Tag Archives: books

“If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.” ― Benjamin Franklin

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The 2014 Rose Bowl Parade included a float “Love Is the Best Protection,” sponsored by the AIDS Healthcare Foundation. The reasoning behind the inclusion of the float, according to Ged Kenslea, Foundation President, is, “by showing the dream of lesbians and gay men fulfilled, the float is perfect with this year’s Rose Parade theme of ‘Dreams Come True.’” (as cited in Breitbart) The decision to include the float drew a mixed response. One impassioned response comes from a woman who was deeply offended. Angela Wingenroth offered the following comment:

“We don’t care what the states say about it — God is clear that this isn’t right and I will NOT have this SHOVED DOWN MY CHILDREN’S THROATS!! The intolerance is theirs. They will not accept peoples’ objections to their lifestyle — you HAVE to accept that it’s not just ok, but GOOD or you’re a bigot! If they want to get ‘married,’ that’s their choice, but my kids don’t need to see it.” (as cited in American Power)

I expect this is what she was told to think by her pastor and various anti-gay commentators about the fact that gay people are being granted full civil rights in US society. Still, I wonder who, if anyone, called this woman a bigot for feeling this way. Continue reading

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Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people whom we personally dislike.–Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

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While attitudes toward gay people have changed a great deal for the better in my lifetime, prejudice and stereotypes remain. There is one stereotype in particular that bothers me and kept me from coming out until later in life: that of the gay man as a predator from whom children must be protected. I am told I am good in my interaction with children and young people. I am gentle and soft-spoken and very easy going and children generally like me. Because of this, it was suggested that I consider a career in teaching by one of my mentors at Queen’s University. I was reluctant to go into teaching because of this stereotype. I was confronted with this stereotype and the prejudice against gay men as teachers in 1986, the year I graduated from Queen’s, when the Chairman of the Frontenac County Board of Education, in commenting on the amendment to the Ontario Human Rights Code which added sexual orientation to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination, was dismayed that he no longer had any legal grounds to refuse to hire a teacher if he knew he was dealing with an “obvious faggot.” Continue reading

Jack Miner

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The newest addition to our library collection is a copy of Jack Miner on Current Topics (first published in 1929). Mika found a copy in the Ex Libris book store at the Ottawa Public Library and thoughtfully purchased it, knowing I would like it. Jack Miner (1865-1944), born in Ohio, but settled in Canada in 1878, was a deeply religious man and pioneering conservationist. Miner was not a trained biologist, he had no formal education and was illiterate until he was in his thirties. He was Christian and subscribed to a literal interpretation of Scripture, believing “God put birds and animals here for man’s use and for man to control.” He founded a bird sanctuary on his farm in 1904, which exists to this day, and contributed to the effort to determine the migratory paths of wild ducks and geese in live trapping and banding them. He manufactured his own hand-stamped aluminum bands adding with his address Bible passages: “Keep yourselves in the love of God—Jude 1-21” and “With God all things are possible—Mark 10-27”. Bands recovered from birds after they were shot by hunters indicated where the birds had traveled.

In this book he discusses the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 (MBTA) which was signed between the United States and Great Britain (acting on behalf of the Dominion of Canada), which effectively ended market hunting, but allows for the hunting of game species for private consumption. He puts forward his case for the conservation of wildlife resources through education and wise use. He includes two chapters detailing his admiration for the Canada goose, proposing it be designated as Canada’s national bird. That he was not a trained biologist shows through in the chapter in which he shares his dislike of crows, referring to them as “cannibals” and “murderers.” He trapped and killed them in droves, believing he was protecting more “desirable” species of birds and mammals. In keeping with his religious beliefs he tended to anthropomorphize wildlife in ascribing human morality to animal behaviour, noting, for example, that Canada geese mate for life and never seeing a pair divorce.

He is remembered for banding wild ducks and geese, having banded over 50,000 wild ducks and 40,000 Canada geese. His efforts in banding waterfowl popularized the procedure leading to its standardization and is still in use as a tool for wildlife biologists today. After his death, the Government of Canada enacted the National Wildlife Week Act to be observed the week of Jack Miner’s birth, April 10 each year. He was a simple and pious man whose passion for migratory birds inspired him to help lay the foundation of the modern conservation movement and for those who love the natural world he is worth remembering.

Posted by Geoffrey and Mika

Freedom to Read Week 2013

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Today, Sunday February 24, 2013 kicks off Freedom to Read Week in Canada (February 24 – March 2, 2013). As such, it is apropos to say a few words about censorship in Canada. Geoffrey is a librarian; Mika is a bibliophile. Between them they have a personal library collection of approximately 5000 volumes. Having the freedom to read is is something to cherish and not take lightly. Section 2.(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms lists as “Fundamental Freedoms” guarantees “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.” In spite of these guarantees in law, the reality is in Canada, a society founded on the principles of pluralism and liberalism, efforts to censor in the form of book challenges are all too common. Public libraries and school libraries are where most book challenges take place. For  more information on Freedom to Read Week in Canada 2013, check out this website: www.freedomtoread.ca. By all means enjoy your freedom to read and never take this freedom for granted.

Posted by Geoffrey and Mika