Thursday, February 16, 2012

Jan. 16: Three columns worth reading...

Start with Alec Bruce on the editorial page. He takes what reads like a light-hearted article on Valentine's Day. It's easy reading and amusing. Then he goes for the jugular with a  very serious point to make in the final paragraphs. Readable. Entertaining. Something to say.

Facing him on the op ed page is Jody Dallaire. Her commentary isn't light-hearted. But it's well and clearly written on an abuse that is not only degrading to women who suffer it, but which reflects our attitude to women and even young girls in general. And you find it even in the most sophisticated circles in Moncton - like the Casino.

Above the Dallaire column is one by Rod Allen, an assistant managing editor of The Moncton Times and Transcript.  It is about balding; it's about Bruce Cockburn; it's about how many times and where Allen has seen him; then it's about what a nice guy Alex Colville is, then something about what children are like. There is, as he admits no significant connection between all those topics. Like all of such commentary columns written by staff writers, it is boring, frivolous and unintelligible. And these are the people who make the big decisions about what is news and how it should be presented.

I wonder if the world NewsToday editor ever reads his own stories.If so, he should check out a story about aerial drones on p. C3. Towards the end of it,a Canadian air force general raises concerns about the number of civilians killed by drones. If the edtior did read this story, did he think, "Civilian casualties? From drones? What casualties? I mean, if civilians were getting killed, surely we must have mentioned it."

In fact, very few of the North American media are mentioning this dirty little story. You can find it in some European papers, and there are some reliable sites in Goggle. But the American government has consistently refused to give estimates of civilian deaths by drones or any other form of bombing. Yet it has been using them for years against civilians in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya - at least. A choice type of target is a funeral procession of a suspected Taliban leader, since it is assumed that some Taliban will be in attendance. I'm sure that such people would be there - along with women, children, the elderly....

From the earliest use of bombers - going way back to 1910, the major causalties of bombers have been civilians - and it has usually been deliberate. Check out the American bombing of Cambodia.

Meanwhile, we are informed by the UN that Syria is guilty of human rights abuses. No doubt. Too bad the UN has not yet noticed the American and British human rights abuses in the torture and killing of civilians - not to mention the genocide in Guatemala. (Of course, we're getting our foreign news from Reuters and Postmedia which don't like to mention unpleasant things.)

L'Ecole Carrefour de l'Acadie is holding a march against bullying. That's worth doing. But we should not slip into the habit of thinking this is a school problem. There were kids who were bullies long before the first school was built.

Bullying comes from a variety of social factors - like social background, parental example.... You figure maybe some kids sit with their parents to watch hockey on TV? And they listen to Don Cherry?
Don Cherry talks like a bullying lout. I doubt whether he is. Certainly, my sense is he's pretty intelligent. And he's smart enough to know what his audience wants to hear. The team owners know that audience, too. They know that bullying and violoence are admired. They're manly.

Well, there's a lesson easily learned. We have a habit of looking to schools to cure all problems. And they do cure a great many problems. But there are some problems that schools don't cause, and that they can't cure.

We cause them. And only we can cure them.

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