Words and stones

Free speech is a real hot-button issue in today’s world (peace to students everywhere who begin essays this way).

And it’s come home to Canada. 

A hard-hitting group of  Canadian brethren from the more conservative persuasion have been bringing free speech up any chance they get. And for some good reason, from what I can tell. 

The famous McLean’s magazine versus the Canadian Human Rights Commission case revealed just how murky the law is when it comes to a journalist’s freedom to form a thesis from premises based on statistical evidence and political position.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_rights_complaints_against_Maclean’s_magazine

I guess it didn’t help that Mark Steyn’s thesis is out of step with the politically correct segment of Canadian society (most of us, on some things; few of us on others). 

It also didn’t help that Steyn has a strong interpretation of the issue and has a flair for intemperate adverbs;  he makes no apology, however, for his conclusion: it’s a demographic truth that, Muslims will soon outnumber (and out influence?) Europeans and people of European origin. And this is not a good thing for the West.

The Canadian Islamic Congress wanted the “Muslim point of view” to be given equal time in McLean’s, claiming that Steyn’s rhetoric was hate speech. 

Very recently, seasoned Canadian journalist, Christie Blatchford, has come under the friendly fire of political correctness gone mad at universities. 

She’s written a book critical of much of the way Canadian officials handled the native stand-off in Caledonia, Ontario. Apparently, the book is not fundamentally anti-native; it can just as easily be seen as pro- Canadian rule-of-law.  

Blatchford was prevented from speaking at the University of Waterloo because of a small but noisy protest.  Here is fellow blogger Bill Fyfe’s “quick and dirty version” of what happened. 

It’s a complicated case, but the quick and dirty version is this: Ms. Blatchford was invited to speak at the University of Waterloo.  Some people associated with the University didn’t want her to speak and they commandeered the podium.  They voiced their opposition to Ms. Blatchford by loudly chanting “Racist!” among other things.   Ms. Blatchford was told her safety could not be guaranteed and the event was cancelled.  There are a lot of other facts and blather about it, but really — who cares?  The real question is this: should we have free debate in Canada or not?

(read more from Bill’s provocative, cheeky and mostly true blog:      http://wdfyfe.wordpress.com/)

A not-so-political (but really quite political) friend of mine slipped me a newspaper article today with a sort of nudge-nudge, wink-wink look in her eye. She said, here’s a blog post for you.  

How did she know?

How did she know that this stuff is everywhere and really important to me when she’s busy raising children and working full-time and further educating herself and playing (researching) on her gadgets and pretending not to watch TV?

She has no political axe to grind. She doesn’t wax angrily about the corruption of verbal irony rights. She has no time to indulge in the tawdry issues of debate that seem to change and stay the same. 

Wait a minute….yes she does. 

All of the above—yes, she does. Because it’s actually quite obvious, if you think about (now, there’s the rub).

She has stacks of common and not-so-common sense and does not identify as one thing or another (except maybe being a snappy dresser). 

In today’s Vancouver Sun, Richard Foot writes that “at least 80 first nations leaders make more each year than Steven Harper” and that “at least 200 were paid more than their provincial premiers.”

http://www.vancouversun.com/story_print.html?id=3870312&sponsor=

Foot concedes that many native leaders do not earn high salaries, but that’s not really the point here.

It’s about public disclosure of politicians’ income.  

A call to the Union of New Brunswick Indians was unreturned,  the director of the Union of Nova Scotia Indians responded by email with a no comment and the Assembly of First Nations refused comment.

According to Foot:

Earlier this month, however, AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo lashed out at the Canadian Taxpayer Federation, calling its campaign to publicize native political incomes as “an insult that paints first nations leadership as overpaid, unaccountable local bosses uninterested in the challenges faced by first nation people…”

“One Mi’kmaq woman — a long time Glooscap resident who did not want her name published for fear of losing her job at one of the band-owned businesses — said many Glooscap residents are unemployed, and collect $110 per week in welfare payments. She said the Glooscap reserve, like dozens of others across Canada, is run by a small group of powerful families.”

http://www.vancouversun.com/business/First+Nations+leaders

In his memoir, Hitch 22, Christopher Hitchens writes about a distasteful shift in the thinking of the left that emerged in the 60’s and 70’s (and still thrives in various academic departments in 2010). 

Instead of critically engaging totalitarianism in its disparate forms,  many intellectuals and activists opted for identity politics–you know, the kind that MAKES you a warrior because of your sex, gender, skin colour, class or sexual preference (like there’s actually one!).    
 
The lines were drawn and it was very civilized war. The truth never existed anyway (an extremely helpful thing to process).  It’s all point of view (yes and no) and it’s all about experience (yes and no, once again). 
 
But almost  everyone who I find even the most remotely interesting is tired of fighting this non-war. It’s been won, processed and continues to be discussed in non-academic terms every day, everywhere, at least on the Lower Mainland.
 
In Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where virtually every classroom yawns at yet another discussion of race and gender politics,  if you don’t think that war has been won to the best of its ability, then carry on.
 
For me, I’m pulling for Christie Blatchford to continue reporting and writing books with her pesky facts and for Mark Steyn to continue reporting and writing books with his pesky statistics and provocative interpretation of those facts.
 
Victimhood can be helpful. I’ve tried it, nay, embraced it —for short periods of time.
 
But you eventually have to put your adult pants on and think for yourself. 
There are real problems out there; and real people are trying to work them out.
All kinds of people, really. 
 
 
 
 
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2 Responses to “Words and stones”

  1. Audrey Byrd Says:

    Oh Annie, Annie, some of us do think for ourselves, not discounting what goes on and what others think about what goes on in the world at large and still try to live a “Happy Thanksgiving” for all that is good and all those who do good.

  2. Audrey Byrd Says:

    We all know what happend when stones are cast…YIKES

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