Memo to chicken Libs
George Smitherman says he will do all he can to press his federal Lib buds into submission on the pending can-gays-marry-in-Ontario crisis (NOW, December 14-20). Smitherman: "I am a politician who is tired of seeing chicken-hearted politicians who follow rather than lead."Have a heart, George. Chickens are naturally fearful of the sly fox Chretien who keeps them in check. They do have a 100-to-one edge, so they could try rushing him. But that would be against their chicken nature.
Fax letters to have the fox sign on personally to the proposition that gay marriages won't mean the end of western civilization. Jean, we know this issue is not in the Red Book, but, as George might say, it ought to be.
GEOFF RYTELL, Toronto
In response to mideast night (NOW, December 14-20). How easily they forget the past. My mother survived Auschwitz concentration camp in 1945 and came to live in a Jewish state in 1948 because it was the only place that accepted her Jewishness. She did not have to hide and be afraid of pogroms. That was her dream. The irony is, she still fears for her life.A few years ago, a bomb exploded in the heart of Tel Aviv only blocks away from her apartment building, killing and injuring many. My aunt, also a Holocaust survivor, lost a son in the war of 73, the Yom Kippur War -- again, not a war of our choosing. My aunt tried to commit suicide. She said her life was not worth living after her son's death.
My nephew serves in the Israeli army, and his brother will be enlisted soon. My nephews, like other Israelis their age, would like to go to university rather than join an army. One wants to be a rabbi. They are nice young men whose company I enjoy every time I visit. I'd like to ask Rana Rifaie: if my nephews are stationed in Gaza or Hebron and are under attack by Palestinian mobs, do you want them to lay down their arms and go to their death like their great-grandparents?
MICHELLE HAMMER, Toronto
the story paul fromm's whitePower Plot: The Rise Of Paul Fromm (NOW, December 14-20) by Enzo Di Matteo was disappointing. Your reporter had an opportunity to practise serious journalism and discuss the federal government's grab for censorship control over the Internet.Instead, Di Matteo indulged in amateurish invective and guilt by association. The swastika pattern in the headline was about as subtle as your sex ads and likely even more dishonest in its claims.
I'm not a Nazi. If I were, I'd probably welcome the grab currently under-way before a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal for massive state control over the Internet. The federal government, backed by a host of censorship groups like the Canadian Jewish Congress, the League for Human Rights of B'nai Brith and the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, is seeking to twist Section 13.1 of the Canadian Human Rights Act to apply to the Internet. It refers to telephonic communication -- recorded phone messages -- "likely to expose to hatred or contempt" racial or religious groups.
The Internet is not telephonic communication. You can access the Internet via cable and other means. The Zundel site complained of is not in Canadian jurisdiction. It is owned by a U.S. citizen, not Ernst Zundel, and is located in the U.S.
The Canadian Association for Free Expression, of which I'm the director, has been granted intervenor status. Di Matteo dismisses this important issue by saying that if the government wins, "Fromm and others like him will be denied their strongest weapon and recruitment tool." However, that's all right, he suggests, because (see the swastika) only "Nazis" are concerned about this issue.
Well, the press should be, too. Most papers, including NOW, are online. Should Section 13.1 apply to the Internet, any racial, sexual or religious group whose feelings are hurt by an article can complain. Truth, unlike in libel or criminal "hate" prosecutions, is no defence. All that will matter is that feelings are hurt and comments are "likely" to expose the group to hatred or contempt.
You won't be slamming Stockwell Day and fundamentalist Christians any more for their views. At no cost to themselves, but immense cost to the paper, they can claim that an opinion piece that might be perfectly legal if it were not online, is likely to make people feel contempt for them. Truth or fair comment will be no defence.
Di Matteo comments that Gordon Lee Baum, the CEO of the Council of Conservative Citizens, whom I interviewed for Radio Freedom, is a former David "Duke underling." Not true. He probably has Baum confused with Louis Beam.
As to financial backing for CAFE, he makes much of the rumoured support from London Nazi aficionado Martin Weiche. I haven't seen Weiche in 20 years, and neither CAFE nor I receive a cent from him.
PAUL FROMM Canadian Association for Free Expressioni am outraged that you printed the flippant comment by Helga Stephenson of Serendipity Point Films concerning Mary Fish (NOW, December 7-13), since neither she nor anyone from the film production company spoke to Fish concerning the incident.Furthermore, the behaviour of the police and film company personnel in this incident (as well as others over the past year) is abusive and intrusive.
This is not an isolated problem. But this particular incident is so enraging. When a movie director begins directing police officers, the citizens are in grave danger. Everyone who was there saw the director yell "Quiet, people," point to the police and to Mary Fish. Then the police pounced, and handcuffed and arrested her.
The police were used to harass other merchants and patrons as well during the two weeks of filming.MARTY SMITH Torontoi haven't picked up a now in some months, but as soon as I started reading I remembered why. The piece on panhandling (NOW, December 14-20) was the most pointless drivel I have read in a long time. What is the point here? To show that the author, in addition to not being able to write, can't panhandle either?Why are you forcing your readers to suffer through a badly written, out-of-focus, ill-conceived piece such as this? It wasn't even mildly interesting or vaguely humorous. Are things that slow at NOW these days that "night before" high-school essays about street people are required to fill the void? PAUL GRAHAM Torontobook critic steven davey's re- view of my spoken biography, Alien: The Strange Life And Times Of Mendelson Joe (NOW December 7-13), seemed to distill my view of the world in general and humans in particular ("people make him puke") into one very negative picture. Methinketh he did not read the book (maybe skimmed), nor did he notice the dedication, not to mention the portraits of women amongst the 21 colour plates.It's true! I never bought into the hippy movement in Yorkville. But then, I've never been able to attach myself to any group, gang or cult. To admit I am or have been a hypocrite is testament to my honesty. At least I don't skim or misrepresent the truth as I know it.MENDELSON JOE Torontophil anderson's comments on the reduced art listings (NOW, December 14-20) were eerily timely for me. I have just had a very disappointing experience trying to get an event listed in time to be effective. (Like Phil, I made all the deadlines.) Rather naively (in hindsight), our small choir expected to find ourselves listed somewhere in NOW to promote the big event of our season.I was told that events make it into print at the discretion of the staff person responsible for the listings. Further, I was told that NOW feels that sharing this information more openly, even in the form of a general disclaimer, would discourage many organizers from submitting their events.
But I would rather have known in advance that it was a crapshoot at best than to trustingly send off my e-mail weeks in advance with no resulting listing.MARY SIMPSON Torontogreat cover story on martina Sorbara (NOW, December 14-20). It's inspiring to read about such a talented, well-rounded young artist. One small quibble, however: Martina will be hard-pressed to persuade most of the non-artist (academics, writers, scientists, computer-programmers, teachers, etc) alumni of the Toronto Waldorf School that we weren't as prepared by the school for our respective vocations as she was for hers. It wasn't only about art!KATJA RUDOLPH, PhD Toronto