Arguments Made: Taiwan court hears arguments on same sex marriage

On March 24, Taiwan’s constitutional court heard arguments for and against equal marriage in the country.  The judges are currently debating the case but there is no fixed time for rendering a decision.  Some have speculated that Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen is letting the courts to decide rather than trying to push legislation through.  Reasons range from lack of supporting votes to pass the law, a race against time before the next term of elections, or (unlikely) an unwillingness to force it through and let the courts face the backlash.

I have not heard news of judgement from the courts yet, but the arguments for equal marriage have been compelling and emotional, while arguments against have been the usual retreaded lies – “kids are in danger”, “freedom of religion to persecute”, “equal marriage will force heterosexuals to participate”.  I have a good feeling the court will rule in favour of equal marriage.

Taiwan constitutional court hears debate on same-sex marriage

Taipei, March 24 (CNA) Taiwan’s Constitutional Court on Friday heard arguments over whether the country’s marriage law is unconstitutional because it does not legally recognize same-sex marriages.

Fourteen grand justices heard the debate, which focused on whether Taiwan’s Civil Code should allow same-sex marriage and if not, whether that violates articles under the Constitution of the Republic of China pertaining to equality and marriage freedom.

It also addressed whether setting up a separate system, such as a same-sex partnership system, instead of treating same-sex couples the same as heterosexual couples under the current law, violates the Constitution.

“I have waited for this day for 41 years, six months and 24 days,” gay rights activist Chi Chia-wei, who is one of the petitioners requesting the constitutional interpretation, told the court.

Oh, Shoot: American learns Taiwan has no right to possess guns

I say an American has no right to possess guns, because in Taiwan, her US police badge doesn’t mean squat.  Here, she’s under arrest for the crime of illegally importing a firearm.

I’m laughing my head off.  Meanwhile, the gun fetishists here are whining about “freedumb” and the “right to arm bears”.

My response to them has been, if you don’t like Taiwan’s gun laws, go home.  And if you think Taiwan is less free and democratic than the US, well….

U.S. police officer discovers pistol in bag on arrival in Taiwan

TAIPEI, Taiwan — A policewoman from California has been stranded in Taiwan since she reported that she had inadvertently brought a firearm and some ammunition in her bag on a flight that landed at Taoyuan International Airport on Thursday, authorities said.

The Aviation Police Bureau said the American police officer reported the matter to members of the airport’s ground staff after discovering the handgun and six rounds of ammunition in her carry-on bag.

The policewoman, identified as Nell Grant, handed over the pistol and ammunition and showed her badge as proof of her identity as a member of the California State Police, the authorities said.

How incompetent is she to put a gun in her bag – or not remove it – before travelling?  If you don’t know where your gun is, you shouldn’t have one. And how incompetent is the US’s “homeland security” if she could get through airport security and get on an airplane with a weapon?

I hope she gets the maximum sentence, two years in prison, and make an example of her the way they do with drug dealers.  Unfortunately, it’s more likely politicians will appease Washington and let her go.  I just hope they destroy the gun.

Wheels Turn: Bicycles, the past and future of transportation

March 2017 marked the 200th anniversary of the Velocipede (aka Dandy Horse), the first bicycle.  While it was a simple construction (two wheels with a connecting bar to sit on and push the ground with your feet), it was the first non-motorized transport that didn’t involve animals.

Bicycles played a huge role in the emancipation of women, allowing them to wear more functional clothing.  Bicycles allowed women to travel, but Victorian era clothing would be impossible on a bicycle.  Shorter skirts and pants for women were necessary and became socially acceptable clothing in the 20th century.

One hundred years ago, Alice Hawkins, a suffragette, cycled around Leicester promoting the women’s rights movement, causing outrage by being one of the first ladies to wear pantaloons in the city. During the fight to win the vote the bicycle became not only a tool but also a symbol for the emancipation of women.

The American civil rights leader, Susan B Anthony, wrote in 1896:

“I think [the bicycle] has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world. I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a bike. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammelled womanhood.”

Bicycles have also played a huge part in warfare.  Forget the Swiss, think Britain, Nazi Germany, Japan (some called it “bicycle blitzkrieg”), Vietnam in its defence of the country, and the US during its illegal invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.  They have long been used as fast transport for ground troops, messengers, and silent assaults upon enemy positions.

On October 13, 1967, Jack Salisbury, a New York Times reporter, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, saying, I literally believe that without bikes theyd have to get out of the war. He had seen first hand in North Vietnam how both the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese Army relied upon the bicycle to supply their troops. Senator Fulbright responded, Why dont we concentrate on bombing their bicycles instead of the bridges? Does the Pentagon know about this? According to reports, the room erupted in laughter at the idea of American bombers hunting bicycles.

US politicians may have been laughing, but the generals weren’t.  They knew.

It wasn’t just in the 20th century.  In the late 19th century, the US’s 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps performed a 1900 mile test to prove the viability of the bicycle for troop movement in warfare.  This test also played a role in acceptance of black soldiers in the US military.

In June of 1897, the all-black company of the 25th Mobile Infantry, under command of a white lieutenant and accompanied by a medic and a journalist, embarked on a journey across America’s heartland — from Fort Missoula, Montana, to St. Louis, Missouri — to “test most thoroughly the bicycle as a means of transportation for troops.”

Their trek would span 41 days and 1,900 miles and pit the men against sandhills, the Rocky Mountains, rain, snow, poison, and more. Decades before Dr. King had his famous dream, these men were sweating together, bleeding together, and biking together as a team.

Their trip proved two truths that we should hold self-evident today: 1) All men are created equal; 2) All men are nowhere near as tough as they were in 1897.

Two-Wheeled Warriors – A Brief History of Bicycles on the Battlefield

Bicycles are the transportation of the future, not the past.  Environmental issues are forcing cities and countries to seriously rethink personal automotive transportation and put the focus on mass transit.  The “last mile problem” (i.e. not everyone lives or works next to transit) is why the car mentality persists.  But with problems like pollution and climate change, rail becoming more accomodating to bicycles, cities building more bike lanes, and folding bicycles becoming more reliable and cheaper, the days of the car may be numbered.

Electric bicycles are as viable as electric cars.  As battery power storage improves and batteries shrink in size, why move a one ton car when you can move a 30kg bicycle with a far smaller battery?  For those with limited endurance or physical mobility but can still walk, an electric bicycle is more than sufficient for travelling locally without reliance on vehicles or public transit.  Electric bicycles offer speed and distance (up to 24kmh and ranges up to 50km) without requiring licenses or registration. For those who lose (or should lose) their licenses due to an inability to drive safely anymore, it is a viable alternative transporation.

There is a lot of snobbery towards bicycles and cyclists, plenty of unthinking people with anti-bicycle attitudes who should never be allowed to drive.   The reality is, bicycles aren’t “outdated technology”, they are not a “hindrance to traffic”.  Bicycles are the most efficient mode of transportation in terms of power to distance travelled.  They aren’t just here to stay, they are on the rise.

And if you still don’t agree or like bicycles, I say on yer bike.

In Reply: Just so I’m not guilty of burying a comment

Giliell tried to post a comment the other day which I didn’t allow because it didn’t meet rules I had set out for comments.  Given the delay, allowing it and replying now might look like I’m burying it or preventing disagreement.


Well, I’ll try…I think you’Re argument here is faulty, because you are part of society as well.

I never said I wasn’t part of society, though I don’t know where you get the notion that a childfree home is akin to a hermitage.  Not having kids is no more “opting out of society” than not owning a car, a house, having a pet or being an atheist.  Unless you are a St. Augustus fan (“Any woman who does not give birth to as many children as she is capable is guilty of murder.”), there is no obligation to have children.

You know, I completely support people’s choice to be childfree. I am actually pro abortion because I think that whenever you’re not sure whether you should have a child or not you should go for “not”, but you’re making many faulty arguments here that reinforce prejudices against parenthood, especially motherhood. They are also very close to the faulty and insulting arguments you rightfully complain about when they’re coming from parents and society at large..

No, you are not contributing more to society because you don’t get tax breaks or have children who go to school. First of all, your parents received tax breaks and you went to school as well, so this is in a way paying it forward.

So, by not making use of public schools I pay tax into, I’m taking out more than I put in?  My logic is faulty?  By your argument, you are “taking out more” and misusing public funds by never having to call the fire department that you pay taxes toward.

Secondly, once you retire you will need to rely on younger people still producing things and eventually taking care of you. Those people don’t have to be your children and frankly, I’m not planning to take care of a set of parents and parents in law myself because hey, I got a life, too, but that’s the nice thing about living in a society: somebody does. But that somebody was gestated, born, fed and raised by somebody and while it’s not endless misery and horrors, it’s work. It’s necessary work to keep a society running.

If that were true, why are there people abandoned by their children, put into taxpayer funded nursing homes?  Even those whose children do pay, many never visit, abanoning elders except to visit on Sundays.  If you are arguing that children must take care of elders, does that mean your parents (or possibly grandparents) live with you the way most families used to and still do in most Asian and African countries?

Contrary to what you are claiming, some people do pay for their own elderly care, not their children or taxpayers.  My parents saved for retirement and paid for their own.

It’S patriarchal and completely anti-feminist to claim that raising children is not “contributing to society”, echoing the old arguments that care work isn’t really work, which also contributes to the low wages in jobs that are considered care work and that are mostly done by women. It further reinforces stereotypes that lead to discrimination against all for the potential of having children, regardless of whether they are actually fertile or plan to have any and especially to the discrimination of women who have children.

This violates rule number 5: No misrepresentation of others’ words.  I never said any such thing, nor does advocating the right of individual choice critique the whole of society.  I’m not deleting it to show it as an example.

What is patriarchical is saying all women must have children.

No, I don’t resent that you don’t have to do the work and pay the money and occasionally break down crying. Those are aspects of parenting. They’re not the only ones, but I’m not trying to convince you because I really agree with you that people should think carefully before they choose to reproduce (I also acknowledge that many women don’t get the choice).

Out of necessity, I added rule number 6: No personal attacks, rather than an all emcompassing rule number 1.  You can make your point without them.  I’ve seen you do better.

But they are not the aspects of parenting that are bad. What really gets you is doing this is a society where the importance of the job I’m doing is dismissed, devalued and I am portrayed as somebody who is unjustly receiving benefits from people who claim they don’t benefit from what I and other parents are doing.

Again, rule number 6.

What is really draining is that I have to be near perfect in my job because people not only believe that I shouldn’t get any accommodations, but also interpret anything lass than 150% as me not “putting in the work” because I’m too busy taking care of my family.

Not germane to the discussion, so no answer is needed.

The point of discussing the Childfree life is to end a stigma against it, a stigma that atheists and LGBTQIA people face.  You have not made any relevant arguments showing that individual choice causes harm to society.

And you left out a statement you made in your original attempt to post, one included when I emailed your original post back so you could edit it.  You claimed:

You’re not automatically more environmentally friendly because you don’t have children.

Mindbogglingly misinformed and wrong.  How does fewer people living increase the use of resources?  It doesn’t.

Not producing children (and thus no grandchildren) means there will be roughly five fewer human beings on the planet by 2050.  No amount of “going green” will make up for the fact that there are fewer people consuming food, water, fossil fuels and other natural resources, fewer people creating pollution and waste.

Post-Secondary Segregated: I question Trump’s “commitment” to HBCUs

Annoying Orange says funding of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) is a “priority”.  Why?  So that black students can stop going to “white” universities?

Call me untrusting, but with Petty Cash giving this dictum, all I hear is “Go to Grambling.  You’re not welcome at Harvard.”  It looks more like post-secondary segregation than post-secondary education.

Trump signs executive order on black colleges

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday aimed at signaling his commitment to historically black colleges and universities, saying that those schools will be “an absolute priority for this White House.”

HBCU presidents are hoping Congress will bolster Trump’s actions to strengthen the schools with dramatically increased funding in the upcoming federal budget. They are calling for $25 billion for infrastructure, college readiness, financial aid and other priorities. Under President Barack Obama’s administration, historically black colleges and universities received $4 billion over seven years.


While some HBCU presidents in attendance are proceeding with cautious optimism, some African-Americans are wary of the administration’s intentions — concerns underscored by DeVos’ seemingly tone-deaf comments Monday praising HBCUs as “pioneers” in school choice that gave black students more options to pursue higher education.

As It Happens: I’m not the only one talking about this

The day after I write about the right to be Childfree and valid reasons for choosing to be, news of a study shows the same “moral outrage” against Childfree people that atheists and LGBTQIA people have endured before.

IUPUI study finds participants feel moral outrage toward those who decide to not have children

Feb. 28, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS — Data representing individuals from across the United States indicates that U.S. adults are increasingly delaying the decision to have children or forgoing parenthood entirely. Yet evidence suggests that voluntarily child-free people are stigmatized for this decision, according to a study published in the March 2017 edition of Sex Roles: A Journal of Research.

Leslie Ashburn-Nardo, an associate professor of psychology at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, recently investigated this bias against those who choose to not have children.

“What’s remarkable about our findings is the moral outrage participants reported feeling toward a stranger who decided to not have children,” Ashburn-Nardo said. “Our data suggests that not having children is seen not only as atypical, or surprising, but also as morally wrong.”

The findings are consistent with other studies of backlash against people who violate social roles and other stereotypic expectations. When people violate their expected roles, they suffer social sanctions. Given that more and more people in the U.S. are choosing to not have children, this work has far-reaching implications.

Ashburn-Nardo believes these findings offer the first known empirical evidence that parenthood is seen as a moral imperative.

Except that it’s not a “moral imperative”.  It’s an ability that all people are capable of but choose not to partake in. It is no more “immoral” to not have children than to not eat meat or not believe in mythological beings. And it does not harm or impede those who want to partake in those things.

Being Childfree is an atheist issue.

Self Determined: Childfree is a valid choice

Being Childfree is the choice to never reproduce, to never have children.  Childfree people are capable of reproducing, but make the conscious decision never to have any.  (This does not automatically include those who are involuntarily infertile or incapable of having children, though it can.)  It is not “selfish”, and it is not something one chooses without a great deal of thought.  Environmentally, choosing not to have a “mini me” is the most unselfish choice of all. [Read more…]

Climate Changes: This year it’s a double whammy

Taiwan’s government weather bureau have issued two warnings in the last week, both bad news and a sign of how climate change exists, despite denials by the ignorant, incompetent and inane (e.g. Annoying Orange and his cast of clowns).

The first is water rationing in certain provinces across the island.  Last fall there were very few typhoons, so the reservoirs were not filled as they usually are (we don’t get pack snowfall here except on one mountain).  Because of this, water rationing has been declared in some counties and townships, the supply cut off during certain hours of the day or night.

Fortunately, the government is reacting much quicker this year than it did in 2015. That year, most reservoirs were below 50% capacity, one as low as 19%.  Right now, the lowest is 55%, and there has been almost a week of rain across the island.  Typhoons have started coming in the spring during recent years (something unheard of in Taiwan’s history) which should alleviate the problem.

The second is cold weather warnings.  In January 2016, nearly all of Taiwan hit low temperatures of 3°C to 9°C for about two weeks.  These temperatures came for several days accompanied by winds, making them feel even colder.  Taiwan homes are constructed to survive earthquakes and typhoons, they’re not insulated for the cold, so nearly a hundred people died in their homes.  It was so cold that certain areas of Taiwan experienced light snowfall or (where I lived) light hail.  I hadn’t seen snow in eleven years until that point. (Normally in January, waiguoren like myself wear t-shirts and shorts outside, but even we started wearing coats.)

This year, however, colder temperature (5°C to 12°C) have continued from early January until now, the end of February.  By now, Taipei should be in the low 20s°C, but are only in the high teens.  While it’s not lethal this time and people are prepared, it’s still not normal.  And while it may not be cold enough to kill plants, it’s definitely going to affect the planting and harvest of crops.  Food shortages and higher prices are a possibility.

Yongyuan bù huì wàngjì: The 228 Incident

February 28 marks the seventieth anniversary of the “228 Incident”, otherwise known as the White Terror.  On February 27, 1947, a woman selling unlicensed cigarettes was beaten by police and a bystander was shot and killed without reason.  This led to protests by Taiwanese people against the government’s actions.

In response, the dictator president Chiang Kai-Shek (still based in China at the time) ordered the military to put down the protests and arrest leaders.  Estimates of the number murdered by the government range from 18,000 to 28,000 people.  Some are now calling for removal of Chiang’s name from the memorial hall that bears his name, and that a song about him no longer be played at public events.  There are yet no calls for Chiang’s face to be removed from the $1 and $5 coins or the $200 note (US$1 = NT$30.68, as I write).

The claim by Chiang and the KMT at the time was the uprising “impeded the movement towards democracy”.  Very unlikely.  It was the Taiwan public’s anger which brought democracy to the country faster.

“Yongyuan bù huì wàngjì” is google’s translation of “never forget”.

Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall to face ‘transitional justice’

Culture Minister Cheng Li-chiun on Saturday announced a series of measures to push for transitional justice, including transforming the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, as Taiwan prepares to mark the 70th anniversary of the 228 Incident.

Cheng said the previous practice of playing a song in memory of the late president at the opening and closing of the hall was stopped on Feb. 23.

The ministry also stopped the sale of commodities such as figurines and stationery associated with the authoritarian ruler on Feb. 10.


Chiang also had thousands of Taiwanese arrested or killed for political reasons during the “White Terror” era in the decades after he took power in Taiwan in 1949, when the KMT fell to defeat in China’s civil war and retreated to the island.

Cheng argued that the hall was built during a period of authoritarian rule to commemorate an authoritarian ruler and that it needed to be transformed in the pursuit of historical truths.

From the 228 Memorial Foundation:

At the end of World War II in 1945, the government of the Republic of China assigned Chen Yi, who knew little about Taiwan, as the island’s governor-general. Chen brought into Taiwan the Chinese style of hegemony and “rule by man” which resulted in odious policies and discrimination against the local people, not to mention poor ethical behavior by the officials in his administration, a worsening economy, inflation, and surging unemployment. All of these stoked the general public’s discontent with the government.

On Feb. 27, 1947, government agents ignited the public’s anger when they accidentally shot and killed an innocent passerby while beating a female vendor who was peddling unlicensed cigarettes. Many people took to the streets the next day, demanding that the government hand over the agents who were responsible for the shooting and beating. The protesters were shot by law enforcement officials, and casualties were reported. The massacre triggered an islandwide revolt. In order to end the dispute, local leaders formed a settlement committee and called for reform.

Chen Yi, who deemed these leaders to be a bunch of bandits and mobsters, called in troops from mainland China to put down the revolt. This move took a heavy toll on the local people’s lives and property in the ensuing months and came to be known as the 228 Massacre. The government’s follow-up purge operation in the rural areas, and its employment of a “white terror” policy to strengthen the late President Chiang Kai-shek’s authoritarian regime undermined social harmony and impeded the country’s movement toward democracy.

Paradise Found: Isla Formosa

Ah, home sweet home.  And I do mean home, as I’m in the process of applying for permanent residency.  If only Taiwan could shut out the rest of the world, or make the rest of the world think and behave the same way as people here.

Marriage equality hasn’t passed yet, but the ruling DPP is gradually gathering support for passage of the law, which will likely be voted on in 2017, well before the 2018 elections.

Taiwan on verge of becoming first Asian country to allow same-sex marriage

Taiwan is on the verge of becoming the first Asian country to legalise same-sex marriage, according to the politician who tabled the new law.

A legislative committee approved an amendment to the civil code on 26 December, beginning a process that is expected to last until the middle of the year.

“We’re almost close to passing it,” Yu Mei-nu, the politician who introduced the marriage equality bill, told digital news company Global Post.

Another reason I’m glad to be here is quality of life.  There are work opportunities, equality and career opportunities for women, a safe country, relatively clean environment, low levels of violent crime, etc.  The biggest annoyance I’ve had was being verbally and physically harassed by an transphobic jerk the other day (the first time I’ve experienced that), and he was a foreigner.

Taiwan has also just been named the best place in the world for expatriates to live based on a variety of factors (work, education, health care, etc.) out of the top 21 countries. The list includes countries you expect – some of the Benelux, Nordic and Euro Union countries plus Australia, New Zealand and several Asian countries (Japan, South Korea, and Singapore).

Noticeably absent is the US, and that was before Petty Cash was elected.  The only other countries ranked as worth living in within North and South America are Costa Rica and Ecuador, according to 14,000 expatriates from around the world.

The top 21 countries for quality of life have been ranked

The countries with the best quality of life in the world have a good work-life balance, access to quality healthcare, education, and infrastructure, as well as cost of living and career opportunities. Great weather also helps.

In a new survey by InterNations, the world’s largest network for people who live and work abroad, the company asked 14,300 expats, representing 174 nationalities and living in 191 countries or territories, to rate 43 different aspects of life abroad on a scale of 1-7.

The top 21 are in order:

  1. Taiwan
  2. Austria
  3. Japan
  4. Spain
  5. Costa Rica
  6. Malta
  7. Czech Republic (a/k/a Czechia)
  8. Singapore
  9. Germany
  10. Switzerland
  11. South Korea
  12. Canada
  13. New Zealand
  14. Portugal
  15. France
  16. Australia
  17. Luxembourg
  18. Ecuador
  19. Finland
  20. Hungary
  21. Denmark

World Leader Pretends: The cut-out president

We are only a week in to the unelected US Resident’s sole term in office (because there won’t be a second), and people are justifiably frightened and appalled by dictums from the dictator, worried that this will continue for four years. I don’t believe the circus clown Petty Cash is the one we should be worried about when there is something far worse.

If a US president leaves office, the vice president is promoted to the position.  If the president leaves with less than two years remaining, then the vice president can still run for two full terms as president.  I suspect Petty Cash is simply there to fill the seat for two years.  His dictums are merely a distraction from the real concern, the power hehind the throne.  Pence is the one making the policies that will stick.

As many are well aware, there are a large number of buildings with the name “Trump” on the, but Petty Cash does not actually own them.  He is temporarily affiliated with a business at the beginning, but really only licenses his name.  He continues to profit from them after he leaves.

I am beginning to suspect the same is true of him as the unelected Resident.  He gives the false front of “being an outsider” while in reality is a puppet of those even wealthier than he is.  These early atrocities are naught more than cutting off a cat’s tail, make the public ignore the more serious things going on behind closed doors.  I suspect he is simply a cut out and will quit (I wouldn’t call it resigning) sometime in 2019, which would allow Pence to run for two full terms until 2028 – three terms in terms of the actual power he wields.

My Career Careered: How I became an ESL teacher

This is the first in a short series.  I plan to write more, including telling those interested how to get started in my field of work.

I haven’t spoken of it before (not that anybody asked), but I work teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) and have done this for more than fifteen years.  Anyone who has taught ESL will have eyes wide open at that number because they know most people last just one year, very few last two, and the percent who last five is tiny.  Of the hundreds of expatriates I know or know of, less than a score have been abroad for a decade or more.

How did I get started?

Back in 2000, I was underemployed and living paycheque to paycheque at a wretched “rent to own” company.  My former college (which will not be named) has a student placement office where current and former students can check job boards.  Many were from businesses seeking to recruit recent graduates, so there were often jobs not offered elsewhere.

I didn’t get offers for any of those.  What I did get, though, was a copy of “Teach English in Korea!”, a posting from a recruiting company.  I had previously applied for teaching jobs in Japan but was rejected because I didn’t meet the Japanese government’s required qualifications. (“Anata wa nihongo o hanashimasu ka?”).  I did, however, meet the South Korean government’s requirements.  I figured, “What the hell, it’s a new experience and better than where you are,” so I applied.  (Thanks, Kris.)

The interview went well and the confirmed hiring me a day later, though I didn’t realize at the time that being a warm bodied native speaker with a white face was enough.  (The first time in my life I began to understand privilege.)  Within six weeks I had gone from working a dead end job to a passport, plane ticket and my life in two suitcases.  The yard sale to sell off everything helped a lot both in load and money.

The next two months were a whirlwind, flying for the first time in my life (I’m still a white knuckle flyer), training, and most shockingly, living in a foreign country where I didn’t know a word of the local language.  Thankfully, the Korean hangeul script is dead easy to learn and read.

I’m going to leave it there for the moment because the next point would be another thousand words: What is it like to teach ESL?  I’ll save that for another day, preferably tomorrow.

Noise Annoys: Chinese New Year in Taiwan

Ah yes, Chinese New Year…one of (thankfully) only three times of the year that religion in Taiwan becomes highly annoying.  However it doesn’t come in the form of proselytizing; rather, it’s the fireworks going off at all hours without warning.

It wouldn’t be so bad if it were limitations on it.  The firework displays organized by federal and local governments happen in specific places and at specific times (for example, at Taipei 101 in Taipei at midnight this past Saturday, six kilometres from my home as the crow flies).  I could plan to either stay home inside solid walls or leave town because I know in advance.

The real annoyance is the noise polluters, the inconsiderate scum who light firecrackers indiscriminately at all hours, in back alleys and on streets, and up to two weeks before and after the holiday in question. Fireworks give me headaches comparable to migraines and they don’t go away for days.

“Culture” does not justify using noise as a weapon nor being inconsiderate to others.  There need to be legal restrictions on when and where fireworks are used for the same reason that many on FtB have spoken about church bells.  Not just in Taiwan at CNY, but anywhere and on any holiday.

The missive, “The right to swing a fist ends at another person’s nose,” applies to physical violence, but the same should be true of audible violence: The right to make loud noise ends at another person’s ear drums.