But Can You Understand Where I’m Coming From?

If you’re the member of any sort of minority, chances are you’ve run across this. Some friend, family member, or vague acquaintance ends up in a situation where they are confronted with their own inherent biases in some way, and they feel the need to run to you as the Representative of Minority Co. to explain the situation.

For example, imagine you have a friend name Betty who is the owner of a small business who is hiring someone to work as a part of that business. She has narrowed her choice down to two ideal candidates, who are identical in terms of qualifications. Both have the right amount of experience, the same great attitude and personality that fits into the team dynamic, in terms of “reasons to hire” the two are completely interchangeable. Except that Candidate A is abled while Candidate B is disabled.

Now Betty is not a Capital A Ableist. She knows that disabled people are just as capable as abled people, she truly believes that the world should be accessible, and has all the empathy for disabled people having a difficult time being able to find gainful employment. Betty has signed countless petitions to make accessibility more prevalent, her own brother even has a disability. Betty is an ALLY!

But Betty’s business is small, and even with the added help, she is hopelessly overworked. Candidate B’s disability will require the company to undergo some work to make it completely accessible. Maybe, it would even cost her some money to get some needed program or service, or to make some changes to the physical location of the business. She was already putting pressure on her budget by hiring a new person, the added finances would be just too much. She would have to close up shop, and it’s not really fair to her or to any of her other employees, or to her family, to jeopardize her business for the sake of one person. If they had been better qualified and the best option than of course, it would be no question, but the two candidates are completely identical and really it’s a coin toss one way or the other. Wouldn’t it be just as unfair to Candidate A to only not hire them because they’re not disabled? She makes her choice and then next time at dinner with her brother’s she lays the whole story out and asks:

“Can you understand where I’m coming from?” Continue reading “But Can You Understand Where I’m Coming From?”

But Can You Understand Where I’m Coming From?
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Understanding Legalization versus Decriminalization using Marijuana

When discussions of issues of sex work, drugs, and so on come up, it’s not uncommon for people to confuse the idea of legalization with decriminalisation.

It sounds like they should be the same thing. After all, if something is legal, then by definition it’s not criminal? But the difference in practice turns out to have major repercussions. Continue reading “Understanding Legalization versus Decriminalization using Marijuana”

Understanding Legalization versus Decriminalization using Marijuana

Genocide Doesn’t Look Like you Think

Sometimes I forget that most people only have a very basic idea of what happened during the Holocaust.

I don’t entirely remember what came first, me coming across a book that took place during the holocaust, or finding out that family members of mine had been imprisoned in Auschwitz. At some point, however, the combination of both of these events sparked a sort obsession in me. I began reading everything I could find on the subject including quite a few different diaries, personal accounts, and well researched fiction, in addition to histories, articles, and non-fiction books.

So often, we have a tendency to see genocide as very specific things – gas chambers, firing squads, mass graves. We think of specific acts of murder. But so often, genocide doesn’t look like obvious acts of murder.

Continue reading “Genocide Doesn’t Look Like you Think”

Genocide Doesn’t Look Like you Think

Thinking about Canada Day

CN: Mentions of Genocide

On Monday July 1, we celebrated Canada Day.

In a lot of ways, this day is really an excuse to have a BBQ, drink a bunch, and go see some fireworks. While you will get people dressing up in red and white and waving flags, possibly singing the national anthem, as often as not most probably aren’t even completely sure what specific event is being commemorated.

This year however, amid all the bustle of helping prepare the home for guests, I found myself spending a lot of time thinking about what exactly it is we have been celebrating.

Continue reading “Thinking about Canada Day”

Thinking about Canada Day

I’m Tired.

If ever there was a motto for our generation, this would probably be it.

I’m so tired.

I’m tired of my news feed being one atrocity after another. Of each new headline convincing me that I’ve finally reached the peak of shock and fury I could feel, only to be proved wrong when I read the next one.  Of watching the world seemingly falling apart at the seams.

I’m tired of listening to people make excuses while the body counts grow ever higher. Of quibbling over whether a problem really even exists or whether these are just a few bad examples. Of arguing whether genocide is too severe a word, or whether these here actually count as concentration camps. As though just the fact that these words could be applied isn’t horrifying enough. As though we shouldn’t be striving to stop things before they reach this point.

I’m tired of listening to people make excuses for why this act of violence is excusable and acceptable while condemning those just trying to defend themselves and others. Continue reading “I’m Tired.”

I’m Tired.

Politics, Public Relations, and Social Psychology

With the federal elections of both Canada and the US approaching, not to mention the constant political maneuvering happening across provinces and states, a lot of things are happening at once. It can feel like a whirlwind, just getting your bearings about one issue before the next one suddenly crops up demanding your attention. The breakneck pace of the news cycle means that a lot of the resolution or lack thereof of one issue often gets missed.

It’s the perfect setting to employ several tricks of social psychology that make it possible for politicians (and salespeople and so on) to change the conversation without ever having to convince the electorate of the issue. I’ve talked about at least one of these social psychology manipulation techniques before.

Additionally, it allows them to employ several public relations tricks to encourage several extreme side groups, while also counting on the majority of the population to forget about it before it’s time to vote.

It’s called a Test Balloon.

Continue reading “Politics, Public Relations, and Social Psychology”

Politics, Public Relations, and Social Psychology

Let’s Talk About “Unnecessary” Tests

Ford’s government recently proposed a series of cuts to what is covered by OHIP in the provincial budget. As justification for him depriving the population of Ontario of adequate healthcare, in particular those who happen to be poor, on social assistance including disability, or underage, were the claims that a significant portion of tests are unnecessary. He went on to claim that less than 4% of family doctors are responsible for ordering over 40% said tests, in a demonstration of how statistics and a lack of understanding can be used to obfuscate the truth.

Let’s start with the latter claim. While it may seem strange that such a small percentage of family doctors may be responsible for so many tests, it’s less surprising to those of us who deal with chronic illnesses.

Not All Family Doctors

Continue reading “Let’s Talk About “Unnecessary” Tests”

Let’s Talk About “Unnecessary” Tests

3 Comments on Politics that are Just Wrong

Whenever topics surrounding social justice come up, it’s not uncommon for certain phrases or responses to come up again and again. Although the specific wording might vary, the phrases share similar characteristics in common: they’re dismissive and are meant to shut down the conversation without acknowledging any need or responsibility for solving the problem under discussion. It’s not uncommon for otherwise well-meaning people to use these specious phrases because of fundamentally flawed initial assumptions.

It’s Just Politics

Continue reading “3 Comments on Politics that are Just Wrong”

3 Comments on Politics that are Just Wrong

Lest We Forget

I was driving along in the car with my dad, listening to the news on the radio, when the sign in front of the Legion building usually considered the Polish Legion, caught my eye:

“Lest We Forget”

Like most Canadians, I’ve seen or heard this phrase over a hundred times, especially at this time of year. It’s the phrase that goes along with the bright red poppies that will be adorning people’s coats in the next few days as we approach Remembrance Day.

Formerly Armistice Day, the date marks the official end of the First Word War when the armistice was signed on November 11 at 11 am. Since then it has come to be a memorial to all the wars fought since then and a remembrance of all the blood that was spilled in armed conflict. It is a remembrance of all the victims of the wars, of the suffering, and of the terrible price that was paid in human life. Over the years, as veterans of the First World War died off, it became more of a remembrance of the Second World War, and with it, the Holocaust.

Lest we forget. 

For all that I’ve seen the words countless times, on this particular occasion, they hit me pretty hard.

The news for the last few years has been like one punch to the stomach after another. It practically reads like an American parody of Nazi Germany: children stolen from their parents, people locked up in unsuitable conditions, increasing harassment and vigilance of the other, the attempt at erasing trans people from the law and from public record, targeted acts of violence and hate, every day seems to bring with it a new horror, a new tragedy.

Just this past week, the deadliest attack against Jewish people on American soil took place. The next day or so, another white supremacist tried to shoot up a black church and when he couldn’t instead shot at black people entering a store.

People readily identifying as and with Nazis, while people claiming to be left-wing or reasonable, defend their right to do so without fear of punishment.

Every day there is one message that comes through loud and clear…

We have forgotten.

Lest We Forget

Feeling Bad is Not the Same Thing As Being Sorry

CW: Discussion of Racism, Brock Turner, Abuse, Assault.

There is this concept that I was taught growing up Catholic. It’s basically this: in order to actually earn god’s forgiveness during the sacrament of confession, it wasn’t enough to simply perform a recitation of your sins. You had to truly be sorry which meant not only regretting having done it or “feeling bad”, but acknowledging and accepting that what you had done was wrong, as well as a determination to do what you could to not repeat the sin. Without these elements, one could not actually receive absolution – supernatural forgiveness.

I disagree with a LOT of Catholic doctrine and policies, not to mention the acts of the church itself, but there is a lesson in this concept, which when removed from its religious entanglements, has a lot of relevance to our modern society. It’s one, ironically enough, that many Catholics themselves forget as well.

Too often, we as a society act as though people are entitled to forgiveness, especially if they say that they’re sorry or demonstrate some sort of bad feeling about what they’ve done. Too often, the mental and emotional labour of a given conflict is forced on the injured party.

Despite having been the one initially harmed by the interaction or inciting event, the onus is still on the victim to solve the conflict through a demonstration of forgiveness, often while the initial harm remains unacknowledged or outright ignored in favour of prioritizing the transgressor’s bad feeling. Beyond that, there is this sentiment that even acknowledging that hurt was done, or in any way bringing up the result of the transgression is treated as an unfair attack on the inciting person.

College Humour made a humorous sketch video showing what is meant to be a hyperbolic example of this in a situation where a white man makes a racist joke “by accident” to a woman of colour during what appears to be a work party.

Continue reading “Feeling Bad is Not the Same Thing As Being Sorry”

Feeling Bad is Not the Same Thing As Being Sorry