Weekend News Roundup: June 1st-5th, 2011

This week, with the Throne speech a-loomin’, we were ready for Big Things politically. The Speech was kind of a load of expected and unoriginal partisan campaigning—Omnibus Bills for some! Cuts to the gun registry for others!—but what’s getting everyone’s attention is how one ballsy page with three weeks left in her contract decided to end her involvement with parliament with a (silent and nonviolent) bang. I think it’s great… or at least, I did. Then I read Dale Smith’s take on why, while Brigitte clearly has some nads, she also showed serious disrespect for Parliament:

We may not like the outcomes, but this is still a democracy […] Three quarters of Canadians may not have voted for the Conservatives, but only sixty percent of eligible Canadians bothered to vote at all, and those that did give those candidates the most votes in each of their respective ridings. This wasn’t a stolen election with stuffed or disappeared ballot boxes. It was because the electorate is disengaged, and we can come up with all kinds of blame to go around, but at the end of the day, it has to be the electorate that decides to make a difference.

DePape […] decided she should short-circuit the process, make a statement in a way that violated the sanctity of a cornerstone moment in our democratic tradition, violate the (symbolic) presence of the Sovereign, and declare that in her opinion, the election that we just had was somehow illegitimate because she did not like the result and justified that with a selective interpretation of the electoral results. In that way, I have no sympathy for DePape, in the same way that I have no sympathy for those protesters who disrupted the House of Commons from the public gallery last year. I get that youth like DePape may feel frustrated with the process – but they actually haven’t engaged in it beyond any superficial capacity. And until they do, I can’t take their actions seriously other than to point to the harm they do to all of us in the long run.

Still, the question remains: For how long should individuals assay to engage in a system that does not usually work in people’s interests?

Speaking of parliamentary procedures that emphasize decorum and a lack of expression of bias, our new Speaker of the House is Andrew Scheer, who came into office with the Campaign Life Coalition stamp of approval. Well, that’s awkward.

Pro: An anti-choicer in the Speaker’s chair is someone who won’t be expressing anti-choice sentiments in Parliament.

Cons: the Speaker facilitates every question period, and votes in case of a tie. There’s power in that! So much power!

I guess we’ll just have to see how things go. I have faith that Scheer will separate his politic from his procedure. Mostly because a lack of faith is just too depressing.

In a move that one friend describes as “the absurdity of the victim-blaming argument coming forward in its logical extension”, children at one Scottish high school have been instructed to wear baggy clothes to deter pedophiles. 

Yep. That actually happened.

As Margaret Hartmann writes,

Children need more education on online safety and what sorts of activities they need to report to adults, but changes to their clothing accomplish nothing. Pedophiles don’t lose interest in children when they put on a looser pair of pants. Sending this message to kids only primes them for believing that victims are somehow at fault when they’re sexually assaulted.

I’d go so far as to suggest that this kind of victim-blaming could potentially make kids more susceptible to unwanted approaches. I don’t have a statistic on me at the moment, but the anecdotal accounts I’ve read/heard about abuse generally speak of abusers preying on insecurity, isolation and fear. (One such account can be read at the Good Men Project.)  What could breed more isolation and insecurity than being told you look like a slut? More fear than being told that someone’s right behind you in a bush ready to attack?


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