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Here I Stand

by Stephen Lautens


February 2, 2001

It's important to know where you stand. These days no one ever wants to take a stand in case they're wrong or offend someone.

Me? I've never been afraid to offend. Take my friend's wedding for example. I was standing next to the bridesmaid during the speeches. The man at the microphone was blubbing and slurring his speech. He was well lubricated.

"Guess it's not a wedding until the drunk makes a fool of himself," I said to the bridesmaid, trying to make light of the general embarrassment.

"That's my father," she said icily. Suddenly my comments were less appropriate than Stockwell Day's - and not a taxpayer in sight to bail me out.

It's just the God-given ability to say the wrong thing at the wrong time. Call it a gift, but it hasn't kept me from taking stands both for and against.

For example, there's the recent tragedy of the drunken Russian diplomat who ran down and killed an innocent woman in Ottawa, and then claimed diplomatic immunity to escape prosecution here for his cowardly crime.

I understand the importance of diplomatic immunity, and how it protects Canadian diplomats abroad from unjust harassment by less enlightened countries.

Knowing that, I'm all for letting that Russian diplomat go home. I'm also all for him being met when he arrives at the Moscow airport by one of our own diplomats - preferably driving a speeding Volvo towards him across the airport parking lot and waiving his own Canadian diplomatic immunity papers.

I'm all for freedom of expression. It's vital to a democracy that ideas and opinions be freely expressed and exchanged, no matter how loopy or offensive. Free speech is designed to protect those we disagree with most.

What I am against is pedophiles suggesting that possessing child pornography is somehow a freedom of expression issue. It's not, and the Supreme Court of Canada (with the greatest respect) is wrong to open that door even a crack. There's nothing preventing them (the pedophiles I mean, not the Supreme Court) from holding their beliefs or arguing their position - as long as they don't act on it.

Gay marriage? I'm going to get in trouble on this one. Why the heck not? With a 50% divorce rate, it's not like the heterosexual community has done such a hot job upholding the family unit and the sanctity of marriage. The fire and brimstone crowd notwithstanding, I have a hard time denying any Tom, Dick and/or Harry the joys of marital bliss - namely sorting the laundry and then falling asleep in front of the TV at 10:30 instead of dancing all night at a club.

Separatism? Against, whether it's the Quebec or Alberta version. Everyone is better off in this country than out of it.

I'm for the opinion expressed by soon-to-be Quebec Premier Landry. We should not be offering taxpayers' dollars to Quebec to put up the Canadian flag. Rather, we should be taking the offensive dollars away it if they don't.

Buying someone's love never works, but you can be sure that they'll miss you when you (and your money) are gone.

© Stephen Lautens 2001

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