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Intolerable epithet

In response to Sid Green's July 13 column, Pallister incites political correctness, I'll say that calling women "dames" or "chicks" is politically incorrect. Calling someone a "retard" is a different order of offensiveness.

In my 30 years as a high school teacher, there were several epithets I would not tolerate in the classroom or the hallway. "Retard" was one of them.

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If Brian Pallister used this term, he needs to cultivate compassion and empathy for all citizens if he aspires to represent us as premier of this province.




As columnist Sid Green has pointed out, the hows and whys of modern language change appear to be motivated more out of political correctness (or by the whiff of generational pretension) than they do to suit denotational accuracy.

Some examples to illustrate his point: The crass monetary implication of the word "business" (isn't financial consideration what business is all about?) has been displaced by the glossy patina of the more highfalutin "industry" (the dog-walking industry? Surely not!), while no singer-songwriter, pianist or fiddler can now be called a "musician" or (heaven forbid) a "performer." One is an "artist" -- at least on the culturally cutting edge of iTunes or to the doyen of all things hip, the CBC.

Another of the more egregious PC redactions has been the near-disappearance of the word "problem." Its substitution with the imprecise and overused "issue" suggests that problems are either too emotionally straining for those of milder disposition or, by looking away, they can be made to vanish.

Unfortunately, here in Winnipeg we are all too familiar with the emergence of late winter potholes as a serious problem. The how, when and cost of repair remains the issue.




Sid Green completely misses the point about Brian Pallister's alleged use of the word "retard." Pallister wasn't describing a person with an intellectual disability that day in the legislature; he was using the word to insult an MLA.

It's just as offensive as saying "you're so gay." Using a word that represents an entire group of people as an insult communicates disdain for the group in question.

Pallister could have said "stupid" or "ignorant" without causing offence to anyone other than the person he was insulting. There was no need to drag the mentally challenged community into it.




A vigorous defence

While privacy legislation prevents me from commenting on specifics, I can say that the University of Manitoba and the faculty of social work do not agree with Damien Leggett's characterization of the events as reported in your July 12 story Transgender student files rights complaint.

As a result, the complaint made to the Human Rights Commission is being vigorously defended by the university. I am confident that the Manitoba Human Rights Commission will determine that the university acted reasonably and attempted to offer a good learning experience for Leggett and for the other students in the inner-city social work program.


Faculty of social work

University of Manitoba


Best wishes to Reynolds

Re: I'll miss you while I'm fighting monsters (July 13). I am deeply saddened to learn of Lindor Reynolds' recent cancer diagnosis. As one of her longtime readers, I feel I have come to know her as a person through her writing, even though we have never met.

I will miss her insightful, often humorous and always thought-provoking pieces and I wish her a speedy recovery as she battles the "monster" that has invaded her life. She will be in my thoughts and prayers.




Feelings over facts

Re: School trouble not in the books (July 13). Now Nancy Allan's methods and direction are starting to make more sense. It appears she's navigating using feelings rather than facts.

That would be fine for clothing shopping. But, as the education minister, she should be operating from a foundation of carefully collected data rather than from personal perceptions and feelings.

In order to solve the real problems in schools, she needs to know what's actually going on there -- not just what she believes to be happening.




Agriculture is exempt

Re: Farmers concerned about cosmetic pesticide ban (July 12). It's important to remember that Manitoba's lawn-pesticide ban will not be the first in Canada. In fact, six other provinces (Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes) already have this common-sense legislation.

In every case, commercial agriculture is exempt; farmers can use any legal product to control weeds or insects. Lawn-pesticide bans have not been a problem for eastern farmers, and there's every reason to believe they won't be a problem for western ones.


Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment



Trade pact worrisome

Reading the July 12 story Canadians cutting TV, moving to web views, I feel it is a good time to remind readers of what the Harper government is getting Canadians into with the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, currently being negotiated in complete secrecy by unelected trade representatives.

According to leaked documents, we should be especially concerned with the copyright protection provisions in TPP, which promise to turn the Internet into an electronic minefield, with penalties as high as $10,000 for merely viewing copyright-protected content (such as a video posted on YouTube).



Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 16, 2013 A6

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