Deep polarity…

Jan 29, 2021

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (US) – Emily Kubin, Curtis Puryear, Chelsea Schein, and Kurt Gray
Personal experiences bridge moral and political divides better than facts

Just the facts Sgt Friday used to say, just the facts.  This recent research article would suggest that the facts have little to do with the deep polarity in current US politics.  “Both liberals and conservatives believe that using facts in political discussions helps to foster mutual respect, but 15 studies—across multiple methodologies and issues—show that these beliefs are mistaken. Political opponents respect moral beliefs more when they are supported by personal experiences, not facts. The respect-inducing power of personal experiences is revealed by survey studies across various political topics, a field study of conversations about guns, an analysis of YouTube comments from abortion opinion videos, and an archival analysis of 137 interview transcripts from Fox News and CNN.”

Now Toronto – Enzo DiMatteo
Canada’s right-wing extremism problem – Trump’s malignant populism has turned far-right violence into a domestic terrorism threat

This link may be helpful contextualizing the growth of far-right political action groups and their influence, especially from social media, on social policy such as immigration and hate crimes here in Canada.  Estimating over 300 such far-right groups, DiMatteo says most concerning are “the anti-Muslim groups, conspiracy theorists, militia groups and the incel (involuntarily celibate) online subculture. Most worrisome among them are anti-state and anti-government elements “that tend to be very aggressive in language and affiliate with the militia movement in the U.S.”  He also suggests that there is a reluctance on the part of police to enforce hate laws.  (Ed note: the link has several other articles that may be of interest.)

Ottawa Citizen – Shaamini Yogaretnam
Abdi family, police board reach confidential settlement – The lawsuit was launched in 2018, nearly two years after Abdirahman Abdi’s death.

Abdirahman Abdi, a 37-year-old Somali Canadian man, died from physical beating while being arrested by two Ottawa police officers,  “The lawsuit alleged Montsion and Weir (the police officers) were liable for “assault, battery and use of excessive force” during the arrest and that the officers “failed to use reasonable means to address the situation.” While the details of the settlement were not revealed, the lawsuit did produce an understanding from all parties that significant improvement is needed in the way police respond to mental health calls.   Related article:  National Public Radio – WQLN (US) – Cheryl W. Thompson   Fatal Police Shootings Of Unarmed Black People Reveal Troubling Patterns

A reminder that increased funding to police has real life consequences on the front lines:  Blogger Ash Avery (Halifax):  “Last night I heard that the police are increasing their budget. This morning I learned that the NGO I run is losing 20% of its core funding because of COVID-19. This means more police responses to poverty, mental health, addictions & less community led supports and care.”

Center for Crime and Justice Studies (UK) –
This week the UK passed the grim milestone of over 100,000 COVID-19 deaths.

The link gives an update on how the government of the UK has responded to date on the issue of Covid-19 within the prison system.  There have been 316 early releases to date and the government refuses to prioritize the prison population, prisoners or guards.  The impact is also felt in the families of those released since some prisoners going home with the virus.

Globe and Mail – Robyn Doolittle
To stop gender discrimination at work, Canada has all the laws it needs – but the system enforcing them is broken

This useful article is the result of a two year investigation of the workplace as far as gender equity is concerned.  The investigation showed a widespread inequity in pay and promotion for women but also showed another distressing factor:  “While Canada has all the laws it needs to prevent gender discrimination, they are almost never enforced. Women are left to navigate the professional risks associated with complaining against the potential rewards – of which there are few.”  Even if the case gets to court, the settlements are low and only rarely are court costs awarded a successful litigant.  “It’s a complaint-driven system that’s passive,” Gail Gatchalian, a labour, employment and human-rights lawyer at Pink Larkin in Halifax, says. “By the time you get to an enforcement mechanism, it’s years after the damage is done.”  (A powerful and specific data link and four minute video on The Power Gap at the link.)

WRIC ABC News (Richmond, VA) – Dean Mirshahi

Private prison company donated money to Virginia senators who killed bill to end for-profit prisons in the state

How deep does the corporate dollar behind private prisons go?  Remember that Biden has only nixed federally contracted private prisons, leaving out both immigration detention and state operated facilities.  Here’s an answer for the state of Virginia where there is only one private prison with its record on contributions to state politicians’ campaigns.

Anti-Racism Commission (Ottawa) –

“We are reaching out to spread the word about our upcoming virtual community action planning sessions that will be starting this week… The sessions will offer residents an opportunity to shape the next steps of the Secretariat. These sessions will determine immediate actions within the six key priority areas of employment equity, housing, equity in governance, economic development, health outcomes and youth development – all of which are within the City’s jurisdiction.”  More info at: secretariat’s Engage Ottawa page or alternately:

Theodore’s Place – A blog from Margo Van Slutyman
To Forgive is Not a Verb: A reflection by Dr. Reinekke Lengelle

The focus is on grief but the idea may have much broader appeal and much broader scope of application for us.  Guest blogger Lengelle is offering perhaps some refreshment for us with the burden of an agenda of unachieved forgiveness and the guilt it may bring. “There is only one useful thing about the verb “forgive” – the moment the concept arises, we can use it to pinpoint the hurt.  We can shine a light on what is yet unresolved and formulate a wish around it, “I wish I’d been heard in my fear around…” and “I wish I’d known how to speak my boundary.”   She is also offering an exercise in writing the self.

CBC News – David Cochrane
French court orders Hassan Diab to stand trial in terrorism case, 3 years after he was set free – Canadian academic was set free by a French court in 2018 due to a lack of evidence

Release after a long dragged out court scene Diab, a part time university lecturer, was finally released after NGO’s intervened on his behalf.  The lower French court of two judges ordered his release after almost three years in a French prison, but an appeal court has now, after a further three years, and without the introduction of any new evidence, ordered him to trial.  French lawyers say they will appeal to France’s  Supreme Court.  “Amélie Lefebvre, one of Diab’s criminal lawyers in France, said she believes the case is marching on for political reasons, as the families of the victims continue to call for justice.”  One of the problems attendant on this case is that an extradition request can be made and honoured without the request including any sworn evidence against the person, a problem that Diab’s lawyer Donald Bayne says needs to be reformed.