Sunday, March 26, 2006

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Canada’s N-Word (with Readings from the Book of Paul)

Race: A group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographic distribution”

Is there a dark under-current of racism against Newfoundland and Labradorians in Canada? Are we Canada’s N-word?

Is it racist for Ric Dolphin of The Calgary Herald in reference to a Newfoundland and Labradorian to write “Walrus and Welfare investigators and whatever else it is that terrifies Newfies.”? Is the word “Newfie” in itself a racist title? We only need to scratch the surface of our history to discover that the word was born out of bigotry and elitism. The Dictionary of Newfoundland English gives this piece of writing from 1949 “Now he felt dispossessed, crowded on his own streets, mowed down by the ever-increasing numbers of dun-coloured, army vehicles. The strangers were strutting, becoming the 'big-shots,' They looked down their noses at the natives. They were disdainful of a hard old heritage. They began to call the towns-folk 'the Newfies' and like Queen Victoria, the Newfoundlanders were not amused.”

Margaret Wente of the Globe and Mail described Newfoundland and Labrador as a “Scenic Welfare Ghetto”, and Bill Lankhof of the Toronto Sun describes the St. John’s Curling Rink qualifying for the Olympics as "the biggest thing to happen in The Land Cod Forgot since the invention of the pogey cheque" Are comments like this inciting hatred against a group of people? …In all honesty- probably not. There is the perpetual need in journalism to create a story, generate some buzz. When none exists sometimes a journalist has to delve into the darker recesses of fabrication, exploitation and Sensationalism.

Ryan Cleary, Editor of the Independent once wrote that a greater buzz was created because of the word “Newfie” than was ever created from his in depth expose on the corruption and deceit that led to the signing of the Churchill Falls agreement. The word is definitely offensive, but are these journalists guilty of racism or just ignorance and poor judgment?

If the mixed bag of stereotypes and prejudice is used by someone who uses it to justify an end to a means, a person with perhaps a hidden agenda; the true harm can be realized. Consider an article from the Canadian Press out of Edmonton this week. An Edmonton Officer received a light slap on the wrist for citing someone’s status as a “newphie” as a reason for apprehension under the Mental Health Act. Racism exists and it is a stain on the Canadian Landscape.

Consider the words of Captain Paul Watson who has said of Newfoundland and Labradorians that they are a “blight and a curse... they debased Canada when they joined Canada in 1949..." He went on to say Newfoundland and Labrador was “a place where priests rape orphans and residents kill seabirds for fun". In writing of Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams, Watson mocked the dialect and made fun of Newfoundlanders: “…60 million people saw Newfoundland Premier Danny Williams humiliate himself with his rambling fabrications defending the seal hunt, [some] have actually compared his so called “oratory skills” to Winston Churchill…Can you see this speech going down in the annals of history? B’yes, we will fight these seal defenders on the ocean. We will fight them on land. We will fight them in the air... We will continue to bash in their little heads, skin them alive and give ‘em the boot. We were born to kill seals because we are Newfies, and by God our very identity depends on being cruel seal-killing bastards. Yes sir b’ye…, more like the anus of history.”

Perhaps it’s not fair to pick on Paul at this time, after all his little operation was trumped big time by the American Humane Society when they signed on a Beatle as their poster child. That’s the way it is with the Anti-Sealer movement, each year there is one big story. The cash flows to whichever group has the best song and dance. A couple of years ago it was the IFAW with a couple of full page ads. Not to be outdone Paul Watson countered the next year with a trip to the ice flows in his own vessel, only to be out-maneuvered for the present year by a Knight.

What can we expect next year? Perhaps Elton John and George Micheal. Pair of Queens beats a Knight.

But Paul is Newfoundland’s Lex Luther, one example of many that relies on racism against Newfoundlanders for his agenda. Well…maybe not Lex Luther, perhaps he is more of an Archie Bunker. In any case one has to wonder if Paul’s agenda is as much about a hatred of a group of people as it is about seals.

Contrast Paul Watson and Lady Heather McCartney. On Larry King Live Heather was quick to retract the word “barbaric” and replace it with “archaic”. Why?! Simply because the word Barbaric is a descriptor of the noun Barbarian and that places a derogatory comment on the class of people she is addressing. She was as careful as she could be to keep the argument based on the act of killing seals and not against the group of people that do it.

Compare Heather’s chosen words with that of Paul. In responding to Danny Williams saying that he was not going to stand by while the McCartney’s or anyone else disrespected Newfoundlanders, Paul wrote in his blog “Too bad Danny. They did dominate the debate and they made the Premier of Newfoundland look silly and unprepared. Danny Williams, Newfoundland, and Labrador are not deserving of respect. As a Canadian, I have absolutely no respect for Newfoundlanders.”

As if it were not enough to say he had no respect for us he concluded by writing “Asking us to respect Newfoundlanders is like asking us to have respect for the soldiers of the Third Reich.”

Note that he does not make these comments about Alaskans, Prince Edward Islanders, or the Quebecois, all of whom seal. In fact much of the seal fashion comes out of Quebec. Could Paul not think of a racist word for a French person?

Most blatantly though is Paul’s interpretation of scripture when he wrote. “’Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the Earth’. One thing for sure, Jesus Christ was not referring to the sealers of Newfoundland when he made that statement.”

The umbrella of protest is a convenient one, people have used all sorts of things to justify their own evils. The truth is some people have a natural ability to incite hatred. ... and they find their followers - it is in all of us, it just takes someone like the Good Shepherd of the Sea to bring it out. He has been playing the game for quite some time - he is bloody good at it.

Article on the use of the word Newfie

The Telegram “Newfie Joke No Laughing Matter”

Search the Word Newfie in the Dictionary of Newfoundland English

Thursday, March 02, 2006

What's Your Beef? (The Captain the Knight and the Sheep)

Newfoundland and Labrador can draw negative attention to itself like a kick me sign on the pope. Internationally I would guess that the image of the sealer with a club is as prominent as the Mountie on his horse. The campaign that has spread this propaganda must certainly be ranked among the most successful in the history of modern man.

The most recent incarnation of the great war on sealers is in the name of Sir Paul McCartney himself. Mr. McCartney is one of a rare example in the animal rights movement in that he is an actual Vegan. There is a definite virtue in "practicing what you preach". The Vegan lifestyle is one to be admired. The belief that animals should not be exploited for our use is admirable indeed. It is a sound environmentally friendly and socially responsible way to life... you knew there would be a "but", and a big but it is... how many supporters of the IFAW, American Humane Society, or Sea Shepherd Society are vegan? The people at the forefront of these movements will tell you they are vegan, good for them, but how far would you have to look to find the omnivores? The wealthy elite supports these groups, a minority that live in a society that will never be known by the likes of us. Look at the headquarters of these organizations, Vancouver, Cape Cod, Washington State, and Belgium, Germany, France, Cape Town South Africa – some of the higher value real estate in the world. Scratch just a little below the surface of these groups and it will not take long at all to find the guy eating his box of chicken and ribs.

It is Mr. Chicken and Ribs that I have my beef with (pun intended). Why does Mr. Chicken and Ribs support the anti-sealing campaign? Each time this discussion comes up we have to debate the same issues over and over. Let's break down the BS and leave the fundamental argument standing:

Argument 1: I don't agree with killing baby seals. From this argument I would expect that the lamb industry in New Zealand and the Veal industry in the United States would be huge targets for these campaigns. No?! Ok so what is the distinction with the Seals?!

Argument 2: The Seals are endangered. No?! They are in fact thriving?! Ok lets try another.

Argument 3: The seal hunt is barbaric. Here's where the Vegan's have a one up on us omnivores. Indeed there is a barbarism to killing an animal for our use. So there must be an overwhelming uproar in the abattoirs of the United States with the enormous amount of cattle killed to make McDonald's burgers. No?! The beef industry defends itself with all guns blazing. They have taken on the likes of KD Lang and Oprah Winfrey while steakhouses like The Keg and The Outback Steakhouse are cropping up like bull patties in a hay field.

The truth is once we remove all of the propaganda and Bull Shit (pun intended again) we are left with one fundamental argument, which does bear merit for debate. Here it is:

Are these seals killed in the most humane way possible? I can site statistics and sources on both sides but in all honesty I do not have a strong confidence in either point of view. Statistics is smoke and mirrors for bureaucratic agendas. Scientists are paid lobbyists. Bull shit for academic sake is still bull shit. Look up Ranjit Chandra if you believe the hallowed halls of academia are immune to the shit wave. So here we are. We need to have a fundamental morel centre, a value system that is sound and not hypocritical. Looks like we have a couple of choices here:

Myself and Mr. Chicken and Ribs can choose to go Vegan. I honestly admire that path and encourage it, but honestly, as for myself I would shit myself inside out if I had to eat that many lentils. I was reading about the Sea Cucumber and apparently they can expel their insides when threatened. I'm not sure how that works as a defense but I am not prepared to be the first human to try the strategy.

The second choice is to confirm your moral centre and use that as the basis for protest. If for example you do not belief that young animals should be killed then the seal hunt would be one target of your protests after you have taken on the government of New Zealand against Lamb; and France, Belgium, Holland and the United States against veal etc. (Wait a minute... isn’t Belgium France and the US major centres of the fight against the seal hunt. Me thinks thou dost protest too much, smoke and mirrors friends.) In any case if you are going to take on these governments prepare for a big fight, ask Oprah Winfrey or K.D. Lang what to expect.

Perhaps you take your stance for the humane treatment of animals. Then you will be fighting against the bull fights in Spain, Stampedes, Circuses, foxhunts, dogfights, Cock fights, Zoos, Aquariums, Pet Stores, Pet Owners, the use of animals in research facilities... Oh man this fight is huge... get started and let me know when you get down to the priority of the seal hunt.

I’ll tell you what is not an option, this whole bit about hob knobbing with celebrities and soliciting millionaires like sheep for their cash while dining on Veal Parmesan with your leather Birkenstocks is complete and utter hypocrisy.

Luckily the fight against the seal hunt is cheap and easy. The smear campaign has had a long and sustained affect, the money pours in every time someone Googles "Baby seals, skinned alive". The Canadian Government is not nearly as threatening adversary as the US, or EU. It's bloody easy - a virtual license to print money. Like Paul Watson said, "I think that of all the animals in the world or any environmental problem in the world the harp seal is the easiest issue to raise funds on... it's easier to make money and because it's easier to make a profit because there are over a thousand animals on the endangered species list, and the harp seal isn't one of them... the seal is very easy to exploit as an image. We have posters, we have buttons, we have shirts, all of which portray the head of a baby seal with the tears coming out of its eyes. Baby seals are always crying because the salt tears keep their eyes from freezing. But they have this image - they're baby animals, they're beautiful, and because of that, coupled with the horror of a sealer hitting them over the head with a club, it's an image that just goes right to the heart of animal lovers all over North America.”

So Vegans, Omnivores, or Full-Time protestor take your stand! Join now while Paul (Paul the knight not Paul the Captain) leads us in a song:

"Who's that knocking at my door, somebody's ringing the bell. Who's that knocking at my door, somebody's ringing the bell. Do me a favour, open the door and let him in."

...Hmmm... Ok, ah, that doesn't make a hell of a lot of sense does it?!