Peo­ple can still be of­fended!

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page - -- Richard Ma­honey

In this world where ver­bal vol­leys dom­i­nate the pub­lic dis­course, it is sur­pris­ing and some­what heart­en­ing that peo­ple can still be of­fended by a bad “joke.” A case in point is Glen­garry-Prescott-Rus­sell Lib­eral can­di­date Pierre Ler­oux who was forced to re­move a “Get to know me” video be­cause peo­ple were up­set be­cause it poked fun at Vanier. The car­toon de­picts the east-end Ot­tawa neigh­bour­hood as be­ing a crime-rid­den hell hole.

Mr. Ler­oux says he and his fam­ily moved from Vanier to Em­brun in 2010 af­ter their house got bro­ken into twice. “Any­body who grew up in Vanier and has a sense of hu­mour will laugh about it,” he said, when he ini­tially tried to de­fend the video. Any type of pub­lic­ity is good, right? Clang! Wrong! Re­sponse on “so­cial” me­dia was rapid and vo­cif­er­ous. Vanier is a won­der­ful place; the crime rate has plunged; the video is un­fair, etc., etc.

“It has come to my at­ten­tion, that some per­sons have mis­con­strued a por­tion of my video as an at­tack on the res­i­dents of Vanier. Noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth. I take full re­spon­si­bil­ity for the video – which has now been taken down,” Mr. Ler­oux wrote.

The video’s short run shows that even to­day, there are still some lines that can­not be crossed.

Thanks to ab­so­lutely awe­some tech­nol­ogy that per­mits you to share ev­ery­thing with the en­tire world, you have the abil­ity to spew any­thing you want and re­tain the right to take per­sonal of­fence when­ever any­one spews back. In our to­tally wired so­ci­ety, we are at the same time con­stantly re­minded that peo­ple are so sen­si­tive.

The Lib­eral Party of Canada’s Stor­mont–Dun­das–South Glen­garry rid­ing as­so­ci­a­tion re­cently ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment with Mario Leclerc’s ex­pla­na­tion for with­draw­ing his bid to rep­re­sent the Lib­er­als in the next fed­eral elec­tion.

Mr. Leclerc re­cently said he was up­set be­cause he sensed that the rid­ing as­so­ci­a­tion was not ec­static when he was switch­ing from the NDP to seek the Lib­eral nod. He cited as­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Claude Poirier’s re­fusal to shake his hand when they at­tended a func­tion in Corn­wall. Mr. Poirier later said he didn’t know Mr. Leclerc was there, among the 300 other at­ten­dees. This is pol­i­tics. There is no room in pol­i­tics for hurt feel­ings. The big­ger the stage, the big­ger the in­sults. For ex­am­ple, Pre­mier Kath­leen Wynne has com­pared Con­ser­va­tive leader Doug Ford to Mike Har­ris and Don­ald Trump!

How low can some peo­ple go? Haven’t Mr. Har­ris and Pres­i­dent Trump been in­sulted enough?

Of course, the Pre­mier’s shot is tame con­sid­er­ing how low pub­lic “dis­cus­sions” usu­ally de­scend. One can­di­date of­fers a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive. In Stor­mont-Dun­das-South Glen­garry, Sa­bile Trimm is run­ning for the Lib­er­tar­ian Party, which is all about free­dom and per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity. “I be­lieve that ev­ery­one’s a Lib­er­tar­ian. Some peo­ple just don’t know it yet,” re­marks the Al­fred farmer. “You want to live on your own terms, just so long as you don’t harm any­one. You take re­spon­si­bil­ity for your ac­tions and ex­pect oth­ers to do the same.”

She goes on to say, “I used to vote for a party on the Left be­cause I thought it was the nice thing to do. Now I re­al­ize that the nice thing to do is to leave ev­ery­one alone.”

It is against the na­ture of hu­mans to butt out. How­ever, there are some time-proven id­ioms that re­main use­ful even to­day. En­gage the brain be­fore you en­gage the tongue. If you can’t say any­thing nice, don’t say any­thing at all. And when you throw dirt, you lose ground.

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