“Honour Killings” Film wins Oscar

In certain cultures it’s a-okay to kill girls for a perceived slight on their family’s honour. It might be for something like getting raped.

The film A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness tells the story of a girl who went against her family’s wishes regarding her choice of husband. The really amazing part is that after surviving the attack she went to the police and they helped. Part of the problem is that it is so ingrained in certain parts that the police themselves may be sympathetic to the murderous family.

It doesn’t just happen in Pakistan though. It can happen wherever people are viewed as property but is most often perpetrated against women who refuse arranged marriages or who choose relationships contrary to their families religious beliefs.

Humanity Top-Trumps

We seem to be no closer to the enlightened day foretold by noted philosopher Theodor Geisel in his seminal work “The Star Bellied Sneetches”.

A couple of things this week gave me pause when trying to decide who was actually in the wrong and who was in the right.

In the first, a child and family were removed from a flight because of the child’s allergy to dogs, of which there was one on the flight. The question here is, is a child’s allergy, traditionally enough to have a school ban an item, less important than another person’s right to have an emotional support animal?

The second involves a woman being moved on a flight because her presence was a problem to the orthodox Jew sitting next to her. Are religious rights more or less important than women’s rights?

Lastly, although the incident did not happen this week, it’s cropped up a lot over various news feeds this week, is an immuno-compromised child’s right to attend school more or less important than a parent’s right to choose not to vaccinate a child? A pertinent addendum here being that the school has a peanut butter ban in effect to protect allergic children.

These stories made me think that we really need to develop some sort of ranking system for whose rights supersede whose, a sort of human rights Top-Trumps if you will. With this in place issues could be quickly and efficiently resolved.



Disney Wants Employees to Help Pay Copyright Lobbyists

Copyright is something  which I care about so I’m not opposed, in principle, to the idea of Disney wanting to protect their intellectual property.

I find it strange they’d ask their employees to pitch in.

I find it even more strange, and also disconcerting, that lobby groups wield so much power in American politics. It’s almost like there’s corruption and collusion at work.

Perchance to dream…

Nev Sharp has achieved his dream. Since he was a child he’s had his eye on the world record for the world’s loudest burp. Yesterday he achieved that dream with a 110 decibel effort that propels him into the record book.

Asked how he made it happen.

“I’m always training. You just have to ask my next door neighbours behind us,” he said.

Imagine living next to a record holder! Front row seats to listen the show every day. Magic.

Water Privilege: 10 Million Without Water in New Delhi

There’s a lot of talk about privilege today. Everyone’s situation is different and it wouldn’t help someone with their finger chopped off to hear about someone who had their whole hand chopped off. I’m not here to say “you don’t know how good you have it” I’m here to look at why 10 million people in New Delhi have no water.

India’s caste system is extremely complex and has been ingrained for longer than the word “privilege” has existed. Although the names of the various castes have changed through time there is still a clear stratification in the culture. It’s true that there are tens of millions of citizens which do not fit any particular caste but as India’s population exceeds 1.3 billion the vast majority of its citizens still operate within this system.

If you include imaginary beings, there are six main castes (this is a workable over-simplification). In order of privilege they are Gods, Brahmin (priests and academics), Kshatryia (soldiers), Vaishya (skilled workers), Sudra (unskilled workers), and Dalits (cleaners).

To give you some idea about the lack of regard for the lowest caste, the Dalits or untouchables a special law was drafted and enacted specifying the things you were not allowed to do to this caste. Although almost completely ignored, this law was enacted for the purposes of making it extra clear that you couldn’t do such things as beat, rob, kill, and threaten people of this caste because, you know, they were actually real people.

Strangely there were people even lower than this who were not covered. Goodness only knows how, in a practical sense, they were viewed.

The Atrocities act was amended in late 2015. It’s too early to see what effect it has.

Anyway, the purpose of bringing up the Atrocities Act was to highlight why the government introduced a quota or reservation system. This system applies to various government controlled aspects of life in India such as civil employment and education. It is safe to say that the reservation system is not universally popular. Gandhi himself was opposed to allowing specific levels of representation for Dalits and is a reviled figure amongst a significant proportion of the caste.

So, why’s their no water in New Delhi? Well, there’s a group called the Jats that live in that area. They are not the lowest caste but they feel that they should have more representation and concessions under the reservation system than they were afforded. So, to show their displeasure they destroyed a water plant, which in turn contaminated a water source to the point where downstream water plants couldn’t collect water either and basically shut down access to a basic human right.

Are the Jats wrong to be angry? I have no idea. I don’t pretend to know their situation. You’ll have to decide for yourself what level of privilege is acceptable and what level is grounds for this type of thing.