Bring an end to holding special status

One doesn’t have to agree with another’s opinion, but one should respect another’s right to have an opinion says Penticton letter writer.

Canada is the greatest country in the world. It is made great by the diverse cultures and peoples who live here.  All have equal rights and freedom to practice their customs and religion, unless those infringe on human rights. One doesn’t have to agree with another’s opinion, but one should respect another’s right to have an opinion. Otherwise we live in a fascist state, not a democracy. Politicians, community leaders and religious leaders are not all-knowing and their opinions should not be valued more than those of the least members of our society. Some leaders take umbrage with any remark and respond with knee-jerk reactions and public comments that serve only to foment discontent and divide the community.

There will always be persons in every group/race/nationality (including Caucasians) with a persecution complex who wake up every morning and wonder what they can take offence with today. And every time these persons complain about anything we all coddle them and rush to appease, even when they exaggerate/expand the problem.  This coddling is in itself a form of racism. One must not equate all humour with racism and bigotry and imply that not only is the joke-teller racist, but so also is the organization for which he/she works.

That labeling is unfair to all concerned and is, in itself, bigotry. Yes, at the moment the joke was told the person may have been thoughtless or insensitive but more-than-likely is not a racist or bigot. That person should apologize for the remark, but the organization cannot be responsible for all breaches of policy.

It can only try to prevent recurrence. Not only does this labeling categorize the joke-teller for life, but it also demonstrates the lack of compassion and the mean-spiritedness of the labeler — thus making him/her no better than the person who made the comment or told the joke. There also always will be individuals who are bigots and racists and make malicious remarks intentionally meant to demean or embarrass.  This is most unfortunate and, where possible, these individuals should be held accountable. We, as Canadians, can never respect these individuals’ opinions. I believe that as Canadians we are all equal and special status and political considerations should not be afforded to any individual or group, be they in the majority or a minority. That would be racism. Some individuals see my comments as bigotry. Nothing could be further from the truth and I will not dignify those bullies with a response.

Patrick MacDonald