Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Stop Harper

I wanted to write this post a few days ago, but I was at a conference, so here it is now...

There has been a lot of talk about the page who held up a Stop Harper sign during the throne speech at the senate (if you haven't heard of it, the story is here). One of the most common questions being asked is whether it was appropriate. I don't understand why this is a question.

According to the terms of her employment, of course it was not "appropriate" but then, who came up with those terms and the very position in the first place? How do I, appropriately, tell Canadians that this isn't right in a way that they will hear, much like Harper has the ability to tell Canadians about why his way is appropriate. Who decides what actions are considered appropriate and which are not?

A woman who has a political opinion expressed it in a non-violent way, and in a way that got a lot of people to take notice. Isn't that kind of the point of activism?

Those who say it is not appropriate seem to think that it is against the "rules" in the senate. But who decides the rules in the senate? Do activists have any say in it? Or is it the same government who we are protesting against that decides who can speak, when they can speak, and under what conditions? (I honestly do not know this, as I am not informed on political procedure, especially in the senate, but I am guessing that there is no way for her to have gotten this point out to a wide audience through senate by following these "rules").

I think this is also proof that it is not our process, but that of our elected government (majority with something like 24% of registered voters approval???). Wait, this is the senate, and they aren't even elected. So whose government is it, exactly? Arguably, we could have elected differently, but then I can write entire books on why that didn't happen and is not likely to in the near future... I don't want to try and summarize the thoughts on here as it would be either too simplistic to make sense or too long for most people to read.

The point I have is what else was she supposed to do? What else are we supposed to do to have our voices heard? She could get a blog (like me) and have 100 people a day read her thoughts on the matter, but she has millions of people talking. She could write to a newspaper that a few thousand people might read and get slammed by a bunch of conservatives who seem to write newspaper comments more than anyone else, usually anonymously and in ways that are so far to the right that I have largely stopped reading newspaper comment sections.

One commenter in this article wrote that her actions were inappropriate because there is a time and place to air your grievances. She expressed a political opinion in senate. I don't think this should upset anyone (except maybe Harper).

The part that concerns me most is the talk about security concerns. One of Harper's former staff members wrote something on twitter about "this time just cardboard but could have been anything". I expect this will be used as an excuse to increase security to make sure nobody else has an anti-Harper sign that could threaten national security. I mean, why would anyone want dissenting opinions in politics... and I'm pretty sure that senate page jobs will be more difficult to get for people who disagree with the status quo...

I also find it comical that employees of the senate are supposed to serve in a non-partisan manner and are supposed to be objective. Has social science research not sufficiently shown that objectivity is a myth? I can't think of a single thing that I do on any given day that is objective or unbiased.

1 comment:

  1. Such an enjoyable post! Your final remarks truly resonate with me, as I have learned from my own journey with the social sciences that claiming objectivity is almost more dangerous than admiting subjectivity. I think there is an article you should read that remains as one of the most powerful articles I've read since becoming a Master's student: Brookey, R.A. (2001). Bio-rhetoric, background beliefs and the biology of homosexuality. Argumentation and Advocacy, 37, p. 171-183.

    As Thoreau once eloquently stated, objectivity only exists in nature: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life ..."