Editorials - May 12, 2022
Only the beginning?
After Politico published a leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion that seems to indicate that Roe v. Wade is set to be overturned, it is difficult not to draw references to The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, which cautions society about the consequences of an unrestrained patriarchy. The book and subsequent television mini-series are about a strong and totalitarian society where women are treated as property of the state with little control over their own bodies.
After 50 years of the Supreme Court decision protecting women’s right to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction, at least 13 states already have trigger laws that will come into effect in as little as 10 days after Roe v. Wade is overturned. The laws will severely punish anyone providing an abortion. In some cases, even seeking information about terminating a pregnancy will result in harsh jail sentences and monetary fines.
On top of this, some conservative Republican states are refusing to give guarantees that some forms of birth control, such as IUDs and Plan B, won’t come into question if Roe v Wade is ultimately overturned by the Supreme Court.
One can only imagine that abortion is the gateway right, making other rights such as gay rights, equal rights and civil rights that much easier to erode under the watch of this Supreme Court. – DS
A Canadian throwback
Last week, an interaction between Toronto Blue Jays fan Mike Lanzillotta and young New York Yankees fan Derek Rodriguez at the Rogers Centre made its way around the world and back again as an example of the kindness for which Canadians have long been known.
When Yankees’ slugger Aaron Judge put one in the left field seats in a game between the two teams, the ball ended up in Lanzillotta’s hands. He immediately turned around to see the young Rodriguez, wearing a Judge shirt, and handed the young fan the ball. The boy immediately burst into tears of joy and instinctively hugged Lanzillotta in thanks.
The touching moment earned both fans a visit with Judge the following night in the Yankees’ dugout. It also spawned many articles refuting manager Jimmy Dugan’s famous line in A League of Their Own proclaiming that “there’s no crying in baseball.” And what didn’t get past the first or second sentence in most of those articles was that the hero of the story is Canadian. In most cases, your chances of ever catching a home run ball are akin to winning the lottery and in this case, Lanzillotta used the opportunity to make a child’s day and perhaps provide a memory that will no doubt last a lifetime.
Depending on which side of a number of recent debates you’re on, the reputation of Canadians around the world has shifted a bit from the cuddly, aw-shucks, overly-apologetic Canadian to something a little more sinister, calculating and rough around the edges. It was nice then to see Lanzillotta’s actions beamed out to the world and upheld as an example of the foundational values on which this country is built.
With politics, the pandemic and the politics of the pandemic tearing us apart at home, it’s nice that a simple act of Canadian kindness, at least for one day, was this country’s gift to the news cycle. – SL
Walking the tight rope
London City Council made the decision, earlier this month, to partially censor any graphic flyers not distributed through Canada Post as a means of protecting people from offensive material.
The move came two years after complaints started in 2020 when the Alberta-based Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform circulated a flyer featuring graphic images of human fetuses. The decision came after a recommendation from the city’s community and protective services committee that worked on the bylaw for the past year, looking to avoid an outright ban that could result in the city facing legal challenges.
London City Council, with a 13-1 vote, decided to try and walk a tight line between censorship and protecting citizens from graphic material by saying that questionable flyers must be in an envelope or package with a warning about the material within. Violating the bylaw comes with a penalty of a $350 fine. Mail delivered by Canada Post, or delivered by request, doesn’t fall under the ruling. In making the decision, council demonstrated an understanding of both the need for freedom of speech and the need to protect residents, especially children, from the kind of graphic material that led to the discussion in the first place.
While some may say this marks the start of a slippery slope into widespread censorship, the fact of the matter is that material that is made shocking for that effect alone is typically controlled in other media (with movies, video games and television shows having ratings, for example) and it just makes sense to have similar controls placed on flyers.
Other municipalities should consider similar legislation as a means of keeping graphic material in the hands of those who welcome it, instead of in front of everyone unfortunate enough to receive a flyer. – JDS