Eyewear, pocketbook, wristwatch

Before we get too far into this, I want you to go here and listen to The Faint’s Dress Code. Especially you, Meatbum. I’ll wait. I think it’s my new favourite thing ever invented. And, while you’re doing that, I’m just going to say I miss Devo.

Okay. You’re back. Awesome!shoulder

Dress code. Gender bias. Hypersexualisation. Whore/Slut. Individuality.

Many public places have dress codes. “No shirt, no shoes, no service”. “Please wear a head covering”. “No street clothes”. There are reasons for every dress code; some more logical than others. When it comes to kids and school, though, people lose their shit faster than a college kid after whiskey night. Most dress codes in school (particularly in high school but often in elementary school) seem geared specifically to girls. Consider the following, taken from the elementary and high schools in my area:

Elementary: Students are expected to dress in a neat and appropriate manner. Outside apparel (hats, jackets, and wet or muddy footwear) are not to be worn in the school. Please ensure your child dresses in such a way that demonstrates modesty. Please avoid: midriff shirts, spaghetti strap shirts, short shorts and messages that refer to alcohol, drugs, and sex. Students should have one pair of runners at school for inside and gymnasium wear. Also Grade Six, Seven and Eight students are expected to bring gym clothing for their physical education classes. Students are invited to shower following vigorous activity.

High School: Hats are not allowed to be worn in the classroom, except for special school related events. Footwear must be worn in the building at all times.
School staff determines what is appropriate clothing. Students wearing inappropriate clothing will be asked to change the offending garment. Simplicity and good taste are safe guides.

It looks like the former (which is the dress code for the elementary school) is picking out in greater detail clothes that girls would wear rather than those boys would wear. I want to know why it’s important for a six-year-old child to demonstrate “modesty”, and I would also like to know what the definition of “modesty” is. If you’re telling a six-year-old that showing their arms, back, or legs is wrong, there’s something wrong with you. Because I have boys, and because my boys to date have not been interested in wearing spaghetti straps, midriff shirts, short shorts, or clothing with messages that refer to alcohol, drugs, and sex (I think they meant and/or there, because otherwise that seems like an oddly specific message to ban), I have not had to deal much with the dress code. I’m concerned that the high school dress code basically leaves “offending garment” up to staff. That’s pretty uninformative. Are students supposed to call ahead of time to clear their wardrobe with the staff?

Do you know how mortifying it is to be called out of your class/assembly to the office to be told you have to change your clothes because you’re not dressed appropriately? ESPECIALLY if it’s a staff member of the opposite gender? Do you know how CREEPY and humiliating it is to have a male teacher/administrator tell you that the way you dress is distracting the male students? I can tell you from experience, it can be life-altering. A little guideline here would be nice.

You’re not an idiot. You know that what they’re saying here is “don’t dress like a slut, and don’t dress like a slob”. They will couch that in terms of “show some respect for yourself and for your fellow students”. I don’t have a problem with that sentiment, except that these dress codes are dictating what is slovenly or slutty attire, and that’s just not cool.

What’s wrong with having a dress code that says: “Our school values respect, professionalism, and a focussed learning environment, and those values are reflected in our dress code. Attire that is not appropriate in a professional workplace or place of worship is not appropriate attire for school. We appreciate individual expression, and encourage each student to take pride in their personal presentation”? If someone takes exception to the way a student dresses, it should be up to the staff and administration to address that concern *with the person who complained*. Find out why it’s upsetting them. Don’t just take the easy way out (easy for you; not for the students) and tell the student whose dress has upset someone to go home and change. Use this as a way to demonstrate professional and respectful discussion.

Here’s one of the subtexts about all of this that really pisses me off: that girls displaying their shoulders or backs or thighs or whatever part of their body in some way has a deleterious effect on the male students. That male students are *unable to concentrate* if there’s a girl’s bare shoulder in the room.

a) Teenagers are unable to concentrate *most of the time*. This is a SCIENTIFIC FACT. Their brains are still developing. You can try all you want to force adolescents to act like adults, but for the most part, they can’t. It’s not because they’re trying to be assholes; it’s because their brains aren’t adult brains.

b) Boys cannot control their sexual desires. This, to put it bluntly, is utter bullshit. Adolescents are flooded with sex hormones, and they are *all* horny, *all the time*. Boys, girls, folks in between or uncertain or undecided about their gender – they are all full of crazy hormones that make their bodies react to things in weird and unpredictable ways. Boners happen, people. Girl boners and boy boners. Sometimes it’s because of a shoulder; sometimes it’s because of a granola bar. Sometimes, there’s no reason. Teens think about sex all the time, and whether someone’s shoulder is covered or bare *isn’t going to make a difference*. Folks attracted to boobs will still think about boobs, whether or not any part of that boob is anywhere near visible. Folks attracted to bums will still think about bums, regardless of how short the shorts are or how tight the jeans are. For the love of little baby Jesus in a sparkly red Speedo(tm), teenagers are distracted by thoughts of LUNCH as much as they are distracted by thoughts of bare shoulders. To blame boys for not being able to control their urges is sexism. And to blame GIRLS for boys not being able to control their own urges is just stupid. It’s a throwback to outdated puritanical ideals about sex (and women in particular) being “dirty”. So get over it.

c) Certain kinds of clothing are morally wrong because it is provocative. “Provocative” is an interesting choice here. It connotes intent. So by telling a student that they are dressed provocatively, you’re telling them they are choosing to cause annoyance or to arouse sexual desire. That might be the case. I know when I was into punk culture, I wore things that made people angry or disgusted. But I dressed that way because I liked it. It looked good. I didn’t get up in the morning and pick out my “Nazi Punks Fuck Off” shirt because I wanted to piss people off. I got up in the morning and wore that because I love the band and I love the song and it was my favourite shirt. (Aside, RIP Nazi Punks Fuck Off shirt.) I’d be willing to give most people a pass on the whole “you wore that tank top because you wanted people to get boners looking at you” accusation because I honestly don’t believe that giving people boners is at the top of the list of why people dress the way they do.

d) There’s something bigger at work here, and that is how we each of us is taught (or learns) to assess attractiveness. Regardless of gender, we learn that extremely toned, athletic bodies are the “norm” and the goal. Big boobs on girls and wide, muscular shoulders on boys – that’s what everyone wants, right? So instead of focusing on style that empowers each of us, we are pigeonholed into the lowest common denominator – we believe something is attractive/stylish because that’s what we’re told is attractive/stylish.

None of this is going to be solved in an afternoon. But I do applaud the students who stand up for their beliefs and opinions. I applaud the young woman who told her school that how someone else reacts to what she chooses to wear is not her fault. If she dresses in something that she has worn or would wear to church, what makes wearing it to school so bad? It’s okay for people to have sexy thoughts about one another in church but in school, it’s bad? Cue the discussion about how sex is not bad or dirty, bodies are not naughty, and people are not sex objects.

Addendum

Judgmental Hair

Judgmental Hair

Okay, so following the breaking news yesterday that one of the fellows who thought it was a laugh riot to shout “Fuck her in the pussy” at a television camera pointed at a female reporter (a friend mentioned that this has happened to male reporters too; I am now aware of one instance of that happening, so I thank Friend for that information), there’s a big deal about whether one of the guys who did that ought to have been fired from his job for doing so. There are a couple of things I want to say about this whole thing. The first is about that – whether the young man ought to have lost his job. The second is about the whole meme itself and whether it is indeed (sexual) harassment and a bit more about freedom of speech, because that’s a really important thing that I don’t think is being talked about enough here by people who aren’t total dingbats involved with MRA (that’s Men’s Rights Associations).

First, doxxing is really shitty, okay? Don’t do that. (“Doxxing”, btw, is searching for, finding, and posting private information about someone online and on social media platforms.) There is this thing called presumption of innocence that covers criminal charges in most British/American legal systems. It basically means that until someone is found to be guilty of a criminal act, we must presume they are innocent. There are some pretty important reasons why we have this whole presumption of innocence thing (which is a legal right), and while I don’t know the full history of it (and again, am not a lawyer and do not have a degree in law), I do know that part of the reason it exists is to protect you as a citizen. Most people are not criminals, and therefore don’t deserve to be treated as criminals. Anyway, the point I’m making here is that doxxing is one of those things that kind of circumvents due process (we talked about that a couple of days ago). If someone has done something potentially criminal, and you can find and/or have information that may help *prove the case against them*, it’s your duty as a citizen to provide that information to the proper authorities (the police, lawyers, doctors, etc.), but not to the public. Retributive “justice” by people hiding behind their screens really isn’t justice. Every person, regardless of what they have been accused of doing, has the right to defend themselves against those charges.

Second, if your employer or your professional association has a code of conduct or code of ethics by which you must abide while in their employ, it is their duty to inform you of the code, and to ensure you understand it, and understand the implications of it. Sometimes that code of conduct will apply to your actions outside the workplace. Consider the codes of conduct required by the military, or by sports franchises, or by government/public employers. Each of these may include clauses which outline the kinds of behaviour which is not acceptable. I don’t know what the codes of conduct might have been for this fellow’s employer, but this fellow did do something pretty odious in a very, very public forum. If this employer has a “zero tolerance policy” for harassing or abusive language or behaviour in or outside of the workplace, this reaction is what a “zero tolerance policy” actually looks like.

Too many times…in fact, most of the time…people define “zero tolerance” as “just a wee bit of tolerance”. Just enough tolerance, in fact, to ensure that maybe it won’t happen a second time. Or a third. Probably not a fourth. Five, as they say about the Holy Hand-grenade of Antioch, is right out. Now, pardon me for being a bit pedantic, but “zero tolerance” should actually mean “we don’t tolerate this at all”, which in turn means “so if you do this, you’re out, buster.” “Zero tolerance” should not mean “let’s all have a sit-down together and talk about how your actions hurt someone”. You have to have that discussion BEFORE someone gets hurt.

There are people arguing that doing this sort of thing – shouting obscenities into a microphone during a live news broadcast is not (sexual) harassment. That it’s just something funny to do because you’re not supposed to swear on TeeVee (nor on the radio, in most cases). Now, we can have a good discussion about whether you ought or oughtn’t be allowed to say offensive or potentially offensive things on the air, but that’s a conversation for another time because most broadcasters have codes of conduct/ethics that outline what they are and aren’t allowed to broadcast. So if the goal of these yokels shouting things at live newscasts is to actually launch some kind of protest or to simply have cuss words broadcast on live teevee because broadcasting cusswords is funny, why not simply shout “fuck”? Or “asshole”? Or “prick”? Why not choose words that aren’t charged with potentially misogynistic interpretation? Sure, you can argue that all the best cusswords are about females and female anatomy (which of course will launch us in to a further discussion about gender issues), but if your *goal* is simply to say something offensive in front of a camera, why choose primarily female reporters to do it to? Why use a phrase that could even possibly be interpreted as promoting rape?

There are thousands of words you could choose. Just sticking with the many iterations of “fuck” alone would probably take up most of a month’s worth of live broadcasts. If this phenomenon really doesn’t have anything to do with women and gender, then why is it *mostly* (not always, as Friend pointed out) done to female reporters, and why insist on using the imperative mood (the kind of sentence that indicates commands/requests)? Although you may have a different intent, semantics happen, people. Semantics happen. How would you *expect* a female reporter to interpret someone running up behind her and shouting “fuck her right in the pussy”?

When it comes to freedom of speech, you’re right. Twits have every right to spout their twittery whenever and wherever they want. They must be willing to accept the consequences, because some twittery is actually illegal, or can be deemed hate speech or harassing or objectionable behaviour. Freedom of speech does not trump other laws. Particularly when those laws serve to protect other people from harm. How does shouting a stream of invective at a reporter cause harm? Well, first of all, it’s kind of a dick move, really. Second, you are hindering that reporter’s ability to do their job professionally. Third, you are causing the station broadcasting that report to possibly get in hot water with national licensing agencies. Fourth, depending on the invective you use, it could actually be threatening language. Fifth, it might be considered disturbing the peace. Sixth, did I mention dick move? I did, didn’t I? I’d go out on a limb here and say that at least 75% of dick moves (metaphorical dick moves; literal dick moves are the subject of a different discussion) are harmful. But the point here is that when it comes to your right to say whatever you want whenever you want, the only thing holding you back is other laws that protect others from being harmed, intimidated, hurt, etc., by what you’re saying.

It’s possible that the nitwits who claim that shouting sexually charged invective at live broadcasts isn’t meant to be sexist don’t understand that the actual words they’re saying are pretty sexist. It’s possible that they are sincere and really just want to see more cusswords on teevee. It’s also possible that this whole thing is some kind of protest movement against governments squeezing freedom of speech legislation from all angles (and certainly, if that’s the case, I highly recommend finding non-gender-specific swear words to shout at broadcasters of all genders – be prepared to live with the consequences of your actions!).  We may even be dealing with the IOFO effect (the It’s Only Funny Once principle).

My Friend also said perhaps it’s better just to ignore these morons and they’ll just stop doing asinine things like this all on their own. I’m not sure I agree with that, although Friend did post a Google Trends chart  that shows the incidents of the term being used on Google dropped off dramatically after it first became popular in early 2014.

I’m not sure I agree that ignoring odious behaviour makes it stop, but I AM convinced that we don’t need to agree with each other all the time. And I am convinced that this particular odious behaviour should just end now. People shouting stupid things at and making obscene gestures in front of live TV cameras isn’t new, and I’m sure it won’t go away. Because people are goofy. Sometimes, goofy is awesome (I’m one of those horrid people who thinks it’s hilarious when someone moons the camera on live TV). Sometimes, it isn’t goofy so much as really terrible. I do agree with my Friend that it should just end.

Waitaminute, do what to whom? In the where?

There are swears in this post.

Recently, Shauna Hunt, a reporter with CityNews television in Toronto, was filming a story outside a soccer game. Some fellows hanging around waited until the camera was rolling and then shouted “Fuck her in the pussy!” (heretofore shortened to FHITP). This ‘videobombing’ is one ‘a them…whattayacallems…odious viral behaviours originating supposedly from a newscaster’s blooper reel. You can read up on how the whole thing got started here. Ms. Hunt, clearly fed up to high heaven with this kind of idiocy, confronted the FHITPers and asked them why they thought that sort of thing was okay. Their response? “Because it’s funny.” “Because I didn’t mean it at you specifically, but for everyone.” “You’re too sensitive.” Today, the jackwagon doing the shouting was let go by his employer for his stupidity.

So, lest I be marked forever with the scarlet TS of “too sensitive”, I want to just assplain some things. Let’s start with a few premises:

1) I LOVE obscenities. I love SHOUTING obscenities. Obscenities are pleasing in my mouth, like delicious balls (snigger) of cookie dough or ice cream smothered in dark chocolate. Like pretty much anything drenched in garlic butter. I also recognise there are acceptable times and places for shouting obscenities. To wit: upon injury; following Great Consternation; to express frustration with one’s sports escapades; during any election; before, during, or after a physical altercation. Likewise and similarly, there are definitely times when obscenities ought to be whispered or thought about rather than shouted. To wit: at most religious observances; at the dinner table with Grandmother; in a grocery store; most places in public, provided one has not fallen prey to Grievous Injury, Great Consternation, or Physical Altercation.

2) Protests are important means by which people, unhappy with or uncomfortable with the status quo may garner attention for their cause. It’s okay for protests to disrupt citizens’ comfort, ease of access to public buildings or other services, provided the protests are not violent, and that the protests cause no harm.

3) Harassment, according to the Canadian Human Rights Code, is “any unwanted physical or verbal behaviour that offends or humiliates you” (http://www.chrc-ccdp.ca/eng/content/what-harassment).

4) As Canadians, we have the right to free speech. The right to say whatever the fuck you want ends when it becomes illegal. Like when you promote hatred, intolerance, violence, or when your speech becomes harassing.

These are facts. We might disagree on some of the details of these facts, but in general, it’s pretty tough to say “that’s not what harassment is” when in fact, Canada says that’s what it is. So. Given those premises:

Running up behind (or milling about behind) a female reporter so that you can shout FHITP into her microphone so that it gets broadcast on television is harassment. Unless that reporter has asked you to please do that, of course, in which case, the entire argument is moot. Why is it harassment? Because by and large, that is unwanted verbal behaviour that is offensive and humiliating. How is it humiliating? Because the reporter whose microphone you are hollering at is a professional. It is her job to stand in the street and report on current events. If you would not run up behind a doctor in the operating room and holler “FHITP!”, don’t do it to a reporter. If you wouldn’t run up behind a teacher and holler “FHITP!”, don’t do it to a reporter. If you wouldn’t run up behind a construction worker and shout “FHITP!”, don’t do it to a reporter.

Let’s extend that a bit. If you wouldn’t run up behind a MALE reporter, doctor, teacher, construction worker, and yell “FHITP!”, don’t do it to a female one.

I get that you want to see yourself acting like a douche on TeeVee. Everyone wants their fifteen minutes of fame. Some people want their fifteen minutes of fame to be because of their hard work, their achievements, their puppies, or their heartbreak. You, on the other hand, clearly want your fifteen minute of fame to be for acting like a twatwhistle in front of your mates because either you are fuelled with liquor or you are fuelled with idiocy. The only people who think that choads acting badly are funny are other choads who act badly. (Note: I steal that term, insulting as it is, quite liberally from my friend Arnisador who encounters choads on a regular basis in his work as a bouncer at Choad Nightly, the downtown dance/nightclub)

Insulting and threatening people because they have different anatomy than you do really isn’t the height of comedic genius. I realise this comes as quite a surprise, but unless you’re eleven and still think “well oh yeah? At least I don’t have BOOBIES” is an appropriate comeback for anything, U, as they say, R DOIN IT RONG. Clearly you don’t understand how shouting something obscene into a television reporter’s camera is threatening or insulting behaviour, so let’s just take a minute to drill down into that, shall we? This won’t take long.

Just because someone has a vagina doesn’t mean they want your penis in, on, or anywhere near it. Your penis really isn’t that special, and while making an earnest and heartfelt appeal to be allowed to place your penis in proximity to someone’s vagina can sometimes actually result in being granted permission, more often than not, that has more to do with mutual attraction, intelligence, and actual humour than it does with the suggestion itself. Now, if you didn’t actually WANT to put your penis in, on, or around someone’s vagina, why on earth would you be shouting it? Are you advocating that someone else do it? The chances of fucking-by-proxy are quite low, no matter how many times you have read Cyrano de Bergerac.

In this particular case, the reporter, Ms. Hunt, confronted the harassing warts and asked them why they thought it was okay to do what they’d done. Their responses range from “because it’s funny” to “everyone does it” to “it wasn’t directed at you so calm down”. When she asked if they thought their moms would find it funny, the response was “eventually, yeah, she’d find it hilarious.” I think what he meant was that “once my mother gets over being mortified that I would do such a thing, because she really did raise me to be better than this and has no idea that my opinion of women is kind of between tongue fuzz and fuck dolls, she might find the fact that I was filmed being a complete douchefart kind of funny because of the talking-to I got from the reporter.”

Some things you see on television (or on the internet) should not be repeated. Jumping off of a roof, for instance, jumping from one moving vehicle to another, picking up your children from school in the nude, shouting harassing things to, at, or near a reporter…all of these things are pretty much just bad ideas. Smart people understand that.

But I want an answer to one of Ms. Hunt’s questions – how would you like it if I walked up behind you at your work and shouted “fuck him in the asshole”? Is that something you would find funny? How about if I did it in front of your boss? In front of your mom? How about if I got my friend Noah to do it? Just some random stranger running up behind you at your office, or your kiosk, or your workstation, and shouting that? Think that’d be funny? Maybe I should get a bunch of people together and we can all come and do that during one of your classes or one of your exams. Maybe while you’re doing your banking. Maybe while you’re on a date. Does that sound like it might be embarrassing? Because if it does, there’s a good chance it’s harassment.

Harassment, by the way, is illegal in Canada. So the reason you lost your job, buttmunch, is because you engaged in illegal activity, ON TELEVISION. You also demonstrated that you have no respect for other people, and that you think it’s okay to shout obscenities at someone just because she has a vagina and a camera.

 

Unpopular

I’m a little reticent to post this, but it’s something I’ve been thinking about lately. I think I’m ready for all the trolls and hate and malarky. I get that what I’m about to say is an incredibly unpopular opinion, and that probably I don’t understand the details and am putting my own family’s lives at risk by having this opinion.

It’s about both Omar Khadr and Vincent Li.

I want to start this off by saying I am not going to comment at all about what either of these men did, are alleged to have done, were proven in a court of law to have done, or were morally or criminally responsible for. I also want to say that their actions caused a lot of harm and hurt to a lot of people, and there is simply no way anyone can ever, ever “make up” for that. Ever. That’s kind of the thing about taking human lives. There really is no way to “make it up” to the survivors of homicide. You just can’t bring them back, no matter what you do.

So here is what I’m going to talk about: due process. I am not a lawyer and I do not have a law degree. I do not know the fineries of the legal system. I do know this, though. Canadian citizens are afforded a few very important rights. We are fortunate (truly) to live in a country in which freedom of expression is a protected human right, for instance. Another right we have as Canadian citizens is the right to due process.

What does that mean? What is “due process”? Well, at its core, due process means that citizens of a country have legal rights which must be respected. The state has rather a lot of power when compared to a single citizen, and due process is intended to be a balancing act between the power the state wields and the rights of an individual. Due process started with the Magna Carta, which was a charter of rights between King John and a bunch of barons who were pretty pissed off that kings kind of took liberties (like access to swift justice, limitations on taxes, etc.) because they were kings. I’m paraphrasing of course, and oversimplifying things, but I don’t think that’s inaccurate.

I don’t know enough about international law and the history of law to comment any further than that, but from what I understand (and I am willing and eager to be edumacated if I have this wrong), Canadian citizens have the right (enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms) to life, liberty and security of the person. Even if we have been charged with committing a criminal offence, we have the right to be treated fairly. We have the right to our freedom until there is proof we did something wrong. We have the right to be tried for the charges against us in a reasonable time. We have the right to not be forced to testify against ourselves. We have the right to not be tried more than once if acquitted of charges of a crime. If you haven’t read the charter of rights and freedoms, I recommend you do. There’s probably not a lot in there you don’t already know, but it’s pretty important to know your rights.

Anyway, here’s my problem: I’ve heard you say that Omar Khadr and Vincent Li should be deported. That they should be put to death for the crimes for which they were charged. I respect your opinion, however, there are some problems of fact.

1) Canadian citizens cannot be deported. I mean, that’s actually impossible. When you are a citizen of Canada, there is nowhere you can be deported *to*, because Canada is, by definition, your home country. Now, you could make the argument to have the courts attempt to strip either of these acquitted men of their Canadian citizenship, and I have *no* idea what that would entail. You’d probably have to prove treason, which is, as I understand it, incredibly difficult to prove. In Canada, in order to be charged with treason, you have to kill or attempt to kill or restrain the Queen; start a war or try to start a war against Canada; assist an enemy or any armed forces at war or against whom the Canadian forces are engaged in hostilities, regardless of whether or not Canada is in a state of war; use force or violence to overthrow the government; sell or trade or give away state secrets of military or scientific nature that could put Canada in danger; conspire to commit treason; form an intent or manifest an intent to commit treason; conspire with anyone to do anything mentioned above, inside *or* outside Canada.

The penalty for treason, though, is imprisonment for up to a maximum of life or up to 14 years.

And I don’t think charging someone with treason would remove their citizenship. They still wouldn’t be deported. They’d be imprisoned (if found guilty) in Canada. In 2014, the federal government received royal assent for the “Strengthening Canadian Citizenship Act”, which does contain information about how *dual citizens* could have their Canadian citizenship revoked. Most involve being convicted of treason (Gov’t of Canada: http://news.gc.ca). So I didn’t know if it’s even possible to revoke citizenship for Canadians who are *not* dual citizens. Smart folks, chime in here and let me know if that’s possible.

The point is, you can’t deport a Canadian citizen. You just can’t.

2) You can’t put people to death in Canada because we don’t (thankfully) have capital punishment in this country. You are welcome to think we should. And it’s certainly easy to get me completely out of an argument by saying “so-and-so should get the death penalty”, because that is the point at which I know we will never see eye to eye on the issue.

3) Both of these men were acquitted of their crimes in courts of law. I could argue that Omar Khadr did not receive ‘due process’, because he was charged with military crimes, which meant he could be held without charges for way longer than is legally “right”. He did not receive a timely trial. His rights *as a Canadian citizen* were not upheld. It actually does not matter what he did or is accused to have done. As a Canadian citizen (and as a minor at the time of his alleged criminal acts), he had the right to a fair trial in a reasonable amount of time. Thirteen years in prison is not a “reasonable time”. In fact, if he had been charged and found guilty of murder, he might have been released from prison in less than that amount of time.

Vincent Li was found not guilty by reason of mental illness. Because he is a Canadian citizen, he has the right to a fair trial in a reasonable amount of time. He was tried fairly and in a reasonable amount of time. And the court found him not guilty. That doesn’t mean he didn’t commit a crime. It meant he could not be found criminally responsible for his actions. You might not like that application of law, but it is there to protect people from being unjustly imprisoned.

Ultimately, these two Canadian men received (eventually) fair treatment (although one could argue that Khadr did *not*, in fact, receive fair treatment) under Canadian law. It’s okay to disagree about the nature of the laws that protect us and that govern us. As Canadians, we have that right. It’s okay to think and to say that Canadian laws have to be changed so that people like Khadr and Li don’t get to “roam around free as the birds” (which isn’t the case; both men have fairly strict conditions placed on their release). If you don’t like the laws that govern and protect Canadian people, you can change them. How? Well, you have to vote for the people who will make those changes.

It’s not a fast process, and it’s not an easy process, but you have the power to do it. I certainly wouldn’t like it if you changed our laws to bring back capital punishment and to rescind rights from Canadians, and I would vote for the person who would block that bill. I guess what I’m getting at here is that you and I both have the right, the power, and the responsibility to take part in our country’s legislative process. Please do so. I don’t care if you don’t share my opinions – in fact, it’s better for the country and for democracy if you don’t. But please, please. Stop advocating violence and hatred against these two men. Blame the system that set them free. Blame them for doing wrong. But don’t make their actions meaningless.

Change the system instead of being like them, if you hate what they did or are alleged to have done.

small town roughs

Image from Baby Animal Zoo

We had just finished setting up our tent in among the buildings, although the buildings were in the wrong configuration. It was a farm I’d never been to before, in the disguise of one that, were I a bitter, unforgiving soul, I would charge with having taken too many lives. A couple of fox kittens trotted in to the clearing we’d chosen, and allowed themselves to be handled and played with, their mother, beside a bin, watching warily with bared teeth.

The kits trundled off and we zipped up our flaps and made our way into town for a bite at the Chinese café. And this is where things got weird. Upon arrival, the owner’s son – a young guy who looked just like his father 40 years and 100 pounds earlier – glared at me and told me I had some nerve showing up there. I told him I didn’t know what he was talking about. Didn’t really even know the guy, except that my father had pointed him out to me.

He said, “that case you left caused a lot of problems.”

“What case?” I asked. I mean. The last time I’d been at the restaurant was nearly a year ago, at harvest.

“Don’t play innocent with me, bitch. The case you got from -” He cut himself short when he saw the kids behind me. “My mistake,” he said, still glaring pointedly at me. “I have confused you with someone else.” Then he leaned toward me and whispered “You come and get the case later. I don’t want your problems.”

Mystified, I let the children go ahead of me as he seated us between the window and the top of the staircase in a part of the restaurant that has never existed.

“What was that about?” The Fenris Wolf asked.

“I have no idea,” I told him, although there was something in the back of my head, some niggling thing that seemed to indicate that Lord V would know what this guy was on about. Which, of course, in the manner of these sorts of things, is probably why he was already waiting for us at our table.

It had been a while since I’d seen him, and although he hadn’t changed much, I was struck by how inertia can hold a man to a place and keep him just “same” enough so as to be nearly on the edge – but not quite – of stagnation. Still a fine fellow. Still quick as a whip. The kids didn’t recognize him at first, but that changed soon enough. We ate our dinners and were joined by the Tall Man and that, altogether was Quite Nice.

Then “Kenny, the Chinaman’s Son”, as the townspeople called him, came back to the table carrying a small red plastic case. The kind that would have held a portable typewriter perhaps, or that a child might have used as a suitcase. He glared at me again, recovering quickly enough for a smile at the others at our table. “You forgot this last time you were here,” he said, and tucked the case between my chair and the table leg. “Don’t let them find it,” he whispered as he bent to wedge it in there. “And don’t come back.”

I knew, as my foot nudged the corner of the case, that it was full of drugs. Nothing major, really, just a pound or so of weed. It was enough to put me in the clink, of course, but, predictably, it wasn’t mine. It had been left behind by someone whose table was near mine, someone I’d known as a teenager, but whose life diverged drastically from mine after the summer we were both 14. “This isn’t -” I began, but Kenny was gone.

I excused myself for a moment, rose from the table, and went downstairs to find him. I needed to tell him the case wasn’t mine, that he should just call the police and have done with it. The main floor of the restaurant was dark, the only noises coming from the basement kitchen (which has, of course, never been there). I followed the sounds, heard low voices speaking what I assumed to be Chinese. I chastised myself for never asking where Kenny’s family was from; which of the Chinese dialects/languages he spoke.

The sound of the door chime snapped me out of myself, and I ran up the stairs. A half dozen men stood by the till, their backs to me. They looked like a cast of characters from a true crime expose on the Tong. I slipped around the corner and upstairs to our table. I took the case, my purse, and my jacket.

“Be silent,” I whispered, “take your plates, your things, and come with me.”

This must be the first time in the history of having a family and friends listened to me and did exactly as I said. We all filed in to a little-used upstairs prep kitchen. Several staff members were there, shuffling nervously and glancing at one another with wide eyes. Through low windows we saw a half dozen souped-up cars with tinted windows, left running. I told the children to get under the long stainless steel table and work themselves in behind some boxes.

I slid the case between a cooler and the wall and myself crouched under the table. The Fenris Wolf, The Tall Man, and Lord V stood and watched out the window. Voices from downstairs rose, fell, shouted. Footsteps on the stairs in the dining room. The tension in the prep kitchen was palpable. I saw beads of sweat on the temples of every person in that room.

Then, as quickly as it had begun, it was over. The cars squealed away from the parking lot, the employees in the prep kitchen wilted like unwatered seedlings, and The Tall Man exclaimed “what the fuck was that about?”

I woke, thinking this would make an excellent start to a NaNoWriMo novel. Some names may have to be changed to protect the intercedant.

I didn’t know it would be that bad.

Then I started thinking, with all the hullaballoo about the Alberta election, someone should make one of those “Hitler reacts” videos. Because, you know, that’s never been done before.

Turns out I’m actually a pretty horrible person.

Congratulations, Alberta!

So I changed my blog template because I’m so very happy for my Alberta peeps, who tonight made history when they elected an NDP majority government. I know there are a lot of folks concerned as all hell about what this election is going to mean for Alberta’s provincial revenues, jobs, etc., and rightfully so, I think. After more than 40 years under the ‘natural governing party’, there’s a lot of history there that the new government simply won’t have.

Add to that – a great number of the new MLAs are quite young, and that scares people. There’s a feeling that there’s no way these folks will know how to run a province. You’re probably right. But I have every confidence that they’ll learn. They ran for this office because they care. They care a LOT. I know, I know, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and all. But this is a great way to engage young voters – young candidates. And, for that matter, they have four years to get up to snuff. If they don’t manage it in those four years, they won’t keep their seats.

Above all, what the voters in Alberta have said is that they didn’t agree with the direction their government was taking. And they didn’t just disagree a little bit. They were all, “bitch PLEASE”. This is the political equivalent of flipping a table and storming out of the pub. This is exciting, and terrifying, all at the same time.

I don’t want to reiterate what everyone else is saying. I just want to say that I’m very happy that Alberta has succumbed to the Orange Crush. It’s the first time I have ever considered moving to Alberta. And yes, I am considering it.

Good on you, my friends. Good on you. And congratulations for electing a woman. YOU GUYS MADE ME SO HAPPY.