Thursday, October 23, 2014

Iconoclastic rant, batten down the hatches!

Everybody almost certainly knows about the shooting in Ottawa yesterday. The news was full of it. I mean that in more than one way. You know what I mean.

Let's start by saying that, yes, it's sad that young reservist got shot. It's amazing that nobody else got shot, except the guy who started it. The news bleating about the whole thing had me tweaking my Twitter settings, and scrolling past a lot of crap on Facebook.

My first question on hearing about it, and hearing the label terrorist being applied almost instantly, was, why it wasn't terrorism when the 4 mounties were shot a few years ago in Mayerthorpe? Why wasn't it terrorism when Lepine shot 28 people in 1989 at Ă‰cole Polytechnique?

Is it just because he (apparently) has some links to Islam and fears that he has been 'radicalized', whatever on earth that means? Is it because he shot a member of the Armed Forces, and then stormed Parliament? Where is the line between some gun nut gone crazier, and terrorism?

Amid the bleating about why our various security forces didn't prevent the attack are cries that say security forces need more tools. More oversight. More intrusive monitoring. Greater ability to detain those suspected of being bad. All in the name of keeping Canadian's safe, of course.

My response is a very loud, very rude noise.

The average Canadian has a completely trivial chance of being killed by nutter carrying a gun, let alone a "terrorist" on a mission. Trivial. You're more likely to win the lottery. Take a deep breath. Think it through.

You know where your real risk is? Being in or around a motor vehicle. On average, a little over one person is killed a day in Alberta (400 per year), and 74 per day are injured, (27,000 per year). That's out of about 3 million Albertans. I don't worry about a nut with a gun, not for one second. I worry about the people driving the cars around me, every second I'm in a car, or near them.

Let's review here, shall we? In the bad old days of Kings, they could and did lock up or kill anyone that disagreed with them. Holding the wrong opinions too loudly could be fatal. This is why our structure of laws is built the way it is. The authorities have to prove that some particular person broke some particular law at a particular time and place. Not just say it happened, but actually demonstrate the proof.

Too often people say that criminals have too many rights, and that's bullshit. I want to see criminals having the right to a fair trial, complete with evidence, and the police following the rules. Every time. I want to know that the people deprived of their liberty are actually guilty, even if it costs me more in taxes.

Why? Because when we allow the police to get sloppy, and allow people to go to jail "because we know they're guilty", we are sliding down a dangerous slope to the bad old days of Kings. I emphatically do not want Stephen Harper and professionally paranoid secrete security agents collecting "tips" from the public. That's called East Germany, not that long ago.

We've already started holding trials where the accused can't see the evidence against them, because it would reveal state secrets. Another loud rude noise.

We've seen Revenue Canada threatening non-profit clubs with audits because they wrote a letter to a politician. Politically motivated audits are a fearsome weapon. They're also wrong. I completely support a Revenue agency that reviews the taxes that people and corporations pay, checks the numbers, and runs audits based on objective criteria to ensure that the tax laws are being complied with. Not an agency acting at the direction of a frightened little man.

Why do I care about this so much? Because I have opinions that some in power might take offense to. Stephen Harper is actually my MP, though I've never voted for him. I also think he's the worst thing to happen to Canada and Parliament ever. I don't think he should be re-elected, and I tell my neighbours that at every opportunity. Bullies and control freaks have no place in positions of authority.

So far so good, at least so far. Lots further along the spectrum we get into nutter territory, people that call for the violent overthrowing of the state, or assassination of various political figures, and other such nonsense. They hear voices, or think that God has told them to do this, or they blow some little thing all out of proportion, or they let some other nutter talk the into doing something stupid. Our police have their plates full of such, and I can see where it's hard to draw the line between the one that's really going to do it, and the many that are just going to talk about it.

But really, we have to keep the police on a tight budget so they prioritize on what they think is the real threat. If they had the budget to collect a file on every living Canadian, they would. And then someone would act on it, sooner or later. Likely sooner, for suspect motivations. Maybe their neighbour parked in "their" space in front of their house. Maybe they played the music too loud. Maybe guy with license XYZ 123 took his parking spot at Costco. Let's just take a quick peek at what the files say, shall we? Hmmm. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

The middle ground is troubling. The Harper government has labeled as "terrorists" various environmental groups that wanted intervenor status in pipeline hearings. What nonsense! This is why we have to push back on the calls for enhanced security oversight. It becomes all too easy for those in power to use those forces to target those who disagree with them. At first it's the big things, but it will spread. And then we're back to the bad old days again.

Life is all about balancing risks and freedoms. Harper thought that placating his base was more important than trying to track certain kinds of firearms. I haven't the slightest doubt he will use this shooting to push for greater intrusions into the lives of ordinary Canadians, and that he won't make any changes in his position about a gun registry. There's an election a year or so away, and this will certainly be used to help him stay elected and in charge. Expect to hear all sorts of crap on this topic, and be prepared to push back.

I think it was Franklin that said, "Those who would trade their freedom for security deserve neither."

In other news, a pretty nice swim yesterday. Tired arms and shoulders. Then a yoga session that featured, you guessed it, shoulders! Yahoo, he said. Uhuh.

It's getting a little cooler here in the evening, especially when the sun goes behind a cloud. The 5K 35 minute run got a bit cool towards the end. RunMeter has failed me for the last time. Three runs in a row it hasn't picked up a GPS that RunKeeper finds perfectly acceptable. Deleted. The only problem is that RunKeeper is just a little bit rah rah rah for my taste. I may shell out for iRunSmooth. Any suggestions from you about which iPhone app is good for tracking running?

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