Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Law, Legislation and Civil Liberty - BC Mental Health Act - Review Panel Process


When the state intervenes in the life of a citizen in a way that arrests their rightful & innate liberty, the state has engaged in the most forceful act at its disposal.  Regardless of the rationale, the gravity of state action is the same; incarceration is incarceration regardless of state motivation. Most state interventions involving incarceration have an intended outcome, that is to say, the type and duration of incarceration are readily predictable - this contrasts with the BCMHA where "sanction" can last a life time. It is important that standards of judicial conduct are commensurate with state sanctions.

As  a criminal, the degree of state sanction is limited to incarceration, in the case of the BCMHA, state sanction extends beyond incarceration to the total relinquishment of control over mind and body. Under the BCMHA, the individual is completely at the whim of the treating professionals, the state has the capacity under this act of engaging in action absent even approval by family. You must understand, that the BCMHA takes hold of the most sacred entity we hold as human beings, our mind and its application to life. This is no trivial matter, this is by far and away the most intrusive, coercive and draconian sanction the state imposes. It most certainly requires judicial standards at par with criminal sanction, I submit it requires higher judicial standards – it receives retrograde process.

There has been an awkward fusion of Medicine and Law in the drafting and application of the BCMHA, it is inherent in medicine, with good intent, to take control of an individual’s life to whatever extent is necessary to facilitate healing or to mitigate suffering – this good intent by medical professionals then is merged with the requirements of state to conduct itself in accord with fundamental law and charter rights. Of course something has to give here, an individual exercising themselves out of concern for another individual under the rubric of professional obligations and compassion, is apt to lose sight of their actions in the context of law, and societal concern as it applies to the protection of rights in other areas of life. This is why we have a judiciary, the sober mind, the rational mind, to review the actions of the state in the context of law and the application of important principles in place to protect us from the misdirection of state authority and the actions of others. The Review Panel Process makes a mockery of our judicial system and in no way is commensurate with the gravity of state actions in the context of law and sanction.  

There is a general trend toward the tribunalisation of our legal system, in some instances this  may be helpful, where matters are trivial – in matters that have state sanction with the gravity of the BCMHA, the tribunal is a very weak tool. The Review Panel Process as actuated by the BCMHA trivialises the judicial review, it systematises & expedites the incarceration of people merely accused of illness. The process offers none of the trappings of the courtroom, the weight of justice and by extension the weight of consequence for all involved is absent.

Even something as simple as recording proceedings is retrograde, a microphone is stuck in the middle of a table, in reviewing proceedings via this medium the information that is recorded has little efficacy – it is nearly impossible hear what is being said, or who is saying it; the BCMHA provisions for appeal to higher judicial process yet, gathers data in a substandard way, as that data carries forward to higher process, in this way we corrupt subsequent process; the type and nature of evidence permitted in the Review Panel Process would fail to meet standard at the higher court level.  

There is extensive use of the Review Panel Process, the participation there is in effect off the record, and executed in an inferior manner to court proceedings. This effects a circumstance where the general judiciary has no influence over the act, if the acts administration were moved back to the court system, the act would come under greater scrutiny, would be subject to the influence of precedent with every interface of a citizen and the BCMHA. I submit, had this been the case over the life of the act, its application would have been more in accord with legal tenets AND it would likely have been subjected to revision.

It is important to remember, that this act may be intended for the ill, but it affects us all. I believe, and it is clear in reading decisions that have fallen out of very little exposure to the courts, it is to a degree the Pollyanna view of some in the judiciary that has permitted this act to exist as it has, with so little attention to misdirection or the over exuberant application of the act.   

At the point of accusation of mental infirmity, given the modalities of the Review Panel Process, one begins the legal process in a position of reverse onus. Normally the initiation of proceedings takes place as a result of people making accusations, medical professionals actuate emergency measures or some other means to facilitate incarceration, the person is held in custody and observed for an extended period of time prior to the Review Panel Process being actuated – the Review Panel Process must be activated within 14 days of a request. It is important to note, the entire act is drafted with the assumption people accused of illness are ill – so inherent in this reality is the requirement to prove one’s innocence, the assumption of innocence is attacked. Worse however, there is no requirement of the institution to prove anything, on hearsay and observation alone opinion determines incarceration; there is no requirement to demonstrate the presence of pathogenic action. Oft times infirmity is judged on the assertion of beliefs on the part of the accused, regardless of the degree of plausibility of these beliefs, there is no obligation for the state to refute them as they would in other areas of law, through investigation the presentation of resulting evidence.

The Review Panel Process is grossly flawed and flouts nearly every aspect of Canadian Jurisprudence. The most corrosive element is the asymmetry of influence that accrues to medical professionals and other actuaries functioning on behalf of the state. Given the very low standards of evidentiary process, the low standards of review, the isolation of the process from full judicial participation -  the more accused objects the bigger the pile of “evidence” against them gets – this has people who are most adamant about their “innocence” becoming increasingly disempowered.     

The points around the functionality of the Review Panel Process I think have been communicated in previous discourse. Substandard standards of review, substandard evidentiary process, the general disregard for people accused of mental infirmity, the innate paternalism that exists in the medical profession and the desire to control by the psychiatric community all converge to create a very toxic mix. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014


Individualism, as a concept, beyond the reality that individuals exist within a group or community, has, in part, found its origins in the protestant privilege to be one’s own conduit to god. This comment is made in a value neutral context, that is to say, individualism was given a forum due to the empowerment of the individual in protestant worship modalities, relative to the centralized modality of Catholicism and other religions. The concept of an individual as an ideal also found support in the enlightenment movement, where it was fashionable to construct one’s own map of reality away from the church and traditional norms. To an extent, Stoicism, as a byproduct of the need of be free of human want, in this case the needing of typical social interactions, has served to shore  the other contributing factors to becoming an individual.  

With the advent of mass media a homogenization of society began to occur, the individual at once gained access to a larger volume of information to feed individualism, however, the communization of the general societal narrative resulted in the perception of the Individual being distilled down to perhaps a dozen stereotypes – a circumstance that had “character type” and “Individual” becoming synonymous. Individualism incurred a challenge with the escalation of media influence; in much the same way that the homogenization of theology had done in earlier times.

Individualism tends to be challenged in the general discourse of humanity, as Individuals become challenged they seek support from others, from there a collective within a given society begins to from. As the collective coalesces around an imperative or common desire, organization begins to demand a degree of uniformity – and so, uniformity and Individualism are inversely proportionate or at least inverse to one another – proportionality is affected by what drove the coalescence at the outset. Oft times, as the coalescence of individuals to a collective takes place in the face of extreme human conditions, where the group is highly dependent or a unified front, hazing mechanisms are utilized “break down” the individual, to effect a state of merged egos or perhaps a “common ego”. The individual is then wholly defined by their association with a group.

It may be said in general terms, a commonage derived of like minded individuals, who have coalesced in common interest or cause finds a generally healthier state of being, than, a commonage formed of conscription and hazing. The commonage of free accumulation finds common action by responding to environmental realities from a core set of beliefs; the commonage that forms from conscription finds common action at the behest of a central power entity. The commonage of fee accumulation is very difficult to corrupt, as ideals inform action, and the association began in a healthier place, in a place of intellectual commonality. By contrast, centralized power, absent support of the individual expression is inherently corrupting – as the core of the centralize power always works to its self-interest, as those subordinated seek to further their lot through acquiring favor from the central power and work around the central power for selfish and practical reasons.  
It is important to note, conscription takes many forms in the creation of a commonage, the indoctrination of children to a given belief structure is a form of conscription. Conditioning is a form of conscription. Our very existence is conscription, by way of example, we are all conscripts of the human race.

Individualism, or the act of developing one’s sense of oneself as an independent entity, and the societal act of provisioning the discovery process to build an individual, in no way impairs collective action, it serves to diversify the informing of collective action. There is a common misperception that Individualism and Collectivism are resident at opposite ends of a continuum; the fact is however, they are mandatory companions existing as an entity. The question is, under what conditions has the collective coalesced and by what means it is being maintained – how these questions are answered determines the health of a collective. A collective that permits individual expression and functions under a premise of common ideas results in a reverse hierarchy, a collective that emerges out of conscription of one type or another results a hierarchy that leads to a central power.

When the individual is co-opted by the collective, thought that panders to leadership emerges – often effecting “group think” and disastrous tangents in the human enterprise. When the individual within a collective is nurtured, critical thought governs individual action, and by extension, thought governs the collective – inherent in this reality is a diversification of power.  

“The natural effort of every individual to better “their” own condition is so powerful that it is alone, and without any assistance, not only capable of carrying on the society to wealth and prosperity, but of surmounting a hundred impertinent obstructions with which the folly of human laws too often encumbers its operations” Adam Smith 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Professional Management - DEFINED

It is curious to me, that people underestimate the value of professional management; it seems very clear to me that management is a most complex undertaking and requires a set of skills to execute with. When you are a carpenter, you understand the skills of carpentry as they apply to building a box, garage, home, or skyscraper. So too, when you understand the professional management, you understand how to apply management skill to any task – professional management is the process of leading and directing an organisation, there is no requirement to be a carpenter to run a construction company, one needs to understand management to run a company. It is conceivable to be both a carpenter and a professional manager, as I am, it is just unnecessary. If you are a carpenter contemplating starting a construction company, it is wise to invest the time to understand professional management, as it often the case management skills are lacking in business startups.

I define professional management as the deployment of financial, human and physical resources toward an intended end. Here the core competency is absent any physical constraint and is absent any core competency related to actuation, it is purely, the collection and understanding of data related to actuation. The key here is a global view, what is the opportunity, what is the capital required, and who can do it. It is when people in this space migrate to actuation that bad things happen, unless the undertaking is at a scale that permits the full managerial and occupational space to occupied by one person; the name for people in this circumstance is artisan.

In business, the leadership in professional management is defining the opportunity and deploying assets to arrive at the targeted outcome. Opportunity can be a new or an adjunctive business model. Professional management, in its purest form, is really the processing of information through garnered talent. Professional management is a cross disciplinary exercise, so the ability to absorb new data, to assess functionality, to design the interface with market are all that is required. Finally, professional management forms the organization - the structure, the culture and the perception of the organization in society at large. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Violence Against Women - Causation


The transition from chattel to sovereign being has been long coming and well deserved for women. From 1959 when my mother needed permission of a group of clergymen to have her tubes tied, to now when my daughters are absent any ostensible obstruction to the highest office; this is truly a great step forward for “man”kind. It is a relief, as a father of two women, to have witnessed this progress. In society at large, young girls strut more boldly now, less constrained by conditioning and they are well educated. It is difficult to know what to attribute the progress to in the past fifty years, whether it was the feminist movement finally gaining critical mass or the advent of a pill that put pregnancy in the hands of women as opposed to the whims of nature, or perhaps the awareness of the enlightenment spreading into the western canon. Whatever might be the cause, the future for my daughters is brighter as a result.

The blemish on this progress is the incessant presence of violence against women (VAW). One wonders what is at the core of the challenge, what fuels the barbarism. Perhaps it is that in reality we are mammals, that because someone has the capacity to subdue and sexually assault someone with blatant disregard for the “other” – they do. For the vast majority of human evolution we simply did what we wanted, when we wanted, based on individual strength or alliance, the humanitarian imperative was absent – I am unsure that we really have evolved that much. Instead of a femur bone of a large ungulate as weapon, we have adopted more sophisticated means – the result however is the same.

When people engage in consensual sexual relations, we call that love making, when people engage in sexual relations absent consent, we call that rape. So what is at stake here, what is the atrocity, I submit it is the disempowerment of another human being. This document is directed toward VAW, men do get raped too it is worth noting. The harm is rarely physical, the crux of the harm is psychological – it is a spirit breaking event to be overpowered, add to that sexual elements and the affected incur extreme pain. If this theory is true, what is true by extension is that RAPE takes many forms – the systematized suppression of women is in effect societal rape – a violation of spirit, a disempowerment.

So what is the cause of VAW, why is it continuing and what is the cure. Part of the challenge in dealing with VAW is that it is normally sexually related, we still, in varying degrees, live in a world where sex is brushed under the carpet. People fail to speak about healthy sex honestly for the most part, how then, can they manage unhealthy sex. The generalized suppression of sexual discourse of any kind is the problem; it stifles progress along the path to solution. When you put a thumb on the forehead of natural human inclination, something ugly always squirts out the side. Humans are biological creatures first, that is our reality, we need to manage ourselves from that perspective. Morality should have as a base premise, the presence or absence of harm; from there we can bring a rational mind to the challenge.

We, hitherto, have lived in a male dominated society – I suppose through history there are examples of female dominated societies – they are few. When might was right, men had the upper hand. As the social complex became more developed, women still had the vulnerability of childbearing – men have never been barefoot and pregnant; which gave men the upper hand. We know this is true, because this reality is omnipresent in contemporary society – women still carry the largest share of domestic concern. Until now, men have had the upper hand, and as we know, power corrupts, corrupts in a multitude of ways; VAW is such a corruption. 

Western males are conditioned under the fusion of Christian theology and stoicism. This fusion in conjunction with male biology is a very conflicted place. The Christian discourse around sexuality, what there is of it, is inherently conflicted – sex tends to be demonized or sullied to a degree here. Stoicism is largely misinterpreted as control over emotions; control over emotions often results in suppression of emotion and by extension, fear of emotions. Add to this male biology – primal inclinations – the deep seated desire to spread genes and the resulting tacit support from peers, even mother’s in this regard, and you have cauldron of human interface that is unhealthy and often unfair.

Often as a male, the most treasured facet of society is femininity, often treasurer tacitly - treasured nonetheless. Living life as a male, the female occupies our mind and drives many of our decisions. Women nurture us and then they let us go, only to occupy our minds 24/7 as their biology becomes a point of fascination (young men talk about women). Their presence in our psyche holds sway over us, there is a powerful paradox in our development, where we are immersed in our dependence on women and then societal conditioning requires us to take different stance, as both the dominant moral complex and the stoic imperative for emotional independence come into play. There have been historical requirements of men that preclude the luxury of acquiescing to the comforts women provided as nurturers. The nagging inclination toward the comforts of that nurturing, in the context of our requirements as men, creates a conflict. Out of that male internalized conflict emerged the patriarchal society. Once the investment is made in a woman, males tend to want to secure that association for a host of reasons. The liberation of females challenges this inclination, which is why society became structured the way it was during the age of patriarch.

Violence is born of three things in large part, the desire to dominate, the desire to prevent domination and fear. Domination is a freighting space; the western male’s conditioning is a product of argumentative thought; we are taught to be oppositional, to deploy tactics and win the day. Intellectual confrontations often extend to physical confrontations. A culture with the impetrative to hold domain over ourselves, or to dominate has emerged - dominate or be dominated. The innate desire to have a women’s appreciation linked to maternal bonding is powerful, it redirects us away the tradition precepts of strength and independence and threatens  self- domain, FEAR, plays a role here; paradoxically a woman’s affections can occupy the mind as a threat. This may in part be the be birthplace of misogyny, this may be the place where the Montreal Massacre came from, or less extreme, or perhaps causal, this may have been the place where Paul’s letter to the Corinthians came from.   

So again, hear the conflict, firstly men want to spread genes, secondly we want fidelity – the only assurance that genes are getting spread is fidelity, so fidelity trumps all – hence the moral complex around western sexual relations and fidelity. So in developing the patriarchal society, men, have had an aim at play, fidelity. Fidelity, the accurate copy is innately important to men – men want to know “our” children are our own; innate one would imagine at the most base level, it would be a biological desire. There is no biological imperative for monogamy; monogamy is a cultural means to ensure every man gets his own and or to prevent conflict. In fact, monogamy gets in the way of spreading our genes. So here too the liberation of female falls a fowl with male desires, or at least potentially so, or perhaps more likely so.  

The introduction of Greek philosophy in Abrahamic morality is a source of consternation for men in the contemporary setting.  Plato’s ideal of “being above the senses” precluded him from enjoying female company, some still hold celibacy as an ideal to be aspired to – and encounter self-loathing when they fall short. This is of course a perversion of human discourse that has caused perversion of human sexuality and resulted in perverse outcomes.

The Christian narrative around sexuality is complex, conflicted, sullies sexual relations and generates an inappropriate physiological space around virtue. There is at once a requirement for women to be virtuous and a lover, a circumstance that has a woman becoming somehow less acceptable having been a woman. The language that one encounters around sexual relations in Church is often derogatory – “sins of the flesh” and the like; this puts in place a conflict with virtuosity and sexual relations. The exaltation of virginity imposes a diminished state on those who have chosen to engage in sexual relations.

By way of example Original Sin, is a doctrine developed by a very conflicted man in and about 400 AD, Original Sin is in no way the word of Christ. The Original Sin doctrine proposes that by our nature we are sinners and that the pleasure derived from sexual relations is sinful. Original Sin besmirched our humanity and fowls sexual relations. Original Sin is more of a Platonic ideal than one that Christ would have propagated. Christ embraced love; Original Sin is a misplaced in Christianity.

The generalized SUPPRESSION of sexuality by Christianity has sexuality “erupting” in inappropriate ways, violent ways. Perhaps in part, VAW finds some cause here. It certainly raises its head in religious institutions, as has come to light since the sexual revolution has permitted victims of sexual abuse to speak of the incursions on their person. It seems often, where people with suppressed sexuality gain power over others, sexuality is actuated in painful ways, in forms of abuse – residential schools for example.

The violence the emanates from sexual suppression is evident in so many ways in Christian institutions, in the pre-sexual revolution era women who became pregnant out of wedlock incurred violent rebuke and marginalization from the Church. Our policies around prostitution that leave the most vulnerable in often the most deplorable of conditions, is an act of violence that emanates from the Christian moral complex. When people exist affected by suppression, in the case of sexual suppression and other forms of suppression, that is to say, they are in effect fighting to contain an inclination, their response to that inclinations enactment is often violent. You could say that the greater the degree of desire, the higher the degree of suppression, the greater the degree of violence that is elicited in response.

From Eve who betrayed men to the Virgin Mary as an ideal, the ostensible foundation of Christian morality as it relates to sexuality, lands on the male psyche in ways that affects our interface with women negatively. It may be posited that in our secular society that most young men are unaware of biblical teachings and Eve and Mary hold no sway with them, the truth however, is that these concepts amplify as they enter and are distributed through the narrative.

It is my assertion that the tacit double sexual standard that exalts men in sexual conquest and sullies women in sexual participation (thankfully diminished in contemporary society) emanates from the Christian ideals of femininity and the biological inclinations of men, in conjunction with the male desire for fidelity. It maybe, the more generalized double standards between men and women in society finds some cause here as well.
The Abrahamic moral complex, in fact the entire human moral complex, as it relates to human sexuality came into being thousands of years ago. It was developed to generate a harmonious society, to reduce male conflict, to create the family unit, to satiate the male desire for fidelity and to manage the negative externalities that flow from human sexuality. It was developed at time when the consequences of sexual interface were dire for people – especially young women, so the rhetoric and response to sexual interface had to be extreme and strict. The moral complex that has arisen from these times is still being projected throughout human discourse, some is a help, and some is a hindrance. As this arcane and archaic moral complex finds expression in society, in the form of government policy and actions, and in the general human endeavor, it effects VAW, and confounds an equitable and loving interface between men and women. As morals come to us with our mother’s milk, we fail in many cases to examine them; in the west we need to examine the Abrahamic moral complex and keep the good, and dispose of the bad - keep the family, dispose of inequity.

With a clean moral slate, we can build a narrative that is anti-violent and is free of suppressive language. We can construct a human interface that is liberated, that allows us to teach young people that sexual relations are a beautiful and can occur healthfully as a part of their general life course. When human sexuality is seen as it is, as beautiful and worthy, humanity will do with it what humanity does with all things it values, it will protect it and by extension protect those involved in it – this is the thing we call progress. In contemplating a new moral complex, let’s begin with the end in mind - a society of love and tolerance, with happy children, the one Christ started his revolution for. The beauty in Christ’s message has survived 2000 years of the institutional perversions that came from of philosophical warfare, actual warfare and power mongering, because it is liberating and recognizes the innate beauty in humanity.  

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Violence Against Women - #NOTokay

Links to more complete thinking below.


It is clear that it is simply unacceptable that women, in Canada, in 2014, find themselves in a state of vulnerability. Our justice system would do well to focus on eliminating violence in society; the challenge is we ask our police to attend to so many things that it is difficult to attend to this important concern.

When police are stretched so thin, we all have to learn to take care of ourselves, men and women alike.  While we need to work toward a society that is wholly respectful of women’s safety and wellbeing; in the interim there is a reality to deal with; there is a risk inherent in some areas of life for women. When my girls were young; I taught them to never walk alone, avoid being alone with one or more men, build a strong buddy system with their friends and generally be aware of their environment. This is teaching young women to take care of themselves; it is in no way acquiescence to the generalized state of barbarism that seems to exist in the societal subtext.

In his book the Anatomy of Power, John Kenneth Galbraith, speaks to the sources of power in society, he states that CONDITIONING is the most powerful of the sources of power. We live in a society that is in large measure directed by the Christian Narrative. The Christian Narrative holds a patriarchal bias and in some cases women are ridiculed by errant historical depictions. The destructive elements in traditional Christian teachings, or the misinterpretation  of Christ’s word, are being muted as we become generally more secular. The United Church and other progressive churches have helped to move us toward a more rational society which has fueled women’s progress.

The lingering affects of orthodoxy, the generalized suppression of healthy sexual dialog lays a cloak over the whole subject of human sexuality, and with that reality there comes a stifling environment where teaching young men and women about appropriate relations is difficult. The sexual revolution, spurred by secularism, has brought us closer the Christian ideal of peaceful human relations, because now, having “de-stigmatized” sexual relations to a large degree – people negatively affected can speak about what has happened, knowing they will be seen as the victim of wrongdoing. Much of the “shame” in victim-hood related to sexual assault emanates from the generalized suppression of sexual relations as exercised by many Christian organizations.  

We need to exercise caution in remedying the negative circumstance that does continue, yes we must teach compassion to young men, yes we need to exercise a culture of respect for women – we do however, have to be mindful of zealotry. People should never be convicted on hearsay, in the case of the two parliamentarians who were suspended; both were severely affected absent due process. It may be that they did do something wrong, what is required is the sober assessment of a Judge as opposed to a near “lynch mob” mentality. The men that inflict violence on women are bad men, we need to be cognizant that there are bad women too. We need to remember that in a world were accusations convict that we are replacing one vulnerability with another. DUE PROCESS PLEASE.

More Thinking on the VAW