Canada is full of quirky, non-establishment types who buck the system, force change and in the end are interesting sorts who deserve recognition.This is from Barbara Yaffe's most recent column; and, yes, she is talking about Henry Morgentaler.
Actually, I'm grateful to her for her wickedly childish analysis, as it at least confirms my suspicions about why--to a certain Canadian sensibility--Morgentaler's nomination to the Order of Canada is considered so great. It is not just that it upsets social conservatives, and it is not just that it politicizes an apolitical Canadian institution. These two things are, of course, eminently desirable to the progressively inclined, but they also carry a weight of seriousness--of an imperative need to work towards resolution--that even the progressive cannot deny, nor ultimately does he particularly want. Rather, what carries the Morgentaler case above and beyond all its (short-term) boons is its capacity to serve as a formal declaration to the world of what so many Canadians are convinced is their unique virtue: that they're totally cool with controversy!
Morgentaler, a murderer? Yeah, sure, I guess you could look at it that way. Let's rap about it over a beavertail!
Now, that's not to say that if I were to put it to Ms. Yaffe that Dr. Morgentaler is, in fact, a murderer, that she wouldn't then apoplectically counter that I must be a misogynist. (But that's neither here nor there as, apparently, I don't figure into what Ms. Yaffe conceives of as a Canadian, as per this breezy given:
Canadians have accepted the legalization of same-sex marriage on a similar basis [to abortion], with reluctance but recognizing that it reflects a pragmatic reality.Wow! There's a fascinating spin! As though C-38 were put to a referendum, and as though every single Canadian ticked a third option: You accept the bill, with reluctance, recognizing that it reflects a pragmatic reality!)
As is typical of any adolescent, Barbara Yaffe's "Canadian" is as uncomfortable as anyone else in the midst of the unpleasantness brought about by controversy; but he (Yaffe's Canadian) still desperately craves a free and easy association with it. That it be generally recognized that to this hardened, worldly-wise Canuck, even abortion is no biggy; that he can handle it. He is tough, he is mature. He is--and I hope you're listening Mr. US of A--so world class as to be world beating!
(Not even Colby Cosh is above this sort of pimply pining after national puberty; comparing Morgentaler to--you've probably already guessed it--Nelson bloody Mandela! ... And I heard that Canada smokes too; and that it lost its virginity!)
"Tolerance," Ms. Yaffe piously asserts, "is what this particular award choice is about and what Canada is widely recognized for."
But wait! No it isn't! She's not even close, as a matter of fact. (I mean, for God's sake, it can't all be about flipping tolerance!) The Order of Canada "recognizes a lifetime of outstanding achievement, dedication to the community and service to the nation." Now I have no doubt that "tolerance" can be made to work towards these ends--no doubt many recipients were very tolerant of things like financial success, yes-men, public accolades, and breathable air--but it is not the be-all and end-all of the award. Nor, indeed, can it be! (I mean, every day of my life I have tolerated the inadequacy of toilet paper to do an efficient job of cleaning my ass! Do I get the Order of Canada, Babs?)
But let's imagine for a second that the Order of Canada is all about tolerance. So what is it, exactly, that Henry Morgentaler has been so exemplarily tolerant of? Honestly: what?! Profits, was it? Alternative forms of birth control? The contempt of people who didn't so much disagree with what he was doing as consider it to be purest evil?
By all means give the man an award for his indomitability, for his lunatic zeal--and I'm not knocking lunatic zeal--but tolerance?! Give me a flipping break!
Of course, the "tolerance" which Ms. Yaffe is speaking of is not so much Dr. Morgentaler's as it is her own. Of the said Morgentaler. Again, as is typical of the adolescent, Ms. Yaffe isn't half as impressed with the accomplishments of others as she is with her own opinions of them and how mature they make her sound. And for this she believes that her proxy should be awarded the Order of Canada.