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Friday, December 1, 2023

Phoenix Riting! – August 31st, 2023

I gleaned from last week’s letters to the editor that my own column on a certain subject (July 6th, you can find the back issues in the files section of the Hornby Word of Mouth Facebook page if you haven’t read it) is the most likely cause of the current tempest on these pages. Surely that cannot be, as I myself received not a single word of response or commentary from any direction, in person or in writing. This led me to presume that all who read it must have nodded their heads in benevolent agreement (no, I knew better). Otherwise, surely, they would give me feedback. Isn’t that what humans do?


Are we humans anymore? It seems more and more that those in power, the lawmakers, are falling into lockstep with a kind of sloganeering, black-and-white thinking which the vast majority assumes must have a solid basis, so are comfortable leaving it to the experts. I cannot think that way. Who are these experts? What is this basis? What has changed? If there is a solid basis, I will agree. My brain requires it. I cannot agree because I am told to, based on slogans, opinion or hearsay. This is why I shy away from conspiracy theories.


Normally I’m all about dancing with shifts in culture as it evolves along with human consciousness. The current shift however alarms me deeply. “Silence is violence” was the rallying cry of the feminist revolution back in the day. Now, suddenly speech is violence. This is a dangerous twist, as it leads to quashing all opinions that counter the established narrative. In a repressive society, truth is not trusted to stand for itself; it must be proclaimed with slogans and enforced with rigid laws. This is called ‘propaganda’ and ‘marketing.’ Can it really be truth?


Humans as a rule value nuanced discourse. The thoughtful weighing of ideas, opinions and known facts, the open-ended querying, all serve our collective quest for understanding. This is essential to any free society. Now, apparently, we have reached the end of that quest. The final answer has been found! Now, any drive to discuss certain issues that affect us all is no longer a democratic value upheld by law, but a selfish and bigoted mindset, that by speaking, endangers vulnerable people – no matter what is being said. The only acceptable modalities are silence or compliance.


I ask again: how are the vulnerable endangered by my extremely moderate and centrist opinion on the subject, rooted as it is in love, support and admiration of the humans involved? My concerns are with changes in law, passed without discussion, and their unintended consequences to other vulnerable humans who should also matter. I see no care or concern evidenced for the people of #MeToo. Remember?


Piecing the story together – please correct me if I am wrong, Mike – I gather there was an attempt to pull advertising from TIG by an individual working for a tax-funded group because of the Grapevine’s editorial policy ‘harming vulnerable people.’ The publisher objected publicly, resulting in a public apology from the individual. The publisher was then, I gather, fired without cause from a job he held in the community, and removed from a position of responsibility as well. I don’t know the full story behind these reactions but it is not looking good from here.


Threatening someone with loss of income, firing them from their job, and removing them from positions they hold are extreme responses that ought to be reserved for extreme offenses. What was the offense?


I will fight to defend my trans friends, who are valuable, valid humans who have nothing to do with this issue. I am speaking of restoring the free public discussion of the rule of law mandated by a democracy. The alternative is tyranny. Something we all, I hope, dearly hope to avoid.


I am alarmed daily by the ever-increasing gap in the collective and our communal discourse. ‘Ever-increasing’ cannot be sustainable. Something must break, and I hope it won’t be us. Let us strive to find balance between opposing viewpoints for the good of all instead of this current mania for winning over, silencing or vanquishing the other. I see a widening gap between ‘sides’ of this issue.


Yet it seems to me we all agree on certain core values: human rights are universal, vulnerable people should be protected and the ability to live freely as one’s authentic self should be defended. I see a crying need to get together and talk out exactly what that means with each other, not pounding, cancelling, punishing or rallying our troops to war. We aren’t enemies, my friends. We need to find the brakes on this train before it goes off the cliff.


That’s what I think. What do you think? Email me at phoenixonhornby@gmail.com

Author: TIG

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