Wednesday, 30 November 2011

The day shit got serious, or why I think we need to stop for a moment of solidarity and respect

I have been notified that some people were unable to post comments on this blog! Very sorry. I think I've fixed it now. But if I haven't, let me know by, uh...not commenting. Also, the two people who wanted to comment but couldn't were men in their 50s. I'm not sure what that says about my blog or my life...maybe it means I attract a distinguished audience. Or maybe retirees just have more time to comment on blogs. And then BBM each other about how they can't comment on blogs.

Anyway, I want to recommend that everyone take a moment today to reflect on what justice means to you. I probably haven't been following the news about the G20 arrests and trials as closely as I should have, and I'm not close to any of the so-called "ring leaders," but I do know a lot of people that are. And I have been reading all the headlines and snippets of news articles that get posted by their friends and loved ones on Facebook.

I don't have any profound statements to make about what justice should be. I don't know exactly what I think should have happened at the G20, and I'm not entirely sure how I think the trials should have gone. But I do know that something is very, very wrong with the way Canada has come to understand the word "justice." And I do know that this issue is something worth talking about.

Please, take a moment to read the individual statements of the accused, six of whom will go to prison, and many of whom have already served time in jail or on house arrest. Take a moment to think about what it means that these people are being presented to us by the media as some sort of cohesive group of evil-doers and conspirators, when, as they say here:

"This alleged conspiracy is absurd. We were never all part of any one group, we didn’t all organize together, and our political backgrounds are all different. Some of us met for the first time in jail. What we do have in common is that we, like many others, are passionate about creating communities of resistance."

Also, take a moment to read this article, and think about how incredible it is that the plea that was settled on - that six of them would plead guilty and eleven would have their charges dropped - was reached through consensus on the part of the seventeen accused:

"The group met on Sept. 21 and began exploring the possibilities of a plea. According to the Toronto Star, the group met six more times with the meetings being emotionally fraught, some up to seven hours long. They had agreed up front that any decision made would have to be unanimous and reached through consensus. It meant that all 17 were given time to voice any concerns. Amanda Hiscocks said there were tears, frustration, anger and laughter. It's a horrible position to be in, to sit around a table to decide who's going to jail and for how long."

Think about it. How many times in your life have you been in a group that needed to make a decision and the group just could not agree on any one thing? Even if it was where to go for dinner or what kind of office chairs to buy? 

Ruth Farquhar admits: "As I read how they reached a consensus, I thought, what a skillset these people have. I have sat on many boards and belonged to organizations that never would have been able to work under such pressure to reach a consensus on decisions .... I was astounded at the dynamic -- nobody speaking over anybody else, people giving their opinion, people saying, 'I'll take more but I want this person's charges to be withdrawn for these reasons'."

Maybe the people commenting on this article from The Globe and Mail who are referring to the accused as "idiots" and "parasites on society" should think about how they would handle making a decision like that.

I'm not saying that I have the answers here. But what I am suggesting is that you spend a few minutes today thinking about what justice is in this country, and in this world, and what it should be. What does justice mean to you?

(Things won't always be this serious on here. Just when I think something is really fucking important. I warned you on my fantastic About the Writing page that everyone should check out that although I want to challenge the notion that all grad students do is protest shit and whine about marking, we do do those things a lot. So here. I'm protesting shit. Sort of. Really I'm sitting at my computer in my pyjamas. It's a mental protest.)

(Tomorrow I'm putting up my Christmas tree. GET EXCITED.)

No comments:

Post a Comment