Canadians are funny people – we do not and never have taken ourselves seriously. You would never hear true Canadians bellowing vainglorious pronouncements of superiority and boasting of Canadian exceptionalism and the divine right to apologize to no one. Certainly we consider many things sacrosanct: public health care being the most notable, and lately, what we do online.
In a deeply cynical move marked by paranoia and shameless political calculation (par for the course from our feds lately), Vic Toews, the Minister for Public Safety, has introduced legislation that will allow police to spy on your Internet activities without a warrant. Quis custodiet ipsos custodes, indeed; one does not need to have read Orwell to understand the implications. The legislation has been given the Helen Lovejoy-esque moniker of the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act, and the Minister himself raised the discourse to the highest echelons of intellectual debate by accusing those who didn’t support his draconian measures as supporters of child pornography. I’m forced to question once again, as with the late Senator Ted Stevens and his infamous “series of tubes” comment, why it seems that those with the least knowledge of the Internet always seem to be the ones placed in charge of regulating it.
The response to this act of political dumbassery has been swift. Rather than rising up in anger, Canadians have responded in the way that is so uniquely their own – with biting wit. A Twitter hashtag, #TellVicEverything, is trending as Canadian tweeps take to the popular microblogger to advise Vic Toews, since he seems so obsessed, of every mundane detail of their lives: what they’re eating for breakfast, what shirt they decided to wear today, local weather updates, the weird look that teenager just gave them and even movie spoilers. (Sheesh – Darth Vader is Luke’s father??? Damn you anonymous Tweeter!) There is no weapon more lethal to a purveyor of anger than a good joke at their expense; as it says in my bio here, a belly laugh is more powerful than a hateful scream. To the angry brain, laughter does not compute. They are so resentful of the idea than anyone is allowed to be happy instead of them, that their souls have literally lost the capacity to process humour. I would find it cause for pity were not so many of these people in positions of nation-wide leadership and influence, instead of where they belong: in therapy.
Why, if Canadians are such funny people, do we keep choosing the angriest among us to be our leaders? Check out Wikipedia’s list of Canadian comedians, and then look at the list of members of the House of Commons and the Senate – you’ve never seen a dourer herd of sourpusses in your life. You could suggest that national problems require a serious approach, and serious people. I’m not questioning that – I just don’t think seriousness and the ability to laugh at oneself are mutually exclusive. With the latter quality comes a sense of humility and appreciation for the weight of responsibility of the office; at least it does in every politician, every person, I’ve ever admired. Whereas a complete lacking in the ability to recognize and find humour in one’s failings is a common trait held by every dictator in human history. What remains frustrating is how the angry candidate wins and then everyone acts surprised when he gets into office and continues behaving like a sociopath.
How wonderful would it be if the funniest candidate won for a change? If we chose someone who reflected our actual laugh-loving values, instead of those of the embittered loner pissed off that he was picked last for gym? At the risk of invoking a Bush-era campaign tactic here, if you wouldn’t invite the guy over for a beer because his silent brooding and inflammatory blog posts hating on everyone and everything that didn’t agree with his worldview creeped you out, why on earth would you assume he’d be a good leader? I’d much rather have the guy who knows the airspeed velocity of an unladen African or European swallow. One thing is for sure – they’d be a lot more fun to watch.
Anyway, in case Vic is looking in, and in the spirit of being Canadian, I had chicken à la king without the noodles for lunch today, I’m trying to avoid carbs. Kevin Spacey was Keyser Söze, Soylent Green is people, and Bruce Willis was dead the whole time.