Saturday, March 16, 2013

Americanization of Canadian Politics II: Our Increasingly Violent Culture

I have been said to personify one of these from time
to time.
If people knew me by my frustrations alone, they'd probably think of me as a violent person. A teenage decade of losing pretty much every physical fight I've been in, however, has taught me that psychological warfare has much more of a place than any sort of physical conflict.

When it comes to political issues that surround violence, I'm hopelessly liberal - in favour of restricting civilian access to firearms, broadly in favour of legalizing even some of the harder drugs I would personally never touch, anti-death...

Frankly, I never really thought I was sitting all that far outside the margin until I read this thread on the NationStates Forum. While I wasn't surprised by some of the comments considering the vast majority of the players on this site are American, I became surprised pretty quickly once certain players I know to be Canadian got involved.

With "debate" (or what passes for it on the internet) raging on the issue of abolishing the death penalty, a surprising number of otherwise very representative Canadians came out in favour of keeping the practice (or, I suppose, in our case, bringing it back - we abolished it in 1976 and the last executions were actually in 1962), often rather vocally.

What was telling, however, was that these particular Canadians kept citing various prison statistics - from the United States - and calling it "our broken prisons".

Either five or six of the people I know on the internet to be Canadian all spontaneously moved to the States, or, once again, a lack of competitive flare on the part of Canadian broadcasters means we're getting drowned out in favour of CNN and FOX. For the record, and as an aside, on four occasions of the last fifty that I've gone to a restaurant that happened to have a tv tuned to a news channel - commonly McDonalds - it's been tuned to CNN. D'oh.

This is actually one of many things I'm always surprised to hear people get up in arms. I honest to god had one older woman (who frankly should have known better!) complaining about the recent abolition of the penny and invoke President Obama in the proceedings, who is not my president and had nothing to do with setting fiscal or monetary policy in Canada. No discussion of the traditional hot-button issues from America is complete without at least one person in the group somehow invoking the American state of affairs, with such hits as:

Yeah, but when the Supreme Court passed Roe v. Wade they pretty much made it impossible to get an abortion in this country.
(Honestly, I can't even begin to tell you what's wrong with that sentence.)

We're all supposed to have health insurance through provincial medicare - why is this clown making us buy health insurance?
That's the other guys!
There's no need to ban guns - just made safety training comprehensive and compulsory and restrict the more ridiculous weapons.
Get this: We already do. Civilians can pretty much only own long arms (and certain, very restricted classes of handgun), and only after earning certification in firearms safety through accredited, government-run instructors.
I can't believe (such and such a state) legalized (pot or gay marriage, player's choice) - What are they doing to this country?
This is another one of those statements I hear way to often. First of all, if it happened in another state, it didn't happen in Canada (I'll teach you the meaning of the word state in countries other than America presently), and what's more, neither of those things is bad. Say what you want about the morality of the issue, but neither Catholic Doctrine nor a strict solo-scriptura reading of the bible makes the use of recreational drugs a sin per-se. Abuse is Gluttony, sure, and I'm pretty sure I saw a passage that makes violating "just laws" (of course, the definition of "just" is open to fairly wide interpretation, because this is the kind of thing where you'd want as much ambiguity as possible) a sin, but in areas where it's legal to smoke and you keep your smoking within the "healthy" limits of most people's drinking and tobacco habits, it's pretty much fair game from a moral standpoint. I'm pretty sure I've said before that you can't really justify a prohibition on Marijuana and the creation of a criminal class if you're going to let people drink alcohol and smoke tobacco. Say what you want about the morality of Gay Marriage - a properly secular government cannot legislate morality, and Gay Marriage is not a public safety issue.

Disapproving Pink-Tailed Chalceus, anyone?
The underlying problem with all this, particularly changing attitudes with younger Canadians toward executions and guns, stems, I believe, from an influx of American media. While I've never been on the ball with the whole "videogames/movies/music cause violence" argument, I certainly get how people make the connection, and I can certainly see such things predisposing a frustrated culture toward the acts often depicted. After all, even non-gamers usually play way more Call of Duty (at least, the recent ones) than is probably necessary or completely healthy. This is coming from a guy who plays some pretty violent games himself, from time to time, though for the most part, lately, killing blocky zombies in Minecraft is about as violent as it gets for me.

If we idolize vengence, of course we come to want the death penalty. We need to learn the distinction between Justice and Vengeance (as a species, on the whole).

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