Saturday, February 18, 2006

Where is the Potent Pew?

The Potent Pew is taking a bit of a break. We are getting to reload and re-launch a newly redesigned website. So far, it is looking fantastic.

Stay tuned.

Vatican Brings Down Government

Thanks to several Danish cartoons, appraisals and examinations of freedom of speech have swamped editorials and opinion columns in western media.

But what about freedom of conscience?

Vatican abortion treaty brings down government

Nicholas Watt
Saturday February 11, 2006
The Guardian

The Vatican has inadvertently triggered the collapse of the government in Slovakia, one of the economic stars of the 10 entrants to the EU, in a row over abortion rights.
The parliament in Bratislava voted on Thursday to hold elections early, on June 17, after Christian Democrats quit Mikulas Dzurinda's centre-right minority coalition government.
The party is angry with the prime minister after he refused to endorse a draft treaty with the Vatican that would have allowed healthcare workers in hospitals founded by the Catholic church to refuse to carry out abortions on conscience grounds.,,1707579,00.html

“This agreement [“Treaty between the Republic of Slovakia and the Holy See on the Right to Exercise Conscientious Objection”] would protect the right of all to exercise conscientious objection in relation to universal values, the group said. 

Thus a Catholic doctor would have the right to refuse to participate in objectionable practices such as abortions, assisted procreation, experimentation with human embryos, euthanasia and sterilization”

Paul Belien, editor of shrewdly remarked:

“Two clashes of civilization are currently taking place in Europe. Freedom-loving people having to fight on two fronts. One involves the radical segment of the immigrant Muslim population that opposes basic Western values such as freedom of speech and that is intent on imposing Islamic taboos (such as the mere fact of depicting their prophet Muhammad) on the non-Islamic population. The other involves radical secularists that want to eradicate all remnants of traditional Christian culture from post-Christian Europe by restricting the right to conscientious objection on the part of religious people.”

According to the EU “Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights” doctors should sometimes be forced to perform abortions, even if they have conscientious objections, because the right to abort a child is an “international human right,” while the right to conscientious objection is not “unlimited.”

For further reading here is a link to the EU document regarding, “the Right to Conscientious objection and the conclusion by EU member states of concordats with the Holy See”.

As Europe stands together in solidarity proclaiming ‘Freedom of Speech’ through provocative publications and republications must it not also look inwards to the bludgeoning of its own freedoms?

Should the priority be to champion the freedom of provocative actions or passive objections?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Early controversy hasn't hurt Tory support, poll suggests - Yahoo! News

Early controversy hasn't hurt Tory support, poll suggests - Yahoo! News: "
The Decima Research survey of 1,010 adult Canadians, conducted between Feb. 9 and 13, suggests there has been no significant change in national support for the Tories.

Thirty-five per cent of respondents said they would vote Conservative, compared with 36 per cent who cast ballots on election day.

The poll put support for the Liberals at 25 per cent, down five percentage points from Jan. 23.

Twenty-four per cent of respondents backed the NDP, up from 17.5 per cent election day."

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Iran demands apology over German cartoon

Wednesday February 15, 2006
The Guardian

A German newspaper yesterday published a cartoon depicting the Iranian football team dressed as suicide bombers, opening up a new front in the row over caricatures of the prophet Muhammad.

Iran immediately demanded an apology from Der Tagesspiegel, which showed four Iranian players at this summer's World Cup in Germany with explosives attached to their chests. A caption read: "Why the German army should definitely be used during the football World Cup." The general secretary of Iran's sports press association yesterday described the latest caricature as a "black joke". The Iranian embassy in Berlin called for an apology, saying the cartoon was "an immoral act".

.....Iran's bestselling newspaper, Hamshahri, yesterday defended its competition for cartoons about the Holocaust, saying it was a test of the free speech allegedly espoused by western countries. The contest is a serious exercise in debate, said Mohammadreza Zaeri, publisher of Hamshahri. "We do not want to make fun of anyone with this competition, we just want to raise a question to find an answer which is very important for us."
Does anyone else not see the unequivocal parallels between the two Iranian statements?

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Mohammad Cartoon controversy comes to Canada via the Western Standard

Western Standard's Ezra Levant (EL), publisher, was interviewed by the CBC this morning:

"EL: ...I don't mean to be rude Harry, but why hasn't the CBC shown the cartoons?

HF: You could easily cover that news without showing the cartoons.

EL: Well, I'm not sure 'easily' because you wouldn't know what the cartoons are like.

HF: They've been published elsewhere and are available on the Internet..."

Dumb answer. Why is the CBC even reporting the news at all, then, if that is the reason they aren't publishing the cartoons? Since all the news the CBC reports is already published elsewhere and is available on the Internet, why do they even bother publishing news covered by other news sources? Like I said...dumb response.

COMMENTING on Ezra Levant's decision to publish the cartoons, Mohamed Elmasry, leader of the Canadian Islamic Congress, had this to say: "I think he really goes against the will and the values of Canadians by this provocative action."

Let me just ad hominem Elmasry by mentioning the fact that he once remarked that "Anyone above [the age of] 18 [in Israel] is a combatant", meaning that they are a "legitimate targets." When asked again whether "Anyone in Israel, irrespective of gender, over the age of 18 is a valid target?", Elmasry replied: "Yes, I would say,"

Take Elmasry's comments with a grain of salt.

The Stranger posts Mohammed Cartoons

... what’s happening here is that a gang of bullies—led by a country, Saudi Arabia, where Bibles are forbidden, Christians tortured, Jews routinely labeled “apes and pigs” in the state-controlled media, and apostasy from Islam punished by death—is trying to compel a tiny democracy to live by its own theocratic rules. To succumb to pressure from this gang would simply be to invite further pressure, and lead to further concessions—not just by Denmark but by all of democratic Europe. And when they’ve tamed Europe, they’ll come after America.

After all, the list of Western phenomena that offend the sensibilities of many Muslims is a long one—ranging from religious liberty, sexual equality, and the right of gay people not to have a wall dropped on them, to music, alcohol, dogs, and pork. After a few Danish cartoons, what’s next? - The Stranger - News - Feature - All the Rage:

It is important to thoroughly consider who it is that are re-publishing and distributing these cartoons.

Some folks like to point, with a look-at-them-right-wingers-go glee, those folks posting the Mohammed cartoons.

Yet, certainly Seattle's The Stranger is nowhere close to being labeled a right wing paper and they have evidently posted several of the cartoons on their website and perhaps published them too (to be confirmed).

And what about the clerics that distributed the cartoons in the Muslim world? What makes them different from Levant, publisher of the Western Standard? Shouldn't they be scolded just as much as newspaper publishers for distributing the materials in question?

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Liberals contemplate quick comeback after disastrous first week for Harper - Yahoo! News

'We're going to oppose those measures that we find are not in the interests of Canada and Canadians and we'll oppose them all the way,' Graham said.

'And if that leads to the government falling, it's going to lead to the government falling. And the way they're making their decisions it's clear that could happen earlier rather than later just given the nature of what they're doing.'

Harper plunged his fledgling regime into turmoil with some unusual choices for his cabinet which cast doubt on his election pledge to run a more accountable, ethical administration. - Liberals contemplate quick comeback after disastrous first week for Harper - Yahoo! News:

Am I missing something? Is the situation really that dire?

Anti-protest protest in Paris

Two guys in Paris are caught on video wearing a Danish flag and a sign reading "free cartoonists" amid what I think may be called an anti-Danish
Mohammed Cartoon" protest.

Check out the video here.

While I wouldn't want to be them, I do wonder if they really are in the wrong for protesting agains the protest.

Do they not have the write to stand up for the other side, even if the other side is wrong?

Andrew Coyne strikes back

Andrew Coyne has a very thoughtful response to most of the arguments that I raise here and here. I encourage everyone who is interested in laws banning MP switching from party-to-party to read his post:
"A clever riposte to those who want to ban MPs from switching parties is to bring up the question of free votes. Isn't an MP who votes against the party line just like one who crosses the floor? Shouldn't that be forbidden, too, in the name of holding MPs accountable to the voters who elected them?"

I will let it simmer and respond to this in good time. I gotta give it to Andrew; he is well thought out, principled, and not afraid of any opposing strong arguments. I like that. More later.

In the meantime, read the questions that I posed earlier that are somewhat 'answered' by Coyne in his post, most notably number 2 and 3:

1) :: Should we hold a by-election every time an MP falls behind, in popular support, to another candidate?
2) :: Should we hold a by-election every time an MP votes against his party?
3) :: Should we hold a by-election every time an MP acts with his own judgment rather than what a survey indicates constituents want?