Friday, June 13, 2008

The Homind and the police

Cory Doctorow, a sort-of Canadian*, is a big defender of civil liberties and maintaining public rights. On his blog Boing-boing, he frequently publicizes the run-ins everyday citizens have with law enforcement infrigning on their legal rights. I would say his most common posts are on people being on public property and being told they cannot take photographs. There is an interesting post on his blog about a man interviewing a manager at New York's Union Station where she tells the interviewer that photos are legal even as a security man arrives to tell them they can't take photos. His other bugaboo is copyright and he is currently agitating about Canada's upcoming copyright bill.

The Big Hominid has had some interesting run-ins with the police lately. One often hears of officers stopping, I don't know, vagrants or hobos, as they try to enter a town and directing them away or driving them through the town out the other side. I can see why they would do this as a convenience to themselves but people should have a right to walk where they want to go.

Isn't this how Rambo started out? When will people learn?

Both situations were handled very politely. The first appeared to be a sort of neighbourhood watch:
It turns out that the gent in the pickup was an off-duty policeman who called in the fact that a backpacker was strolling into town, which I suppose is why Officer Chuck checked me out.
A commenter at the above post wrote about getting permission to walk on publicly-owned roads. That sounds a little hinky to me:
One of the things I learned from Steve Vaught's Fat Man Walking blog is that, at least in some states, you can get permission from the state highway department to walk along roads where pedestrians are ordinarily prohibited. Something we'll need to look into.

On the second occasion, an officer helped the Hominid across a dangerous section of bridge; it had no shoulder or sidewalk and he had to walk sideways with his luckily-much-smaller gut hanging in traffic before the officer helped him out. He got in an interesting discussion with the officer about the legalities of walking on the side of the road.
I'm not sure I understood (or even correctly recall) the answer. If I'm not mistaken, Officer Boisen's basic point was that, even though it was technically legal to walk 522, the road wasn't "intended for" (his words) pedestrian traffic. The legal implications of "intended for" are lost to me; I'm curious to look up the actual law relevant to what happened today-- not because I dispute Officer Boisen's interpretation of it, but because I want to be clear about it in future, so as not to cause any trouble.

I want the Hominid to be safe and take no unnecessary risks but, at this rate, he may start sympathizing with the Radical-Right, Compound-Living, gubment-hating, religious fanatics. Hey, what an interesting way to start a dialogue, an inter-religious dialogue based on common concerns -way-ta-go, hypothetical-future Hominid!

My own viewpoint is that pedestrians or any users of alternative transportation should not be looked at as second-class citizens.

I think Doctorow went to school in Canada but he is really a citizen of the world. I think he currently lives in England.


Anonymous said...

'Radical-Right, Compound-Living, gubment-hating, religious fanatics.'

Hmmm... I suppose every stereotype has a grain of truth, and the picture you paint here is of a dead, hypocritical Christianity, for...

'Society is not going to be redeemed, or even influenced for good, by moralistic special pleading. The vast majority of the moralism we get from the religious right is lacking any clear reference to Christ or the gospel.'

The sad thing is that the stereotype rings true in many prominent areas of Western society, but...

'If our energies are so focused on defending our civil liberties that we neglect to make the gospel clear, we'll lose our liberty anyway, along with the influence of the gospel. That is precisely what has been happening in America in the past half-century. It's time the church woke up to that fact.'

Anonymous said...

Another perspective on Canada threatening people from having free speech, this time on grounds of alleged relgious hatred...

'Mr Steyn has ‘dared’ the tribunal to rule against the magazine. He said: “We want to lose so we can take it to a real court and if necessary up to the Supreme Court of Canada and we can get the ancient liberties of free-born Canadian citizens that have been taken away from them by tribunals like this.'

Patrick said...

Hi Brian,

A few more cases of civil liberties, free speech and religion here:

I'm sure you'd want to protect the right to free speech, whatever your worldview. It's not for nothing that most countries with a Christian past hold this value in such high regard.

kwandongbrian said...

I'll check the links later.
Regarding, your first comment, the post was about government interference, so the important point of that adjective string was the 'gubment-hating.
Really, not everything here is anti-religion or even really related to religion.

Patrick said...

Yeah, I know, and I'm not simply trying to polarise or be contentious for no reason. I have an agenda, and it's to get people to consider the God of the Bible. That's all I want... I'm not really trying to defend or attack anyone. We're all as bad as each other!

kwandongbrian said...

I haven't dug into Mr Steyn's case , but a friend has and feels McLeans has done nothing wrong. I should look into it. Here is my friend's post:

BTW: thanks for using tinyurl - I hope my link is small enough on it's own to fit.

kwandongbrian said...

"A few more cases of civil liberties, free speech and religion here"

I looked at a few and agree that people have the right to speak their conscience, absent threats of harm.

The last two links, for a transgengered wo/man (I really don't know how to describe the person except for what I will say below) wishing to use the ladies bathroom and a government council refusing to perform civil ceremonies.
First, the person is a woman now, full stop (as you Brits say). A woman should be allowed to use the women's facilities.
Second, the people were in the employ of the government and if they are unable to perform their duties for their job, they should be let go or quit. They, as everyone, is a producer of laws as voters. As employees of the state, though, they must follow those laws. If the laws permit civil ceremonies, i don't see they have a right to interfere.

Regarding your agenda, the content really seems out of place in this post. You might say everything is a about God, but I don't see it that way. This post was about civil liberties, and your list of links did relate to that.



Intelligent design

The Korean government are forward thinkers. Some bright spark at the internal affairs office realised that instead of buying costly street sweepers they could just use bored middle aged women. Thusly every Korean mother or aunt is bowlegged, shaped like a question mark and smells of bins. But those street corners, wow.


Patrick said...

Fair enough,

The post is not about religion. It's just that, through my eyes, we're all living in tents of flesh which could give way at any moment, and Christ is the only way out.

Regarding the trans-gender case, I think the main issue is that a church is a private place of worship. While in the Christian view we are all 'sinners', this is a matter of church policy, based on traditional, age-old values. You wouldn't, for example, go to a mosque or a synagogue and ask to do things which go against their values, so why should a church be any different. Similarly, a drug addict might be asked to leave a restaurant if he or she started to 'shoot up', or a hooligan might be asked to leave a library if he started to indulge in his hooliganistic activity.

The second case is a bit different. I agree with you, that once you sign a contract, you are legally and morally obliged to abide by the rules of that place of employment. There are, for example, things I don't like in my place of employment, but too bad, I've signed up and have to put up with it. But regarding a town council, the law can change, and then you might be asked to go against your conscience to an extent that you feel you can't perform that new law. Christian doctors have the same issue with abortion, for example. They should either be excused from that particular duty on grounds of conscience, or there should be an amicable parting of company with full compensation and a good reference. You wouldn't ask a Jew to eat pork or a Muslim to drink alcohol. Why should a Christian be asked to oversee homosexual union?

kwandongbrian said...

"the trans-gender case"
I suppose there are several reasons to trans-gender (I can verbify that word, right?). If the person was some strange pervert who wanted to appear as the other gender to ....uh, do perverted things, I think that person should be shunned. There are cases, however, where a person is really and truly the opposite gender they appear. If this person goes through whatever treatment to become who s/he really is, who are you to object? I guess the people of the church can object but I don't think they obviously and reasonable have grounds to.
In this case, then, maybe the person is doing something wrong. But I am open to the possibility that the person completely in the right and the church is ethically in the wrong.
I don't think the church actually does have 'age-old values' about corrective surgery, and if that is the case (again, IF), I would claim the person the victim.

Regarding the homosexual union bit, you've got me thinking (congrats). I feel knee-jerk against most of what you say (so, in the larger picture, you are not only failing to convert me, but also to make me less likely to convert), but I am trying to see your point.
I would argue against your Jews and pork, Muslims and alcohol but, saying that no one is typically forced to do such things, but I live in Korea, where both such things might be required if you want to be promoted.

I guess I feel that if someone else can do the job, someone could refuse on religious grounds. On the other hand, if no else is available, well, the public has a right to do the services of the government. Tough one.

BTW, that Jolly Roger blog is whack (that means strange, right?). Not sure that I am a fan.

Patrick said...


I agree, these are not easy issues and are not (despite what you think) what Christians are primarily concerned with, since the social is secondary to the spiritual for true Christians.

I guess, with the first case, another thing that strikes me is that it mentioned that it was a 'Reverend' so-and-so who was trans-gendered, in which case it is doubly unacceptable, since the pastor or elder in a church is supposed to be a role-model, and any form of 'unconventional' behaviour is quite out of the question, according to a biblical worldview. Furthermore, I suppose it might also come down to the appearance of the person. A masculine looking transvestite is a very different thing to a feminine looking trans-gender person. As far as Christianity goes, all are welcome, but not all behaviour is acceptable in that church environment.

Regarding homosexual union, it's still a question of debate in many countries. Again, a Christian does not condemn people per se, but must be faithful to what they believe is the inspired word of God. I wouldn't be comfortable teaching an overtly 'homosexual-agenda' work of fiction at school, and I know most parents in these parts would agree.

Regards me trying to 'convert' you, it's beyond my power and is not possible. These kind of things are immensely deep, complex and personal. All I'd advise anyone to do is read the Bible. There's nothing like it, and it speaks to the soul in a way that nothing else does.

I heard an interesting semi-serious polarity the other day. Theism: God from nothing = everything
Atheism: nothing from nothing = everything

I guess the majority of us are undecided. After all, how can we really know until we die? But that's where Christianity comes in, because we believe that God wants us to know before we die. That, indeed, is the whole point of this temporary, finite creation. What we lost through the 'fall', we can regain through the 'resurrection'.

kwandongbrian said...

"another thing that strikes me is that it mentioned that it was a 'Reverend' so-and-so who was trans-gendered, in which case it is doubly unacceptable, since the pastor or elder in a church is supposed to be a role-model, and any form of 'unconventional' behaviour is quite out of the question, according to a biblical worldview."

I went out of my way to separate my comments from the specifics of this case and I tried to speak in generalities. My main point was that changing gender might reasonably be for sound and publicly-acceptable reasons. Well, 'publicly-acceptable' is a weasel-phrase, but I hope it is clear enough.

If a person is born appearing male but actually having ovaries and the like has surgery to better look like what the person is, how can that be unacceptable or how can that person be a bad role-model?

"Unconventional behaviour" is another sort of weasel phrase. I think you understand well that creation supporters are a minority - does that not mean they are unconventional? I don't want to get into evolution/creation today but my point is unconventional does not equal bad.
Indeed, heroes, almost by definition, engage in unconventional behaviour.
I will have to reread the article before arguing it on its own merits, but I see no clear reason that the trans-gendered person is automatically wrong.

Finally, I understand that our original discussion was about freedom of speech and other civil liberties and we have much left that argument far behind. In this post, I am not arguing what must be but what ought to be.

Patrick said...

I think there is a difference between 'hermaphrodite', 'trans-gender', 'trans-sexual', and 'transvestite'... but there is a principle at stake here.

If someone has been born with two sets of organs (male and female), then there is clearly a case for corrective surgery and that does not enter into the moral realm, for it is merely a biological abnormality.

If, on the other hand, someone feels they've been born in the wrong body but are biologically 'normal', that brings into question issues of sexual morality, and Christians would tend to see that as a 'sin' problem, not a 'biology' problem.

We all have a problem with sin, hence the coming of a Saviour from sin. But to welcome immoral behaviour as acceptable and endorsed by God is something no true Christian can do. Biological abnormality, on the other hand, simply doesn't enter into the equation.

Free speech enters into it, when I can no longer say what I think about this issue, and offend the PC police to an extent where I become an 'enemy of the people'.