Sunday, May 12, 2019

A few things I don't write about

I would like to briefly apologize for and explain what might be perceived as negligence on my blog, when it comes to taking position on a few issues. 

First up, I am not writing about the United States rollback on women's rights, in this case, Georgia's recent, disturbing anti-abortion laws. I am glad I live in a country that has better sense and will use my vote when allowed to help maintain women's reproductive freedom (Scheer frightens me, and Trudeau's disappointing track record makes me worried a bit for this next election, but rest assured, I will vote, and it won't be for the Conservatives). Women have the right to choose whether it is a good time to carry a baby to term, and they should be allowed to make that choice without interference from meddling do-gooders who should have no say in it - including the government, but also these idiots who stand occasionally outside Skytrain stations with placards of aborted foetuses. I am not writing about this issue not because I don't see it as being important, but because I cannot see anything I do or say here having the slightest effect on what is going on in the United States right now, and because I have nothing much new to add to the conversation. Know that I am definitely pro-choice on the matter and that should it EVER come to having to fight for women's freedom here in Canada, I'll speak up.

Hey, was any of The Handmaid's Tale shot in Georgia?

I am also not writing about Israel excesses in Gaza, despite being sternly reminded about them time and again on Facebook by Gerry Hannah, Mark Bignell, and others. It does seem like Israel is an apartheid state with a very heavy hand and that Palestinians suffer unduly from this; and that there is a histrionic tendency to accuse critics of Israel of being anti-Semitic, which seems a pretty cheap deflection (particularly since Palestinians themselves are Semitic people). On the other hand, the willingness of Palestinians to support organizations that advocate terrorism as an antidote to the problem doesn't much impress me, either, or strike me as a very productive way of bringing about redress. While I have not read How to Win Friends and Influence People, I am pretty sure there is no chapter in it on suicide bombing. In some ways I regard the whole issue as a quagmire I'd rather just stay out of, but that is not the main reason I remain silent: it's that I cannot imagine my opinions on these matters having the slightest effect on the situation in the Middle East, and because, again, I have nothing much new to add to the conversation. I agree with Gerry and Mark (and a lot of other people) that there's an ongoing injustice in Gaza. Palestinian land seems, to Israeli settlers, not much different from how "Indian land" was regarded to white settlers in North America. Don't know what can be done to solve this long-standing, seemingly intractable problem - I just know that it won't be me that does it.

I also do not write much about the struggles of the transgendered. I am not a particular fan of Jordan Peterson, especially on this issue (where he's just wrong), and am more inclined to watch a Contrapoints video about him than one of his own. (Have you seen Contrapoints on pronouns?). I am personally irritated as a writer and language teacher with the idea of using plural pronoun forms ("they") to refer to a single person, because it can create ambiguity, and because it is unfair to people struggling to learn English, who often find our pronouns difficult enough; I would support, instead, the adoption of a gender-neutral SINGULAR third person pronoun, which I think makes good sense and is preferable to the re-purposing of "they," if only there were a consensus as to which one variant to use. In point of fact, I HAVE written about this, after a bit of a clusterfuck around my Alien Boys article where I was told after the article was published that the singer prefered a gender-neutral pronoun - when it was too late for me to make the changes myself, thus forcing me to ask my editors to rewrite the article for me (I can't change an article myself once it has been published). There's more to it than that - and note that Mike Usinger, who ended up doing the rewrite, was very understanding and uncomplaining in tackling it. But in any event, I have elected not to keep my rant on pronouns to myself, because it would seem like I am aligning myself with a side in an argument that I do not feel myself to be on. Trans people have enough troubles without some irate language teacher quibbling with their pronouns; I kinda feel that it's best if I just get over it. Besides, you know, I'll render bev davies name in lowercase, because she likes it that way, or write wendythirteen with no spaces, or track down rock and roll umlauts to stick over random letters in band names, even though the umlauts are  non-functional, so OF COURSE I'll accommodate people's pronoun choices as a writer.

Plus, hey, you know, no one is ASKING my opinion on these matters. 

There are other things, including important issues, that I mostly ignore, places where I feel like my weighing in will be meaningless. I would rather focus my energies in directions where I feel like I can do some actual good: mostly on promoting and enthusing about musicians, filmmakers, writers, and other creative types whose work I enjoy or consider thought-provoking - especially if they happen to be local. It may seem trivial, but it is a way I feel like I can meaningfully benefit my community and help enrichen and support it. It's not that I don't think there's value in speaking out about more important issues - it's just that I don't feel like my opinions matter very much, on some of them. I am content to do small good things, when doing large ones seems out of my grasp.

That said, I might do some blogging in support of Jagmeet Singh, when the Federal Election approaches. That might do some actual good in the world. I hope people in my riding are considering voting for him (it's the first time I can recall where I actually live in a riding where a Federal party leader will be on the ballot!).


Kevin W said...

It's truly strange to read your apology...while reading about the Chinese cultural revolution and all of its apologies.

Allan MacInnis said...

I think of it more in terms of Koji Wakamatsu's superb United Red Army feature. Hell, just this morning, I criticized myself for eating a cookie.

(Actually, it was three cookies, two pancakes, and two slices of pizza. I was very bad.)

Unknown said...

The issue is about being forced BY LAW in how to address people in Canada. It is important. You are so Ableist! Over your head?

Allan MacInnis said...

The bill you're referring to, as I read it, says that it is possible that deliberately using the wrong pronoun to refer to someone could be taken as discriminatory, a violation of someone's human rights. It seems actually quite reasonable to me. If someone started calling me "she" and "her," I would object. It probably DOES require that the Bill be applied judiciously and cautiously, but my understanding is that human rights violations tend to be handled exactly that way in Canadian courts... frankly, the whole thing reminds me of the storm over allowing Sikhs to wear turbans in the RCMP - its a real non-issue now, but people were SO up in arms over it at the time, like Canada was in jeopardy. Paranoid kneejerk nonsense.

As for my ableism, yep, that's totally over my head - no idea what I said that was ableist, but I'd have to read my own post back...