I am a reporter.
I write on all manner of things, from cheque presentations to government corruption.
Sometimes this includes fairly significant court cases. In the last year I have been made aware of two murders in my neck of the woods. OK, one of them I went to the scene and even spoke to a friend of the family. But I don’t know the people involved, so for me, they are simply stories.
Now, as you are all well aware, I do have a vested interest in one specific murder case currently going through the courts. You all know to which one I am referring.
I’m not going to rehash any of the reporting already done on this trial. But I do have some thoughts and comments on the case and trial as a whole.
This is the first time I have had a vested interest in such a significant event. It’s not very often you hear of a murder-for-hire plot involving someone you know, even tangentially. When the accused is someone who knew fairly well, and someone you considered a friend, it’s especially eerie.
Think about it. When I first heard about the shooting, I was led to believe, as everyone was, that it was a botched home invasion.
Then the charges were laid.
The I started hearing things from people back home who had better connections than I did.
Now the testimony.
I’m following the trial best as I can because, and I hate using this analogy, it’s like a train wreck — you can’t look away.
Yet I feel more voyeuristic than I have felt when following other trials.
The Stephanie Rengel murder trial didn’t make me feel strange. And that was an especially tragic case.
I don’t remember the Paul Bernardo/Karla Homolka trial, but I imagine I would not have felt out of place following that one.
But this one is different. I know the parties involved and I am still disbelieving it’s all true (although that does remain to be seen; but the police would not have recommended charges if they didn’t believe they had a reasonable chance of conviction).
For many people watching this all unfold, it’s just another sordid tale.
For me and many of my friends, it’s people we know going through something that is going to alter their lives forever.
I’m going to have to keep that sentiment in mind as I continue through my career. Because I know I’ll be spending many, many more hours in courtrooms.
Not that long ago, as in the aftermath of the Rich Peverley incident, I came across the following image:
A certain Twitter user made the assertion people posting this image are doing so with racist intentions, even if they don’t intend to do so.
When I questioned if she’d be calling it racist if the basketball player portrayed was Larry Bird (white) and the hockey player was Anson Carter (black), her reply was that she had never seen the races reversed like that.
And I have to acknowledge I too have never seen such an image with a white basketball player and a black hockey player with a similar text to what is in the image in question. But the reason for that, at least in my eyes, is simply the law of averages. There are far more black basketballers and far more white hockey players than there are respective white and black players.
Since, on balance, those sports skew black and white respectively, we are more likely to see a basketball player who suffers a leg cramp being carried off the court who is black. And the same goes for a hockey player who collapses on the bench wanting to get back on the ice; on balance he will be white.
Maybe I am more enlightened and not so sensitive to these things, but when I saw the above image, my first thought about who was portrayed in each segment was that the above person was Lebron James, a basketball player. An athlete in a sport I view as a weakling’s sport. Ever watch basketball? It seems to me if you breathe on someone, you get called for a foul.
The bottom portrayed Rich Peverley, who is a hockey player. Hockey, the sport where, on the other hand, you can decapitate a player and play goes on.
I exaggerate, of course.
But. Maybe some of the people who posted that image were doing so with racist intentions. But unless someone says something overtly racist (e.g. “Look at that big nigger baby Lebron James! Wuss carried off the court because of a pussy cramp. Now that Rich Peverley. Good ol’ master race white guy, ain’t gonna let a little irregular heartbeat keep him outta a man’s sport!”) I simply view the image as someone laughing at how sensitive basketball players are when hockey players will play through broken legs (Bobby Baun), broken fingers, missing teeth and having their faces carved up like last Thanksgiving’s turkey.
Don’t get me started on baseball players. “Oooh, I chipped a nail. Put me on the 15-day DL!” They’re the real weaklings.
And yes. I did say nigger. I’m not going to get all politically correct. The use of the word fits the context, and I’m going to use it.
I wrote this column for the March 11 Westlock News. But since it also deals with Carleton’s fourth straight, and 10th in 12 years, national men’s basketball title, I thought I would throw it up here before it appears in print.
As I’m sitting here writing this column on Sunday afternoon, I can’t help thinking I’d much rather be in Ottawa right now.
Not because I don’t like it here in rural Alberta, but because I’m missing the CIS men’s basketball national championships.
As some of you are hopefully aware, although frankly I doubt it, my alma mater Carleton is the four-time reigning national champion. More impressively, with a 79-76 win over the Ottawa Gee Gees, they’ve won the title in 10 of the last 12 years.
And I’ve been a live witness to exactly none of them. This despite the championships being held in Ottawa the last two years of my time at Carleton.
I don’t understand why I never went either year. The then-Scotiabank Place was only a relatively short hop, skip and a jump away from Carleton, but I never hopped on the bus for the journey.
This year was supposed to be different.
Five years since graduation, I was planning to return to Ottawa, see what has changed since I was there last, and, yes, cheer on my Ravens as they tried for their 10th title in only 12 years.
I think my only issue with going back, at least from an aesthetic point of view, is that Ottawa is a fairly ugly city at this time of year. I mean, I thoroughly enjoyed my time there, but when I returned in June 2009 to graduate, it was a decidedly nicer looking place than it was when I left that April.
So I guess at this point someone is wondering why I am making a big deal out of forsaking a trip to Ottawa to watch basketball, basketball that isn’t even the highest calibre out there.
I think it comes down to Carleton being the only championship-calibre team I can cheer for, and the only one I can remember cheering for.
I may have been seven at the time, but I can’t really remember 1993, the last good year for Canadian professional sports. The Blue Jays were back-to-back World Series champions, and the Canadiens were Stanley Cup champions.
Heck, even the Maple Leafs were half-decent that year, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Sure, the Argonauts have won four Grey Cups since 1993, and the Rock won five titles in seven seasons starting in 1999, but those sports don’t resonate with me as much as do hockey and baseball.
To be honest, basketball is down the list as well, but when your university can field a team with 10 championships in 12 years, you at least have something to hold on to.
Fortunately, the national championships will be at Ryerson next year, with all games held at Maple Leaf Gardens.
And with the opportunity for free room and cheaper board, I know where I’ll be next March.
Slut. Skank. Harlot. Trollop. Whore. Tramp. Floozy. Or, my favourite, Neo-Rennaissance lady of the evening.
Doubtless you’ve heard all or most of those in reference to girls and women, typically those who are dressed in a provocative manner.
And if you’re a woman or girl, I would bet you dollars to donuts you’ve been referred to as one of those at least once, even if you don’t know it.
Except the last one — that one’s a bit too convoluted to be used in ‘normal’ conversation.
We all know what these words are meant to convey. They’re meant to convey the idea that those who are using those words are above those being referred to, and the recipients of the slurs are overly sexually promiscuous.
More often than not, the use of those slurs occurs solely based on physical appearance.
Dressed in a miniskirt and tube top? And you have large breasts? Congratulations! You’re a slut!
In other cases, the physical appearance isn’t so much the body and how it’s covered (or not, as the case may be). Instead, it’s that the woman/girl is dressed in a way other girls/women don’t agree with.
Wearing Lulu pants and Ugg boots? Congratulations! You’re a whore!
Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I am guilty of using these phrases. And often based on nothing other than what she looks like and what she is wearing. Perhaps it’s been a reaction based on my lack of a romantic life, and jealousy that men/boys who don’t seem worthy have managed to secure partners. I see women/girls who are too good for the men/boys they are with, so I lash out at them in my mind.
But a recent experience at West Edmonton Mall really made me think.
I was walking through the mall and in front of me was this girl wearing what appeared to be a tight, midriff-baring top underneath a mesh or knitted top. Whatever you call it, you could see her physique through the top layer, along with the fabric covering her breasts. She was also wearing fairly tight jeans. She was attractive, at least as far as her body was concerned; I never saw her face.
As I’m walking, I hear a comment from behind me. Something along the lines of “She’s a slut.” I didn’t turn around to see who made that comment, but I presume by the timing of the comment and when the girl walked in front of me that it was directed at her, based only on her appearance.
And it made me think.
Hearing words like the ones that sometimes bounce around in my head be uttered out loud in (presumably) the same manner I have used them really struck me.
It struck me because it forced me to confront what I’m doing when I use those words, even if the person they’re directed at can’t hear me.
More to the point, it made me wonder what, really, those people who are addressed with those slurs did to deserve those slurs being directed at them.
Even if they have a reputation as someone who sleeps around, so what? Why must the idea of a woman enjoying sexual pleasure be something taboo?
And what does apparel have to do with anything, either?
It was a rather enlightening experience to overhear those words. They were (presumably) without provocation, and clearly uttered with malicious intent.
It seems homosexuality has been a hot topic on this blog of late. It happens; my mind tends to wander all over the place at times.
So, getting to the point, I suppose I should be saying congratulations to Ellen Page for coming out of the closet. It’s obviously a big deal for her, and I have nothing but respect for her for owning her own identity.
But perhaps it’s a factor of the age we live in, and the way society is changing, that I don’t really see what the point is of this being a big deal in the wider media.
I mean, I doubt anyone worth their salt is going to really care that Ellen is gay. It doesn’t change the person she is when it comes to her work. Her acting chops aren’t going to suddenly atrophy or become stronger simply by virtue of her sexuality now being known for sure. Now, maybe her roles will change, either because producers (or whoever makes that call) want her to play gay roles or she will want to branch out into roles more suiting who she publicly is.
Any maybe the charitable causes she supports will change as she now will focus on those that seek to help young, in gay youth navigate the coming-out process.
I don’t know.
But what I do know is that in our constantly evolving society, I fail to see how sexuality affects who a person is.
I know for me, and I said this to a friend who recently came out, “I don’t know what to say. I would never have guessed it. Not like it matters what I thought. Good on you! This changes absolutely nothing in my mind. You’re still [name redacted]. Now go kick some serious ass!”
The only time someone’s sexuality matters to me is if I’m attracted to her and she’s gay (meaning we won’t be getting together) or if he’s gay and coming on to me (I’m flattered, but I don’t swing that way).
Otherwise, you’re who you are.
I think it says more about society that many gay people feel the need to hide who they are.
And that’s sad.
When will people realize that who you love has no bearing on who you are as a person?
Say what you will about the “naturalness” of homosexuality. It’s forbidden in the Bible, so therefore it should be outlawed. It’s icky. Giving the LGBTQ community equal rights will inevitably lead to people marrying their pet dogs.
I don’t really care what your argument against homosexuality is.
Each of those above examples at least have a grounding in some form of logic, however flawed it may be.
Let me take a snippet out of the above piece:
Chibuihem Amalaha, who has won awards in his country for reporting on energy science and featured on various national television stations, says he used a magnet experiment to prove homosexuality is “improper.”
Amalaha says his “groundbreaking” experiments show the north and south poles of two magnets are attracted to each other while same poles repel each other.
He concludes this “means that man cannot attract another man because they are the same, and a woman should not attract a woman because they are the same. That is how I used physics to prove gay marriage wrong.”
Let me single out something again:
… his “groundbreaking” experiments show the north and south poles of two magnets are attracted to each other while same poles repel each other.
… this “means that man cannot attract another man because they are the same, and a woman should not attract a woman because they are the same. That is how I used physics to prove gay marriage wrong.”
Can someone explain to me how much of a moron you need to be to draw the conclusion that gay sex, gay marriage, equal rights for gays, anything, is wrong because of the scientific truth that opposite magnetic poles attract and equal magnetic poles do not?
I fully expect this guy’s “research,” and I use that term with extreme contempt, suffers from a severe case of confirmation bias.
Well, I would expect that only if there was any way to make that leap of logic.
It would as if I published a paper that said Albertans are all inbred because the offspring of a horse and a donkey is sterile. There is no connection between the two.
Yeah. I give up.
I finished reading Yann Martel’s Life of Pi today.
Probably the quickest I’ve read a book since I moved out West, in large part because I’m working on actually dedicating time to reading and not simply reading during the breaks in court.
It was an interesting read. And a lot easier to get into than some of the other books I’ve read recently had been. Not that I use that fact as a determining factor whether I will like the book or not. Anyway, on to my thoughts.
On the whole, I liked it. Although, the way it opened, I kept wondering how much of the story was a work of fiction and how much was based on real events. There were things written that made me think there was a nugget of truth in the tale. Be that as it may, there were also many things that simply stretched the limits of credulity. But I’ll get to that later.
I really enjoyed the explanation of how a zoo runs. Taking an adults view of a zoo, but through the eyes of a child really made the experience more enlightening than had it been written as if it were a how-to on running a zoo.
But my biggest beef with the story, and it’s a theme I have hit on in my comments on a lot of books is the rampant religiosity of the protagonist. Can we not have a story of survival and adventure that doesn’t include a need to bring in an omniscient being to which the protagonist attributes his/her survival?
I mean, on the one hand, I had no problem that Pi was experimenting with religions in his youth, prior to ending up alone with a tiger. Young people tend to experiment; it’s how they learn.
It just bothers me.
Now, when it comes to parts of the story that really pushed the boundaries of credulity, it was the algae ‘island’ with the meerkats. I can wrap my head around ending up on a boat alone with a tiger. Seeing as the reason Pi gets stranded on the lifeboat is that a ship carrying zoo animals sank, I can see how it is possible a tiger could end up on a boat.
And along that same vein, I can see the human and tiger co-existing.
An ‘island’ made of algae complete with fresh-water pools, trees and meerkats? That’s pushing what I’m willing to believe, even if the story is a work of fiction. If the story were constructed as a fantasy, I could be more forgiving of what appeared as a blatant ploy to add something new. And the algae turns acidic at night? Yeah, not buying it.
But one thing near the end really got me thinking. I won’t spoil the story for those who haven’t read it, but the final part of the book really made me wonder what Pi truly experienced. He’s interviewed by Japanese officials investigating the sinking of the ship he was on, and he says some things that, when thinking about them, make you wonder whether the butler did it. If you catch my drift.