Friday, May 29, 2015

Violence Against Women - Rape and Response

Written in response to discourse on CBC radio, May 28, 2015.

There is call from people affected by rape to strengthen laws. There has been an evolution in law away from the victimization of the victim; a reduction if you will, in drawing inappropriately on orthodoxy and a contorted view of female sexuality.  For a person to be charged with rape, there needs to be a clear determination of the absence of consent on the part of the victim – oft times the means by which to determine the presence or absence of consent is in the un-witnessed dialog between two people leading up to the event. There is no basis in this circumstance to answer to an accusation of rape and there can never be, or people would be convicted on accusation alone.

The goal is to have a society where people are safe and can choose how they want to interface with others – the challenge is it is hard to effect through law enforcement – it needs to be culturally driven and that will take some time. Women are understandably frustrated that they are required to be constrained in their daily lives to a greater degree than men to protect themselves, but there is really no other way, people simply have to protect themselves. As a man I am mindful of where I am, who I am exposed to and how I might manage any given situation should it arise and women need to as well. So prevention is a critical element in response to the threat of rape.

Consent and only consent – is the determinant of rape. People must be clear in communication around sexual relations, by way of example, a women when confronted with an male in a manner that is uncomfortable to her should respond by saying, PLEASE STOP WHAT YOU ARE DOING – an affirmative request to cease is the clearest means by which to be sure what you are saying is understood. There is room for misinterpretation in interface unless a very clear AFFIRMATIVE request to cease is made.  
People refer to the presence of a rape culture, it is important to break out all the aspects of issue – there is the patriarchy – there are men who rape women, they are unrelated. The patriarchy marginalizes women by systematizing male privilege, rapists rape. The patriarchy has an imperative to protect women, an imperative that is part and parcel with “chauvinist” inclination; the protective inclination as a “stand alone” entity is a good thing. Patriarchs in the traditional sense see rape as a crime, as women do. A convicted rapist or a person compelled to act to rape when opportunity presents, should be contemplated separate and apart from the male population general. One hears women referring to the “rape culture” as though it is a general practice of “most” men. Most men I know are kind, loving and respectful towards women. The general state of patriarchy effects less than desirable outcomes for women in society at large – this is in no way a rape culture, it is a culture of privilege for men.

The awkward fusion of Stoicism and Christian Theology has created a culture where women become devalued when contemplated in the context of sexual relations; this reality then contributes to male disrespect for women in some circumstances. This may be the source of some violence toward women – this is the point where violence against women can be attacked culturally. Presently, we are at an awkward point in the evolution of female sexuality in society at large, women have evolved perhaps in advance of society as a whole, which is abrading against old perceptions on the part of males.

Due to the reality that rape is very difficult to prove and is subject to interpretations of discourse between people, caution is warranted in how we respond to accusations of rape. Also, given that the data associated with conviction is oft times the interpretation of interface between two people, there is a high possibility of wrongful convictions. Given these realities it is important that people convicted of rape once, who have served their sentence, be permitted to enter society in an unfettered fashion.  So the answer to the question - To publish rapist names - seems simple enough, the first time through the process NO, if a person re-offends, then society needs to protect all concerned. There is wrongful conviction, especially in the area of rape; rape is very difficult to prove for reasons stated above – so if someone is convicted and they serve their sentence, they deserve the benefit of the doubt. There should be no question that if there is an offender that has more than two convictions, that steps should be taken to ensure the public can manage their presence in any given community.

What is missing here, and is missing throughout our corrections processes, is criteria based advancement. There needs a series of steps people go through to regain their place in society at large having committed a crime. Multiple time offenders are by definition “repeat offenders”, so our approach to them needs to be different than a person that is a first time offender. The key here is assessing each case and then making a choice to publish data or withhold it.

The challenge with publishing the names and locations of offenders is that we marginalize them more and subject them to people inclined to “name & shame”.  Naming & shaming offers no value in the case of an individual intent on reforming, and fails to arrest the actions of an individual who is compelled to act as a result of illness. The general public oft times is out to effect vengeance – rather than exercise a measured response to people accused or convicted of rape.

Rapists that have offended eight times (as was the subject of the CBC program that has prompted this blog) require NO consideration with respect to privacy, they need to be managed. In the case of repeat, “high risk” offenders, they should be monitored 24/7, ankle bracelets and other technology to communicate their location to police or a monitoring body is warranted and or an isolated living circumstances – perhaps community that is designed to house and contain the negative affect of repeat rapists.

It is critical however, that people, having served their punishment, and having been released on the first occasion be given opportunity to reintegrate into society – unobstructed. A person in this circumstance should never be exposed to “community” type interventions, because, for the most part there is an absence of evolved enough people to involve themselves in the private lives of others. There tends to be a vindictive, small minded cohort that finds their way into the “community justice” space, people absent the understanding of fundamental law and ignorant of critical elements related to civil rights.

The other challenge is the reversion to an “ancient” moral perspective, a degree of righteousness emerges along with a “vigilantly” mentality. This is exacerbated by people who have been affected by rape as they become involved in processes related to “community” interventions, people traumatized by an event are unlikely to be able to find an objective place from which to actuate.

Within our society there is a wide cultural variation with respect to sexual discourse, this is allowed, the response to sexual deviation tends to drive us backward to a strict and highly moralized stance. It is the merger of sex and all the associated baggage it carries and violence suppression that drives the rebuke. The focus of response needs to be on violence and the violation of being over powered – to be forced to action absent consent.  

Ideally, society would be free of rape, there is no more grievous injury to the sole than to be over powered, rendered defenseless and sexually assaulted. Ideally, women would be treated the same clothed in a burka or a bikini – the reality is they are treated differently. Ideally, women could run in the parks at any time of day or night by themselves absent fear, the reality is however, they are at risk when they do. The prevalence of rape is shocking to me, when I inventory the women in my life whose personal lives I am familiar with – the percentages that have been affected by rape is staggering. I am unsure what drives it, I only know it exists, the only way to manage it is to recognize its presence, to understand the modalities that lead to it occurring and then find a ways to lower the risk, and contain perpetrators.   

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Public Transit & Where Solution Lies

We can quibble about the amount of subsidy transit in British Columbia takes, my understanding is that about 2/3 of the cost is carried by government and 1/3 by users. Whatever it is, it indicates that even with a heavily subsidized transit system people, when given a choice, choose independent transportation. People want the freedom of independent transportation, so even if public transit were free, people would likely choose to pay for independent transport.

The statement above is particularly true of North America and less so in Europe. My Uncle in England lived in the executive belt outside London, he used public transit, as Chairman of the company he had a chauffeur who would pick him up at Baker Street Station where he would start his day. The transit offered him an advantage, by planning his day around the train travel it was faster to use transit than sit in the car and fight with traffic. The efficiency advantage of train travel in this case was in large measure due to high traffic facilitated by a high population density.    

The situation in England contrasts sharply with the situation in small town British Columbia, where population densities are relatively low, so public transit cycle times make transit use inefficient for the individual. So, aside from being stuffed in a bus with a bunch of strangers, one has to wait and waste valuable time in transit as the bus stops here and there. The concept of common transport is flawed because it attacks the inherent preferences of people; people want the fastest way from a to b - when they want to go.

Rather than try and build solution around what we think people “should” do, we should build solution around what people want to do. What is the overarching objective of transit – perhaps to reduce traffic – all though that can be managed for? Most people are desiring to find a way for people to get around absent harm to the environment. Perhaps solution lies in reducing the transport Canada requirements for independent vehicles, in most cases a fast golf cart would suffice, we are driving a 5000 lb SUV. Perhaps we should reduce the age requirement to drive to 12 or 14 on electric bikes and small “cars”. Perhaps the city should invest in free electric carts and cars that are merely left around for people to use and redistributed as required by a small staff.

There are independent travel solutions that are in harmony with the environment; better to put our attention there, than trying to spoon feed everyone something that is clearly demonstrated to be undesirable. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Want Diversity, Prosperity - FOSTER INDIVIDUALISM

Individualism is a modern phenomena, the concept can only find expression in a circumstance where society is big enough, easy enough and people are isolated enough to be able to survive absent a tribe. Individualism is constantly corrupted by the collective and the massive mass media narrative that is at play now in the world. Individualism is in large measure a spawn of the United States, an order, which aspires to deliver personal choice – the first of its kind in history. I love individualism as it merges with democracy and common law, because, at once, people act with autonomy and it is required that they respond to the interests of others; this is a beautiful thing.

It seems that when you get more than a couple of people acting together, autonomy gets challenged, especially in modern society, where groups tend to coalesce around a “special interest”. “Special Interests” are okay, what is unacceptable however, is the way in which the actions of people associated with a special interest tend to become associated with “left” or “right” or one political brand or another. At the very moment an issue becomes attached to a political a brand, it gets distorted, because politics are about power first and policy second. Given that in a democracy to forward an idea, one needs political mass (power), acquiring political mass requires accommodating large numbers of people and in the accommodation of large numbers of people, distortions occur. It is optimum to seek solutions to issues rather than distort issues to suite power, which rarely happens. By nurturing the Individual, by creating self-supporting, self-sufficient, independent people we begin to fracture “the group” and / or “group think”. This is a healthy thing, as it permits people to bring a critical mind to challenges.

Individualism in the modern context of social media, has “individualism” in effect being a branding exercise, one hopes that the broad based ability to “mediafy” one’s self begins to fracture the narrative – under the “post WW2” mass media regime we were slotted into a bi-polar, tri-polar – or a limited polled political space and then slotted into one of about 6 or 7 stereotypes. The old media space held control over the populace’s thought under a narrow spectrum of competition; the modern individual is able to draw on, and build the “individual” from a broader spectrum in the social media space; allowing for a nuanced projection of self and a general societal circumstance of a more nuanced perception of others. Further, the coalescence of micro-topics or interests “on the tail” brings oddities into the mainstream as they gain resolution in a manner that would have never occurred in the past, generating a circumstance where “individuals’” emerge in a more varied and nuanced way. This is beautiful thing as well, it is being challenged by the increasing regulation of the internet space – governments are seeking to once again restrict and control the data that feeds the narrative – as, where the narrative goes society goes. This is the paradox, the boarder and more varied the data field, the boarder and more varied the individual becomes; this well-spring nearly always brings disruption, and disruption scares the established and the established seek to suppress disruption - yet  we need disruption to advance.

We must seek to enhance the individual, to foster diversity; individuals are rarely birthed in large monolithic institutions, in fact, large monolithic institutions are hostile to the individual. Institutions “haze” individuals out of existence or the bell curve does, and forces them to fit the mold, rather than liberate them from the mold. Every individual is a point of emergence, we can smother that emergence with dogma, conformity, thereby, retaining “norms” & “stability” OR we can seek at every opportunity to feed the creation of individuals that emerge un-subdued by the “old”, and embrace the disruption that they bring us.   

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Alberta & the NDP - Alberta?

I often say, “shake a tree at any post-secondary institution and a half dozen Trotskies fall out”, this is the brain trust of the Canadian socialist movement – the source of a regurgitated dogma, a dogma, when given cursory review, has in every instance ended in the few, running the many and with everyone having less as opposed to more – China, Soviet Russia …, even Sweden had to come back to the market economy to repair the damages caused by their pursuit of socialist policy. The pursuit of equality always ends badly, when equity is held as a priority and people can pursue their interests – people get more. Why, then, does a doctrine that drives policy that never works always seem to get another chance – bad government market policy that’s why. My Uncle taught me, it was bad conservatism that was the birth place of socialism; my observations have confirmed his assertion. Conservatism is seen as a fusion between market economy, fiscal restraint and social conservatism – in effect, market economy and good fiscal policy are falling prey to social conservatism – Canada is a progressive country, forget that and prosperity will die the same death that oppressive social conservative inclinations have.

There has never been a more prosperous civilization in the history of the world than the western modern economic complex; we are now at the apex of human existence. The two things that have driven the accent of prosperity has been the market economy, in concert with democracy. The constant competition for companies to provide a better product cheaper, has created a circumstance where people spend their entire day figuring out what I want, then making it, getting to me where I want it and finally at the cheapest price – disruption, creative destruction are the marvels that have given us so much. This stands in startling contrast to the monoliths socialist policies have generated – medical system that is failing us and an education system that is delivering services the same way it has for 5000 years.  I ran a fishing lodge for eight years, I took over in 1989 – I purchased a computer and automated guest interaction, accounting and all administrative aspects of the business. I stopped going to the doctor 7 years ago and then they still had paper files and I was unable to even communicate with the guy by email.  

So hold onto your hat Alberta, maybe the NDP will give you a few more monoliths to live with like ICBC, or maybe you’ll be lucky enough for the government to regionalise your already waning medical system. Alberta Farmers, just wait, the NDP may mimic the largest expropriation of land in history as the BC NDP did, in the manner they implemented the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). The ALR has grown into its own industry here in BC, farmland is getting eaten up anyway, it is just that we have another byzantine hoop to jump through – you even have to go to the Agricultural Land Commission if you want to bring a belly-dump in to change the drainage or alter the topography on your own place. Oh, and when you want to put in a septic system on your place – it is going to cost you about $10,000 more to higher an accredited insulation company. The metaphorical horse shit is going to pile high and wide in Alberta now, the real stuff will have several inspectors with permit books and forms in triplicate to fill out – it will sit there longer now because you will be unable to do anything with it until a recent graduate from Resource Management, with the life experience of a lab rat grants permission to move shit around on your own place - enjoy. 

Everyone that believes in the individual, in enterprise, in prosperity needs to wake up and start making capitalism accessible. The socialist brain trust has feed the doctrine of envy, they teach people to hate the successful, they cut the heads off of the tall poppies and the tax initiative – we should be able to beat that pretty easy. What’s stopping us, we are, we are failing to be generous enough – we need to build a culture of facilitation, entrepreneurial adventurism. Alberta is the most prosperous jurisdiction in North America, when you go there, one sees many who are absent access to business and it fruits, doctrine won in Albert, the NDP has spun the molehill of inequality in to the mountain of societal injustice in the most prospers place on earth, exceptional political play. This standing in startling contrast as well, to the protectorate of the market economy, your bickering on the right – well enjoy. I hope for your sake, that this government takes the same tact as the Blair government, at least there, there was a grand bargain; OR you may sit down to a banquet of consequences, a bunch of redistributionist policy and a whole bunch more government.