Sunday, August 3, 2014

Your Centrism Sucks

Recently, a person who has never actually had to consider what would happen if he became pregnant was paid money by the Chronicle Herald to condescend to people who actually might have to make a decision about what they want to do with something in their uterus at some point.

“Why can’t we all just get along?” asked Ralph Surette, wombless wonder, who makes the same I’m hated by both sides in this debate so I must be right argument as that person who yelled questions they already knew the answer to, hijacking their first year philosophy class with roughly the same amount of poise to boot.

To be fair, Ralph Surette is not the problem, he is a person who writes problematic things.

In many countries, ‘centrism’ represents party or ideology that is not rooted in changing an economic system (or major overhauls of any system.) More and more in Canada I see the term centrism used to describe a weak middle that benefits no one. Though undeniably lefty, my views tend to lean and not fall in one direction. This is why it enrages me to see the center presented as some sort of ideal for every situation; it’s convenient, it’s polite, it’s a compromise which makes it so Canadian.

A compromise that works really well is when two children are fighting over a cookie and the cookie gets cut in half.

Some compromises that don’t work so well:

  • One side wants to build many prisons, the other wants none. Let’s build some! 
  • One side wants a pipeline, the other doesn’t. Let’s build half a pipeline!
  • One side wants humans to have human rights, the other doesn’t. Let’s give some people humans some rights!

‘Centrism’ speaks highly of logic but seldom employs it. “We can see both sides,” they coo, but there is always more than two sides to a story and frequently some are batshit crazy.

The truth is, some things are worth being radical for.

Radical does not mean violent, radical does not mean rude, but sometimes radical means making someone uncomfortable. It is ‘centrism’s’ propaganda of politeness that weighs comfort over what’s right.

The other day I watched my triumphant and brilliant advocate-friend Katherine politely explain to my lawyer friend why law being so inaccessible to people with disabilities isn’t a good thing. It’s hard, it’s uncomfortable, and the friend who just passed the bar was feeling very protective of the system that granted them entry over others. But it’s one of the many conversations that needs to be had if we plan on having a fairer society.

On a regular basis I see my determined and inspiring friend Rebecca pause for a second, flinch, take a deep breath, realize she is about to be pegged as ‘that troublemaker’ and explain why racism isn’t kind of wrong, it’s really wrong.

It’s not convenient, but it’s how society progresses.

People say there need to be more conversations, but then wag their fingers at the people actually having them. This attitude stands in the way of actually getting anything done.

“Abortion is not a good and desirable thing in itself” Mr. Surette tells us, without ever explaining why. Why are there ‘too many’ abortions in Canada? Because it makes him feel uncomfortable? What is an appropriate number of abortions? Are there too many knee replacements? Who gets to say what is too many? Based on what?

What makes abortions ‘bad’ is the fact that some people, frequently people who practice or were brought up in certain religious, believe it is murder. If you believe it is murder, a compromise is not the solution. If you believe you have to fight for justice for the unborn to not burn for all of eternity, I’m not sure your God appreciates your compromising skills. I don’t agree with my friends who hold these views, but I have a special respect the ones who non violently push forward based on ideology.

However, without this ideology there is no reason for abortion to be labeled ‘bad.’ Without stigma, it is healthcare. I struggle to think of any other healthcare procedure that is labeled ‘bad.’ Without the hyper-rhetoric of 'abortion being murder!!!', the only thing that makes abortion bad are people like Mr. Surette saying it is. Religious or not, these uncomfortable feelings are frequently rooted in the belief system of our surroundings.

“Abortion is never going to be a technical, untroubled business-as-usual affair. The pro-choice side should start with that,” the reader is told. The outcome is determined. We can never hope for anything more than this. This is the progress that is being packaged for us, those who actually work on these issues daily. I would have loved to hear his hot take on other civil right issues as they happened. What amount of inequality should we have to accept in a wage gap? Should we be happy when we hear slurs less?

We live in a society that is better than it was because people fought for a better society. Despite being born in the 90s I am painfully aware of the turmoil that has taken place for me to enjoy the improved environment I have today. It is my duty to make this country better for my future daughter, my future son, and the future daughters and sons of people I will never meet or know because we live in a country that is a beautiful collective. We would be foolish to say racism and homophobia no longer exist but we try to create an environment where they can be eradicated by not giving special accommodations for ignorance. Sexism must be treated the same way.

There are plenty of things wrong with this particular column, from the 'lots of people wanting to adopt' myth (Frequently, the problem is the cost of adoption, not a lack of children. To imply that there's a lack of children needing homes in Canada is laughable to say the least.) to vague 'polls' that are referenced to but never specified. There’s much more dangerously inaccurate information being pushed out about reproductive justice every day, but it’s important to call attention to the flawed dialogue that we are accepting as ‘reason.’ People are being paid to write drivel that placates a target audience that longs for a white washed nostalgic version of the ‘politer’ past, and I’m fed up of my rights being tangled into it.

It baffles me that people who do not participate in a conversation feel comfortable telling people how to have it. We’ve been talking without you because you decided to stop talking to us. You’re welcome to join us again, but maybe, just maybe, try listening a bit first.