Letters

Letters

Unity; Happy Ending; Skipping the Bill; Precision Cutting; Lowest of the Low; Reading Into It

Illustration by Peter Ryan

Unity

The New Solitudes” by Erna Paris (March) is interesting, but somewhat at odds with other studies indicating that although Harper is shoving to the right, Canadians are unmoved. We are not a fractious, divided bunch. Save for a small and obdurate lot, Canadians are actually fairly close in terms of the core values we espouse. This should energize us in getting our country back to a reflection of who we truly are.

While I appreciate Paris’s dismay, her hand-wringing is ill founded and counterproductive. Shake it off. We’re mostly a benevolent bunch, hoping to do right by each other and the world. God help us if we take our behavioural cues from our political actors.

B. Dickson (online)

HAPPY ENDING

The Long Goodbye,” by Katherine Ashenburg (March), was of particular interest to me, because I have now reached what should be the end of life (age ninety-three). Ms. Ashenburg describes vividly what it is like to grow old. What surprised me is that she did not draw the logical conclusion from her observations.

Nursing homes are the last move for the helpless elderly, and while nursing homes for the most part try their best, they are hell for the helpless and wheelchair bound; they are all hopelessly understaffed.

Surely the solution is to allow people to choose their time (and place) of death so it is possible to die with dignity. The right to die should be our final human right, and I resent greatly that lawmakers are able to prevent me from exercising it.

Eileen Swinton
Toronto, ON

SKIPPING THE BILL

Over the years, I have enjoyed reading about William Shatner’s various artistic enterprises (“Man of Enterprise,” March). Never, until your article came along, were his radio activities mentioned.

Montreal, 1950s. We’re on set for Rupert Caplan’s CBC series, in the middle of rehearsing some long-forgotten play about immigrants. In walks a young man in his twenties, wearing faded, crumpled jeans, a nondescript shirt, and shoes to match. He walks right up to Rupert Caplan, never acknowledging anyone else’s presence. Short talk ensues, maybe some reading of script—then he walks out again (straight into Star Trek, it seems). Was it weird? No, it was William Shatner.

He made it to the top. I became a recognized but comparatively small fish in Montreal theatre. But I achieved my five minutes of fame: I almost performed in a radio play with William Shatner.

Eva Lister
Vancouver, BC

Love the @WilliamShatner article in March’s @walrusmagazine. He looks like my dad, but probably wouldn’t give me beer money.

@highlyirritable (Twitter)

PRECISION CUTTING

My great-great-grandfather William Latzko was an Austrian obstetrician who had a pivotal role in making Caesarean births safer for women (“Shortcuts,” March). There is no question that in a small percentage of cases, Caesareans save lives, which is why physicians like him worked diligently to make them as safe as possible.

But there are many variables to consider before a Caesarean is performed. What we aren’t told at the end of Block’s piece is what interventions were done before the malpositioned baby was delivered via Caesarean, and how care was managed. Was there an induction involved? An epidural? Breaking of the water? Directed pushing? Many of these can have a negative effect. Midwives tend to perform fewer Caesareans within the same segment of the population—which means there must be a reason directly related to care rather than the women or the babies.

I believe that if we were to run all our hospitals on the midwifery model, invest our efforts in helping the mother deal with her fears, and avoid intervening unnecessarily with pain medication, inductions, and augmentations so soon, we would avoid the “unnecessareans” and only perform necessary surgery when there is absolutely no other way for the baby to be born.

Asheya Hennessey
Founder, Mothers of Change for Maternity Care
Whitehorse, Yukon Territory

LOWEST OF THE LOW

Peter Munk’s attack on the alleged “axis” of Pasha Malla and Jaggi Singh (Letters, March) is a crude example of an increasingly common logical fallacy—one that political philosopher Leo Strauss dubbed the reductio ad Hitlerum. Want to discredit someone? Find a way to associate him with Hitler and the Nazis. By the standards Munk implies, not only “G20 rioters” but also the recent protesters in Egypt have been carrying on like Kristallnacht storm troopers, as did anti–Vietnam War demonstrators in the ’60s (who at the time were compared to Nazis—and by folks who either ignored or endorsed their own government’s practice of napalming villages).

Elaborating on his coinage in 1953, Strauss explained, “A view is not refuted by the fact that it happens to have been shared by Hitler.” As for the Sturmabteilung slogan Munk quotes, “Terror must be broken by terror,” it’s not hard to think of cases where the imperative makes sense. Certainly the French Resistance seemed to take it to heart—as did the Jewish defenders of the Warsaw ghetto when they rose against the Nazis and fought street to street, armed with pistols, Molotov cocktails, and other IEDs.

At any rate, playing the Nazi card, as Munk does in his letter, contributes to the debasing of a historically vital term to the point where it can no longer be meaningfully deployed. We’re at that point now. For this reason, I urge Peter Munk—along with Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, and others who’ve recently indulged in the reductio—to drop the practice.

Steven Heighton
Kingston, Ontario

Reading Into it

From Jeet Heer in March issue of @walrusmagazine: a more measured version of a rant I do if you give me a beer and bring up Canada Reads.

@ZanShow (Twitter)

This appeared in the May 2011 issue.