Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The r-word is hate speech in EVERY case

I'm really frustrated that so many people are okay with the word "Retarded," which its defenders so ironically guard tightly as if it belongs to them (It doesn't). A word that those awful PC people are trying to take away from them.

It's common that r-proponents troll those who condemn the word, by calling them "retarded," for example. You know, because that is so clever and rubbing perceived discrimination in someone's face is hilarious and proves that you are actually tolerant and logical.

Some r-users become defensive when criticized, merely because they understand the personal ramifications of an unjust negative perception and seek to avoid them. Another irony alert. What do you think the disability community and their allies are trying to do? Do you think your voice counts more? Do you think you are the one being oppressed because people are challenging you?

Monday, January 19, 2015

Protect the bees from pesticides in Ontario!

Bee on aster - nutmeg 66 / Flickr Creative Commons
I've been reading about the decline of bee populations for a while and it really alarms me because *about 75 per cent of our food requires bee pollination.

My province, Ontario, is planning to take steps to restrict the use of neonicotinoids, the pesticides that have been linked to mass bee deaths, but we're not out of the woods yet. 

I decided to write an email.

Subject: Protect the bees. Limit the use of neonics
To: The Honourable Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
CC: Gord Miller, Environmental Commissioner of Ontario (Independent watchdog)

Dear Minister Leal,

I was relieved to read that the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs is set to limit the use of neonicotinoid pesticides, which have been linked to mass bee deaths and thus pose a significant risk to our bee-dependent agriculture. I applaud the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario's recommendations that Ontario take action

It is my understanding that the pesticide industry and agriculture lobbyists can have a high influence on public opinion and government policy. Like many other Ontarians, I am concerned about the health and safety of our food system, so I am writing to you to ask you to resist a pesticide lobby. 

Please make Ontario a North American leader in bee protection by limiting or even banning neonicotinoids. I have posted this letter to my blog and I will do the same for any responses.


Ashley Ashbee
Communications Professional | Blogger | Advocate

Learn more about the Ontario Government's plans and research about the impact of neonicotinoids.

*From the David Suzuki Foundation. Join the campaign!
Send your own message through Sum of Us

UPDATE: The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs sent me a response letter from Minister Leal on his behalf. He explained that he understood and shared my concerns, detailed the risks of neonicotinoids and described the provincial government's proposal for a Pollinator Action Plan. Please let me know if you require a transcription to read it.

Friday, September 12, 2014

In the News

In jest, a high school student petitioned his school to use a portrait of him with his cat as his school portrait in the yearbook. The school rejected the petition, stating that the photo could be included in another section. Too bad. He would have had more luck if he had opted for something like this.

Bathroom Selfie
My obligatory washroom selfie

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Ice Bucket Challenge Criticism

We know that fun, gimmicky, irrelevant campaigns like the ice bucket challenge for
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) have a greater capacity to go viral than perhaps something more issue-based. I'm sure that's why many people participate. If you can have fun and do some good at the same time, why not?

In general, I don't object to a campaign being fun and of course, I am pleased to see so much money is being raised for ALS. It's a terrible brain disease that gradually paralyzes people who have it and then kills them.

But I am offended and disappointed (but not surprised) that, despite the campaign's incredible popularity, public discussion about ALS is almost totally absent, except in news coverage, though even that, I've noticed, has often been superficial. But the criticism has not been.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Robin Williams' suicide and depression myths

Robin Williams committed suicide a few days ago and it still feels surreal. I usually don't feel celebrity deaths personally and I seldom write about pop culture in this blog, but this is an exception.

I think that the collective heartbreak over Robin Williams' death speaks to his power. I can't remember who said it, but the person said that his loss is felt strongly because so many people feel like Robin is their favourite uncle. His humour and warmth made him so relatable. Honestly, part of the reason I'm so affected by his death is because I've realized I'll never get a bear hug from Robin Williams. We'll never crack a joke together.