Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal
The Jaywalker, The Smoker and the Motherless Child
Our Bulls of Pamplona Run Amok
|Beryl P. Wajsman||15 May 2006|
“People under suspicion are better moving than at rest, since at rest they may be sitting
~ Franz Kafka
“If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—
for ever...And remember that it is for ever.”
~ George Orwell
“It is true that we still grapple with the perplexity of radical evil. But one thing we know.
~ Hannah Arendt
A Sensual Montreal Spring
Last week started out normally enough in our little universe of public affairs. Just the usual irritants of hypocrisy, false piety and suffocating statocratic intrusions. But Tuesday it started to get “kicked up a notch”, as Emeril Legassé would say, and reached a crescendo of Kafkaesque madness by week’s end.
At noon on that glorious, sunny spring day, accented with just the kind of skin-caressing breeze one can only find in
As I approached the corner of Peel and St. Catherine Sts. I saw a gaggle of deliciously irresistible young women who had already peeled off the woolen layers of late winter and early spring and replaced them with sheaths of silk and clingingly enticing hip-hugging slacks. The first hit was the smell. Sensual aromas of sandalwood and citrus perfumes carried by that above-mentioned breeze right into my cranial frontal lobes.
Yes, yes dear friends we behaved. After all we have little choice. Since the passage of Sec.143 of Quebec’s Labour Code some eighteen months ago, even a gentlemanly gesture of compliment could now be interpreted as “psychological harassment”. But even without that “restraint”, there would have been little opportunity to engage with these charming ladies. For the reason they were so fetchingly bunched together was that they were being given tickets by police officers.
As sensory delight gave way to suspicious curiosity I looked around at the other three corners of our fair city’s main intersection. And each one had several police officers, each shielded with bulletproof vests, giving tickets to other pedestrians for…wait for it….you guessed it…jaywalking! Jaywalking tickets? In
The officers handing out the infractions almost seemed embarrassed as I approached them to inquire whether this was a police department operation or had some political “inspiration” behind it. They said I had to call headquarters to find out. If they thought that would dissuade me they had the wrong guy. I was reflexively speed-dialing the police director’s office on my shiny new Motorola RAZR even as we spoke. He wasn’t in but the answer I received from a spokesman was startling.
The police had been asked by “certain” citizens’ groups to help enforce a month-long campaign of “politesse”, politeness, on the general population. Politeness? At a time of rising violent crimes when police officers don’t have the men or materiel to have two-officer cruiser patrols at more frequent intervals; when there are not enough resources to put more officers on the streets as the most effective visible deterrents to crime; when cops are being blown away in pitched gun battles returning fire without sufficient back-up; we are using what law-enforcement assets remain to enforce politeness? The inanity of it all!
But as the week progressed it became clear that this was not an isolated case of pressure from some blue-haired ladies temperance group. What became clear was that this was another manifestation of our society’s surrender to state-sponsored mind control. A rampaging army of bureaucrats, acting without restraint of consequence or the oversight of compassionate elected authority, whose over-riding imperative is to produce citizens as perfectly contoured as baking dough formed with cookie cutters.
On Thursday of this same week one Yves Archambault, a professional with the
Archambault went on to explain that “denormalize” means “changing social norms so that it is not normal to smoke”. Who elected politicians to decide what’s normal? And even if they had, what idiots could possibly assume that bureaucrats could enforce “normality”? And if it is not “normal” to smoke, then why is the government still taking in billions from tobacco sales? But what is more insidious about Archambault’s words is the slippery slope we ‘re sliding down. Does anyone really think that it is more than a hop, skip and a jump for government apparatchiks to decide how much we should eat; or drink; or play; or love or even speak depending on their “normality”? We’ll soon have more inspectors running amok up our collectives asses than the bulls at
But the insanity of the week didn’t stop at jaywalking tickets and smoking denormalization. It got worse. Tragically worse. The Italian legal philosopher Beccaria warned that abdication of personal prerogatives to state functionaries would lead to nothing more than the triumph of the mediocre and the tyranny of the mindless. How right he was.
The Motherless Children
Today The Gazette’s William Marsden blew open a story that should make everyone afraid of where our society’s going. Very afraid. A
They had decided to home school his brother as well so that the two could develop together equally. Then bureaucrats at the school board changed. After two years, and despite glowing reports on the boys’ development, the new bureaucrat in charge decided not to extend the board’s co-operation. It was insisted that the boys be put into school. The parents agreed but asked for a guarantee that their diabetic son would be properly supervised. The board not only refused but had the audacity to demand a waiver of responsibility from the parents. The parents complained to the Quebec Human Rights Commission. (The hearing date has still not been set.)
The school board then called in a child-care worker. Her reports were extremely positive about the boys’ schooling. But after three months, this social worker, from the English youth protection agency, was replaced by one from the French youth protection agency. The reason given by the board was that it was done at the parents’ request. The parents are English. They never requested it. This social worker forced the parents to have the diabetic son examined by doctors at a hospital other than the one near his home where he had been treated successfully for years. The parents refused to change hospitals after meeting the new doctor. The doctor then wrote a letter saying the boy’s test results from the other hospital were “too good to be true” and raised concerns about the parents’ “attitude”.
The new youth protection worker then took the parents to court asking the judge to force them to send their sons to school and to order a medical examination at the facility she had recommended. But she did state that the children should remain with the parents. The judge had other ideas. He ordered the two boys put into foster care where they have now been for months. They are in two separate homes and their parents can see them only one hour a week. The medical exams on the diabetic boy are excellent, just as his previous hospital had reported. His cognitive skills are described as in the “upper normal range”.
Meanwhile the parents have no money to hire a lawyer to fight this decision in court and are still awaiting a hearing at the Quebec Human Rights Commission. They can’t get their sons back until they agree to put them in school yet no school will guarantee the safety of the diabetic boy. Their parenting skills are not at issue since their third child, a girl of pre-school years, was left with them. In what is a supreme irony the
The Fault Dear Brutus…
Totalitarian state indeed. Let no one think that all the above cases of suffocating statism are for the general welfare. They are nothing more than examples of big government as big business.
With pre-meditation they seek to stifle dissent; control thought; restrict independence; limit choice and impinge on every area of our private domains. All this financed through ever-increasing taxes - 90% of which are on the backs of those earning $60,000 or less a year - raised from the very citizens without the means to hire lawyers to fight back.
Yet we the people are not without blame. Our rulers get away with their treasons because so many of us have surrendered to the sovereignty of self-abnegation. We have become a people plagued by a self-doubt driven by a jealousy of others’ self-belief. And in the process have created a self-imposed tyranny that mutes individual integrity and conscience and trades them for the false security demanded by state-sponsored bureaucratic scrutiny.
Thomas Jefferson once declared that, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed regularly with the blood of patriots.” Our tree is now dangerously parched.