Nov 8, 2011 by Lee Hart

Politics and political correctness – no laughing matter


Politics and political correctness drive me nuts sometimes.

I am glad the provincial election is over in Saskatchewan so
now everyone can get back to work. Premier Brad Wall and his Conservative government
were re-elected Monday.

I didn’t have any vested interest in the Saskatchewan
election, other than I called a provincial government specialist a couple weeks
ago to talk about hay and forage production, and he wasn’t able to talk to me
because a provincial election campaign was underway, he couldn’t talk to the
media and I was advised to call some communications office in Regina (like they
would know the answer to my question.)

Fortunately the state of the hay industry in Saskatchewan
isn’t a focal point in my life, so I just moved on to something else, or talked
to a non-government source. But I thought later, what the hell does the
provincial election have to do with hay production in Saskatchewan? What could
this specialist possibly have told me about the Saskatchewan hay crop –
production and marketing — that would have put the re-election of the
provincial government at risk?

“Yes we had a very good hay crop in many parts of the
province and there is lots for sale!” 
I can just see opposition parties having a field day with that scandal. 

Either it was an overly paranoid bureaucracy that sent word
down the line to not to talk to the media during the campaign, or heaven forbid
it was the premier who shut down normal business of the province to control the
loose lips of government workers. And I thought politicians were there to take
the heat and deal with the tough issues for the common good, not to put a
muzzle on the always-controversial topic of hay production.

But this rant continues….I ran into a similar situation in
Toronto last week when a group of industry players —veterinarians, animal
health specialists, researchers and others — got together to talk about the use
of antibiotics in animal agriculture.

One speaker was Dr. David White, a veterinarian and director
of research for veterinary medicine with the US Food and Drug Administration.
This isn’t an admin assistant, who was nervously talking about a topic he was
really unfamiliar with — this guy knew his stuff.

So he talks for 45 minutes to a group of 200 experts,
including the media, answers questions from the floor – so I approach him after
the talk to see if I could ask him a few more questions one-on-one just to be
sure I was clear on what he said. And immediately he throws up this wall, he
couldn’t talk to me the media without clearance from a communications
department in Washington, D.C.  He
was sorry, but that is the crazy protocol he lives under.

Personally that is a bunch of BS. He is there talking to
essentially a public meeting in considerate detail on a technical topic, and he
is going to be in trouble for helping someone better understand his message?
What a load of crap.

Either this guy has no confidence in himself, or he is
working for a bureaucracy that insists all employees be neutered as a condition
of employment.

If he and the US Food and Drug Administration are concerned
about the message, I’ll give them a message:  “A senior veterinarian with the US Food and Drug
Administration says thousands of people are getting sick every year because of
the misuse of antibiotics in animal agriculture – at least I think that is what
I heard, but Dr. David White refused further comments to explain.” The
End.  How’s that for a story?
Everyone likes to talk about the irresponsible media, well what about
irresponsible researchers?

And there is still more…On the political correctness side,
Calgary Mayor Nenshi got into trouble for a comment he made on Twitter,
referring jokingly to himself or someone else “being off their meds”.

Well that “off their meds” comment prompted an outcry from
some mental health organization, that is was offensive. Give me a break and
grow up!!! It is a figure of speech and a joke and there are a bzillion of
them: not dealing with a full deck, one brick shy of a load, the lights on but
nobody is home, not the sharpest knife in the drawer, low self esteem is very
common among losers, did you hear about the ugly guy who went to a psychiatrist
for help in accepting his homeliness, and the psychiatrist told him to lie on the
couch, face down…etc. etc. As far as I am concerned, 90 per cent of the
population has mental health issues, myself included, and if we can’t learn to
laugh and roll with the punches then we really do have some mental health
issues.

And finally…on political correctness. One of my favorite
politicians John Crosby of Newfoundland (I still chuckle about his Tequila
Shelia comment) got into trouble recently for telling a joke at some public
event…a guy who was depressed, considering suicide, called a help line, which
was answered by a call centre in Pakistan. He told the counselor his problem,
and the counselor asked “can you drive a truck?” — obviously a reference to
terrorism and suicide bombers.

I’m sure Crosby told it better than I, but as Larry The
Cable Guy says “I don’t care who you are, that’s funny right there.”  Maybe it is a joke that pushes the
limits a bit, but above all it is a joke. It wasn’t mean or spiteful – if anything a political commentary. Man, oh man if we can’t laugh at
ourselves sometimes, and laugh at the sometimes craziness of our world
situation and world affairs, we are in major trouble.

I can’t think of any joke or funny comment made without
malice about fat, 60-year-old, WASPy, sometimes crazy, farm writers I would
find offensive. But the floor is open if anyone wants to give it a try.

Lee
Hart is a field editor for Grainews in Calgary, Contact him at 403-592-1964 or
by email at
[email protected]

 

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Lee Hart

Lee Hart


Lee Hart is a long-time farm writer, and honorary member of the Alberta Institute of Agrologists, with many observations on the agriculture industry, who never hesitates to admit he is wrong (should that ever happen.)


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