VANCOUVER -- Whatever the outcome of their ugly wage dispute, British Columbia teachers have to decide whether they want to be viewed as professionals... or professional rabble-rousers.
They've got to start toning down their over-the-top rhetoric about Bill 22, the back-to-work law, and other labour contract issues. At least if they want the public respect they insist they deserve.
Comparing teachers' treatment by the B.C. legislature to that of the Jews by Hitler and the Nazis, for example, works against the very thing they say they're fighting for.
Yes, Wendy Turner, president of the Cranbrook District Teachers Association, wrote to The Province to say that, as a child, she'd read Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl and had asked her parents: "How could they do this to people?"
Her parents told her it was because the German people didn't realize what was happening until it was too late. "Why was it too late?" she apparently asked. "Because by then it was the law!"
Turner said she'd forgotten those words until she realized "history was repeating itself" with the Liberals using legislation "to legitimize their stripping away of employment rights for a targeted group of people -- teachers."
Now, in the field of rhetoric, there's something called the fallacy of single similarity. It's when two different things are claimed to be the same because of one way in which they're alike.
Only an educational zealot, however, could find even a single point of similarity between Frank's wartime predicament and that of today's pampered B.C. teachers -- who aren't forced to hide out from racist authorities to avoid death or starvation in concentration camps.
Sadly, though, some of our unionized teachers seem to live in a world of exaggeration, with an exaggerated sense of their own importance.
Susan Lambert, newly re-elected president of the B.C. Teachers Federation, talks about how Bill 22's impact is "devastating."
Devastating? Devastating is losing a child or having family members wiped out by war. It's not being told you'll have a net-zero wage mandate for a couple of years after receiving generous wage hikes for the last five.
Teachers need to get a grip. They must also start realizing that insulting hardened scribblers such as me about everything from my manhood to my imagined indifference to the evils of child labour -- as teacher "Bill" did -- is unprofessional and counter-productive.
"It's people like you Jon that will cause the end of mankind because you are ignorant," he wrote. "If you were smart, like teachers, you would realize that before anything and I mean ANYTHING, (health included) there is NOTHING more important than education."
Well, I guess it all depends what kind of EDUCATION he's talking about. In Bill's case, and that of other egotistical teachers, a little schooling is clearly a dangerous thing.
Jon Ferry is a columnist with
the Vancouver Province.