Will Saddam's execution be on TV?

It's not hard to imagine the Iraqi authorities allowing cameras at the gallows. Even if they don't, it's not unlikely that a cellphone or two will somehow manage to video the execution. In either case, thanks to the 'Net, footage of the hanging will conceivably be globally available. What will the networks do?
That's an interesting question. I sometimes think the fact that we don't watch executions for entertainment anymore is a sign of progress. And in a way, it is. But progress always leaves some people untouched, and I imagine there is a large audience just waiting for Saddam's hanging to show up on TV -- or, failing that, YouTube.


Global warming...

Just read this in The Independent:
Rising seas, caused by global warming, have for the first time washed an inhabited island off the face of the Earth. The obliteration of Lohachara island, in India's part of the Sundarbans where the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers empty into the Bay of Bengal, marks the moment when one of the most apocalyptic predictions of environmentalists and climate scientists has started coming true.
I was a little surprised to see a newspaper run a story that states so matter-of-factly that something was caused by global warming. I probably read too many American papers.

Read the rest of the story here.


The challenge of multiculturalism

In the current issue of the University of Toronto Magazine, Janice Gross Stein describes some of the ways that Canada's commitment to multiculturalism is being challenged. This relates to a point I made in my last post (sort of), so I thought I'd discuss it a little bit.

Professor Stein, who may be familiar to frequent viewers of CBC's The National, points out that multiculturalism has become "part of the sticky stuff of Canadian identity." It has been enshrined in the Canadian constitution, and "has worked extraordinarily well in practice."

But the Charter of Rights and Freedoms provides for freedoms that sometimes come into conflict with one another. For example, it guarantees religious freedom. But it also insists on various equality rights, that religions do not recognise. One might argue that religious institutions are private organisations, while the charter pertains to the state. Which is true. But as Stein points out, religious institutions "enjoy special tax privileges given to them by governments. Religious institutions do not pay property tax and most receive charitable status from the federal government."

Stein asks if "the equality rights of the charter [should] have some application when religious institutions are officially recognized and advantaged in fundraising" by tax benefits given to contributors?

I think that's a pretty good question.

Work Cited:

Stein, Janice Gross. "Religion Versus the Charter." University of Toronto Magazine. 34/2 Winter 2007, 27-30.


There really is a first time for everything...

This has never happened before: Alan Dershowitz has written something that I don't completely disagree with. It is regarding American congressman Keith Ellison. This is from a blog entry posted on HuffPo:
As if to demonstrate that intolerance once practiced against Jews can also be practiced by some Jews against other minorities, a Jewish right wing talk show host named Dennis Prager led a campaign to disallow the first Muslim elected to Congress (in November 2006) to take an oath of office on the Koran.
Prager, apparently something of an alarmist, claimed that allowing Ellison to do this "undermines American civilization."

Dershowitz cites a condemnation of Prager's comments by the Anti-Defamation League of B'Nai Brith. While they were right to condemn what Prager said, there was one part that I found highly questionable:
Prager ridiculously asserts that permitting Rep. Ellison to take the oath of office would 'be doing more damage to the unity of America and to the value system that has formed this country than the terrorists of 9-11.' What he fails to understand is that what truly unifies all Americans is a value system built on religious freedom and pluralism, not dogmatism and coercion. (emphasis added)
Is that actually true? Are Americans really "unified" in this way? I don't see how anyone could seriously argue that this is the case. If it were, Ellison's decision would not have been met with such controversy.

No doubt many Americans are committed to such a value system. But you don't have to look to far to find mountains of evidence that many others are not.

This is such an obvious observation that I'm slightly embarrassed pointing it out. But what interests me is not so much the obvious difficulty with the claim that "all Americans" are unified by a "value system built on religious freedom and pluralism," but the fact that there are people -- presumably intelligent people -- who actually make such claims.

More on the subject tomorrow...
Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.