Category Archives: Society and Satire

Quebec is Making a Mistake and I am Ready for Legalized Marijuana

By Dr David Laing Dawson

It is not just an irony but also a lesson when we find the province of Canada most endowed with a religious past, the province with years of government entanglement, even co-dependency, with the Catholic Church, the province that still has a sculpted image of a crucified man hanging behind the Speaker’s Chair in the Legislative Assembly, that it is that Province that has passed a law banning the display of religious symbols by public workers.

Extremism breeds extremism.

As an old atheist, and one who can claim to be at least three generations away from any serious belief in an all mighty, I had been pleased to see, year after year, statistics Canada reporting a gradually increasing percentage of us with no church affiliation. This didn’t just mean less magical belief in the incredibly flawed messages of the bible, the infallibility of priests and popes, but an increasing faith in our own ability as a democratic nation to choose the nature of our own social contract, and allow it to evolve with increasing heart and generosity, fairness and inclusivity.

And I must admit, as the numbers of atheists grew and the churches emptied, I was dismayed to see a whole new set of religious symbols walking our streets and pandering to another ancient text as flawed as the bible. But, but, I thought, give them time, a generation or two, a broad liberal education, a chance to see how we can come together and form a generous, safe, enriching social contract of our own, without the need of old myths and the purgatory of absolute moralities.

And that social contract, as contrary as this idea seems, should and must include the freedom to wear harmless religious symbols.

My Quebec friends, you are taking the wrong path. Outlawing such symbols gives them more amulet status, more symbolic power. It hardens the heart.

A head scarf is just a head scarf until you pass a law that it either must or must not be worn.

And if that is not enough: why I am ready for legalized marijuana? :

Kenney in Alberta flirts with a proposal that smells a lot like “Stand your Ground.”

I have no idea what Philpott, Wilson-Raybould or Trudeau have done or are doing, or why they are doing it.

The Republicans launch investigations into the investigation.

Brunei decrees Stoning as punishment for gay sex.

Michael Avenatti is Breaking Bad.

The social media world is upset someone cut a bagel differently.

British politicians stumble drunkenly toward a cliff marked Bloody Obvious.

B.C. has given close to half a million dollars to an anti-vaccination group.

Betsy and Donald want to cut funding for Special Olympics.

Caitlan Coleman met Joshua Boyle in a Star Wars forum.

Female astronauts can’t go for a walk together because they’ve got nothing to wear.

30% of the citizens of the Congo think the Ebola virus is a hoax.

The FAA delegated airline safety certification to Boeing.

And we may get 5.8 more years of Donald Trump.

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Trick or Trump

By Dr David Laing Dawson

I had in my office yesterday an 11 year old who was in a bit of trouble at school. His defense was “Kevin did worse than me and he didn’t get in trouble.”

I laughed and then explained to the parents that I had just read a Donald Trump tweet along the same lines, “What about Crooked Hillary and the Dems.”

The parents smiled warily, but the boy took offense. He did not like being compared to Donald Trump. I tried to explain that deflecting the blame, or trying to do that from an immature sense of playground fairness, was quite appropriate at his age. He was still unhappy that I had compared him to Donald Trump.

Then I saw a 12 year boy, a little fire-plug of a kid who happens to have a mop of blonde hair, a square face, and a passable rendition of a Donald Trump pout. I asked if he was going to go out Halloween as Donald Trump. No way he told me. There are too many Donald Trumps. He was dressing as a robber. Besides, Donald Trump is stupid.

So, at least, I concluded, the fear that Donald Trump might be a role model for our children, at least our Canadian children, is unfounded.

The Future of American Foreign Policy

By Dr David Laing Dawson

Donald J Trump @ realDonaldTrump

Hey Justin. You go girl. Elbow those Commies. I’ll cover your legal bills. I got your back.

Donald J Trump @realDonaldTrump

@JudgeGonzalesCuriel. Mexican. Hostile, hostile, a hater. Total disgrace, okay. They should look into him. This is real life folks. OK.

Donald J Trump @ realDonaldTrump

@Putin my man. Love those pecs and delts. But I got it big where it counts. Lemme tell ya. Okay.

Donald J Trump @ realDonaldTrump

@China. Yo, leader, keep your pathetic little planes away from our thunderbolts. I’ll make you a deal. I’m a great deal maker. You better believe it. Got a whole University available. Good Price.

Donald J Trump @ realDonaldTrump

Really Merkel, can’t you find anything classy in your closet. Come to New York and let me buy you some clothes. Not a bathing suit though, lol. Eww. Disgusting.

Donald J Trump @ realDonaldTrump

You see people. What’d I tell you. Another plane down. Pathetic.

#ISIS, Al queda, whatever. You can’t hide from me. Your days are numbered. I promise you. Okay.

Donald J Trump @ realDonaldTrump

@Israel@therealNetanyahu.  Hey, we’re behind you buddy. Send me the specs on your wall. You notice those Palestinians look like Mexicans. Eh. Huh. Huh?

Donald J Trump @ realDonaldTrump

@Vincente Fox. Funny accent man. You are a pathetic loser. I’m a winner. See next.

Donald J Trump @ realDonaldTrump

From@BARBfromKansas. You are wonderful. I want your baby.

Donald J Trump @ realDonaldTrump

#Muslim lovers. We’ve rounded up thousands. Who wants ‘em? Trade for some Coptic Christians. Egypt huh, C’mon. #the dealmaker. We’ll throw in some Mexicans.

Donald J Trump @ realDonaldTrump

I love women. I really do. I love them all over. Sorry, not now Melania. I’m working. See, she wants me. All women do. Even Megyn. Really. Okay. I’ve got it down there. I’m telling you.

Donald J Trump @realDonaldTrump

@Europe #bigwars. Hey, we saved your asses twice. Big time. Not gonna do it again. Not. Maybe you pay us for those first two. Or get your own nukes. Pathetic.

Donald J Trump @ realDonaldTrump

@Sadiq Khan. Why would I want to visit London? It’s old and dirty. Oh yes. I forgot. I own half of it. Sell me your Mosque. I’ll put up another Trump Tower. #thedealmaker

Donald J Trump @ realDonaldTrump

Huh, huh. @ISIS I told you I wouldn’t tell you when or how. Gone baby, gone. All glowy like with radioactive particles now. Pretty sight. Okay.

Donald J Trump @ realDonaldTrump

Sorry about all those Roman ruins. Nobody really cared about them. Besides. I got plans. How about the Palmyra Casino? Las Vegas. #money. People. People. America first.

Donald J Trump @ realDonaldTrump

@Tehran. What can you do? The wind is the wind. Could have evacuated. I told you. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Right. Am I right or am I right.

Donald J Trump @ realDonaldTrump

@Putin. #missiles. C’mon Vlad, you don’t really wanna do that, do you? All over a little desert real estate? I wouldn’t build a motel on any of it. Sand and stink. Oww. Really? You wanna see how big my missile is? Here’s the button. Gonna do it. Gonna do it.

Donald J Trump @ realDonaldTrump

@Kim Hey. The Donald here. You got a little place for me on the coast. Next to Rodman maybe? I’m worth billions.

More on Charlie Hebdo and the Role of Satire

cartoonBy Dr David Laing Dawson

The Charlie Hebdo tragedy, following an outpouring of grief, outrage and an affirmation of the importance of Freedom of Speech, has provoked a discussion about the limits (if any) that societies should impose on this freedom. The Pope has waded in and aligned himself with some radical Islamist groups asking that faith and deities be exempt from criticism and satire.

Well, I do understand that it is in his interest that Bill Maher stop making fun of his silly hat and robes, but for the rest of us our response should be dictated by both history and present reality within the diverse cultures and societies of this world.

If indeed Jesus, Mohammed, Allah, and the Pope himself are infallible, above criticism, perfect in the conduct of their lives, their judgements and their proclamations, (and above criticism and satire) then surely the wise thing to do would be to turn over the reins of government to them and their acolytes, apostles, and lieutenants. But wait a minute, we did try that once, and it was not a pretty sight: Caliphates, inquisitions, religious wars, persecutions, torture, beheadings…. Absolute faith may be comforting but it leads directly to defending that faith by all means. History tells us we must be free to criticize and satirize our leaders, our deities, and our sacred cows or risk a return to the horrors of the 13th century. (Or the horrors we see in some parts of the world in the 21st century)

And a current survey of all the countries of the world, their forms of governance, press and speech freedoms, will surely show that freedom of speech, including the right to satirize and criticize faith, religion, leaders and deities, is closely associated with tolerance and inclusiveness. People of all faiths (including those who do not ascribe to any) are today living peacefully, cooperatively, and productively only in those countries that permit such freedom.

Should there be any limitations? Certainly not those dictated by taste, political correctness, personal sensitivities, rituals, challenges to authority, and hurt feelings. But we have all been made sensitive to the power of hate propaganda when espoused by people of influence and authority. Not the mentally ill person on the street corner railing at Jewish bankers, but the Third Reich leaders, the popular radio host in Rwanda, and some Islamist Imams themselves. Their propagation of hate can be dangerous.

But in the laws of our liberal democracies the concept of Intent is important, along with due process, independent judiciary, and trial by peers, as well as the belief that no one is above the law. Our current hate laws are sufficient to deal with anyone of influence who propagates hate with the intent of inciting violence. And paradoxically, I think these very laws are protected indirectly by our freedom of speech and expression.

Sony, North Korea and the Role of Satire

David Laing DawsonBy Dr David Laing Dawson

News item: Sony suspends release of “The Interview”.

By all accounts this film is a satirical comedy targeting one of Hollywood’s favorite demographics: teenage boys. It is probably lame and stupid and crude. So is this important news, this response to threats presumably originating in North Korea?

Well, yes, I think so, for this reason: Of all the freedoms we have in our western democracies, the one we should prize the most is our freedom to poke fun at, to satirize, to lampoon, (and to seriously criticize) our leaders and our deities. It is by this freedom that all the others are protected. And so it is this freedom that deserves the most vociferous protection, the most careful vigilance, the strongest defense. It is this freedom that every would-be dictator first erodes (e.g. Russia, Turkey), and it is this freedom that allows us to become more than vassals, serfs, slaves, and supplicants.

I think we instinctively know this. For when we can laugh at our Queen, our President, our Prime Minister, our Religious Leaders, and especially when we see they are smiling with us, we know we need not fear them.

The freedom to lampoon and satirize may be even more important than the freedom to seriously criticize, for satire is surely the most effective way to burst the bubble of tyranny, of autocracy, and of stupid fables masquerading as truth.

We need George Carlin parsing the ten commandments. We need Charlie Chaplin lampooning Adolf Hitler. We need Seth Rogen making fun of The Supreme Beloved Leader. We need Danish cartoons of Allah. We need “The Life of Brian”. We need our cartoons of mayors and premiers and prime ministers doing stupid things. This is the freedom of expression that guards all other freedoms and protects us from our own cowardice, stupidity and vanity. And more importantly, it protects us from the nefarious ambitions of those among us who love to tell everybody else how to live.