Thursday, February 24, 2011

Politically Correct Hockey

Copy sent to the Ontario Hockey Association. No reply.

The Ontario Hockey Association (OHA) should stick to what it knows best -- teaching young men to bash into each other. Concussion may be the by-product.

An OHA appeals board has upheld a player's seven-game suspension. His crime? He called a tall person on the other team "amazon".  A board member explained the draconian punishment by claiming the young man's intent was to disparage the opponent. As if one yells at opponents to encourage them.

With mind-numbing logic, the referee testified that "amazon" has a distinct geographic and regional connotation, and fits the league's ruling against using race and ethnicity in a derogatory fashion.

The 20-year-old guilty party: "We're leaving it to the referee to define the English language in the heat of a game. [The black opponent] looked like a tree, and the Amazon Forest was the first thing that popped into my mind."

In the manner of a human rights tribunal, the OHA requires an accused prove innocence. Confronted by irrationality, the young man could not. The association's extremist ideology leaves no room for board discretion. In a cowardly manner, the OHA hides behind the right-wing policy of "zero tolerance", even when it's dead wrong. The seven-game suspension was automatic.

The Ontario Hockey Association must feel cleansed.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

No More Apologies and Presentism

Let us end the currently popular need for apology. Dredging up real or imagined historical grievances fosters a mentality of victimization, a hope of compensation, possibly a monument which would serve only to perpetuate feelings of entitlement.

In her book, The Uses and Abuses of History, Margaret MacMillan asks, "Is it healthy for societies to apologize for things that were done in different centuries and under different sets of beliefs?"

The former University of Toronto history professor and now at Oxford adds, "It is all too easy to rummage through the past and find nothing but a list of grievances, and many countries and peoples have done it."

"Politicians and others have been quick to make all sorts of apologies, even when it is difficult to see why they need feel any responsibility -- or what good an apology would do," Professor MacMillian wrote in The National Post.

In her book, she states, "The past can be used for almost anything you want to do in the present ... If the study of history does nothing more than teach us humility, skepticism and awareness of ourselves, then it has done something useful."

She concludes, "We should be wary of grand claims in history's name, or those who claim to have uncovered the truth once and for all. In the end, my only advice is to use it, enjoy it, but always handle history with care."

Add to this the opinion of Andrew Wheatcroft, Director of the Centre for Publishing Studies, University of Stirling. In a private e-mail he states, "I believe the whole notion of 'apologies' is ludicrous, and demeaning to those at whom the apology is directed. 'Apologies' also deny the whole notion of the past and simply extend the present backwards."

Roland N. Stromberg cautions that one should not demand that past epochs conform to current prejudices, and thus commit the sin of  excessive" present-mindedness" -- the distortion of the past by forcing it into a mold of recent construction. European Intellectual History since 1789, p.83.

This is also called the error of "presentism", that is, the judging of past events by current standards.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Law is not Justice

"The middle class has been shut out of a justice system that caters primarily to the very rich and the very poor, the country's top judge recently told a group of legal luminaries ... Do we have adequate access to justice?" asked Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin (Toronto Star, Feb 11, 2011).

The public wonders why legal practitioners aggrandize their trade by equating it to justice. Law is a process. Justice may or may not be the product of that process. Laws change every day. Justice never. One does not access justice upon issuing a writ. Rather, it is entrance into a complex legal process the outcome of which is doubtful. We do not have courts of justice. They are courts of law.

The confusion may be due to the word "judicial." It sounds like justice, but it the means legal.

In society, justice is rendered through a strong education system, a good health care system, an adequate social welfare system, and somewhere down the line through an equitable law system.

Further confusion is caused by titles bestowed. Why are they termed "Mister or Madame Justice So and So"? Are people who rise in other professions styled Professor Educated Jones? Dr. Healthy Harley? Madame Chief Social Welfare Smith? Worse still are the politicians with the title Minister of Justice when their job is to enforce law as written, not seek justice.