2016-08-29

35th Edmonton International Fringe Festival: That Was Then, This Is Fringe

(this post is "sticky" and will remain at the top until August 22nd. Scroll down for new content)

It's that time of year again, where the streets of Old Scona come alive with green onion cakes, lame busker shows, and 140 plays which promise to be edgy and counter-cultural (and at least 95 of them will contain one tired Donald Trump joke).



And that means it's also time for Third Edge of the Sword's annual collection of Fringe reviews, highlights, and photos.

Keep your eye on this page for the eleven days of the 2016 Fringe Festival as more and more content is loaded. You can also take a look at the content from the 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

And, naturally, it almost goes without saying at this point...

No fags.

2016-08-19

2016 Edmonton Fringe: two plays with questionable politics

A couple years ago I opened up the Fringe by posting a list of plays I had no interest in seeing. While I'm not up to the same task this year, there are a couple of plays that are so boilerplate and ridiculous that they deserved to be made fun of.

The first, from Morgan Cranny (previously seen doing Jeff Who Lives At Home fan fiction [yes, this is an old joke -ed], is Vasily Djokavich: Russia's #1 State Approved Comedian. In the poster, you can even see a photo of Putin overlooking the depressed looking performer. Haha, how sad is a country that has state approved comedians and a narcissist as their leader. Oh, wait, that doesn't describe Russia in 2016. It describes Canada. A comedian named Mike Ward has been fined for being a non-state-approved comedian. This isn't a one-off-case either: comedian Guy Earle was also fined for his comedy. Now maybe Cranny-as-Vasily makes reference to these cases in the play, which would sort of help. However, its ridiculous to be continuing to make jokes about state enforcers denying the fundamental free speech rights in a far-off country when the same thing is happening on our very doorsteps. In fact, I'll bet you dollars-to-donuts that Cranny himself doesn't see a problem with Human Rights kangaroo courts forcing citizens to pay danegeld to people who's "right not to be offended" has been invaded. As a result, the play itself is entirely pointed the wrong direction. It should be at the same so-called "edgy" Fringe performers that Cranny cavorts with day and night.

Similarly, I was alerted to this play by a text message warning me that it's hateful towards Christianity (and that she had to walk out on it): Jesus Master Builder — A Divine Comedy. All I can say is that I can't wait for playwright Mark Allan Greene's followup next year: Mohammed the Mountain Mover - Koranilarious.

(click here to return to the 2016 Fringe portal page)

2016 Edmonton Fringe: Grounds review

At least they changed some of it this year.

One of the most interesting and ironic things about the Fringe grounds is for a festival whose plays are entirely anti-conservative, there's nothing in this universe more conservative than the layout of the Fringe grounds themselves. A couple weeks ago Martok and I were out on Whyte Ave for drinks just before the Fringe grounds were being setup, and he had great sport verbally describing the layout end-to-end. Ever since the year they had that "eco-carnival" I've been concerned with the incredible shrinking Fringe grounds, though Martok's complaint was that the grounds don't mix it up at all. (To be fair, his suggestion that we shut Whyte Avenue down for 12 days and expand the grounds to include the street itself is crazy and I want no part of it)

The taco in a bag stand? Exactly where he described it, along with the mini-donuts and the green onion cakes. That (Brown) Indian food place "Zarika" or whatever it's called is a few feet moved from its location last year. The same hippie bead places dot the landscape just north of the main only stage. The fences and barriers connecting the Orange Hall "line" with the walking path between the main only stage and south beer gardens are still illogically designed to create a massive bottleneck the moment more than one stroller is thrown into the mix. There are a couple food trucks north of the ATB Arts barns and the usual food "trailers" along Calgary Trail, and then Fat Franks is in front of the Walterdale. Bruce Jenner changes genders more often than the Fringe Festival changes its grounds layout.

Though they did make a couple notable changes this year. A whopping one of them is a reorganization. The rest are...wait for it...subtractions.

The north beer gardens has moved from its traditional spot to just north of the train tracks, and now you can sit next to trees but not under trees. Instead of getting some nice natural shade, instead you can do the same gag as the north beer garden: sit under a heavy (and noisy) tent if you want to avoid sun and/or rain, otherwise you're out in the sun almost the entire day. You get a bit of grass this way. I can't say I like it, though it's at least different. So what did they do with the old beer gardens area? Something cool? You should probably know better by now. They put the daily discount tent there, and a Subway food truck selling their lousy new Korean BBQ, and Telus has a mini-tent there, and...no, that's about it. They opened up some space and didn't do anything interesting with it. Maybe that will be next year?

There are some subtractions, of course, and I'm not sure if New Asian Village just chose not to take their traditional spot along Gateway Boulevard or if they were forced out. The "freak show" tent that was just north of the north beer gardens is definitely gone and that's definitely something the Fringe was responsible for. Don't tell me there weren't any bearded ladies available, one of them has been walking the grounds almost constantly.

So another year, another drop in the number of things to do and see at the Fringe grounds. I've already talked with one friend who, upon learning the Butter Chicken from New Asian Village is no longer available, decided to skip the Fringe this year. The site itself seems eerily reminiscent of the Republican Party in 2012: not wanting to rock the boat, they tepidly put forth a slightly smaller and more low key candidate than they tried the last time and hoped it would work better. And just like 2012, it didn't and left us with another four years of disaster. Say what you will about Trump, but he's the party swinging for the fences, being bold, and trying something different.

The Fringe Theatre Festival keeps telling us that's who they are. And then every year they give us the Fringe grounds equivalent of Mitt Romney.

(click here to return to the 2016 Fringe portal page)

2016-08-18

2016 Edmonton Fringe Review: Led Zeppelin Was a Cover Band

Led Zeppelin recently made international news by winning a court case about the origins of "Stairway to Heaven".

The music industry, still reeling from the Blurred Lines verdict, will be relieved, said Larry Iser, a lawyer and copyright specialist who was not involved in either case. “Today’s verdict is a vindication of copyright, which only protects an original expression of music.” Led Zeppelin showed that the disputed chord progression was a common building block of classical and popular music dating back centuries, he said.
That notion, that Zeppelin was just building on the musical influences of the past, is the primary thesis of Zeppelin Was a Cover Band, a one-man show by Montreal's Stéfan Cédilot. Cédilot begins by reciting the history of Led Zeppelin's formation, from Jeff Beck joining the New Yardbirds after Jimmy Page turned it down, to the hiring of John Bonham and the infamous Keith Moon conversation that possibly never happened. Once Zeppelin formed though, Cédilot isn't interested much in the band itself: not the famous Page and Plant disagreements and reconciliations, not the loss of John Bonham, not the endless reunion rumours. From the formation to the present day, it's only about the music...and the musical influences.

As noted, the general thesis of the play is "Zeppelin didn't write most of their songs and we shouldn't expect them too." This open admission of copyright theft is a touchy one: unlike far-left extremist Pete Seeger the white boys from 'Zep don't get lionized (pun intended) for re-recording songs made by poor American blacks. There's a strong torrent in today's racially-charged society that these black artists deserved their share of the pie. Willie Dixon successfully sued Zeppelin for a chunk of that "Whole Lotta Love" money, and Howlin' Wolf got $45,123 for "The Lemon Song". However, Cédilot discounts that notion and "The Lemon Song" provides a great example of it. Howlin' Wolf wrote a song called "Killing Floor" which Led Zeppelin borrowed the tune from to make "The Lemon Song". However, "Killing Floor" doesn't mention lemon juice at all: the lyrics came from Robert Johnson's "Travelling Riverside Blues" which Robert Johnson wrote in...no, just kidding. Black blues legend Robert Johnson stole many of the lyrics from a song called "She Squeezed My Lemon" by Roosevelt Sykes. In fact, despite Zeppelin recording a "cover" of "Travelling Riverside Blues" it actually is a "version", which stole less of Johnson's original song than the original song itself stole from another blues artist.

For a good chunk in the middle of the play, Zeppelin almost takes a backseat to the history of blues/gospel/rhythm n' blues music as Cédilot defends (or at least lays in detail) the practice of "stealing" music. "In My Time of Dying" from the 1975 Physical Graffiti album is controversial for having writing credits to Zeppelin's four members despite Bob Dylan recording the song in 1962. But, of course, Bob Dylan didn't write it either. Josh White recorded it in 1933, but White also didn't write it. In 1929 Charlie Patton performed it, Blind Willie Johnson recorded it in 1927, but he stole large chunks of it from Reverend J.C. Burnett's 1926 song "Jesus Is Going to Make Up Your Dying Bed". While Burnett may (but probably didn't) have written parts of the tune, it's an even older gospel song of unknown origin and refer to Psalms 41:3 and despite what some 70s rockers might tell you, Led Zeppelin did not write the Holy Bible.

Throughout the play, Cédilot strips down physically (he starts in a nerdy tweed jacket, and eventually pulls off his dress shirt to reveal a Zeppelin tee underneath) as he strips back the origins of various Zeppelin songs. "Gallows Pole" was a cover of the 1939s Lead Belly song...but Lead Belly stole the song from...white people! The original "version" of the lyrics comes from "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" which dates back centuries. This is the strongest current of Cédilot's argument: that every couple three generations a song has to be re-done and re-"released" in order to be remembered into the future. He sort of ignores the differences caused by the recording era, which is a shame. He doesn't even pay lip service to the fact that a song from 1827 being "redone" by a band in 1875 is necessary for its survival in the cultural landscape, while a song from 1927 being redone in 1975 isn't. As a result, his argument suffers.

But this isn't just a musicology essay, it's a dramatic work in its own right: playing blues standards and Zeppelin tunes and playing "spot the similarities and influences", realizing that we can't enforce a "your copyright is sacrosanct" when it comes to Muddy Waters without extending the same courtesy to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and then back to whoever she "stole" from before recorded music existed. As the play winds down, Cédilot just starts up with the air guitar and explaining (whitesplaining?) that Zeppelin's versions are just better. Whatever the music's origin, Led Zeppelin was at the forefront of a new style of music: they mixed their albums in a new and nontraditional style. They recorded 3-8 minute versions of centuries-old slave work songs that typically only were a minute or so long and introduced music to a wider audience. They ultimately were later "stole/adapted" when Puff Daddy remixed "Kashmir" with his rap beats. They sang about Tolkien and dead 5-year olds.

And they fucking rocked.

The play moves at generally a good clip, and Cédilot's passion shines through. While he doesn't expand on some of the legitimate issues brought up by Zeppelin's copying in the recording era, and he riffs on the relatively ridiculous Spirit lawsuit without mentioning the numerous other and more successful ones, it's an entertaining foray into the world of music and might open a few eyes about the role of influence in music even as it leaves open the question of when that influence can be monetized. If you're a music fan, Zeppelin Was a Cover Band is a play worth a watch.

(click here to return to the 2016 Fringe portal page)

2016 Edmonton Fringe Review: Call Me Kirk: The Ultimate Trek

Adapting Star Trek to a Fringe play can't be easy. It just can't. Especially when you're covering an almost 50-year-old TV series than spawned a movie franchise that spawned another television series which spawned three more television series which spawned nothing...but then the 50-year-old TV series spawned a second movie franchise.

There are a few ways you can go with this: you can try telling a new story, which won't necessarily impress fans or non-fans but will at least let you be creative and do something different. The fan-made movies like Star Trek Horizon and the fan made series like Star Trek Hidden Frontier go this route. I can't say that I particularly like any of the series...whatever you can say about the questionable acting of Marina Sirtis, Denise Crosby, Wil Wheaton, and Robert Beltran they all can act rings around Larry LaVerne and Nick Cook. The ones that also feature Trek actors suffer this problem less (not that Chase Masterson is exactly a top-notch talent) and then have the questionable writing as well. The best you can say is now fans can make effects that easily match the stuff Desilu spent a fortune on in 1968.

The other route you can take is to pastiche and/or ripoff the existing property. Fans will recognize everything and non-fans will vaguely recognize everything and presumably send them all home happy. That's the route taken by Call Me Kirk: The Ultimate Trek, a one-man show by Michael Schaldemose. Schaldemose worked on One Man Star Wars, which took the "ripoff" ideas and twisted it: turning it into a line by line (with snide asides) reproduction. For that to work, however, a huge portion of the fanbase needs to know the existing property by heart. How long into Star Trek III do you think the average Joe could start rattling off the plot? I think they'd pretty much fizzle after "they search...for that Spock guy...". Instead, Call Me Kirk does the pastiche route, stealing huge chunks of plots/scenes from "Elaan of Troyius", "The Trouble With Tribbles", and "Journey to Babel" and a few extra plots/scenes from "A Taste of Armageddon", "Arena", "Space Seed", and "The Wrath of Khan". At various points he breaks from just reciting lines from episodes of the TV show and breaks into Shatner-inspired musical parodies.

The musical breaks are the best part, for two reasons: one, they let Schaldemose do his William Shatner impersonation with full gusto and not trying to play him off other characters. Secondly, and this cannot be stressed enough, they are new creations that don't involve actual Trek fans being sixteen steps ahead of the script. That's why the prose sections are so much weaker: they are the fringe theatre equivalent of Data at the beginning of "Elementary, My Dear Data" where he's just recreating all of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries verbatim from the books. Kirk is going to fall in love with Elaan after touching her tear, he's going to use the command codes to beat Khan, he's going to fake being well enough to command the Enterprise so Spock can go into surgury to save his father, and Scott is going to fight Klingons after they call the legendary starship a garbage scow. You'd think the plot is going to bore hardcore fans but keep the masses happy, but they ultimately do neither. Call Me Kirk is stuck between a rock and a hard place due to their format, and they stumble across a "musical revue" escape route that they only tentatively step forward through. Having a few token plots ripped from the show that lead into musical theatre Star Trek parodies could have worked great. Unfortunately, the music parodies only occur twice and just remind you that you came to the show wanting to have fun.

The Shatner impersonating can only take you so far, and while it's entirely likely that you can crib his musical career for this more than his acting career, we're instead watching Schaldemose-as-Kirk talk about the horrors of nuclear war. In 2016. Rehashing slightly modified lines from the 60's TV show is a nice bit of nostalgia, and the script does a decent enough job of tying them into a single overarching plot (albeit one where plot threads appear and then vanish again without much fanfare), but essentially we're watching a partial one-man recreation of catchphrases. It literally ends with a re-telling of Shatner's "I Am Canadian" rant, driving home that we're watching the Star Trek equivalent of an Elvis impersonator. Also, as a brief aside we already "saw" Sulu take the Kobayashi Maru simulation, and he never even entered the neutral zone...

If you're looking for a rough "rating", let's call this equivalent to the episode "The Mark of Gideon". Not as bad as it could have been with a few good Shatner-ish moments, but hardly worth your time to watch.

(click here to return to the 2016 Fringe portal page)

2016-08-15

2016 Edmonton Fringe Review: Breakneck Hamlet

Where be your gibes now? your gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set the table on a roar?
Hamlet is in the upper pantheon of Shakespeare's works. Voted his best play by both Time Magazine readers and a Daily Telegraph survey of British artsy types, it's more palatable to modern pussified audiences than Othello or The Merchant of Venice (as I covered in last year's review of "Shylock"). While it doesn't speak to as universal a theme as Romeo and Juliet (or even Othello) it still ranks up there with Shakespeare's most "accessible" plays, a definition not always easy to define but generally considered the sort of play where you can easily identify with the central drama to the main character and the plot is easy to discern through the flowery writing. However our aversion to incest and the sheer unlikelihood of such a thing happening in a western nation in 2016, the notion of our uncle seizing our late father's wife is one that most of us can appreciate as being very un-kosher. His dilemma of how to find out the truth about what happened to his father and make everything right is the essence of the heroic drama. It also featured Shakespeare writing at his best: the dialogue snaps and sizzles in Hamlet more than any other play.

Unfortunately, there's a lot of it. Hamlet is 29,551 words (4042 lines), making it a third again longer than the average play in the Elizabethan era. Some stuff ends up having to be cut out to bring it to a length where a modern audience can fit it all in (the exception being the 1996 Kenneth Branagh version). So how much of Hamlet do you cut in order to bring the runtime down to three hours? Two hours? 135 minutes?

All of them are dubious propositions, so imagine the stress required to bring the play to a tick over 59 minutes. That was the challenge in adapting the play for Breakneck Hamlet, a one man show starring Timothy Mooney. Just to hammer the point home, with the first syllable from his mouth he hits a digital timer next to the throne and you almost literally engage in clock watching. But unlike the kind I do at work ("I'm 65/117ths done my day!") this helps you stay with the story, letting you benchmark the act and scene breaks and wondering "if Claudius is praying 36 minutes in, how can he fit in the Laertes mob?" and so on and so forth. Mooney covers just enough dialogue to propel the plot and provide basic character motivation for the star, leaving behind the backgrounds of the other characters. We never really feel the tension between Laertes and Ophelia over her relationship with Hamlet, we don't know much about Polonius's motivation at all, and (as is typical for a shortened version of Hamlet) Fortinbras is relegated to being just a plot element to resolve the tale. The gravediggers are portrayed for a scant fifteen seconds, Ophelia's suicide not shown at all, and Gertrude doesn't get much in the way of attention either. This is purely Hamlet's story, with brief aways to Claudius's plotting so that we understand the context.

And it works. While we never delve into the "is he mad or isn't he" that wasn't originally a big part of the play (we can blame the Goths and Freud for that one), we do see a prince trying to first determine if the ghostly apparition is telling him the truth and then determining (wrongly) how to properly remove Claudius and take back the throne he is so owed. The most famous of the Hamlet quotations still make their way forth, and only occasionally are Shakespeare's words dropped in favour of snide asides or brief explanations of the world of 1601 England for a modern audience's benefit. While they did provide the play's only laughs, and I understand the narrative need for them, I would have preferred they had been left out.

For the work they distract from is superb. Timothy Mooney vaguely resembled William H. Macy and really sounds like him, and his ability to subtly portray the different characters helps keep the play moving at...well...a breakneck pace, frankly. Naturally being Shakespeare the language is flowery and sublime, and Mooney's delivery expresses the beauty in the language of Shakespeare that so flustered Jim Hacker. For the Shakespeare aficionado to the Shakespeare neophyte (I wouldn't necessary recommend this to the Shakespeare purist) Breakneck Hamlet play is designed to delight and entertain both. And yes, indeed, it's done in under an hour. He has the clock to prove it.

(click here to return to the 2016 Fringe portal page)

2016-08-04

The Road to Rio

The Games of the XXXI Olympiad begin tomorrow in beautiful (unless you live there) Rio de Janeiro.

As the games begin, consider this sobering thought: in 1936, everybody remembers Hitler refusing to shake the hand of Jesse Owens after he won gold in the 100m track. Owens won gold with an astounding time of 10.3 seconds.

Those 10.3 seconds today wouldn't even qualify you for the Olympics. You need a time of 10.16 seconds or lower to even be allowed into the stadium. You haven't been able to race with a 10.3s qualifying time in this millennium.

Everybody remembers it, which is hilarious because it didn't actually happen

2016-07-20

It turns out the Dykefish is an evolutionary dead-end

The Blue Tang fish, which exploded in popularity thanks to Finding Dory, has for the first time been successfully bred in captivity.

Hilariously, it turns out that the fish famously voiced by notorious carpet muncher Ellen DeGeneres hasn't been able to reproduce in captivity. Do you think that's maybe connected to the fact the most famous Blue Tang thinks she's a boy and made immoral lifestyle choices?

2016-07-18

The Turkish military seizes the country every time they make a Fantastic Four movie



The UK Independent talks about last week's failed military coup in Turkey with the most misleading headline of all time.

"Turkey's coup may have failed – but history shows it won’t be long before another one succeeds".

If you can believe it, the article talks about Syria, about Pakistan, about President Monkey, about Armenian genocide...but it doesn't talk about Turkey's insanely common military coups.

They went pretty smoothly during Ataturk's reign, but it all went south in 1960 when socialist Prime Minister Adnan Menderes went to Moscow to try to get Communist backing for his regime (which was imprisoning journalists, creating kangaroo courts stacked with far-left judges, and personally controlling the curriculum at universities and sounding an awful lot like Rachel Arab in Alberta come to think of it). A military coup took place and Menderes and his top government officials were imprisoned. Menderes lost his head in the subsequent trial and a mausoleum of his was constructed in Constantinople.

Turkey managed an entire decade without a coup, but in 1971 the military again seized power: this time through a memo (no, seriously!) Civil unrest, Marxist protests, and terrorism were occuring throughout the land (and this sounds a lot like President Monkey's final year in office down in America), and the army moved in to force the government's hands. Not much happened though, and it ultimately meant no actual change took place. A technocratic cabinet was created (again, this is eerie...), and ultimately martial law was declared. It took until 1973 before the aftermath was finally settled.

And this time they didn't even last the decade. In 1980 Kenan Evren took over after months of official deliberation in senior army ranks which really makes very little sense if you think about it). Martial law was again established, Parliament was abolished, and state secularism took over from the burgeoning Islamic sub-revolution. The end result was economic chaos: triple digit inflation, free foreign exchange, and wage freezes. 650,000 people were arrested over the 2 year instability, ending with Evren being appointed President in 1982. This period of economic strife meant that American movies weren't available to the general populace, and gave us the glorious debacle which is Turkish Star Wars.

Another decade later, another (attempted) coup: in 1993, the military (probably) tried to take over the government on the sly, executing President Özal and numerous journalists and orchestrating the infamous PKK Ambush.

Half a decade later, another sorta-coup: in 1997 the Turkish military against used the awesome destructive power of a well-written memo, ending the reign of religious PM Necmettin Erbakan and his centre-left government. Again, the secularism of the modern Turkish state was a key factor in the coup. For those keeping their boxscores up-to-date, good ol' Erdogan played a role in this one: he read a pro-Islam poem in his role as mayor of Istanbul and was given a 5 year exile.

So that brings us to 2016, and another military coup in Turkey. It seems to have failed, but indications are that we'll see another one eventually. A decade seems to be the typical separation, something tells me you should bet on the "under" this next time around...

2016-07-14

"America should have picked its own cotton"

The far-left British tabloid The Guardian has waded back into the gun control debate, showing "Republicans representing cities with a higher murder rate than Chicago" and their refusal to back tough gun laws.

The thing to remember, of course, is that when you see a discussion about "high rates of crime" in the United States, you're really talking about "America has a lot of black people" in it. (You can do a similar evaluation in Canada, though our violent blacks are only out-done by our violent Red Indians)

The Guardian won't tell you this, of course: the comfortable lies of the left is their business, and business is good as long as ignorant lefties continue to succumb to their echo chambers.



The Guardian wants you to think that the problem in these cities are all guns. But in blue I have indicated the "increased share" of blacks in these cities compared with their proportion of the U.S. population (12.61%)

Jackson, Mississippi has a high murder rate. But while Mississippi's black population is 37%, Jackson's black population is a whopping 79.4% black 79.4 is 6.29659 times higher than 12.61, so 6.3 is the "index" for Jackson.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana has a black population of 50.4%, for an index of 4.0. Little Rock, Arkansas is 42.3% black for an index of 3.4. Cincinnati has a surprisingly 44.8% black population giving it a 3.6 index. Dayton is 42.9% black, for an index of 3.4.

You don't have to stick to the Republican-controlled cities, of course, though I did just to mess with The Guardian's writing team of Lois Beckett, Ryan Felton and Aliza Aufrichtig. The Democrat-controlled cities have their own ridiculous indexes. St. Louis, the murder capital of America, is 49.2% black (3.9 index), Detroit is 82.7% black (6.6 index), and NOLA is 60.2% black (4.8). The poster child for violent American blacks, Chicago, is only 32.9% black (index of only 2.6) befitting its position at the bottom of The Guardian's chart. Of course, the inconvenient truths keep piling on: non-violent blacks are exodusing out of the infamous "black belt" of South Chicago.

The city’s violence turned Tierra Winston into a suburbanite. She and her 14-year old son, Tyriek, were constantly worried about their safety in their old neighborhood, Roseland, one of the city’s most economically depressed.

American blacks cause crime. Colby Cosh once noted if you removed blacks from the equation, gun-toting America was no less safe than Canada.
The answer is that if you account for one obvious cultural difference--the larger black population in the United States--the United States of America's murder rate is pretty much the same as ours, despite the huge disparity in handgun ownership. Black Americans are 13% of the U.S. population and commit over half of America's homicides.

Follow that last link and you'll see that, according to the FBI at least, the non-black U.S. population of 244 million committed 5,447 murders in 2001. (That's not counting the statistical outlier of Sept. 11, of course.) The Canadian government doesn't break down its figures by race, but the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics' 2000 figures show 542 homicides in Canada--a typical figure--amongst about 28 million Canadians. Our murder rate for the whole populace is 87% of the rate amongst U.S. non-blacks. If you were to try and establish a non-black Canadian murder rate by removing the negligible number of Canadian blacks from the numerator and the denominator, the resulting rate would certainly be lower than 87%, but not by more than a couple of points.

Far-left British newspaper writers should probably get themselves up to speed on that topic before they feel like lecturing American politicians about their opposition to denying citizens their fundamental freedom to own firearms (a freedom that Britain herself should get up to speed on).

"The Firearms Act of 1920 was just a licensing law; the Harrison Narcotics Act was just a prescription system; and the serpent only asked Eve to eat an apple"

In a beautiful essay, Professor Joseph E. Olson and Professor David B. Kopel talk about how a fundamental freedom became an illegal action in a single century.

With gun ownership for self-protection now completely illegal (unless one works for the government), Britons have begun switching to other forms of protection. The government considers this an intolerable affront. Having, through administrative interpretation, delegitimized gun ownership for self-defense, the British government has been able to outlaw a variety of defensive items. For example, non-lethal chemical defense sprays, such as Mace, are now illegal in Britain, as are electric stun devices.

Some Britons are turning to guard dogs. Unfortunately dogs, unlike guns and knives, have a will of their own and sometimes attack innocent people on their own volition. The number of people injured by dogs has been rising, and the press is calling for bans on Rottweilers, Dobermans, and other "devil dogs." Under 1991 legislation, all pit bulls must be neutered or euthanized.

Other citizens choose to protect themselves with knives, but carrying a knife for defensive protection is considered illegal possession of an offensive weapon. One American tourist learned about this Orwellian offensive weapon law the hard way. After she used a pen knife to stab some men who were attacking her, a British court convicted her of carrying an offensive weapon. Her intention to use the pen knife for lawful defensive purposes converted the pen knife, under British legal newspeak, into an illegal "offensive weapon." In 1996, knife-carrying was made presumptively illegal, even without the "offensive" intent to use the weapon defensively. A person accused of the crime is allowed "to prove that he had a good reason or lawful authority for having" the knife when he did.

Early one evening in March 1987, Eric Butler, a fifty-six-year-old executive with B.P. Chemicals, was attacked while riding the London subway. Two men came after Butler and, as one witness described, began "strangling him and smashing his head against the door; his face was red and his eyes were popping out." No passenger on the subway moved to help him. "My air supply was being cut off," Butler later testified, "my eyes became blurred and I feared for my life." Concealed inside Butler's walking stick was a three-foot blade. Butler unsheathed the blade; "I lunged at the man wildly with my swordstick. I resorted to it as my last means of defense." He stabbed an attacker's stomach. The attackers were charged with unlawful wounding. Butler was tried and convicted of carrying an offensive weapon. The court gave him a suspended sentence, but denounced the "breach of the law which has become so prevalent in London in recent months that one has to look for a deterrent." Butler's self-defense was the only known instance of use of a swordstick in a "crime." Home Secretary Douglas Hurd, using powers granted under the 1988 Criminal Justice Act, immediately outlawed possession of swordsticks. The Act has also been used to ban blowpipes and other exotica which, while hardly a crime problem, were determined by the Home Secretary not be the sorts of things which he thought any Briton could have a good reason to possess.

No prosecution for defending oneself is too absurd.
While the essay is primarily regarding firearms restrictions, it's worth noting that the slippery slope applies to all rights, even as it appears some are being strengthened. Jury rights (long since lost in Alberta, one notes), speech rights (under constant attack), even freedom of association flies at the merest nudge from SJWs on Supreme and Appellate Courts.

It's worth then noting that the first of the "seven key factors" in the loss of British gun rights was...
The first factor that undermined the British right to arms was a technological change when revolvers came to be seen by some persons as much more dangerous than previous weapons. This same phenomenon can be seen in the treatment of other technological advances, such as the automobile, which from the 1920s onward, has often been treated by the United States Supreme Court as a "Constitution-free zone", where searches and seizures in contravention of normal Fourth Amendment standards may take place.
Indeed, thanks to the web free speech is now considered so "dangerous" that it can be trampled upon (almost) with impunity. Likewise...
The shifting of the burden of proof, both at law and in popular discussion, was the fourth factor degrading the British right to arms. Rather than the government having to prove that a particular gun-owner or a particular type of gun was dangerous, the gun-owner began to have to prove his "good reason," and the government began deciding to outlaw weapons that the government did not think anyone outside the government had a good reason to own.
One recalls that when "Fuck Her Right in the Pussy" was a major issue, the far-left CBC that has no problem demanding tax dollars to fund its political communication while saying YOURS is "hurtful" and has "no good reason" to exist.

And as for the government banning the truth about the sick Sodomite Agenda, look at the sixth factor...
Additionally, how many people are there who care to resist infringement of a right? Few politicians seriously propose a total gun ban in the United States because there are seventy million gun-owning households--about half the population. But only about four percent of the British population legally owns guns--a much smaller interest group. If, over the course of generations, the percentage of a population that is interested in a right can be gradually reduced, stricter controls become more politically feasible, and the stricter controls can further reduce the long-term number of people who exercise their rights.

This suggests the long-term importance of young people exercising their rights. If high school newspapers have large staffs that fearlessly report the truth, the future of the First Amendment is better protected. If, conversely, laws prevent teenagers from target shooting or hunting, the future of the Second Amendment is endangered.
No wonder the huge push for Faggot-Familiar-Alliances in Alberta schools!

The essay is particularly vicious on the favourite topic of the left: "balancing" rights.
The rhetoric of balancing is dangerous because it tends to give too much weight to the short-term concerns of public safety. Thus, the American right that has been most subject to balancing, the Fourth Amendment, has suffered badly in the United States Supreme Court. More fundamentally, the "balancing" that legislatures or courts sometimes do is not their job, because the balancing has already been done. Whether in the 1689 Bill of Rights, which was to apply "for all time," or in the 1789-91 United States Constitution, a balance was struck. Because of this balance, governments were prohibited from doing certain things since, in the long run, public safety and liberty were both enhanced by preventing short-term considerations from controlling. Thus, when the Blaisdell Court "balanced" its way around the Constitution's absolute ban on the impairment of contracts, and upheld Minnesota's debtor relief law, the Court did not merely err--the Court usurped power and attempted to re-open the question that the Contracts Clause had decided with finality.

When rights are protected with bright lines, as the First Amendment usually is, then rights are particularly secure against slippery slopes. When rights are subjected to "balancing" (a/k/a "reasonableness") tests by courts, as the Fifth Amendment Takings Clause often is, then rights are particularly vulnerable. And when a society has lost the theory of constitutional absolutes as Britain has, and replaced this with "balancing," then every right is in danger.

In this way, the essay unintentionally but notably takes aim with the NRA. The NRA, one notes, in an implicit "balancing" organization that says strict adherence to existing gun laws should be performed, but oppose (most) new ones...until passed. And then they are to be strictly enforced. In a way, the gun owners' biggest and most effective lobby is also subtly and slowly disenfranchising them.
The BASC's stance may appear to be a "reasonable" position, which demonstrates that gun-owners are not bloodthirsty nuts wanting to shoot people. Rather, shooters are harmless sportsmen, and licensed guns belong in the same category as cricket bats or golf clubs. In practice, however, the concession that guns are only for sports undermines defense of the right to bear arms. If guns are not to be owned for defense, then guns make no positive contribution to public safety. If the sovereignty of the central government is absolute, then the people's ownership of arms makes no positive contribution to a sound body politic.

Their final paragraph is awfully important. Please read it twice.
Slippery slopes are not inevitable, but neither are they imaginary. The British experience demonstrates that many civil liberties, including the right to arms, really can slowly slide all the way to the bottom of the slippery slope. While we have not aimed to convince readers to value any particular civil liberty, such as arms, speech, or protection from warrantless searches, we have attempted to show that it is reasonable for groups that do honor such rights, like the NRA, ACLU, or NACDL, to refuse to acquiesce in "reasonable" infringements of those rights. Even though, as John Maynard Keynes observed, we are all dead in the long run, persons who cherish a particular civil liberty want that liberty to endure not just in their own lifetimes, but in the lives of subsequent generations. In the long run, the best way to protect a given civil liberty from destruction may be to resist even the smallest infringements in short run.

Hear hear.

2016-07-13

Dave Beninger: still a liberal coward with horrible opinions



Liberal cowards who hide behind their Twitter block button everytime they hear a dissenting opinion don't win. They just slime away...

2016-07-12

Monkeys can't handle blame

The legendary Thomas Sowell: President Monkey is a fascist, not a socialist, because he doesn't broach criticism.

Reasons