Saturday, 30 April 2016

Of Smoke and Mirrors

As the government discusses the regulations for the legalization of marijuana, I wonder if this policy will make life better for those who require the drug for medicinal purposes, or will it endanger the lives of ordinary citizens. In my opinion there is a certain amount of hypocrisy in the Liberal’s statement in the throne speech that said: “the Government will introduce legislation that will… legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana.” 

Trudeau and his friend Obama, in their own words, have both used drugs, including marijuana. In a blatant political move to gain the votes of legalization proponents, Trudeau made the promise to legalize the drug. The problem is that now that they are in power, the government is finding out that to implement a promise may be a little more difficult than they thought -  hence the ambiguity from the former Toronto Police chief, and Liberal MP who said that “there was no hard and fast schedule to the legalization timetable.” 

While proponents of legalization seem to be overjoyed by the governments promises, there remains many unanswered questions as to the effect of legalize marijuana on society. While a judge in British Columbia has ruled that users of medical marijuana can grow their own weed, growers of medicinal, we have yet to see rules about industrial grow ops. All the while there are many shops growing around the country and local governments have yet to get a grip on their establishment and locations.

From a safety point of view, the public knows very little about the effects of driving under the influence of marijuana. Cases of accidents caused by drivers under the influence of the drug are growing across North America. There is more young people smoking marijuana, and some may graduate to harder drugs. Further studies may be required to determine whether marijuana is a gateway to harder drugs.

However this is not what this piece is all about. Rather I want to bring to the fore the hypocrisy of governments. Taking a page from the temperance movement which saw prohibition of alcohol in North America, many groups attacked the use of tobacco. Lawsuits, new regulations and restrictions have been used to curtail the use of smoking in public and even in private (in cars). Bars and clubs were made to build special smoking rooms, and now a new ban on menthol cigarettes is envisaged. All the while governments everywhere increased taxes on tobacco products in the guise that they were protecting citizens’ health. Alcohol and tobacco became the preferred method of raising governments’ revenues; they approved a special ‘sin tax’.

As people switch from tobacco to ‘vaping’, and the use of the ‘hookah’, once again governments saw a source of revenue and placed the new electronic cigarettes under the same rules as tobacco. However they ignored studies done in the UK that shows that vaping is 95% less harmful than tobacco smoking. In fact it helped to curtail smoking habits

The same people who opposed tobacco are now silent on the use of marijuana. No more talks of the harm caused by ‘secondary smoke’. Politicians who have been on board to ban tobacco now support the legalization of marijuana. Under the pretext that the drug will be used for medicinal purposes there now is an increase support for new growing and distribution industry. Companies like Tilray are now operating in Nanaimo- BC. There are some 300 applications for new distributors of medicinal marijuana. The truth be told it is reported to be a possible $10 billion industry. What a new source of revenues and taxation! While the federal government states that the revenues will be used for law enforcement and other platitudes, provincial governments, it seems, will be able to pocket the revenue and appropriate it to general revenues.

I am neither a proponent nor opponent of tobacco or marijuana; however I am a strong opponent of government’s hypocrisy. In my view people should decide for themselves if they want to be smokers or not. The onus should be placed on those who break the law. If it is found that marijuana falls under the same negative and dangerous influence as driving under the influence of alcohol, we should ban its use. Governments should not use the subterfuge that they are looking after the interest of citizens, when clearly ultimately it is their intent to find another source of revenue and raise taxes.
 Citizens should beware of apple pie and motherhood promises made by politicians, because in my view it is sheer hypocrisy.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Political Correctness: The New Bane of our Existence?

The English language is being transformed by the media and academics who are influenced by political correctness as they manipulate the proper use of language. Our society is being changed through the indoctrination of our youths in an education system which has lost its relevance due to the leftist, unionized personnel. We are gradually creating a pampered, sheltered and cocooned generation.

In politics as well as in everyday life, there is an increasing feeling that more and more people are being offended. Today it seems that any word can cause consternation among one group or another. Discourse and serious debate is being stifled because certain words have become anathema. Our universities are advocating and creating many policies that accommodate certain groups and ban others on campus. It is now becoming prevalent that universities and schools provide ‘safe places’ for those students who feel offended or aggrieved by the behaviour or statements made by those they disagree with.
Universities, once a place for intelligent and even adversarial discourse is now being used to muzzle certain groups and discriminate based on political correctness. Our education system no longer promotes individual thinking, but rather stimulates ‘group think’ activism.

Words are analysed and selected to promote discourse. But today, more often than not certain words are being disqualified from the vocabulary because they are deemed to be offensive. The media has been increasingly in favor of this trend. Newspapers and TV broadcasts have chosen to self-censor because the reporting of certain words may offend one group or another. The result is that the news and real information is being moderated to the point that the truth is not being reported.

Conservative views are being ostracized, even banned on campuses, while leftist and liberal views are being promoted and elevated despite the views of a silent majority. Examples of faculty and university policies which discriminate and stifle debate abound. Recently, students who believe that chalk writings supporting Trump on the steps of a campus were so  offensive, that the faculty decided that those students should be provided a ‘safe place’ to shelter their fragile self-esteem,

While it is allowed to have ‘pro-choice’ and LBGT demonstrations, conservative and pro-life protest are banned on many campus grounds. It is not the cause of the protest that matters, but it is the decision to allow or ban protests that matters. Universities used to be a place for promoting differing ideas and opinions which in the long run shape society. Today it seems that only politically correct views are the only ones accepted on campuses.
Once language is being monitored and censored on campuses and even in high schools, it becomes very easy for politicians to use the same tactics to stifle debate. It is becoming extremely difficult for some politicians to express their views and policies because they may be accused of racism or xenophobia by their opponents. Increasingly the left has adopted the word ‘phobia’ to ostracize their opponents. The dictionary definition of ‘phobia’ is (forming abstract nouns denoting fear or aversion of what is specified.) To this effect more and more we see or hear labels and words like xenophobia, islamophobia and homophobia,’ white privilege’, ‘black lives matter’,  etc. being used in political debates not to explain the positions but rather to close the discussion.
On the other hand, many leaders like PM Trudeau and President Obama, who are terrorism deniers, are given a pass when addressing the slaughter of people by Islamist terrorists around the world. They have addressed the acts of terrorism as ‘workplace violence’ or ‘terrorism has root causes that must be addressed’.  To obfuscate their cowardice, they often characterized their critics of   lslamophobia - once described by the late Cristopher Hitchens as “A word created by fascists and used by cowards to manipulate morons”  At the same time these leaders have declared that climate change, which has been going on for centuries, and not terrorism is the greatest threat to mankind. I would define this position as ‘climatophobia’.

By contrast it is refreshing to see that some people are beginning to challenge the use of political correctness. We should applaud and support people like Connie Levitsky, who was fired by the plus-size women's retailer Addition Elle, for using the word ‘fat’, and who refused to take her job back, when the company apologized for their behavior.
For those who are still perplexed by the rise of Donald Trump they should look at themselves. This phenomenon is the backlash to years of mass media political correctness and manipulation of the news by the left. The media’s Trumpophobia is here to stay as many people are starting to rebel against the political establishment which has taken them for granted for too long.  

Politicians and academics can create an atmosphere of fear or optimism through the use of words. Language evolves, however political correctness should never be used to stifle debate through the lax interpretation of language.