Monday, January 14, 2008

Notes From The Fringe.

In the past I've mentioned the Church of the Ecumenical Redemption on this blog in regards to the case of Karen Ponto, who was involved in a local child custody case. Today's issue of the Saskatoon Star Phoenix has a long article on tax dodgers in Saskatchewan, which includes the Church of the Ecumenical Redemption. Their arguments are elaborate, but tend to make little sense to anyone, including I suspect some of those who cite them. They also try and use such arguments to avoid other government fees besides income tax, such as Church of the Ecumenical Redemption members who tried to claim they had no legal need for vehicle licenses and registration while fulfilling "ministerial" duties, which seems to essentially be anything they might be doing. Ultimately these folks are wasting the time of the legal system and putting themselves into even deeper trouble than they already are in. More importantly it can be argued they are hypocrites, taking advantage of the services provided through taxes, such as road and sewer construction, without wanting to actually pay for them. No one would legitimately suggest that you could take advantage of commercial services without actually paying for them, yet once it's government doing something suddenly you find people who think non-payment is perfectly all right.

I've often wondered what it must be like to be the mail screener for something like a TV station given that you likely get all sorts of weird stuff coming in, such as complaints from people like the above who are upset you don't present their oddball theory on your newscasts. The same thing also applies to websites, as Canwest News Service found in access to information documents regarding the Government of Canada website. The "Contact Us" link on the website not only generates the expected bouquets and brickbats about the site itself, but submissions from people with all sorts of interesting ideas. For example one writer claimed that JFK is alive and well and about to reveal himself as the Antichrist. Another claimed the Canadian Security Intelligence Service is showering him or her with infrasonic beams 24 hours a day that are making them ill. On the other hand some correspondance was just naive, such as requests for jobs as doctors or with the Cirque du Soleil. Unfortunately the folks at that link can't help you get those jobs. On the other hand they might be able to get you a job as an e-mail screener for the Canadian Government website.

The rise of e-mail has made it easier for those with odd beliefs to reach the government and media. Whereas before you had to be able to scrape together the money for writing paper, an envelope, and a stamp now you can contact them for free if you have access to a free public Internet terminal as are found in many libraries. And you can send your conspiracy theory or rant about how licensing cats will bring back the bubonic plague out a lot more frequently.

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