Most people mostly use freedom of speech as freedom to bitch. – Mokokoma Mokhonoan
Frank A. Pelaschuk
Whatever the message intended by the so-called “Freedom Convoy” (80 – 90% vaccinated) on Jan. 29, it was lost not only because it happened to fall on the same day as the 5th anniversary of the the mosque attack in Quebec that claimed six lives and injured 19 others, but also because those with agendas, right wing extremists in the white supremacist, anti-government, anti-science movement and Maxime Bernier’s lunatic People’s Party, co-opted the protest in so many despicable and demeaning ways. Because of the few crazies, folks wanting to honour the memory of that tragic event were denied access to the site and opportunity to share their grief. Instead of Canadians witnessing a memorial in which people suffered the ultimate loss of freedom, we were treated to an astounding and disgraceful spectacle of folks loudly and proudly cavorting before cameras ecstatic that the world was able to witness them in all their glorious derangement.
I agree that truck drivers and all Canadians have the right to protest, the right to be stupid and proud of it. But I don’t support their stated reasons for holding the massive and disruptive protest. Those there, moan of loss of freedom, loss of the right to make their own decisions; everywhere they look they see the big hand of government tearing away at their freedoms. They reject government mandates “telling” them what to do.
They haven’t a clue.
They are selective in what laws they are agreeable. I suspect every truck driver there has a valid license. That’s the law. I would guess they came from wherever in sobriety. That, too, is the law. No drinking and driving. There are countless examples of curbs to what we can do and they are, in fact, limits to our freedom. But we accept them. Yet, during this pandemic which has accounted for millions of deaths worldwide, those truckers and their ilk dispute the right of government to mandate, and businesses to enforce, requirements that employees be vaccinated, the wearing of masks, of social distancing, of not participating in large gatherings and reckless behaviour. In other words, they demand the rights to do whatever irresponsible and dangerous act they wish while denying the same of other members of society who wish only to be safe from the reckless actions of morons who believe themselves special and apart. They are, but not in ways they wish to imagine.
Those anti-mandators do not like that governments and employers demand that they get the shots, mask, distance and isolate at the risk of losing their jobs. They have the right to refuse and many have done so, placing themselves and their families and their neighbours in danger. If they wish to endanger themselves, that is their right. But, if in doing so, they place others at risk, they are breaking the unwritten social contract necessary for the survival of all. In doing so, they have accepted the attendant risk of refusal: possible job loss, illness, even death. That is their choice just as we in society and employers have a choice and right to be protected from them. They have been warned. And they should pay with their livelihood if necessary. Just as they should if, in refusing to take measures to protect themselves, they end up in the hospital. Health care is publicly funded and, with this pandemic coupled with irresponsible political moves by governments, already at serious risk. Frontline workers are in short supply and those who are left behind are at extreme risk of burnout and falling ill themselves. So, if making stupid decisions lands you in the hospital with Covid because you didn’t like the guidelines and protective measures offered by medical experts and imposed by our government, then you pick up the cost for your own treatment since you have added unnecessarily to the cost and burden to the public purse and workers. Personally, if you end up ill because of your wish to be “free” to make your own decisions, I hope you never make it to the front of the line. You made that choice. But you will because those people you abuse and harass and threaten and, in one instance I am aware of, drove to suicide, will do everything in their power to help you recover because that is what they do. If you do get well, they will line the hallways and applaud their efforts and yours as you leave to resume your life. They care more for you and society than you do. They are the heroes in spite of your imbecility. That life you were willing to squander and that they gave back to you, is much, much more than you deserve.
In the images on the news (yes, main stream news), there were a few s that stuck out. An anti-vaxxer, maybe 50, parading shirtless in 20 plus below zero; a female, 30 – 40, screaming how she could not wait for Donald Trump (whom she “loved, just loved”) to get re-elected. This, a Canadian protest held in the Canadian capital, with an overweight male without enough sense to come in from the cold and a real, live (breathing, in any case), if simple-minded barbie bimbo apparently confused about which country she was charming with her vacuity.
One of the comments often heard is the concern of injection of “foreign” substances into their bodies. That struck me as strange since we do it every day if not with over-the-counter drugs, with canned foods and frozen pizzas made from who-knows-what from who-knows-where. What do most of us know about what goes on in these factories? We go on trust, believe the food suppliers are legitimate, the products of good quality, the workers hygienic. What if some bored or angry worker spits in the mixture about to be canned, or handles the ingredients immediately after picking his nose or blowing a spray of snot into that ice cream you’re nibbling into. Would we know? Still we eat from the cans, swallow the pizzas, lick our lips to get the last bit of that creamy ice cream. Yet we don’t trust doctors and scientists to work in our behalf, which is also theirs, for they, too, have families and loved ones. No, we will not listen to science but will swallow without question Donald Trump’s recommendation to ingest ivermectin, a deworming drug for farm animals and Hydroxychloroquine which recommendation led to the deaths of a foolish elderly couple with misplaced trust. In the past, there were people who resisted treatment just as they do today. Nevertheless, thanks to science and government efforts, many diseases have been eradicated. Smallpox and polio vaccines have virtually eliminated them as threats and recent vaccines appear to hold promise of putting an end to malaria. Unfortunately, there will never be a vaccine able to erase the line of willing conscripts to misinformation, conspiracy theories and ignorance.
“Loss of freedoms”? Those anti-mandate, anti-vaxxer folks mostly have no more awareness of what real loss means any more than I do. While all of us likely have experienced the pain of losing someone, most of us have not lost the freedom to roam, to vote, to get educated, to meet and marry the one we love. But there are parts of the world where women cannot work, cannot drive, cannot walk unveiled, cannot get educated, or even vote or speak out except by the say-so of men. In some places, if a woman is raped, she is the one to be faulted. In some parts of the world, homosexuals are imprisoned, even executed. Being a Christian in some parts of the world, as being a Muslim in Canada and the US, can get one killed. Those fortunate few who manage to escape those areas do not always wholly escape the racism, bigotry and violence that drove them here. One needs only look at the news to see how they suffer for wearing a hijab, look and dress differently, speak another language. If they are successful, they are accused of stealing our jobs or being favoured by governments or accused of bribery and corruption. But those six muslims and 19 wounded in Quebec five years ago, the family of four mowed down in London, Ontario last year, their families and friends and community, know all too well that Canada is not immune to the hatred and bigotry and violence played out in all parts of the globe for they and far, far too many pay a terrifying price including the absolute loss of freedom, their lives taken by Yahoos no doubt considered saints by white supremacist whining about wearing masks, social distancing and taking the vaccine shots. That is about their extent of knowledge regarding the loss of “freedom”.
Then you had those others, same type, picayune, parochial, stupid, draping hateful messages on the Terry Fox statue, mostly racist and vulgar, anti-Trudeau messages, the Canadian flag hung upside down having nothing to do with the putative purpose of the protest while others dance upon the grave of the Unknown Soldier. These folks possess not an iota of shame, of decency, or of understanding of the history and sacrifice that gave them the good life they presently enjoy and refuse to recognize. They prefer to whine and bully and threaten while uttering the words “freedom” and “rights”. They are not talking about rights or freedom for all. Otherwise they would not behave as they do. It is their rights and their freedoms only and always, on their terms.
To add insult, almost all of them informed and manipulated by extremists with agendas of their own, are seen in increasing numbers wearing a potent symbol of the past, the yellow star in which they seek to equate their imagined suffering and loss of freedom to the pain, torture and deaths of millions of holocaust victims forced to wear this symbol that identified and doomed them. This vile insult by the protesting, posturing jerks is defilement of the grossest kind.
Yet, when one thinks it can’t get worse, it does. The anti-mandate thugs, and there are too many, went about harassing pedestrians and beating staff of businesses seeking to enforce the mask mandate. In one instance, they attacked and beat a security employee of a shelter while hurling racist taunts at him as they stole food meant the homeless who, unlike those thugs, really do not have anything. You see everywhere pro-Nazi sympathy, the Confederate flag and hear the endless blare of truck horns and partiers depriving citizens of sleep unconcerned about the health and well-being of the elderly and ill. Citizens were taunted and called “traitors” for wearing a mask, which is their right to do. Evidently these ugly lunkheads don’t seem to understand the irony.
And then you have the low-life sewer rat politicos, Andrew Scheer, Erin O’Toole, Max Bernier, Pierre Poilievre, Candace Bergern and the rest of the sleazy conservative and libertarian haters apprently sanctioning racism, violence and stupidity calling these folk “good”, “honest” citizens. Sure they are. Even the imbecilic Donald Trump and his equally brainless son inserted themselves into the foray. Nothing is too low for such as these. Lawrence J. Peter once quipped, “There’s not such thing as a cheap politician.” He almost had it right. Far too many are cheap in character.
Stealing food from the homeless! Dancing on the grave of the Unknown soldier! Going after the statue of Terry Fox! Displaying the Nazi flag!
Am I angry? You bet. I despise these people. The protestors live in their own world of victimhood, indulging in fantasies and imagined wrongs done them and the opportunistic politicos spur them on, adding fuel to those fears and wrongs. To them, nothing matters but their own selfish desires. They deny others what they demand for themselves. But when they demand the overthrow of a government, they should face charges and for the costs to taxpayers, they should foot the bill with severe fines or, better yet, the seizure of their trucks until the fines are fully paid and the city of Ottawa compensated. Not all the truckers were looking for trouble but those blocking highways, streets, forcing businesses to send staff home were no doubt encouraged by agents provocateurs. They are beyond selfish. They are frightened, loudmouth losers who deep within their core fear that they are less than adequate, that their lives are as empty and meaningless and worthless as they suspect.
Watching them in action, I can offer them assurances: They are absolutely right in this only. Their lives are empty, meaningless and worthless.
But such is the irresistible nature of truth, that all it asks and all it wants, is the liberty of appearing. – Thomas Paine.
They that can give up essential liberties to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. — Benjamin Franklin