Sunday, September 26, 2010

Today's Seven Deadlies

I was in Banff last week, sitting beside the hotel pool while my kids played, and I picked up a copy of the Calgary Sun... something I never get to do... and probably wouldn't do very often, if I had the chance. At any rate, I read Michael Coren's column and liked it. In it, he addressed a new book: "The Misogynist," by Piers Paul Read which describes “the Seven Sins of the Secular State.”

Those sins are racism, misogyny, homophobia, elitism, smoking, obesity and religious belief.

Using some of Coren's ideas... subtracting others... and adding my own to replace those, I'd like to--more or less--reproduce the column (without permission [yikes] but with gratitude and credit to Coren).

RACISM. It's awful to really hate someone because of their race... no question about that, but when people cry, "racism" to counter any argument they don't have an answer to, the term loses it's credibility. Ours is a multi-cultural community, and I would have it no other way. Yet multiculturalism means we have to live together, and we have to address differences and negotiate a society we all need to build together. That's going to result in some pretty difficult discussions that we'd all better be prepared to engage.

MISOGENY. Only a nut could hate half the population of the planet because they are women. Yet there are still large pockets of society that cannot fathom women taking an equal role. Our society will never realise it's full potential until gender does not prevent someone from realising their full potential.

HOMOPHOBIA. If someone genuinely hates homosexuals simply because they are homosexual, he/she is a sad example of a human being. I do, however, accept that some folks feel uncomfortable talking about homosexuality and special rights for groups because of sexuality. That discussion has to happen without those who question special rights and protections based on sexuality, otherwise those people will never get past their pre-judgement of a large portion of our society.

ELITISM. I hate that this term is used by people who have simply run out of arguments against a more prepared or knowledgeable person. It is now used by many in this country to call down those with a more complex formula for government. Rather than open their minds to the possibility they may be wrong, those who hold onto dogmatic arguments simply flee to name-calling. Especially in Alberta, to be seen as an academic snob (elitist) is almost as bad as being called a child molester. There is nothing wrong with complex ideas to address complex problems and we'd better get on board with that idea or we will never get beyond our one-trick pony economy.

SMOKING. I hate smoking and I hate tobacco companies for making billions on death. Yet it is equally stupid to hate people who smoke... most of whom know they are killing themselves... and would like to stop... but have not yet found the power to do it. As long as they don't blow smoke in my face... and butt out on the street, it's still a free country.

OBESITY. I gotta lose 30 pounds... so what can I say? I’d rather spend time with an obese person who was kind, witty and intelligent than a skinny person who was nasty, boring and stupid.

RELIGION. Unless religion tells you to be unkind to others... or not accept that a faith in something different is okay, too, I'm fine with people who need to believe in an external reward for being a better human being. Life is complicated and often brutal. For those of us who don't want to think it's completely random, God helps.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Poll of My Own

I have been doing an informal poll of my own. I have been asking front-line RCMP officers here in rural Alberta what they think of the gun registry. To my surprise an overwhelming majority of them support a continuation of the registry in one form or another.

They comment that while they do not depend on the registry's information for their safety, when answering a call, it is one more piece of information... and that if they find that a person has weapons registered, they can begin to build a mindset of who they are dealing with.

However, they also tell me that a rural gun owner will still kill his wife with a long gun, regardless of whether it is registered or not... so the idea that it saves lives on the farm when domestic violence begins is bogus (in their eyes), but they claim the registry helps them trace weapons that have been found at crime scenes... or even in the ditch... and helps them build a history of the weapon.

I was hesitant to ask law enforcement officers about the registry because I was sure (from all the media reports) that front-line officers are opposed to a continuation of the registry. I was surprised to find the opposite.

The officers I spoke with (Tim Hortons has been a great place to find them when I come home late from working), believe the media have gotten hold of a few front-line police officers who have other issues and wish to use their opposition to the registry as a lever to further those issues.

As far as law enforcement goes, the majority of officers I have spoken with over the last two weeks are supportive of continuing the registry in one form or another.

Personally, this is good news because the "front-line officers-oppose-the-registry" position is the one most of my conservative neighbours use to oppose the registry. Now, I simply tell them to go ask ten police officers themselves. I am confident that, while they may find a few that oppose it, the majority will support it... and perhaps get them to question where their own position comes from.

However, this is Alberta... so getting folks to question Conservatives might is a bit like bailing out the Athabasca River Basin....