We are constantly under some form of assault

By Pat Watson Wednesday May 09 2012 in Editorial
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In this old world we are faced with many conundrums yet, in spite of that reality, or more likely because of it, we like our dichotomies.


We have a federal government that has made a point of its law-and-order stance; they want to build more prisons and increase minimum sentences for any number of crimes. At the same time, it has done away with the national gun registry.


Law and order, yet it didn’t take much for a closed-door decision to take place to let ex-convict Conrad Black back into Canada.


In this world, where down is up and up is down, where a neo-liberal is not your grandmother’s liberal, a kind of wonderland, if you will, politicians will campaign strongly on transparency, then once in power will cloak their activities with as much vigour as they campaigned against it.


The conclusion is that when a politician is making a point about some aspect of an opposing party they strongly reject, it’s because they have a conflict within themselves about a similar failing. Life’s like that.


So yes to letting Conrad Black back into Canadian residency; not a threat to the public; has served his time without whining; writes well; high profile; outspoken conservative. Okay, got it.


Ever wonder if the former newspaper baron was dragged through the U.S. courts, ‘like a common criminal’ because his name is Black? If Black was named White would he have gotten more benign consideration in America’s justice system? We may never know. In any case, like just about everyone who has been convicted and sent to jail as a consequence, Black continues to maintain his innocence.


George Zimmerman hasn’t claimed innocence. He’s the man who shot and killed 17-year-old African-American, Trayvon Martin, and has admitted as such. But in this world where what makes sense to some is sheer madness to others, Zimmerman, 28, can walk around in a gated community with a deadly weapon, pursue someone who was not bothering him, shoot that person, then claim he felt his life was threatened to the point where he had to defend himself with his deadly weapon; an act protected by the laws of the land. It had been said long before that the law is an ass.


Tell your children, life is like this: up is down and down is up, and sometimes there is no apparent rhyme or reason. And to prepare for how things really are, a good form of orientation may be to read either Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass. Perhaps both. Tell them there are no good guys and bad guys, but varying degrees of all kinds of qualities coexisting in any individual.


Yet, here is one either-or families face, depending on whether a family is Black or White. It’s what’s referred to as ‘the talk’. If a family is White, the talk is usually one that a mother has with a daughter or a father has with a son about how humans are made. These days that rite of passage – really more so for the parent than the child – is taken away because, for the most part, sex education is included in school curricula.


But if your family is Black, ‘the talk’ is not about ‘the birds and the bees’. ‘The talk’ is given most frequently to our young boys about how to conduct themselves when inevitably faced with that moment of passage that comes with living while Black. It is likely a conversation the late Martin’s parents had with him about what to do when stopped and questioned by a police officer.


The main points include the following: calmly answer their questions; show your identification, but do so with caution; announce that you are going into your wallet or back pocket or wherever to remove your ID; do so very slowly; if you do not have ID give your name and address; you are within your rights to ask for the name or badge number of the police officer; you are within your rights if detained to ask if you are under arrest. Under no circumstances should you touch the person of a police officer. That is how many end up with a charge of assaulting an officer since ‘assault’ has a very broad meaning in these encounters.


Actually, in this world where absurdity is inescapable, there are days when it seems we are constantly under some form of assault.


A note on political contradiction…


So, voters in Greece and France are opting for socialist governments in reaction to fiscal austerity measures. Perhaps the French and Greek electorates have forgotten that when the International Monetary Fund is involved, socialists will act very much like arch-conservatives.


By Pat Watson

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