Image*The below was a talk I delivered on 9 Dec 2012 at an International Human Rights Day event in Toronto, Canada*

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Today we celebrate International Human Rights Day.  We believe that the resistance borne of the struggle for the rights of the people is truly something to celebrate.  That said it is also fair to ask ‘why?’

Well the truth is, we don’t celebrate Human Rights, we celebrate the rights of people.

As Wendy Brown writes in “Human Rights and the Politics of Fatalism:”

[H]uman rights are vague and unenforceable; their content is infinitely malleable; they are more symbolic than substantive… in their primordial individualism; they conflict with cultural integrity and are a form of liberal imperialism; they are a guise in which super-power global domination drapes itself; they are a guise in which the globalization of capital drapes itself; they entail secular idolatry of the human and are thus as much a religious creed as any other.

In contrast People’s Rights look at the rights of the people as a whole; the rights of communities over the benefit of the individual; the right to rebel.  (more…)

On the occasion of the State Visit to the Philippines / 9 November 2012

ImageDear Mr. Harper,

As Filipino Canadians with strong ties to our home country, we follow closely and with much interest your visit to the Philippines. In your visit, we hope that as the Prime Minister of Canada that you will represent the Canada most Canadians want — the Canada that believes in justice, human rights, and peacekeeping.

You have declared that “Canada’s relations with the Philippines continue to grow and diversify, aided by an increasingly important Canada-Filipino community.”  The Filipino community in Canada is now the largest source country for migrants to Canada; it is the fourth largest visible immigrant community, and one of the top three sending countries of temporary foreign workers to Canada. Filipinos made up the largest group of Temporary Foreign Workers (2006 census) at 13.9 per cent nationally. As members and representatives of community groups and alliances, we would like to see relationships between Canada and the Philippines go beyond just the economic interests to include issues of human rights, sustainability, good governance and peace.   (more…)

22 October 2012

Gangnam Style.  You’ve seen it I’m sure (I mean it’s in the Guinness Book for highest number of likes on Youtube).  At first I just dismissed it as just some fad, completely harmless and at most just the latest weirdly ironic thing people picked up on to pass the time.  And yet… in retrospect it’s a lot more than that, it’s a great excuse to write about ideology today.

Ideology.  The word is most commonly used these days to refer to ideas (usually “evil” or at least misguided) that we disagree with.  Western society likes to think of itself as ideologically neutral—you know, in the same way that White people are the default type in the West—but a serious look at pop culture and the evening news is all you need to see that ideology is alive and kicking. (more…)

We wear yellow bracelets. We pin pink ribbons to our clothing. We run a marathon with the motivation that we’re helping a fellow human being in need. But how much do we help the cause when we do these things?

 *from http://ww3.tvo.org/video/183005/being-charitable-today

Thanks to a friend I was pointed toward an interesting episode on last week’s “The Agenda” on TVO where they explore charitable giving. The above is the show description.  As Han asked me to give my thoughts on it, and since it’s Thanksgiving, I thought it would make a good holiday themed write up.  Please feel free to leave your honest opinions below.  I intend to be honest with my opinions here.

It is a time to give thanks and to reflect on how best to help the less fortunate.  In doing this often we think about charity–but I don’t.

I don’t believe in charity.  In fact I am almost completely against it.  (more…)

The Cybercrime bill is justifiably getting a lot of attention these days.  Even those not normally politicized recognize that a law that makes even the FB “sharing” of government criticism punishable by imprisonment is, well, a tad bit harsh.

“If you click ‘like,’ you can be sued, and if you share, you can also be sued,” said Sen. Teofisto Guingona III, one of the lawmakers who voted against the passage of the law.

The provision, according to Guingona, is so broad and vague that it’s not even clear who should be liable for a given statement online. And if you’re found guilty, get ready to spend up to 12 years in prison.  *from: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-202_162-57522609/facebooks-like-may-land-filipinos-in-jail/

This is legal. (more…)

*this is the copy of a talk I gave on 26 January 2012 at “The Politics of Protest” conference at the University of Toronto.

ImageAs one of the organizers of this event, wrote on her FB wall the other day (in all caps no less):  “OK SERIOUSLY, LET’S HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT SOCIAL MOVEMENTS AND HOW THEY NEGOTIATE POWER AND PRIVILEGE!!”

Ok.  Lets.

So let me start by saying something very bluntly: White people ARE superior to people of colour.  Men ARE more important and more valuable than women.  And greed IS far superior to “love.”

Let’s not beat around the bush about should be’s or the use of non-oppressive language.

THIS is the society we live in.  THIS is reality.  You don’t like it?  Good.  Change it. (more…)