Monday, January 17, 2011

Pet peeves...

I have an issue with people who talk a big line, but when push comes to shove they cower and look away, make excuses, anything really, to avoid addressing the problem at hand in active terms.  A few years ago I encountered a young woman being beaten with a metal pole by another young woman, in broad daylight, on Portage Avenue in the middle of the workday. There were a number of people standing around within 3 to 5 metres, including a hotdog stand and people waiting for the light to change at crosswalk. The young woman was cowering against a bus shelter as her assailant savaged her. Nobody had intervened. Nobody had called the police, and I suspect most passersby were actively looking away. She thanked me profusely and asked for an escort to the bus lest her assailant follow, but she refused police and medical attention despite blood and bruises.

At various times too, I've encountered or heard stories from friends who complain about clearly an unfair practice in a workplace, or a tyrannical, actively homophobic, misogynist, harassing, etc boss or colleague. Yet, they refuse to stand up and do something to something about it despite clear avenues of redress. In more sinister situations they shy away from supporting a "friend" or coworker. Conflict apparently upsets them more than the continued abuse of a mate.

Sometimes, being in an academic discipline that tends to the left of the political spectrum has its merits. One develops a critical awareness of various social negatives and starts looking for solutions. At the same time, all that training in critical thought can blind people the bigger picture and they become absorbed in picking apart ideas that they largely agree with instead of actually discussing a way of effectively solving the problem at hand.

Dave recently chambered and fired a heavy calibre Godwin and judging from the Prog Blog votes, it definitely resonates with large numbers of readers. Still, it hasn't stopped people from parsing whether a Harper-Hitler comparison is apt or not based apparently on the idea that one authoritarian piece of shit needs to mimic to the letter the deed and personality of another.  This shits me. Everytime an Hitler-_____ analogy is made, nice reasonable people run around yelling Godwin and war which in some ways serves as a de facto defence of subject of the analogy. It seems to me to be a way of deflecting from the serious what is actually happening to our country and democracy as a result of current resident of 24 Sussex.

This is not how we win.

The secret to defeating a bully or a monster is to be willing to lose more than they are. If Harper manages to retain power and turn the Opposition into a stable of eunuchs, how far are you willing to go to defeat him? Will you lose your house? Are prepared to sleep in a ditch? Will you risk jail? Beatings and perhaps even shootings? Police already routinely harass and beat known activist leaders as part of their regular campaign of monitoring and intimidation. Are you willing let that happen to you? Will you stand up and participate in the next Salt March, which promises to be bloodier than the first?

Or will you cower and compromise, turn your face away and make excuses? Shut down your blog, stay off the streets, disown your friends? Will you parse and equivocate when you can't find your name on electoral roles, and strange official looking letters of threat appear in your mailbox? Will you let that bully-child in the Prime Minister's chair use your country and fellow human beings as punching bags as he works out his Loughnerian adolescent rage issues?


Will you recognise that your very living breathing body and mind are weapon systems?  Will you get aggressive, and refuse to let that snivelling little fuck own your future?


Pam Palmater said...

Powerful words.

Most people feel uncomfortable looking at their own roles in the current situation in Canada.

It is much easier to look at someone else and criticize, but would they be willing to stand up, speak up and risk their reputation, promotion, chance to hang with the popular crowd, or risk losing contracts, media attention or political promises?

I think if they looked really hard at the situation, they'd see that their reputation is not as great as they think it is, the promotion is an illusion meant to keep employees in line, the popular crowd would just as soon stab you in the back as high-five you, a contract with the devil contains dangerous small print, the media attention serves only the ego, and we all know political promises are not worth the paper they should be written on.

If I had a dime for every bozo who threatened to sue me because of my blog....

Dana said...

I always hearken back to when I need to be reminded.

But then, we're not German, it isn't the 20's, we weren't just decimated by a massive defeat etc etc.

All those things apprenly mean that it can't happen here.

According to the German academic and middle class it couldn't happen there either.

But don't think about it too hard. It might upset your day.

JJ said...

I didn't think Dave's post was over the top. There's a place for the judicious use of hyperbole in making a point (or an attention-grabbing title). Besides, nothing he said was untrue. Some might quibble about the delivery, but the message was valid.

My issue is with those who insist on baseless fearmongering: it makes us look like paranoid nuts, and that's not how we win either.

When I occasionally call out such nonsense, it is just out of a desire to maintain a reality-based debate. There are all kinds of good reasons to oppose the Harper government, we don't have to make shit up. (I don't believe that just because *they* make shit up, we should respond in kind.)