Insight to remain open

Insight is a unique clinic that’s located in Vancouver BC to provide a safe place for drug users. The clinic provides clean needles, monitoring and health programs for this under served community.

Insight was established as part of Vancouver’s four pillars approach to the social problems of drug use: Prevention, Treatment, Harm Reduction and Enforcement.

The program has been extended several times and is considered an important part of the reduction of the spread of AIDS, overdose related deaths and a lowering of criminal activitiy in the downtown east side. Proponents and critics disagree on the site’s impact, but no matter what the viewpoint, the clinic provides services to people who would otherwise not have access to medical services at all.

Ever since Stephen Harper and his conservative party have been in office, he has tried to shut the clinic down. He was prevented first by the Province of BC, who considers the clinic a success, then Health Canada and now the Supreme Court of BC.

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled Friday the Conservative government must grant the supervised drug injection site Insite immediate immunity from federal drug laws – and that comes with no deadline attached.


To force the site to close “would have been to prevent injection drug users from accessing the health services offered by Insite, threatening the health and indeed the lives of potential clients,” Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin wrote in the ruling.

Harper, who, since taking office has:

  • canceled the Charter Challenge Program;
  • slashed funding to Status of Women, reducing it from 17 offices to 5,  redefined their mandate to remove “equality”, and reduced their ability to provide funding to community groups;
  • passed a law setting elections every four years, but orchestrated an annual non-confidence vote and triggered expensive and needless elections
  • appointed a young earth creationist as minister of Emergency Preparedness
  • appointed anti-science climate deniers to be in charge of approving funding proposals, unsurprisingly, resulting in no funds for the Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Science
  • has gagged government scientists from reporting their findings in a variety of environmental and ecological programs
  • has slashed social funding to increase the budgets of police and prison construction
  • cost Canada a seat on the UN security council and Canada was one of four nations to vote against the US declaration of aboriginal rights
  • click to go to “Why Harper sucks
  • more shit Harper has done

Harper has been accused of having a secret agenda since he first ran for PM, but there’s never really been any secret about his agenda – copy America – slash social spending, slash anything that prevents or reduces harms and give the money for enforcement and punishment, and remake Canada into America 2.0.

I have to wonder, if he admires America that much, why not just move to America and live under that system instead of tearing Canada apart.

Harper has constantly expressed paranoid and concerning remarks about the public services, the judges, the very instituations of governement being against him and this lone outsider attitude is very concerning for the person in the big chair to be holding and worse, beleiving.

Harper is an example of why it is critical to not ever place morals above people.

Harper has an ideological agenda that he is seeking to impose on Canadians, whether we agree or not. His extreme control over the conservative party MPs, gagging the public service and limiting contact with the media is concerning, but hasn’t seemed to factor into Canadians really understanding that Harper is dismantling Canada for a makeover, where he claims to be putting high minded rules in that he will immediately ignore if they don’t suit his objectives.

Canada as the opposite problem that the US has.

In America, there’s a democratic president unable to accomplish much because of republican control over the houses; but he benefits from the republican field for potential presidential candidates being very thin, strident with an appeal only to a narrow section of far far right republicans – none of whom will draw voters from the centre, swing and undecideds.

In Canada, we clearly aren’t done punishing the Liberals for the excesses under Jean Cretin and blamed on Paul Martin, but we have to stop cutting off our noses, ears and fingers to spite them by giving Harper back to back minority governments with a small majority in the last outing.

But the liberals aren’t giving us candidates that demonstrate they’ve learned their lesson and are deserving to once again take the big chair, as they have done for most of Canada’s history.

Why we would pull out that big chair for someone who’s even more elitist and authoritarian and apparently drunk with power madness than anyone the Liberals ever fielded, is beyond me. But Canadians are apparently, politically kinky, and perhaps we’re punishing ourselves with Harper as PM, but it’s time to stop.

Without Jack Layton, the NDP has a serious challenge to bring the country back to Canadian values, of the social safety net, of evidence based approaches to scientific problems, of returning the country to Liberal surplus budgets and not Conservative deficit budgets.

But at least, in Vancouver, for a while, the Insight clinic will continue to provide health services to a vulnerable sector of society that the Harper government would rather see in prison than helped to return to functioning citizens.

Which is the real problem of putting moral ideas over people.



Republican to Rethuglican

Under Abraham Lincoln, the Republican Party ended slavery, saved the nation from division and reaffirmed the goal of the founding fathers, which was that each person be free to pursuit life, liberty and happiness.

Conservatism – the classical small government with little to no interference in people’s lives – fulfilled it’s promise – and the tyranny of the majority was set aside for the benefit and freedom of a minority group.

But this is actually classical liberalism – government ensuring that all citizens – no matter the number, no matter how small or tall, or gender or wealth or beliefs or characteristics innate or chosen – to be free to have choice, personal sovereignty regardless or even – perhaps especially – despite the majority’s preference or interest in curtailing and limiting that choice and freedoms.

After all, the reason that we organize ourselves with rules about how to interact with each other – how to balance my needs and and interests with or against your needs and interests – is because it’s difficult to be fair to others when we are in a conflict of interest with our needs vs their needs. So we default to rules that apply equally to everyone to settle the scores before they become feuds and grudge matches.

So, it is interesting to me that modern day conservatives claim to be for small government and no government interference in our lives – because social conservatives very much seek government interference in our lives – well, in the lives of the groups of people they don’t like – women seeking abortions, gays seeking to marry, and people seeking to end their lives because they are suffering death by slow degrees of illness.

It is as if the social conservatives, who are religious, have accepted that it’s up to god if they or their baby live – yet, they demand that government enforce what they claim that their god wants through if not secular law directly, then by forcing more religious law into secular law and if that’s not possible, then through terrorism of bombing abortion clinics, shooting doctors, using gross emotionalism and rhetoric and threatening political pressure of voting blocs – anything they can to force their preferences on the population by any means neccessary.

Rick Mercer, a Canadian comedic performer and political commentator once summed up the Canadian Liberals as willing to sell out grandma in order to hang onto power and the Canadian Conservatives as preferring self destruction to compromise.

Considering that the Canadian Conservatives are left of the American conservatives, we can extrapolate this further to that American Conservatives are willing to kill or allow to die rather than compromise.

This is the mentality of people who use violence to impost their worldview on the world – Norway, 9/11, Oklahoma, Spain – this is the mentality of terrorists.

The American Christians often complain that they couldn’t get away with the riots and protests that eastern Islamics “get away” with when they protest against editorial cartoons and other freedom of expression expressions that they find offensive to their religion.

But this is because American Christians themselves are unwilling to put their personal freedoms and lives on the line for their beliefs – they chose to not riot and risk arrest –  injury or even death, or jail time. They prefer that other people are sacrificed for their beliefs – other people’s freedoms especially – which is why they fight so hard now to oppose gay marriage, since they lost the battle of women voting ad black slavery – a serious set back given the victory over the aboriginal people of North America – which, when you think about it, is a little like elder abuse of grandparents.

No, Christians in the west have more effective tools than merely a violent showing of anger and frustration – they can instead, threaten to punish everyone else for not obeying.

This is the entire basis of the recent American debt ceiling – the American religious right holding the entire world’s economy hostage and threatening to destabilize everyone if their small and petty concerns – small and petty compared to the impact and destructiveness they were willing to release in the world.

It is as if the religious refuse to accept that many people do not accept the limitations they have have accepted as divine, so if we are not compelled by their god’s threat of hell or bribe of heaven to behave in particular ways, then they will hold the secular government – the authority of the secular world – hostage to their insatiable demands for blind worship of the authority they would have for themselves.

Which, you have to wonder, with all the terrorists who leave behind manifestos that ramble incoherently about the way the world should be back by a threat if the manifesto’s world view isn’t upheld – how is that any different than the bible or other so called sacred texts?

Is the only difference between a one man terror cell’s manifesto and a sacred text, the number of believers in it who are willing to carry out the stated threat?

Canada vs America

I’ve long thought that the difference between Canada and the US could be understood by looking at our historical heroes.

In Canada, the frontier heroes were the North West Mounted Police, who later morphed into the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and in the United States, the frontier heroes were the gunslingers.

I took a simplified understanding and drew the conclusion that Canadians are not only law and order but group oriented thinkers, which is why Canada is far more liberal than the US to the degree that the average Canadian conservative remains far left to the most extremely left American Democrat.

But I think I was wrong, America is far more law and order and group oriented than Canada – but not group in a we’re all one group and in this together like Canada is – but rather America is about groups with hard edges and all jockeying for position against the other groups.

The United States of America is not like Canada and her provinces – Canada is a country that is organized into provinces and territories, whereas the USA is more states that have aligned themselves in a federation of shared interests, each their own sovereignty in a meaningful way.

While America can band together in an all for one like fewer other countries when the cause is just – and the last such cause was World War II – America is a land of the individual as supreme in a way no other country views the individual. But, the rugged law unto themselves gunslingers of the frontier days to the gangbanger of today – and really, the outlaw biker, gansta, bang ganger, criminal  is the modern manifestation of the gunslinger – is hardly an isolationist hermit, but a person deeply involved in their family, their extended criminal family and their ethnic community.

Because the state or city police forces are pitted against minority communities, the members of these communities are more likely to turn to organized criminals as the enforcers of justice, for protection, for law and order services and in return, the law abiding communities will protect the criminals as their own, because they are their own. Minority members can expect more honour and decent treatment from organized criminals than from local police who view all minorities with mistrust and as suspicious.

In the US, the frontier fays mentality of you have what holdings you have because you staked a claim, cleared the land and defended it against all others – be they aboriginals or claim jumpers or corrupt law officers beholden to wealthier claim holders. Legal justice was for those who could afford it.

One of my all time favorite movie lines was from Cat Ballou – a Jane Fonda sex kitten singing cowboy romp wherein her father is being bullied by the township to sell his farm to make way for the railroad and prosperity for the town – with her father to be the sole person taking the hit for the team or everyone else who will benefit – by way of explaining the injustice to her own hired gunslinger hand, Cat proclaims that first they put manure in her fathers well and worse “made him talk to lawyers.”

A line that underscores the lack of trust in the legal system and those who operate within it, because the legal system is complicated and slow – far less satisfying than hiring a gunslinger to defend your land or self or plain dispense frontier justice on your enemies. Criminal justice is swift and efficient and emotionally satisfying in a way that legal wrangling that is complex, slow and often doesn’t result in emotional satisfaction or anything approaching justice – people often settle or plea bargain or walk away just to be done with the process with the fewest lumps and bruises. The so called corrective process is often more psychologically scarring than the incidents that triggered it, which is why women often do not report being raped – bad enough to be raped, but to then have to prove it and not be believed or worse, be told it wasn’t rape at all and watch the perp walk away as if vindicated.

Taking the law into your own hands – either directly or by hiring someone – becomes understandable, almost forgivable if not supportable in the right circumstances. Many people related to the Subway Vigilant in New York City after he shot a few intimidating thugs – even if it was in the back as they ran away from him when he showed the would be muggers that he was armed – there was even a few people who very much related to the two Columbine shooters as being powerless geeks who were mad as hell and unwilling to take it anymore thus employing the short cut of being infamous to become famous – rather than the longer and less certain path of talent and hard work.

But, this is where to me the line between American and Canadian kicks in. Where perhaps the line between conservative and liberal thinking kicks in.

First, not to say that “these things” do not happen in Canada. When I first heard of the 10 women shot in the engineering school, I thought, where in the US did that happen and was so shocked that I had to pull the car over when the radio repeated the news story and said it was in Montreal. Then there was the Ontario Bus company and a BC provincial employee in Kelowna. Workplace violence, the first was a victim of bullies and the second was a bully about to be taken to account and fired – both situations had multiple stages and warning signs, all ignored and not acted upon and the inevitable under the circumstances and the personalities involved occurred.

But in the USA, there’s hundreds of school and workplace shootings, by men and women and in Canada, they remain thankfully rare. Well, limited thankfully, the suicide rate for bully victims of schoolyard or workplace or process bullies is too high.  The victims of process bullies are generally injured people who are unable to have the motor vehicle or workers compensation claims processed and the chronic pain and lack of settlement drives them to end their misery.

But what is it that makes Canadians seem more prone to suicide and Americans more prone to suicide by cop or by themselves after taking out other people?

A friend told me that he was driving late at night on an Alberta country road and a badger was caught in the headlights of the pick up truck. Badgers are ornery and tough creatures and my friend swears that it seemed like the badger knew that it wasn’t going to escape the truck because, instead of trying to flee or curl up defensively, it bunched itself up and launched at the truck bearing down, too fast to break and the truck ground to a halt – the badger dead and embedded through the grill and into the radiator, having taken the truck out with it.

Are Americans just of the mentality that they are going to take their tormentors out with them?

That because they cannot be sure of relying on the state or city law or the legal system, that they must retain the frontier mentality and be the law unto themselves?

I have always been confused by the portrayal in movies, TV and the news, of gangsters, mobsters and so forth, all being deeply religious people – yet, business is one thing and religion seems to be another. There is a cognitive dissonance, until you consider the history of religion, the blood soaked, corrupt, child molesting, crusading and genocidal history of religions and somehow the dissonance between organized crime and organized religion fades away. The mistrust of civil secular authority fades away and becomes comprehendible.

People assert that they only have to answer to deities in order to not have to answer to other people or to themselves. To ignore secular civil law and assert your own law, where you judge yourself by your intention and not your actions or their outcomes – like secular law does.

The gangster is after all, just supporting their family and protecting their extended family and community from those outsiders who don’t understand and are not part of the community. It’s not their problem if other people’s kids want to use drugs or buy illegal weapons to use on each other. It’s just business, their god gets that. The gangster’s morality is conservative – it’s about purity (often ethnic purity but sometimes sexual), it’s about authority (be it divine or arising from who’s holding the gun), it’s about group loyalty – and loyalty to authority is king and a kingmaker. Harm and fairness, measured response that’s for someone else to worry about. What’s not nailed down is mine and what I can pry loose wasn’t nailed down.

In this thinking, then taking a person’s life isn’t a big deal, god sorts them out, and the life taker is just helping with god’s plan. Life is short and just a dress rehearsal anyway.

It is harder, much harder for a liberal thinker, a free thinker a non-religious thinker to cause harm to another person, especially to take their life – the only life that we can know that any of us get. Harm and fairness are the basis for our morality and there is nothing more harmful and less fair than depriving a person of their life, especially knowing that any person is connected to a myriad of other people who care and love and are interdependent on them.

Seeing ourselves as an individual of consequence, a person who has and makes meaning and connections with other individuals, it is difficult then to justify frontier or vigilante or criminal justice – no matter the emotional and instant satisfaction – the longer term distress it would cause would drive a person mad to understand the harm that this instant gratification dispensing of justice would cause. A harm you can never make amends for, not even your own death, since that creates more waves of harm among your own loved ones.

So, with harm being off the table, the liberal, free thinking individual is left with the slow, complicated and often unjust corrective process and legal system that other people spurn as unjust, unwieldy, unfair and generally stacked against them.

Which leaves the free thinking individual only one option – to hold the system accountable until justice is served – to be an activist for social justice – and not only be the change you want to see in the world, but the karmic backlash that brings it about.

To be a martyr is a way that saints could never hope to approach – given that they suffered the slings and arrows – literally sometimes – with the expectation of being rewarded in the ever after – and to suffer the slings and arrows, to take it until you literally can take no more with only the faint hope of making a difference without an afterlife reward and not even a guaranteed reward in this life – but for the sake of doing the right thing by yourself and other people who are less able to take a principled stand, even in their own defense and assertion of personal sovereignty and dignity….that is to understand morals – right and wrong – in a way that those who merely follow the rules or make up their own to justify what they are doing or willing to do for the appearance of power or mere brutal power arising from position or circumstances or from faulty deities and corrupt representatives on earth – to stand in rightness without reward – that is grokking morality and rocking the world.

Revolution, not tradition, is what makes the world to be as it should.

The Individual as meaningful

The best fiction appeals to us, not because of what it reveals about or to us, but rather because it re-affirms a process of revelations or plot points of how things ought to occur. In the best fiction, this structure is utterly invisible, often including to the people who create it.

I think that being able to tap into this natural narrative form is what talent is as opposed to technical skill or learned ability, not only writing, but in the case of movies and TV, also directing, filming, editing, set decorating, costuming and other visual and audio crafting along with actors who strike the correct emotional balance and surrendering of person identity to stand wholly in for another person. All of which more organically rather than intentionally – going by the DVD documentary behind the scenes extra features – synthesize the inherent truths and processes that allow us to truly grok.

Grok being a word coined and used by Robert Heinlein in his Stranger in a Strange Land book to denote a manner of meaning that is more encompassing than merely intellectually understand, but to actually go beyond understanding to knowledge from all sensory input capacity – a manner of knowledge that is deeper and more meaningful than the usual understanding of knowledge, more than mere command of facts and capacity to put those facts in relationship with other facts. But rather to perceive the fact as a single one among masses of facts, to feel the pull of each fact, the twists and turns of masses of facts.

We often refer to some person or event has changing the course of history, which on the surface makes no sense, as history plods along but not on any given course, so to really grok that history has actually changed direction, that this event or person was significant in the course of history as to redirect it, is to grok that while history and the world will as it will, that it can – from time to time – be redirected in a purposeful manner by people who are uniquely positioned in a place and time and circumstance or events that disrupt how history would have unfolded had these people or events not occurred or not acted in the manner to make the change.

If for example, Elvis Presley had listened to his parents and become an electrician and married the girl he was dating at the time to start making the grandbabies, rock n roll as a culture force and the dependant musical genres that followed and the social movements that depended on these cultural shifts, the world would be a different place than it is now, with perhaps a lot less human rights advances and the American social experiment begun by the founding fathers could potentially have been reversed under the paranoia, anti-Jewish, anti-union, anti-anybody not heterosexual and white and ideally male of McCarthyism. Luckily for us, Elvis wired himself and not buildings and rock n roll became a social force of equality between black and white Americans who have largely not embraced what could have been possible.

White artists had previously covered black music and watered it down into a musical pabulum, and Elvis and those who followed performed black music as their own and brought their musical sensibilities into the highly sexualized mix. Elvis after all, performed R&B music as country, country as R&B and delivered both with a fevered gospel vocal delivery combined with a total body commitment to the spirit of the music – each performance amounting to shedding social norms and status in an orgy of emotional, sensory and physical release – socially equalizing everyone in its path and wake.

An equalization that has not followed, given that country remained white with few exceptions and R&B remains black with few exceptions – and that the audiences for distinct  musical genres dominated by white artists have white followings – heavy metal, punk, country and that black dominated genres rap and hip-hop have more mixed but not balanced black and white followings, with some disparity on the white audience as posers or copycats, somehow less authentic although no less enthusiastic.

The opportunity for equality ended when a portion of the white audience crossed over to purely black music, but that the black audiences largely have not crossed over to embrace any genre of purely white music. Which may make sense as a population that continues to struggle with carving out a group identity distinct from the mainstream society that their ancestors never sought to be a part of and who had rejected their full membership and participation for decades after the enslavement ended.

Perhaps part of the difficulty is that most cultures default to conservative values and for a minority to gain equality, it is liberal values that must be asserted and gain sufficient political leverage if not power and certainly social acceptance. But liberalism holds that every group is equal and this does not allow for much consideration of any unique circumstances of the various minorities in a predominately conservative society, which is tolerant and dependant on inequality between social groupings.

The European domination and decimation of the aboriginal peoples of the Americas and Australia in truth, becomes less harsh than the European domination, decimation and distribution for slavery of the aboriginal people of Africa – but that is not a truth that anyone would directly acknowledge out of a lack of will to create classes of more victimized than thou, when it is embarrassing enough that anyone was victimized. Of course, the “victimization” of people who lost their group sovereignty to people with superior technology is what was known in earlier historical times as simply conquered people to be absorbed into the new dominant culture. The Romans certainly would never have become a world dominating empire had they ever considered conquered people as anything other than the newest province required to pay tribute to Rome, and in exchange, spread Roman technology, science, arts and civilization throughout the known world.

Romans would never have come up with a reservation system to manage conquered populations, they simply absorbed people into Roman society as laborers or gladiators or gladiator targets. The Romans were basically the historical basis for the Star Trek Next Generation’s Borg – assuming any newly encountered civilization into its own and eventually, equalizing them into a cohesive unified whole. Well, until it couldn’t anymore – there comes a time where any civilization becomes unwieldy and continued growth/expansion is not only no longer possible, but not sustainable. Corruption eating at the centre and the disenfranchised at the fringes resulting in a collapse and re-grouping into smaller and more manageable groups. Until another civilization begins to band these groups into a sum greater than its parts and begin the cycle of civilization rise and fall all over again.

Which brings us to the present, when there is no more land for expansion, and a global diplomatic structure which discourages the invasions of one’s neighbors and where civil wars can be waged in war as in most of the world, or diplomatically as Canada has demonstrated with Quebec.

People living in societies that are secularly governed – or who are supposed to be in the case of the USA – and who are liberal are a minority in the world without apparently even realizing it. We have a tendency to think that other people now and in history think as we do. This is not the case with liberal thinking. Most of humanity is conservative in morals and outlook, not only now, but especially in history. Which explains a lot why in history, conquered people were conquered and absorbed or conquered and exterminated. Only in modern liberal thinking should there be reparations and reconciliation with people who ended up on the conquered side of contact between civilizations. Of course, to say conquered isn’t correct liberal thinking, but it would be intellectually dishonest to use less accurate and more emotionally fuzzy terms.

Humans have strong inclinations towards conformity – even in those subcultures who do not conform to the majority have their own uniforms and behavioral norms to conform to in order to be deemed a real whatever the subculture or sub-subculture. Maybe even especially in sub-cultures that do not have a strong over-arching uniform conformity – after all, what is a lesbian if there are many ways to be one?

I have been to several lesbian potlucks and been demonized for bringing chicken wings since real lesbians are vegetarian. Funny, since I thought being a lesbian was about who you ate, not what. In any event, the meaty wing goodness was often the first platter of offerings that are wholly consumed, presumably the invisible carni/omni-vores quickly consuming the offending wings while my being chastised is a distraction to the self-appointed food police or perhaps a sense of rapid consumption to remove the offending dish from tainting the purer veggie offerings. It wasn’t that I didn’t learn from the experience and continually repeated it, but rather, an unwillingness to alter my identity for the comfort of the mainstream is consistent in my unwillingness to do so in my sub-culture. Some people call this enjoying arguing with people you mostly agree with, but it’s less a devil’s advocate position than remaining true to one’s self, regardless of the social cost at any level in doing so.

Being willing to pay a social cost to assert individuality rather than take the path of least resistance and conform, seems to be what’s novel in liberal thinking and absent in conservative thinking. This is what the American social experiment was that no previous civilization had attempted.

Iceland’s Althing, Britain’s Parliament and Magna Carta and other nations ruled by written codified and enforceable law rather than the whim of a hereditary or conquering dictator (secular or religious) began the civilization change were “the people” had rights & privileges and the responsibility to conform to social hierarchy and these same laws in order to enjoy the freedom defined by the law or be subjected to the penalties for failing to conform.

Conservative thinking’s primary concerns are purity, authority and group loyalty – all of which is critical to define who’s included in the civilization and who is not. These are critical factors in group identity and mechanisms by which to reinforce shared characteristics and behaviors, cultural and moral values. So, it makes sense that the majority of people through history and in present day are conservative.

Until America, the idea of the individual as a meaningful unit of society was unheard of. Individuals didn’t matter – the extended family and tribal unit mattered, the ethnicity within a geographic region mattered. America changed that and declared the individual as being the smallest social unit of consequence. This was liberal thinking and the primary concerns of liberal thinking is fairness and harm.

Liberal thinking is novel in human history. Novelty is tolerated by a minority – and as each of us thinks about the social groupings we belong to, the smallest minority possible, is one of the whole entirety of humanity.

Liberal thinking is to say that the individual matters and is of unique consequence – this is revolutionary in a primarily conservative world where group identity determines what rights, freedoms, and responsibility any given individual has, in accordance with their group identifiers.

So, I had the thought today of how many minorities in society do I belong to? Canadian of all the world, with Eastern European and Scandinavian heritage within Canada – lesbian, atheist, science fiction geek, Elvis fan, drawn equally to arts and science with no interest in sports unless I can play, politically active with thousands of volunteer hours in social justice causes logged, political views being fiscally centrist and socially left and anti-religions, thousands of volunteer hours logged in the regional arts community, a career spanning retail, professional, non-profit and public sectors  but ultimately, the smallest minority that I belong to is me. More than the sum of these parts but also something less of the whole possibility of my potential self had I been more inclined to conform to groups than to stand as one.

The individual is novelty in the world, to be an individual, one must tolerate novelty, which requires one to be liberal and novel – to be an individual and to see others as individuals and not as members of a group. Conservatives are members of groups and related to people as members of the same or other groups. Conservatives tolerate inequality because they simply cannot see members of other groups as being equal to their own group.

As long as conservatives dominate secular government, then the American social experiment has failed to produce an individually centered society. This is why the separation of church and state is so vital and why freedom for any group or individual is measured by the distance between church and state. Moreover, why conservatives do not understand that is it the state that must be protected from the church if there is to be any meaningful freedom for individuals.

And why liberals are concerned with unfairness and harm and conservatives are not, because it is the conservative worldview that not only tolerates inequality, but creates and depends on inequality inherent and required by the worldview.

Conservatives can only adapt to new social norms when forced to and only after time has passed – which is where there are no objections or comedians joking about women getting to vote anymore – but interracial marriage is still a sore spot and why they cannot let go of Roe vs Wade as long as there remains a glimmer of hope to return to the old glory days.

And why, although conservatives understand the issue of reparation payments to conquered and abused groups and individuals, why they fight bitterly to oppose gay marriage, without consideration that gays may one day be in line for similar recompense arising from the baseless withholding of full citizen rights now.

Perhaps appealing to them on a cost effectiveness basis – gay marriage now to prevent future claims for pain, loss and suffering.


For conservatives to accept a social change as a norm means that the change must pass beyond living memory – conservatives only accept what is the status during their lifetime and assert that this has always been the way – only slightly better – in the past. Regardless that modern status has not been the tradition. Marriage as a partnership between two people based on romantic love is a modern and largely western idea – marriage remains a mechanism to create alliances between families or tribal groupings, to consolidate wealth and power and in many modern cultures, polygamy and the rarer polyandry is often the cultural norm.

So, conservatives never really accept major social changes, they resist change to whatever they experience as normal and apply it backwards as if the conditions were always the standard. This is why they continue to fight Roe vs Wade 40 years – or two generations after the legal change. It’s not out of living memory.




Humans by design

Conservatives are groupthink and liberals are individual freethinkers when it comes to morals – liberals can be total kool-aid drinkers when it comes to pet causes. Drink deep so you don’t think deep is pretty common to people of all creeds.

Conservatives don’t mind any minority as long as said minority isn’t uppity about being a minority and they act like the majority – conservatives actually need minorities, because without minorities, there’s no majority to be a part of. There’s just no fun being a have unless there are have-nots, so there can be no heaven without hell.

Which is why there is no agreement between liberals and conservatives – conservatives are not only tolerant of inequality, they rely on it. Liberals, who see any group as equal or equally valid to any other group, are literally wanting to eliminate the social distinctions that conservatives depend on.

Conservatives are fundamentally against individuality – the bedrock of liberalism – and why conservatives continually assert that the US is a Christian nation – if they say it enough, eventually, people will believe it and blur that America was founded on the individual as the unit of consequence, not the group conformity demanded by religion.

Well, technically, against individuality for other people, they like to think of themselves as important individuals because of their group identity and conformity to their herd of people, you know, patriotism is good for us, but not other nations, since that means that they are against us if they are for themselves.

Which is why conservatives are willing to tolerate minorities as long as minorities maintain the status quo – which is why religious conservatives have resisted every social change and are unwilling to stop resisting social change until it has passed out of living memory. This explains why women voting is a non-issue but interracial marriage retains a degree of resistance and why gay marriage is a tinderbox for a bonfire on par with abortion. Some wounds and social slights run multi-generationally when the resistance to change is strong enough.

Understanding what conservatives believe are the basis for morals and what the morals are, helps to understand what motivates their actions and behaviours, without having to be empathetic or sharing towards those morals.

For example, I have never understood why conservatives have to demonize atheists as immoral, when atheism has nothing to do with morality, from within atheism. Atheism is merely the rejection of claims for religion.

But to religious people who believe that morals are divine, atheism is the rejection of morality – they simply do not accept that there is any other basis for morals than religion – no matter what immorality is done in the name of religion or by religious people. All immorality can and will be forgiven, if you repent or accept the karmic backlash. The greatest immoral act is not causing harm to people, but rejecting their god given morality, from which everything they are flows – if their god isn’t real, then the morality isn’t real and they aren’t special and worse, death is the end of them. No reward or punishment for how they lived their lives, so no reason to refrain from doing what they want to do – which is why they cannot comprehend atheists as being moral and making moral determinations and distinctions.

They literally cannot think morally for themselves as long as they believe in their god.

Which is why atheists, despite being a minority, are of far greater concern than believers of other religions. At least the people believe in a god, even if it’s the wrong one as long as people understand that humans are not to determine their own purpose, meaning and value, in other words, act upon free will, then it’s all god, er good. The believers of any religion, are not, to the believer, making it up themselves.

Yet, irony metre explodes, religion – all religions – are made up, by men to consolidate their wealth and power, to enforce conformity to group norms, to define who’s in and who’s out of the group – and people who are unwilling or unable to think and work moral matters out on their own, rejoice in the group membership who does the moral heavy thinking for them.

Believers tend to believe that atheists are arrogant to think that they as individuals can determine their own morality and ethics. That by doing so, that atheists are treading on god’s territory and acting as if they are gods. Which, if you define morality as being divine, then yes, atheists are gods unto themselves and do not need others to explain good and evil, for we can recognize it all on our own. We have the knowledge, which Christian believers do not want to have because that knowledge is original sin, to understand between good and evil.

To understand the difference and to choose, is to put away the childish thinking and become an adult, a god among lesser grownups who are unable to make these distinctions. Which is why, liberals base morals on harm reduction and fairness and conservatives base morals on purity, authority, loyalty first and fairness and harm secondarily. Conservative need more and simpler rules – determining fairness and reducing harm means you have to consider a wider range of factors than the simpler If then of purity, authority and loyalty and resort to the more complex fairness and harm reduction as a last one.

Instead, Christian believers are a clock orange – following rules laid out by their deity and explained by priests who are self-sacrificingly soiled by being the keeper of the knowledge of good and evil – another reason why it’s not a big deal when they inevitably and knowingly give into evil, being continually exposed to it as they are, they are only fleshy humans after all, lesser than angels and lesser than god – while believers merely follow orders and refrain from what they are told to refrain from doing and repenting as ordered and appropriate when they can’t because they are sinful by nature and expected to fail. It’s the quality of the repentance and re-dedication to conformity that matters – and those unwilling to conform, well, to hell with them later and shun them now or send them on their way and let god sort them out.

It’s the ultimate catch 22 – the ultimate conspiracy theory for which the absence of proof is the proof – for, as Douglas Adams revealed, proof denies faith, and without faith, god is nothing. Only, there’s no babblefish giveaway to make god poof out of existence in a puff of logic, because it is the absence of logic that permits people to have faith.

And atheists, view religious conservatives as arrogant for thinking that if anything like a god existed, that such a god would be at all interested in creatures such as humans and who or what we do with our genitals. But both sides are arrogant for rejecting without understanding the opposite side to the limited extent that understanding the underlying morals are needed for there to be dialog.

One need not refute every religious claim to reject religion, religion is patently false on the face of it and the details are really neither here nor there or at all meaningful – all religions have the same evidence: none whatsoever.

But atheists needs to understand why believers believe, because believers do not have the capacity to change from believers to non-believers until they are capable of moral thought and understanding individually and on their own – this is why they reject atheism, because it is a rejection and not at all a replacement for religion.

And people do not generally change unless they are tricked, forced or bribed – and atheism does none of those things – atheism, quite literally, offers nothing.

Believers cannot convert atheists because atheists are able to make moral distinctions and largely reject the basis upon which religious morals are founded in: purity/sanctity, authority/respect, ingroup/loyalty.

Atheists are morally motivated by fairness/reciprocity and harm/care; which form only a secondary role for believer’s morals. These are very personal basis for morals and believers who already do not trust themselves to make distinctions, will not embrace a personal basis as it is too fragile, too variable, too dependent on circumstances.

It is only when the other basis of morals is eroded by experience or reduced in importance by exposure to humanity’s diversity and the believer accepts that we are all humans, no better or worse than any other and that the outward characteristics that set us apart are mere window dressing and not any measure of any of us as people.

It is somewhat curious then, that religions, which include the concepts of treating others like ourselves, brotherly love and we are all brothers (it’s written by men, it’s part of the problem), tend to reserve the good conduct for members of the group, and allow otherwise good people to treat outsiders to the group as inferior, immoral and undeserving.

So trick to changing the world to a common moral framework is not conforming individuals to any particular dominant group – but in conforming groups to each other so that there are no outsiders by human design.

Foundational Morals

“there are five psychological foundations of morality, which we label as harm/care, fairness/reciprocity, ingroup/loyalty, authority/respect, and purity/sanctity.”

When Morality Opposes Justice: Conservatives Have
Moral Intuitions that Liberals may not Recognize
Jonathan Haidt and Jesse Graham

When using liberal and conservative, I am not referring to any political spectrum in Western Secular nations, but rather as an apolitical description of whether a given individual’s morality is based on the individual (liberal) or group (conservative) to determine “morally good.”

From this paper, liberal based morality on the first two psychological combinations while conservatives base their morality on all five combinations, however, liberals would emphasize these combination from left to right, while conservatives emphasize from right to left, or in reading order: purity/sanctity, authority/respect, ingroup/loyalty, fairness/reciprocity and harm/care.

Many non-western societies include the idea of family honour, are focused on these basis of morality in the conservative order – bodily purity notions manifest as food restrictions, isolation of women during the discharge portion of the menstrual cycle, refraining from sex or particular sexual activities – or sex with outsiders to the approved group or class and general disgust at body waste elimination and function.

To be conservative is to be focused on the group rather than individuals, and with the group focus, a strong emphasis of determining who belongs in the group and who doesn’t – the defining characteristic of which is conformity to purity, loyalty and self-sacrifice if it serves the group interest.

So it is understandable then, when ethnic minorities when they immigrate to western democratic countries, often become conservative political supporters, despite the racism inherent in these same parties. The immigrants are the conservative mainstream in their countries of origin and remain conservatively focused, despite being deemed an ethnic minority and, in effect, a special interest group, and not wholly part of mainstream conservatism in European ethnically dominated Canada, Australia or America.

Aside: As a Canadian, there’s a strong sense of both Canada and the US being child countries of Europe, primarily Britain. And our respective countries, being close in proximity and immigration, long standing trading partners, longest undefended border, yada yada, we have a sense of being sibling countries. The more I play on the internet, the more Australians I encounter and am drawn to and I have had to revise my country sibling sense to include Australia as a sibling country to Canada, with similar origins, but it’s more distant location from both the United Kingdom island nation and the sibling Canada/US – I see in Australia what Canada could have been had we not allowed ourselves to be so in the shadow of the US. Australia is like the oldest sibling who left the nest early to live on it’s own terms while the younger Canada and US duked it out for favoured child status – only the US had a violent separation temper tantrum, while Canada acts as peacekeeper, can’t we all just get along, and tried to smooth diplomatic relations between all parties, often at Canada’s expense.

To be liberal, is to be focused on individuals, especially outsiders to any mainstream group and the only grounds to determine moral good are individual centered, thus, liberals do not recognize the conservative morals based on purity/sanctity, authority/respect, ingroup/loyalty as being  grounds of morality at all and are in fact, deemed to be the basis of what motivates and justifies harm done to the individual. Basically, three grounds of morality for conservatives are the three grounds of immorality for liberals. So, in that sense, liberals should see these as grounds of morality, just not positive morals. Moral and immoral being determined by compliance with any particular ground of morality.

These five combinations are all humanist and human-centric ideas of morality – deity-centric morals tends to be in line with the conservative priorities, as gods tend to provide the authority to groups – well, to individuals who then form a group according their and their god’s particular ideas of morality and act as their god’s authority and figurehead on earth – and god is the ultimate arbitrator of who’s in and out’s out and the reason why conformity to the group is so important – it has the afterlife consequence.

But externally centred conservatives do not see this obvious flaw that humans invent gods, because they do not see humans as a moral authority or purpose/meaning maker – this is what they most abhor in liberals and they have to maintain a massive effort to maintain the cognitive dissonance of asserting that there’s a god who has all the same priorities and morals as the individual has, who also had to be lucky enough to be born in an age and region where this god happened to be worshiped – which, if going by statistical chance, must be a less likely number than life evolving without this god.

Because of this, it’s not possible for a theist to be a humanist – humanist are human centric, humans are their own moral authority and purpose/meaning makers – while theists posit a deity in that role and humans are lesser than. Any theist who describes themselves as a humanist should be immediately suspect as trying to justify hard selling – and usually through violence – their religion and their concern is limited to making sure that all humans are either rewarded for embracing their religion or punished for rejecting it. Believers are basically the deliverers of the “Afterlife Memo”, which is believe in my god (the word) or be punished forever in the afterlife and by the sword in this life.

It also explains the otherworldly “love the sinner and hate the sin” idea – because what conservatives are expressing with the sentiment is for people to not be their own moral authority and to be submissive and obedient, basically, to reject free will in favour of conformity to their group and non-conformity aka individualism is nothing short of free will and self determinism. Which is why liberal and individualistic thinkers cannot make sense of how you separate a person from characteristics that are identity such as sexuality (kinky, gay, etc) or behaviours that reflect identity.

America’s duality of the individual being supreme but only insofar as they conform to the traditional or dominant group, begins to make cognitive dissonant sense. It is this prioritizing the group that many conservatives believe that America was founded as a Christian nation – when it was categorically not; it merely became dominated by Christians over time, and slowly, Christian thinking pervaded the government – adding “under God” to the pledge and “in God we trust” on the currency and so forth.

What seems to make the distinction between a conservative and liberal is actually exposure to the diversity of humanity.

“When viewed at the county level, the great majority of counties that voted for John Kerry are near major waterways, where ports and cities are usually located and where mobility and diversity are greatest. Areas with less mobility and less diversity generally have the more traditional five-foundation morality, and therefore were more likely to vote for George W. Bush—and to tell pollsters that their reason was ‘moral values’.”

When the women and black social movements in the US occurred, it was obvious who was a woman and who was black. When the gay social movement began, gays had a very unique problem – we look like everyone else – so coming out was critical – people are more tolerant of groups when they know and have positive encounters with individual members of the groups. In order to be tolerant of gay people, heterosexuals needed to know that they already knew and were possibly related to gay people.

A lesson that the new atheists have taken to heart and explains why the historical being sensitive to religious sensibilities has worn thin and the gloves have come off. Like gays, atheists also look like anyone else.

Which is why conservatives pretend that they are not gay and live publically heterosexual lives without regard to the harm it causes the individuals of their family or even their group – to them conforming to the group and self-sacrificing their homosexuality for heterosexual conformity is serving the moral good. They are applying all five basis of moral grounds to their actions, and not emphasizing one over the other.

And despite what economists think, people who are engaged in covert actions that are criminal or immoral, do not consider the risk of being caught – they are too smart or powerful to be exposed by lesser people who respect their authority in the group hierarchy and do not consider that all the fallen others before them point to their being caught and exposed – so the possibility of being caught, the punishment for being caught and the punishment for wrongdoing, is not a risk factor to determine whether or not to engage in the criminal or immoral conduct.

Given that purity/sanctity is also a disgust driven value, it makes sense then that conservatives demonize gays and atheists on sexual purity issues and the conservatives have a far greater obsession with gay sex than gay people have – to us gays, it’s just sex, no more remarkable than straight sex is to straight people – whereas conservatives are trying to stamp out what they believe is immoral and are unwilling to reward immorality with inclusion in the group. So, no marriage for gay people, because it means that they will be rewarding – and worse normalizing – gay sex. It doesn’t matter that it will be monogamous within the confines of marriage non-disease spreading and wholesome because it is still gay sex.

That gay marriage will bring far more change to the gay community than it will to marriage, is just not a factor for conservatives, monogamous gay sex is as immoral as promiscuous gay sex, and they genially believe that gays deserve AIDs and social discrimination just for being gay and choosing to be immoral, not like the moral gay republican politician or religious leader who got married and conformed but slipped and repented.

Conservatives are unable to compromise because there is no accepting degrees of harm as a basis for morality when the higher priority purity is at stake and at the focus of the compromise.

It’s no different than people in regions where karma is a religious norm allowing disfigured and disabled people to suffer extreme social marginalization, because hey, they must have done something in a past life to deserve this now.

Also, when you start with the premise that humans are flawed and lesser than – even the humans who are better than other humans – then it’s not avoiding immoral action that we are doomed to engage in owing to our flawed nature – but the quality of our repentance and remorse, our willingness to be submissive and obedient as the price for re-admission to the group – a re-admission that will not be denied because the god that will eternally punish the un-repentant, will always forgive the repentant and submissive and will reward them for their renewed submissive repentance.

But this is not comprehensible to liberal thinkers, who view the gay man who is caught cheating on his wife, who has caused harm to the immediate family, demonstrated the hypocrisy of the group think of discriminating towards homosexuals, and by their public denunciations and voting record has harmed all homosexuals – that these adulterers (both gay and straight) are able to not only return to the fold, but are upheld as examples of good members of the fold, is inconceivable given the harm that they have done and social injustice that they have supported and symbolized.

Conservatives, factoring in all 5 moral grounds, view harm as 20% of the moral equation at best, while liberals, factoring only two moral grounds, view that same harm as 50% of the moral equation. The moral math just doesn’t balance out between the two viewpoints, and few people from either side are able to do said math.

Well, in truth, conservatives tend to not value the 5 grounds as equal, but rather, they weight purity/sanctity, authority/respect, ingroup/loyalty as more important than fairness/reciprocity and harm/care. So, harm ends up somewhere between 10 to 15% of the total moral value – since the only way that one group can be valued is that other groups are devalued.

Living in regions where there is not a lot of diversity of groups, tends to reinforce the ingroup loyalty – while exposure to other groups and a range of cultures and people, tends to liberalize people to being cultural relativists and not believing that any one or few groups is better or worse than any other.

Conservatives are comfortable with inequality because being in the special entitled groups necessarily means that others are excluded.


Thanks to Darwin Harmless for this blog inspiration!