Protection, Freedom, and Assimiliation

It’s really hard to keep quiet anymore. For over a month, Canadians have been terrorized by groups of “protesters” demanding their freedom. I’m using the word “terrorized” specifically, and quoting “protestors” faceciously, because whatever the original intent organizers might have had, it was utterly lost when they picked up the hangers-on who just wanted to cause trouble.

We’re dealing with two antagonists in this scenario. The first are the legitimate protesters (unquoted) who are struggling to understand why we have to persist with COVID requirements (notably double-vaccination at the borders), when it doesn’t affect them, they’re being extra cautious, and it would certainly help them out with their jobs.

The second group are white people who somehow feel oppressed by the Federal government and want to unlawfully unseat the democratically elected in favour of some other choice (on which I’ll refrain from commenting). And yes, I am specifically targeting white people – this group is also significantly male, but I’ll be inclusive – because there are exceedingly few non-whites, especially in the terrorist group.

And yes, I’m sticking to “terrorists”. What else do you call people who set up in urban neighbourhoods and make violent threats? I’m avoiding the more peaceful folks in this, right? That would be the former group, who are now very outnumbered by people who are content to defile and damage public spaces and memorials, occupy streets, demand meals from soup kitchens, and become such a threat that neither the police or the military want to move in because of the potential risks. But, wait, the “peaceful” people didn’t disassociate with the violent ones … they stayed because the terrorists got attention.

If you stand next to someone waving a Nazi flag and swearing allegiance to a long-dead dictator, and you do nothing about it, should we not see you as a sympathizer?

Yes, it’s strong language, and that’s the point: tolerance of shitty behaviour makes you a shitty person.

The thing that gets me in all of this is that these so-called “freedom convoys” were started over having all the COVID restrictions repealed because it was making it difficult for truckers to cross the border. Yet the companies that run international trucking were pretty clear that the restrictions weren’t an issue at all. Social media began to even call out many of the protesters as “day truckers” who wouldn’t cross a border, anyway.

The narrative quickly evolved to be “freedom”. And more importantly, a non-descript freedom. Freedom from what, exactly? They didn’t even ask for permission to cross 75% of the continent in a large convoy and tie up city streets for a month, where they honk horns all day and night and party in hot tubs. There wasn’t a single roadblock, not even a pre-emptive warning from the politicians. There was financial support (right up until the Feds finally grew a backbone and froze the accounts), support from the stupider side of government (when the majority of people are calling for removal and you think it’s a good idea to support the racists, you’re really not reading the room). Then the “freedom” was about ending all COVID mandates … without word one of the hundreds who die daily from the disease, or the hundreds of thousands who contracted it, or the untold number of people still living with the impact of the disease.

This is why we don’t let just anyone set health policy, folks.

But then we got the real kicker: someone claimed that what the Government was doing was against their First Amendment Rights. I mean, you could hear the crickets.

(For the unimformed, Canada does not have amendments to our Constitution like with the United States’. Our amendments effectively modify the constitutional framework, adding to and extending existing documentation with yet more documentation, such as declaring Manitoba a province or changing the number of seats in the House of Commons. Things like personal rights are in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is an adjunct but related document to the Constitution. And none of them mention anything about arming bears or ensuring religion gets a workout every day.)

It should go without saying that a law governing the United States of America does not apply in any other country, including Canada. But I’ll say it anyway, since there seems to be a lot of confusion about Canada being the 51st state.

We seem to be caught in a very strange time in our history. When I was a kid, I lived in Southern Ontario. On a clear day, if you were high enough above the shore of Lake Ontario, you could see the United States. Of course, we got American television, both through the wonders of UHF (ours came from Buffalo, New York) and eventually through cable (because who didn’t want the major American networks). But we were Canada and the United States was somewhere over there and that’s how we liked it.

Today, it’s a very heavy blur, and the border is well over 200 km due south of me. I’d need to be in a plane to see far enough (over a curved Earth, thank you very much) to see the United States. And yet, it pervades nearly everything I do. I suppose, in part, we have the internet to thank for that: it’s shrunk this planet in ways no-one could have foreseen (well, maybe Isaac Azimov or David Bowie, both of whom were weirdly prescient about such things), and forced upon us messages we didn’t need to hear and enabled people who should have remained silent and forgotten.

But we love a good drama. We want to see the absolute worst in humanity, from our highly-popular reality shows of people treating each other like dirt, to YouTube videos that gasp at length about the most absurd conspiracies (no matter how many other YouTube videos completely discredit the theories), all the while news and media do exactly the bare minimum to fact check because there’s no money in it.

This is the end times. No, not of the world itself (though Russia’s about to invade Ukraine…), but of our reason. Our (western) society has been through the Ages of Discovery and Enlightenment, the Renaissance, the Industrial and Scientific Revolutions, leading to the Ages of Machine, Atomic, Space, and Information. All of them, and so, so many more, changed our world. And so is this.

The Information Age was full of hope, that we would finally touch all the points of history and become a much wiser, enlightened people who could solve the great plagues of the Earth. But this Age is closing, much sooner than we had hoped, as a new Age begins. But we don’t know what to call it, not yet. Though we will know how it will be defined: breakdown in society as individuals continue to disrupt, more violence and discord, less government oversight and control (either due to ineptitude or because of corporate influence), and far less hope.

We are being assimilated by hate and ignorance, even those of us who try to fight it. The Governments refuse to fight, even though it’s a minority of voices, because those voices are armed and violent. Because the rest of us eschew such awful behaviour, we’ve allowed it to happen and there’s very little we can do because our Governments refuse to adjust the laws to recognize the population (proportional representation or ranked voting) and stick with First Past The Post, which encourages strategic voting and leads to the Christian Right having influence over their Conservative pets. I worry about the next generation who will have to deal with decisions my generation made, effectively in its desire to be entertained. Unless we can change the narrative, unless we can improve the situation, we will continue to see more hatred and ignorance, which can only lead to more violence and death.

If you have any deities who may grant you wishes for our survival, perhaps you can drop a hint on our behalf? Honestly, it couldn’t hurt to ask.

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