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One hell of an overdue fine
February 26, 2003 9:25 PM   Subscribe

So, we all know the Patriot Act allows for the monitoring of library and computer usage. Big deal, right? I mean how many people can they watch and what are the odds?

Maybe not as good (or bad, depending on your view) as you might think,"A St. John’s College Library visit by a former public defender was abruptly interrupted February 13 when city police officers arrested him about 9 p.m. at the computer terminal he was using, handcuffed him, and brought him to the Santa Fe, New Mexico, police station for questioning by Secret Service agents from Albuquerque."
posted by cedar (45 comments total)

 
That's just fucking fantabulous. Hello thought police, take me, I'm ready!
posted by insomnyuk at 9:29 PM on February 26, 2003


meanwhile, political activists continue to mysteriously show up on watch lists.
posted by donkeyschlong at 9:33 PM on February 26, 2003


Don't y'all wish you had voted? And told your friends to vote as well?
posted by Space Coyote at 9:42 PM on February 26, 2003


LET FREEDOM RING!
posted by cinematique at 9:45 PM on February 26, 2003


Maybe if the Democratic party picked a better man for the job, the election of 2000 wouldn't have been as farked as it was. Then again, the Republican choice wasn't any better.

Just a thought. Or two.
posted by cinematique at 9:47 PM on February 26, 2003


Just to play devil's advocate here — is the problem in this guy's case the monitoring, or the (lack of) basis for the arrest?

(It sounds like the guy got arrested for simply stating his (unkind) opinion about a political leader. Presumably he could've been arrested for making the same statements out on the street, right? That he got arrested for that at all is what seems scary about this to me.)
posted by mattpfeff at 9:51 PM on February 26, 2003


Don't y'all wish you had voted? And told your friends to vote as well?

Well actually, this makes me pretty much afraid to go to the goddamned bathroom, but I know what you meant. ;)
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:57 PM on February 26, 2003


And if you liked the Patriot Act, you're going to love the sequel!
posted by homunculus at 9:59 PM on February 26, 2003


I'm getting nervous as well, up here in Canada we have a government cabinet made up of people currently on the prime minister's good side, and most of them aren't experts in their own portfolios, and I've been hearing disturbing reports about legislation to monitor airline passengers and such. Anytime we're out of step with the American administration viz. a viz. "security" they threaten to seal off the border. Jean Chretien doesn't like it, but he knows he has to play along.

That's bad enough, but our opposition party, such as it is, wants us to be more like the US government policy wise. So we have even less choice than Americans do on teh ballot.
posted by Space Coyote at 10:21 PM on February 26, 2003


This whole story [as it appeared in the SF paper that was mentioned, and here's more] is weird. The guy may have "not properly logged off"? or did they arrest him at the terminal? The big deal -- as many of you know -- about the PATRIOT Act is that you can't even know if your library has been visited by the feds. At least in this case it's out in the open, albeit still sucky.
posted by jessamyn at 10:42 PM on February 26, 2003


According to O’Connor, the agents accused him of making threatening remarks about President George W. Bush in an Internet chat room.

So, yes, this was at least about his speech. If he said something like "I'd like to f*in kill Bush" ...maybequestioning could be justified, especially if he has ties to a suspicious group. We don't know exactly what he said other than 'that Bush is "out of control.'"

But I'm concerned about the event anyway. Pro-palestinian is not the same thing as anti-American, and if you just want to ask a guy a few questions, you don't handcuff him. If you do handcuff him and drag him down to the station, it'd better be over something more substantial than what was described in the article. Any real justification for the guys arrest is notably absent from the article.

And the following is waaay offtopic, but...

Maybe if the Democratic party picked a better man for the job, the election of 2000 wouldn't have been as farked as it was. Then again, the Republican choice wasn't any better.

What was really wrong with Gore? I could certainly think of candidates I would have rather seen, people I would rather have elected. And I chose Nader in the end, not so much because I wanted him as president, but because I was hoping for the third party entry (and at the time, I was living in Utah, so there's no chance at all that my Nader vote contributed to Bush's win). At the time, I had my doubts about Gore and the Dems in general -- and still do, to some extent. But I think that most of the mainstream complaints that were leveled against Gore (he's so wooden, wonky, boring, he looks like he's scripting everything, he can't tell us the truth) didn't seem particularly substantive at the time, and they seem downright shallow now. If the media had been even half as kind to him as they have been in the last year as he's started to talk to the press again, he would have won outright, even with Green Party spoilage.

Sure, if I were just picking someone for President out of the hat, it'd be somebody else. Maybe Joseph Nye, maybe Wendell Berry (on some of my more radical days, but he wouldn't take the job, I'm sure), maybe even on some of my more right leaning days, Thomas Sowell (but probably not, even though I like his thinking). But looking back, the only other figure that even appeared inside the primaries who had the appeal that Gore had was McCain.
posted by namespan at 11:04 PM on February 26, 2003


Librarians rule. Check out this piece of subversion. See also Articles II and III, especially, of the American Library Association's Code of Ethics.

And just for grins, take a look at these folks.
posted by Nicolae Carpathia at 12:27 AM on February 27, 2003


"For the better part of a generation now, Americans have gone to great lengths to protect their homes -- living in gated communities, wiring their property with sophisticated alarms, arming themselves with deadly weapons. Now imagine this kind of intensity turned outward, into the public realm. As a culture, our tolerance for fear is low, and our capacity to do something about it is unrivaled. We could have the highest degree of public safety the world has ever seen. But what would that country look like, and what will it be like to live in it? Perhaps something like this."
posted by homunculus at 12:46 AM on February 27, 2003


*slowly removes wrapper from duct tape*

The most recent Get Your War On includes this line:
"I still can't believe they named that thing the fuckin' USA PATRIOT ACT. Grown-ups did that. Never forget that."
posted by planetkyoto at 1:09 AM on February 27, 2003


First: News. Speculation. Information needed, source questionable, suspect part of pro-palestine (terrorist) group, maybe theatening the prez online. Not good.

Second: Please take the time to read the actual Patriot Act, and not some hyperventilating interpretation of it from a suspicious (at best) source.

Nothing's really changed.
posted by hama7 at 1:34 AM on February 27, 2003


"I'd like to f*in kill Bush"

Is saying this not legal?
posted by iamck at 1:49 AM on February 27, 2003


Space Coyote, who the hell cares about complaining about your political leaders when the majority of the population had their literature outlawed?

Make no mistakes, Canada has virtually no freedom of speech. For example, I can be put in jail for up to two years for saying "I hate the liberals because I'm tired of having french people in power". No hard feelings to everyone in Quebec, I'm just trying to make a point. :-)

However, strangely enough, we often have more freedom of action and "listening" than our neighbours. But you cannot simply say anything you want in Canada no more than I can play what I want on the radio.
posted by shepd at 1:57 AM on February 27, 2003


If the police actually thought he was using the computer for nefarious purposes I would hope they had the intelligence to impound the computer he was using. As it seems that they didn't, I conclude that the computer usage is a red herring or that the police really are that incompetent.

Either way the improper logoff posited by O'Connor seems to imply that he may have made improper posts (in the minds of the authorities).

This sucks big time. I'm glad I don't use 'shared' computers and even on my work computer which has the potential for another administrator to gain access, I try to keep it clean of any evidence of improper usage including not using it improperly (my employer's definition of improper usage is rather vast).
posted by DBAPaul at 3:04 AM on February 27, 2003


shepd, what part of Canada are you smoking?

" 2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;
(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
(d) freedom of association. "


Virtually no freedom of speech? It's in the damned Charter. Any law in violation of that can be challenged of Charter grounds, and there have been quite a few laws thrown out for that.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 4:36 AM on February 27, 2003


Hey, you guys stole that from us!
posted by zpousman at 5:39 AM on February 27, 2003


zpousman: Not stole. Refined. Improved. :)
posted by ?! at 5:58 AM on February 27, 2003


You might ask your library to post one of these technically legal signs. My favorite:

The FBI Has Not Been Here!
Watch very closely for the removal of this sign.
posted by ?! at 6:12 AM on February 27, 2003


>It's in the damned Charter. Any law in violation of that can be challenged of Charter grounds, and there have been quite a few laws thrown out for that.

Uhuh. So why can't Ernst Zundel put up his horrible website in Canada? Why can't I operate an english store in Quebec? Why can't I have a 100% American Radio Show? Why can't I swear on the air? Why couldn't Howard Stern discuss his usual crap on the air?

All those are illegal. All those have been challenged under the charter, and the supreme court has ignored it in every single case.

I'm smoking nothing but your rights, sorry.

And see section (d) there? The CRTC was recently challenged on that, now that Canadians are no longer able to choose to watch TV from other cultures. Didn't make a hill of beans of difference.

The charter has been ruined by the supreme court, who have recently taken to making up laws themselves by simply re-reading whatever they want into existing laws.

For a first world country, we don't have all that much free speech. Free speech includes, wether you like it or not, letting nutcases say whatever hateful things they like.

Relevant laws, info and cases:

Howard Stern to shut up on Q107.
Cancon laws that disallow repeating the free speech of other countries in Canada.
Bill 101, the law that prevents owners of business the right to free speech when it comes to communicating to their customers in the language of their choice.
The Bible is now controlled hate speech.
Ernst Zundel is disallowed his right to free speech (no matter how crazy and incorrect it is).
Limp Bizkit censored on the air because he swears (illegal in Canada, including on your private cell phone! I finally found a link to prove that swearing on Canadian airwaves is illegal!).
Porno seized at Canadian border because it's content is "offensive" (it's "homoerotic" from what I'm told, so therefore illegal for some obscure reason).
The book you won't find in many Canadian student libraries. Even though an essay about how it relates to past Canadian culture would be very informative.

There's lots more to find, if you put your mind to it.

You see, the whole problem with our charter is that the notwithstanding clause pretty much means it's toilet paper. It sure sounds nice, but it doesn't mean diddly squat.

Hope that helps show you that you really can't say anything you want in Canada.
posted by shepd at 6:33 AM on February 27, 2003


Shut up, shepd.
posted by ODiV at 7:23 AM on February 27, 2003


If large numbers of people believe in freedom of speech, there will be freedom of speech even if the law forbids it. But if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them.

-- George Orwell

Thanks for your input, ODiV.
posted by shepd at 8:12 AM on February 27, 2003


ACLU free fax regarding PATRIOT ACT II

Because one just isnt enough.
posted by skallas at 8:29 AM on February 27, 2003


shepd,

Your link about Limp Bizkit leads to the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council, which is in fact a body implemented by Canada's private broadcastersto self-regulate themselves.

So it's hardly a case of being illegal to swear on the airwaves. In my opinion, one tends to see less censorship (primarily swearing) on Canadian channels then American ones.

The ruling you pointed to even makes a point of saying that the FCC "had ruled that the challenged words were not entitled to First amendment protection"

With your Howard Stern link, again the matter was brought before the CBSC:

Stern’s show resulted in dozens of complaints to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The CRTC then forwarded the complaints to the standards council, which was created by broadcasters to handle complaints about radio and television.

The ruling stated that the show breached Canadian standards and it should be canceled. But the council has no power to enforce its decision, although its ruling has never been defied before.


Again, private broadcasters self-regulatory body ruled that the Canadian standards had been breached, but as indicated above had no power to enforce this ruling. It was a moot point if I recall, since both stations pulled the show from their lineups. In Toronto, Q107 pulled the Stern show when they changed the station's format. (Scroll down to the Dec 28th 2001 Questions and Answers from Q107)
posted by smcniven at 10:17 AM on February 27, 2003


Well, I'll give in on the fact that "offesive" radio content isn't government regulated, but instead regulated by a private industry that listens more to a few complaints than the many uers enjoying such shows. But at least it's corporations, rather than the government, telling me what to say and do.

However, apart from that, my other points stand (outlawed hate speech, outlawed bible passages, outlawed books, outlawed freedom of speech in non-french languages in Quebec, outlawed gay porno, outlawed freedom of association on the air, outlawed discussion on topics relating to minors and sex). Is that not enough to say Canada has serious free speech problems that need to be addressed?

The absolute worst of it is, it's only getting worse. Weirdos like John Sharpe have brought out the worst censors in this country, effectively strengthening laws outlawing anything that depicts any sexual acts between minors, yet causing the laws to become so porous as to be ineffective (doesn't make sense, I know, but reading what's happened in that court case doesn't make sense either, does it?). An autobiographical book (sorry, the name escapes me, but part of it does describe sexual relations of the protaganist somewhere between the ages of 14 and 16 -- the author lived in elmira, ontario at the time, FYI, just incase anyone knows the title) that was required reading in my high school would be outlawed if it weren't for the fact that it's virtually unheard of outside that town. Mere posession of it could have netted me a lot of jail time. I hate pedophiles as much as the next guy, but this insanity has to stop. Either that or people should stop calling Canada a free country in the sense of speech.

But hey, at least I have enough freedom of speech to say all that censorship is wrong, so not all is lost!
posted by shepd at 4:30 PM on February 27, 2003


There are some really interesting insights on censorship, culture, and Canadian law in this paper, on censoring porn to end female repression.
posted by kaibutsu at 7:55 PM on February 27, 2003


Please God say that that isn't an accurate description of feminists. Are there any here that can agree or deny?

That was a _very_ interesting link, though, I must say. Thanks for mentioning it. I didn't notice the name at the top, and I was surprised to notice it wasn't written by a man. The first thought that crossed my mind was how similar this was to ethnic cleansing, minus the violence.

I think I have an itching to re-write one of Foucaults' works from my perspective, as a case-in-point. Not that I have the time to do it, but what's good for them's good for me!
posted by shepd at 10:18 PM on February 27, 2003


Meanwhile, in China: China dissident loses appeal.
posted by homunculus at 11:08 PM on February 27, 2003


Shepd, you’re being way too paranoid about this. Rights are not absolute. They can’t be. What’s the line? My right to swing my fists ends at my neighbour’s nose. According to your thinking, everyone should be able to libel and slander others. Civilized society can’t allow all its members to say and do whatever they please. Lines must be drawn, and the Charter does that. Free speech doesn't mean you can yell "fire" in a crowded movie theatre.

"1. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the rights and freedoms set out in it subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society."

smcniven has dealt with some of your (non-governmental) examples, so I won’t repeat them.

On the Bible: "The rights code allows for expression of honestly held beliefs, but the commission ruled that the code can place "reasonable restriction" on Owen's religious expression, because the ad exposed the complainants "to hatred, ridicule, and their dignity was affronted on the basis of their sexual orientation."" In other words, it’s not the Bible, but the advertiser’s use of selected parts of it to instill hatred against a specific group. That’s straight out of article 1 of the charter. And calling the Bible "controlled hate speech" is just plain silly.

On gay porn: Well, it’s even mentioned in the link you provided that these books can be ordered through Amazon.ca, so I’m not sure how big a deal that is. I’m not even convinced it’s unavailable in Canada. A shipment was stopped at the border, and reviewed to ensure it meets standards. Some idiot may be confusing gay porn (legal because it’s consensual) with child porn (illegal because it’s not), but there’s no legal reason to otherwise bar it.

On Zundel: He had his day in court. As above, hate is not protected speech in Canada. And if Canada’s such a horrible place to him, why is he applying for refugee status to avoid being deported to Germany? America doesn’t want him, either, so that’s a non-issue.

On Bill 101: Yeah, that’s an example of social politics overriding rights. I agree completely it’s wrong. And it’s just too complicated a situation to discuss here, unfortunately.

On the Little Black books: Would the essay about these books be banned? Not likely. And that achieves a higher purpose – don’t disseminate racism, just education. Sounds like a worthy compromise.

"Canadians are no longer able to choose to watch TV from other cultures" – what the hell does this mean? My TV receives shows from the US, Britain, France, Australia, and movies from all over the world. Doesn’t yours? And besides, when did television viewing become a specific right?

A lot more to find, if you put your mind to it? Sure. You can always find conspiracies when you go looking for them, and impart great significance to minor events. Paranoid Delusion is the technical term for that.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 7:16 AM on February 28, 2003


Librarians rule. Check out this piece of subversion.

Hey, that's from a MeFi member! Go us!
posted by Vidiot at 12:15 PM on February 28, 2003


No, GiTM, if people want to libel and slander others, they _can_. They simply cannot state it as fact.

For example, if I wanted to, I could usually write "In my opinion, XYZ is a cheater/liar/communist/whatever" on a placard and walk around King street. I've seen others do it and the police just walk on by.

However, I could not write "XYZ is a communist" unless it was easily, provably, true. The difference is that the first one is clearly in my mind, the second one is an attempt to state my opinion.

If it was my opinion that gays should not exist (it isn't) then, in a free country, I would be able to write "In my opinion (insert section of Bible here) is 100% true and valid.". But Canada's speech isn't free, so I can't.

>Civilized society can’t allow all its members to say and do whatever they please. Lines must be drawn, and the Charter does that. Free speech doesn't mean you can yell "fire" in a crowded movie theatre.

Lines are drawn only at the point where you're directly lying, or being a direct hazard to life.

It just so happens those basic ideals in Canada are subverted by laws made by people who don't believe in free speech whatsoever.

Do you believe that in addition to stopping speech that is a lie and speech that is a direct hazard to life we should also stop speech that hurts the feelings or ideals of others?

Because that's what the people who helped get these pieces of legislation passed believed. That their feelings/ideals would be hurt. Do you agree with that? I hope not!

>The rights code allows for expression of honestly held beliefs, but the commission ruled that the code can place "reasonable restriction" on Owen's religious expression, because the ad exposed the complainants "to hatred, ridicule, and their dignity was affronted on the basis of their sexual orientation."" In other words, it’s not the Bible, but the advertiser’s use of selected parts of it to instill hatred against a specific group. That’s straight out of article 1 of the charter. And calling the Bible "controlled hate speech" is just plain silly.

But it IS controlled. It IS hate speech. The law says so. The only thing that happened, the only thing that law was designed to do, was stop other's feelings from being hurt, and that's exactly what happened. Their feelings got hurt so they sued.

Should I sue next time I get the finger? Why the hell not! Because I'm not gay/straight/bisexual/furry/christian/atheist/whatever? What if my religion is that of the no-middle-finger? Well, now that's hate speech.

>On gay porn: Well, it’s even mentioned in the link you provided that these books can be ordered through Amazon.ca, so I’m not sure how big a deal that is. I’m not even convinced it’s unavailable in Canada. A shipment was stopped at the border, and reviewed to ensure it meets standards. Some idiot may be confusing gay porn (legal because it’s consensual) with child porn (illegal because it’s not), but there’s no legal reason to otherwise bar it.

No, there is a legal reason to bar it. It is 100% illegal in Canada to import explicit materials. Here's the rules. I'm not kidding. It's technically illegal for you to walk over the border carrying hustler. It's just that nobody does anything about it. Just like you and I never get busted for jaywalking, it's still illegal.

And, unlike jaywalking, making importing pornography illegal (in gerneral) is plain wrong.

Here's the relevant parts of the law:

Goods which are deemed to be obscene under the Criminal Code are those materials exhibiting, as a dominant characteristic, the undue exploitation of sex, or of sex and any one or more of the following subjects, namely, crime horror, cruelty, and violence.

Don't tell me Canada is free when I can't bring in Hustler.

>On Zundel: He had his day in court. As above, hate is not protected speech in Canada. And if Canada’s such a horrible place to him, why is he applying for refugee status to avoid being deported to Germany? America doesn’t want him, either, so that’s a non-issue.

Because Germany is an even more intolerant country than Canada. CorelDraw, a Canadian product was illegal in Germany because it turns out one piece of clipart had a swastika.

So that would explain that, no? If not, how about another quote:

If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.

-- Noam Chomsky.

>On the Little Black books: Would the essay about these books be banned? Not likely. And that achieves a higher purpose – don’t disseminate racism, just education. Sounds like a worthy compromise.

How can one write an essay about it in Canada if the book is not available? Does one have to leave this country to obtain a higher education? That certainly sucks.

There is no compromise. The book is unavailable. That's that. No essay, no education, no nothing.

>"Canadians are no longer able to choose to watch TV from other cultures" – what the hell does this mean? My TV receives shows from the US, Britain, France, Australia, and movies from all over the world. Doesn’t yours? And besides, when did television viewing become a specific right?

Does your TV get Penn & Teller's Bullshit! ? Nope. There's many American shows we aren't allowed to watch because the CRTC gestappo doesn't want us to. Well, not unless we get a "healthy" dose of Canadian culture with them.

As a naturally defiant person, I hate (someone sue me for that before I sin again!) Canadian culture more everyday. Not because it's bad, but simply because someone is forcing me to learn it. I'd rather watch the blue screen from my VCR all day than be forced to watch Due South or listen to the BareNaked Ladies.

It's such an imperialistic idea to force people to be part of the Canadian culture it makes me sick.

I'm just waiting for the internet to offer more TV, and then I will throw throw out the antenna on my roof. I will not watch any more Canadian TV because I despise the laws that force me to. Take that! I hope the Canadian film industry implodes because of people like me. I will not be told by anyone what to know, learn, or watch. As an adult I make my own descisions.

>And besides, when did television viewing become a specific right?

When did reading become a right? What's the difference? TV just happens to be the most popular way of learning about culture today, does it not deserve the same protected status as books have (in other countries, that is)?

>A lot more to find, if you put your mind to it? Sure. You can always find conspiracies when you go looking for them, and impart great significance to minor events. Paranoid Delusion is the technical term for that.

Personally, when it comes to censorship, I'm on Martin Niemoeller's side. If you call protecting the rights of other's wrong, well, I'd be interested to hear what you would have to say to Voltaire.

"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

And no, Voltaire didn't actually say it. But you get the gist of it.

Please, GiTM, think about what you're saying. For just a moment. Do you believe that what's said in those quotes is wrong? Then why would you let this country get away with telling others what they can say and do?

I think it's just about time to update my user info. :-)
posted by shepd at 7:25 PM on February 28, 2003


shepd & ghost =

as an american thinking about living in canada, i found your debate interesting.

with the exception of the canadian content laws, almost all of the examples provided here would apply in the good old u.s. of a. the fcc licenses our airwaves so it is up to that government commission to determine what we can hear/see on broadcast radio/tv.

and from my last stint in vancouver it appeared i could spend the entire day not watching canadian content. i just looked at shaw's digital lineup and found scads of US content available 24/7.

i must admit that i did prefer the canadian shows like this hours is 22 minutes and trailer park boys to some of the pap on the u.s. channels.
posted by birdherder at 9:07 PM on March 1, 2003


I think the difference is, though, birdherder, that we're not just censoring the airwaves (which is bad enough), but anything in general. Books, talking, anything that is offensive (by offensive, I mean offensive to the Supreme Court) can be made illegal in Canada. That's the difference.

Canadians like me complain because I have to fund scads of content I don't want (we are forced to pay for things like the CBC, TVOntario, and the Film Board through taxes). Not to mention I have to pay for the Eskimo Network if I want to watch anything decent on TV.

There's actually quite a few good Canadian TV shows -- the problem is they're lost to the pablum that is government enforced promotion.

What one of the major complaints is, is that our multicultural society can't "touch base" with home by watching whatever their local TV station was on DishNetwork (eg: Z-TV for Indians, JapanTV for Japanese, etc). Also we were supposed to be guaranteed Free (capital F) airwaves in Canada (I can listen in on ANYTHING, including military and cellphone channels if I like) but some jerk made it illegal to decode/unscramble stuff, even though technically FM would be counted as scrambled if it weren't for the fact it's such an old tech. If you don't want me to watch it, don't beam it at me.
posted by shepd at 5:16 AM on March 2, 2003


Oddly enough, shepd, I don't really disagree with you in principle, just in degree. Some of your arguments are ridiculously overstated, as if you're part of some American militia group, hoarding weapons against the evil government intent on subjugating us all (and please, let's not talk about the gun registry here).

Lines like "the Eskimo Network" won't endear you to many non-racists, for example. To be so incredibly dismissive of other cultures is baffling from someone who is apparently fighting for more foreign television... or are you just upset you can't get HBO? There are few American shows I can't see, for one simple reason: if enough people wanted to see them, some Canadian broadcaster would pick them up. With the Bachelorette, Joe Millionaire, I'm a Celebrity, Am I Hot or Not, ad nauseum, my television gets far too much American broadcasting as it is.

Don't tell me Canada is free when I can't bring in Hustler.
Please. You can't bring plants into California, either. Fascists! Fascists! Don't apply quirks of importing/exporting to a broader context - it doesn't work.

How can one write an essay about it in Canada if the book is not available?
How can you write about illuminated manuscripts? Tibetan rituals? Congolese river plants? Yes, you sometimes have to leave the country to achieve a higher education. That's good, because it means you actually have to learn about other people, other cultures, in a way you never could at home. I've been to European battlefields and Roman ruins, and it imparts a whole new dimension to my history education. Sometimes you have to go to the source.

Just like you and I never get busted for jaywalking, it's still illegal.
There are many ridiculous laws on the books. It wasn't that long ago you couldn't write a check dated for Sunday. If nobody ever gets charged for it, is it really still a crime? No, it isn't. Governments are too busy figuring out where they can cut back on health care to weed through those laws.

Listen, you just don't have a clue what "free speech" really is. You think Canada controls thought, speech, and expression... you need to get out of the country and travel a bit. Go to a few dictatorships and understand what repression is truly all about. Then come back here and tell me you still think our government is evil. You're like a child in a room filled with toys, crying because he can't reach one stuffed bunny on a high shelf. Yes, things could be better here, but the reasons they aren't better isn't all that diabolical. And things could be much, much worse.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 5:51 AM on March 3, 2003


>Some of your arguments are ridiculously overstated, as if you're part of some American militia group, hoarding weapons against the evil government intent on subjugating us all (and please, let's not talk about the gun registry here).

Yes, I come off as a blowhard on these issues. I guess the problem is they've affected me so directly, I'm very personally involved in them, and considering I've been hit by something that personally affects what I can say/do as far as freedom of speech goes, I take it very seriously.

You see, I used to pirate American satellite (why pay for it when that's illegal?). In fact, I was starting up a business to do it, until the government did a 360 on the issue (sponsored by Bell ExpressVu, who are criminals themselves, I might add). And I'm a techno radio DJ (I didn't say I was good! But I am on the air weekly). So these issues affect me personally (ever asked your local record shop how many 100% canadian MAPL-compliant techno discs they sell? -- if it's more than 5, you've got better shops than me!), which leaves me somewhat biased as to their importance.

So sure I overstate these problems. They don't affect that many people. It just happens to be that my speech has been screwed over twice by our government lately so I'm really sore about it. Plus, when you look at the issues, while the laws aren't abused that often, the laws themselves are still bogus.

>Listen, you just don't have a clue what "free speech" really is. You think Canada controls thought, speech, and expression... you need to get out of the country and travel a bit. Go to a few dictatorships and understand what repression is truly all about. Then come back here and tell me you still think our government is evil. You're like a child in a room filled with toys, crying because he can't reach one stuffed bunny on a high shelf. Yes, things could be better here, but the reasons they aren't better isn't all that diabolical. And things could be much, much worse.

>Governments are too busy figuring out where they can cut back on health care to weed through those laws.

Listen, you don't have a clue what bad health care really is. You think Canada has a bad health care system? You need to get out of the country and travel a bit. Go to the United States and understand what having no health care system is like. Try a dictatorship and see what happens when you're sick. Then come back here and tell me you think we have poor health care. You're like a child in a room filled with toys, crying because he can't reach the stuffed bunny on the high shelf due to a bad back. Yes, things could be better here, but the reasons they aren't better is because it costs money. And things could be so much worse. I mean, you're alive, aren't you?

>Lines like "the Eskimo Network" won't endear you to many non-racists, for example. To be so incredibly dismissive of other cultures is baffling from someone who is apparently fighting for more foreign television...

I'm not dismissive of them. If they want to fund their own network, then bully for them. Hell, if the Al-Jazeera wants to set up in Canada, awesome. But I don't expect my money to pay for Eskimo TV any more than I want my money to pay for Al Jazeera.

>Please. You can't bring plants into California, either. Fascists! Fascists! Don't apply quirks of importing/exporting to a broader context - it doesn't work.

Sure it will. I don't agree with import controls on plants, either. I think it's not only fascist, but also the cause of our current biker gang problem, along with a host of other socioeconomic problems, that the Canadian government is spending so much time trying to fight what people choose to do with their bodies.

>or are you just upset you can't get HBO?

Sure that's part of it. Now, if HBO said to me they won't sell it to me, well, that's fine. Their choice. But as long as people aren't given the choice of free commerce over socialism in this countruy, well, damn right I'm upset.

>There are few American shows I can't see, for one simple reason: if enough people wanted to see them, some Canadian broadcaster would pick them up.

And Canadians are supposed to know what they would like to see... how exactly? By breaking the law and watching pirated American TV at a friends house? On the whim of an American report on how good the show is? By taking a vacation to the US? That's a really strange set of economics.

Which reminds me, there is one show that would go down here, that I've seen heavily pirated by Canadians, that I've mentioned before, that won't be seen in Canada likely due to obscenity and hate laws, rather than networks just wanting to stick with the usual crud: Penn & Teller's Bullshit!

>With the Bachelorette, Joe Millionaire, I'm a Celebrity, Am I Hot or Not, ad nauseum, my television gets far too much American broadcasting as it is.

Ahhh, I see. The truth is told. You'd rather keep the laws the way they are because, despite the fact that these shows are on the air because they are popular, they offend you. Did I get that right? Because that's what it comes across as.

>How can you write about illuminated manuscripts? Tibetan rituals? Congolese river plants? Yes, you sometimes have to leave the country to achieve a higher education.

Great, so to experience freedom of learning I have to go to a dictatorship. That really contradicts with what you've stated.

>That's good, because it means you actually have to learn about other people, other cultures, in a way you never could at home.

So, you are going to tell me what's good for me and what isn't? You see what I'm getting at here? To support anti-obscenity and anti-hate laws must end in telling others what they can think and do. And that's why it's wrong.

Go ahead and fight the good fight on health care issues, though. However, just like you've never had trouble with freedom of speech issues and I have, I've never been to hospital since I was a baby, so I have no support to lend to you.

See now what Martin Niemoeller was on about? In fact, I'm against spending more on healthcare in Canada. Why should I pay for your healthcare when I've barely used it?

Just wait, one day these laws will affect you. One day. Give it time. Then those of us in the "club" will be happy to take you in as a disaffected Canadian. 'Till then, I'll just practice my right to vote libertarian.
posted by shepd at 2:18 PM on March 3, 2003


I used to pirate American satellite
Oh, come on. You're upset over that? Please tell me you didn't think they would continue to allow that loophole? That you knew either Canadian business would step in (as they did) to shut it down, or American business would force the issue on the government (think they wouldn't want to be paid?). You just can't be that naive. That was a matter of when, not if, and if you were planning a business around it, remind me not to fund your next venture.

how many 100% canadian MAPL-compliant techno discs they sell
Haven't a clue. Not my music. Don't even understand its relevance to this discussion. Are we talking sampling, reproduction, distribution, what? I have friends in the industry (bands, agents, A&R, labels, studios, etc.) and I've been involved in the production of a few discs, so I know a fair bit of the bullshit that goes on. What's the particular problem here?

For example, my company buys a lot of blank CDs, so we have to pay the recording company tax even though we don't use blanks for music at all. If you're looking for another gray-area business, pirate CDs. You can defend yourself in court by saying you've already paid for whatever music rights are involved with the tax on the CDs. Expect the same outcome you had with the satellite business, of course.

Nice move with the health care thing, turning it around on me like that. Except it's not a hot button for me, so at first I was just wondering what the hell you were going on about the health care system for. Canada has a great health care system, one of the best in the world. It's not perfect, of course, and could be improved. Kinda like the legal system. Not perfect, but better than most.

I'm not dismissive of them.
It's Aboriginal People's Television Network, or APTN. "Eskimo" is a term of derision, and to continue using it when referring to a people is dismissive (especially since APTN encompasses all First Nations people, including but not limited to the Inuit). Or do you call BTV "the Nigger Network"? And yes, I'm being inflammatory.

the Canadian government is spending so much time trying to fight what people choose to do with their bodies.
OK, again you've lost me. Are we talking about oranges and hydrangeas here? 'Cause that's what I was talking about. Your mention of bikers and bodies leads me to believe you're talking about marijuana, and that's a whole other issue.

the choice of free commerce over socialism in this country
There are a lot of products from other countries that are not available here for various reasons. Every country has import restrictions, including the US. So by your definition, the US is socialist. That's a pretty broad brush you've got there.

And Canadians are supposed to know what they would like to see... how exactly?
Come on. Let's take the Osbournes as an example. How much did you hear about that show, months before it ever appeared on Canadian television? If there's something going on in the US, Canadians hear about it. We can't avoid it. So don't give me that crap.
You don't think television producers are actively looking around the world for new show ideas, either ripping off successful shows in other countries or importing them wholesale? You don't think the producers of those shows aren't actively pitching them worldwide? Go to the Banff television convention and you'll see. I had a show ptiched there, and networks from Australia to Germany expressed an interest. Broadcasters are in the business to make money, and if a show will bring in an audience they'll air it.

(Aside: I've long enjoyed P&T, but I doubt they would attract a broad audience. I could see them on a specialty network like Comedy easily enough. Having never seen the show I can't comment on the obscenity/hate though. I'm surprised at your suggestion of hate speech with them, and as for obscenity, Sopranos/Osbournes I think have ended that taboo. I bet it's only a matter of time before that show is picked up in Canada.)

they offend you. Did I get that right?
Ha! No, not at all. I don't get offended. You're assuming I'm some snotty CBC patrician. I'm not. Those shows are moronic, pure and simple. Do I watch them? Sure, at times. Am I ashamed to admit that? Not at all. I've read War and Peace for pleasure, but I've also read Tom Clancy and the Harry Potter books. It's like fast food - fine in moderation. When your diet consists solely of such programs, however, your brain turns to mush.

Great, so to experience freedom of learning I have to go to a dictatorship.
At times, yes. Visiting a dictatorship can be quite a learning experience all on its own. Learning isn't limited to a border... it's about crossing them.

So, you are going to tell me what's good for me and what isn't?
I'm from the school that believes you don't have to let a child put his hands in a fire to learn the concept of "hot", and that perhaps it's better to tell someone what's good for them than let them learn the hard way. The bulk of society is composed of people not able to make intelligent decisions. Reasonable limits must be placed in order to protect them, just as handrails are required on most sets of stairs. But our society is sufficiently advanced in technology and transportation that a reasonably intelligent person can circumvent virtually every limit. Do the police root out every instance of a Hustler crossing the border? No. Because there's no need to stop the little leaks, just the big floods. You've been able to watch this P&T show that's not available in Canada. One of the links you gave had the complete text to the Little Black books, meaning anyone can read them if they want. And the lesbian book mentioned is available through Amazon.ca, so you can order it if you want. The Canadian government is all about controlling the worst excesses, not about clamping down on rights.

I've never been to hospital since I was a baby, so I have no support to lend to you.
As above, you're barking up the wrong tree here. My health care experience is apparently similar to yours. I hardly even get colds. But I do have something called compassion, so I'm willing to have part of my paycheck fund someone else's kidney dialysis or chemotherapy.

Oh, well. I doubt anyone else is reading this, but it's been an interesting debate.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 6:04 AM on March 4, 2003


Um, if anyone's still around here, I'm an American that's currently planning to move to Montreal in a year, and find this discussion very interesting. shepd, I'm guessing that you're located in Montreal, right? If so, could you please elaborate on the French language situation? That is, does everyone speak French there? Is it required to get by in day-to-day business? Can I set up a business in Montreal without forcing my customers to speak French (that is, can I set up a business where I conduct myself in the English language?)

Also, I've heard only little bits about how using satellite dishes like DirectTV in CA is illegal. Can you elaborate on that? Is there any way for them to tell if you're using a pirated signal?

Jeez -- so many questions. Perhaps this would be better conducted off MeFi, but then again, perhaps someone else might be interested.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:29 AM on March 5, 2003


C_D: Bill 101 (actually, it's a law now but I'm too lazy to look it up) puts some pretty nasty restrictions on signage in Quebec, among other things. For example, you must have French on every sign, and it has to be more prominent than any other language.
Montreal is a very cosmopolitan city, and you can get by with just English. But you should learn at least some French. There are English papers, radio stations, and television networks. But as I've never lived there I can't comment on it more than that. Statcan reports the following population/language number for Montreal:
Montréal Total 3,380,640 Eng only 254,765 Fre only 1,283,145 Both 1,792,750 Neither 49,975
As for the satellite dishes, you have to subscribe through a Canadian service such as Bell ExpressVu or StarChoice to legally receive a signal. "Illegal" is a loaded word in this situation. SWAT teams won't bust down your door, but you will likely face a stiff fine and loss of your receiver if caught. The police are more interested in dealers selling the product than the occassional end user - it's like jaywalking or speeding. They'll prosecute you if they happen to catch you, but most times they're not actively looking for you.
If you're looking for more answers, I'll do what I can. Check out www.statcan.ca for more statistics.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 1:33 PM on March 5, 2003


CD: Congratulations. You'll love Montreal. You can set up a business and speak any way you want. Your signage will have to be in French and whatever else you like. Here are the laws in English.

If you want to speak English exclusively in your business...you can do that anywhere in Montreal. The questions is: how many clients do you want? There are places in town where you'll die on the vine. Speaking English in business is easier if you stay on the western part of the island or in the eastern townships.
posted by ?! at 6:04 PM on March 5, 2003


Thanks for the information! Most of my work requires either being exclusively outside, while the business-end will be run inside of a home office (I'm a photographer), so I won't be requiring a storefront per se. I have a rudimentary understanding of the language (2 years of college) but will be spending the next year studying it more. I've looked around at the various districts and liked the eastern part of Downtown (but is the student ghetto of McGill too, uh, studenty?), Westmount (for its English-speaking-ness), and the Plateau. I don't suppose anyone has some idea of what rent (in $US) is for these areas? I've tried looking for apartments in Montreal on the web, and have found virtually nothing useful (and never any with pictures).

GhostInTheMachine -- Well, I've got nothing against jaywalking. If you could direct me to any dish dealers in the US, or any websites with more information, perhaps I could buy a dish here and bring it up north? Isn't there some kind of service agreement required to even get a signal, though?

Sorry to have hijacked the thread, by the way; it's more than a week old, so I didn't think anyone will mind.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:58 AM on March 6, 2003


C_D: I used to have satellite in my apartment - the building was already wired for it. Of course, I'm in Nova Scotia and despite what "Friends" says, that's more than an hour ferry ride from Montreal. Really, the cost isn't that much here - about the same as cable - so you should check out the legal routes to see if the savings are worth it.

The dish isn't the problem, as you guessed. They're readily available. It's the programming. And for that, you'd need to connect with some pirates. I can't help you there, of course, but they do exist. But check out www.expressvu.ca or www.starchoice.ca first for the legal options, to understand what you'd be getting into. The main difference? You'll get MTV Canada instead of MTV, The Movie Network instead of HBO, and a whole bunch of Canadian stuff (most of which will be at least 40% American anyway). It'll be very familiar yet fundamentally different, comfortable yet a little unsettling.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 4:16 AM on March 6, 2003


I did some of my own research into the hacked cable thing -- it looks like more trouble than it's worth (check out the anti-pirate schenanegans here if you're interested.

Thanks again for your help.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:02 PM on March 6, 2003


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