> Sometimes the mob should be heard
>June 21, 2000 - Toronto Star
by Dalton Camp, [old guard "red tory" journalist and former political
strategist for "PC" party in Canada]
>Some people are upset about the conduct of the anti-government
>demonstrators at Queen's Park the other day, citing the attacks made
>upon the police and the general lack of restraint, good order and
>respect for the rule of the law.
>In the confrontation, it appeared the police got the better of it since
>they had a distinct advantage in the range of ordnance, armaments and
>horsepower, although voices have been raised against the destruction to
>property, always a matter of concern to advocates of law and order. And
>it didn't help, in the optics of the thing, that so many of the
>agitators were unkept and ill-dressed, even for a riot.
>There is a general feeling of unease about the event, and also the
>belief that in a democracy those who have a beef against the government
>should use the institutions provided for citizen complaint and redress.
>Before acting out at Queen's Park, one should first write, phone, fax,
>E-mail, or visit one's member of the Legislature.
>It might be difficult, of course, to catch your member's ear or eye
>right now because all honourable members are standing by for a quick
>vote on the proposed MPPs' pay raise. Another way to be heard would be
>to buy a ticket to a Mike Harris fundraiser, but then you'd have to
>respect not only the rule of law but the dress code.
>Perhaps the demonstrators should consider moving to Alberta. In Alberta,
>although there are many law-and-order enthusiasts, there is a
>distinction made between laws that must be upheld and laws that are of
>no account and don't deserve upholding.
>For example, Canada's Parliament has passed a law requiring those who
>possess firearms to register them. That's the law, and the Supreme Court
>of Canada has recently upheld it.
>Nevertheless, the provincial attorney-general, who is responsible for
>law enforcement, has told Albertans he has no intention of prosecuting
>offenders of the gun law. This is because he doesn't agree with the law,
>or, more correctly, a lot of his friends don't agree with the law.
>Urgings on behalf of the Alberta government that the law be ignored have
>been enthusiastically welcomed by gun owners. Indeed, it is likely that
>anyone seeking to conform to the law by registering a gun might receive
>a blow on the head from a truncheon.
>We should bear in mind that a majority of Albertans support the gun law,
>as do most other Canadians. Thus, we can see that whether or not to
>observe the law is a majoritarian consideration is not the question. It
>seems to be the case that important people who hold office, or power, or
>influence may defy the law, without penalty or opprobrium. But those who
>are deemed unimportant must follow the law, or suffer the consequences.
>We tell one another that the mob must not rule or else anarchy will
>triumph. But sometimes the mob will have a positive effect, as in the
>Boston Tea Party, or the protests against the Vietnam war.
>Montrealers rioted against the suspension of hockey hero Rocket Richard;
>the Polish dockworkers rioted against their Communist masters; the poor
>and homeless rioted against the Harris government. There is historic
>evidence that mobs have changed the minds of their masters, have shaped
>policy and influenced events. Some mobs have been empowered by idealism,
>or by anger, or nihilism, some in support of freedom, others in the
>service of totalitarianism.
>What unsettles editorial boards and letter writers to the press is that
>such excess of feeling and the disregard for restraint required of any
>civil society are unbecoming to a democracy. This is true, but who said
>this was a democracy? Many who say we have a working democracy really
>mean to say we have an economic system - capitalism - that works for
>There are others the system serves less happily and who feel
>unrepresented and abandoned. A growing number of thoughtful people, who
>are not employed as cheerleaders for the system, are pointing to the
>declining level of public involvement in our democracy - Robert Entman
>describes it as a ``democracy without citizens.''
>Democracy, meant to be the rule of the many, has become the rule of the
>few, in which the corporate media become a giant mechanism for the
>manipulation of public opinion, the numbing of the social conscience,
>and dumbing down of the public mind.
>Many would prefer to sleep through this movie, join the chic in
>embracing the media view that democracy is not about politics and debate
>over choices, but about consumerism and choices of style and preference
>- the hottest car, the latest technology toy. Others - more than a few -
>sense the danger to democracy's survival. A part of them was with the
>rioters outside the Legislature, which once represented them all.
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