Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A constitution in tatters

Any monarchist will tell you that HM the Queen is the final guarantor of our constitutional liberties in this, the geographically largest monarchy in the world. As HM continues her visit to Canada today, one is moved to think that, all by herself, she might probably have done a better job of security in Toronto last weekend.

Picture the steely old grandmother, with her hideous hat and oversized handbag, telling the "anarchists" to put down the rocks and behave themselves. Since a goodly number appear to have been police officers putting on a show, they'd have been bound to listen to her.

What is absolutely certain is that the Integrated Security Unit that was supposedly ensuring security in Toronto was simply not up to the task. They allowed violence to go unchecked over 24 blocks and 90 minutes, and then went about arresting peaceful protestors, journalists and startled passers by, seemingly at random. They arrested more than 900 people in a 24 hour period - more than twice the number rounded up in 1970 when the Left's favourite fascist, Pierre Trudeau, suspended our constitution because two guys had been kidnapped. (Note, at the point Trudeau declared martial law, Pierre Laporte was dead, but his body had not yet been discovered.) And Harper's constitutional crackdown was accomplished without ever declaring martial law.

The most charitable interpretation is that every single person in authority within the ISU was completely incompetent. That could explain why they left violent window-smashers alone while rounding up people who had followed instructions and returned to the designated free speech area.

Incompetence is the most charitable interpretation - but not the most credible.

No, there appears to be something far more malign and more disturbing going on.

* We have the iron-clad fact of the 90 minute free pass given to supposed violent protestors to smash windows and intimidate passers-by.

* We have the "abandoned" police car that sat, unharmed, among peaceful protestors for more than 30 minutes - until the police came to chase the peaceful protestors away and the "anarchists" arrived as if on cue to set it alight.

* We have the firetruck that was held back from putting out the fire.

We are asked to believe that 10,000 armed and armoured police could do nothing to impede fewer than 200 thugs? Just how stupid do Stephen Harper and Bill Blair think we are?

At best, a small number of protestors were allowed to engage in violence unmolested in order to justify a massive attack on civil liberties to follow. At worst (and, given the admitted use of agents provocateurs by police at Montebello in 2007, most likely) some significant number of the "anarchists" smashing windows were actually police officers perpetrating a massive fraud.

* Then we have police surrounding groups of non-violent protestors, ordering them to leave but giving them no way out - then arresting them for not doing the impossible.

* We have numerous allegations of cells full of young female detainees subjected to tastless jokes (read implicit threats) about gang rape.

* We have numerous allegations of female detainees strip searched by unsupervised male officers - complete with at least one allegation of a finger being inserted into the traumatized young woman's vagina. (Believe me, if it were MY daughter, I'd be making sure that Bill Blair and his thugs got to see what a real violent protest looked like.)

How bad was the police over-reach?

Well, you can read about it at a number of progressive sites like this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this, this and this.

You can read what the Canadian Civil Liberties Association is here.

But if you really want to appreciate how badly the ISU screwed up, consider this. They screwed it up so badly that even the mainstream corporate media noticed and are covering the story. Canada's newspaper of record, the Globe and Mail, Canada's largest private broadcaster CTV (see in particular the video Journalists on the Arrests), the Ottawa Citizen, Canada's largest circulation newspaper the Toronto Star, TVO anchor Steve Paiken, Canadian Business for God's sake. These are not a gang of radicals and leftists. These are the elite of Canada's corporate media establishment.

When the abuse of state power is so egregious that even the corporate media are telling the story, you know it's bad.

Now, as the CCLA says, there were "instances of commendable and professional conduct" on the part of police. But is is appalling that "instances of commendable and professional conduct" are being noted as the exception.

The fact of the matter is that if even one tenth of these allegations are confirmed, heads need to roll. And if heads are to roll, they can start with Toronto police chief Bill Blair, who has already been caught out lying to the media more than once.

Oh, and lest anyone want to place all the political blame on the federal Conservatives, let us not forget that the McGuinty Liberals secretly passed regulations to give police extraordinary powers. Liberal commentators will pretend otherwise, but the Liberal Party of Canada has been at the heart of every attack on the constitutional rights of Canadian citizens, from the internment of Japanese-Canadians to Trudeau's martial law to the events of last weekend in Toronto.

Most police officers I've ever met want to make society safer. I rather suspect that even many of the officers arresting innocent people had been told (ie, lied to) by their superiors and believed that they were arresting dangerous radicals. Large crowds and tense situations can lead to a mob mentality. In this case, it is pretty clear that the mob on Saturday was not the protestors, but rather the police.

Senior police ad security officials have violated the oaths they have taken and disgraced the uniforms they wear. They have led their subordinates, knowingly or unknowingly, to act shamefully.

I am moved to consider September 11. No, not September 11, 2001, when the World Trade Centre fell, but September 11 1973, when corporate power overthrew the constitution of Chile.

The difference here is that the governments - federal and provincial - were the ones shredding the constitution.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lest anyone think the Black Bloc were the only problem . . .

. . . there aslo have been incidents of police over-reaction and possibly even provocation. In this video, there is no evidence of violence from the protestors, yet the police race into the crowd several times to "take down" individual protestors. At 1:02, the videographer is attacked by police.

Of course, the actions of the Black Bloc will assure that these incidents never make the mainstream media.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Black Block - the best friends international capital ever had.

Reports suggest that there were about 10,000 protestors in Toronto today. More than 9,500 peaceful protesters actually had some message to send.

A couple hundred "anarchists" engaged in acts of violence ranging from smashing storefronts and throwing feces through broken windows to spraying urine at reporters and torching police cars.

Let us be clear. The so-called Black Block were there for one reason and one reason only. They were there to advance the cause of global capital. They were there to provoke pointless violence. They were there to discredit legitimate dissent. They were there to help Stephen Harper and Dalton McGuinty justify draconian legislation and out of proportion security spending.

They succeeded in their mission.

Sadly, the mainstream media have fallen for it.

Even sadder, some people on the left fail to recognize these quisling thugs for what they really are.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The dangers of going hatless

Cantuar's recent snub to the American Presiding Bishop is tragicomedy at it's most pathetic. The justification that "this is standard procedure" is collapsing under the weight of photographs of bishops - male and female - with their pointy hats firmly ensconsed. American annoyance at Rowan's rudeness, while perhaps understandable, is swiftly losing perspective.

But I offer two things.

1. Does anyone else think it's ironic that fundamentalism is being advanced by telling a woman that she must NOT cover her hair in church?

2. Going hatless can have severe consequences - particularly in parts of England like Ilkla Mooar.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Alternate possibilities for +Rowan Cantuar

Some years ago, shortly after the announcement that Rowan Williams would follow George Carey as Archbishop of Canterbury, I was defending the then-Primate of Wales in an online discussion from ridiculous far-right charges that he was "a druid." (Rowan had been inducted into a Welsh cultural society. Extremists tried to spin the induction ceremony as a druidic religious rite.)

In the course of that online discussion, I mistakenly used the surname of another famous Rowan - Mr. Bean, Thin Blue Line and Blackadder star Rowan Atkinson.

A few years on, one is moved to think we might have been better off.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Moving On - at least in Canada

Here in Canada, it is perfectly legal for a man to marry another man - or for a woman to marry another woman. Some people don't like that, but there it is.

The Anglican Church of Canada has been wrestling with issues of human sexuality for at least 40 years.

Three years ago our General Synod concluded that the issues are a matter of doctrine, but not core (credal) doctrine. Later in the week, Synod debated and voted on a resolution which would have granted a "local option" to those dioceses which wished to proceed with the blessing of same sex unions. The resolution passed by large majorities among both the clergy and laity, but was defeated by a narrow margin in the House of Bishops. Everyone, it seemed, walked away angry.

Last week, General Synod met again. This time, legislative action on the issue was deliberately avoided. Efforts were made to provide safe and honest engagement among people of different views using techniques modeled on the indaba groups from the last Lambeth Conference. I am told by both "reasserter" and "reappraiser" inclined participants that the process was valuable. At the end of the process, Synod passed a Discernment on Sexuality which attempted to describe the mind of the Synod without imposing any sort of legislative solution. The most important part of the statement may well have been this piece:

Our dialogue has been a positive and helpful step in our discernment. At this time, however, we are not prepared to make a legislative decision. Above, in and through all of this, and despite all our differences we are passionately committed to walking together, protecting our common life.
"Walking together." What a concept. It's almost as if they should know we are Christians by our love.

It was actually a "reappraiser" who mentioned to me the significance of having a motion which could pass by a margin of about 345 - 10. (I can't find an official tally of the result - though all reports indicate it passed by a wide margin. I'm taking this reappraising friend's word for it.) The statement speaks honestly about where we are as a Church. Everyone affirms that their concerns were respectfully heard (apart from those determined to be offended).

Some of the progressive Anglican blogosphere found the statement a cop-out. But it was the moderately "reasserter" Canadian blogger Tim Chesterton who pointed out that the effect of the statement is to accept the reality of the so-called local option without actually authorizing it in a "formal" way. This bit of synodical leger de main or Anglican fudge serves two purposes. While creating an effective "win" for the progressives, it does so without rubbing the conservatives' noses in it. It also leaves the new Anglican curia no "formal" action to use as an excuse to proscribe our full participation in the life of the Communion.

I'm glad of this last piece, though it makes me even more conscious of the hollowness of the Communion as it stands, where the Americans are punished for doing openly and honestly what the Church of England does secretly and dishonestly, and where a now discredited progressive is using the Americans as a scapegoat in the creation of the new Lambeth papacy.

All that said, though, what really happened in Halifax last week is that the Canadian General Synod decided to move on to things that actually matter instead of rending ourselves into shreds over someone else's patholgical obsessions.

Or, as Tim Chesterton more charitably puts it:

What do I think is happening? I think that we are moving, very slowly, away from the question 'What should we do as a national Church?' (because we recognise that there is no answer to that question that doesn't leave some people out) and toward the question 'Is a diversity of practice around same-sex blessings and/or marriages an acceptable compromise that will allow us to keep walking in partnership with people we love in this Church of ours? And if it is, what might it look like in practice?' At the moment we don't have an answer to that question, but I think we need to start looking for one.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The end of authentic Anglicanism

The Archbishop of Canterbury has taken the first steps towards the formal establishment of an Anglican papacy.

It started with the issuing of a load of papal bull on Pentecost, in which His Wholiness indicated his intention to start meting out punishments he has no power to mete out.

He would, he declared, start taking steps to punish those Anglican provinces which had "formally" taken any action which did not conform the the Windsor Report. Williams appears to have missed the salient fact (as set forth by the former Primate of Central America) that the Windsor Report is (not to put too fine a point on it), merely a report and not a piece of legislation, nor a bit of Holy Writ handed down from Sinai. And he justified his coup de eglise by referring to the so called Anglican Covenant that has yet to be adopted by a single province of the Communion.

The nice American banker lady on the left here responded to the Lambeth power grab by issuing a pastoral letter of her own which amounted to a very Anglican "get stuffed." Presiding Bishop Jefferts Schori drew on a series of historical examples to affirm the historic Anglican tradition of autocephalous provinces as against Williams's power-mad vision of an international Anglican Church subservient to the Throne of Augustine.

(As an interesting sidelight, the Anglican extreme right have latched on to a single 34 word sentence in the Presiding Bishop's letter to launch a revisionist propaganda campaign claiming that the first American Bishop had really meant for the American Church to be subordinate to Canterbury. In this thread from Thinking Anglicans, you will find a certain professor from an academic institution I usually refer to as "the place across the street" using far more than one sentence and well over 34 words to spin a completely false account of the history of the Episcopal Church. I grieve for the falling academic standards of that school on the south side of Hoskin Avenue.)

Pope Rowan responded by dispatching Kenneth Kearon of the Anglican Communion Office (the Ratzinger to Williams's Wojtyla) to issue the instruction removing all American representation from an assortment of Anglican Communion committees and commissions.

The Americans are being punished because two bishops of that Church (the Bishop of New Hampshire and one of the Suffragan Bishops of Los Angeles) are in partnered relationships with people of the same sex.

Now, in his initial bull, Pope Rowan indicated that he would also proceed against other provinces deemed to have violated the Windsor Moratoria (no gay bishops, no blessing same sex unions, no setting up parallel churches in somebody else's territory).

Apparently Rowan lied.

It's only the gay cooties moratoria that are deemed worthy of sanction. the border crossers are largely left alone.

Kearon's missive indicates that all of the American representatives on a range of committees are dismissed as members (but "allowed" to continue as "consultants"). He can't really proceed against us Canadians because the Anglican Church of Canada has taken no formal action, despite the actions of a few dioceses. Instead, he's going to send us a letter asking us if we've done anything that can give him an excuse to use his jackboots.

And what about the border crossers? What about Rwanda? Nigeria? Kenya? Uganda? Southern Cone of America?

Well, despite the FACT that all of the invading provinces are caught out dead to rights, most of them are let off scot free. Only Venables, Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone of America, will receive a pretty letter asking him if he's been a good boy. And doubtless his answer will be taken at face value by the Lambeth junta.

Let's be clear, all of those listed provinces are actively engaged in violations of the Windsor moratorium on border crossing. The Anglican Church of Nigeria has a congregation that meets just down the street from my parish church - and some 10,000 kilometres from Nigeria. Yet Pope Rowan chooses not to notice.

As it happens, the Canadian Church is holding its General Synod this very week. In his Presidential Address, Primate Fred Hiltz, addressed the issues of the Covenant.

One is left wondering if provinces whose Primates continue to interfere in the internal life of other provinces and extend their pastoral jurisdiction through cross-border interventions will be contacted. To date I have seen no real measure to address that concern within the Communion. I maintain and have publicly declared my belief that those interventions have created more havoc in the Church, resulting in schism, than any honest and transparent theological dialogue on issues of sexuality through due synodical process in dioceses and in the General Synod.

I also wonder when I see the word “formally” italicized in the Archbishop’s letter. It leaves me wondering about places where the moratoria on the blessing of same sex unions is in fact ignored. The blessings happen but not “formally”.

As you will have detected I have some significant concerns about imposing discipline consistent with provisions in the Covenant before it is even adopted; and about consistency in the exercise of discipline throughout one Communion.

Quite precient of our Primate, don't you think? Days before Kearon's letter, Fred had already predicted that the squatters, sheep stealers and embezzlers would be given a free pass - and so they were.

But you have to love Fred's other question. Why is it that the North Americans are to be hounded and harried over their all too tolerant treatment of LGBTQs when the Province which annually blesses more same sex unions than all others combined (that is to say, Pope Rowan, your own Church of England) will be left quite alone? He calls on Rowan to admit that the North Americans' real sin is not our more tolerant attitude towards LGBTQs, but rather that we aren't prepared to lie about it like he is.

Like many, I had high hopes when Rowan Williams was named to succeed the conniving George Carey. Little did we know.

I'm almost past caring. If Pope Rowan wants a new-fangled, curial Anglicanism, aping the worst excesses of Rome and bending the knee to the most hateful homophobes around, then he's welcome to it.

As for me, that isn't the Anglicanism I signed up for. I guess (if I may plagiarize a line from the far right talking points), I haven't left the Anglican Communion. The Anglican Communion has left me.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Vision 2019

I intend to do some blogging about recent developments in the Anglican wars, including Rowan Williams's desperate assertion of jurisdiction, Katharine Jefferts Schori's sensible assertion of authentic Anglican polity, Christopher Seitz's misleading revisionism of Episcopal Church history and Fred Hiltz's cheeky reminder that Canada hasn't "formally" done any of the things Rowan wants to punish us for.

I will. I really will.

But right now, I can't be bothered dealing with Rowan's silliness or Christopher's duplicity.

In the meantime, check out this video.