Canadians have become habituated to howling for political effect

There’s still time to lower our voices, choose our words and stop talking long enough to listen to our neighbours

Canadians have become habituated to howling for political effectIt might be going a tad far to say overstatement is killing our democracy. Hyperbole in politics has been around since the world’s second oldest profession followed the world’s oldest profession into existence. U.S. President Donald Trump is hardly the first to have gained high office through gifted manipulation of the fibber’s foghorn. Yet we…

Language can calibrate a nation’s moral compass

From Abraham Lincoln to Martin Luther King to Donald Trump, America offers examples – good and bad – of the power of language

Language can calibrate a nation’s moral compassLanguage is a powerful tool for shaping a society's values. The manner in which a leader uses language can reset the moral compass of a nation. And it can influence, for better or worse, the behaviour of its citizenry. While public discourse in Canada isn’t perfect, it’s reasonably civil. Canadian politicians, though sometimes outspoken and critical…

Intemperance and intolerance in campus culture clashes

Students of the snowflake generation feel empowered to videotape, confront and swarm professors with whom they disagree

Intemperance and intolerance in campus culture clashesI must confess to a crime. Many years ago, when I was still in my 20s, I was enjoying a late-night non-alcoholic beverage with an old friend from my high school days. Our talk turned to the teachers in our adolescence, some of whom we revered, some of whom we despised. The memory of one…

Social criticism is too important to leave to the trolls

Trolling requires a person to suspend thought. To hate any thought that isn’t their own. To smash, destroy and bully

Social criticism is too important to leave to the trollsEverybody’s a critic, they say. But that’s not true. Some people are critics, in the true sense of the word, and contribute positively by determining the meaning and value of social and cultural artefacts. Critics shape culture, teach audiences and direct attention. Critics aren’t trolls. They create and elevate discussion and, by elevating discussion, enlighten…

Does white privilege debate promote racism against white people?

It’s difficult to predict where the white privilege debate will go in the coming years but it may involve a collision with our society’s most basic rules

Does white privilege debate promote racism against white people?A bold debate called white privilege is growing day by day at Canadian universities. It’s also showing up in neighbourhood schools. It’s sometimes a fierce topic and, more than occasionally, white privilege speeches have not been moderate. For example in March 2018, Trent University hosted a speech event entitled “It’s OK to be against whiteness.”…