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Old 09-19-03, 08:47 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Join Date: Mar-2003
Location: Nova Scotia
Age: 45
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An interesting news article

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 30, 2003.

You live next door to a clean-cut, quiet guy. He never plays loud music or
throws raucous parties. He doesn't
gossip over the fence, just smiles politely and offers you
some tomatoes. His lawn is cared-for, his house is neat as
a pin and you get the feeling he doesn't always lock his
front door. He wears Dockers. You hardly know he's
there. And then one day you discover that he has pot in
his basement, spends his weekends at peace marches and
that guy you've seen mowing the yard is his spouse.
Allow me to introduce Canada.
The Canadians are so quiet that you may have forgotten
they're up there, but they've been busy doing some
surprising things. It's like discovering that the mice you are
dimly aware of in your attic have been building an
espresso machine.
Did you realize, for example, that our reliable little tag-
along brother never joined the Coalition of the Willing?
Canada wasn't willing, as it turns out, to join the fun in
Iraq. I can only assume American diner menus weren't
angrily changed to include "freedom bacon," because
nobody here eats the stuff anyway.
And then there's the wild drug situation: Canadian doctors
are authorized to dispense medical marijuana. Parliament
is considering legislation that would not exactly legalize
marijuana possession, as you may have heard, but would
reduce the penalty for possession of under 15 grams to a
fine, like a speeding ticket. This is to allow law
enforcement to concentrate resources on traffickers; if
your garden is full of wasps, it's smarter to go for the nest
rather than trying to swat every individual bug. Or, in the
United States, bong.
Now, here's the part that I, as an American, can't
understand. These poor benighted pinkos are doing
everything wrong. They have a drug problem: Marijuana
offenses have doubled since 1991. And Canada has strict
gun control laws, which means that the criminals must all
be heavily armed, the law-abiding civilians helpless and
the government on the verge of a massive confiscation
campaign. (The laws have been in place since the ' 70s,
but I'm sure the government will get around to the
confiscation eventually.) They don't even have a death
And yet ... nationally, overall crime in Canada has been declining since
1991. Violent crimes fell 13 percent in
2002. Of course, there are still crimes committed with
guns -- brought in from the United States, which has
become the major illegal weapons supplier for all of North
America -- but my theory is that the surge in pot-smoking
has rendered most criminals too relaxed to commit violent
crimes. They're probably more focused on shoplifting
boxes of Ho-Hos from convenience stores.
And then there's the most reckless move of all: Just last
month, Canada decided to allow and recognize same-sex
marriages. Merciful moose, what can they be thinking?
Will there be married Mounties (they always get their
man!)? Dudley Do-Right was sweet on Nell, not Mel! We
must be the only ones who really care about families. Not
enough to make sure they all have health insurance, of
course, but more than those libertines up north. This sort
of behavior is a clear and present danger to all our
stereotypes about Canada.
It's supposed to be a cold, wholesome country of polite,
beer-drinking hockey players, not founded by freedom-
fighters in a bloody revolution but quietly assembled by
loyalists and royalists more interested in order and good
government than liberty and independence. But if we are
the rugged individualists, why do we spend so much of
our time trying to get everyone to march in lockstep? And
if Canadians are so reserved and moderate, why are they
so progressive about letting people do what they want to?
Canadians are, as a nation, less religious than we are,
according to polls. As a result, Canada's government isn't
influenced by large, well-organized religious groups and
thus has more in common with those of Scandinavia than
those of the United States, or, say, Iran.
Canada signed the Kyoto global warming treaty, lets
19-year-olds drink, has more of its population living in
urban areas and accepts more immigrants per capita than
the United States. These are all things we've been told will
wreck our society. But I guess Canadians are different,
because theirs seems oddly sound.
Like teenagers, we fiercely idolize individual freedom but
really demand that everyone be the same. But the
Canadians seem more adult - more secure. They aren't
afraid of foreigners. They aren't afraid of homosexuality.
Most of all, they're not afraid of each other.
I wonder if America will ever be that cool.
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