Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Perhaps it's decompression after a good vacation, but my perceptual screen is getting blurry and my sensorium is all a-tumble. I swear I gave up recreational substances many long years ago, but this week has been, to put it mildly, one long flashback.

Item: Three desperate contestants will vie for a life-saving kidney on a new reality TV extravaganza, The Big Donor Show, brought to the air by the folks who gave us Big Brother. Viewers will vote for who gets to live after watching short films about each of the players. "The contestants in the show have a 33-per-cent chance," says the chairman of the broadcasting company hosting the show. "That's a much larger chance than if they were on the organ waiting list."

Item: The Liberals won 85% of the seats in PEI yesterday, with barely half the vote, putting one in mind of the anti-Hatfield sweep in New Brunswick a few years back, when the Liberals won 100% of the seats with 60.39% of the popular vote, and of the PEI rout of the Conservatives in 1935 when the Liberals won every seat with 58% of the popular vote.

Conservatives oppose proportional representation, as a rule: they like the first-past-the-post system. Hey, why not? It works for them, from time to time, at least. We've got Harper in power after a substantial majority voted against him, after all. In fact, Liberal or Conservative, governing with minority support in Canada seems to be almost the rule. You can even win with fewer votes than the other guy (1957 general election). Hey, I'm all for minority rights, but does that include the right to rule?

In any case, does this count as surrealism? The latter has been defined as "
the principles, ideals, or practice of producing fantastic or incongruous imagery or effects in art, literature, film, or theatre by means of unnatural juxtapositions and combinations." Politics is good theatre, as we all know: and, as for unnatural juxtapositions and incongruous effects, what about "democracy" and "first-past-the-post?"

More items: 500 kilograms of trash have just been removed from Mount Everest. A couple were jailed for three years in Pakistan because the husband had undergone gender reassignment surgery. Cows in New Zealand are producing skim milk, and a tiger in the Edmonton Zoo is demanding French-language rights.

So, then, time for a little sobering reality? The notorious Peel Regional Police, the force that gave us Michael Wade Lawson,* received another black eye earlier this week (h/t to Mens Rea, Scriptor Reus for the link and to Paladiea for an earlier article). Racism is not exactly unknown among the ranks of Peel's finest: in this case, a Black woman was arrested, body-searched and called a "fucking foreigner" by a racist cop after a white individual accused her of shoplifting a $10 bra. The cop refused to examine a store videocam record, preferring instead the old laying on of hands. He has since moved on to the Sudbury police force, where an investigation into his hiring is currently underway. Meanwhile, the Peel police chief, rather than apologizing to the victim, may be appealing.

Give me soft watches any day.

UPDATE: (June 2) Alas, sometimes the truth that's stranger than fiction turns out to be fiction after all. The kidney show has been revealed as a hoax.
*Like Ian Bush, Lawson was shot in the back of the head, apparently contrary to the laws of physics. Police testified that he had been trying to run them over and that they shot in self-defence. The illegal hollow-point bullet that killed him would have turned back in mid-air if that story had been true, and the testimony was later recanted, but the courts sided with the police.

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