We need dissent. We need the internal dissent of the bureaucrat calling bullshit, the dissent of the scientist freely explaining the world, the dissent of the back-bencher representing a local concern that goes against PMO policy, the dissent of an enraged segment of society taking to the streets. To be sure, these expressions of dissent break message, but they bring a wider view of the world, help make governments more flexible and more capable of responding to the unpredictable, and ultimately bring a societal wisdom that serves everyone well. Dissent makes us a better country.
I sent the following to the Canadian Press because someone who I respect on Twitter suggested that people ought to respond to a shameful piece of “journalism” that’s getting far too much play in Canada today.
This is RIDICULOUS.
White people getting upset that they are not the centre of attention on social media is not a story. Do you spend much time on social media? It has many, many drawbacks but one positive is that everyone is mostly free to say things there. Sometimes, white people (especially white, cisgender, straight men—a demographic I am largely contained within) get upset because people of colour, queer people, trans people… have a voice in these fora that isn’t subject to the approval of white/cis/straight/male folks. And, I’m guessing, whoever at your organization thought this was newsworthy.
Listen. When something happens that affects a community, the people who have the knowledge, lived experience and visceral connection to it are people IN THAT COMMUNITY. Bilan Arte was trying to make it clear that those are the people who can speak to the issue of systemic violence against communities of colour and that they should be given priority to speak to this issue in public spaces. Is that really so controversial?
Please. Think about what you are doing. People are in genuine pain in the wake of the grand jury decision yesterday. And I guarantee you that the people who are experiencing the most visceral pain are not white folks who feel left out because they aren’t first in line to talk about it.
Sook-Yin Lee was nearly fired as host of DNTO in 2003 after being cast in John Cameron Mitchell’s film Shortbus because CBC management was uncomfortable with a prominent host appearing in non-simulated (consensual) sex on screen. There was considerable public backlash at the time from folks in the arts community who pointed out, quite rightly, that it was her choice to engage in artistic activity outside of her work at CBC and that firing her because of this choice was nothing short of censorship. In the end, she kept her job.
If you think CBC management would make a similar mistake ten years later and fire a prominent host based solely on their (even less defensible) distaste for said host’s PRIVATE life, I have some magic beans I’d like to sell you.