Tall, Dark, and Mysterious


My country, timid and unsure

Meanwhile, back in the homeland, we have apparently learned the finer points of how to convict loathesome pieces of shit for hate speech by studying the materials used to prepare debutantes for matriculation from the nation’s top finishing schools. Really, we’re just that polite: witness [part of] Judge Marty Irwin’s explanation for convicting David Ahenakew of hate speech and stripping him of his membership in the Order of Canada:

[Irwin] noted that, rather than being “timid, unsure or rattled,” Ahenakew’s demeanour “bordered on self-confidence to the point of arrogance.”

Sure, Mr. Ahenakew, you openly and publicly declared that Hitler was just helping rid his neighbourhood of the “Jewish disease” when he “fried six million of those guys”, and you appear to have appointed yourself the official spokesperson for the updated edition of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and for that we’ll take back your medal and fine you a thousand bucks, but - self-confidence? Arrogance? Failure to be rattled by criticism? Heavens above, that’s just unCanadian!


  1. Now, now… the statement has nothing to do with Canadianness, but with rejecting the guy’s excuse that he was “under the influence” when he made his statements. The judge must not have much experience with drunks though, if he thinks they would make their rude statements with any timidity.

    At least, none of the drunks I’ve dealt with are timid in their opinions when in their cups.

    - meep — 7/11/2005 @ 4:24 pm

  2. Well, as you say, his explanation is not grounded in reality. “Not acting timid” != “not being drunk”. On the other hand, “not acting timid” = “not acting in accordance with Canadian social protocols”. Honestly, we’re trained to apologize for getting rear-ended, and we’re trained to qualify our beliefs that the moon revolves around the earth with “this is just my opinion”. That Ahenakew was so damned bold really shocked a lot of us, in a way possibly even more than his actual remarks. I’m waiting for the next asshole Canadian public figure to make some racist comment - but then backpedal, say that it was “just [his] opinion”, that maybe he’s right and maybe he’s wrong and he doesn’t know…betcha we wouldn’t see a conviction.

    Then again, Canada’s certainly not the only country in which people are more offended by, say, murderers who “showed no remorse” than by those who “wept openly” at their trials. Personally, I am often less frightened by the former: I’m a lot more scared by the sociopaths who can successfully conceal their lack of empathy by shedding tears on cue. And seriously, if Ahenakew had acted upset and shaken after calling the Jews a “disease” that needed to be managed in order to prevent them from taking over Germany…would that make him any less loathesome? Shee.

    - Moebius Stripper — 7/11/2005 @ 7:21 pm

  3. The Carnival Of Education: Week 23

    Welcome to the twenty-third edition of The Carnival Of Education. Here we have assembled a variety of interesting and informative posts from around the EduSphere that have been submitted by various authors and readers. As with other editions, those e…

    - The Education Wonks — 7/12/2005 @ 11:47 pm

  4. The majority of murderers who weep open at their trial do so because they are truly upset by what they have done. For most people who end up killing someone else in their lives, including people who do so by accident or in self defence, killing another person is a terrible experience that haunts them for a good long time. Being confronted with what they have done is horrible thing. There is very little reason to be more afraid of a person who most likely feels aweful about killing someone than someone who doesn’t care particularly one way or another. Guessing that a person who cries at their murder trial is a sociopath who is good at covering it up completely flies in the face of probabilities. By far the vast majority of people feel remorse when they do something wrong.

    And yeah, I think it does make a person less loathesome if they feel terrible about something they have done. It would be aweful, if he had seemed incredibly upset and remorseful to assume that he was not. His arrogance, however, rather than simply being uncanadian, was proof that he did not feel remorse, and that his defence of being drunk, as it so often is, was essentially a ruse. Maybe he wouldn’t have said those things if he wasn’t drunk, but he doesn’t think any differently now. That is the really terrible thing, and that is why the judge singled it out.

    - djfatsostupid — 7/13/2005 @ 6:30 pm

  5. but - self-confidence? Arrogance? Failure to be rattled by criticism? Heavens above, that’s just unCanadian!

    I can’t speak for everyone, but this is kind of why I love Canadians. This Ahenakew deserved far stronger censure than what the judge gave him, but what the judge’s words betray is a longing for proper demeanor–and, hell, our judges have long since given up any such notions in the U.S. To the extent that there is such a thing as proper demeanor, it’s only anything that might disqualify you from appearing on Jerry Springer.

    (None of this is meant in any way to imply support for what is indeed a loathesome piece of shit.)

    - ilyka — 7/15/2005 @ 2:10 am

  6. Regarding weeping at trial, Chicago Tribune columnist Eric Zorn made the interesting observation during the sentencing phase of Scott Peterson (who I still wondering why we should care that he killed his wife while ignoring all the other guys who kill their wives), that Peterson’s demeanor was consistent with two scenarios:
    1. Cold-hearted psychopath
    2. Wrongly convicted innocent man.

    - vito prosciutto — 7/15/2005 @ 8:08 am

  7. Ah, and there we go, djfatsostupid: according to vito, we’re both right! But seriously, that’s why I’d rather hear what the psychologist assigned to the trial has to say about the authenticity of the accused’s/guilty party’s deameanour - probably a shade more reliable than analyzing for myself what someone’s tears, filtered through the television or radio or newspaper, really indicate.

    Ilyka, oh, I find it so charming too, and if you really want to see that emphasis on proper demeanour exemplified, head way east, to the maritimes. I imagine a Nova Scotian judge (quietly) reprimanding the accused: “Mister McGee, Sir, the jury has found you guilty on nine counts of rape-murder. Furthermore, the one surviving victim reports that after leaving her for dead, you did not even apologize. Moreover, our records indicate that on the way back from dumping one of the bodies in the quarry, you failed to yield to a pedestrian who had right-of-way. Quite frankly, I find this behaviour inexcusible.”

    Of course, the flip side is that there’s so much emphasis on proper conduct that, for instance, an incompetent administrator will be completely confused when you express impatience with them. Why are you so upset with them? After all, they’re being so nice! (Says the former student whose department secretary once misplaced her scholarship application, and couldn’t understand why I would be bothered by this.)

    - Moebius Stripper — 7/16/2005 @ 1:51 pm

  8. Just came across a relevant quote, found in Michael Adams’ Fire and Ice:

    We have become a people who, without a trace of irony, love to yell about how modest we are.

    - Matthew Mendelson (who?)

    Damn straight, and we’re better at it than anyone else, too.

    - Moebius Stripper — 7/28/2005 @ 12:17 pm

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