I hope you all have a wonderful summer! I hope that once exams (and for Professor Nyblade and Aim, once grading papers/blog posts) are over, that you each feel, at some point, like these animals.

You should really check it out, it is worthwhile.

Here is my favourite:

HAPPY SUMMER  =)

 

Moi

So I guess if I had to choose my favourite blog post of the term (that I wrote) it would have to be my Democracy With Adjectives assignment on fictional democracy (Guatemala). This was my favourite post to write and I think that is because it hits so close to home. I often consider the many social, political, and economic problems that plague Guatemala, but I don’t usually get an opportunity to verbalize these thoughts. Essentially all of my extended family lives in Guatemala City so it is something that is somewhat of a touchy subject for me. I want to spend more time educating myself about Guatemala’s history in hopes of gaining insight to its future. I can only hope that in the future, when I write about Guatemala, I will have positive changes to report and will, by extension, get to enjoy some more peace of mind. I hope that one day in the future when I talk about the circumstances in the country, I won’t have to worry about my relatives; I won’t have to cross my fingers and hope for the best, because there will be real, structural improvements and changes being implemented. Changes that the people of Guatemala deserve.

Roxy

I think my favourite post that I read this term was Roxy’s “So what is democracy, anyway?” I found it to be so refreshingly approachable and insightful. I thought the concepts were good and that it was ultimately pretty informative, but I liked her writing style more than anything. It was light-hearted and humorous and for such a large, heavy topic like democracy, I found the contrast extremely amusing! :)

I applied to the Burning Man Low Income Lottery in February and to be honest I basically blocked it out of my head/suppressed the memory because I was so doubtful I would get a ticket. WELL. TODAY I GOT AN EMAIL THAT TOLD ME I AM GOING TO BURNING MAN! This will be my first time and I am ecstatic. I would try to tell you all about it (or what I know of it) but according to their website: “Trying to explain what Burning Man is to someone who has never been to the event is a bit like trying to explain what a particular color looks like to someone who is blind […] to truly understand this event, one must participate.”  (Burning Man)

Basically, Burning Man is a yearly festival in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada; “an annual experiment in temporary community dedicated to radical self-expression and radical self-reliance.” (Burning Man) No one who goes leaves unchanged (read more here).

ANYWAYS, I could not be more excited! And here are some pictures for you to stare at so you can be jealous ;)

©

 

 

I am by no means an expert in South African politics. Actually, I know next to nothing about it unfortunately. But after reading those two articles, it seems unfathomable to me that the Supreme Court ruling could be considered undemocratic. I think that this case has actually proven the strength of democracy. The most significant reason being the simplest: Jacob Zuma is president, but he still ought to be subject to checks and balances to make sure he never acquires extreme power. I think that the ruling just goes to show that South African Democracy is doing well. The most important reason being that “it confirms that a decision to discontinue a prosecution is reviewable by the courts,” which is a fundamental ‘check’ to prevent abuse of power by political authorities. However, upon reading about the case some more, I realize that this is really just the tip of the iceberg as Zuma and the NPA is going to use every trick in the book to delay proceedings so that Zuma can serve a second term. This is obviously going to be made much easier given the fact that Zuma has the financial ability to make this a reality.

For people to suggest that “democracy can be undermined by simply approaching courts to reverse any decision arrived at by a qualified organ of state,” is ridiculous. I don’t see how any of this is undermining democracy, instead I think it strengthens it. Even if the opposition in the case is fuelled by political motives to get Zuma out of office, re-opening the case for these reasons and to draw negative attention to Zuma is not undemocratic. Sheesh.

#1 Obama Pours Gasoline on the Racialist Fires

I have already heard enough about Obama single-handedly working to perpetuate racism from, of all people, Newt Gingrich. And the fact that I continue to hear more complaints from Fox and other right-wing news sources is, I guess, to be expected. But recently I read an article that focuses its attention on how Richard Land, the head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s public policy arm condemns Obama and many other black leaders’ responses to Trayvon Martin’s death as “shameful.”

Particularly, attacking Obama for having a response that, supposedly, “poured gasoline on the racialist fires,” is a fallacy. I don’t think Obama’s comments and reactions were reprehensible, nor do I think Obama shamefully exploited Martin’s death by saying “If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” Obviously for a white man like Land to say this is a bit strange to begin with as he is not even part of the group that he is trying to advocate for. By undermining the opinions of prominent black figures, such as Reverend Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and Barack Obama, Land is making himself out to look a bit irrational.

Land also goes on to say that the comments made by black figures other than Obama trying to use the Trayvon Martin case as an attempt to “try to gin up the black vote for an African American president who is in deep, deep, deep trouble for re-election.” These suggestions are ridiculous. Obviously, people–especially prominent political and social figures–who support Obama are going to try to help him and his campaign in any way that they can. But by painting the situation as dire and using phrases like “deep, deep, deep trouble” are going to give many readers the wrong impression. Not to mention that earlier in the article, the journalist portrayed Obama as some sort of anti-equality racist who was trying to spoil the progress of racial equality in the United States.

Overall the journalist, as well as Land himself because he is spouting this kind of rhetoric on his radio show, seems to be quite fond of fallacies. By painting the actions of Obama, Sharpton, Green, and other prominent black activists and social/political figures, as ‘shameful’ and calling them ‘ambulance chasers’ he is spreading the idea that these men did in fact do and say things that ought to be considered shameful and inappropriate by the population at large. This is simply an opinion, one with which I do not agree. Furthermore, suggesting that Obama is in ‘deep trouble’ for re-election is also problematic, as this depends on your political views as well as your partisan bias, which clearly (coming from Fox News) is not in support of Obama here. Not to mention that these comments are seriously harming the image of the Southern Baptist Convention (of which Land is a part of), and perpetuating notions that ” the SBC is a denomination of old, angry white men.” Overall this article leaves much to be desired, is ridiculous, and ultimately isfilled with fallacies.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/04/14/baptist-leader-criticizes-trayvon-martin-support/#ixzz1s2BzG1Ft

#2 Breaking News from Fox News: Obama is Willing to Risk Accusations of Socialism!

Sorry to continue talking about Obama, but since Fox News is rife with anti-Obama rhetoric, often backed up with fallacies, my second example is also an Obama fallacy piece. It seems to me that one of the Republican party’s favourite insults to throw at Obama is that he is a ‘socialist.’ First of all, I personally am not anti-socialist, so I don’t see it as much of an insult, but many Americans tend to liken Socialism to Communism, which just ends up opening a huge can of worms. Anyways, an article that I read had a fallacy blatantly sitting in the title: “Obama Willing to Risk Accusations of Socialism for Chance to Whack Romney’s Wealth.” Hm, okay. Well I am pretty sure that the vast majority of socialist accusations are going to be coming from the GOP itself. So that’s interesting.

The writer of this article also suggests:

The president is clearly conscious of the dangers involved his class-based line of attack against Romney. In February, he said his tax policies were animated by the teachings of Jesus Christ, and he has lately been mocking his detractors and putting words in their mouths: “wild-eyed socialism” etc. 

Not only that, but trying to deny accusations of socialism, suggests the journalist, is not a good idea; “insisting that your plan is not “some grand scheme to redistribute wealth from one group to another” or a “socialist dream,” draws attention to a negative. So it seems there is no way out. Either Obama is a socialist and admits to being one or he denies it and is portrays himself as a liar in denial? I’m not really sure what this writer is trying to say. This article is setting up Obama as one of two things, depending on how you interpret it, and neither one is good. The two options are mainstream republican criticisms of the President, and I am not a fan.
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/04/12/obama-willing-to-risk-accusations-socialism-for-chance-to-whack-romneys-wealth/#ixzz1s2GFzIOo

 

Once again, Fox News, THANK YOU, for your insight.

 

Also, only remotely related to the topic, I thought this was cute:

At the beginning of the year, a Vietnamese author/democracy activist who often criticised Vietnam’s government was sentenced after a trial that lasted just half a day. You know something is pretty messed up when someone who is spreading the word about Democracy is jailed and charged with “spreading propaganda against the state” and sentenced to four years in prison. According to reports, she was the latest in a long line of arrests for similar ‘violations.’ Al Jazeera reported, Pham Thanh Nghien was “the 14th Vietnamese democracy activist to face trial in the last three months as authorities continue a crackdown on dissent.”

At the trial, Nghien admitted that she had in  fact committed the acts she was being charged with, but insisted that they were not illegal.

This whole situation scares me. I was in Vietnam in 2008 (the year Nghien was arrested) and it sends shivers down my spine. While walking around Ho Chi Minh, there were communist flags on almost every tree and yet I didn’t give much thought to what kind of oppression this could lead to.  I guess we kind of take for granted how many civil liberties we have in Canada and the United States. There is always room for improvement, but when you look at more oppressive states and governments that view democracy as something so ‘dangerous’  that it can land you in jail, it kind of puts things into perspective. At least for me.

A couple of months ago my friends and I were out to dinner and we somehow got onto the topic of the cost of living in Vancouver which, as I am sure we all know, is not that low. We were lamenting the fact that in all likelihood it is going to be very difficult for us to stay in Vancouver as 20-somethings without the help of our parents. The reality is: the real estate is too high, the cost of living (in general) is too high– one of the most expensive cities in the world! And the reality is, we will be in situations, most likely, where we are starting our careers and probably not getting paid 6 figures a year. This being said, how are we supposed to purchase homes in good neighbourhoods when they are so expensive and when our incomes will not match up? There is a very fundamental problem here. One that needs to be addressed and one that needs more attention from us. This is our problem. This is our generation that is not going to be able to afford to live in Vancouver if something is not done.

To be perfectly honest, I will most likely not be staying in Vancouver. If my parents don’t help me with a down payment on a property, I will not be able to afford a home in Vancouver. That’s that. So what is to be done here? One huge problem in the real estate market in Vancouver is that there are no limitations on foreign property owners/investors. The reality is that many homes, lots, condos, etc. are sitting empty because the owners are somewhere else in the world and simply invested in property in Vancouver because they wanted a slice of the housing market. There needs to be more limitations put in place. That is for sure. But I think the most important place to start is for us to raise our voices and to bring attention to these issues.

My friend recently worked for Sandy Garossino, who recently ran for Vancouver City Council, on her campaign and she asked us to:

Briefly outline your experience and that of your family & friends re: staying in Vancouver and building careers here for the future?  Pete McMartin is looking at this problem and some of us are gathering stories. I’d like to focus on the impact on our best young talent–are they staying or going, and why.

Sandy has asked for our perspective on these issues. For our reasons for staying, or going. If you have any thoughts on this, I encourage you to send Sandy an email [sgarossino@gmail.com] and share your opinions. Like I said, this is our future. Apathy is killing us more than ever, and we need to stand up and demand that changes be made.

 

I think it’s great that Jenna is now being allowed to compete for Miss Canada, however according to this video, Canadian’s views on Jenna (and by extension on trans individuals in general) is still 50/50. I find it so sad that we can call ourselves progressive and open minded and still be so discriminatory to trans people. For instance, there is only one gender neutral bathroom at UBC. In the sub. How would you feel if you had to go to the washroom, did not feel comfortable using the men’s or the women’s, and you had to find a way to trek out to the second floor of the Student Union Building in between classes, just to pee? I find this extremely problematic. We as individuals need to analyze our privilege and realize the such a disparity (of basic rights) among people, simply because of their gender identity, is unacceptable. The simple fact is: society should not allow individuals to be marginalized because of their gender identities. Basic human rights are being violated every day and not many people seem to think that this issue deserves to be at the forefront of social and political policy. I think its wonderful that Jenna is being allowed to compete and is able to spread a message that will, hopefully, help to minimize a lot of transphobia in our society.  However, there is still a lot of work to be done. And it needs to start on an individual level.

I know I’ve rambled enough about this but corporate election spending is just not okay with me. I saw this cartoon and I thought it was hilarious and horrifying at the same time. Mostly because it’s so true. This is essentially what politicians look like nowadays. How Democratic can this possibly be? (I’ll tell you: NOT very Democratic).

“Prosecutor says George Zimmerman is in custody and has been charged with 2nd-degree murder.”

I am pretty upset that this took so long, but regardless I am ecstatic that Zimmerman has finally been charged for the murder of Trayvon Martin (he could potentially get up to life in prison if convicted). Zimmerman’s arrest was delayed partially because of the “Stand Your Ground” law in Florida that allows individuals to use violence and force without having to retreat when they feel they are in danger. I sincerely hope that this law is something that will be repealed very soon because clearly it does not do very much good. The United States’ Justice Department’s civil rights division is allegedly opening its own investigation about this case. Which is great news. But there are so many underlying circumstances that exist in the United States that are integral to the existence of such circumstances.

Various debates have sparked from this horrible tragedy, including laws of self-defense and renewed concerns about race in America. Zimmerman claims that he shot Martin in ‘self-defense,’ despite the fact that the teenager was not armed. I can only hope that future court proceedings do not fail to bring justice and set an example that racial profiling is not acceptable, and that individuals who act similarly to Zimmerman will not be let off easily. Racism is still very much a part of North American society, and I think this case has a great opportunity to make a difference and show individuals that this kind of behaviour will not be tolerated.