Sunday, September 09, 2007

DicksnJanes #118: longliveleary

The Scarborough Dude talks about another one of his heroes, Timothy Leary, and the limits of personal growth.

The Gnome - Pink Floyd - The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
Linda Linda - The Blue Hearts
Were All in This Together - Ben Lee - Awake is the New Sleep
The 59th Street Bridge Song [Live] - Simon & Garfunkel - Simon & Garfunkel's Greatest Hits


Dave Brodbeck said...

Nice episode.

If one wanted to say that only native born Canadians could hold political office I guess that would not have allowed Sir John A to be our first PM.

Such a law would clearly violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, so, it would require a constitutional amendment. It seems unlikely one could amend the constitution in a day...

The country that Daryl is so afraid of envoloping us the US, has no official language at all.

How many people in the Lac St. Jean region of Quebec can read the English on a box? Just askin...

Again, great show as always.

Scarborough Dude said...

Thanks for the support Dave! Now that I finished the Leary biography, I'm having a great time sifting thru YouTube video clips of him, from prison days to a final series of interviews (1995) with Paul Krassner. Worth doing a YouTube search...

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reminder to stop playing the victim card. I did this for a long time without even realizing I did it -- now I know I do, and I try to catch myself and stop it.

But your reminders last episode and this one have been timely.

As always, though, lots of food for thought. Darryl *may* be yanking our collective chains, but he sure is providing some food for thought, isn't he?

Dave Brodbeck said...

Indeed Katherine. It seems to me that saying that a person based on the country they were born in disqualifies them for a job is by definition discriminatory, and, as race is a bit of a silly concept, I say that such discrimination based on national origin is what we would commonly call racism.

Anonymous said...

Not that this makes it right in any way, but I did get wondering if there were any precedents for requiring citizenship by birth as a must for running for office?

The U.S. requires presidential candidates to have been born in the U.S., don't they? But that's the only example I can come to off the top of my head.

I suspect birthright citizenship and the right(or not) to vote is probably more common and makes things more complex (or perhaps more insidious).

Even if you set the possibility of it being racist aside, what you end up with is the inability of certain people in the population to participate in the political system and work for the good of the country. I can't see how that could be good or useful, and it only serves to alienate a certain sector of the population.

It seems to fly in the face of encouraging us to build national identity, somehow, when we insist that some of our citizens are less Canadian by virtue of not having been born here.

Dave Brodbeck said...

Yeah and as I noted, such a law would undoubtedly be struck down as unconstitutional. In the States that is in the constitution, so it skirts around the problem. Presidents must also be at least 35.

Dave Brodbeck said...

If I was PM for a day I imagine I would introduce legislation to legalize marijuana.

Scarborough Dude said...

Darn! How could I forget that one? Legalize pot for sure, sell it in government stores, tax the hell out of it, and use the money for health care and education, including the money saved from not having to spend so much policing and dragging people thru the overcrowded court system for dealing dope.

Star Larvae said...

Leary fans are sure to appreciate this tribute to his later philosophy:

Dave Brodbeck said...

Dude, and use the money to inform people about the real risks of drugs (including alcohol, which has a lower therapeutic index than Heroin, in other words, it is more dangerous than smack) rather than lying to people about the evils of weed et al.

Scarborough Dude said...

I followed heresiarch's link: and spent the next half hour scratching my head in wonder. Not sure how heresiarch happened to stumble across this blog - perhaps a 'Leary' search - but if someone else can enlighten me, please do. I think you might have to be a 'bright' to understand it all - - but I don't think I'm quite bright enuf.

Dave Brodbeck said...

From what I can gather there Leary totally misunderstood evolution. He seems to think there is a goal of some sort. This idea, called orthogenesis is the antithesis of evolution, there is no goal, it just is.

A bright (I am a bright, anyone can join, but to be a bright you take a naturalistic world view) does not invoke anything remotely spiritual. Indeed, it is a movement of atheists.

The Northern Ontario chapter of the brights is starting up at Algoma U, guess who the faculty advisor is?....

All that said, Leary was an interesting figure, and his fight for academic freedom really interests me, though giving your students 'shrooms is not a good idea, even if tenured...

Scarborough Dude said...

Hmmmm... The noun form of the term bright refers to a person whose worldview is naturalistic--free of supernatural and mystical elements. A Bright's ethics and actions are based on a naturalistic worldview.

The more I read, the more I'm inclined to like the idea of being a bright. I'm just surprised I had never heard of the movement until heresiarch posted on this blog tonight. It seems somehow fortuitous...

Daryl Cognito said...

Discrimination based on national origin is not racism. It may be a silly idea, it may be discrimination, but it is not racism. Racism is based on race.

I don't remember saying I was afraid of the US enveloping us. to be honest I would probably welcome it. What I am afraid of is that our desperate need to please everyone will cost us our identity. As we become a nation of minorities, the largest minority will elect the majority of candidates.

Wow, does it make me racist to worry that it took the supreme court to prevent some groups being allowed to use their religious laws to settle their own disputes. What's wrong with wanting people to come to Canada because it is Canada.

Dave Brodbeck said...

Race is a meaningless concept, but national origin is not. So what we commonly call racism is discrimination based on national origin.

You mentioned that you were afraid of the US enveloping us in a previous set of comments here.

Using religious law in a country without an official religion is disgusting. (As is funding religious schools etc).

Scarborough Dude said...

I'm almost afraid to jump into my own fray - but here goes. We need to understand that Canada is not some fixed entity, defined long ago according to some hard and inalienable rules and regulations. We are, fortunately, in a constant state of renewal and rejuvenation, in keeping with a changing world. We are a land of immigrants, starting with the first nations who crossed over via Siberia, and will continue to absorb people, cultures, languages, religions and ideas from across the planet. What we need to do a better job of is identifying and propogating values we as a nation believe to be fair, progressive (meaning liberal) and in keeping with our long standing traditions of equality and compromise. We should fear those who are afraid of differences more than those who are 'different'.

Anonymous said...

But Darryl, the issue of opposing the application of religious laws is different than saying you can't run for public office if you weren't born here, even though you're still a citizen.

And I might be naive, but I really do think the majority of immigrants DO come here because it's Canada, and are proud to do so. Mind you, as the child of immigrants, so I'm biased.

However, that pride never stopped us speaking a second language at home (oh, well, until the younger ones, myself included, rebelled and refused, which I can now say was stupid, because it always broadens your horizens to speak another language), never stopped eating our culturally different foods, or dancing our dances or singing our songs.

(Oh, god, I'm playing the folkdance card...)

So, if I'm to abandon all my cultural baggage and become Canadian, what does that mean? That I can only watch Canadian Idol instead of the Bollywood films? That I can only listen to country and western instead of Oum Kalsoum?

But, wait -- those aren't even Canadian, both having been invented in the nation to the south of us.

So what *is* Canadian then? Maybe it's time to recognize that Canada *is* a nation of immigrants, and has been right from the day dot, and that what it means to be Canadian is, in part, to accept that.

Daryl Cognito said...

First, I just want to say that these are just my opinions and they are subject to change with new information. Just because I disagree with your opinion doesn't mean I have problem with you personally.

Now, Dave, sorry I disagree with the idea that "Race is a meaningless concept, but national origin is not" It is too early to come up with a better reason that "cause" but I really think your off on this point.

Now this past week Elections Canada decided that women wearing Burkas did not have to so their faces. This came after parliament decide that people had to show ID to vote. (Just a note the Burka is not a religious requirement it is simply a cultural decision.) A common sense law like showing ID to vote is ignored because we are afraid we might offend someone. Now, if you stand up and say "hey wait a minute they should show their faces" a liberal paints you with the brush of intolerance.

In the US we saw the Christian right gain a lot of political clout and we see their influence in a lot of public policy. Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world, you don't think that in a few years we won't see Islamic Law start to influence Canada's public policy. So am I racist for wanting people who come to Canada embrace our culture instead of creating a little piece of home here.

Katherine, I am not asking people to abandon their culture, I am asking for Canadians to quit abandoning their culture in their quest to accept everyone.

Dave Brodbeck said...

Saying 'No Belgians allowed' (whih sounds damned racist to me, and I suspect to both, yours is a distinction without a difference) has little to do with the issue of face covering when voting. In fact, it has precious little to do with it.

I am opposed frankly to religion in general, but that is another matter. I am particularly opposed to religious practices which violate the rules of Western Liberal Democracy. That said, as the electoral officer noted, when people vote in absentee ballots they do not show their faces. (I still think photo ID while voting is a good idea, though it seems to rarely be enforced, at least in my experience).

Scarborough Dude said...

Uh oh! I'm about to tread on dangerous ground. During my years living in Japan, I was quite comfortable carrying around my alien registration card, complete with thumb print. I was never asked to show this card except when entering or leaving Japan, or applying for some official documents, but by law I had to carry it at all times. I see no reason why all Canadians should not have to have a photo/biometric/DNA whatever national identity card which would of course be required to vote. This would not mean, however, that the police would have any right to demand to see the card unless circumstances warranted it - a crime, an accident, etc. This would not mark an end to our civil liberties - but it might help bring health card fraud under control.

Daryl Cognito said...

"Saying 'No Belgians allowed' (whih sounds damned racist to me, and I suspect to both, yours is a distinction without a difference) has little to do with the issue of face covering when voting. In fact, it has precious little to do with it. "

I don't even understand that statement, so I'm thinking that I don't really have the energy or attention for this. The comment was half in fun and in the spirit of Ken's show but I stand by it.

Dave Brodbeck said...

"No Belgians Allowed" is exclusion based on national origin. However, I think most would call it racist. Clear enough now?

Anonymous said...

Darryl wrote: "Katherine, I am not asking people to abandon their culture, I am asking for Canadians to quit abandoning their culture in their quest to accept everyone."

Yeah, but it still gets me wondering what the heck Canadian culture is?

(And I never take things like this personally -- frankly, I'm happy to be having a reasonably civilized discussion, even if we all can't agree in the end. I'm of the opinion that it never hurts to share views, opposing or otherwise.)

I'm with Ken on having a national identity card of some form. And although I didn't end up finger-printed, I did have to have a resident alien sticker in my passport when I lived in France. It had to be renewed every six months, and the masses of paper and documents and photographs I had to show up with every time was phenomenal and mind-boggling.

And although I was never asked to produce it(except, like Ken, when coming in or out of the country), I had to have it with me at all times Just In Case. I had no problem with it, just considered it part of the privilege of being allowed to live there.

Scarborough Dude said...

Hmmm- I seem to have a diferent understanding of race, and don't associate it necessarily with national identity: My Mac dictionary states:

race: noun
• each of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical characteristics : people of all races, colors, and creeds.
• a group of people sharing the same culture, history, language, etc.; an ethnic group : we Scots were a bloodthirsty race then.
• the fact or condition of belonging to such a division or group; the qualities or characteristics associated with this : people of mixed race.

and on to Racism:

• the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, esp. so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
• prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on such a belief : a program to combat racism.

So Dave, I'm inclined to believe that "No Belgians Allowed" is clearly 'discrimination', but I don't think of it as racism, as there was in 1950s America with signs saying ''no negroes allowed", or prhps in Canada, the Chinese head tax.

Dave Brodbeck said...

It is though a distinction without a difference. Discriminating against a person because of national origin is, to my mind, as morally reprehensible as discriminating against them based on the colour of their skin or the shape of their eyes.

Plus, it probably feels as dehumanizing to the victim.

Finally, in humans, race is pretty much a meaningless concept. (As I noted before). The genetic and morphological differences between different subpopulations of humans are virtually nil.

Scarborough Dude said...

Try and tell that to the Japanese Dave! The differences may be in the eyes of the beholders, but they sure as hell behold differences! As for discrimination, I think/hope most of us are in agreement that treating someone differently based on race, language, religion or country of origin is not acceptable in today's Canada. But if we are honest, we all discriminate every day for any number of reasons - for example, the size and shape of someone's ass. We can not, and should not, legislate personal preferences - we just can't act on them if we hold positions of responsibility.

Anonymous said...

Just to turn the discussion on its head a bit -- have you listened to the series "Mixed Blessings" that The Current is running?


We've downloaded the first two but haven't had a chance to listen. (Aside: my husband is half-Chinese, which makes no difference except to frame what I'm going to write next...)

I think the article on the website says some interesting things -- not the least of which is how the "What are you?" question is just as rude as asking someone how much they weigh.

The one thing we realized is that the thorny issue of deciding what you are by looking at your face has some interesting repercussions. For my husband, people make cultural assumptions about him all the time based on how he looks. No one does that with me, for the obvious reasons. Yet each of us is very similar, as a second or third-generation Canadian. Neither of us speaks our ancestors' language (other than a couple of words), neither of us really participates in our cultural communities at all. We would both of us answer the question, "What are you?" with "Canadian".

Human beings are funny, though.

Anonymous said...

If I were prime minister for a day I would mandate tolerance!

Anonymous said...

I think the term "ethnocentricism" might help clarify part of the discussion here. Dictionary definitions are well and good, but let's call racism what is: the facile mindset of unenlightened people who can't see any deeper than the epidermal. I suspect that that is why racists stay racists. What can you learn from it? How much thought can accompany a two-second glance? Is that a sufficient foundation for categorizing a group of human beings? Racism is a smokescreen that is designed to make sure that stupid people stay stupid.

Ethnocentricism addresses the real struggle in multicultural Canada, and, I suppose by extention, the rest of the people on this blue marble: how do people with different, even contradictory, beliefs, live in harmony? Being human is about making choices. Somewhere in the past, ancestors decided that it was "proper" to eat with one's right hand, or a metal tyne, or a wooden stick. Some people fed their dog at the table, while others served it up to the guests. (God knows what happens when the dog eaters invite the dog lovers for supper, but I suspect it ends with a right fist, or a metal sword, or a wooden club.) Maybe Trudeau intended that, given the argument in those times about the lack of a Canadian identity, the Multiculturalism Act would place us in a situation in which we were forced to move quickly on the issue. What does it mean to be Canadian? Decide soon, otherwise it will be one culture in a country that holds many. Well, I don't have a religion, I don't know what my cultural dress is (is it a kilt? Never worn one), and couldn't for the life of me prepare a Canadian dinner (nor a Scottish one, for that matter.) But that doesn't make me unhappy and maybe that's the point. If wearing significant clothing, living a devout life and throwing in the right amount of cardamon into your garam masala makes you happy, what do I have to offer that will make you happier? Somehow I don't think that 140 years of fast food is going to cut it when you've had 1500 years of experience with the slow cooker. What turns the meal venomous, is when arrogance suggests that my burger is better than your vindaloo. At that point everyone runs to the toilet with the same illness. It is even worse when you educate your children by beating them on the head with a wooden spoon, a metal spatula, or the flat of your right hand. Ethnocentricism is absolutely odious, but it a better beginning to the discussion and provides a better foundation for thought. Racism is just too superficial. In order to discuss ethnocentricism you have to pry a bit: Who are you? What is it that made you? Are you confident in those answers? Don't fool yourself. If you are still 'threatened' by the choices made by others, whether cultural, social or sexual, then you haven't resolved those questions, not yet. If you can, I think that you will see that what underlies these differences is not so different: we all want to lead decent lives, and we want our children to have more choices and opportunites than the ones that we were given (which, I should point out, were more than our parents were given, etc.) Surely that is not so hard to understand.

Does it make you happy? Maybe that is an answer, rather than a question. Maybe that is all you need to ask about someone else's point of view. I can tell you that racism won't bring you anything other than the following. You'll be sitting alone in your bunker, staring down at the pistol and wondering how it all went wrong. In that moment you will know why, and you will be left to hate the only person that is left for you to hate.