Sunday, May 28, 2006

Canadian "cool" and American Bullshit

Decriminalization marijuana, a promise to anyway, SSM and Canada’s opposition to Iraq made Canada in the words of Economist “cool”. Other publications expressed similar sentiments and all cases above three where the focal points. For example:

The New Yorker:

“They have a comparatively sensible approach to the drug problem: while our federal government tries strenuously to put marijuana smokers in jail, even (or especially) when the marijuana has been smoked for medical purposes in states whose people have voted to sanction such use, their federal government is about to decriminalize the possession of small amounts. And now—with a minimum of fuss, hardly any hysteria, and no rending of garments—they have made it legal for persons of the same gender to marry each other. …

“A week later, Prime Minister Jean Chrétien announced that, instead of trying to get the decision overturned, his cabinet would seek to codify it. Legislation is to be drafted over the next few weeks, vetted by Canada’s supreme court, and submitted to the federal parliament. It’s pretty much a lock that, perhaps as early as next fall, gay marriage will be the undisputed law of the land from St. John’s to the Klondike.
This ghastly prospect was evidently on Scalia’s mind as he composed his dissent in Lawrence v. Texas. If sodomy laws are unsustainable, he warned, then so are “laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation”—masturbation? is that one still on the books?—“adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity.” Doom looms, it would appear. According to Scalia, “The Court has taken sides in the culture war,” and the next step, logically, must be “judicial imposition of homosexual marriage, as has recently occurred in Canada.” Leaving aside the question of who, exactly, gay marriage would be an imposition upon, ….
Good old Canada. It’s the kind of country that makes you proud to be a North American.”

San Jose Mercury:


Oh, Canada! Has someone dumped something into your water?

The government up there will soon bless gay marriages, hand out marijuana to cancer patients and legalize possession of small amounts of pot by others. Canadians were as staunchly against the war in Iraq as San Franciscans. Montreal, Vancouver and Toronto are as ethnically diverse as San Jose -- and tolerant, too.

Americans have tended to think of Canada, if at all, as a placid little brother, a bland 51st state. How times have changed.

In terms of soul mates, the Bay Area could be Canada's 11th province.

Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

“And then there's the wild drug situation: Canadian doctors are authorized to dispense medical marijuana. Parliament is considering legislation that would not exactly legalize marijuana possession, as you may have heard, but would reduce the penalty for possession of under 15 grams to a fine, like a speeding ticket. This is to allow law enforcement to concentrate resources on traffickers; if your garden is full of wasps, it's smarter to go for the nest rather than trying to swat every individual bug. Or, in the United States, bong.
… Like teenagers, we fiercely idolize individual freedom but really demand that everyone be the same. But the Canadians seem more adult -- more secure. They aren't afraid of foreigners. They aren't afraid of homosexuality. Most of all, they're not afraid of each other.
I wonder if America will ever be that cool.”

Christian Science Monitor:

“It's moving to become the third nation on the planet to legalize gay marriage. It's primed to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. And it vocally opposed the US war on Iraq. These moves reflect a growing cultural assertiveness - especially on the importance of tolerance and multiculturalism, which are enshrined in Canada's version of the Bill of Rights. The shift is increasingly putting the US and Canada - the world's biggest trading partners - on a cultural collision course.”

Why did these issues come to define a nation south of the boarder and why did, in words of the words of Bill O’Reilly, “The Canadian model [become] what progressive Americans [were] shooting for.” The moving to Canada meme was, after all, not born of nowhere.

The reason I think is this. The dominant critique of the Bush administration inside and outside the US is that it plays fast and loose with the facts, often pandering to US society’s worst fears and prejudges, for political gain. These three issues are excellent examples of where the Bush administration did exactly that. American progressives latched on what was happening in Canada because they thought Canadian politicians respected their citizens enough not to try to BS them into accepting policies of little merit. Of course the fact that until Dean, Democratic party did not dear question the merits or rational of the Iraq adventure and that they have been almost as bad as the Republicans in pushing reefer madness and defense of marriage also helps to explain why American progressives latched on to Canada. There has long been a progressive void in the states.

Needless to say, it was silly of American progressives to put any faith in Martin and in the Liberals. He proceeded at snails pace with regard to SSM, arguably would have taken us to Iraq if he had of been prime Minster at the time and never moved forward on marijuana legislation. Whenever Martin had an opportunity to come down against BS, as during Terry Shivio saga, he declined. One can only presume that he did not wish to divert the public’s attention away from the inquiry that was devouring the Liberal party; after all, the public might forget that it was he who called the Gomery Inquiry. The Conservative victory back in January officially closed the book on “cool” Canada and now we ourselves are drowning BS gleefully heaped on us by the Conservatives. As for the Liberals, they are looking more like the Martin government minus the power or headlines everyday, completely lifeless and without a soul.

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