Friday, June 19, 2015

"To kill the Indian in the child" -- never uttered

I recently criticized the Toronto Star for its editorial use of the odious expression "to kill the Indian in the child."  The basis of my objection was the Star's placing these words in quotation marks and failing to attribute them to some actual person.

This occurred in the midst of the vacuous debate of whether the Indian residential schools constituted cultural genocide. The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, Beverley McLachlin, waded in thereby shedding her robes of judicial impartiality and exposing the legal activist.

Toronto Star apologist Cathy English replied with an excerpt from a speech by Stephen Harper where he used phrase again in quotation marks, again without attribution. On occasion the expression was attributed to the poet Duncan Campbell Scott, long-time Superintendent of Indian Affairs responsible for the residential schools.. Worse still, one correspondent claimed it appears in Canadian legislation.

Statements in quotation marks must be the exact words uttered by an attributable source. Neither the Star nor the Prime Minister followed this essential rule.

For the record, an excerpt from Conversations with a Dead Man; the legacy of Duncan Campbell Scott by Mark Abley:

"But the offending phrase is not Scott's. He never used those words. Neither did any other Canadian official. The quotation can be traced back to a somewhat different statement uttered by a high-ranking officer in the U.S. Army, Richard Henry Pratt, the nineteenth-century superintendent of a residential school in Pennsylvania: 'All the Indian there is in the race should be dead. Kill the Indian in him and save the man'."

Sunday, June 7, 2015

"Homophobic" rendered meaningless

The word "homophobic" has had a three-stage history.

Early in the twentieth century, "homo" was from the Greek meaning "the same." Homophobic meant fear of the same, that is, fear of boredom.  Apparently ennui was a major concern at that time.  Oscar Wilde described it (ennui) as "the one sin for which there is no forgiveness." According to engram, the word disappeared from common use.

In the mid-1930s, it reappeared, this time in its Latin derivation of "homo" meaning "man." For a short while, homophobic referred to a woman who feared men.

The use of the word since the 1970s should be rendered "homosexualphobia."

Beyond fear, the word is currently used as a pejorative to castigate any questioning or disagreement with homosexual behaviour in public such as walking naked on our main streets or simulating sexual acts many consider lewd.

The word has now used so broadly it has no definable meaning.

Erasing Toronto history

Letter to the Toronto Star, June 3, 2015. Unpublished.

The Star shows concern for the erasure of aboriginal street names (Ojibe street signs bold reminder of aboriginal heritage, June 3), yet none for the disappearance of other historic names. 

I refer to the changing of Cawthra Square in downtown Toronto to Barbara Hall Park. Surely there was some better way to honour the former Human Rights Commissioner than by blotting out the name of one of our early families? 

For more than a century, Cawthra Square was the name of a plot of land in the Isabella and Jarvis area near where William Cawthra's widow lived after her husband's death in 1880. William was a businessman and philanthropist.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

"Who am I to judge?"

This report (Can Pope create a climate for change? May 30) describes Pope Francis as one who “opened the church’s doors to gays by simply saying, Who am I to judge?” 
In a press conference, he said, “A gay person who is seeking God, who is of good will – well, who am I to judge him?” 
In fairness, the entire sentence must always be cited.

Monday, June 1, 2015

The message and the messenger

Letter to the Editor, Toronto Star, May 27. Unpublished.

Re The folly of the 'density creep' crew, May 26:

This column by Heather Mallick is an object lesson on how not to debate an issue. 

Mallick disagrees with residents' objections to a real estate development on their street. "A surly bunch," she describes them.  "Stubby-legged and trousered, sturdy as the two-storey, single-family homes they're defending, they pose in a hostile clump as they alert all Toronto to a coming menace. If you want to catch them smiling, turn the photo upside down."  

Mallick does not like the message, so she attacks the messenger.