To thine own self be Trudeau

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My wife and I watched Blazing Saddles a few nights back, the Mel Brooks classic.  She has decided that one way to understand her American husband better is to review his entire DVD collection alphabetically.  The next night we saw Bite the Bullet with Gene Hackman, another western albeit not a comedy but you get the connection.  Anyway, I remarked to BB after we watched Saddles that the movie would not be made today due to how sensitive we have become with being offensive towards any racial, social, ethnic, pantheistic, hedonistic or humanistic group, which rules out quite a few possibilities for good comedy, in my opinion.  I thought about this for a while and pondered how far we have come in this enlightened society of ours.  I remembered some of Lewis Grizzard’s comments on the Thought Police of 1984 (some 25 odd years ago), thinking he was uncanny in his prediction of our future .  We have succumbed to rubbing out individualism and the free expression of an open mind for fear it may be offensive.

I read recently over in England they are in the process of cleaning up the Queen’s English by removing certain expressions from our lexicon.  It is no longer acceptable to say, for example: “It’ll be a black day for…” or ” A dark cloud hung over…” because these words, black… dark…, might relate to a certain minority that may find them offensive.  Fortunately for us we can still be “… in a blue mood…” or “…be green with envy…” because those colors don’t exist in people.  We may still have “…our golden moment…”  “…turn yellow…” “…drive a lemon…” or “…be aglow with saffron…” with no direct affiliation to Orientals, fruit pickers, Ra and/or the Egyptian sun worshipers… yet.  We might even be “…in the pink…” though the latter expression hasn’t been fully approved by the Caucasian Society of Corrective English Speaking Rosy Red Assholes, but their decision is pending.  The article I was reading even declared that there was opposition to the word, “moist”.

Immediately I thought of Duncan Hines Cake Mix.

A few years ago, Duncan Hines proclaimed their cake moist as opposed to being dry.  Nobody wants a wet cake, but a moist one?   Well, that is to be most desirable and they displayed the fork pressing the spongy content to prove it wasn’t cardboard.  How could that word hardly be offensive?  Have we lost the essence of the old declaration, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me!” that we used so eloquently in our defense throughout grade school?  Are words really that harmful?  Can it be so that “moist” is truly subversive and needs to be rooted out of our conscience minds and forever banned from our parched lips?  I… for one, say no.

I have this big, thick research book; The Random House Dictionary of the English Language – Copyright 1969 (which hasn’t been altered to comply with New Age thinking) and it defines moist as: adj. 1. moderately or slightly wet; damp.  2. (of the eyes) tearful  3.  accompanied by or connected with liquid or moisture.  Nowhere in that definition do I find it as intended to be offensive.  Which leads me back to Lewis Grizzard.

A popular humorist with a column in the Atlanta Journal, Lewis Grizzard had the ability to make people laugh with him or at him and themselves by telling the thinking public we are taking this life way too seriously for our own good.  Lewis was a southerner and by some opinions; a redneck.  Though an educated man and fairly successful in his day, Grizzard defended his heritage with pride but with malice towards none.  He understood prejudice, having been raised in the Deep South and found most of his detractors decrying the fact that he was non-apologetic for what he considered his good fortune to be “… southern by the grace of God.”  In his book, I Haven’t Understood Anything Since 1962, he stated our society was heading towards a time when expression would be stifled by the ever invasive “thought police”.   Back then (early 90’s) his prediction was founded in subtle humour, today it is commonplace for people to be offended by words that need to be stricken from the mouths and printed pages of our enlightened societies terminology.  Which brings me to that great Canadian, Pierre Elliott Trudeau.

I’ll admit that Canadian politics still baffle me, but there is one thing that has been affirmed in my mind.  Outside of Wayne Gretzky, Neil Young or Alex Trebek; no other Canadian comes close in representing the independent, Canadian spirit better than Trudeau.  Why?  History paints him as a maverick riding in a see-sawing playground of popularity amongst his countrymen.  Trudeau was not a puppet politician who succumbed to the whims of Parliament and/or the White House.  To the best of his ability, he did what was right for Canada.

Trudeau was the first head of state to meet with John and Yoko when they set out on their effort to join political dignitaries together for world peace, lending credibility to John and Yoko’s quest.  Trudeau represented a lessening of government and a more independent role of leadership in the free world as a commonwealth nation.  He was both widely popular and harshly criticized, but even through the fickle polls of public opinion he never compromised.  When asked how he was going to deal with certain political hot potatoes, he’d reply, “Just watch me.”

Jesse Winchester declared him, “the poor man’s friend” because of his seemingly neutral stance on the Vietnam War.  Thousands of draft evaders (including Winchester himself) fled to Canada during those years of conflict, yet Trudeau would not bow to political pressure from the U.S. to turn them away.  While not encouraging them to do so, his view of allowing these “immigrants” to move freely across Canada’s border gained him the unique status of a “people’s hero” in favor of the stuffed shirts of the old political regime. 

Pierre Elliott Trudeau even adopted the dual national language of French/English and would embrace both as Canada’s rightful heritage.  He did not seek to change those official languages to fit a mold or mindset, but united his country equally under them.  Would this be offensive today?  Only to the closed minded.

Unfortunately, there are some who feel threatened and/or exposed by certain terms or the usage of words that are unflattering, so they think if these are done away with prejudice will cease.  But you cannot censor thoughts or feelings with the deletion of expression, because if you try to do so… where does it end?  There is no language on earth more expressive than the English language as it continually evolves ever larger in content.  I say, don’t suppress it… 

I read recently that because one Canadian family head found the book, To Kill a Mockingbird, offensive it was being removed from the school’s curriculum, despite being a Pulitzer prize winning work.  So countless readers will be sheilded from this piece of classic American literature.  Ernest Hemingway’s work is being called into question and I wonder if Mark Twain could be next.  When we start censoring words, we shut down the free will to express and in turn foster resentment towards those who champion the ability to choose.

Last night my fair Chantal and I sat down to watch a black and white classic from 1938, Bringing Up Baby.  Early into the film, Cary Grant’s character was informed that a large private grant was being offered to the university to aid in his research as a paleontologist.  When told he’d be meeting a lawyer representing the party who was very favorable to placing the grant in their institution, he  commented, “Why, that’s very white of him!” 

If today’s thought police had their way, no doubt this film would have been nixed, too.

Don’t let them do your thinking for you.

peace.

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6 Responses to “To thine own self be Trudeau”

  1. To thine own self be Trudeau « advantages of mutual respect and … | Canada today Says:

    […] View post: To thine own self be Trudeau « advantages of mutual respect and … […]

  2. Chantal Says:

    Lest your readers feel that Canadians are becoming censor-trigger-happy, the classic To Kill A Mockingbird (which is one of the few books covered in high school that I absolutely loved) was removed only from one school in Brampton, Ontario. This silly decision was not supported by the school board who runs the school, it was made independently. And it is not being banned in any other schools in Canada, to my knowledge. Just wanted to make that clear 🙂

    I have the distinct and privileged advantage of living with you and of being a first-hand witness to your creative process at work. This is a great post, and I’m constantly and consistently impressed at the workings of your mind. Which is as it should be.

    Chantal

  3. chrisfiore5 Says:

    Hello Orange Blossom,

    Thank you for clarifying the removal of To Kill a Mockingbird from that school in Brampton. It was an isolated case, to be sure, but in Canada… an avalanche can begin with the subtle tumbling of a snowball…

    looking forward to tonight’s film…

    je’tadore

  4. msdane Says:

    Unfortunately some of those seemingly innocent expressions we grew up with come out of my mouth once in a great while. I mean no ethnic slur against anyone or anything, but once in awhile something comes out. I try hard to be careful of what I say, but once in awhile . . . .

    Heck, when I was growing up to be “gay” meant you were happy!

  5. maggiemsp Says:

    how’s the job?
    how’s married life?
    how are your step children?
    What happened to those blogs you use to write that were more heartfelt and about you personally?
    there are so many things you can write about!!!
    Canada life…..and all the above I mentioned.
    Sorry bro but this one is rather boring.
    🙂

  6. msdane Says:

    I disagree or let’s say, I DO agree with Chrisfiore. I didn’t find it boring at all, but I know, different strokes and all that.

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