Monday, September 29, 2014

We are all Luka Magnotta

   The only thing more disturbing than the back story to the Luka Magnotta murder trial is the public obsession with the case.
   The lineup started at 6am today for the few available seats in the tiny Montreal courtroom where proceedings didn't get underway until 9:30am.  I can understand lining up early in the morning for tickets to see your favorite band, because there's a tangible payoff - something that lifts your spirit and brings you joy.  For the break-of-dawn keeners at the Palais de Justice, the Magnotta trial is more likely to make them physically ill and scar their souls.  
   The media shoulders a significant portion of the blame for the morbid fascination with the case.  In a profane illustration of what now passes for professional journalistic standards, editors and news directors for Canadian Press named Magnotta the country's Newsmaker of the Year in 2012.  Toronto radio station CFRB - once Canada's most credible and respected newstalk radio station - has an interactive Luka Magnotta web page, even though the murder happened in Montreal and the case is only marginally relevant to a Toronto audience.  Jury selection was covered like an election campaign. 
   You don't have to be a Johns Hopkins psychiatry grad to recognize that the ghoulish appeal of the Magnotta case is rooted in deviant sex and extreme violence, although more educated minds than mine are required to explain exactly why that visceral combination piques human curiosity to such an unhealthy extent.  The pathetic and frightening truth might be that as a product of a society where pornography, gratuitous violence and ill-gotten infamy are celebrated cultural norms, Luka Magnotta represents us, and we are all on trial.
   

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Hate Jeter? Grow up

   Rare indeed is the athlete who transcends the uniform he wears, especially when it represents a brand widely despised by opponents, fans and media resentful of the success of others.  Jean Beliveau was one of those athletes.  So was Ken Stabler.  And so is Derek Jeter, who's playing his final weekend in the only major league baseball uniform he's ever worn.  Oh, there were people who hated on Beliveau and Stabler, just as Jeter has his detractors, but that says more about the haters than it does about anyone else. 
   Beliveau was and remains the epitome of class and dignity.  He always handled the demands of  public life with unfailing grace.  He would have made a great Royal, which is probably why his name was routinely floated as a candidate for Governor-General in the years following his retirement.  
   Stabler wore his character defects on his sleeve as the leader of a band of misfits and miscreants that was part football team-part motorcycle gang, but he was a lovable rogue, along the lines of Willie Nelson, Johnny Knoxville or Jax Teller before Sons of Anarchy became a parody of itself.          
   Jeter's off-the-field legacy falls somewhere between Beliveau and Stabler.  His laundry list of actress and supermodel girlfriends hints at a bad boy side, but the Yankees never had to bail Jeter out of jail or release a statement apologizing for, defending or otherwise rationalizing his behavior.  
   It must be that charmed life that sticks in the craw of Jeter-haters. It can't be anything else.  His career speaks for itself.  The bogus claim that Jeter is overrated and wouldn't have had the same success or acclaim if he'd played for a team other than the Yankees reeks of sour grapes.  
   Take it from me.  Having come of age as a Red Sox fan in the 1970s and 80s, I know from sour grapes.  Bucky (Fucking) Dent ruined my life in 1978.  I was still bitter one year later when I bought a "Yankees Suck" t-shirt from an unlicensed vendor on Landsdowne Street in the shadow of the Green Monster - an act of petty aggression that became a second-generation family tradition when I bought my daughter a "Yankees Suck" t-shirt on the same spot two decades later.  
   At some point, though, you grow up and emotion no longer clouds your judgement - at least not in simple, trivial matters like sports.  I still don't much care for the Yankees, but as a baseball fan, I'm grateful that I was able to watch and appreciate Derek Jeter's career in its entirety.  He is not only a Yankees legend; he's a baseball legend.  Anyone who says otherwise is a child or a fool.  
   No offence to the children, because at least they've got a shot at growing out of it. 
   

Saturday, September 27, 2014

He's magically malicious


   As much as I object to the general principle of trial by social media, you can count me in with the Twitter posse beating the bushes for the Toronto Transit Leprechaun.
  So named for his kelly green shirt, black bowler hat and ludicrous tuft of chin hair, the Leprechaun went viral after he allegedly verbally and physically assaulted a woman who asked him to remove his bag from the seat of a crowded bus in Toronto so she could sit down.  He initially deserved the benefit of the doubt because the only reference point was the woman's rant on Facebook, but that only lasted as long as it took another passenger to upload the smoking gun - a damning video of the confrontation revealing an open and shut case of douchebaggery in the first degree.
   Amazingly, as of the time of the writing of this post - some 72 hours after the incident - the Leprechaun's identity remains unknown to the broader public.  It's not as if a guy who dresses like he's on his way to a Lucky Charms promo shoot blends into the crowd.  Or maybe he does and I'm sorely underestimating the sheer number of hipster fucktards in east end Toronto.  Or maybe now he's dressing like one of the Seven Dwarfs or a Keebler elf.
   But the Leprechaun's ongoing anonymity is only the second most remarkable aspect of the story.  What's even more mind-boggling is that at a time when reputations and careers can be ruined at the whim of faceless keyboard warriors offended by an edgy joke or an unpopular opinion on social media, legal experts are rallying to the defence of this shitbag, however reluctantly.  Despite overwhelming evidence that he is a despicable cretin, it seems the Leprechaun is being unfairly vilified and could have grounds for legal recourse.
   Judging from his behavior on the bus, he'd be just the kind of malicious, self-serving prick to take it.
   
   

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Canadian ISIS Home Preparedness Kit!


   
      ISIS is coming to kill us all!  Are you ready?

Let's be honest - Neighborhood Watch ain't gonna cut it when Fuquad and Ghrabbag kick your bedroom door down in the middle of the night to cut off your head, torture your wife and drag your kids off to be brainwashed and re-inserted as sleeper cells 10-20 years hence.  That's why we're offering this uniquely patriotic self-protection package!  Here's what you get when you order the Canadian ISIS Home Preparedness Kit: 

- 1 construction hard hat with genuine tar stains from the Alberta oil sands.

- 1 Remington 870 12 gauge pump action shotgun, with enough muzzle velocity and shot spread to dispatch multiple jihadis to their final reward simultaneously.  Don't keep the virgins waiting!

- 1 Bauer APX hockey stick which, in the proper Canadian hands, is only marginally less lethal than the Remington.

- Classic Sherwood shoulder pads and Graf hockey pants, because hockey.

Act now!  Supplies are limited, and tomorrow could be too late!*

*All items pre-owned.  Vendor not responsible for smell of hockey equipment.     

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

An Open Letter to ISIS

September 22, 2014

Dear ISIS,
   What up, killas?  Heard tell you were headed this way to make the streets run red with the blood of the disbelievers.  Awfully sporting of you to give us a heads up.  I thought I'd return the favor with a few useful travel tips, assuming you want to keep a low profile before you turn our worldly life into fear and fire.
   You need to know up front that the values here are a little different.  You want to talk about holy crusades?  Wait until you get a load of some of our more strident social activists.  One perceived slight against racial, gender or sexual equality and they'll make you wish you were aborted in the first trimester, because Justin says the days when old men get to decide what a woman can do with her body are long gone.  (They'll probably crucify me just for writing that.  Another useful reminder: I'm using crucifixion as a metaphor and not in the literal sense.  Also, "stoned" refers to getting high, not being executed for adultery.)  Bear in mind, too, that women in this part of the world are allowed to work, go to school and wear modern western fashions, so keep your curved dagger handy in case you have to cut out your own eye after seeing a wrist or an ankle.
   Another good thing to remember is that randomly firing AK's into the air isn't the norm in these parts, except on New Year's Eve in Kahnawake. Speaking of which, don't even think about fucking with the natives.  You guys think you've been hard done by?  They've got a laundry list of legitimate grievances that would choke a camel.  They've also got a significant community of  professional military veterans and a warrior spirit rooted in honor and integrity and they're not on your side in this deal, so you'd best give them a wide berth.  
   At the risk of  being presumptuous, I have a couple of target suggestions for you.  Do you have hipsters in the Caliphate?  They're probably the worst infidels because they buy into their own bullshit even more than you guys buy into your's.  Interestingly, some of them could actually pass for jihadists because they grow their beards to their beltline, so they'd probably find it delightfully ironic if you blew up one of their favorite vegan hangouts or strung them up by their thrift store scarves.  If you could also bomb every Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet, I'd be personally grateful because if I don't get off the dirty bird I'm going to tip the scales at three bills.   
   Anyhoo, that's about it for now.  I won't ask you about your itinerary because I know you want everything to be a surprise.  The guys at the car wash say hey.


Your not-worthy-of-Allah's-mercy pal,
   Ted
  

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Man 1, Righteous Dude 0


   Law enforcement history is rife with documented cases of corrupt and/or bullying cops.  From torture to rape to murdering for the mafia, police officers sworn to serve and protect the public have been convicted of  some of the most heinous misdeeds in the annals of crimes.
   Making an illegal left turn is not one of them.  
   Imagine, then, the absurdity of a  69 year old civilian crusader chasing a police car down the street, flashing his lights and honking his horn until they pull over for him.  
   Michael Reilly says he had just seen a Montreal police cruiser make an illegal left turn, so he took it upon himself to hold them to account.  His pursuit of equal justice for all didn't turn out so well.  Reilly was handed a $162 ticket for being a public nuisance, and effectively told to mind his own business when it comes to police matters.
   Like it or not, that's good advice.  It doesn't matter how informed, intelligent or righteous you are - you will never win an argument with a cop.  If the two officers who ticketed Reilly were making an illegal turn out of sheer laziness (Reilly says they didn't use their flashing lights or turn signal despite telling him they were on a call), they deserve to be called out, but directly challenging their authority is poking the bear with a sharp stick.  Ask Brian O'Carroll, who similarly confronted a police officer for double parking outside a St. Laurent depanneur in 1985.  Well, actually, you can't ask him.  He's dead, but the video speaks for itself.
    There's a process for police complaints.  It's arduous, monotonous and often to no avail, but it is what it is, as the kids today are wont to say,  Taking down the time, date, location and squad car number and reporting it through the proper channels might not have been as emotionally gratifying for Michael Reilly as confronting the officers directly, but at the very least, it would have saved him 162 dollars.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Ducks are people too, apparently

   If there's a more outrageous example of victim-blaming than the case of the dingbat, the ducks and the two dead motorcyclists, it doesn't spring immediately to mind. 
   
   Andre Roy and his 16 year old daughter, Jessie, were killed in June of  2010 when their motorcycle slammed into the back of Emma Czonobaj's car, which Czonobaj had parked in the passing lane of Autoroute 30 in Candiac to help a family of ducks cross the road. She'll be sentenced in December after being convicted this past June on two counts of criminal negligence causing death and two counts of dangerous driving causing death.  The Crown is asking for a nine month jail term, along with community service and probation.  
   That there's a significant public outcry against sending Czonobaj to jail is not surprising.  She, too, is a victim of sorts, albeit of circumstance and her own stupidity.  But there's a dark underbelly to public sentiment in the form of a recurring theme that Roy is to blame for the accident because he was speeding (see comment section here). Evidence suggests his motorcycle was travelling anywhere between 113 and 129 kilometers per hour, which is over the speed limit but not unusual on an open highway like Autoroute 30, and certainly not anywhere near as reckless as parking your car in the passing lane of a major highway.
   Of course, it's all about the ducks.  If Czonobaj had left her car in the middle of the highway to relieve herself, pick flowers or collect empty beer cans to cash in at the grocery store, she'd be public enemy number one.  But have you seen how cute baby ducklings are?  Yes, they're living things, but common sense and the food chain dictate that compassion for hapless water fowl doesn't equate to the sanctity of human life.
   However honorable her motives, two people died because Emma Czonobaj was criminally negligent.  That makes her a criminal.  In a just, right-thinking society, criminals who cause the deaths of others go to jail, usually for a lot longer than nine months.
   She's getting off easy.
   

Saturday, September 20, 2014

THE DAILY SPEW

        ISLAMIC STATE ROLLS OUT FALL TV SKED

by Spew Middle East entertainment critic Asheed Mahpans

   Eastern Caliphate - Emboldened by the western intelligence community's grudgingly positive reviews of the production values in Islamic State internet propaganda videos, IS has announced an escalation of their global media campaign of fear and hatred in the form of a fall prime time television schedule, with a decidedly fundamentalist Muslim slant.
   In an attempt to show that they're rampaging homicidal maniacs with a lighter side, ISTV programmers have unveiled a laugh-heavy lineup, anchored  by the comedy series How I Met Your Martyr, Curb Your Infidelity, Corner Nerve Gas, Mad About Jews and Men Beheading Badly.  Throwback Thursdays will cater to nostalgia buffs with offerings including Allah in the Family, Chico and the Imam, Get Smartbombed, Jake and the Fatwa and Welcome Back, Khadr.
   Prime time weeknights kick off with the game shows Wheel of Torture and Let's Mecca Deal, in which infidels and apostates plead for their lives to be spared, to no avail.
   Media-savvy ISTV show developers also hope to capitalize on the popular reality genre with shows like Death to America Idol and The Amazing Racist.
   Late night and weekend programming will consist primarily of Islamic State-produced movies.  According to network sources, Dude, Where's My Car Bomb and the Apostate Only Rings Twice are already in the can for this Sunday's launch.

Ian Rosen, Michael Gerard, Geoffrey Lang and @PollaMallia contributed to this report.





Friday, September 19, 2014

The Daily Spew - Sept19/14

                                                       
THE DAILY SPEW
                        Sox Slugger Honors Past Pisstanks

by Spew staff

   Kansas City. Mo. - In a stirring tribute to some of baseball's most notorious alcoholics and reprobrates, Chicago White Sox slugger Paul Konerko carried a half-full magnum of champagne around the bases after hitting a home run in Kansas City Wednesday.
   "Thish ish for the Mick!" slurred Konerko as he was called out while inadvertently careening around the basepaths in the wrong direction in honor of New York Yankees legend Mickey Mantle. 
   Mantle's prowess on the diamond was almost as legendary as his prodigious appetite for liquor and whores.  To this day, Mantle remains the only player to drink for the cycle, downing a single, double, triple and quadruple boilermaker in the same game.  A prototype five tool player and two-way drinker, Mantle was also the master of making diving catches without spilling a drop of the martinis he routinely nursed in center field. 
   Konerko's blew .283 at a random police spot check outside the Kauffman Stadium after the game, ushering him into the exclusive ranks of players with a minimum of 1000 career plate appearances and a blood alcohol level higher than his career batting average.
   "It's a goddam honor," Konerko retched between dry heaves when the Daily Spew reached him at a Kansas City Police Department holding cell Thursday morning.
   "I just wish I could remember what happened."




                                   

Thursday, September 18, 2014

PC nutters having Goody Proctor flashbacks

   The Puritans would be proud.
   More than three centuries after the Salem witch trials, ill-conceived hysteria is de rigueur once again, with literally millions of judges presiding over an internet kangaroo courtroom, and summarily condemning modern day heretics who don't adhere to a strict code of "progressive" thinking. 

   Accessibility to a public forum is so readily available to the sanctimonious pissers and moaners that their cultural influence is entirely out of proportion.  This week, the Vancouver Whitecaps of Major League Soccer deleted a promotional video showing three female fans cheering at a game after receiving complaints that the video was sexist and misogynist.  It didn't matter than the women in the video weren't offended or that most people didn't give it a second thought.  The Whitecaps folded like a cheap tent rather than face a potential backlash, on the basis of a handful of complaints.
   The Devil is anywhere the self-appointed high priests of holier-than-thou imagine him to be.  He is especially present in any discussion of same-sex relationships, where no amount of empathy is protection against being exposed as an agent of the dark side. That kindly little old lady who works at the pharmacy and made the mistake of admitting to the wrong customer that while she bears them no malice, she doesn't understand "the gays"?  She's a hateful bigot.  We need a social media campaign to boycott the pharmacy until they fire her homophobic ass and put her on the street where she belongs. 

   We live in a time and place where anyone who condemns Muslim extremists for beheading innocent people runs the risk of being labelled an Islamophobe.  Think about that.  In the ivory tower of unctuous ignorance, it's less offensive to saw someone's head off than it is to question the religious motivations of murderers (unless the murderers are Christians, in which case Christianity is to blame, although to my knowledge even the most fundamentalist Christian groups haven't been staging mass executions and posting them on You Tube).  Anti-Semitism is making a frightening comeback on a global scale because of the crisis in Gaza, but the pro-Palestinean apologists stand by the flimsy premise that you can oppose Israel without hating the Jews.  Of course you can, but Jew-hating pre-dates Israel by several blood-soaked centuries.    
   Like all forms of totalitarianism, enforced groupthink will eventually run its course, and history will hold its most vocal and active proponents in the contempt they so richly deserve.  In the meantime, we can at least take solace that the backwards march to puritanism hasn't (yet) resulted in the morally unchaste being burned at the stake, boiled in oil or pressed to death.  The holy crusade of political correctness aims only to destroy lives by ruining reputations and careers. 

   Aux barricades!

   

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What a mess




   If star players beating their wives and children doesn't force the National Football League to get serious, this might: the Radisson hotel chain has terminated its relationship with the Minnesota Vikings after the team reinstated All Pro running back Adrian Peterson, who's facing child abuse charges.
   
   Money talks, and in the upper echelons of corporate culture, it's the only voice.  The NFL cares about domestic violence only in the context of how it potentially affects the bottom line, and when a major corporate sponsor pulls the pin, the alert status moves to DEFCON 1.       
   The challenge for league commissioner Roger Goodell and his minions is to come up with a public relations game plan that doesn't come across as disingenuous or contrived.  Between routine criminal arrests of players, sexual assault allegations against Dallas owner Jerry Jones, Bountygate in New Orleans and the callous mishandling of the concussion epidemic, there's such a wide swath of damaging PR in the NFL's recent history that changing public perception of the pro football culture is like turning an aircraft carrier around in a phone booth.  It doesn't help when a player of the stature of New England quarterback Tom Brady refuses to get involved in the process, saying social activism isn't what he signed up for.
   Sadly, the NFL's best hope is fan apathy - not apathy about football itself, but about the peripheral scandals that have damaged the league's image.  As long as television ratings remain high, fans continue to buy tickets and merchandise, and profits don't suffer, the league's corporate partners will ride the gravy train to hell and back, and principled stands like Radisson's will be the exception rather than the rule.

Update: At least eight NFL advertising partners have now acted in the wake of the Adrian Peterson/Ray Rice domestic violence incidents.  Drug maker Mylan has cancelled an endorsement deal with Peterson, Nike is pulling Peterson jerseys from select outlets, and Anaheuser Busch, McDonald's, Visa, Campbell Soup and Cover Girl have all issued statements putting the NFL on watch.  Of the eight, only Radisson and Mylan are taking a credible moral stand, and their action is at the local level.  Without putting their money where their mouth is, Anheuser Busch, McDonald's, Visa, Campbell Soup and Cover Girl are offering nothing more than cynical, self-serving corporate platitudes, while Nike's half measures and long history of profiting off Third World child labor and substandard working conditions preclude it from the moral high ground.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

"A" for absurdity


   There's got to be something that we don't know about P.K. Subban - something so damning that it's guarded with a commitment to secrecy and security that makes Area 51 look like a backyard tree fort.  Why else would the Canadiens be so consistently loathe to acknowledge and reward their first legitimate (non-goaltender) superstar since Guy Lafleur?
   
   The decision to pass over Subban for the vacant captaincy and make him one of four alternates is only the latest inexplicable slight.  Despite a Norris Trophy in 2013 and a Conn Smythe-calibre performance in last spring's run to the Stanley Cup semifinals, the Canadiens only grudgingly and belatedly agreed to pay Subban market value in his last two contract negotiations.  Coach Michel Therrien's thinly-disguised disdain for Subban has been a regular feature over the first two seasons of Therrien's second coming, whether expressed verbally or through suspect management of Subban's ice time.  Now, the Canadiens braintrust is not only making Subban audition for the captaincy, but they've effectively pitted him against Max Pacioretty in a potentially unhealthy competition that could split the dressing room.  
   Through it all, Subban has stuck invariably to the high road, his personal and professional maturity establishing him as the leading brand ambassador for the CH on and off the ice.  He is the prototype captain in every way.  
   Clearly, there's a graveyard full of skeletons in P.K. Subban's closet.  I can't think of any other possible reason the Canadiens would be so reluctant to make their best and most popular player the undisputed face of the franchise.
   Can you? 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Dr. Machiavelli, please report to emergency


I'm not a Rob Ford basher.  In fact, the only thing more cynical to me than the mainstream media's deliberate campaign to discredit Ford at every opportunity is their transparent coddling of Justin Trudeau.  That said, there's something fishy about Ford dropping out of the Toronto mayoralty race on health grounds but still running for city council.  What's the medical dividing line for being too sick to run for mayor but not sick enough to run for council?  And how did Ford make that distinction before even knowing the results of a biopsy on a tumour found in his stomach?  Throw in the fact that his brother Doug is replacing him as a candidate for mayor, and it's not offside to simultaneously wish Rob Ford well and wonder if there's something rotten in Etobicoke.   

The Guy Turcotte case is a depressing reminder that justice and the law don't always intersect.  That a man who stabbed his 3 and 5 year old children to death is being freed on bail pending a retrial is completely at odds with common sense, let alone any sense of justice.  Turcotte was found not criminally responsible in 2012 but a retrial was ordered after the Quebec Court of Appeal overturned the verdict last year.  Even though there's no question that Turcotte killed his children and that he has a history of severe mental illness, Superior Court Justice Andre Vincent says Turcotte has a right to the presumption of innocence.  If that's the letter of the law, the law needs to be relettered.

Regardless of the outcome, there are important lessons to be learned on both sides of the Atlantic in this Thursday's Scottish referendum.  The clear, unequivocal question being put to Scottish voters is a lesson in intellectual honesty for Quebec separatists. On the flip side, with the Queen herself declining to intervene for the No side in what Buckingham Palace calls "a matter for the people of Scotland", Canadian federalists should understand that Quebecers have the right to decide their own destiny without undue influence. That right, however, only extends to the referendum itself, and everything is on the table moving forward from there. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Watch this fail

   The Dick Tracy jokes were all used up when Samsung unveiled its smartwatch, so let's cut to the chase on the new Apple watch: it's a bad idea. 
   There's virtually nothing the Apple watch can do that the iPhone can't do, but redundancy isn't its worst failing.  Watches are an accessory, and as a fashion statement, Apple's glorified swatch can't compete with mid-priced brands like Tissot and TW Steel, never mind Rolex and Tag Heuer.  Considering the brainpower they employ, it's surprising no one at Apple was clever enough to design a smartphone shaped like an old-fashioned pocket watch at the end of a 24 karat gold chain.  That's snob appeal, but it would probably be vetoed by the beancounters at corporate because it would mean two devices for the price of one. Practicality and creativity are quaint business concepts, but God forbid that they interfere with profitability. 
   Meanwhile, it wouldn't be 2014 if someone wasn't somehow offended, and Apple ran afoul of feminists 
by enlarging the iPhone6.  Apparently, the new 4.7 inch screen versus 4 inches for the previous generation makes the new model too difficult to manipulate with one hand for people with smaller hands - typically women. 
   Who knew that phones could be sexist, and that 4 inches is enough?

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A wasted opportunity in more ways than one

   In the predictable public clamor for as many heads on a platter as possible, some important questions about the Ray Rice debacle not only remain unanswered but appear to have been deliberately shunted aside. 
   There's no question that Rice acted unconscionably when he knocked out his then-fiancee (now wife), Janay Palmer, in a hotel elevator, and that the NFL, the Baltimore Ravens and the criminal justice system all failed in how they handled the situation.  What hasn't been addressed is the nature of the dispute between Rice and Palmer, and whether it was an isolated incident or they were already in an abusive relationship.  Not that a one-off could be rationalized - in fact, it would suggest the beginning of a pattern of abuse. 
   When a social plague is exposed in a spotlight as bright as the one that shines on the NFL, it's an enormous opportunity to have an open and honest dialogue aimed at understanding the problem and working towards solutions, but one of sports journalism's most prominent commentators, ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, was suspended for even daring to speculate about the root causes of domestic violence.  
   There is only one politically and socially acceptable position - Ray Rice struck a woman and that's wrong. Yes and yes, but focusing only on what happened and shutting down debate over why it happened is worse than useless. 
   It's inviting the plague to perpetuate itself. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Please don't offend the rapists


The idea of discrediting political correctness as dangerous intellectual fraud is gratifying in theory, but in Rotherham, England, the cost of exposing the folly of enforced groupthink was so horrible that it's something to be lamented rather than celebrated. For the better part of two decades, police and politicians turned a blind eye to the systematic rape of an estimated 1400 adolescent girls because the crimes were being perpetrated by gangs of immigrant Pakistani Muslims, and the authorities were afraid of being labelled as racist. Community leaders, social workers and seasoned police professionals made a conscious, collective decision to portray sexually and psychologically exploited teenaged girls as promiscuous white trash instead of investigating and prosecuting predatory criminals from a culture where the degradation of women and girls is the entrenched societal norm. Multicultural harmony is a noble ideal, but not something to be valued over the innocence of one child, let alone 1400 of them.

Speaking of white liberal guilt, Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson is selling his controlling interest in the NBA team after outing himself for a private e-mail in which he pondered ways of improving season ticket sales to the affluent white demographic. Never mind that Levenson was musing as a businessman about sociological factors that affect his business and said nothing hateful or bigoted towards blacks. So spooked was Levenson by the self-appointed thought police that he went public before the e-mail could be leaked, no doubt hoping to minimize the damage to his reputation. No such luck. Levenson is being widely pilloried in both social and mainstream media for a "racist" e-mail that wasn't subtle but doesn't even come close to meeting the definition of racist.

Anyone who complained about the CF-18s buzzing Molson Stadium yesterday should be grateful to live in a place where military jets do ceremonial fly-pasts at football games and don't drop precision smart bombs down chimneys.


I try to accept life on life's terms and not burden myself the unnecessary emotional baggage that comes with resenting someone else's success, but when Eugenie Bouchard catches not one but two foul balls at a Yankees game, my faith and forbearance are sorely tested.


If you're at the Toronto International Film Festival and you bump into Kevin Coster, tell him Mandy Patinkin called. He wants his beard back.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Oh, shut up and R.I.P

   Well, that didn't take long.
   
   Joan Rivers was still warm when people started cracking jokes about her death yesterday at the age of 81. That is to say, the parts of her not made of Gore-Tex, teflon and silicone were still warm. 
   Although her comedic range and CV were broad, Rivers will be remembered primarily as an "insult" comedienne because of the barbs she routinely tossed on her show Fashion Police. It's a challenging way to make a living in a politically correct world where people wake up looking for a reason to be offended and the social media lynch mob mobilizes at a moment's notice. Ask Gilbert Gottfried.
   
   What her detractors tend to forget (or deliberately overlook) about Rivers is that she was often her own favorite target. Self-deprecation can be an endearing quality, and it was a significant part of Joan Rivers's appeal. It was also something of a badge of honor to be taken down by the Fashion Police - at least among celebrities who understand and accept that it comes with the territory, and recognize that any publicity is good publicity in Hollywood.
   
   So whether you hated Joan Rivers or loved her, don't feel obliged to adhere to the moral code of not speaking ill of the deceased. Take your best shot.
   
   She wouldn't want it any other way.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Next referendum in THIS many years

   From the erstwhile Quebec cabinet minister who brought you institutionalized racism in the form of the Charter of Values comes the Slow Stroll to Sovereignty 2023.
   
   Would-be PQ leadership candidate Bernard Drainville says he would not hold a referendum in his first mandate as premier, opting instead to lay the necessary groundwork for a vote on independence after re-election.  Apparently, the half century since the Quiet Revolution hasn't provided sufficient time for separatists to get their ducks in a row, so Bernie D doesn't want to rush things.    
   Drainville's trial lead balloon also includes raiding the government treasury during his first term to facilitate putting the pieces in place for independence.  How's that for Alice in Wonderland politics?  Run for a first term based on a solemn promise to not hold a referendum, but with the expressed intent of spending the entire mandate and oodles of taxpayer dollars openly preparing to do in your second term exactly what you promised not to do in the first.      
   To his credit and unlike past PQ luminaries, Drainville can't be accused of talking out of both sides of his mouth.  Instead of a hodgepodge of verbose misdirection that characterized the first two referendum questions, his would be straight up: "Do you want Quebec to remain a province of Canada or become an independent country." 
   If nothing else, that's refreshing candor from a movement whose pursuit of its raison d'etre has historically been an exercise in intellectual dishonesty.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Islamic State, Inc: We're thinking a head

 
  The Islamic State is concerned about its "brand".
   IS or ISIS or ISIL or IHOP or whatever radical Islam's travelling circus of homicidal maniacs is calling itself this week has reportedly ordered members to stop uploading videos of beheadings on social media, lest the graphic images of cruelty and gore damage the organization's reputation. This laughably belated and hamfisted attempt at public relations damage control can only mean one thing, more frightening than the caliphate itself: they've hired media consultants.
  The image makeover is part of a broader Islamic State move towards a corporate philosophy. Like many corporations, IS is downsizing, insofar as members who fail to conform completely to the jihadist group's fundamental teachings are being purged. The severance package, apparently, is your severed head in a box.

   IS is also the envy of western corporate executives in its ability to recognize and exploit any and all revenue streams, including robbery, kidnapping, extortion, smuggling and even online gift shops offering all the latest merchandise for birthdays, anniversaries, summary executions and other special events.
   Islamic State, Inc. is a chilling prospect indeed. The combination of psychotic bloodlust and the sociopathic mentality of the corporate boardroom takes indifference to human suffering to an entirely new level. 
  Tough times for the infidel just got a whole lot tougher.

Monday, September 1, 2014

"You're out of uniform, Mister!"


    Are you sitting down?  Good.  There were pictures of naked people on the internet over the weekend.  This is a first, from what I can gather.
    I jest, of course.  The internet is the world's single greatest source of pornography in all of its forms - hardcore, softcore, romantic, kinky, violent, artistic, exploitative and sometimes unconscionable, depending on your personal moral compass.  The subjects include women, men, women who used to be men, and even the occasional barnyard animal.
    So why all the hubbub over a leaked series of sexually non-explicit selfies (an event that's already gone down in cultural lore as "The Fappening")?  Because they're not pictures of obscure would-be Hollywood starlets who dropped their drawers to make the September rent.  They were hacked from the smartphones of A-list celebrities, including Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Lawrence and supermodel Kate Upton, and ran rampant across social media while harried publicists to the stars issued various and sundry threats and denials.  
    I can't decide whether it's disturbing or refreshing that this is considered a "scandal".  The proliferation of internet pornography is so desensitizing that the fuss over The Fappening reaffirms society's entirely disproportionate preoccupation with celebrity.  On the other hand, considering the unending variety of smut perpetually percolating in the bowels of the world wide web, it bodes well for the species that we can still get excited by a simple peek at a nipple, even if it has to be a VIN (Very Important Nipple).
   Interestingly, one of the most widely-disseminated and hotly-debated Fappening photos shows Upton cavorting naked in front of the bathroom mirror with her equally-unclad boyfriend, Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, who's at least as big a baseball star as Upton is a fashion icon.  Twitter opinion is sharply divided on whether Verlander deserves congratulatory praise or open derision, which brings us full circle on online pornography and social media trolls.
   Basement-dwelling masturbators openly mocking a guy for being naked in a picture with Kate Upton is the very definition of the internet.