Tag Archives: social

Personal Pedantic Political Peroration, the Social Edition

I am going to keep saying this until it sinks in; Yes, government has a role in legislating morality.

We need to elect progressive, liberal minded representatives that understand why philosophical-esque ideologies clash over individual and plural rights in our communities. Look:

  • liberalism = commitment to balancing individual freedom and social justice.
  • conservatism = commitment to traditional values, the goals and ideologies of which vary.

The definition of social conservatism includes the caveat that traditional values vary between groups. In any society there are potentially multiple traditions, and potentially values may not align.

I hope you can hear me over the wailing right-wing nuts when I say this. Do try…

If we’re all going to live together, we need balance. Maintaining balance between personal and secular values isn’t a zero sum game.* Sharing a human right doesn’t eliminate it; or halve it, or quarter it, or reduce it by any fraction. Removing a tradition from the public realm doesn’t necessarily remove it from the personal realm. In fact a zero sum only happens when progressive liberalism governance is NOT present.

Herein lies the peril inherent in democracy. Votes are equal individually, but not collectively. The risk that a majority can run roughshod over a minority exists because there is considerable pressure for government to conform to majority held views.

But the role is government is not to pander to the majority, it is to rise above and serve the whole.

In a progressive liberal democracy we avoid the trampling minority rights by implementing reforms that protect the right to have personally different values. A progressive government implements reform where there is contradiction between current traditionally informed and non-traditional choices. Progressive governance mitigates inequality founded upon tradition.

The catalyst for this Personal Pedantic Political Peroration is the Bill 10 fiasco in Alberta. Bill 10 panders to the worst pockets of social conservatism in our society. I expect my government to enact legislation that makes it unlawful for any group to use tradition to deny rights to the others. I’m not alone either. Alberta is full of progressive liberal minded people.

I don’t care what any religious tradition says about homosexuality. I am not bound by other traditions. Everyone is free to be offended by LGBT people in any old heteronormative tradition bound way. However, finding something personally offensive does not give anyone the right to censure it. We are all free to disregard any tradition, or the word free doesn’t apply at all.

The right to challenge tradition has been asserted before, and it will be asserted again:

Well, Alberta, now there is so much racket that something must be out of rightness.

I think that between the social progressives in the cities and the reality of what constitutes a human right, the traditional bigots will be in a fix pretty soon. Let’s be honest about what we all are talking about.

The zealots over there say that LGBT students don’t need to be helped to feel safe, or given a place to share, and that they have anti-bullying protection already. Don’t ask don’t tell will help them, doctrine over compassion, because that’s what scripture says.

Was Delwin Vriend protected? Was he? Now look at his students. Tradition clearly allows them to be marginalized, or be punished for who they are, here in this system. Isn’t that bullying? You should look at the statistics and look at these children – maybe you’ll get it – LGBT students suffer your bigotry. Do they deserve it?  They all bear higher risk of suicide, and GSAs mitigate that risk, and aren’t their lives important – doesn’t god love even sinners? Aren’t you a sinner? I hear you all talk about this scripture or that – why use them to justify contempt? What’s that got to do with a moral life?

If you have the right to choose your religion, and you are choosing it freely, doesn’t that give us all the right to choose for ourselves which path to follow? All the small minded keep saying it was Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve; how does your wife feel about Abram and Hagar? Which scriptures do you follow? Which ones are discarded? Use logic and reason for human rights. Your religion has nothing to do with it.

If we have already as a society made a clear distinction between church and state, and we have already agreed to allow our neighbours freedom of conscience, you few right-wing nuts rallying behind your irrational traditions shouldn’t be able to hold the rest of us back from moving human rights forward!

The progressives are speaking, and the government better start listening.**

 

* FUN FACT: Zero Sum one of my favourite pedantological terms, I slip it into every conversation I can.

** With all due respect for the great Sojourner Truth; imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

 

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Personal Pedantic Political Peroration, the Fiscal Edition

Politics in Alberta. *sigh*

Before I launch into “Personal Pedantic Political Peroration, the Fiscal Edition” let’s get some definitions out of the way. We pedants love definitions.

  • [1] Conservatism = preference for the existing order and opposition to efforts to effect change.
  • [2] Fiscal conservatism = avoidance of deficit spending, reduction of government spending and debt, and commitment to balanced budgets.
  • [3] Democracy = government by all eligible members of a population through elected representatives.

The other day on twitter I asserted that the majority of Albertans who claim to be fiscal conservative are in fact not Conservatives[1]. I got a bit of push back on my assertion, and while I admit my opinion is based on personal observation and gathered anecdotal evidence, I stand by it.

There is no doubt that Albertans are resistant to change, I don’t know how else our current 43 year single party run can be explained. However, why this is the case is not certain. My theory is that it is because somehow a significant percentage of the electorate is convinced that ‘conservative’ and ‘responsible’ are synonyms[2].

Oh, Alberta. They aren’t synonymous – as proven by the woeful fiscal record of our 43 year Conservative dynasty. Alberta, do we need a remedial lesson in what is and what isn’t a synonym?

I understand, Alberta. We all want fiscal responsibility with reasonable avoidance of debt and deficit spending. That is the definition of responsible and can be achieved from any ideological location on the political spectrum; conservative or liberal or centrist or progressive… whatever name you want to give an alternative political placement.

The Conservative ideologues’ claims that they are sole party of fiscal responsibility seem to rely completely on the specific part of conservative ideology advocating reduction of government spending and low taxes, and this is what I think most Albertans are not actually in favour of.

Complaining about government spending is a sure fire way to gain fiscal street cred on gravel roads and secondary highways here in Alberta. But what does that mean really? Spending is not wasteful necessarily. Right? It depends entirely on what you get in return for your expenditure.

Yet our message to government is usually that they should spend less but (there is always a but) also provide the level of services we demand.

Between you and me, Alberta, I think what we mean is that government should spend; and tax; responsibly to provide the level of services we expect.

Alberta, listen, I say this with the best intentions, get your shit together. Stop voting Conservative because it’s just the way we do things around here and then lamenting their dismal performance on the fiscal issues we actually care about. Don’t vote conservatively. Vote responsibly.

Alberta, I have a dream.  I dream that even as we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow this province will rise up and elect a government true to the meaning of fiscal responsibility. I have a dream that my three boys will one day live in a province where they will not be haunted by the fiscal misdeeds of a former government, but live the Alberta advantage delivered by a government responsive to the needs of all Albertans. I have a dream that one day, here in Alberta with its vast resources and human ingenuity, with our Premier’s lips mouthing the words ‘this is not budgeting as usual’ that Albertans will join forces[3] and with their ballots declare ‘this is no longer government as usual’ but government for the better and for the future, governing so we will all see my dream together. This is my hope, and this is the dream that I will go to the polling station with. *

Dream with me, Alberta.

(* with the utmost respect for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, I borrow out of admiration for the master)

 

Next up on Planned Pedanthood … ‘Personal Pedantic Political Peroration, the Social Edition’

Misanthropy and the elevator experience

Our western social structure with our understanding of status and hierarchy and the subtle rules and principles that govern our communal lives has been largely constructed by extroverts, overwhelmingly from the male point of view.

Our culture is rife with unwritten gesture and behavior that act as grease for the grinding wheel that is our crowded community life. For introverts and women, behavioral expectations that on the surface may seem benign invite a host of complex inner conflicts.

The conflicts stem from the fact that western society undervalues the traits inherent to introverts and tends to portray their preferences as anti-social. I think it is because an extrovert sees an introvert’s desire to temporarily shut out the world as a denial of the social nature of existence. It isn’t true of course, and other introverts know it, but other introverts also know that there is a stigma attached to their inward looking personality.

There is a double stigmatization for introverted women because our gender is expected to smile and be receptive to other people’s needs over our own. Introverts are constantly pressured to act like extroverts, and female introverts are additionally pressured to ignore their guts and let people get closer and friendlier than our instincts tell us we should.

Take the elevator, for instance.

What is more unclear that elevator etiquette?

Tell me – how long are we actually expected to hold a door for a person who is approaching? It’s not as if this is the last elevator ever and if we let the doors close and leave them on the main floor that they are abandoned. Why do we feel pressure to hold the door and why is there a stigma attached to pushing the door close button?

What input do I have over the determination of a non-creepy amount of time someone holds the door for me? If you choose to delay yourself am I expected to rush in hurried gratitude? What if I was purposefully going slow in order to avoid company on the elevator? Then how do I get out of it?

I suppose if you are standing next to me while I wait and I get one first I should hold the door – that is unless I am feeling particularly misanthropic or you creep me out, in which case I will avoid getting on by faking a phone call to avoid being stuck in an enclosed space with you. But aside from changing course, how do I refuse the door held for me?

We’re following rules and forgetting to communicate.

Truthfully, unless you have caught my direct gaze and I clearly want on that elevator when you hold the door for me or ask me to hold it for you, you have put me in a position that is uncomfortable. This is doubly uncomfortable for me if you are a man, because I have not had time to decide if I want to be trapped on an elevator with you – especially bad if it is only the two of us and I also feel vulnerable. If you are a man I am put in the position of acting the charming girl in addition to acting the extrovert, and all the while I am thinking about egress.

Honestly, unless you have made it obvious that you want me to hold the elevator, I am going to push the door-close button to avoid the possibility of discomfort. If I feel uncomfortable I am going to push the button either way.

I titled this blog ‘misanthropy and the elevator experience’ on purpose.

The desire to opt out of social encounters is far too often portrayed as a rejection of other people, or snobbery or bad manners. But it isn’t. It is an embrace of self and an act of self preservation.

Elevator doors are like a portal to an unknown world. So, please, let the door close.

“You call me a misanthrope because I avoid society. You err; I love society. Yet in order not to hate people, I must avoid their company.” Caspar David Friedrich

“There is nothing I detest so much as the contortions of these great time-and-lip servers, these affable dispensers of meaningless embraces, these obliging utterers of empty words, who view every one in civilities” Molière, The Misanthrope