Friday, July 30, 2010

Thoughts and Ideas, July 29th, 2010, from the Toronto People's Assembly on Climate Justice Organizing Circle

Brainstorming some thoughts on Thursday afternoon before the People's Assembly organizing meeting, I jotted down this brief vision and definition: "A permanent popular space powered by consensus and participatory practices, as a channel of ongoing dialogue on solidarity and movement building."

Observations from the first People's Assembly of June 23rd. Observations, comments, positives and negatives, and things we could change or keep the same varied, but in general the group agreed that for our first effort the turnout and product was very positive, and the assembly a success. As a general analysis I observed that since it was our first assembly, it is difficult to say what we need to change and what we need to keep the same. As we come together the process will create itself.

The first interesting discussion of substance of the evening was one on consensus. The circle put a variety of similar definitions on the table, and roughly what emerged in agreement was this. I wrote down "Stress consensus, while telling people not to feel inhibited with using blocks, with blocks as an active and important part of the process, to lead to more dialogue, agreed upon changes, and a collective resolution of the issues. And, a 75% majority vote as a very last resort if the group can really not move forward." Some synonyms of consensus are unity, harmony, and unison. We must always keep this at the core of every consensus process.

Personally, my politics, and my instincts tell me that I would have liked to go straight into our second Assembly next time, but I realize, and also with the discussion from last night, that we need a few more organizing meetings before moving ahead to the next big show.

I talked about either doing one more, or more organizing meetings to iron out the format and functioning of the assembly, or going straight into the second Assembly next time. I also floated the idea of doing an assembly/organizing meeting, which would be a larger organizing meeting much like the one we had last night, only with more people involved to open up the process horizontally, and to make the organizing and planning phase as inclusive as possible. Again, the organizing phase should be only to iron out and decide on the format of the assembly, and on logistics to make the next Assembly happen. Specifics and strategy are for the Assembly to decide, not the organizing team.

I realize the idea of a larger assemblyesque organizing meeting, or an organizing Assembly to formulate the format of the Second official Assembly was confusing to some. I realize that and apologize for that, I know it is an unusual hybrid concept, but that is essentially what last night's July 29th meeting was intended to be, as emails for participation were sent out before the meeting to all 180 people who signed up for the mailing list at the first People's Assembly on June 23rd. And, that is essentially also what was decided at the end of last night's meeting, that we scheduled another organizing meeting for two weeks from now, with invitations to be sent out for more people to participate, to grow the organizing core that has come together. So we've decided on another organizing meeting scheduled for two weeks from now to continue las night's discussion, and I am in complete agreement and harmony with that, I just wanted to try to clarify on this ambiguous issue that emerged last night.

The reason why I raised the question of exactly what our next move should be in the organizing/construction process, is because I worried that more organizing might not be as horizontal and inclusive as we want it to be. But, I realize and acknowledge with everybody that we are not ready to go straight into a second Assembly. I wasn't in favour of either way, I just wanted to put the question out there for the group to create debate, which it did.

In my view, our People's Assembly needs to be a permanent space, and a regular reoccurring bimonthly gathering, and I specify bimonthly as in every two months, because apparently there is some ambiguity around this terminology, so, once every two months. It is essential to hold the Assembly regularly because we want to retain momentum, we want to keep the new faces committed, and the public engaged. And, an important point to outline, something a companera pointed out to me which I had overlooked, is that the Assembly can be set to convene on a regular schedule but not limited to that. We do not want to place any limitations or restrictions on the Assembly, it is an entity of the people for the people, a mechanism or a vehicle for communication and dialogue that can be called upon by anyone, at anytime, whenever needed.

In terms of timing and deadlines for the Second Assembly, many people were floating around October or even November as a possible date, but perhaps a late September target would be more vigilant. There are two reasons why our next Assembly needs to happen as fast as reasonably possible, well organized and promoted of course, but sooner rather than later. First, because it appeals to so many different constituencies, Climate Justice at the moment is a unifying force, and an asset for movement building. In Toronto, the first report back from Cochabamba, on May 7th of this year, featuring several summit participants, attracted a lot of unexpected attention, drawing in over 250 people. Then on june 23rd of course was our first People's Assembly on Climate Justice which was very successful and also produced a turnout of around 250 people. There was very positive energy coming out of the Assembly. So in general, Climate Justice in this city is currently building on momentum. Second, the reaction to the G20 in Toronto has presented us with a golden opportunity. The G20 invasion affected not only activists and protesters, but impacted people from almost all walks of life. The projection of repression was manifest all over the downtown core and certain other areas, and the absurdity produced many self-declared converts to the cause. And, with Stephen Harper and the Consevatives' track record on environmental issues, this was obviously good news for the Climate Justice Movement in Toronto. Throw the Toxic Tour into the mix, which was CJ's very creative and well orchestrated cross-pollination, and it almost seems like G20 week and the Climate Justice Movement were a match made in heaven. At the moment we have momentum and new faces on our side, we should not take that opportunity for granted.

Different Visions, Possibilities, and Possible Formats for the People's Assembly:

Should we operate with working groups, or with some other structure as a format for the Assembly? Or a combination of?

In terms of the working groups, we will have to decide whether a smaller or greater number of groups will be appropriate, effective, and efficient for our process in Toronto. In Cochabamba (The World People's Summit on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth) there were 17 different working groups. That proved to have some pros and some cons. On the one hand, it allowed for a lot of creativity and specifics on particular topics, projects, and issues. On the other hand there was a lot of cross-over of themes amongst the different working groups, and a lot of duplication and repetition in the declarations. I think that probably for our Toronto Assembly, for a smaller group, we will need to stick with somewhere between 5 and 10 working groups, if working groups are the format we choose.

Is the People's Assembly in Toronto a product of a spontaneous, vacuum situation? Or is it a planned and orchestrated effort? Probably a little bit of both.

At least in small part, the decision to build a People's Assembly in Toronto was probably an organic response to something the CJEJ community felt was needed. At the moment Climate Justice has a broad and pertinent appeal that spans internationally over most spectrums of the left, it is the 'hot' issue, if you will. And, in Canada, we have the TSX where more than 70% of global mining capital is headquartered, we have the Tar Sands, and we have a government which is completely indifferent to Indigenous rights and environmental devastation, and doesn't recognize water as a human right. So in Toronto, as in the rest of the country, we certainly have a strong case, and a need for increased and improved Climate Justice Solidarity. In part, the energy for the People's Assembly is an expression of that.

On the other side of things, Cochabamba is the reason why the idea of putting together a People's Assembly in Toronto came to life, and the call to begin the creation of a worldwide Climate Justice Movement was emanating from Bolivia even before the Cochabamba summit. So the initiative and the inspiration for our People's Assembly definitely stemmed from Cochabamba, but there are plenty of other organic reasons why it is now underway in Toronto.

Our Toronto process is not Cochabamba. With the Cochabamba summit, the working groups were actively debating and developing content months ahead of time, so of course it was very open and inclusive. As for the format, 35,000 people attended the summit so the format had to be pre-planned; this is not at all a criticism of the Cochabamba process, simply an observation and a comparison. The pre-planned format was 17 different working groups. A few people from our organizing meeting were talking about the working groups, referring back to Cochabamba, and it is imperative that we look back at past creations and examples of People's Assemblies from across the world, but we are dealing with a unique situation here in Toronto, and a whole new set of attributes and particularities, and we don't know yet if the working group format will work for us. The final product of our assembly might be very similar to a working group format, or it might look drastically different. Basically, we don't know what our assembly will look like, we are starting from scratch. We have to let the process create, with as many people involved as possible.

Here is an example of what a different format might look like:

Again, should we or should we not have working groups. Take for example the working groups that were formed during the first Assembly; Tar Sands Resistance, Indigenous Rights, and cap and trade to name just a few. It doesn't make sense in terms of efficiency and effectiveness to start these newly formed groups with individuals who may or may not know a lot about the issues pertaining to their working groups, and who are starting from nothing, from scratch, and to charge them with the great task of building up solidarity around the issue in the city of Toronto. There are already dozens of groups and organizations in the city, experts and veterans who have been working and campaigning around specific issues for months and years. It would be more effective to communicate with all these groups, and to have them come be an integral part of the Assembly process, thereby providing all Assembly participants with already-existing resources, knowledge, capacity, and experience, and to allow them to choose where they would best fit in, for them to identify which patch on the community solidarity quilt is best suited for their interests and abilities. Working groups might end up being the appropriate format for the Toronto People's Assembly, only time will tell, but if so, I think those experienced affinity groups and organizations should be incorporated into them not as the lead, but in the middle actively working with the people in a nexus support role. The Assembly needs to be a horizontal space to facilitate the consolidating and organizing of solidarity. It will also be a place for exchange and education.

The following echos, and is very similar to earlier attempted definitions I put down, and there is some repetition, but I'm just throwing everything out there to try and describe as best as possible what the process might look like.

"Groups, organizations, and people from all spectrums of Climate Justice, come together in a city-wide Assembly as a mechanism of solidarity and movement building, to really start to define and to shape the Movement. An open horizontal space fueled by popular power, a participatory process, and consensus, as a vehicle for an ongoing dialogue of solidarity building, sharing, and collective community decision-making."

"An open space of solidarity for the Climate Justice community. A body of different groups and organizations to come together and report, share tactics, strategy, and campaigns. A structure, or format is needed, but no control; a completely open and unleashed process set free. A little bit of chaos is good, it allows some of the originality and creativity to organically come out."

In Closing

I think that if the Movement at large, not just Climate Justice, but all spectrums of social and climate justice all together, if that Movement has a chance to grow and to really become a relevant, and effective, and powerful force here in Toronto and across the country, I think the People's Assembly is the vehicle that can make that happen.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Quote of the Week

"Bleed through the needle with Truth,
That needs no preview,
The Proof is in the People."
- Common.

"La lucha Por La Vida,
La Voz de la ilusion,
La Luz de la Utopia,
Esto es la Revolucion."
- Anonymous.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Indigenous Communities Rise Up Against Big Oil

A shorter, edited version of this article is first published in America Latina community newspaper.

by Julien Lalonde

Today indigenous peoples in Bolivia, South America, and all over the world are leading a cultural Revolution to reverse 500 years of colonialism and exploitation. In this country, known as Canada, which is actually the stolen native land of Turtle Island, Indigenous communities are rising up to join the tide of resistance to neocolonialism by fighting the imposition of pipelines and the tar sands in Western Canada.

In Western Canada, extractive industries and corporations are despoiling Mother Earth and its peoples. In oil and gas extraction areas, communities are victim to a devastation of the natural world as the tentacles of the oil industry span to wreak havoc on all lifeways. Free, prior, and informed consent for any extraction project should be prerequisite with no questions asked, but the vulture combination of rotten government and big industry plunder the earth with almost complete impunity.

In the media, the corporate sponsored side refers to the black resource of Alberta as the Oil Sands which is inaccurate, and deceitful because the tar sands are, in fact, exactly that, TAR sands. The resource is not oil because it is thick even beyond viscous, it is like dried molasses times 10, it is tar, it is asphalt. The Tar Sands is a monster of non-sustainability, which requires an enormous amount of giant trucks, fuel, machinery, energy, cement, pipes, and water to operate; the tar sands are economically, socially, biospherically, and energy negative.

Canada, the newly emerged and self-declared petrostate is one of the biggest climate criminals in the world, and one of the planet's most ominous and prolific perpetrators of environmental destruction. To give an idea of the magnitude of the problem we are facing, the bitumen-producing zone in Northern Alberta contains nearly 175 billion barrels in proven reserves. Environmental assessments have discovered that SAGD (steam assisted gravity drainage), one of the energy-intensive processes used to extract the thick, hard bitumen from the earth, would displace and kill caribou, fish, bear, and moose over a region ranging from 1 -3 million acres in size. The operation is massively reducing the water quality and quantity in the region, using approximately 4 barrels of fresh water for every barrel of oil extracted. This amounts to billions upon billions of cubic feet of water per year, 90% of it left too toxic to consume. I could go on and on and on with stats and facts about how severely bitumen extraction is trashing the planet, but simply put, the Tar Sands is the most environmentally destructive extraction project in the history of humanity. To some, this is already common knowledge, but it is important to repeat again and again to truly understand the magnitude and severity of what is happening in Alberta.

The Indigenous populations of British Columbia and Alberta, however, are not standing idly by. In Northern BC, the communities of Wet'Suwet'En and Unis'Toten are currently fighting a proposed Enbridge pipeline which is slated to cross directly through Unis'Toten territory.

Tsalik Gitwet of the Wet'Suwet'En clan, explains how "the decolonization process is both personal (mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual) and community based (no one gets left behind). It is daunting as we are faced with Neocolonization also, via environmental racism." Here Taslik mentions environmental racism, he also often talks about the challenge of facing the two-pronged aggression of colonization and neocolonization. In response, these communities are creating empowerment through traditional practices, and in doing so are stopping the ongoing attempts of cultural genocide in its tracks. They are reclaiming their past as the way forward to embrace their future. Again Tsalik explains that "rather than institutionalizing our knowledge and history, which only makes it a thing of the past and further erodes the living quality of our laws and ways of living....each part of our living history must be given breath each day." In embracing their traditional practices, they are manifesting the culture of self-sufficiency and interconnectedness with Mother Nature's webs of life.

In July, the communities of Wet'Suwet'En and Unis'Toten collaborated to host a training camp to build on their ongoing resistance. There is a cabin being built on the campsite directly on the track of the proposed Enbridge pipeline. Warner, the hereditary chief of the Wet’Suwet’En clan, plans to move in to the cabin with his family in permanent resistance to the pipeline.

The priority right now for the Indigenous communities of Turtle Island, for Mother Earth, and for humanity at large, is necessarily the stopping of the Tar sands and the pipelines, and to prevent the petroleum complex from turning North America into one big oil machine.

The Tar Sands is a gaping wound in the planet, the hemorrhaging of Mother Earth, and the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is internal bleeding. Big oil is destroying the health, and the sustainability of our beautiful world. Petroleum extraction is a modern consumption addiction that must be stopped immediately; it is the central symptom of a system in crisis. Our only option is to move forward in the direction of a world free of fossil fuels.

Daniel Wildcat, a scholar of indigenous resistance from the Yuchi and Muscogee tribes, talks about indigenous ingenuity, which he calls indigenuity, and about the nature-culture nexus as a necessary course for the future of the planet. The traditional practices of the Indigenous peoples of the land; harmony with nature, living well instead of living better, and self-sufficient sustainability, come together to form the culture of life, the only way forward not only for indigenous communities, but for all of humanity.

I finish with another quote from Tsalik: "Our very way of life is the living laws. We can only perform these actions and ways of life after letting go of the ties that bind and keep us reliant and subservient." A collective effort is required to sever the mechanical and artificial creations that are despoiling the richness of human life and destroying the planet; we must do so in order to effect the systemic change that is so badly needed.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Battle in Toronto: Between Truth, Lies, and Solidarity

On Wednesday June 23rd, we saw the Toxic Tour march through Toronto to expose the institutions and corporations most responsible for the environmental destruction and social impacts of Canada's extractive industries. With 75 % of global mining capital coming from Canada, our country is a major international pillager. The rally travelled from Dundas & Bathurst for over three hours, stopping a few times along the way the denounce various toxic perpetrators, ending on University avenue at the courthouse, across from the American embassy. About 400 people took part, and the action was very well organized, very loud, very lively, and very impactful.

The following Day was Indigenous Day of Action which was again very enthusiastic and well organized, and featured a 200 foot long banner which read 'Native Land Rights Now', and a slightly escalated police presence. Leaving from Queen's Park the march ended at Allan Gardens, also temporary home of the tent city which had been set up. The rally increased in numbers from the Toxic Tour on the previous day.

Friday saw the Community Day of Action take flight from Carleton and Jarvis, head down College street boisterously, with again increased police numbers, and a growing number of minor altercations. Music playing out of a pick up truck driving along with us, the atmosphere was definitely dynamic as we headed south down University Avenue. When we got close to Dundas a large enough group tried to join the rally, but police pushed and prevented them from crossing their line. People were upset by this but the march continued on peacefully. Again the number of demonstrators and activists had significantly increased from the previous day.

In the evening, after a speaking event with Amy Goodman, Naomi Klein, Vandana Shiva, Maude Barlow, Clayton Thomas-Muller, and others, Naomi Klein marched around 600 people to Allan Gardens with police following along trying to seal off the crowd. The people eventually made it to the Gardens with little problems; enthusiastic speaking and chants ensued. The action was spontaneous and fervent, and energy was imminent, and the G20 episodes were turning into not just actions on the ground, but a feeling in the air.

Saturday also saw a considerable increase in the amount of people on the streets. Day by day, our numbers continued to grow.

All together the days of the G8/G20 saw 20,000 people taking to the streets. They did so to protest peacefully, and to bring to light a vicious, elitist economic agenda which already has exacerbated, and aims to further impose social devastation on humanity, and environmental destruction on Mother Earth. The people have justification in their voices, and their demands.

The large majority did not come out with corporate grudge rage vandalizing and smashing, even if those few targeted only banks and big corporate and injured nobody, it is very unfortunate that our misguided, spurious mainstream media chooses to focus on negatives rather than genuine positives.

Now the reasons behind the G20 and the actions on the streets.

The G8/G20 was summoned to impose a neoliberal financial agenda which will now force austerity measures, cuts to social spending on the national economies of the world to allegedly reduce budget deficits. The reason for the G8 followed by the G20 is so the top 8 can gather first to make decisions in order to tell the other 12, weaker yet still economically relevant countries, what to do. Austerity measures announced in the midst of the 4 day summit for which the Canadian government has spent around $ 2 Billion dollars to host, while it continues to finance the seemingly endless war in Afghanistan, and when financial stimulus in the form of billion dollar bail-outs is directed towards banks instead of being spent to help struggling working class families. Here I paraphrase Naomi Klein roughly. In other words, governments have taken billions of tax dollars for pay-outs to save the perpetrators of the crisis, and have stuck regular people to foot the bill. This is the biggest restructuring of wealth in the history of humanity. Furthermore, these cuts to social spending while minimizing the role of the state, serve to hollow out the the economy in order for private corporate capital to fill the space. So the decisions of the G20 are continuing to deepen the financial crisis, to further entrench the cycle of organized plunder and desolation through refined, reinvented tactics, tailored to today's unique triple crisis. This is an economic and social agenda that can be imposed only through undemocratic decision-making, repression, and violence. All three were actively demonstrated in Toronto during the G8/G20 summit.

The absurdity of the arbitrary terror was astounding. I spoke with a friend who had money outright stolen from him by police, an acquaintance who was dragged into an unmarked van, beaten, held in submission for 30 minutes with nothing said, no rights read, and then randomly released at a further location. TTC workers were assaulted, women were beaten. People were essentially kidnapped; taken forcefully without charge, with no rights read, and detained for a whole day in horrible physical conditions, psychologically tormented, with scarce food and water, with no phone call, and with your family not knowing where you are, to be fair, is pretty much the equivalent of being kidnapped.

The police were deliberately detaining just to keep people of the streets long enough for the action to subside, and they were keeping them inside for as long as legally possible. The large majority of people were released on breach of peace with no charges, which essentially amounts to drunk tank; my arresting officer actually said this to me, "have you ever been in the drunk tank before? This is like that, we're going to hold you just long enough to disrupt this gathering, just for a couple of hours, and then you'll be released." The police openly referred to this method as catch and release, as if we were fish. But unlike conditions including beautiful rocks, mysterious castles to play in, bright colors, and regular scheduled feedings, our holding cells were not nearly as desirable as aquariums, and were actually more like kennels. We heard that the police were referring to them as rat cages. I guess its better to be referred to as a fish than a rat.

The days of the G20 saw the repressive forces stepping up their game, as it were. They are trying to instill fear into the equation. Considering who and what they were defending, the police proved they are simply business enforcers, representing nothing more than the interests of the rich and powerful.

The struggle of this era, of this generation, is just beginning for us in Canada, this was its initial moment, and already the state is resorting to such repressive, aggressive, and brutal means. Were our actions so grave as to warrant such a brash reaction? Our actions on the streets were very minimal, still at an elementary level thus far. As this movement grows and we start reclaiming our streets, seriously mobilizing and challenging the system, are they going to start shooting people? As our momentum continues to move forward, their repression will surely carry on with ever increasing force. We must match their tyranny with increased solidarity, and evermore effective organization.

But the repression was a failure, the G20 week had the effect of solidarizing, if I can use that word, and of bringing various groups closer together. The people of Toronto in general were all brought into the same orbit over the course of those couple weeks. Fraternity is always imminent in the face of adversity, and I think this experience has thought us that even beyond that, it needs to be omnipresent. I think we need to continue working as closely as possible with as many groups as possible, but we also need to realize that this is now the work of the people, and less so of affinity groups; an all-inclusive collective solidarity is needed. It is time for the movement to be set free and to naturally take its course. People have come out in large numbers to rallies and events, with positive energy, and that is very encouraging. It has been a natural reaction, and we have to take that momentum and run with it. Internationally the resistance is already intact, we are late bloomers, but you get the sense that a movement is really starting to take shape in Toronto, and in Canada.

Furthermore the tactic of rounding up, literally rounding up, over a thousand people, did the opposite of the desired effect for the elites. History has repeated itself countless times over in the face of popular movements with police over-reaction, and excessive violence and repression. They aim to break spirits, but the result is always more fire and growing numbers. The brutal dictatorships of Latin America in the 60s, 70s, and 80s have shown this time and time again; killings, torture, and disappearances, yet brutal psychological and social shocks to civilian populations have always had the effect of radicalizing movements, and individuals. Certainly the severity of those times is not comparable to what took place in Toronto, but the after-affect is similar: people coming together with increased vigor and conviction.

The brutality of the entire police operation, and the heavy-handed conditions inside the detention centers did not successfully deter, did not scare away, did not destroy resolve, or crush courage. The morale inside the holding cells was tense and erratic at times, but generally brothers and sisters walked away from the experience energized, rejuvenated, and more determined and committed than ever before. Just as a colony of ants will organize and frenzy when faced with an unexpected bounty of food crumbs, it is not wise to nourish fighters with adversity. So the harsh conditions and the psychological stabs at detainees, the attempt to demoralize the movement, served more as an exercise in solidarity, as a strengthening experience. The ill-conceived tactics and strategy of the elites and their thugs was irresponsible and irrational, and the result is that the ruling class establishment in Canada has a much bigger problem now than they did before the G20.

Another aspect of this episode was to observe the reaction and the understanding, or lack thereof, of the general public. Its not even necessarily oblivion or indifference, but simply complacency. People's lives become blank, linear, and sterile, they become involuntarily sheltered and everything around them just becomes backdrop. People don't even think about how their world functions, mush less that this whole society rests on brittle, fictitious, invisible foundations. Michael Moore who has a long history of community activism in the U.S explains; "I'm a citizen in a democracy, so that automatically implies, I'm an activist, you're an activist, we're all activists. Anybody who resides in a democracy is an activist. If you're not an activist, then the democracy ceases to exist." The implication is that if people don't get involved in their communities, then the would-be process is lost immediately.

This lethargy of consciousness, this taking for granted that things just are, and that they will always be, that the status-quo is fine, and peaceful, and unconsequential, is a very dangerous thing. Its been said that "there is nothing in this world as bitter as the spectacle of a people who go to sleep in liberty and awaken in slavery." The fictitious neo-democracies of the global north are prime examples of this; people who think they live in the best, most exemplary societies in the world, but the only thing they really possess is the freedom of money for a few, and nothing more. We hope that these recent events in Toronto have been a wake up call. We hope that in Canada the North American torpor has been broken, that consciousness has been roused from its deep social slumber. As one local Toronto activist coming back with lessons from Haiti puts it, "it is time for you to become citizens of your own country, right now you are only consumers."

What the people of Toronto and Canada should remember, is that roughly from Wednesday June 23rd to Monday June 28th, Native communities from across the land, social and climate justice activists, and Toronto community organizers turned the city into a beacon of social struggle. That is something, far outweighing the fact that the city was rendered chaotic for a few days, the people of Toronto should be proud of.

Truth and the power of collective resistance is the biggest threat to this capitalist, consumerist system, and although our actions physically were no threat to the establishment during the G20 summit, the symbolic and moral waves that we have unleashed will hopefully impact not only Canada, but also the rest of the world.

When people get their backs glued to the wall, they fight back. What materialized in Toronto over this transformative period, is the inevitable social reaction of a system in crisis.

Republished from G20 Blog.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Random Observation

I see this photo add on yahoo yesterday, a tourism add for Travel Alberta, and the slogan is 'Bring Your Boots'. Ha! Ya bring your boots because everything is dirty and sticky from crude oil and bitumen. Trying to figure out whether this is funny or not. Talk about insult to injury.