Facebook friends: Stop indulging those who would have us live in fear. Fear is a notorious method of social control. Stop participating in maudlin claptrap like "marking yourself safe" when no one had any rational basis for thinking you otherwise....

[caption id="attachment_13208" align="aligncenter" width="550"] A Washington, DC, city bus[/caption] Briefly, because I can't say it better than these people did, please check out the links below for eloquent arguments about the value of Edward Snowden's lawbreaking, and the Obama administration's pernicious folly in persecuting him. On the last day of October, from his exile in Russia, Snowden wrote a letter seeking clemency. On the first day of January, a New York Times editorial endorsed his request. Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and...

Every Christmas since 1993, British Television's Channel 4 asks a noteworthy figure to record an "alternative" to starchy pieties of Her Majesty's annual Christmas message to her subjects. This year, Channel 4 tapped whistleblower Edward Snowden. From his temporary asylum in Russia, Snowden sounded a pithy, 1 minute, 43 second, warning about the dangers of government spying: A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves — an unrecorded, unanalysed thought...

No sooner did I write that two veterans would get the last word on the Remembrance Day poppies discussion, than a Facebook message arrived from my friend Walter Van Veen, whose teenage father spent the war hiding in a secret compartment in an Amsterdam flat. A Jewish family shared the compartment. Facing starvation, they gave themselves up a few weeks before the end of the war—and were killed. Walter's father held out and survived. Walter writes: You know my take on this [the media firestorm over white poppies being handed out at the National War Memorial]. This is one fairly cynical narrow view...

Growing up in the 1950s and '60s in the United States, where right-wing scoundrels turned patriotic symbols into political cudgels, left me with a lifelong aversion to flags, ribbons, lapel pins, and other obligatory trappings of national fealty. When I moved to Canada, this aversion morphed into a disinclination to wear poppies. As best I can tell, most Canadians see the poppy as a neutral symbol of respect for veterans. Social pressure to wear it is strong. Acquaintances and strangers alike view my failure to fall in step as inexplicable, disrespectful, and distasteful. I regret this. After years of attempts to...

The election took place a week ago, but Elections Nova Scotia has still not published the poll-by-poll results from each riding. This, despite a notice on the agency's website (see right) promising to post them by last Friday. In past elections, newspapers carried the poll-by-poll results two days after the vote, if not the very next day. These were understood to be unofficial results. Minor adjustments inevitably followed before the final, official results were published in a booklet. But the preliminary totals have always been public information. Elections Nova Scotia obviously has the numbers. Why is it withholding them? I suspect we will hear...

[caption id="attachment_11400" align="alignleft" width="125"] McGuire[/caption] [caption id="attachment_11401" align="alignright" width="125"] Cannon[/caption] In the moral panic that arose in response to Tom Flanagan's comments on child pornography last week, most of those who rushed to join the lynch mob were guilty of self-righteousness abetted by misrepresentation. CBC New executive Jennifer McGuire and University of Calgary President Elizabeth Cannon, however, deserve special mention for their failure to uphold the responsibility their instituions have for protecting controversial speech. Both had a duty to uphold a core principle of their organizations, and they weren't up to the task....

Two reader responses to the angry rant from a utility customer who objected to receiving generic holiday greetings at Christmastime. Jeffrey Shallit writes: This guy represents everything that is bad about Christian North America. He doesn't understand freedom of religion; he feels so threatened by non-Christians he wants to resort to violence; and he assumes everyone who is Canadian is necessarily Christian (forget about all those damned, Jews, I suppose, not to mention native Canadians who might follow traditional native religions). Although not Jewish myself, I grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia that was predominantly Jewish. Many lost members of their family...

The much anticipated fireworks display over Halifax proved an austere celebration. They were fun while they lasted, about 12 minutes, and the cheerful, appreciative, harbourside crowd was a delight. This cheerfulness, a certain joie de vivre, has a leavening effect on patriotism, an emotion that, left unchecked, can be unpleasant and dangerous. In that spirit, I point out that, over the last 24 hours, we've had the Canadian Women's Soccer Team don Tory blue jerseys for their pre-Canada Day bout with the Yanks, and the managing editor of the National Post tweeted his outrage that the Globe and Mail occasionally publishes op-ed pieces by...

An American friend writes: I just call to your attention the fact that in all the posts about Superintendent Pynch-Worthylake, none of you polite Canadians commented on her name. I''m pretty sure she was Dean of Discipline at Hogwarts before coming to NS. Tsk, tsk. [Update] Reader Bev Brett replies: I find it interesting that not stooping to namecalling is considered "polite." Obviously the people who wanted their points in the debate to be considered valid held back. Rather than "polite," I would call it "informed discussion." If anyone makes fun of someone's name during a serious debate, I automatically dismiss the argument. ...