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How I See the Other Group

May 7th, 2009 by theothergroup

This project started out as a very theory centered idea, but rather than turning into a collection of blogs focusing on the dynamics of “othering” as it operated within our “meta group,” our project went slightly wayward. Now, however, as it comes to a close, our original idea and the resulting work seem more closely linked than I had previously thought them to be.

 Early on, we spent a meeting talking about the generally apathetic attitude we saw in the student body as a whole. I am generalizing, I know, and there are obviously many exceptions (a notable few being in this class actually), but a lot of students have a “get in and get out” attitude to university and, by extension, to learning. I will not forget following the LOIs at the beginning of last term because I could answer very few of the questions concerning subjects such as Apartheid and the Arab-Israeli conflict. 

 So we decided to focus our energy on engaging with the world around us by looking into issues that we knew little about and by noticing and critically thinking about the media and popular literature. Really, we just wanted to cultivate a greater awareness of our surroundings, both immediately and globally.

 Reading and considering ethnographic theory and different theories on the concept of alterity has changed the way I look at the information that I take in. The majority of what we read and watch is produced by an author who is “other” to their subject; studying these theories made the problems inherent in this much clearer. As a result I have thankfully become more critical in my self-education.

 I found this quote in the Loomba’s Colonialism/Postcolonialism text. Italian communist Antonio Gramsci, said that “the ruling classes achieve domination not by force or coercion alone, but also by creating subjects who ‘willingly’ submit to being ruled.” Through a lack of self-education, many of us have become subjects who willingly submit to being ruled. Ruled by what? The media, the government, corporations, our own negligence and sloth, any number of things. Ruled by a lack of information, or by misinformation. The point is that we are constantly fed information. It is perpetually at our fingertips. Yet how often do we truly utilize those resources to become better informed, better educated people?

 Foucalt (also from Loomba’s text) wrote that power “extends itself laterally in a capillary fashion, it is part of daily action, speech and everyday life.” I think that knowledge is something like this. We have all heard the saying ‘knowledge is power.’ If knowledge and power are two sides of the same coin, it makes sense that they would function in the same way. Before any issue can be resolved, or any situation improved, the interested party must first become informed. Once they become informed they have the chance to become powerful. That is how I see our blog. It is our effort, individually and as a group, to work harder at self-education.

 

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Twilight is a colonialist’s wet dream.

April 30th, 2009 by theothergroup

There has been quite a bit of discussion about the sexism in Twilight. It’s a really crucial thing to note that this apparently “female friendly” series is decidedly anti-feminist.

I am curious as to why no one has brought up Jacob and the Quileute werewolves.

I admit, my love of the werewolf, and my joy over a hot, native, werewolf character appearing in mainstream YA literature clouded my mind a little bit. I would like more hot native boys in literature, especially ones who happen to be werewolves. Werewolves are my favourite mythological creature. In the midst of all this elation over Jacob, my critical mind shut off. But, as will happen with infatuation, the fog lifted, and one day I looked at Jacob through clear eyes and thought:

WTF??!!??

Where to begin?

Some background (with spoilers):

Jacob is a member of the Quileute tribe, who live on a reserve near Bella’s home in Washington. The Quileute are a real tribe; Meyer may or may not have taken liberties with their legends; minimal research will show that Meyer probably did borrow from actual Quieleute legend. In Meyer’s book, the legend goes like this:

“Another legend claims we were descended from the wolves-and that the wolves are our brothers still. It’s against tribal law to kill them.

“Then there are the stories about the cold ones.” His voice dropped a little lower.

“The cold ones?” I asked….

Yes. There are stories of the cold ones as old as the wolf legends, and some much more recent. According to legend, my own great-grandfather knew some of them. He was the one who made the treaty that kept them off the land….

He was a tribal elder, like my father. You see, the cold ones are the natural enemies of the wolf – well, not the wolf, really, but the wolves that turn into men,  like our ancestors. You could call them werewolves.”

“Werewolves have enemies?”

“Only one.”

“So you see,” Jacob continued, “the cold ones are traditionally our enemies. But this pack that came to our territory during my great-grandfather’s time was different. They didn’t hunt the way others of their kind did – they weren’t supposed to be dangerous to the tribe. So my great-grandfather made a  truce with them. If they would promise to stay off our lands, we wouldn’t expose them to the pale-faces.”

…There’s always a risk for humans to be around the cold ones, even if they’re civilized like this clan was. You never know when they might get too hungry to resist.”

…”What do you mean, ‘civilized’?”

“They claimed they didn’t hunt humans. They supposedly were somehow able to prey on animals instead.”

So. What happens is, the Quileute stop turning into werewolves for a few generations, because apparently they don’t need to. But then some of the cold ones (not the Cullens – there are other vampires in the area) break the treaty by hunting humans, so the werewolf genes come out again, and the theme of the enslaved Native emerges – the Quileute turn into werewolves with the arrival of these new vampires who kill humans, and they are required (by curse or genetics) to protect the land and other humans regardless of whether they even want this responsibility.

Honestly.

Native people as… dogs?

The Quileute embody the image of the enslaved Native. The wolf-change emerges with the arrival of the Cullens and the other “cold ones” (as Vampires, they are the whitest of the white).

Let’s look at what werewolves are:

In literature, the common themes surrounding werewolves are a loss of control. Authors and readers can use werewolves to explore an animal side (animal usually being equated with the wild, beastly, angry, savage, untamed, out of control opposite to the rational human side). Werewolves must bow to the call of the moon and the earth.

Native people:
are often stereotyped as being deeply connected to the earth. Even today, middle class Native Americans who are as disconnected from the earth as everyone else in the suburbs are still thought to have some inherent, deep connection to the earth. Sherman Alexie tackles the problem of the modern urban Indian in his novels and short stories (there’s really not much place for Indians in literature past the 19th century). Native people were thought to be a savage (some thought these savages noble, but a noble savage is still a savage), untameable group of people.

Werewolves as a literary device are used to explore the side of humans which is untamed and unmediated by social norms. Meyer’s choice to make the werewolves in her story Native American rather than white is very telling: the stereotypes of Native people are a milder version of the traits commonly associated with werewolves.

Now a Look at the Vampire:
Edward describes himself by saying, “Everything about me invites you in-my voice, my face, even my smell. As if I would need any of that. As if you could outrun me. As if you could fight me off.” Vampires are alluring creatures; it is how they catch their prey. The vampire attack is always a sexualized event.

Vampires are associated with being attractive (as an aside: unattractive women are sometime referred to in canine terms). They are typically refined; being alive and sleepless for centuries affords vampires time to be quite well-read. They are usually European, usually white. Occasionally there will be a black vampire in literature or in the movies, usually as an extra – I believe there may have been one in the film version of Twilight – but they are predominantly in possession of alabaster complexions which look best paired with euro-colouring.

The vampire contrasts deeply with the savage, out of control werewolves. Edward Cullen in particular exercises an enormous amount of restraint around Bella-restraint that Jacob Black could not exercise even if he wanted to. Much attention is paid to Edward’s (white) skin. The association of black with Jacob further dichotomizes the werewolf and the vampire, and implicitly dichotomizes the contrast between the savage, uncontrollable Indian and the controlled, refined European Vampire. Twilight is an example of colonial ideals being reproduced in popular culture, perhaps unconsciously, and demonstrates how deeply entrenched and these ideals are.


I feel like making that statement could be construed as fetishizing the attractive native male; I don’t know if it is. I hope not. I would like to see a wider representation of “attractive” people – and a broader definition of what could fit into the label “attractive” – in literature.

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Columbine High School Massacre Ten Years Later

April 29th, 2009 by theothergroup

Upon hearing the words “school shooting” or “school massacre,” what images does your mind conjure up? Before the latter half of the final decade of the twentieth century, such catastrophic incidents occasionally took place in the United States, Canada, and internationally. For example, on May 18, 1927, in Bath Township, Michigan, forty-five people, mainly children who attended the Bath Consolidated School, perished in what is now referred to as the Bath School Disaster and another fifty-eight people were injured. On May 4, 1970, at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio, four students were gunned down by members of the Ohio National Guard, and nine others suffered injuries while protests were taking place regarding the invasion of Cambodia by the United States only days earlier during the Vietnam War. On October 27, 1975, an eighteen-year-old student at St. Pius X High School in Ottawa, Ontario, named Robert Poulin used a shotgun to murder one of his classmates and injure five others before committing suicide. And then, on January 20, 1983, fourteen-year-old David Lawler, who was an eighth-grade student at Parkway South Junior High School in St. Louis County, Missouri, gunned down one of his fellow students and wounded another before committing suicide.

However, it took more than half a dozen school shootings at various locations in the United States over two years to suggest what newspaper reporter Dan Elliot describes as “the violent destruction of a cherished [American] idea … that schools in the suburbs and the countryside were havens of peace and safety” (21). It began at Bethel Regional High School, in Bethel, Alaska, on February 19, 1997, where a troubled teenager named Evan Ramsey gunned down his principal and a fellow classmate, and wounded two other classmates, and successively spread to schools in Pearl, Mississippi; West Paducah, Kentucky; Jonesboro, Arkansas; Edinboro, Pennsylvania; Springfield, Oregon; and culminated at Columbine High School in suburban Denver, where two emotionally disturbed students in their senior year, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, mercilessly gunned down a dozen students, including seventeen-year-old Rachel Scott, seventeen-year-old Cassie Bernall, and eighteen-year-old Isaiah Shoels, and one teacher, William David “Dave” Sanders, before turning their weapons on themselves and committing suicide, on April 20, 1999. Twenty-three other individuals, including one teacher, were wounded to varying extents. Elliott states that the massacre at Columbine High School “shocked the country like no other [school shooting]” (21), and “was the worst school assault in [American] history at that time” (Elliott 21). In addition, unlike most such incidents that had previously occurred, the massacre was “played out on live television, watched by millions [of viewers]” (Elliott 21). Dr. Katherine S. Newman, who is a Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs at Princeton University, states the following: “[The Columbine High School Massacre is] the iconic shooting … It defined the social category of a rampage-school shooting” (qtd. in Elliott 21).

Now, fast forward ten years later … Thoughts from Newman, Superintendent Cindy Stevenson, and surviving victim Patrick Ireland on the sort of legacy that the massacre has left behind …

Undoubtedly, the memory of the massacre at Columbine still exists in the minds of those who witnessed the attack, either directly or indirectly. Fortunately, though, the result of the experience has also generally been little more than a distant memory. For example, surviving victim Patrick Ireland, who suffered, and has generally made a complete recovery from gunshot wounds to his head, arm, leg, and foot when he was shot in the school library. People, perhaps even you, may remember  him as the student who was televised escaping through, or rather, falling out of, one of the second-floor library windows and being caught by SWAT team members, strongly dislikes the tragic symbolization of his former high school: “I hate it when people say, ‘Oh, another Columbine-like (tragedy) or Columbine-esque tragedy … Columbine is a school. The shooting was an event that happened and a lot of people have been able to overcome so many things from that” (qtd. in Elliott 21). Newman states, “Columbine’s hold on the American psyche will weaken when today’s adults, who remember the attack so vividly, give way to a new generation” (qtd. in Elliott 21). And finally, Cindy Stevenson, who is the superintendent for the county school district in which Columbine High School is located, provides clear-cut evidence that the shooting really is no more than a distant memory today: “I can only tell you my impression as I watch the kids … [Columbine High School] feels like any other high school in our district” (qtd. in Elliott 21).

I was a sixteen-year-old tenth grade student at Bishop Grandin High School, which is located right here in Calgary (but you already probably knew that!), when the massacre occurred. Like any other adult today, I was shocked and devastated, and found it hard not to attempt to place myself in the shoes of those who perished, were wounded, and simply witnessed the tragedy. I still feel that way today. But, like those individuals mentioned above, I have been able to place hearing about the massacre behind me, and move on with my life. But what about you, the “other?” What are your thoughts on the Columbine High School Massacre ten years later?

Article By: Amanda Benson

Works Cited

Elliott, Dan. “Columbine survivor wary of legacy.” Calgary Sun 20 April 2009: 21.

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Educate yourself from every angle!

April 26th, 2009 by theothergroup

I saw a documentary on a friend’s shelf, and curious, I asked to borrow it. It is called Islam: What the West Needs to Know. It was produced by Americans, Gregory M. Davis and Bryan Daly. I couldn’t find much information on them, and one reviewer commented on the lack of information available on the two. Their company, Quixotic Media, was started three years ago and purports to looks at “issues of social significance that major media will not” (http://www.whatthewestneedstoknow.com/about_quixotic.asp). Thus far this is their only film.

The DVD’s jacket explains that the “documentary demonstrates that Islam is a violent, expansionary ideology that seeks the destruction or subjugation of other faiths, cultures, and systems of government.” Immediately, I thought that the term ‘Christianity’ could easily be inserted in place of ‘Islam’ in that sentence. I’m quite sure Christianity has a long history of “destruction or subjugation of other faiths, cultures, and systems of government.” I had a very long discussion about this with my friend who argued that Christianity is not inherently violent. I’m going to have to do some serious bible study so I can better support my argument that there is plenty of violence in Christian texts. Furthermore, as the vast majority of religions result in violence, whether or not a religion is or is not textually violent is almost beside the point.

One of the first scenes of the film is just a black screen, the audio is yelling, excited sounding, presumably Muslim, men. It is engineered to disconcert the viewer, to make them feel as though they are helpless and under siege. What do you suppose the black screen represents? The poor innocent Christians that have thus far been blinded, ignorant of the true horrific nature of Muslims? Perhaps it can instead be viewed as a representation all of the narrow minded, unintelligent red necks who will view this film, fully accept its thesis without question, and never bother to do any of their own research at all. The documentary goes on, using the testimony of ‘experts,’ examples from the Koran and the book of Muhammed, and a former suicide bomber, to support its argument that Islam is an essentially violent religion that is bent on achieving an Islamic hegemony over the world, through whatever means possible.

Again I ask, historically, what has Christianity been? Even if the Koran does state that non-believers must be killed, as the film argues that it does, and that they will only save themselves through their conversion, is Christianity so different? My point is not that Islam or Christianity are or are not inherently violent  (I would have to do much greater research before voicing my opinion on that), but that almost universally, religion itself, faith itself, has and continues to result in war and death. Regardless of whether or not a religion actually advocates such measures, if its result is always violence, how much does the actual wording of its tenets actually matter?

What the West Needs to Know does a great job of inspiring fear in the viewer. Especially effective is a graphic of a black map on which flashing red points illustrate places of unrest or conflict where Muslims are involved. It makes it appear as though the entire world is nearly engulfed in a Muslim takeover. Perfect to make Joe and Jackie Smith, curled up on their couch in suburbia, feel that at any moment, Osama bin Laden is going to leap through their window brandishing a long sword to slice off their hands and feet. Multiple clips of prominent political figures are shown in which people such as George Bush and Condoleeza Rice state that Islam itself is a peaceful religion, that the war on terrorism is not a war on Islam. These clips are followed by a bombardment of ‘proof’ that this is not the case. The film goes so far as to feature a commercial advertising that Muslims live and work in peace with non-Muslims as patriotic, Muslim Americans. Of course the material that follows the commercial does everything that it can to discredit this view. Basically, the good work of the commercial is negated, and it is made clear that Joe and Jackie better not get to close to their Muslim neighbours.

The whole documentary is engineered to inspire fear, and instill in Western minds the certainty that they will fall victim to brutal Islamic expansion if they do nothing. One expert says that Edward Said posited in Orientalism that remarks against Islam are racist, bigoted and so on. He goes on to say that therefore, Westerners are now unable to discuss these aspects of the Islamic faith without risking these labels. The impression is that the Muslims themselves somehow tricked us into thinking that racism is bad, so that we would not be able to recognize their looming attack until it is upon us. So now Joe and Jackie are being told that racism is just fine – in fact, if you want to save your life and the lives of your children, it’s necessary.

I am all for information and I think that educating oneself on issues such as religion is vital. Really though, how many Westerners, after watching this documentary, will then go and extensively research the violence evident in Christian texts and history so that they can make educated, informed opinions? How many will read the Koran themselves, and draw their own conclusions? Generally, all material such as this does is generate fear and further ignorance. If this documentary is to be taken fully and literally, as I am sure many would take it, the logical reaction from Westerners, the logical human reaction, is to kill or be killed. The film argues that an Islamic attack is inevitable, that their religion demands it, and while it is not actually said, clearly Joe and Jackie will come to the conclusion that they better hit first.

What is the benefit in this?

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Let the Games Go On!

April 25th, 2009 by theothergroup

Please go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=20qndcB389A to watch a short video on the abducted Panchen Lama (I have placed a link to it under the Blogroll). Please note that this video is two years old, and that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is, or would have been if he is no longer alive, twenty this year. A question is posed at its end, can the answer be for the suppression and control of a people? By a government bent on their assimilation through whatever means available, no matter how these means trespass and abuse basic human rights?

In May, 1995 the Dalai Lama recognized six-year old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the reincarnation of the 11th Panchen Lama. Only a few days later, this little boy and his family were kidnapped. China then appointed Gyaincain Norbu as the Panchen Lama, and he was taken to Beijing to commence studies.

The Panchen Lama is one of the highest authorities in Tibetan Buddhism. He will choose the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. China’s hope is that when the time comes Gyaincain Norbu “will choose a pro-Beijing Dalai Lama to add to its current pro-Beijing Panchen Lama” (James Reynolds, Uk Time).

In 2005 the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child demanded independent access to Nyima. Now, nearly fourteen years since his abduction, Nyima remains unseen. As Urgin Tenzin stated, “the disappearance of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima for 14 years completely contradicts China’s claim to respect religious freedom in Tibet” (Asia News).

It would seem that Tenzin’s words are more than relevant. Many Tibetans refuse to accept Norbu as the true Panchen Lama. Tibetans are reluctant to express their views, however, “fearing that they might be seen or overheard by the authorities” (Australian News). Their feelings are made evident in a much more costly and bloody way. The months leading up to the Beijing Olympics saw continued rioting from Tibetans demanding their freedom. Lamas from monasteries around Tibet demanded greater religious freedom, independence for Tibet, and the return of the Dalai Lama, before the Olympic Games. According to the Tibetan Government in Exile, nearly 200 people died in the March riots.

The first Australian journalist to visit Tibet since the March riots wrote that he “witnessed a city creaking under the weight of the Chinese military” (Australian News). When the journalist tried to inquire after the people who had been detained after the March riots, he was told by Tonga, the deputy secretary-general of the Tibet People’s Congress, that “after our re-education program most of them will regret what they have done.” Tonga then added that “a relevant government official briefed them on what was right and what was wrong” (Australian News).

What exactly does a “re-education” program entail? Besides torture and forced assimilation? What qualifies this “relevant government official” to explain “what was right and what was wrong.” Right and wrong according to whom?

This quote came from the official website of the Olympic movement: “The Games have always brought people together in peace to respect universal moral principles.” Is that so? How is it possible that in 2008 the Olympic games “brought people together in peace to respect universal moral principles,” in a country holding the man Amnesty International called “the youngest prisoner of conscience in the world” (Asian It News). Does that make any sense to anyone?

In part at least, it is because of the many people ignorant of this terrible trespass on the rights of an individual, a people and a religion, and until recently, I was one of them.

 

 

Interestingly, and oddly, one website I visited:  http://www.theasiannews.co.uk,  had absolutely no information on Tibet. I searched for the names of both Panchen Lamas, the abducted and the fake, the Dalai Lama, Tibetan riots and finally just ‘Tibet,’ and got nothing. Even more confusingly, the site is a part of M.E.N media, which stands for Manchester Evening News. Why would an online newspaper purporting to produce Asian News completely omit an entire people? Especially when it is one that is owned, run, influenced by or at the very least, associated, with a British corporation? Please feel free to go to the website and let me know if I missed something.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article3551219.ece

http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews%5Btt_news%5D=5132

http://www.asianews.it/

www.australiannews.com

 

 

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What is all this nonsense about?

April 23rd, 2009 by theothergroup

Written By: Christian Lemmich

This blog has been running for a few months now, and it has a few blogs on it that discuss, comment or rave about different subject matters. What has all of this got to do with ‘the other’? In some ways nothing and in other ways everything. Othering is something that we do without thinking about it, it is a natural part of our language. For example most of the blogs below express a view point, an opinion; having an opinion involves being against something else, comparing oneself to the opposite view or to an institution. It is this opposing view that we regard as ‘the other’, someone different and somehow detached from us and something that we can relate to negatively.

Most of the blogs on this site are activist in nature, they are trying to create awareness and attention about a perceived problem or issue in society, or even in themselves. As such, these blogs fall into the rather innocent and even positive end of the otherness spectrum. A notable example of positive othering is the blog regarding the murder of the transvestite, in it the author talks of the heinousness of the crime, how the murderer justifies his killing of the woman because she was a transvestite. Thus by treating the murderer as other, the author is able to portray the murderer as a man with a misconstrued morality and she can show that the murder was unnecessary and perpetrated through fear and misunderstanding. Ironically, the murder was committed because of othering on a negative scale, the trans-gender woman was viewed as other and less worthy, therefore justifying her murder.

Unfortunately that example is a very small example of what othering can lead to. Arundhati Roy talks of how the nuclear standoff between India and Pakistan is used by the government as a means of national Hindu identification, where India is defined through hatred for Pakistan and for Muslims ( Roy 36). India is not the only country that has fallen into the othering trap, an increasingly relevant and disturbing example is Hitler. He created a sense of German identity, the concept of the Aryan race, a master race that identified itself as being superior because it wasn’t Jewish, Black or in general non-northern European. Since most of us are too young to remember this event or even find it relevant to our modern society, something that would be a big mistake, we can simply look at former US President George W. Bush as an excellent example of negative othering. Perhaps his most famous words were “You’re either with us or against us in the fight against terror”, and true to his word that is how he ran the US throughout his terms. This othering can only have negative results as it leads to a non-communicative standoff, it’s not activism and it’s no longer simply an opinion. If people do not identify entirely with his view on terror, then they themselves are terrorists. The Patriot Act is another classic example of this because it eliminated basic civil liberties, on the pretense that it was necessary in order to protect the US from the terrorists, or in other words to protect them from the other. Once again I will leave it to the words of Arundhati Roy to outline what risk that entails: “fascism is about the slow, steady infiltration of all the instruments of state-power. It’s about the slow erosion of civil liberties, about unspectacular day-to-day injustices” (37).

Put simply, negative, binary othering runs the risk of turning into something very ugly and unwanted. Yet it isn’t possible to not other, after all we live in a social society where we rely on our fellow people everyday. We rely on them to follow the rules of the road, or to not murder us in the street because we decided to wear a Tibetan badge. We are all ‘the other’, we can even be the ‘the other’ to ourselves. If we had a particularly bad morning because the coffee machine was broken and were nasty to everyone around us, we’ll try and distance ourselves from that aspect of ourselves, in other words we’ll turn it into the other. Othering does not have to be negative, but we do have to be careful about it, even positive othering can turn into something negative, for example when talking about countries that need aid we tend to treat them as inferior to us, and in doing so we are distancing ourselves from them and viewing them as ‘the other’.

It is our hope then that the blogs on this site, will encourage you to think about what the other means and how othering is present in our daily lives. Hopefully you will walk away with a new appreciation and perhaps also an increased consideration of ‘the other’, whatever that might be.

Sources

Roy, Arunndhati. War Talk. Cambridge, MA: South End Press, 2003. 36-37.

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Zapata Gets Justice

April 22nd, 2009 by theothergroup

I am not sure if anyone will have heard about this case – the lack of media coverage has been appalling – but Allen Ray Andrade has been found guilty of the murder of Angie Zapata, an 18-year old transwoman. Her death was absolutely devastating and violent. Andrade was quoted as saying “I think I killed it” during his arrest. He showed complete disregard for her humanity. He beat her first with his fists, and then with a fire extinguisher, and when that didn’t kill her, he beat her again with the fire extinguisher. His defense (which thankfully did not hold up in court) was that it was “trans-panic” (he realized she was trans, and it freaked him out, so he killed her). Whether or not she deceived him is absolutely besides the point, there is no excuse for such heinous behaviour. She may be a liar, but he is a bigot and a murderer. Which is worse?

His defense was centered around the fact that she allegedly deceived him, and the conversations about the case in blogs and comments on news articles has been steeped in a language of victim-blaming, with people even expressing sympathy and disgust similar to Andrade’s disgust with transgendered people. I think it demonstrates the normalization of homophobia and transphobia in North American society. No matter what Zapata did, even if she deceived him,  there is no excuse to beat someone to death with a fire extinguisher. It was a hate crime, and a bias crime. I don’t think that Zapata should be held responsible for her death, but statements such as “Well, she shouldn’t have lied” or “what did she expect” imply that Zapata is somehow at fault. And while the fact that he was convicted is a victory for the transgendered community, her death was senseless, and brings to light the threat of violence faced by transgendered people every day for merely existing in a transphobic society. Zapata is only one of many transgendered men and women who have been the victims of violence and murder.

Transgendered people are about 10 times more likely to be murdered than cisgendered people, and the crimes are not taken as seriously. The trans-panic defense has indeed held up as a legitimate defense more times than it has been challenged.

Here is a more in-depth look at violence against transgendered people written for the Transgender Day of Remenberence:
http://www.bilerico.com/2008/11/the_value_of_a_life.php

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another LRT rant-with some research no less!

April 21st, 2009 by theothergroup

It has become well known that the controversial LRT parking rates have raised a lot of debate among Calgarians. On March 16, 2009, the $3.00 rate was enforced starting at three stations, Somerset/Bridlewood, Dalhousie and Whitehorn, and by April 2nd the city had already handed out some 500 tickets. Some of those tickets were for those who tried to beat the system by parking in residential or other unmarked areas, others simply parked in the stalls at the stations and refused to pay the fee (Markusoff). This goes to prove that Calgarians are not on board with the new system, and will do what they can to get out of it. It has increased traffic in residential areas that are near these stations, and has left limited parking for people in the areas.

Now if the city can pay for someone to go around and hand out these 500 or so tickets, then why can’t they pay for someone to guard the LRT stations, which is supposedly what this money is intended to pay for?  As of April 8th the city decided to take the fee off on weekends and after six on weeknights, to encourage more people to take transit at night time or on weekends. This also caused much debate. Those who work nights now get a break, and the people who work days are angry that they have to pay the fare. The city decided to make LRT more accessible to people, implementing a system like that of the downtown parking rates so they would still be collecting money from the people who took transit at peek times. It amazes me that the city never considered this before they implemented the LRT charge in the first place. It also seems strange that they choose to implement the fee gradually, starting with three stations, and then adding more to the mix as the months went on. All this did was create a bottleneck of cars trying to park at another free station while they could, taking away even more parking at the LRT stations (Markusoff). The city should have implemented this fee at all the stations at the same time, that way no stations would have been hit with an increase in cars, and no stations would have been given a reprieve. The city should have tried to come up with a better way of dealing with the transit budget before implementing this fee. It is said that it should raise 6 million dollars a year, and that is going to pay for maintenance and more safety patrol of current stations. Well what about the creation of more stations? If we add more LRT stations, which the city is planning, then will the 6 million be able to cover that too or will parking rates be raised? There are better ways the city could have handled this decision. Perhaps the best would have been speaking to transit users. A raise in fares might have been preferred over raised parking fees.

Clearly the biggest problem with this idea is the affect that it has on the environment, as it deters many people from taking public transit. More people are going on to the roads, for the convenience of the car now outweighs the pros of taking transit. Look at this from a university students perspective, we as U of C students MUST purchase a U pass, we have no option, as it is included in our tuition whether we take transit of not. But for those that do, it really helps eliminate the extra costs of parking at the University, and gas. But considering now we have to pay to park at the LRT stations, in many cases it is only an extra dollar to park at the University, and with gas prices going down, it is now much more reasonable to drive to the school in lieu of taking transit. So a student might weigh the options and decide that the time they will save, and the convenience of simply driving to school is worth it. Therefore the city is deterring people from taking transit, and will not even collect the money they anticipate because so many people will no longer use the system.

The idea is not smart because it is creating more harm then good. We all understand that we are in a recession here, but give the people are break, it is not all about making money for the city. Individual Calgarians need a break from unnecessary costs too. The city should have been smarter about the budget when we were in a boom economy, then we would not have these issues. It might not seem like it will take a large toll on the environment, but with a city of a million people, the more we have going green the better, but the city itself seems to be deterring people from that idea. Which is too bad considering Canada is the worst in G-8 for the greenhouse gas spike. Despite promise from federal and provincial leaders, Canada’s emissions are 33.8 % higher then Canada’s Kyoto agreement. They say the increase is mainly do to Alberta’s oil sands, greater reliance on coal-fired electricity and AN INCREASE IN CARS ON THE ROAD (Munro).   Well the city of Calgary is certainly not helping in this aspect, it is only making it worse. There have to be some alternative measure that will help the environment as well as the people of the city, this is simply not a justified means.

Works cited

Markusoff, Jason. “Almost 500 Calgary LRT users nailed with parking”. Calgary Herald April 2 2009:

Munro, Margaret. “Canada worst in G-8 for greenhouse gas spike”. Calgary Herald April 21 2009: A6.

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Slumdog dad wants to be a millionaire..at the expense of his daughter

April 21st, 2009 by theothergroup

In recent months, the film Slumdog Millionaire has become well known to many people, mostly due to its critical acclaim at the Golden Globes, and then the Academy Awards. But there is a tale behind this film that reaches far into the Slumdog world, the story of greed, poverty, and one little girl who is up for bids. It has been recently reported that  the young star of the film Rubina, age nine, is for sale by her father Rafiq Qureshi. Sources say that he is asking up to four hundred thousand dollars for his daughter.

Due to her overnight success, Rubina is a hot topic, and Rafiq has to strike while the iron is hot. He says that he is thinking about the future of his daughter and his family. They are very poor, and live in the slums of Mumbai. The money he can get from a wealthy family will go to help his family’s situation and also create a better life for his daughter. The transaction would simply be his daughter’s adoption in exchange for a large sum of money. This kind of trade is illegal, but nonetheless quite common. Since this scandal has gone public, it is unlikely such a trade will now happen. It is much more possible that the publicity will end up helping young Rubina, which is a good cause. Rubina was paid for her work in the film, her estimated earnings were L 2000 (pounds) for the month. That is close to 15 times more then her father makes in a month. But where did all the money go? Well her father spent some of it to fix his leg, and to buy a mobile phone so that he can book more jobs for his daughter. It was reported that even if Rafig was given more money from the people in charge of Slumdog Millionaire, he would not leave Mumbai, because it is his home and he knows nothing else (Mahmood). So he is not willing to leave for the sake of his family and daughter, but is willing to sell her off to the highest bidder. Slumdog shows the truth behind the poverty stricken Indian population, but sometimes these people are not all victims, such is the case of Rafiq Qureshi. It is too bad that his beautiful and talented daughter, who is the real victim, must suffer. But there is hope; there has already been a trust fund set up for Rubina for when she turns 18. Also the people from Slumdog have announced they are donating L 500,000 to help improve the lives of children like Rubina, who live in the slums (Mahmood).

Cited

Mahmood, Mazher. “This Child is special, and Oscar child. So we now want L200k.

Father tries to cash in on daughter’s fame.” News of the World. 19 April 2009.

20 April 2009. http://www.newsoftheworld.co.uk/news/271325/Slumdog-Millionaire-

star-Rubina-Ali-who-played-Latika-is-offered-for-sale-by-dad-Rafiq-Qureshi-to-the-

News-of-the-Worlds-Fake-Sheikh.html>

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Women as the Other? not so much…

April 21st, 2009 by theothergroup

The concept of the “other” is one that has been explored countless times. Many theorists have outlined the idea, one in particular, Simone de Beauvoir, creates a whole theory based on the idea of “the other.”  In her book The Second Sex, de Beauvoir examines the idea of the “other” as a category, more specifically, the category of women. She says that the idea of the “other” is “as primordial as consciousness itself,” and “one finds the expression of a duality – that of the Self and the other” (de Beauvoir). So there are two sides of a dual relationship, and in the case of gender, there is the male and the female. De Beauvoir believes that the male is constructed as the “self” and therefore the woman is “the other”.  Men are considered the dominant gender, and throughout time they have succeeded in creating women as the other gender, the less significant gender.  She goes on to outline the idea that women have never had the same opportunities as men in the outside world, they simply exist as the other gender. At the time that the Second Sex was written, women did not have the same legal rights as men, and men held “the better jobs, get higher wages, and have more opportunity for success than [women]” (de Beauvoir). In Beauvoir’s argument, this is women as the other-existing in a world that is better suited to men. Men are the dominant force, and women make up the remainder. Women are making progress in the world, but “it is still a world that belongs to men” (de Beauvoir). I think that much has changed since the time of Beauvoir, and I don’t think her ideas are as accurate as they once may have been. I would like to look at this from a post secondary point of view.

De Beauvoir’s theory of otherness assumes that the world revolves around men, and that women exist only as their binary opposite. But the world is rapidly changing, and it is not as male centered as it may have been once. Women have been breaking out into the work force, are getting the same opportunities as men, and in most circumstances, are allowed the same income as men. There is much more equality between the two genders in the corporate world. Women are a strong force in the business world, they are not simply the binary leftovers of men. In many cases, the majority becomes what is known as the “self” and the minority is then of course the “other”; because “the majority imposes its rule upon the minority or persecutes it” (de Beauvoir).  Women have been attending post secondary institutions for generations, but over the last few decades, they have actually made up the majority of post secondary students. Women are no longer “the other” when is comes to schooling. In Beauvoir’s terms, the men are becoming the other. Women make up 58% of the students enrolled in an undergraduate degree, and 53% of master’s programs (Bonoguore).  Although it is not always clear why women are now dominating the post secondary world, there are some theories, including the idea that the school system is better tailored to girls, that women are subject to more pressure from outside factors to pursue post secondary education, and that men are less motivated because they are able to earn more money with just a high school diploma, often by going into a trade (Tibbetts). What ever the cause, women are now the guiding force in the post secondary world; they have become active in their futures, and will therefore have an active role in their campus dynamics. Looks like you have something to celebrate Simone, because women are no long “the other,” they are the future.

Cited

Bonoguore, Tenille. “Women still lead the charge into university.” The Globe and Mail. 7 November

2006. 21 April 2009. < http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20061107.

wuniversity1107/BNStory/National/home>

De Beauvoir, Simone. “Introduction: Woman as Other.” The Second Sex. 21 April 2009. <http://www.

marxists.org/reference/subject/ethics/de-beauvoir/2nd-sex/introduction.htm>

Tibbetts, Janice. “Canadian universities stick with gender-blind recruitment.” 2 December 2009.

21 April 2009. < http://www.canada.com/topics/news/national/story.html?id=ea444f42-371a-4be1-8b24-84cf46dd403f&k=50326>

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