Archive for the Rants Category

I support you whether you like it or not

Posted in Goddamn feminism again, just opinionated, Not an activist, Rants with tags , , , on July 3, 2015 by idnami

I’ve been running into ally shaming a lot lately and I think it’s fucked up that this is becoming a thing. I don’t mean educating someone to become a better supporter of your cause, I mean straight up shitting down their throat for trying to support as best they are able. Some of it is from the feminist community, telling men who want to stand by us that they aren’t good enough at it, some of it from the LGBT community, telling cisgendered heterosexual supporters that they aren’t good enough at it. And like, yeah ok. Sometimes that support is offered clumsily or imperfectly, and some people are more talk than action, for sure.

I still think the fact that the talk is happening is a very encouraging sign, so let’s think about not alienating people who are sincerely trying to be part of the solution.

So, historic US Supreme Court decision blah blah, finally catching up to Canada after 10 years yada yada. We all know what happened and I’ll skip the rehash.

I know some LGBT people that this actually really matters to. American ones who want to get married. This was kind of a huge win for them and I was genuinely happy about it. Also it pissed off a bunch of bigoted fuckheads and that always makes me smile. So I threw a rainbow filter on my profile pic just like several million others. The intention was something along the lines of putting on a party hat. It was not intended as activism in itself, only a festive celebration of a thing that happened that means good things for certain people I care about. I’m pretty sure I could say the same for most of the people who did this.

But then, some other LGBT people said, “No you fucking hipster, don’t expect me to be grateful to you for jumping on this rainbow bandwagon.”


But why?

Well… I didn’t expect them to. And it’s ok that they weren’t. Gratitude is not an appropriate response to a party hat. But the talk became positively hostile and days later I’m still thinking about it. Cuz I actually give a fairly large number of fucks about LGBT rights, and whether I was expressing that in a way that could please everyone or not, ouch dude.

So no, me sporting a flag doesn’t directly help anyone. What it does do is tell the people I encounter something about me that I want them to know. It tells LGBT folks that I’m on their side. It also puts any homophobic idiots in the immediate vicinity in a snit, perhaps even provokes a reaction so that I know who they are and can shun them in future.

But, know who else I’ll shun? Every other type of bigot out there, including feminists who hate men and straight-hating LGBT people. Hate is the thing I’m actually fighting here.

I’m not a feminist because I think oppressing women is bad, I’m not anti racist because I think oppressing people of colour is bad, and I’m not a LGBT supporter (do I even say supporter if I’m bi? I’m in the acronym!) because I think oppressing gay and trans people is bad. I am all these things because I think oppressing people is bad. But I take part in the conversation about specific forms of oppression and the people they affect because I think just calling yourself a humanist is another way of saying you’re equally apathetic about everything.

I think we also need to recognize that apathy is a perfectly valid response to a world which demands that if you care even a little, you must care all-consumingly or you can go fuck yourself with a rusty hatchet.

I get it. Some of us have been so hurt so badly that we see the face of our abuser in anyone who shares characteristics with them. I get that I am a privileged member of a historically oppressive culture, whether I like it or not, and that sometimes I’ll be the focus for that rage. That doesn’t mean I have to hold still when someone starts flinging shit at me.

I don’t have to take a bullet for you. I don’t have to agree with everything you say. I don’t have to like you personally. I don’t have to be your punching bag, or drown in guilt for the hurt you’ve suffered at the hands of someone I may vaguely resemble. And the fact that I may think you personally are an asshole doesn’t mean I’ll stop actively supporting your rights. But if you get shitty enough at enough people, maybe some of them will. I see this with men vs feminism all the time.

Being an advocate of human rights, for me, means when I hear racism or sexism or LGBT bashing I don’t tolerate it. I address it and I’ve changed more than one person’s thinking simply by asking them to think. It also means treating people like human beings no matter what genitals or skin colour they have, who they love or where they come from. It does not mean being everyone’s friend, walking on eggshells, or treating their point of view as more important than mine. It also doesn’t mean spending every waking second educating myself on the special situation of every oppressed group. I tried that for a long time and it got exhausting. There is just too much to know and I’ve got my own shit to think about too. But feel free to tell me what you need. If you have the time to tell someone that it’s not your job to educate them and lecture them for not knowing what you feel they should, you have time to copy/paste a link. have time, speaking as a feminist who is getting pretty fed up with the unnecessary exacerbation of hostilities.

The us vs them mentality of this seems to imply that your struggle isn’t my struggle too, that our struggle isn’t theirs, and you bet your ass it is. I don’t want to live in a world where rights are granted in some kind of weird gradient system. So when I’m told that because I don’t understand every nuance of an issue I want to help fight and therefore I’m not welcome in the battle, I find it incredibly counterproductive. Also it really hurts my feelings, and hurting your allies sometimes just makes you extra enemies.

I’m glad that legal rights in the US have taken another step forward, but as we’ve seen with every other fight against systemized oppression, you can’t legislate true equality. Women didn’t magically become equal just because the government granted us the right to vote, and we are still fighting almost 100 years later. The evolution that society needs to ensure that every person has the same rights as every other person comes from changes in the hearts and minds of the individual members of of that society. In other words, look at all these fucking rainbows. They mean that more and more and more people stand up for the idea of equality. It’s not just slactivism. It’s a sign of changing times.

So if you see me flying a rainbow flag, please know I do not expect a pat on the back for it. But I also don’t expect a punch in the face. Unless you’re a trans/homophobe, in which case, get in the ring, motherfucker.


My miniskirt is not about you

Posted in Rants with tags , , , on May 29, 2015 by idnami

Oh, internet, you fickle mistress, serving up the flavour of the day to the excitable and attention deficient masses. One day you have us whipped into a froth about the Game of Thrones rape scene (which outraged no one when it happened in the book, to a minor character, just one drop in an ocean of atrocities committed by Ramsay Bolton né Snow) and the next we completely forget about it in favour of arguing bitterly about the role of women in Mad Max. The internet is a factory churning out bad drugs, and there are days when it seems like its entire purpose is to enrage.

Lately I feel bombarded by the subject of What Men Want, Or Don’t. This is not new. Articles on how to attract, repel, ensnare, please, and not get dumped for a 20 something the second you hit middle age have been around forever. The idea that men are elusive creatures, hard to catch and harder to keep, like fucking leprechauns or something, pervades our culture. Once when I was a petite, attractive 19 year old, I was eating a Cinnzeo at the mall. A rotund older gentleman slapped his hand down on my table and blustered “You’ll never catch a husband if you eat like that!”

It occurs to me now that he may have only meant I had icing on my chin.

And so because men are extremely selective in their dating choices, and so very difficult to lure into the matrimonial trap, we women require a thorough course of study on the dos and don’ts involved in securing one of these rare beasts for our own. And thus, yesterday I found my social media peppered with shit like this and this and this and this.

Now, as my boyfriend pointed out, there are an equal number of such articles written for men about what women like and don’t, and they are often just as bullshit. And I was right about to argue that yes but there are no PUA sites for women but I was wrong.

Seriously, wtf.

So apparently we all spend a really mind boggling amount of time trying to figure out how to score with the opposite sex. Sorry to get all heteronormative there. Same-sex dating is its own unique challenge which I am only slightly qualified to address. But surely being of the gender you are trying to attract must take some of the frustrating mystery out of it. You don’t see lesbians going around categorizing pickup techniques, do you? Well shit.

Researching for this article is teaching me things I really don’t think I needed to know. But apparently what I definitely don’t know is how to get a man. I break nearly every one of the rules in these articles with my crazy hair and hooker red lipstick and whatever else they say you should never do, I have no idea because I really can’t be bothered to actually read most of the articles linked above. But I do know this: I don’t assume the men I see on the street are dressing or acting for my benefit, and I really wonder why the opposite is so often assumed about women.

Like this fucking guy:

carisa 1 carisa 2

Because obviously, everything I wear is a message to the men. That gorgeous redhead is not me, but every woman has at some point had a guy take it upon himself to admonish her on her dress or actions because of the message it sends to men. Now, this crazy asshole is actively harassing said redhead to the point of printing out her pictures and posting them on the street with slut shaming messages. It’s its own brand of mindfuck scary, and a somewhat extreme example.

Girls get sent home from school for a bared shoulder or knee because it distracts the boys. Conversations with strange men turn gross if I have cleavage showing and they seem genuinely surprised when that doesn’t turn out well for them. Fuckwits like the commenter in the above images believe they are entitled to harass performers for wearing costumes. And old, unattractive fellows feel compelled to lecture beautiful young women on the dangers of eating pastry before acquiring husbands.

And we go around encouraging this kind of thinking by gobbling up articles that tell us what men disapprove of in women and allowing ourselves to be convinced that our actual personalities aren’t sufficient to make us lovable. We drown in a sea of judgement, even as we are fighting off male advances with a stick. Does this seem really fucking stupid to anyone else?

Of course appearance sends a message. In some, the message is, “I have no fashion sense” or “I didn’t look in the mirror before I left the house today” or “I really need to do laundry soon”. Almost never is the intended message, “Hey you, come fuck me” or “I am desperate to attract a man with my elaborate hairstyle” Can we please try to wrap our heads around this?

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to attract a mate, a fuck buddy, or whatever. But attraction is rarely ever based on the kind of judgy bullshit found in these articles and online harassers. Guys that want to go around saying what women should or shouldn’t be are never the kinds of guys one ought to attempt dating. They are in fact usually the ones who have the least success in love, and place the blame on women to save their precious egos from self examination.

This works in reverse as well. This is not in fact just another feminist rant. It is however written from the perspective of a woman who has just about had it with being told that guys who want partnership and companionship at least as much as I do are somehow out of my league unless I conform to some made up standards of beauty and behaviour. I’ve never found that to be true. I may not know How To Get a Man, but somehow this has never stopped me from getting them, and it doesn’t need to stop you, if you want one. There are lots.


Please, stop giving free publicity to awful celebrities

Posted in just opinionated, Rants with tags , , , on April 24, 2014 by idnami

Disclaimer: This is a subject about which I feel very strongly. What follows is an angry, sweary rant that some may find excessive. However the first draft was just one long stream of outraged profanity and gibberish produced by pounding my head on the keyboard in frustrated incredulity, so deal with it.


I understand. You’ve spent five minutes of your life that you will never get back watching in horrified fascination as someone famous does something repugnant. You did this because it’s viral because it’s terrible and you think, “If I can’t unsee this, no one else should be allowed to either.”

I am addicted to net vomit myself. I spend far too much time doing Buzzfeed quizzes. I frequently fail to resist (though I try. oh god I try) the vaguely titled clickbait on Upworthy. I have an uncanny knack for finding shit like this and this and this and this and oh god wtf is that?

K shut up, that Mister Rogers one was awesome. Otherwise… just woah.

I’m notorious for sharing this kind of crap. On my headstone it will say, “Where did she find this stuff?” My favourite thing to do with my sister is make her watch my latest finds when she comes over. She pretends to be disgusted but secretly loves them. She showed me that last link, so what does that tell you? Whatever you say, sis. Weirdo.

The biggest reason I love the internet as I do is because it has allowed all of us, the bizarre, the far left field and just plain fucked up members of society to have a voice and to influence the sense of humour of humanity forever… or at least until they invent something better than Youtube. I can’t help but just adore it this kind of stupid, crazy nonsense and I believe it deserves to be known far and wide.

But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the real garbage. The stuff that isn’t awesome because it’s bad or ridiculous, it’s bad because it’s bad. It’s so inexplicably bad that it might not even know it is bad, and that’s the problem. There are people who are so famous, so used to having their own way and so somehow successful that they can do any damn thing they want and someone will give it a green light and back it with actual money. But we, the Internet, know it’s bad, and we express our disapproval by… sharing the everloving fuck out of it.

Yesterday, no less than seven times on social media, I saw links to the latest Avril Lavigne/Chad Kroeger collaboration. This unholy pairing of blasphemers of all that is rock have co-written a “song” that is an utterly heinous offense to music, lyrics and taste. It’s accompanied by a gawdawful, indescribably dreadful and frankly fucking stupid video that no one can goddamn resist forcing upon their fellow man. This despite every one of the articles carrying the video stating that the Internet has unanimously panned it for being officially the worst thing ever. Instances of this video are being pulled down all over the net. Yet a persistent gaggle of journalists have insisted on preserving and promoting it in all its douchebagging glory and now it’s fucking trending. And no I am not posting a link. You can just Google it yourself if you care that much. Better yet, use Bing, since your standards are already in the toilet.

But we love to revel in our superiority, right? By sharing the content and our negative opinions of it at the same time we continue to guarantee our place within the tribe of Cool, Socially Acceptable, and Definitely In No Way Affiliated With These Clueless Louts Cuz Please Dude, I’m Just Sharing This To Show How Stupid I’m Not.

So let’s consider for a moment the actual results of all this misplaced contempt-promotion. Every click on Avril’s website is… one more reason for her to keep making this shit! Remember the Miley Cyrus VMA “scandal”? How everyone talked for weeks about her “shocking” performance? That did more for her career than a thousand approving reviews could have. The US petition to have Beiber deported back to Canada? Do you know how many young, impressionable Canadian girls are just dying to comfort that little shit the second he crosses the border?

These people are just happy we are talking about them, and it just encourages them to do more idiotic things. If we could just shut up about them for five goddamn minutes they would get the results they actually deserve.

They would be ignored. Not even ostracised. that takes energy and gives them too much power. No. Simply forgotten. Bereft of the Food of The Celebrities: fame, controversy, paparazzi, buzz.

Stop wasting your time on these people. Stop giving them your clicks. Please, please for the love of all that is good and right, stop encouraging their assininery with your attention and foisting it on everyone else. Let them die in the oubliette of internet obscurity, them and all their kind.

I made it through about a minute of that Lavigne vid and it was a minute too many. You may be thinking that if it’s this worthy of anyone’s ire that you need to see it, share it and mock it at length, but if you do you’re playing right into her record company’s hands and helping her stay in the spotlight, when there are so many talented people who deserve to be there more. Are you a robot slave of the rich and famous? No? Then knock it the fuck off.

I’ve been guilty of the same, and I want to do my part to make up for that, so I make you this promise right now. I will never again promote any one of these dumbfucks. I will not mention the Cyruses, the Beibers, the Nickelbacks or their untalented wives in this blog ever again. Just do me a favour and stand with me on this. I’m just one blogger, but together we can help make the internet a better place for everyone. Well, except those guys. Fuck those guys.


Enforced gender roles, and why they need to die

Posted in Goddamn feminism again, Me stuff, Rants with tags , , , on January 31, 2014 by idnami

When I was a kid I wasn’t allowed to have toy cars, GI Joes, short hair or a room that wasn’t pink, because I was a girl. I had to wear pretty things and play with dolls and act like a little lady. This despite the fact that my mother had served in the military, refused to wear a dress and was all in all a terrible role model for traditional femininity. The pressure to be girly abated somewhat as I grew older. This was possibly due to her dawning realization that years of encouraging my Barbie fetish was placing her in real danger of having a little fashionista to support. I think she was secretly relieved when I embraced heavy metal, ripped jeans and band t-shirts in junior high. She didn’t express her gratitude very well however, and went around drawing crosses through all my pentagrams.

I also wasn’t allowed to phone boys, despite one of my best friends being one. I was supposed to wait demurely for him to call, even if I had an important question to ask about an assignment we were working on together. I eventually won that battle when I pointed out that my bad grades would be all her fault, and get with the times already, Mom!

If these things seemed really stupid back then, they seem straight up absurd to me now. Why was she telling me that I had to like pink and ruffles and shit “because you’re a girl” when she clearly didn’t? Why couldn’t I have toy soldiers “because they’re boy toys” when she used to wear combat boots? Why in fuck’s name was a boy supposed to read my mind and call me when I wanted to talk? Why was she equipping me for a future she herself had rejected?

Because she made some assumptions about my potential based on my gender, assumptions instilled in her as a little girl being forced to wear pink ribbons, and for a long time retained them even in the face of contrary evidence. And we all do it, all the time, and we need to be aware of this. Some of us have worked hard to root out our assumptions, but I think it isn’t possible for most of us to entirely escape the habit. When you are daily barraged by deeply ingrained social thinking habits, it’s really hard not to take them on. And when you don’t happen to fit the mold, it’s really hard not to get pissed about it. And guys? Very few of us fit the mold.

In case you’re thinking this is me going off on a feminist rant, I’m about to go to bat for the dudes too. My aforementioned boy-bestie stopped playing with me for a week one time because of the merciless teasing of the other boys after they caught us playing with my dolls. The fact that we were drowning the dolls in a puddle in the schoolyard while pretending to be badass evil giants didn’t change this a bit, and he got humiliated for it. So we switched to pet rocks that we drew faces on, and he built an entire house for them out of cardboard which he delighted in decorating. And it didn’t stop there. By puberty he had developed a great love for Madonna and made a series of videos called MaJohnna: The John Ambition Tour, in really bad drag. And now he’s a gay rights activist who successfully sued the pants off a preacher for gay-bashing in the church newsletter. Which I suppose goes to show that if rotten little third-grade bullies call you gay, they might be right. And that’s fine. So why do they have to be jerks about it?

More than once I’ve been told that sexism and gender-based privilege/disadvantage is mostly in my head. Oh yeah? Tell that to the trans folks of Reddit. It occurred to me that the only people who would have a really clear understanding of the way gender is perceived in society are people who’ve lived both sides of the question, so I asked. And yes I used Reddit. Don’t judge me.

The answers I got were a pretty insightful look at the specific issues each gender faces. The men said that they had an easier time finding work in engineering and mechanical fields than they had previously, as well as better service in places like auto parts stores. One guy said he had a gender neutral first name and as soon as he started referring to himself as Mr. Kelly Smith (as opposed to just Kelly Smith) on his resume he got a lot more callbacks regardless of the type of job he applied for. However they also found that people were less friendly to them in general and that they felt under a lot more pressure at work. One guy who worked in call centers both pre and post transition said that angry customers held back on him a lot less as a man.

The women who answered said they felt validated and frustrated at the same time. Validated because the guys holding doors open for them and helping carry their stuff was proof that the world now regarded them as female. Frustrated because they were treated like children, taken less seriously, talked over in conversations and objectified in a way they’d never imagined.

So yeah, this is a problem. A big, ugly, widespread, universal problem that gets reinforced every time someone says, “Man up, pussy.” Take a look at that phrase and see it as the insidious and telling statement that it is. Man UP, because you are acting like a clearly inferior person of the sort that has a vagina. Elevate yourself above that weak and emotional vagina having-like state and be a man, which is clearly a better, stronger, smarter thing to be. Bro.

Truth. Also truth? Betty White never said this.

The more trans people come out, the more I realize that gender isn’t a binary, it’s a spectrum, and it really has fuck all to do with what’s in your pants. Much like intelligence, competence, strength and aptitude has fuck all to do with what’s in your pants. So get your mind out of my goddamn pants! When the same person with the same qualities, same intelligence, same skill, same mind and same soul gets suddenly treated as inferior because she grew a pair of tits, we as a society have a very long way to go.

So let’s go there. Don’t shame men for “feminine” traits like feelings. Don’t call assertive women bossy. Don’t make your son feel weird if he happens to like playing with dolls, and if you don’t want your daughter to grow up with a deep suspicion of things mechanical and a crippling phobia of driving that persists into adulthood, maybe just let her play with the damn toy car. Maybe we can evolve into a society of well-adjusted persons who aren’t limited by our genitalia.

Yeah, that’d be nice.

My response to knee-jerk reactions to the word feminism

Posted in just opinionated, Rants on November 7, 2013 by idnami

Occasionally I feel the need to post something with the word “feminism” in it to see which of my male friends react, and how. I find that if there is a negative reaction it’s usually the same complaint. What that complaint usually boils down to is, “I’m sick of feeling guilty for being a man. You have your rights now so be quiet.”

I’m sorry that you feel my desire for actual equality means you have to feel guilty. You don’t. If you are a man and you have a problem with feminism, you don’t get it. Because you are a man.

Every single day I have to face the million little signs that I am not considered the equal of my male peers. Most of them are innocent enough, a sort of benign sexism. At work, online, on the street. I see it in the way other women think of themselves, this insidious feeling of inferiority, weakness, that never goes away. In all but the strongest of us, it pervades everything we do. The way my social currency goes down in value as I age, gain weight, or simply choose not to make an effort with my hair and makeup one day. The way I am automatically taken less seriously at work unless I assert myself almost forcefully. The way people are surprised when I do.

I see this inequality when men who express vulnerability are told to “man up” or are called pussies. I see it in the bitterness of men who are told it is not themselves women value but their status objects. I see it in the unreasonable expectations placed on both genders because of their genders. I see it woven into the very fabric of our language where masculine words express power and strength and feminine words express weakness.

This is patriarchy, and it is a load of shit. Feminism is not a dirty word. It is a movement that demands closer examination of our culture and our assumptions. It is not about being bitter, or taking away men’s rights. It is about not being content now that we aren’t barefoot, pregnant and confined to the kitchen anymore, not being content to be allowed to vote, not being content because we are “relatively equal” when compared to some other societies, or our own 100 years ago. It’s about not being content until we are actually equal, meaning also that we’ve rectified the social pressures on men to play their prescribed roles as well. It’s about calling out those prescribed roles for the complete bullshit that they are and fixing this.

So please don’t take my feminism as a personal affront, an attack on men or a war waged in bitterness. I see it as a social responsibility and necessary, though I’m sure my hopes will not be fulfilled in my lifetime.

If you like this, share it. If you don’t share it, don’t “like” it.

Posted in Rants with tags , , on August 24, 2013 by idnami

If a writer publishes and no one reads it, did they make an impact?

Hi! My name is Mandi and I’m a writer.

I recently had the mixed blessing of my first viral post! I’m not linking it here. Go find it. Or better yet, find something better to read.

See, I’ve learned a few things since I ill-advisedly posted my rantings about a particular subject of public outcry. They are:

1) Anger sells, even more than sex.

2) The “like” button is a cheap and easy way for people to acknowledge that you’ve spoken while not addressing what you said. It’s the social media equivalent of saying, “uhuh” when your friend is telling you about their day.

3) When your best work is getting 2 hits a day and your worst is getting thousands, it really sucks.

Discovering blogging was one of the best things to ever happened to me as a writer. My first crappy post was probably read by 5 people. And that was amazing!

For a budding writer, the feedback of even one reader was a breathtaking experience. The idea that I had the audacity to publish my words in a public forum instead of just a journal was exhilarating. Someone actually reading it and saying so, even better. Which made writing a viral post so awesome!

This was before Facebook was a thing so sharing meant people actually checking for new posts and emailing the link to their friends. Every post was an adventure! People debated the posts at the site of the topic itself rather than on social media unrelated to the actual source of content.

Facebook is a blessing and a curse to bloggers like me. On the one hand I have 500+ “subscribers” I can boast. On the other, who cares? 10-20 people click the Like button and there may be some discussion but the greatest thrill of a writer’s life – new readers – is as hard as ever to achieve.

So I wrote the worst, most careless, least well thought out post I ever tossed off first thing in the morning in response to a story already well documented by other media sources. And so far in 72 hours it has over 55 thousand hits. Out of those I have 20 new followers.

This happened because my Facebook friends, in similar outrage, shared the hell out of it. The link to that post on my wall was shared 57 times by my friends and exponentially thenceforth by thousands of strangers. And now I feel a bit like Robert Plant does (I imagine) every time someone calls Stairway to Heaven the greatest song ever written.

Only way less cool and rich.

Because really, why that one? When I have informative or insightful or amusing or stupidly hilarious things you can read and share with your friends, and they with their friends, why is that the only post on my blog that ever got more than 70 hits?

So let’s be clear; I don’t care or benefit in any way if you “like” my post. I care if you read it and what you thought of it. If it isn’t good enough to share, don’t click Like. Instead, tell me why it wasn’t. Because the feedback of my friends is what will help me become a better writer, so that one day I can get eaten alive by critical strangers who don’t love me too much to hurt my feelings. This is my greatest dream.

Tell me it’s too long, boring, stupid, insipid, offensive, conceited or you just don’t like my face. This will make me much happier than a like. Or tell me it’s awesome and pass it on so I can break through the Red Rover line of my own friends into the greater world. And if it never gets farther than that I know I still have work to do. But I’ll never know if it goes no further than my wall.

We click the share button all the time on idiotic, misspelled memes that probably took a minute and a half to create. Why not make that click mean something to a person that you know and interact with who may have spent hours creating their piece? Critique if it’s not good, share if it is and remember that a person taking the time to write is probably passionate about writing and being read, because otherwise these would all be private journal entries.


This meme actually took me five minutes to create because I was waffling between Ermehgerd and Grumpy Cat.

I know I’m not the only online writer who has this problem. Share this so they know they’re not alone and so their friends will realise they could use the support. Share it for the embedded link to the awesome article above.

Or just share it for the stupid meme. But don’t like it unless you do.

The Ominous Omnibus – my thoughts on Bill C-10

Posted in just opinionated, Rants with tags , , , , , on July 24, 2013 by idnami

It is no secret that I strongly disapprove of our current government. Stephen Harper is the reason I started taking any interest whatsoever in politics because I looked into his icy blue eyes in 2008 and decided I didn’t want that man running my country. This opinion has been strongly reinforced by the fact that I’m daily inundated with convincing indications that the Harper Conservatives are taking Canada in a very bad direction.

But I thought there must be some reason they’ve been voted in twice. So I’ve been actively seeking Harper-positive people to tell me why this is. Trouble was, I didn’t think I knew any.

But it turns out I do! So I asked him to send me any pro-Harper information he came across and asked his opinion of Bill C-10, that being one of my biggest beefs with this government. I’m not alone on that.

He very kindly explained why he is for it. Harsher penalties for crime would mean fewer criminals on the streets. Not giving special consideration to first nations and immigrants from troubled countries puts everyone on equal footing. Fair enough.

I would have no problem with this… if it worked. However, prolonged incarceration doesn’t serve as either as a deterrent to first offenses or repeated ones. You can threaten the death penalty for theft but a person will still steal food if they are hungry enough. A rapist or child molester knows there are penalties for their acts. The idea that this knowledge will stop them from their wrongdoing fails to acknowledge the mental illness that makes them not care.

This obviously doesn’t apply to absolutely every case but the causes for the majority of crime are poverty, desperation, lack of options and mental illness. And when I say lack of options I don’t mean you had no choice but to steal a car. I mean that you were given no good reason not to. Why should disenfranchised people care what society wants when society clearly doesn’t give a damn what they need? And for many, the prison lifestyle is preferable to the free lifestyle. At least you are guaranteed food and shelter.

So now we have a crime bill that basically says to these people, “You have committed a crime and you must be punished by being fed, clothed and housed on the taxpayer dime even longer. Take that, miscreant!”

I grew up around a lot of lower class people who turned to crime early in life. Some of them have been in and out of prison since their teens. So it’s a mindset I’m extremely familiar with. And due to my familiarity with it, I can definitively say that the prison system’s main contribution to preventing crime is separating the criminal from society. But the criminal mind, and the resentment towards society that leads to criminal acts (especially violent ones) thrives in prison.

And why should that surprise us? If you want to change someone’s thinking do you confine them with a bunch of other people who think the same way and can teach them better tricks?

The truth is our entire sense of justice is messed up and outdated, based on emotional, revenge based thinking rather than rational, solution oriented thinking. We seek to punish misdeeds with the very erroneous idea that people will “learn their lesson” and emerge contrite and somehow cleansed of the urges and mindsets that put them there in the first place.

Making punishments harsher doesn’t scare criminals enough to stop them, as evidenced by the ineffectiveness of methods used in centuries past. Did the threat of hanging or transportation keep England, for example, from being absolutely riddled with crime? No it didn’t. It wasn’t effective as a deterrent and it didn’t keep the public safe. So if the threat of death or indentured exile didn’t stop crime, why would extra jail time?

This is assuming we catch them at all. Harsher penalties do create incentive to take extra precautions against being caught.

So we are treating the symptom and not the disease, and we aren’t even doing a very good job of that. It’s obvious that the root problems need to be addressed, but that is way harder without overhauling our entire society.

Can we reduce poverty, disenfranchisement and racism? Can we incorporate an emphasis on mental health into routine medical care? Can we change the pervasive, ingrained attitudes that allow rape culture to flourish? Can we hold society as a whole accountable for the people it produces?

I really mean that last one, not that there’s much anyone can do about it. Irresponsible parenting, indifferent teaching, negligent medical care, race and gender hate, stubborn ignorance, religious fanaticism, bigotry and generally mean-spirited attitudes are largely responsible for producing criminals in the first place. And responsible for all that is the unthinking, uncaring, selfish, shortsighted, terrified stupidity of the human animal. That’s you and me, pal. If we could bring ourselves to actually treat each other as we want to be treated we could probably weed out a lot of criminal tendencies.

But mostly we don’t, so we’re doomed. But is a vengeful, punishment based justice system our best option?  Even Texas doesn’t think so, and that’s saying something. They tried it. It cost them tons of money and their crime rate dropped at half the rate of the national average.

So they tried a more rational, statistically viable approach. They invested in drug treatment, mental health programs, and improved probation and parole programs. And it worked. They still have people in prison, even on death row, but far fewer. And their crime rate is far lower. It’s cheaper too!

This goes against our instincts. When we hear of horrific violent crimes our primal, animal brains scream for blood. But going against our instincts, rising above our primal urges is what enabled us to build civilization to begin with.

So what I don’t get is why our government thinks we have the money to burn on a way of doing things that has already been proved a bad mistake. Bill C-10 and the thinking behind it could cost us the opportunity to prevent crime at the root level, ruin more lives, destroy civil liberties and still not accomplish its objective of a safer society. I rarely point to America as a positive role model, but in this case, I’m with Texas.