To punch or not to punch? That is the question.
Or, at least, it seems to be, in the whirlpool (cesspool?) of online debate over how to confront neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Is it excusable to meet ideas premised upon violence with fists and batons?
In a civilized society, of course not. Violence begets violence, no matter how theoretically satisfying it might be. In an Ottawa courtroom on Thursday, though, the other way of confronting and countering extremism was on display, in the thoughtful remarks delivered by Ontario Court Justice Peter Griffiths in sentencing a young man who went on a hateful vandalism spree last year, scrawling graffiti on Ottawa’s houses of worship.
And, in the thoughtful responses of those wronged.
“The safest outcome for our community is that (the young offender) alters his world views,” said Andrea Freedman, the president of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, told reporters.
In a small way, what played out in the Ottawa courthouse was a microcosm of what’s happening elsewhere, from the far-right fever swamps of the internet, to the Tiki-torch bearing marchers in Virginia, to the awful racism against Indigenous people in Canada.
“This is not Charlottesville,” Griffiths said. “This is an act by a single man.”
That’s true in the most literal sense. But it ignores, perhaps, the wider prevalence of racism in Canada. Painting Nazi slogans on a church building is not something that happens in isolation. “It is still significant that we recognize that this society has elements of racism and hatred in it. It’s not just isolated, there is something systemic and coordinated about it,” said Parkdale United Church’s Rev. Anthony Bailey after the hearing. (more...)
|Henry Ford and his BFF|