I get the occasional E-mail asking me what I think about a wide variety of things. I guess people have a bit too much time on their hands, but that should be obvious from the fact that they actually watch American Idol. Anyway, as long as I’m getting these questions, I figured I might as well post a few answers here. This way, I can just point people to this page instead of typing the same things over and over. Some of these ideas are expressed elsewhere, but every blurb in this page is written so that you should be able to read it aloud in one minute or less (although there are a couple entries that push it). In many cases, I try to make a supporting argument within that constraint. If you agree with these little blurbs, feel free to quote them. If you don’t, feel free to join my forums or use my E-mail form to tell me why I’m totally wrong.
On American Politics: I have a question for our friendly but eccentric Yankee friends: why do you revere your Founding Fathers so much? The way you talk about them, you’d think they were modern-day messiahs. You quote the bastards the same way you quote your Bible. Tricky ethical dilemma? Let’s see what the Founding Fathers had to say! Trying to chart social policy? Let’s see what the Founding Fathers had to say! I’m starting to wonder if you consult the Founding Fathers for dating advice. “Dear Benjamin Franklin, I met this girl today, and she’s really hot, but she’s kind of dumb. What should I do?” Get a grip, people. They had some good ideas, and I’m not saying you need to tear down everything they created, but you need to stop quoting those guys like Holy Scripture. They’re not gods, they’re not infallible … hell, they didn’t even think slavery was a bad idea. Oh, and by the way, you need to take your President off that pedestal too. You guys could elect Homer Simpson and you would still expect the world to respect him. Actually, come to think of it, you did.
On Canadian Politics: Ask me to name one of Canada’s Founding Fathers. Oops, I can’t name one, because we don’t really have anyone we revere that way. I suppose you could say Pierre Trudeau was the architect of our Constitution, but he only died recently, and his wife Margaret once had a relationship with Mick Jagger. It’s hard to put a guy on a pedestal when he married a girl only half his age who then wanted to bang Mick Jagger. So you could say that an excess of national reverence is the last thing we have to worry about. Why do you think so many irreverent comedians come from Canada? We don’t take our own country seriously, for fuck’s sake. Hell, the only thing we’re seriously proud of is our ability to play smash-mouth hockey, and nobody’s going to make a Canadian version of Mount Rushmore with the faces of guys who are missing their front teeth. Maybe somewhere between the bizarre American worship of their national icons and our Canadian apathy toward our own, there’s a happy medium. But I won’t hold my breath waiting for it.
On Beggars: Fuck ’em. We have a decent welfare system in my country, therefore they have no excuse to be harassing people for money. Oh, and by the way, I refuse to call them “panhandlers”. They’re beggars, so fuck ’em twice. And the ones who squeegee your car are not “squeegee kids”; they’re thugs. Thugs who extort money from motorists with the implicit threat of petty damage to your car if you won’t pay for a “service” you never even asked for. Fuck ’em all.
On Big Corporations: They say only “leftists” describe corporations as immoral and corrupt, but there’s more to it than that. I suggest the book “The Investment Zoo” by Stephen Jarislowsky if you want to know more about just what a rigged game the stock market and the big corporations are. And Jarislowsky is a billionaire investment manager, not some sandal-wearing Marxist fresh out of a hippie arts college. He knows what he’s talking about (by the way, the book also has useful investment advice). If you’re too lazy to read the book or too cheap to buy it, you can always watch the Wal-Mart episode of South Park. It won’t teach you a damned thing about investing or the stock market, but you can see a Wal-Mart manager shit himself and die. That’s worth the price of admission right there.
On the War on Terror: Only an idiot would have taken a war against a small radical group with a few thousand members and failed to keep it confined to as small an area as possible (hint: mountains of Afghanistan). Only the monkey king of idiots would deliberately try to expand this war into a global conflict against the entire Islamic fundamentalist movement around the world. Too bad for you Americans that you elected just such an idiot monkey king. Twice. Sucks to be you, but we tried to warn you before all this happened.
On Unions: Ever had a truly shitty, abusive boss? If you have, then you’ll know why we need unions. Ever seen a bunch of assholes block a street because they’re trying to get attention for their strike? If you have, then you’ll know why unions suck. I don’t begrudge unions their right to exist. Just leave me the fuck alone, you assholes. Being in a union doesn’t give you the right to march your fat beer-stained Cheeto-encrusted blue-collar ass into the middle of the street waving a picket sign that you couldn’t even spell properly. Do people even realize that the really big labour unions are a form of monopoly? Someone needs to get on that, because unions grew too big for their britches a long time ago.
On Public-sector Unions: Remember what I said about unions? Well, triple it for government unions. At least a regular union has to worry about what will happen if their employers go out of business. There’s a limit on how far they can push. Government unions, on the other hand, can suck the government dry because they know the government will just turn around and suck you dry. Sucks, doesn’t it? If it were up to me, government unions would be outlawed.
On the Separation of Church and State: Pop quiz: what is the only group in the country that is allowed to legally stick you in a cage, take your possessions without your permission, rip apart your family, or in some cases, even kill you? If you guessed “the government”, you’d be right. The government’s only real purpose is its ability to force people to do things against their will. So when Bill “Numb Nuts” O’Reilly says that the separation of church and state is a bad thing, what he’s really saying is that the government should use this power to force people to be more Christian. After all, if you’re a Christian you certainly don’t need the government’s help to respect the rules of your own religion. But you do need the government’s help if you want to force other people to respect the rules of your religion, and that’s what Bill O’Reilly’s “Culture War” is all about. Religion by itself is mostly harmless, but religion with a gun is a bad thing. And government is always armed.
On Dogs vs Cats: Dogs rule. Cat owners may disagree, and cite all kinds of “evidence” that cats are actually smarter because of their instinctive talents despite a stubborn resistance to training, but if a human child can’t be trained, we call him “learning disabled”, or “George Bush”. We don’t say that he’s too aristocratic to accept instruction. Cat lovers, show me some seeing-eye guide cats, and then I’ll be impressed. Until then, dogs rule. Besides, cats tend to carry toxoplasma gondii, and I’ve already got enough things to worry about without mind-altering parasites.
On “The Sanctity of Marriage”. If marriage really is a “sacred institution”, why is it so easy to get a divorce? Does that really sound “sacred” to you? And what about pre-nuptial agreements? A marriage with a pre-nup is like signing a contract with a footnote that says “Oh, by the way, I didn’t mean any of that.” So much for “till death do us part” … more like “till I get sick of you”. So don’t talk about the “sanctity of marriage”; if you really thought it was so sacred, you would have been out there protesting divorce and pre-nups years ago. Oh but wait, there’s Rick Santorum saying that you can’t let gays marry because they’re not “ideal parents”. That’s a clever new angle, right? OK smart-ass, then why don’t you explain to me why the fuck you allow marriage for alcoholics, smokers, people with serious genetic conditions, drug addicts, drug dealers, rapists, child abusers, gang members, and even convicted murderers? “Ideal parents” my ass. And then there’s the argument that gay marriage leads to pedophilia, but guess what: a straight pedophile is allowed to get married! Yes, that’s right, a convicted child molester is still allowed to marry, as long as he’s straight! Where are the protests against that? I guess that’s part of the “sacred institution of marriage” too, right? Never in my life have I seen people so utterly full of shit as the anti-gay marriage crowd. Every reason they make up is such an obvious smokescreen that my fire alarm goes off whenever I read their bullshit.
On Environmentalists: Your hearts are in the right place and some of your points are good, but your movement would be a helluva lot better if you actually did your research before running out and protesting things. The environmentalists who ignored the experts and made nuclear power into the pariah of the energy industry in the 1970s have laid the groundwork to totally fuck us today. Thanks a lot, Jane Fonda. On the upside, in my experience, all of the pretty women are environmentalists. Maybe it has something to do with the hair conditioner.
On Anti-Environmentalists: You people are even worse than the environmentalists. You both tend to make the mistake of ignoring scientists and engineers when they say something you don’t want to hear, but at least their hearts are in the right place. Where are yours? Oh wait, I forgot. Like Dick Cheney, you don’t have any.
On “Traditional Values”: The people who promote traditional values had one political stroke of genius: using the word “traditional” instead of “old”. Try that on for fun sometime. Watch Bill O’Reilly in action, and every time he uses the word “traditional”, replace it with “old”. That way you can see how ridiculous his argument really is. Small wonder his audience is old too (median age of Bill O’Reilly viewer according to MSNBC study: 71). In fact, you can sum up virtually everything about Bill O’Reilly with the word “old”. Especially if you add the word: “musty”.
On Atheism: I’m an atheist, but despite what the fundies may believe, I don’t sacrifice babies. I don’t worship Satan, although Sympathy for the Devil is a great song. I support gay rights, but nobody is touching my ass unless he’s my doctor. I volunteer with the Boy Scouts. I give to charity. I celebrate Christmas (the cool secular Christmas with the tree and Santa and the presents, not that lame-ass Catholic one where you sit on a hard wooden bench for two hours and listen to a priest lecturing you on your sins). I’m married with kids, and I’m totally monogamous. I enjoy watching pornography with my wife, not because I secretly want to cheat on her but because it’s fun, and sex is how healthy adults play (why do you think they call them sex toys?). She even has her favourite blue movies, and they’re nasty (I married well). I believe in humanism, not communism. Do I fit your expectations of an atheist? Here’s a hint: atheism is not a religion; if it was, then we’d have some kind of shared values, and we don’t. Some of us are communists, some of us are free-market libertarians, some of us are humanists, some of us are utilitarians, etc. You Christians have to get over your silly idea that everyone who doesn’t believe in your God must think the same way. There’s a whole world of weird and wacky beliefs out there once you leave the crib.
On the American South: You suck. Seriously, you do. You can’t even admit that you were on the wrong side of the Civil War. You use out-of-context quotes to smear Lincoln endlessly, and you spout voluminous bullshit about how you seceded over all kinds of reasons other than slavery, even though any idiot can read the Southern Declarations of Secession and see that you did secede over slavery. The Texas Declaration repeatedly attacked the abolitionists and praised slavery as “Divine Law“, for fuck’s sake. And Mississippi’s Declaration said “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery– the greatest material interest of the world.” How can you Southerners move forward if you insist on lying about your past? Hell, even the Germans admit to their past evils. Besides, your deep-fried diet is disgusting. I can’t eat that shit without feeling like I’m going to throw up. And no, this has nothing to do with the fact that I was a Buffalo Bills fan during the Jim Kelly years and I hated the Dallas Cowboys. Goddamned Emmitt Smith …
On Appearance and Superficiality: If I say “You have the most beautiful eyes”, that is considered a wonderful, charming compliment. On the other hand, if I say “You have the most beautiful legs”, that’s considered borderline crass. And if I say “You have the most beautiful ass”, that’s completely out of line and I’m a filthy disgusting male chauvinist pig who views women as “objects” and is horrendously “superficial”. But is that really worse than complimenting a woman on her eyes? Think about it: what can a woman do about the shape or colour or appearance of her eyes? Nothing; she’s born that way. It’s genetic. But her ass? That’s a product of her lifestyle. A fit, athletic woman will always have a great ass, whereas you can’t have a gigantic wide lard-ass unless you’ve done a lot of things wrong with your diet and lifestyle over the years. So in a way, a woman’s ass is far more indicative of her personality and lifestyle than her eyes, isn’t it? And that’s why I am not just an ass-man, but a proud ass-man.
On “The Good Old Days”: I hear a lot of social conservatives speak of the good old days, when things were better and people had stronger values. When were these good old days, exactly? The 1980s, before the “War on Terror”, when all we had to worry about was thousands of megatons of Soviet nuclear annihilation aimed at us on a hair-trigger? And George Michael was a member of a fucking boy band? The 1950s, when the top income tax rate was 90%, racial segregation was written into law, puritanical TV showed married couples sleeping in separate beds, McCarthy was running witch-hunts to catch “un-Americans”, and Jews were afraid to use their real names in Hollywood credits? Or perhaps the “good old days” were in the 19th century, which made the 1950s seem downright enlightened by comparison. News flash: there are no good old days. Some things were better, many things were worse. But by all means, if you want to return to the “good old days”, go live in one of the world’s many backward shit-hole countries. I hear Nigeria’s popular with the knuckle-draggers right now. Just make sure you get your vaccinations before you leave the modern world. It will be our parting gift to your ungrateful ass.
On Christianity: Some of the nicest, warmest, most generous people I’ve known in my entire life have been Christians. Unfortunately, some of the most self-absorbed, callous, and downright sociopathic people I’ve known in my entire life have also been Christians. Hell, Adolf Hitler was a Christian. Don’t believe the historical revisionists and their fabricated quotes or bizarre attempts to claim that Rosenberg was the real architect of national policy; Hitler was in charge, and he laid it all out in Mein Kampf, if you’re willing to read through the stupidity. Remember that Saint Paul once commented that he could become “all things unto all men”, and that’s exactly what his religion did. No matter whether you’re the nicest person in the world or a raging sociopath, Christianity has something for you! It’s like the Wal-Mart of religion, complete with bad parking and elderly greeters wearing forced smiles. At the end of the day, I just wish Christians would accept that you can’t tell whether someone’s a good guy just by seeing how religious he is.
On Islam: The only thing I find more annoying than Christians mindlessly attacking Islam is Muslims mindlessly defending it. The Christians may be total hypocrites for attacking your faith when you look at the shit that’s in their own Bible, especially the Old Testament. But you people are liars if you won’t admit that Islamic theocracy and fundamentalism is a serious problem in the world, and at present, it’s a gigantic cluster-fuck. George W. Bush may not have an exit strategy for Iraq, but you people don’t seem to have an exit strategy for fundamentalism, and that’s even worse. What’s more, you can’t just say that the extremists are “twisting” Islam, and then wash your hands of it. You act as though there is only one possible way to interpret your holy books, when in fact there are many, and you simply disagree with the others because they’re different from yours. Well guess what, genius: the fundies think the same thing about you. That’s the problem with basing a religion upon an appeal to the authority of words on paper. Hell, people can find loopholes even in the most carefully crafted modern legal documents, and we’re supposed to trust the perfection of a book written by people who didn’t even have flush toilets?
On Sex: I honestly feel sorry for all of you people with lifelong sexual hangups. These hangups mean you can’t truly enjoy the one form of pure hedonism left to adults. Kids get candy, toys, ice cream, birthday parties, Christmas morning, the whole nine yards. What do we get? Flavoured coffee? I feel even sorrier for all of you “family values” losers who say you hate porn but secretly watch it anyway. You know who you are. Maybe you even build up a private stash, until you get caught or suffer a paroxysm of guilt and throw it all away, only to start all over again after briefly going cold turkey. Small wonder the porn industry makes more money than Hollywood. You shame-filled, guilt-ridden, blue-ball sad-sack cases are the only reason that porn stores have those overpriced “private viewing booths”, so you won’t have to worry about getting caught. You have my pity. Oh, and by the way, beer is no substitute.
On Cigarettes: Are you people fucking stupid? Seriously, that’s all I can think whenever I see someone smoking. Sure, you can go on about your “rights” (although I’ve never actually seen the “right to smoke” in the Constitution or the UN Declaration of Human Rights), but at the end of the day, it’s an idiotic thing to do. Name one person who, as a child, smelled his first cigarette and thought “wow, that smells great!” It’s disgusting, even a minor second-hand exposure can cause asthma attacks in susceptible individuals, and the only reason people do it is peer pressure and addiction. And smokers with kids are even worse. Not only do they risk exposing their children to it directly (never mind the fire risk), but children of smokers are twice as likely to pick up the habit themselves. Your kids aren’t as stupid as you think, and they know you’re smoking even if you don’t do it right in their faces. Tobacco is the Native Americans’ revenge against the Stupid White Man for bringing smallpox, Puritanism, and chronic constipation to the New World.
On Seat Belts: People who refuse to wear seatbelts are literally too stupid to live. People who try to paint their refusal as some sort of “freedom” issue have their heads so far up their own asses that they couldn’t find their way out with a map and a Sherpa guide. Just for laughs, look up “Derek Kieper” and be prepared to laugh your ass off.
On Star Trek: Do you know why Star Trek has sucked ever since James T. Kirk retired? It’s not just because William Shatner is totally irreplaceable, even though he is. It’s not just because Marina Sirtis was totally forgettable, even though she was. It’s not just because Kate Mulgrew has a voice that sounds like a demonic union of Nurse Chapel and the Marlboro Man, even though she does. Like all commercial failures, the real problem starts in management. Does anyone remember the last few seasons of the hit TV sitcom Cheers, when the show began to suck? Guess who the producer was: a guy named Rick Berman. Now guess who was at the helm of Star Trek throughout the entire series runs of all the post-Kirk spin-offs and the franchise’s long spiral into the TV ratings basement and pop culture obscurity: Rick Berman. How did he get the job, and how did he keep it for so long? Who knows? But if you were ever wondering why Star Trek has been in decline for so long, that’s why. There are a lot of Star Trek fans out there who would love to “go Klingon” on his ass.
On Self-Taught Experts: The Internet is full of so-called “self-taught experts”: people with a doctorate in Google and a Masters in speed-reading. A desire for lifelong learning is a laudable thing, and by no means am I discouraging it. But there’s one thing you get with a real education that you don’t get with “independent research”, and that is one word: testing. In a real university, you don’t just read the textbook, you face grueling exams and assignments, all of which are marked with a possibility of failure. In short, reading the text is not enough; you have to prove that you understood it. If university were like the average “self-taught” expert’s regimen, there would be no exams. No tests. No assignments. They’d just tell you to read the text and then assume that you must understand it now. I ask you: would you trust a medical doctor who graduated from such a program? Of course not. So by all means, people should try to learn on their own because it expands their horizons and keeps their minds sharp. But don’t tell yourself that it’s the same as being a qualified expert, because it’s not. If you think you understand thermodynamics and somebody with a university education in the subject tells you that you’ve got it all wrong, don’t try to bluff your way through an argument. Shut the fuck up and listen to what he has to say. Google is not a university.
On Marriage: It’s awesome. Seriously, I am so happy that I found my wife. Leaving her would be like leaving part of me. When I hear these married guys who bitch and moan about how much marriage sucks (even though many of the same guys say it’s a “sacred institution”), I can’t help but wonder: do their marriages really suck, or do they just suck at marriage? If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that marriage is not just a state of being; it is a skill which requires technique, just like everything else in life. If your marriages always turn out badly, maybe it’s not fate, and maybe it’s not because your wife is a harpy, and maybe it’s not due to the erosion of traditional values. Maybe it’s just because you’re doing it wrong. Of course, it’s also possible that you chose wrong, but don’t be too quick to deflect blame away from yourself. And don’t pretend that being a three-time divorcée makes you an expert on marriage. It makes you an expert on failure, not an expert on marriage. If multiple failures were proof of expertise, people would be lining up at Larry King’s door to find out how the little troll does it.
On Wealth and Fitness: When I go to Wal-Mart, the women range from moderately overweight to morbidly obese. When I go to an upscale shopping mall, the women range from thin to slightly overweight. Why is it that poor people are so much more likely to be obese? I’ve heard many theories, like the one about the cost of food, but I don’t buy that one. Food doesn’t cost that much. If anything, wealthy people eat out more often than poor people, and upscale restaurants love to use rich calorie-laden sauces as much as the low-end ones do. Maybe more. Moreover, the worst kind of junk food is the soda and snacks, and that is all supplementary food; obese people don’t seriously think that their snacks and soda are staple foods, so they add money to the food budget. Fitness club memberships don’t explain it either; nothing is stopping poor people from exercising outside a fitness club, and most fitness-club members only stay long enough to get tired of their New Years Resolutions anyway. On some level, it appears to me that the upscale women just try harder for some reason. Either that, or they get a great workout climbing in and out of their thirty foot tall SUVs ten times a day.
On Negligence: Every time you hear about a lawsuit, you will hear a conservative use the phrase “personal responsibility”. Here’s a tip: every time you hear a conservative use the phrase “personal responsibility”, replace it with “corporate irresponsibility”. Because that’s what this phrase really means: it is a clever little rhetorical trick designed to make people think that you can have personal responsibility or corporate responsibility, but not both at the same time. How could it be the defendant’s fault if it’s the plaintiff’s fault, right? It’s like saying that I can’t possibly be incompetent if you are. How the hell does that make any sense? Negligence awards are a monetary penalty for incompetence, not a murder trial. And guess what: in these cases there is often more than enough incompetence to go around. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this life, it’s that incompetence is our only truly renewable resource.
On “Political Correctness”: Have you ever seen a definition of the derogatory term “politically correct” which cannot be applied to something that you find offensive too? It seems to me that if Bill O’Reilly finds something offensive, then it’s “offensive”. But if someone else finds something offensive, then it’s just “politically incorrect”. As far as I can tell, that is the only real definition of “politically incorrect”; things that offend other people, not you. So when you’re being proudly, politically incorrect, don’t mince words and spray bullshit. Admit that you’re being offensive. If you’re still proud of that, fine. But don’t expect other people to cut you any more slack than you’re cutting them.
On “Faith” versus “Opinion”: What’s the difference between a religious belief and a personal opinion? Nothing, except for the fact that one of them is so goddamned important that we have to let people carry it into the workplace. Seriously, can you imagine asking your boss to let you shirk your duties because of your personal opinion? Now imagine telling him that you refuse to do a certain job because of your religious beliefs. Huge difference, right? But why? Isn’t it possible for someone to have a personal moral belief that he cares about as deeply as any religious belief? Why, then, does the religious person get an exemption from his job duties while the other person does not? Why are religious pharmacists allowed to refuse to dispense the birth control pill without getting fired for not doing their jobs? If I’m a truck driver and I think Wal-Mart is evil, why shouldn’t I be allowed to refuse to take deliveries to Wal-Mart? Hmmm, maybe none of this bullshit should be allowed. Maybe people should be expected to act like professionals, and keep their personal beliefs out of their jobs. And if they really find their jobs morally offensive, maybe they should quit. The idea of someone taking a job and then refusing to do it properly because of his beliefs is ridiculous. Especially when he expects to get paid anyway. At least Homer Simpson has a good reason for not doing his job properly: he’s an idiot. These people are just weasels.
On Highbrow Entertainment: News flash for all the pseudo-intellectuals out there: watching “smart” movies or having a preference for well-regarded art does not necessarily make you an intellectual. Skillful acting and screenwriting do not osmotically transfer intellect to the viewer. And for every person who “appreciates” highbrow entertainment because he’s good at picking up subtle nuances, there’s a hundred people who “appreciate” it because they read the reviews and they know they’re supposed to appreciate it, otherwise they lose their snob club membership cards. The way some idiots talk about their entertainment, I’m starting to wonder if they put their favourite movies on their resumes when they apply for a job. “You see sir, I’m totally qualified for this position because I enjoy the musical stylings of Franz Liszt, and the subtleties of Mamet.” You can really smell the residue of the 19th century aristocracies when you see people trying to compete on the basis of their leisure tastes. It smells musty, and old. Just like Bill O’Reilly, but with subtitles.