Here is my advice as we begin the century that will lead to 2081. First, guard the freedom of ideas at all costs. Be alert that dictators have always played on the natural human tendency to blame others and to oversimplify. And don’t regard yourself as a guardian of freedom unless you respect and preserve the rights of people you disagree with to free, public, unhampered expression. ~Gerard K. O’Neill, 2081
For some time now I’ve been concerned that it seems we are losing the lessons of past. This weekend confirmed for me that this is true. My parents, who both fought in WWII, taught me the importance of learning from history, they joined the forces not for any abstract thoughts of glory or duty but because they wanted to be a part of stopping the sweeping force of repression and hatred. During my life I was taught that continual pursuance of education, defence of freedom, respect for everyone’s right to their opinion, a healthy questioning of authority, and participating in elections was my duty. This they saw as the cornerstones of a free and democratic society.
Those who are educated have the ability of critical thought, those who value and understand the importance of freedom are less likely to sit back and watch it stripped away. Those who value free thought will respect others right to it as well – remember how people used to say “I disagree with what you are saying but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Whatever happened to that? Those who question authority will never commit atrocities while claiming to only be following orders. Those who participate fully in the electoral process and educate themselves on the issues and facts will never be fooled by trite sound bites appealing to their lower natures.
This lower nature was evident this weekend. From the actions of the police who declared war on the citizenry to the comments on blogs and news stories some even calling for the police to use live rounds on those exercises their right to peaceful public assembly.
- Throw them all in jail they have no right to use public parks for demonstrations.
- Ther[sic] will probably come a time when these unemployable gits will just be taken out behind the barn and despenced[sic] with. Better for them and better for the tax payers who pay to keep these dingos alive
- I think the police were too soft on these protesters/rioters. To me they are the same if they claim to be there for peaceful protests and stand and watch as some of their buddies cause damages to our city. So, tough. They got arrested, went to jail for couple of hours, got roughed up a little, they totally deserve it. Also, they should be forced to pay for the damages caused by these protests. Although, I seriously would wanna know a breakdown of this $1.1B cost for this summit. For that amount of money they could have had 10 times more police on the streets and these protesters wouldn’t be able to breathe without being monitored.
Among those roughed up and illegally arrested were a number of media people. In fact media whether mainstream or citizen journalist seemed to be targeted. It was as if there was a predetermination to avoid at all costs having the truth told. Naturally the truth is a police states’ worst enemy. Pictures and video helped lead to the publication of evidence of provocateurs at Montebello
Those involved in such actions and those involved in unlawful actions against both legitimate protesters and innocent bystanders would want to keep proof against them at a minimum.
It is difficult out of all the startling images to chose one that best exemplifies the great wrong that was perpetrated, however the image of the woman with her walker looking into the faces of a line of unmoving riot police, finally sitting on her walker with a look of both confusion and resignedness on her face to me had a similar feel as the man in front of the tanks at Tiananmen Square. There was no concern for her humanity. She could not be mistaken for a black hooded anarchist. There were none to step forward to either Serve or Protect. It was a scene which should create a feeling of deep and abiding shame in each and every officer present.
Democracy is not something that can be locked up in box and trotted out for tearful jingoistic events. You either have it or you don’t.
This Canada Day I mourn for my country and it’s tenuous grasp on democratic principles and all those who do not even recognize its departure.
Further action: Join the FaceBook Group Canadians Demanding a Public Inquiry Into Toronto G20