Do you know that in my life it has happened that some people have been really, really shitty? I, personally, was raised by this superpower mother who is strong and confident and had mantras that, as a child I thought were funny, but later realized were actually just about strength. She would say, over a lovely Sunday dinner, “girls, don’t have a husband until you can buy your own bra”. WHAT? What does that mean? We just laughed at the time, but now I understand that it wasn’t really about buying new items from Le Boudoir. Really, it was about becoming strong and capable before you start that part of your life where you’re in a co-dependent relationship. It’s about not really needing someone else, but rather wanting to be with someone else. My mom is deadly, that’s what it’s about. That notion – no bra, no husband – has been a guiding force in a piece of self-governing legislation I like to (for the first time ever) call the Code of Emily (hereinafter referred to as the “Code”).
So, when some people in my life have been really, really shitty, I have tried to eventually get over and get passed their real, real shittiness and be strong like my mama taught me. It’s been important (though not always practised) in getting over boys who are jerks and moving on from friends who were dishonest. Retrospectively, it’s also been illuminating because it does not speak to other people as being bad. It speaks to me, and me alone, as having autonomy and strength.
I recently experienced a Hollywood movie style backstab from a friend, and man, may I just say – that tripped me up. You don’t expect people to be so caught up in their own dark world that they are cruel and cold to a friend. But it was just one person with a bad attitude and a lack of foresight, and it doesn’t actually speak to people as a whole. I need not abstain from friends, generally. I need not draft a new Code for which people not to befriend, as if that could have ever protected me from this person who I didn’t know would do such a series of bad behaviours. They say hindsight is 20/20, but I don’t know if there ever was a lesson or maxim for this one.
Would more rigorous screening have stopped this ever happening? What about a series of small, punitive measures (“get off my property!”) for small offences? Maybe some greater retaliation (“No. She is not invited to anymore pre-drinks.”) for grander red flags? I mean, I guess it sounds good in theory but considering it really was just one person…seems to me a greater set of rules would just be overkill. Also, spending time re-drafting the Code just seems like a waste of time. Do you know how precious time is? It’s actually really, really precious to me. I don’t want to waste it making grandiose, sweeping statements for one person’s mishaps!
Now let’s leave the Code and take a seat in the House of Commons, where we are talking, instead, about drafting some new terrorism legislation. In particular let’s get to “eyeing the thresholds established in Canadian law for the preventive arrests of people thought to be contemplating attacks that may be linked to terrorism. Officials are considering how to make it easier to press charges against so-called lone-wolf attackers”. The genesis of this potential new legislation is, of course, last week’s attack on Parliament Hill, and one must admit it feels adequate in terms of tit-for-tat. Something so terrible, horrendous, egregious shouldn’t be just left. We must do more. And in particular, we must do more than mourn as a country, pay great homage to Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and nationally honour the brave Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers.
Tom Mulcair, for whom I have great admiration not simply because he is capable of growing such a tremendous beard, said this week that what happened in Ottawa was not an act of a terrorist, but was the act of a criminal. People in the House had a big reaction to this apparent revelation – Peter Kent thinks it’s “ridiculous” and Justin Trudeau scratched his head and said “The RCMP were clear, these were acts of terrorism, (so) there were acts of terrorism”. Well, with that logic…
But I have an issue with calling it terrorism. Why do you want there to be terrorism here? It was a crazy, criminal man. And now you want to use up my tax dollars and your time in the House making new legislation? I am aching to see the new draft of the legislation. I imagine the flimsily drawn connective tissue between insanity, terrorism and preventive measures will go something like this:
Section 128(4)(a) Any and all mentally unwell people are to be rigorously examined and cross-examined before setting foot on government property.
Section 128(4)(b) In order to best actuate (a), members of society shall ensure they have their “Mental Health and Wellness Cards” upon their persons for inspection at all times.
It’s not that I am not moved beyond knowing appropriate sympathetic words for the insanity, cruelty, and hatred of the acts that took place last week, it’s just that I don’t see how spending time on this legislation is connected to a single, unwell man doing a single, insane thing. And I’m not alone – look at Mulcair. Look at Peter McKay who disagrees with “major overhaul” of our present anti-terrorism laws.
It’s not my failure to adequately feel sympathy for those affected, it’s just that you can’t call an act “terrorism” just to make people feel good, to make them feel that a son and young man didn’t die just for no reason, that the response was big and loud enough. It’s just that terrorism isn’t about feeling good. It’s about systemic problems of hatred and violence and agenda – and we shouldn’t want to have it and we shouldn’t fear monger about it. If calling it terrorism makes those affected people feel better, then maybe rather than spending money on drafting new overkill, wrought-with-problems-in-other-ways legislation, money should be poured into grief counselling where affected people could receive genuine consolation and help for their trauma. This isn’t Shakespeare, and it isn’t just an issue of calling a rose by any other name. The notion of terrorism is terrifying. And it should be terrifying! Imputing terrorism on me and on my society to gas up one’s government and the adequacy of response is not what I want and it’s certainly not what I need. Legislating things actually straight to death is not how you should strive to console a grieving nation, a grieving family.
I sometimes think Canada is like a child who has a friend or a sibling who gets pneumonia. And the child sees this as something great – look at all the attention his sick sibling gets! He gets to spend all day in bed and have banana medicine and he gets to eat whatever treats he wants. And he doesn’t have to go to school and he just gets to watch movies and play games. But the child doesn’t see that having pneumonia is actually really horrible. Really, the sick sibling is getting lots of attention because he’s so sick that he cannot do anything. Cannot play with his friends, cannot go to school, cannot eat a proper meal because he has no appetite. This is bad attention! Sometimes I think Canada is like a chronically healthy child, and Canada (read: Harper) gets jealous of all the attention his big bro Obama down in the US is getting, so he wants to be sick too. So he pretends he’s sick so he can have banana medicine and stay in bed. And what parent won’t tend to a child, real sick or fake sick, lest you risk being called negligent?
You can’t just have banana medicine when you don’t need it, I can’t just draft a new Code of Emily every time some cruel bittie screws me over, and Steve, honest to god Steve, you can’t just legislate to death every issue that comes across your doorstep.