Editorial – No Grimshaw charges not surprising

Jeff Burgar

Of course, people wearing glasses can find some kind of COVID mask that won’t keep fogging up their lenses. There are plastic shields that keep that foggy air away. Maybe scarves strategically placed, about the same as what one would wear while out walking on a cold and windy winter day. Probably many Halloween masks. Snowmobile or motorcycle helmets with the snapdown face shield. Full face balaclavas might be acceptable.

But unless you want your image [face hidden most likely] plastered all over media sites online and in print, don’t even think of jazzing up a pillow case or old bag into something that looks like a Ku Klux Klan hood. At least, that was learned by Peace country citizens after the Jan. 8 appearance of a hooded fellow in Grimshaw at the Canada Post outlet. It is unlikely he was making a political statement of some kind, although that is indeed a possibility. More likely, he thought the mask was funny.

Probably a whole bunch of other people also thought it funny, or part way between ha ha funny and sick funny. A few people found it sick funny enough to report it to RCMP as a hate crime.

As is often said, “free speech” is freedom to say whatever you want. Just don’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded movie theatre. Expressing yourself in whatever way you wish is a freedom.

But don’t plan on other people not being offended, or even hurt, by your “free” expression.

Some may argue those upset people are just too sensitive to what was intended as a harmless joke. Entirely possible. In fact, in this day and age, there are indeed many, many people who cry “Racist” or “Women hater” at the drop of a hat. To many of us, such a charge may be completely without basis. But it does keep people on their toes.

There was a time when ethnic or race jokes were a normal part of life. Ukrainian and Polish jokes. Jew jokes. Arab jokes and more. Even WASP [White Anglo Saxon Protestant] jokes. One hears very few such jokes these days.

One may or may not agree with the argument against such jokes. Or may even agree with the argument, “There are no moral or immoral jokes. A joke is either funny or it is not. That is all.”

One observer says that argument is “plainly false. A deeply, deeply immoral joke can be hilarious, not just in spite of its immorality, but independent of it, or even because of it. Calling a joke ‘not funny’ because of its immorality is like denying a cheeseburger is delicious because one finds the slaughter of cattle for meat immoral.”

Or consider the line, “Show me a guy who can laugh at anything, and I will show you a guy who liked Jeffrey Dahmer’s cooking.”

Going from accusing someone of being “tasteless,” as above, to someone actually committing potentially dangerous, unspeakable, or hateful acts to a small or large group of people is a slippery slope.

Funny? To some. Tasteless? Perhaps. A crime? By today’s standards, police not charging the Grimshaw Hoodgate perpetrator is far and away the best route to take.

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