Category Archives: In the News

Why are you so angry over the Steubenville trial coverage?

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“Human compassion is not taught by a teacher, a coach or a parent. It is a God-given gift instilled in all of us.“–mother of Jane Doe, 16 year old rape victim whose attackers were convicted in Steubenville, OH, Toronto Star.

Jane Doe’s mom is right. Moms are usually right. But she and I differ in opinion slightly. I think compassion is taught. It was the lack of any “God-given gift” of compassion that led to this heinous crime being committed in the first place.

There’s a lot of anger growing over the Steubenville trial media coverage. Many are saying that too much emphasis is being given to the reactions of the offenders and not enough sympathy is going out to the victim. I’ve seen news articles and even memes generated over this anger. The fact that the girl’s face and name have NOT been leaked to the media shows that compassion still exists, at least in among members of traditional media. Despite her body being violated and then plastered around the internet, no one disconnected from Steubenville really knows who Jane Doe is. The media is respecting her privacy.

As her lawyer pointed out, “She is a 16-year-old girl still, and she’s a high school student. She just wants to get back with her normal life, as does the family.”

Instead, the media is reporting on the reaction of the offenders. These are human beings, young men, and their reaction to life-altering news is valid. The fact that they openly show remorse through emotion and apologies is a good thing. The media is not choosing to report their empathy for the rapists over the victim—they are reporting on the trial, and that includes the reactions of the offenders and their families.

But there’s a lot of anger stewing on the internet over this.

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Anger is a valid reaction. This was a terrible crime that exposed a lot of sins in a small Ohio town—one that resembles a lot of small American towns. Many Americans cherish the “Friday Night Lights” sentimentality of growing up surrounded by football. The reports out of Steubenville show us that the movies and TV shows that we watch are based in more than just fantasy. However, the reality is much darker. We must face that fact. Anger is good. Anger means we’re talking about it. But is it right to get angry at one town and not think about what communities can do to prevent another Steubenville?

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All of the hubbub can be summarized by this Raw Story post: CNN grieves that guilty verdict ruined ‘promising’ lives of Steubenville rapists. Instead of reporting on the actual verdict, The Raw Story chose to focus its eye on another media outlet. It’s no secret that CNN is a shitty news service. They use sensational news to prop up their ratings. In this case, they focused on the grief of the offenders because it was the most visually compelling part of the verdict. If the victim had been present at the hearing, chances are the cameras would be focused on her face and her reaction.

What 16 year-old girl wants that kind of scrutiny after enduring so much pain and humiliation already? It was enough that her parents were present and were able to read a victim impact statement. One of the boys apologized directly to them. That showed that they have learned a lesson and are remorseful. As author Chuck Wendig pointed out, “we don’t need to ask for heads on pikes.”

The question now is has Steubenville and other towns like it learned their lesson? You can get angry all you want but if you live in a town that also gives teenage football stars the means and capability of “acting above the law”, ask yourself what can be done to prevent it from happening in your community. These kids knew where to get alcohol. They knew which parents would look the other way so they could party. They didn’t know how to help each other when they were in trouble. They thought it was all fun-and-games. “God-given” compassion? Compassion needs to be taught. It’s not something that comes down from heaven in a beam of light. Otherwise these kids, who thought they had sunshine coming out of their asses, would have been walking on water.

And compassion goes both ways. What these boys did was fundamentally wrong. However, not giving them the opportunity to repent and make amends for their sins? Where is your compassion? I respect both Chuck Wendig and Mike Monteiro for the work that they do for authors and graphic designers/freelancers. I have listened to them in the past and will continue to turn to them for advice on these matters. But their reactions to what is more than just a black and white story of rapists vs victims is alarming.

The town of Steubenville itself is also not evil. When authorities were informed of the crime, they were quick to investigate and this is why the boys were caught, tried and punished. But the fact that these acts were committed in the first place—and the fact that there are places that still exist where such things still go on—is a fundamental problem that needs to be addressed. A community needs to nurture its children, not just athletically, but morally as well.

If you’re interested in further discussion about the Steubenville trial, I urge you to read xoJane’s profile of blogger Alexandria Goddard whose investigative reporting brought this case onto a global platform. Who says bloggers can’t get shit done? :)

GObama and Massachusetts Legalizes Medical Marijuana

The big news is that Obama has won. There’s no question of that. However, along with the opportunity to give diplomacy four more years, six American states also had one of their first opportunity to vote for same-sex marriage laws and to legalize medical marijuana.

Massachusetts legalized it (and, for the record, have had same-sex marriage laws since 2004.)

(AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

I love this photo.

Just think of how many babies are going to be conceived tonight. July’s a good year to give birth anyway. G’night, America. You earned this one.

A Brush with Banksy

Banksy, that mysterious rogue who spraypaints the streets of UK and installs fake art (is it really fake, though?) in the British Museum is in town this week. Or rather, we’ve just discovered that Banksy’s been visiting, as the Torontoist broke on Monday morning.

Little did I know that I would happen across a piece on Sunday night when I went to see Massive Attack at the Sound Academy.

Great show, by the way. Those guys know how to bring it—despite DJ Mike’s whining about it being “depressing”. It’s Massive Attack! Of course it’s depressing! But at least you can groove to it…

Anyway, as we made our way back to civilization, I looked up to see this sprayed onto the backside of an old sign:

Photo courtesy of Torontoist

I thought to myself, hmmph. That looks like a Banksy! But I pushed it out of my mind as my attention was drawn back to our conversation—I believe we were discussing how effing cold it was at that point.

Lo and behold, I was right! I’ve always wanted to see something by Banksy, and I never in a million years thought I would get the chance to, least of which in Toronto of all places.

Now most of the pieces have been removed by property owners, opportunistic scavengers and city workers. There’s an argument in there about what constitutes art I’m sure. But I’m just glad I got a chance to see a piece in person.  Cause I certainly think it’s art—gritty and strange art, but art nonetheless.

And frankly, if the only reason he came to town was to promote Exit Through the Gift Shop, the new documentary on street art, that’s fine by me. I wanted to see the film anyway, and this was a great way to get even more people interested. Kudos.

Stop Worrying and Just Enjoy the Ride

In the words of Canadian songwriter Dallas Green, my nerves will be the death of me.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the economy again.  A recent episode of Newsworld with Peter Mansbridge (God bless the CBC) put me on edge.  How is it that we’ve come to rely on China for so much?

I didn’t have to think too hard about that.  All I had to do was make myself an ice cream sundae.  I pulled out my brand-new ice cream scoop and studied the price tag before snipping it off the handle.  Made in China, it proclaimed in a tiny sans-serif font.

Made proudly in China, more like.

Quietly, industriously, China’s products have turned into the quality consumer goods that we (well, not I because I was born too late into the century) came to associate with goods made in America.  Sturdy, well-made, long-lasting…these are all characteristics that made us proud to buy local.  And better yet—cheap.

Now buying local often means higher prices.  Why?  Manufacturing is expensive in North America, materials are scarce, and the labor is unionized.

So instead we buy products in Walmart made in China because they’re well-made and cheaper than anything made in our own country.  China has grown fat with money off the spending habits of North Americans who shop solely in the ‘Mart.  And with that money, they’ve bought US debt. $800 billion in US Treasury bonds, if the article I linked earlier in this post is right.

And any day they could call in that debt.

So, I worry.

But why do I worry?  What could I possibly do?  Get out of debt myself, of course.  Learn to live within my means like my grandparents would have done before me (if they lived in Canada instead of Communist Poland, where they HAD to live within their means because their means meant their share of rations).  But it’s hard.

Of course it’s hard—all habit breaking is hard to do.  Just ask any smoker or heroin addict.  Okay, don’t talk to heroin addicts, they might steal your wallet.  But, you know what I mean.  Using credit is a habit that we’ve grown up accepting as the norm, but it’s not and it’s far more dangerous than we think.  Because, whether or not we know it, with each purchase put on that credit card, we’re giving China a little more reason to call in our debts.

A pretty grim sentiment, one I wish I could shake off but, like the persistent flea on a dog’s back, it keeps making me itch.

So, have I made any decisions to help me get this Chinese dragon off my back (pardon the terribly metaphor)? Not really. I’m living on a prayer for the time being, like mostly everyone else who don’t even want to know that there’s a looming threat in the horizon, but my insight isn’t helping me much at all. Sometimes I wonder if Ignorance really is Bliss. At the very least, it would make my shopping less stressful.

The Great Debate

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Someone once said the stupidest people are the ones on the fence.   I ran into one of those yesterday through Facebook.  She’d posted a question about the H1N1 flu shot in her status, wondering whether she should get it and a mutual friend of ours had responded with an emphatic NO and gave reasons that were based on word of mouth statements and partial truths.

Incensed that someone would advise a woman with a young child, as my facebook friend is, to NOT get a flu shot this year, I left a link to this Globe and Mail article and said “Please get a flu shot!”

Of course I should have realized an article entitled “Refusing to get vaccinated is selfish” would have been counterproductive, but it echoed my sentiments so succinctly.  I guess I was hoping she would look past the title and read the article.

Nope.  My comment was deleted.

Luckily, the majority of comment after mine also suggested she get the shot, so if she’s looking for a popular opinion it’s mine but the whole incident made me think about how politicized this silly little flu shot has become.  I don’t understand why anyone would refuse to get vaccinated.  The government isn’t out to get you.  They might want your taxes, but they don’t want to KILL YOU.  Believing otherwise would imply that we live in a fascist state that has zero regard for public interest and is willing to murder its citizens.

Last time I checked, that’s not the country that I live in.

Image via Cute Overload

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