and intellectually feeble nature of socialism is the fact that socialists hate media freedom. They know their views cannot stand up to the light of day and rational scrutiny. They know that their personal, deeply held beliefs are uncivilized and totalitarian. So they don’t want to have to defend them before a watching public. They don’t want to be asked hard questions about their crackerjack convictions.”

Rational scrutiny, or twisted spin?  You decide.

Just as the “rational scrutiny” he champions doesn’t have to actually be true, it’s not akin to science either, judging from “The transparent ignorance of modern “experts”:

“For several generations, most Canadians have embraced the cult of the expert, abdicating responsibility to them. These Christians joined non-Christians in pretending that the pursuit of expertise would lead only in one direction, towards indisputable truth. They pretended that all intelligent and honest people would interpret the evidence in only one way. Instead, we are learning, and very slowly accepting, that the interpretation of the evidence depends on our theological and philosophical premises. This means that possession of a Biblical worldview is necessary for wisdom.”

He commemorated the Transgender Day of Remembrance with this mockery:

“Maybe some of these adults are predatory beasts who want to groom and desensitize youth and children to be their victims. Perhaps they are simply fools. But what a tragedy that on any day, let alone Universal Children’s Day, another group of sex activists wants to celebrate their confusion and a perversion that many say is a threat to children.

“… those who think they are “transgendered” are also tragic victims. They are not transgendered. They are confused. They are lost. They need the guidance and help from real men and real women. They need protection, including by the law, from those who would sexually, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually abuse them by affirming them in their confusion….”

In that same article, he went on to pontificate about righteous masculinity and finished by hyping a book penned by an author who realized that God wanted her home and pregnant, rather than troubling her pretty little head about wanting a career.

Which I suppose would be consistent with his thoughts on women in combat:

“You can have a hundred pragmatic arguments for allowing women to enter combat but, at the end of the day, the real issue is that real men don’t send women into places where they can kill and be killed.”

Tim Bloedow, in fact, is advocating for a Canada in which only theology is accepted as fact, and where only Christians who meet his standard are entitled to govern… or vote.  Apparently, that’s Bloedow’s idea of democracy (not that he’s the only one).  If you’re Muslim, or Jewish, or atheist, or agnostic, or Unitarian or even attend a progressive organization like the United Church, well, too bad.  One example of this comes from his introduction to Chuck Colson Draws The Wrong Conclusion:

“Regretfully, Mr. Colson is denying the need for an explicitly Christian solution to the current problems in the U.S. If you work together with non-Christians, they will want to contribute their ideas to the solution. But Christians should appreciate that what is good depends on God and the true Christian witness to Him. A consistent and long-term commitment to the good cannot be sustained outside of Christ. Mr. Colson is also falling into step with popular American populism. But the reality is that one doesn’t need a majority to influence the culture. He has just finished demonstrating that with two accounts of courageous individuals under Nazi rule. And he demonstrates it in this article by noting that those currently in charge represent a minority opinion. What is needed is a courageous – and, for Christians, a godly – minority. If we rise to influence through free and democratic means, then there is nothing unchristian about exercising leadership on the basis of Christian principles even if we aren’t a majority. As in the case of today’s minority elites, most people will just fall in step because they are more interested with peace and putting food on their tables. And if we reflect the majority opinion, they will be largely happy with us as well.

If Christians want to restore truth and righteousness and liberty to America – and to Canada – we need to abandon the undemocratic notion of populism and the loser’s view that 50+1 is the level of support necessary to exercise leadership.”

And again, he is entitled to have all of those opinions.  It’s up to taxpayers, though, whether their money should be used to widely advocate for that kind of country.  For someone who feels that taxpayers’ money should not be used to fund non-religious pregnancy counseling, multiculturalism, mention to new immigrants of Canada’s relatively unique status as a nation that embraces same-sex marriage, public education, tolerance inclusion in school curricula, pro-peace Islamic clerics’ inclusion in foreign affairs events and the like, he still has no issue with spending taxpayers’ money on promoting his own agendas.

The Bosses

I want to reiterate that I’m not calling for Timothy Bloedow to be censored or fired.  This is a matter of consistency: I want the right to be heard, and, well, that means I need to accord the same to others, regardless of how fringe they might be.  Besides, No Apologies remains an interesting window into the extreme nature of Christian Nationalism in Canada, is handy for researchers like myself (reading through the doublespeak), and is almost brazenly naked enough to drive people away from his views in the same kind of way that the Fred Phelps / WBC clan does.  However, I do believe that it is reasonable as a taxpayer to expect assurances that this blogging and site maintenance is not done on the corporate dime… and to also expect some assurances that these extreme views are not representative of those of the Government of Canada.

If you agree, you could probably contact Maurice Vellacott, the MP who hired and directs Bloedow.  It might not make a difference, though since Vellacott has promoted many of the same agendas as Bloedow (not to mention that if you write to him at that info, it very well might be Bloedow handling your mail, anyway).  Within hours of a Saskatchewan court ruling that Marriage Commissioners (as opposed to religious leaders) could not refuse to officiate same-sex wedding ceremonies, Vellacott was petitioning the provincial Justice Minister to adopt a complex scheme (and expensive, given that it called for the creation of a government office for this sole purpose) in which commissioners could refuse anonymously.  He promoted junk science that claimed that abortions cause breast cancer.  He tabled private members Bill C-422, which was designed to end child support and enshrine paternal authority after divorce.  His C-537 was intended to enable medical professionals to refuse to perform medical treatment if they felt it was against their religion.  So you might not get a sympathetic ear.

Contacting his boss, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on the other hand, might be worth a try.  Harper might not appreciate the fact that Vellacott’s Legislative Assistant is promoting the Christian Heritage Party by featuring commentaries like “Can Any Good Thing Come Out of Ottawa?” and taking CHP administration on as guest contributors, on the company dime.  The Christian Heritage Party would most likely siphon off some of the far right-wing and Christian nationalist support that Harper would need in order to form a majority government — at a time when election call is still rumoured to be near.

Unfortunate timing, that.

If you found this illuminating, then please vote for this post at Progressive Bloggers.  Thanks!

————— Update ————————–

The following was posted today at No Apologies:

ChristianGovernance and NoApologies are very pleased to be able to update our readers and supporters on developments with the organization. From the start, we have been committed to growing a broad-based organization rather than a one man operation. Form the outset, ChristianGovernance has operated as a “family business”, with Tim Bloedow and his wife Lynette and son Daniel being active in different aspects of the operation.

Lynette is very active with the dad-to-day development and promotion of our projects. Right now she is speaking to many of you, and others, to promote our exciting Titanic 2011 dinner coming up in April. Daniel has been helping in different areas, including website maintenance, and the posting of articles on NoApologies.

We also have our three Directors, required for a non-profit corporations, and our very helpful webmaster. Other volunteers are helping organize and promote out Titanic event and our WAY Camp.We also have excellent columnists writing regularly for NoApologies: Rod Taylor, Tom Bartlett, David Krayden, and Larry Bray. And we’re making progress in discussions to bring another person on board in a progressive manner, in order to give us a more active political voice.

Of course, Taylor, Bartlett, Krayden and Bray are all given a byline when they post.  But assuming this is correct and that Bloedow and son both pitch in on posting, both with the same kind of commentary and retitles and such, that could partly satisfy question one, about whether he is posting while in the employ of the citizens of Canada, or at least make it difficult to know otherwise.

I’m awaiting a response from the Prime Minister’s office on part two of this question: whether the views expressed reflect those of the Government of Canada in any way.

————— Update Two ————————–

I recived the following from the PMO:

Please know that your e-mail message has been received in the Prime Minister’s Office and that your comments have been noted.  Our office always welcomes hearing from correspondents and being made aware of their views.

Thank you for writing.

Sachez que le Cabinet du Premier ministre a bien reçu votre courriel et que nous avons pris bonne note de vos commentaires. Nous aimons être bien informés de l’opinion des correspondants.

Je vous remercie d’avoir écrit au Premier ministre.

>>>   Original Message   >>>

Dear Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper,

I’m writing with concern about the extreme attitudes being disseminated online by an employee of the Government of Canada, and under the direction of a Conservative Member of Parliament.  I realize that Timothy Bloedow is entitled to have the opinions that he has, and also that he should be as free as anyone to post them online, as he does by maintaining and posting to NoApologies.ca.

However, since he is a Legislative Assistant for Maurice Vellacott, I would like (as a Canadian and a taxpayer) some assurance that he is not advocating these radical positions while he is supposed to be working on behalf of Canadians and on behalf of our representatives.

I would also like some assurance that these positions are not the positions of the Government of Canada.  I sort of guess that they probably aren’t, given that ample time is given at his website hyping the Christian Heritage Party, rather than any democratically-elected and represented party in Parliament — but because he is an assistant to a Conservative MP, I feel it warrants some official clarification.

Thank you for giving this due consideration.  I will attach some quotes from Mr. Bloedow below my signature, so you can see specifically what kinds of positions I am referring to.

Sincerely,
Mercedes Allen

Which, of course, is not an answer.  But it was an interestingly fast response.  To be continued…?

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