Culture & media

Behind the headlines
Few Canadians have any connection to our depleted military, fewer still enlist, and the number who consider joining a special branch of a foreign country’s forces that began as a way to soak up society’s dregs must be vanishingly small. Yet that was the path chosen by Joel Struthers, and his five years spent in the French Foreign Legion don’t seem to have done him any lasting harm. Peter Shawn Taylor shows that the historical aura of the kepi-clad brawlers still exerts a romantic tug on certain modern-day hearts in this fond portrayal of one Canadian’s life in the Legion and his remarkable work since getting out intact.
Just Boomer Things
The view that social media are a wasteland of trivia and irrationality that’s making everyone dumber has become so common as to form an example of the very genre it condemns. In truth, decidedly non-trivial things are being communicated, just not in ways that older generations – or not-yet-clued-in members of current ones – quite understand. The current meme-war over the political and economic legacy of the Baby Boomers, for example, may well define how this generation is remembered as it fades into dotage and beyond. Millennial Aaron Nava shoulders the almost superhuman burden of working with a boomer editor to illustrate one skirmish in the eternal inter-generational tug-of-war.
Censorship
Things happen quickly on social media. And urged on by radical fringe groups, censorship of unpopular ideas is rapidly becoming standard practice across the entire industry. With a parliamentary committee recently recommending dramatic new rules for controlling online speech, the Trudeau Liberals’ re-election brings politically-motivated restrictions on social media discourse that much closer to reality. By focusing on how one individual experienced the arbitrariness of corporate censorship, Josh Dehaas raises an alarm over the impending calamity of the government-imposed variety. Don’t say you weren’t warned.
Book Review
Conservatives, centrists – heck, just about anyone not on the far “progressive” end of the spectrum – probably think too many people are claiming victim status. Many of us do seem nauseated by the never-ending official apologies and constant picking on the country. Yet self-professions of victimhood by ever-more atomized groups and dubious claimants seemingly march ever-onward. What to actually do about it? How to even confront it? Veteran journalist Paul Stanway peers into a new book and discovers what might be an answer.
Education & Research
Putting numbers to nearly everything is the postmodern world’s way of separating facts and knowledge from mere opinion or superstition. This not merely reflects a cramped view of knowledge, it is false and immensely damaging to rational inquiry, discussion and the dissemination of knowledge. David Solway mounts a counter-argument for quality over mere quantity. Although nominally about the social sciences and aimed at its practitioners, Solway’s essay serves up food for thought for any consumer, customer or target of the social sciences: students, their parents, business people, employers, government officials, voters. In short, all of us.
Homelessness in Canada
Governments throughout the world have largely eliminated long-term mental health facilities. Instead, they have taken the approach of housing the afflicted and the homeless in communities. A significant number of homeless suffer from drug addiction. To address the addicted homeless epidemic, the B.C. government is building “low barrier” modules which tolerate drug use. For James Percy, the construction of low barrier housing in residential neighbourhoods threatens community standards, underlines the need for more robust and thoughtful governmental policies, and ultimately raises issues about agency and personal responsibility.
Movies
Who’d have thought the rotary-dial phone and kung fu could help save late 22nd-century humanity? These were just a couple of the charming wrinkles in a sci-fi thriller that captivated audiences with its innovative special effects and ambiguous religiosity and mysticism. The oddness of the combination perhaps helps explain The Matrix’s staying power. Aaron Nava first saw the film at age nine, triggering a lifelong devotion that, two decades and many viewings later, continues to nourish his moral reflections.
Campus Free Speech
Smear, denounce, attack, delegitimize and wreck their career. The twisted toolbox of today’s left – including here in Canada – should be growing familiar to conservatives, for victims in virtually all walks of life topple almost daily. One of the latest is sociologist Ricardo Duchesne, long of the University of New Brunswick but, as of last week, no longer. David Solway illuminates the sordid saga of a solid researcher and author becoming the left’s racist du jour.
Borders
Politicians of both left and right used to agree a nation’s immigration policies should advance the interests of nation and people. That was yesterday. A new morality has taken hold throughout the West, advancing open borders as a moral imperative and equating patriotism with racism. Progressives have all-but abandoned the interests of working men and women. Bradley Betters scrutinizes this strange metamorphosis and examines the radical implications of a morality that subordinates a nation’s interests to a universalist ethic.
Book Review
The future belongs to Canada. And it seems it always will, at least going by the many failed predictions of Canada’s imminent emergence as a praised and respected world-class nation. That’s because it’s not really about Canada in the global community, it’s all about us and our insecurities, writes Benjamin L. Woodfinden. That’s also why Woodfinden expects prodigious commentator, author and former news media magnate Conrad Black’s prescription to transform Canada into a “laboratory” – though a “sensible” one – for great new policies, or at least policies Black thinks are new and great, to go the way of similarly grandiose historical attempts.

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