Letters to the Editor for March 24, 2015

Even in the realm of comedy, racism is still racism

I recently went to the Top Shelf Comedy show at St. Louis Wings with my husband and some friends. The lineup of talented comedians pleasantly surprised me, but one comedian ruined the show for me. There is a difference between poking fun at inherent cultural differences and being racist.

Many famous comedians base their acts on comical observations about cultural differences, but this was blatant racism.

He started by telling us that he was scanning the audience to ensure everyone was white. The next thing that came out of his mouth floored me, and broke my heart.

He said, “Can we just all admit how great it is to see all white faces here?”

He then made a slew of jokes that went beyond poor taste. He talked about how he felt such relief being in a crowd of white people, how good it felt to not have to see faces of other races particularly after his regular melting pot rides on the TTC. He pointed out the race of a TTC bus driver for no apparent reason, saying, “He must have been a Black Panther from the 60s because he was a big black dude.”

This comedian was young, so maybe he hasn’t made his way into the world far enough to see beyond his own ignorance, but would he not have considered that there are many of us in the audience who have racially diverse families? He clearly had no understanding of the impacts of his words, or the implications that racism has on the fabric of our society.

It’s conceivable that he was strategically trying to make a controversial name for himself, but controversial or not, this is simply not okay. It’s all well and good to just brush it off and say, “It’s comedy, don’t be so uptight,” but this wasn’t comedy and you could cut the tension in the room with a knife.

I can’t help but make a direct correlation between his level of comfort in rolling out those jokes and the fact that he was telling them in a predominantly white neighbourhood. Is this what we want our community to stand for? We sit in a room of white guys and listen to another white guy bash on other races in the name of humour? I can’t imagine finding another room of “all white people” in almost any other place in the city, or finding another comedy room where these jokes would be tolerated.

I feel ashamed to have sat through the rest of his act – I wish I had stood up and walked out.

I would like to attend future local comedy shows, but if racism is on the menu then you can count me out.

“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

– Martin Luther King, Jr.

Jennifer Wilson


Bill C-51 needs closer look from Canadians

Re: It’s not either freedom or security – it’s both [In My Opinion, page 6, March 11, 2015]

First I would like to offer my sincere apologies to the author, MP Matthew Kellway. What they all endured that day was simply horrific – I cannot even begin to imagine.

Second, I am very impressed with the writing as it is neither confrontational nor rude but clearly points out that in fact Bill C-51 is in error.

The bill does not reflect what Canada stands for.

Nor does it reflect the wishes of Canadians who are opposing the bill with a loud voice, from the young to the old, Canadian-born to new residents and future Canadians.

Canada is a country set apart from any other nation, and not just by international borders. We have always been a melting pot of races and ethnic origins. Believing in a gentler way, known as peace keepers around the world and in times of deep trouble, we have been liberators. Quick to leave, but always ready to continue to help everyone. This is the Canada I was born into, and my father’s father, etc.

I oppose Bill C-51 and any like it. We as Canadians do not like what happened in Ottawa. We must strongly oppose these types of people, but not by instituting a state of fear as America does.

We go on thankful that more were not hurt or killed, and treat it as an isolated case of clearly idiotic violence. We go on being Canadians, the place people want to visit, live, prosper, and grow in safety, with constitutional protection for all.

Joseph Harms

Calgary, Alberta


Mounds of evidence of bad dog owners running free in the Beach

There’s an elegant ice sculpture at the entrance to Kew Gardens, made for Family Day and miraculously surviving well beyond. While the sculpture is well executed and the dog recognizable, I’m afraid that a more apt symbol of the beach and the park would be a giant mound of dog poo. Not as pretty as the ice dog but more representative of the park and the beach. The majority of dogs are off-leash everywhere, not just south of the snow fence, and too many dog owners fail to stoop and scoop.

While restricting the off-leash area to the dog park ONLY may be unfair to the minority of responsible dog owners, it is just as unfair to the public to have to watch the ground at every step. I would much rather look at the lake, the ducks, and the spectacular ice formations.

Lee Gold

Waverley Road

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I know this reaction is a bit delayed, but as I put together plans for my school’s art show, I am brought back to an article on January 27 about a show at Secord Elementary School, that celebrated “STEM”. Featured at the show were projects involving Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Kids made purses, toy cameras, bird boxes and there was even a fashion show of clothing made from recycled clothes. The pieces were great. But they involved something that the acronym STEM leaves out: Art. There was an aesthetic side and a creative process to each of the projects that is ignored by the acronym, STEM. It is as if there were a big show, but when the credits rolled, Art was brazenly left off the bill. I would suggest that educators use the better fitting acronym, STEAM, which takes into consideration the role that Art plays in the development of ideas, because ultimately, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math are, for the most part, nothing until you combine them with the creative process.

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