SARcasm











{November 10, 2013}   Rob Ford – My Thoughts

So I guess I’m a little behind the eight-ball on this whole story, but I haven’t really found a comfortable way to address it since it began. If I take the sympathetic approach, it’s disingenuous as I truly am no fan of and do not like the mayor of Toronto. However, when speaking of addiction and a life that is clearly in crisis, taking the schadenfreude, let’s laugh at the buffoon approach seems callous and cruel, even if the man on the receiving end IS extremely easy to dislike, espouses poor political policies and is in no position -for many reasons – to run any city, much less the fourth largest in North America. Whether sober or not, he would never have my vote … and yet I can understand in the depths of whatever compassion I can claim that he is ill, and badly needs help. To that end, I don’t know if my words that follow will strike the tone I’m hoping to, and I apologize for that in advance. But I have done my best.

First of all, I suppose, for those who find living under rocks comfortable, let’s recap – on Halloween afternoon, the Toronto police announced they possessed a video of Toronto mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine, as described by several journalists and bloggers several months ago. Rob Ford spent a weekend responding with very general, vague, somewhat self-deprecating ‘We all make mistakes’-type comments before earlier this week admitting to having smoked crack cocaine “in one of my drunken stupors”. As Toronto city council moves to severely limit his powers, and the push for him to at a minimum take a leave of absence (which he steadfastly refuses to do … along with refusing to commit to sobriety in terms of his admitted drinking problem), and another video has become public of the mayor literally on a drunken, murderous rant, the story has ballooned out internationally, garnering attention not only on ‘real’ news, but Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” hosted by Jon Stewart, and its sister show, “The Colbert Report”, hosted by Stephen Colbert.

I don’t live in Toronto – I’m all the way in Ottawa – but I have friends and family there, and honestly, it is a huge city with major influence in Ontario, so I can’t help but to have developed an opinion on this case, and it comes down somewhere in between those seeking to make fun of and/or condemn the mayor, and those who support him, appreciate his flaws and foibles, and think he’s done a great job in office despite, you know, the alcohol and drugs. My thoughts, in no particular order, with no particular rhyme or reason, go something like the following:

  • At the end of the day, this isn’t really funny, but actually incredibly sad. No, no I won’t get all holier-than-thou about this, as I’ve laughed at Stewart and Colbert’s jokes too – but really, if we examine our best selves, it’s sad and scary. This is a man with a family, and a huge city which is suffering from a soap opera side show circus instead of the governance it needs and deserves. A city with much to be proud of is becoming a laughing-stock, and a man who badly needs help seems determined to self-destruct in the public eye, and take the city he runs down with him, refusing to compromise on even so much as a leave of absence, much less stepping down. Common sense has been abandoned and there is suffering on both a personal level, and a political, city-wide level. It is in some ways infotainment run amok and we enjoy the show … but let’s not lose sight that these are real lives – a real man with a real family, and an extremely large city with a large citizenry and complex infrastructure – which are suffering.
  • I am actually inclined to be naive and give the benefit of the doubt that Mayor Ford’s smoking crack was a one time event that occurred in a drunken haze. However, he has a drinking problem. And if I, as a sickeningly non-confrontational, non-judgemental person who takes stories about people she doesn’t know with several grains of salt, can see that and know that – and he has all but admitted that – and yet he will not commit to abstaining from alcohol, he will not commit to rehab or to step down … that is bad news for the city of Toronto, and will absolutely do nothing, really, for Rob Ford or his family either. We all do stupid things when drunk – for some of us maybe that just means dancing poorly and telling embarrassing stories, for others it might be a bit more serious, going home with someone they don’t know for example – but I don’t think that smoking a hard drug is under the traditional list of ’embarrassing drunken mistakes made by all’. And remember – this man is a forty-some-year-old who smoked crack … as the mayor of Toronto … and the mitigating factor he cites is that he was in a drunken stupor. This shouldn’t be inspiring a great deal of confidence in Torontonians – any Torontonians – in terms of their mayor.
  • All of this said – right now this needs to be about damage control and not schadenfreude … and on a similar note, we need to focus on the issues. Drug and alcohol use insofar as they affect Mayor Ford’s job performance – and to the extent he doesn’t think these as problems need to be addressed in any meaningful way – are fair game, for example, as are his policies to those who disagree with him, including the hypocrisy that he has been known to take a hard line on drug users. I have no problem with anyone criticizing the mayor. But ‘he’s stupid’, ‘he’s fat’, ‘he’s a clown/buffoon/idiot’ … I figure we have enough concrete, tangible, job-performance-related things to throw at him at this point without having to be ‘mean’. At the end of the day, this man is a crappy mayor who is selfishly inflicting all of his problems on the city he runs; his weight, his plain-spokeness, his likability or lack thereof have nothing to do with it.
  • Bottom line; let’s not indulge the soap opera. Here are the facts that matter, bluntly without trying to take cheap shots: the mayor of Toronto has a substance abuse problem that at least includes – but is not necessarily limited to – alcohol. He has been drunk at official events a number of times, and has been drunk to the point he thought that indulging in illegal drugs was a good use of his time as mayor. He is not necessarily evil or bad for this, but he is sick. And in his stubborn refusal to admit as much, he is pulling the great city of Toronto down with him. And if Rob Ford truly loves his city and his constituents as much as he claims, he will think long and hard about them – as well as his family, friends, and those who love him – and realize the best thing he can do for anyone who cares for him – and anyone he cares for – would be to get help, so he can best serve the city he was hired to represent.

Again, this is all just extemporaneous first draft stuff, so if it’s wordy, or babbly I apologize. I am just filled in equal parts with sadness, concern, frustration, anger, and yes, if I’m honest and not polishing up my halo too much, a touch of schadenfreude … and I just want those who are sick to be well, and those who need to be looked after in the meantime, to be looked after. My very best wishes to the city of Toronto as they face, frankly, a concerning and tricky time in their city governance, and yes … I also wish the best for Rob Ford as he is, again, clearly in crisis, and I hope for his sake and that of his wife, kids, and family, as well as ‘the city [he] love[s]’, that he searches his soul and finds the way out.



So I am sorry that over the last two weeks we have literally one or the other of our little family has been sick, or we’ve been travelling almost every single day. However, the good thing is that my time sick the last few days has given me a little chance to catch up on some of my blog reading, including my friend T over at The Dubious Hausfrau – you can find her link over in my blogroll, and I’ve linked to the specific blog entry here. And she had a great idea (that she in turn had gotten from a friend, and proper credit is given over there) about a reverse bucket list – instead of listing all the things we have yet to do, perhaps a list of the things we’ve done that we can celebrate and be thankful for are in order … as much as it’s my policy to not dwell on the past and live instead in the present and future, that can sometimes lead to feeling you haven’t lived life yet, and minimizing the experiences that have made you who you are. So for giggles … here’s my reverse bucket list.

  1. My family. This is the one thing I know without a doubt I’ve done right. I’ve married a good guy and had two kids I was never certain I’d have. That’s pretty awesome in my books. There are lots of other things on this list that excite me and give me great joy, but through the good times and the bad, this is my anchor and my rock. When you add in the parents, step-parents, sibling, grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws … the people around me and I have built a tremendous network of love and support and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.
  2. Teaching. Yes – I haven’t done as much in this field as I’d like but if I’m honest, I’ve had two years of working in a classroom of my own, three years teaching online courses, and some solid supply teaching … this is not bad in this day and age starting out in the profession in Ontario, and I am blessed for that.
  3. Two degrees – on a similar note, I’m proud of having earned two pieces of paper that have allowed me to pursue that career, in however an ad hoc, haphazard fashion. I have, in frustration, felt at times like those pieces of paper were worthless, but I also know there are people out there who would love nothing more than to have them, and if I’m honest, would have worked harder for them and appreciated them more than I – I am grateful for the opportunity to have gone to the school of my choice, to have graduated, and to recognize it took a village to make that happen.
  4. Travels – I have been incredibly blessed with the travelling I’ve been able to do … from almost every major city in the US (New York, LA, Las Vegas, Miami), to Edinburgh, to various parts of Canada, to Mexico and the Carribbean, I treasure all of my vacation moments, and look forward to more as we can manage them. Especially when events are tied to them … Wrestlemania …. Disney … honeymoon … my brother’s World Championship drumming win … a cruise … all very, very cool, and something I need to remember when I sometimes feel like life’s ‘too boring’.
  5. Having seen a play I wrote get produced. I know this was controversial back in the day – it was very autobiographical and artsy emo chick nonsense, and I think I might have hurt or upset some people in the process … I don’t know if I would do this again now as a more mature adult. But both the pride of seeing my work onstage, and the lessons learned about writing ‘what you know’ while being careful about it, I think was worth the growing experience of it all.
  6. Directing theatre. I’m grateful to have learned fairly early that I can’t act, but I do have a vision for putting things together aesthetically. It’s been a steep learning curve and I’ve had lots of help, advice and support, but I’m proud to have directed two plays … that’s kind of a cool experience, and something to remember as I find myself missing theatre of late. Perhaps something to get back into.
  7. Having acted. Even if I will never win Anne Hathaway’s Oscar, I’ve had the chance to be a part of some pretty nifty productions with some pretty cool people. I like it. I like it a lot.
  8. Preaching a sermon; I have always found the idea of leading worship inspiring and with both my faith and my inclination to public speaking, something I have always been interested in doing. I had that opportunity in my teens when I helped lead youth worship, and I have had the blessing to grow into that role a few times now over the last couple of years at my current church home, and I am so thankful for the lessons and support I’ve received for that endeavour.
  9. Defeating the Legend of Zelda. Both quests. Yeah baby! 😀 Yeah OK maybe not as cool as the others but dammit, it took me years!
  10. Seeing my name in print – in newspapers and blogs, writing has always been like breathing to me and so it’s really super cool when something I write does get picked up. Hasn’t happened in awhile, but it’s pleasing.
  11. Breaking the soother habit. Yeah – again – but this one took me four years.
  12. Getting my driver’s license. Fifteen years from bell to bell people, with some real issues in terms of spatial and depth perception, I am damn proud!
  13. Being a wrestling writer. OK – it’s not exactly Pro Wrestling Illustrated or WWE Magazine, or even the Pro Wrestling Torch or Pro Wrestling dot Net, but I have my own little wrestling corner on the web, with its own little audience, I get to chat with the fine folks from Kayfabe Wrestling Radio from time to time and enjoy their support, and it feeds my little need for attention. 🙂

I’m sure I could think of more … but I want to turn it over to you. What items are included on YOUR ‘reverse bucket list’?



{July 15, 2013}   Baby Veronica

As an adoptive parent, I’ve been following the Baby Veronica story for some time now. To save this blog post from getting horribly long, and to avoid the risk of leaving out important or pertinent facts, some thought-provoking insight, and a pretty thorough view of the landscape, can be found by checking out both of the following sites (NOTE: they represent two opposing sides, so please read both for at least something of a balanced view):

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/baby-veronicas-birth-mother-girl-belongs-with-adoptive-parents/2013/07/12/40d38a12-e995-11e2-a301-ea5a8116d211_story.html

http://nicwa.org/babyveronica/

Now I want to clarify I am not on ‘a side’ here. While as an adoptive parent one might expect a natural inclination to side with them, I am sensitive to the touchy issue of removing native children from their homes and cultures, and I do understand the adoption was not finalized at the time Veronica’s biological father asserted his parental rights. At the same time, I recognize at first he had no intention of parenting the baby, and she was raised and settled for two years in what seems to be a happy home with a healthy ‘open adoption’ setup which was disrupted by the father’s reemergence. I can’t help but wonder about ulterior motives – punishing the biological mother with whom he had an acrimonious relationship? a politically motivated move? – while at the same time recognizing this is a sensitive topic and the case of a native child being raised in a native environment always needs to be given some due consideration. Mudslinging aside from both parties – from accusations of not allowing contact to the seeming treatment of ‘child as commodity’, I tend, at the end of the day, to consider this simply a messy and unfortunate situation that is difficult and tragic for all involved.

That said, while reading this article on the topic today, I came across a comment that I found so very offensive as an adoptive parent. And I considered ignoring it as the ignorant ravings of someone who simply had no idea what she was talking about, but have since decided, given how many misunderstandings there are out there about adoption, adoptive parents, biological parents, rights, relationships etc., that it merits response lest anyone else harbour any such attitudes (the kind of attitudes that to this day lead to references to our kids’ ‘real mother’, or whether we will ever ‘have kids of our own’). Here is the comment:

“Her adoption wasnt finalised so they where not the adoptive parents, they have shown by their actions that they don’t give a f**k about her because they want ownership. They know she doesn’t remember them (fortunately their ambitions show many red flags) but that doesn’t matter adoption especially private needs to be banned. You have commodified babies into saleable items people wont adopt these children who need parents, ie these in foster care as that would mean them doing work to help the child. What these who want to adopt want is a healthy baby well sorry the infertile are not owed babies. Everyone has the right to try for a child its up to nature to decide if you can have one.”

Where do I even begin? I will ignore the first accusations – the ones directly aimed at these particular parents – as I’m not familiar enough with the case on a personal level to know whether those accusations are fair or not; they’ve been made on both sides, towards both the biological father’s tribe and the adoptive parents themselves. However … banning adoption? I agree private adoption can be problematic, and I don’t want to pretend that there is no comodification of babies, stigmatization of ‘birth mothers’, etc. I am admittedly on that score speaking from the position of privilege as someone who was blessed to be in a position financially, emotionally, mentally to adopt. And while I have made a promise on many levels not to share the details of our children’s first mother’s story, I can tell you without hesitation and ask for your trust that, while it was more than clear that she loved both boys, struggled with the idea of placing them for adoption, and wanted nothing but good things for them, their lives would have been untenable had she kept them. This is not simply a matter of a woman who was young, poor, or taken advantage of – at least not by us – although those are all parts of her story. You can be young, poor, uneducated, and still manage as a parent. There were deep seated issues here by which, she would not have, and she was in many ways the first person to recognize as much.

Nor are we some elite buying children – we work professional jobs, but were just starting out, making entry level salaries, and went through the public adoption system. While we could afford to take children into our home and give them a decent life, by no means could we have afforded thousands of dollars in overhead to do so – we knew that money would be better spent providing for their education, or even a fun family trip on which to make memories, than padding some lawyer or social worker’s bottom line. We took a great leap of faith, as such, in keeping an open mind to childrens’ age, potential health risks etc. And our sons, when adopted, were high risk. We have been blessed in their health and their growth … but this wasn’t a given. We wanted to be parents, whatever that meant. Did that mean recognizing our limitations – that handling a severely disabled child, for example, would be beyond our ken? Sure. But we had to do some real soul searching through the adoption process of just what ‘wanting to be parents’ meant to us, and it broadened our minds – honestly, any parent-to-be, biological, adoptive or otherwise, should have to go through what we did in some ways. Infertility in some was was a blessing in disguise to explore the true meaning of ‘parenting’.

And as for the infertile not being owed babies, and it’s up to nature to decide who has one … well, when the ability to parent biologically is honestly a lottery ticket, and many undeserving people hit the jackpot while so many who are sincere and genuine in simply wanting to provide a little person a home lose out. It’s not an ‘entitlement’ issue … the adoption process in itself is a crapshoot. Ours went incredibly smoothly and lasted a year ‘bell to bell’, as it were. Others have to wait much longer. Others even more open-minded (or richer) than us might have an even quicker placement. But I do believe people willing to put in the time and the work to prove that they truly want to be parents, deserve … not a guaranteed child, but a chance. That’s all the process offers us, just like that’s all nature offers bio-parents out there. And trust me – the process is tough! If we’d given any sign of ‘healthy white baby, no exceptions please’, I would be willing to wager a small fortune (because I don’t have a big one) that we’d have never been approved for a placement.

I guess my thing is this – I am all for opposing opinions, especially on things so fraught as … well, anything surrounding parenting. Go make babies in the bedroom, in a lab, or adopt ones who are already here …  be permissive or strict, attachment-oriented or more laissez-fair … I might make the same choices, different ones, or be limited in my choices as the case may be, but they’re our choices right, and we will all have our own approach, and as long as your child is basically happy and healthy I won’t go banging you over the head about it. All of this stuff can be problematic and I acknowledge I’m not going to be looking at adoption through the same paradigm as a birth parent or adoptee. But please – if you are going to have a strong opinion, please let it be an informed one? I mean, I know internet message boards and comment sections are prime territory for the mouth (or fingers over the keyboard) moving more quickly than the brain, but don’t tar all adoptive parents with the same brush as some who have used or abused the system … or been failed by it, depending on your – and here’s the magic word – perspective.



{May 29, 2013}   RIP Dr. Henry Morgentaler

Dr. Henry Morgentaler passed away today at 90 years old. The man has an amazing life story, having come to Canada as a Holocaust survivor and being a true pioneer in modernizing our abortion laws. A case in regards to his practice struck down all laws outlawing abortion in Canada in  1988 under the wonderful document we refer to as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, defending women’s rights to “Life, liberty, and security of the person.”

This man risked violence, death threats and public opinion to defend women’s rights, and was rewarded with the Order of Canada in 2008. This is something I’m hugely proud of; in Canada, we don’t murder or bomb our abortion practitioners … we give them the highest civilian honour available, recognizing the brave and controversial nature of their work, and in Morgentaler’s case his pioneering ways. After a past more difficult than any of us could imagine, he went on to become a doctor fighting for the rights of his patients. This is wildly admirable, in my view.

While Dr. Morgentaler’s health forced him to give up personally performing abortions in 2006, he still oversaw a series of clinics in his name until very near his death today. One may or may not agree with his stance and what he fought for (I personally do – while full disclosure forces my pro-choice self to admit that some cases of abortion give me pause, it is far too important in the bigger picture of women’s rights and bodily autonomy to allow societal judgements and pearl clutching to factor into those decisions) – but what cannot be disputed was the courage of his convictions, and his willingness to stand up for them. And I believe that much (and, personally, his accomplishments) deserves to be lauded and remembered at this time. Godspeed, Dr. Morgentaler.



I just read the following article over at ThinkProgress (good folks, by the way):

Call To Ban ‘Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl’ Prompts Sensible Response From Michigan School.

And I have just two thoughts to throw out there.

  1. If in reading this book about a young Jewish girl hiding with her family during the Holocaust, who ultimately didn’t survive, the most objectionable and difficult material for the parent in question in the above article to absorb consists of Anne Frank’s thoughts and observations of her body’s progress through puberty/adolescence etc., then she really is missing the forest for the trees. And …
  2. Whatever material we might find difficult, uncomfortable, worthy of oversight and ‘parental guidance’ – be it sexuality, war, violence, or a little old thing like genocide – I can’t drive home enough that the answer is not ban, hide, ignore, head-in-the-sand-ism. Your children, in the course of their lives, are going to learn about all of the above and then some, whether you like it or not. And whatever values you wish to instill in them – non-violence, patriotism, abstinence, bigotry, inclusiveness – are not best instilled by ignorance, but by frank and honest awareness and discussion, lest – for better or worse – they stumble upon this material and (gasp! horror!) develop their own opinions on it anyway.

BOTTOM LINE:

Whether you wish to participate in, or nay, even control, your child’s education, the answer is not  to prevent their education, but to educate yourself so that you can help, participate, advocate. We don’t owe our children ignorance – we owe them frank, honest lessons and as much knowledge and wisdom as we can cram into their heads. Lest they, too, grow up one day thinking the answer to ‘I don’t like that’ is to hide it forever from public view.



{March 25, 2013}   On Rape

So – I’ve been sitting on this blog entry for about a week now – I just haven’t had the time to do it justice (I can’t even describe how ill I’ve been, really for 3-4 weeks but the last week in particular). I’m still sure I won’t. But I have to say SOMETHING on the Steubenville rape case. I’ll leave it to you to check out the details of the case elsewhere, but the short version of the story is a 16-year-old girl, upon getting drunk to the point of passing out at a party, was raped by two members of her school’s football team while people watched, joked about it, took pictures and video, and it ended up posted online. Upon this case opening up, arrests being made, going to court etc., the sympathies towards the ‘good student’ footballers, the judgemental approach to the rape victim who drunkenly ‘must have asked for it’, etc. stirred up a firestorm of controversy. My thoughts:

  1. I’m not going to say underage drinking is smart. Nor is it smart for anyone to drink to the point of passing out with people they don’t know well or don’t trust. But stupid doesn’t equal criminal, and stupid doesn’t equal asking for it. I have known, and know, plenty of boys and men whose first response to this would be to make sure she got home safely, had some water and aspirin at her disposal for the undoubtedly painful wakeup the next morning, etc.
  2. I do think it’s important for everyone – men and women, girls and boys – to know how to make good choices and do what they reasonably can to be street smart and avoid crime as possible; however, at the end of the day, it is up to potential criminals to, you know, not commit crimes. If I’m walking alone down a deserted street with a wallet full of cash, is that a smart choice? No. But does that mean it’s OK for someone to rob me because, well, my judgement was too poor to deserve otherwise? Absolutely not. It’s time we focus less on teaching girls how to avoid rape, and more on teaching boys not to rape.
  3. Sympathy here ultimately needs to rest with the victim of this awful crime, and the display from CNN in particular and other news outlets in general of sympathies with these boys whose ‘bright futures’ have now been destroyed, is ill placed. Look – I believe we can make mistakes. Huge mistakes. And I believe we can all learn and grow. I agree 16, 17 years old is awfully young to have a lifelong label to carry around with you. HOWEVER, they chose these actions. They were old enough to know it was wrong, they did it anyway, no one else did it to them or for them. If their futures were ruined that is sad, but nowhere near as sad as the long road to recovery their victim is facing. There’s still a lot of time and room for growth and learning and I hope these boys avail themselves of that. There is still potential for ‘I was incredibly, monstrously, criminally stupid at 17, but this is what I learned and how I got my life back’ – but they need to earn that. It’s not incumbent on us to just hand them that.
  4. We need to teach the skills required to avoid these situations in school – this is why abstinence-only education doesn’t work. First and foremost, boys need to learn what consent does and does not look like, they need to learn to respect it, and they need to learn to respect their partners. Women do need to learn what kind of behaviours to accept and not accept from friends, partners, strangers, how to react to it and deal with it, what resources are available to them etc. Bystanders need to learn how, well, not to be bystanders – perhaps the most disgusting part in this case is the number of people who stood by and did nothing – nay, perhaps even enjoyed the show. And parents need to learn how to be comfortable discussing these things with their children – teaching people can be loved without sex and it’s OK to say no, that it’s absolutely imperative to accept no as an answer, and to ultimately enter any interhuman relationship with clear communication that goes both ways – clear messages and clear listening.
  5. RESPECT. This should not be that hard.

And I want to leave you guys with a very short but sweet video on the above that says everything I’m trying to say in one neat and tidy package, far more eloquently than I have here. Please watch, and share widely. Look after each other, and yourselves. Be well. XO



{December 6, 2012}   A Photo Worth Dying For?

On Monday, Ki-Suck Han, 58, was pushed onto a subway track and killed by an oncoming train during a confrontation with a clearly-deranged homeless man (who has since been arrested). Photographer R. Umar Abbasi – a freelance paparazzo for the New York Post – snapped the scene before submitting the photos to the Post. An incredibly clear shot, which looks to be from reasonably up close, was splashed across yesterday’s Post cover with a tacky, almost jubilantly morbid headline that I will not repeat here (nor will I republish the photo).

Now I try to be cautious about judging – especially in situations I’m not aware of (although I suppose my nasty little piece on Nicole Kidman awhile back might demonstrate to the contrary … but I was careful to base that on her public behaviour and comments, not assumptions about her private life to which I bear no witness). Especially a gruesome scenario like this – a man on a track in the face of an oncoming train, with the madman who pushed him there still lurking around (and clearly willing to hurt/kill), I know that I, for one, am a panicker and am all too familiar with the inartful habit of freezing in urgent moments (ask my husband about my (non-)reaction to our dining table going up in flames several Chanukahs ago). But it flabbergasts me that in this picture, there is not one hand reaching out to help this man, no evidence of anyone even trying, although the photographer, Abbasi, stated there were others around. Reports suggest there were 22-60 seconds between Han’s landing on the tracks and the train making impact; honestly, no one in that time could have reached in, hit an alarm button, screamed for help, something? Plausible I suppose – and not something I can really get on my high horse about, as I wouldn’t have had a clue what to do or how to help myself and probably would have panicked and shut down – but every last person on the platform? Perhaps not evil or worthy of rage, but … perhaps a sad and disappointing commentary on our coping and survival skills, our compassion and willingness to help our fellow man, etc.

And what about photographer Abbasi? I’m willing to acknowledge he might have been too far away to actually be able to reach this guy in time to save his life. However, in that time, Abbasi had the opportunity to take several pictures (with a flash, clear enough to merit front page placement in the NY Post) – granted photo technology can be an amazing thing at all, but I guess … in this case, I’m just thinking that here is someone who  didn’t panic and freeze, who had the presence of mind enough to pull out his camera and take several (in)decent shots … who took them to the NY Post and sold them thereafter … while he speaks to taking the photos being almost instinctive, to it happening oh so fast, he didn’t realize how well they’d turned out, he hadn’t even looked at them … I’m just having a hard time reconciling these two realities; the panicked journalist almost nervously taking flash photos either because ‘that’s what he does’ or because he was trying to get the subway driver’s attention to see if he could stop quickly enough (two stories the photographer has told), who didn’t even look through his viewfinder while taking these pictures, with the quick presence of mind he demonstrated to get those pictures – perfectly framed, zoomed in and clear –  back to his newspaper, and sold in time for the next day’s edition, with no editorial say over the use or placement of said picture. Someone that shrewd was alert enough to do SOMETHING … or at least try … I can’t help but think.

And as for the New York Post … I’m not even going to try to get in your head or mitigate this or justify it. The photographer and other bystanders may or may not have had a story, a reason for panicked ‘in the moment’ behaviour, decisions good and bad in a crisis. I doubt it in some cases, believe it in others, but that’s at least a discussino with two sides. You, on the other hand, made an insensitive, greedy, cold, calculated choice to sensationalize that which needed no sensationalizing; to put on the front page a huge, provocative picture with little journalistic value (the story has been told well elsewhere simply with pictures of the subway station itself) and an almost snearing-gloating headline. Those who were there witnessed and went through a harrowing ordeal and to the extent anyone could have done anything more, I think the memories of that day and the conversations they will inevitably be having with their God – or conscience – is more than enough punishment to mitigate that guilt. You, on the other hand, have no excuse. The real tragedy here is and will always be the (possibly needless) death of a New York City commuter at the hands of a violently ill individual; the tragedy for the news media is that you, NY Post, continue to be referred to as anything other than a tabloid rag.



{October 24, 2012}   “The R Word”

So here’s something I’m not entirely sure how to respond to.

There was a presidential debate last night, which President Barack Obama handily won. That’s not the issue here though. The issue was the conservative response to the debate.

No … no, that’s not the issue either. The issue is one particular conservative and her explanation for Mitt Romney’s debate performance, as longtime loudmouth pundit (or is that redundant?) Ann Coulter tweeted post debate that she approved of “Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.”

For those who have lived under a Politically Correct rock for years (and happily so), ‘retarded’ is an arcane word for those with special needs, disabilities, exceptionalities. It has long been out of vogue in terms of official use, and has long been seen as offensive as an insult – much like using gay or racial slurs.

Now here’s where I’m torn as to how those of us who find such things offensive should respond. My gut reaction is to respond loud and proud – demand apologies, repudiate the insulting of an entire group of (vulnerable) people to make a political point, insist we be more careful in our use of language, and not stop until Ms. Coulter understands the level of outrage her word choice has caused.

But this is a woman who thrives on the outrage. Who was so offensive to students here in Canada when she came on a speaking tour that they peacefully protested, and she – citing (unfounded) fears for her safety – cancelled her engagements and expressing her disgust at our manners and abrogation of free speech. BOTTOM LINE: she lives to stir the pot and garner attention. The more people she has pissed off (excuse my French) the better.

So what is the appropriate response – give her the attention she craves? Or repudiate her words to indicate our own disgust and disagreement? I feel on the one hand like the best way to make Ann Coulter’s ilk wither and die on the vine is to ignore them, leave them spitting their vitriol into the wind without the responsive audience they so crave. On the other hand – it goes against everything in my being to stand by silent while such hateful language is employed so casually, and even if it doesn’t change her opinion (or that of her kind), it at least establishes it’s not OK.

Perhaps this is why I end up, at times, a less effective advocate than I’d like to be, as I have over the years employed both of the above tactics, sometimes with success, sometimes not. Does anyone out there have any thoughts?



et cetera