CARTOON COURTESY XKCD.COM
Though it’s a relatively quiet time of year, there is still a steady stream of email that arrives at my work address – some from news wire services, a lot from the many towns in our regions, some readers who wish to express their views on municipal governance and education… and then there are those who are destined for a special folder I’ve dubbed ‘The Quack Files.’
We’re fortunate to live in a part of the world where individual voices are acknowledged, recognized, and – for the most part – listened to. The best part of being on the team that puts out a weekly newspaper is the feedback we get from readers and while some may take umbrage with the paper’s content or disagree with a writer’s viewpoint, it’s all part of the weekly discourse between the pages. Space permitting, all letters are printed provided they adhere to basic standards of decency. Hence the need for a Quack File.
One fellow in the West Island continues to try to educate me on the myriad feats of Donald Trump, sending me an itemized list of his accomplishments while in office. The fact that many promoted the American economy at the expense of Canadians left me puzzled, but I digress. He also recently sent me a note suggesting the problems highlighted by the #MeToo movement could be solved if nude dancing and prostitution were outlawed, if women would cover up any exposed flesh, if no premarital sex was allowed, and if women would only stay home and look after kids to avoid any physical contact with men.
As our publisher remarked, “Wow, he’s marriage material…”
We’ve just recently marked a distressing anniversary this week of the mass shooting at a Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre that took the lives of six men whose only crime was being present in the mosque for evening prayers.
And in showing a marked sense of obtuse insensitivity, I received a letter from another of the Quack File regular contributors known for his racists, anti-Muslim rants, a twisted individual who takes a perverse delight in stirring the muck for no other reason than the sheer fun of provocation.
Known for his rambling, verbose missives, he takes quotes from noted scholars, authors, and cultural critics and masticates them to fit his own personal doctrine, thereby portraying the prophet Muhammad as a thief, murderer, and pedophile, and challenging any reproach for expressing ‘free speech.’
Like many of the tirades previously submitted and carefully filed, this week’s letter targets the Liberal Government along with my alleged ‘pro-Liberal leanings.’
Wow. I didn’t even vote Liberal in the last election but, whatever.
He’s also accused me, over the years, of not printing the truth as it ‘doesn’t fit her narrative’ and being a member of the speech police.
Normally I like a sense of skepticism and challenge in a person and agree with those who question the status quo but viewpoints cannot exist in a vacuum – they need to be tempered with education, an open mind, and the ability to see past one’s own massively inflated ego and misplaced self-righteousness.
I can’t improve on the words of American author and cartoonist Randall Munroe in crafting a response.
“The right to free speech means the government can’t arrest you for what you say. It doesn’t mean that anyone else has to listen to your BS or host you while you share it.”