Monday, October 27, 2014

Jian Ghomeshi Denies Rape Allegations He Made Preemptively...of Himself?

Author of "1982" claims to be victim of Orwellian scheme out of "1984."

After an excruciating week in Canada we have laid to rest a soldier lost in a senseless attack on our nation's capital. Now this morning we return to distractions in Canada's largest city for a look at the people whom our brave men and women of the armed forces risk their lives every day...

Jian Ghomeshi is, er, was the most popular radio personality on CBC until yesterday when the broadcaster dropped him with almost no explanation. What a shock, exclaimed so many, at the perceived unjust dismissal of such a sweet, sheepish, and endearing fellow. Within minutes of the news, the backlash began with accusations of the CBC bowing to some force within the government.

Ghomeshi gained a lot of sympathy when Billy Bob Thornton
bullied the sweet and sensitive radio host in 2009.

In order to try and get ahead of the story so to speak, the former rock star turned pop-culture commentator posted a lengthy message on Facebook. To paraphrase, the message boils down to an assertion that "look guys, you're gonna here some stuff about how I'm a rapist so I'm letting you know that I'm not so anything you hear later isn't true and it's a conspiracy by my crazy ex-girlfriend."

Substitute sexual assault for "smoked crack" and you've got a play straight out of the Rob Ford handbook: deny, deny, deny and accuse, accuse, accuse.  Ghomeshi claims that because he's into kink, rough sex and bdsm and that his personal life is being used as a smear campaign to discredit him.

Sparring with the late Christopher Hitchens.

The only thing smutty here is his attempt to use his sexual preference, and implicitly a community of people who share that preference and its celebration of consent, as a red herring: I’ve been fired from the CBC because of the risk of my private sex life being made public as a result of a campaign of false allegations pursued by a jilted ex girlfriend and a freelance writerIt's not Ghomeshi's private sex life that seems to be the issue with the prudes at the CBC - it's the allegations of lack of consent that are disturbing. 

Last year, Carla Ciccone wrote an account of a very disturbing encounter
with an unnamed Canadian celebrity.  The hints were pretty clear at the time of
whom she was speaking and Carla faced a vicious backlash form Ghomeshi fans.

Comparing his preemptive strategy to that of Toronto's embattled Mayor Rob Ford there is a familiar pattern. Whereas Ford's alcohol abuse was an open secret at city hall predating his escapades at the Garrison Ball and long before the allegations of crack use, it's been an open secret to some that Jian Ghomeshi has engaged in "creepy, rapey" behavior.  Like the professor who "everyone knows" is having sex or making creepy uninvited moves on a student, there is no solid evidence beyond hearsay and personal anecdotes.  Should that be sufficient to ruin a man's career and reputation?

Well, when he posts a long explanation on Facebook in which he implicates himself in something that no one has yet to accuse him, stating a number of times "they set out to try to find corroborators to build a case to defame me." It creates a very disturbing and familiar impression.  That's saying nothing about how such a response serves as an attack against potential victims of sexual assault who are afraid to come forward.

There is heated discussion on campuses about combating rape, namely
finding a balance between protecting victims while preserving
due process for the accused.

Hiring a PR firm and going on the offensive as Ghomeshi has, (he's threatening to sue the CBC for $50 million) instead of hearing his refutation through a lawyer is a clear attempt to cash in on the good karma that his seemingly affable personality has built in the last several years.  The question is, will the strategy that spelled the end for Rob Ford's drug allegations, save Ghomeshi from accusations that are far more serious?

Saturday, September 20, 2014

How to Get Sentenced to Death in Iran: All You Need is an Internet Connection

Imagine a world free of irony and satire, one where dissent and public discourse was governed by such equivocal statutes that their mere utterance or reproduction thereof carried the same punishment as murder or rape. Publish an image like the one above - or embed a link to an image like the one above, or post a comment supporting an image like the one above - and you would find your self stripped of your property, locked in solitary confinement and forced to endure a grotesque parody of due process to decide your fate.

For the hundreds of thousands of Iranians on social media, it can take less than an image like the one above to be found in violation of state law. In the case of Soheil Arabi, a blogger who operated several Facebook pages which are alleged to have violated Branch 76 of the Tehran Criminal Court's obscenity laws, the result has been a death sentence handed down on September 16th - a sentence Arabi had until today to appeal.


It's a story which has garnered virtually no major media coverage which is not surprising, considering the temerity with which American, Canadian, and British media engage the horrifying elements of the Islamic world, that is, if they address them at all. One perverse but positive result of the rise of ISIS is the group communicates clearly and in plain English when addressing threats to the West, and command the attention of CNN.

You may be thinking that comparing Iran to ISIS is not entirely fair or accurate.  Except that the goal of ISIS is to establish the same system of Sharia Law in an Islamic Caliphate not unlike the ramshackle system established under the 1979 takeover by the Islamic Republic. Iran abandoned almost all its secular government and judicial infrastructure and embraced Sharia law for 30 years under the Ayatollah Khomeini. The Islamic Republic serves an example of a major middle eastern state - one in which men are treated like animals, and women regarded as even less - from which we can extrapolate an idea of what ISIS seeks to install on a national level.  

Although the Iranian system has evolved away from some of the most apparent Sharia traditions, the judicial system still maintains strict blasphemy laws, the interpretation of which can be very broad indeed.  The charges against Soheil Arabi as detailed by the Independent include an obtuse condition for what could loosely be called leniency:

Article 262 of the Islamic Penal Code states insulting the Prophet carries a punishment of death, however, article 264 of the Penal Code says if a suspect claims to have said the insulting words in anger, in quoting someone, or by mistake, his death sentence will be converted to 74 lashes.

In the idealized Caliphate envisioned by ISIS, one would have trouble imagining so forgiving a condition as article 264. For the citizens of Iran, no outside influence is needed in promulgating restrictions to freedom of expression. As recently as last month, one Grand Ayatollah, a man named Nasser Makarem Shirazi, declared that access to high-speed internet and 3G is not only "against Sharia," but a crime "against moral standards."  Having posted the remarks on his website (the irony evidently lost on the man), one could dismiss them for the crack-pottery they are except the reality is such insistence that "Judicial officials must not remain indifferent about this vital issue," carry the weight of his station needed to find a receptive audience.

In the meantime, Soheil Arabi is standing trial on further charges of "propaganda against the state." His execution date is yet to be scheduled.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

At Last, Photographic Evidence of Fairy Folk

After two weeks of nothing but horrible shitty news in the world, isn't it time that we got back to other not-so-heavy but important ass fairies.

In April of this year, Professor John Hyatt claimed to have captured fairies in photographs taken in the forests of Lancashire, UK. Hyatt, who lectures on art research at Manchester Metropolitan University, has released the  pictures entitled "Rossendale Fairies," to the Whitaker Museum in Rossendale where they are currently on display.

The Rossendale Fairies.

"I was just taking sunset through the trees and when I enlarged the photographs later in the studio, I saw these figures," he wrote. "They are not doctored apart from I increased the size of a detailed section of a larger photograph along with the DPI to stop them being just large pixels -- normal size enhancement techniques.

John Hyatt, Fairy Hunter.

It was a bit of a shock when I blew them up, I did a double take," he told the Manchester Evening News. “I went out afterwards and took pictures of flies and gnats and they just don’t look the same." 

This is a real documentary.

Shockandahh's in house Cryptozoologist; Amy Allen; elaborates on the subject. “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that is another authentic fairy sighting. No further research is required to prove this photo is 100% proof that fairies exist."

The Cottingley Fairies photos were proof enough for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

"Everything is there in the photo; tiny arms, legs, a head and wings. As summer comes to an end, the magical fairy folk begin to gather food and supplies in anticipation of winter, the fairies are clearly collecting their harvest of mushrooms, berries and water for fall. This is typical behaviour for this time of year.”

So there you have it, folks.  Photographic evidence of tiny humanoids casting enchantments. Your move, Bigfoot.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Comedy Without Cause Featured on CBC's Punchline!

We're super excited to let you know that our sister site, Comedy Without Cause, has been featured on the CBC's new online comedy endeavour, Punchline.

Our sketch entitled "Psychic Lawyers" stars Mark Junop and yours truly in an advertisement for the ultimate legal dream team!

Punchline is CBC's (that's the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, not the Canadian Bagel Company) newly launched web portal featuring both original Canadian comedy and featuring stuff culled from across the inter-webs. Take a gander at "Psychic Lawyers" on CBC Punchline and let them know you like what you see!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Why We May Never Have the Answers to Flight MH-17

Anyone who has stayed up late watching marathons of disaster shows knows at least one thing about air crashes.  Whether the culprit is terrible weather as in Air France Flight 447, a catastrophic technical failure like American Airlines Flight 191, or a terrorist bomb as destroyed Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie Scotland, the scene of the crash is always secured by investigators as they determine first and foremost if they're dealing with a horrific accident or a crime scene.

As the pictures of the horrifying scene of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH-17 flooded news feeds and social media, the most disturbing have already confirmed a few vital clues.  We know from radar reports that there is virtually no doubt that a missile struck the plane carrying nearly 300 innocent people. The photos and videos across Live Leak for those who can stomach such horror, confirm that the airliner fell apart in the sky and the victims, men women and children littered among the debris, some with hardly a scratch on them - fell to earth.

Cor Pan made a tragically prophetic facebook post before boarding the
doomed MH-17: "If the plane disappears, this is what it looks like."

In the United States, The National Transportation Safety Board is responsible for securing and investigating these types of disasters.  Within hours, the NTSB dispatches emergency workers to begin the task of coordinating the recovery of bodies, preserving every tiny fragment of debris, and liaising with the FBI if there's reason to believe foul play.  Each step is crucial in making sense of what has happened and ensuring everything can be learned to prevent the same tragedy from reoccurring.  In this case, the Ukrainian government and the Malaysian Transport Minister are trying to gain access to the site for an internationally-led investigation.

Compounding the tragedy in the Ukraine is that MH-17 and the 298 people who lost their lives were not only innocent bystanders, their remains and all evidence of what exactly happened are at the mercy of warlords and militiamen collaborating with the Russian governmentInstead of securing the site, cellphone video and pictures of the scene show anyone from armed combatants to civilians in their summer clothes, pouring over the wreckage, looting passengers' belongings, absconding with pieces of debris as macabre souvenirs.

Their is no recovery of evidence, only a haphazardly, uncoordinated mess as bodies, after having been left in the field, are being taken to various small villages near the crash site. Meanwhile Russian Separatists are carting wreckage off to god knows where.  The Associated press has reported that despite pleas from the Malaysian Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai, US President Barack Obama, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe that access to the site has been not only hampered, but critically mishandled before investigative efforts:

An international delegation visited the crash site Friday evening but was only allowed to view one small portion. While the delegation was leaving under orders from armed rebel overseers, two Ukrainian members lingered to look at a fragment of the plane, prompting a militiaman to fire a warning shot in the air with his Kalashnikov.

During past investigations by the NTSB, there have been monumental challenges to collecting evidence such as the crash of Value Jet Flight 592 which plunged into the Florida Everglades. In that case, the DC-9 was obliterated and completely obscured from site beneath a remote, alligator infested swamp.  The recovery of even the tiniest fragments, and of course the flight data and voice recorders, helped investigators piece together the jigsaw puzzle from which emerged a picture of flammable cargo improperly stowed in the cargo hold having ignited and doomed the jet. 

For Flight MH-17, whose flight data recorder has already possibly been absconded by people unknown, uncovering the full picture of what happened and who is ultimately culpable may not be possible from the now desecrated evidence.  Radar reports of a missile launched from specific longitude and latitude may still provide the smoking gun and from which a coordinated response from the international community will be paramount to ensure the passengers of MH-17 did not die in vain.  Tragically for now, those responsible have been doing their best to mitigate the search for truth while depriving the victim's families of any closure they could take from such senseless act of mass murder.