There’s a story about a group of blind men trying to describe an elephant. Each blind man comes up with a spectacularly different description, depending on whether he has felt the elephant’s tusk, tail, ear or privates. I fear Allan Fotheringham’s description of Winnipeg in If A Town Could Be Likened To A Punch In The Mouth, Winnipeg Would Be It (September 20) is somewhat akin to the latter. To personify a whole city from an annual beer and skits night is to peddle the most basic fallacy of philosophy I—hasty generalization.
One can only conjecture what kind of city Winnipeg would have been depicted as being if, rather than the annual Winnipeg Beer and Skits Night, Fotheringham had attended an evening with the Winnipeg Chapter of Gay Liberation, or perhaps an annual windup of the Norwood Lawn Bowling Association, or maybe even a reunion of the friends of Plum Coulee now residing in Winnipeg. Fotheringham’s fallacy of generalization is exceeded by that of another—that he goes too far.
GRAHAM HURLBURT, WINNIPEG
If you haven’t tried it, don’t compare it
I read with curiosity Barbara Amiel’s observation in her review of Shaking It Rough: A Prison Memoir (September 20): “Indeed, the most chilling episode in the book is the visit of the lady officer from the parole board whose pinched and sour defense of her files and procedures was more dehumanizing than any gang-up in the showers.” I’m sure that the only rational response to such a remark can be “Who says?” I’d certainly prefer exposure to the most self-righteous and comatose of civil servants to a gang-bang, as would, 1 am
fairly sure, most men and women in the street! It’s hard to believe journalists are so jaded that they prefer sexual violence to an anachronistically defined “lady officer” bureaucrat. Chilling indeed.
LIZ LEGGE, TORONTO
Walter Stewart, Walter Stewart
All the applause received regarding your new format has failed to mention my favorite columnist. Therefore I feel compelled to write and thank Walter Stewart for his enlightening and entertaining treatment of all his topics. As American As Apple Pie (September 20) is the best yet. I always look forward to Maclean’s arrival but especially to reading an article by Walter Stewart.
ROSANNE KOPCZEWSKI, KESWICK, ONT.
Walter Stewart’s As American As Apple Pie is as fine a sample of backyard dirtdishing as any in a long while, and it made lively reading. The sarcasm in his remark—“Sleeping with the lesser races was one thing, but one drew the line at clinking glasses with them”—is duly noted, but his bigotry does peep through a little. He might have italicized the unfortunate and repulsive phrase: lesser races. Tch, tch.
EVELYN VICKERS, VANCOUVER
Why Johnny can’t do metaphysics
The article Are Canadians Getting Their $12 Billion Worth(September 6) deals with a subject of the highest importance to all of us. Professor Stamp’s statement, “Obviously a modern system needs freedom of expression as well as the basics,” should be restated by substituting “by means of’ for “as well as.” For freedom of
expression in a modern society is likely to be weak and even crippled without proficiency in the three Rs. We should go easy on other subjects until reasonable proficiency in the basics is attained. These other desirable subjects should be taught in the meantime only as simple adjuncts of the three Rs.
WILLIAM B. CAIRNS, EDMONTON
What you don’t watch can’t bore you
The West Coast is not the only part of Canada that dislikes CBC programs as you note in The CBC May Serve Canada Coast-ToCoast But This Coast Would Prefer SelfService (September 20). It is so totally boring that we often forget we have a TV set. Yet, I was able to watch programs on the Dutch TV system this summer that were of excellent quality. Commercials appeared only at the end and they were neither loud nor pushy. There was not the constant interruption to show viewers future features and an entire evening was well balanced. One wonders how a small nation can make TV so interesting where Canadian TV has only one good feature—one can turn it off!
T. SMITS, THOROLD, ONT.
Fear not—and spray on!
Hans Plugge’s letter Poly-saturation (August 9), regarding the use of vinyl chloride as a propellant in hair and insect sprays, contains a misleading statement that we feel should be clarified. Vinyl chloride is not used as a propellant for such products as insect and hair sprays or any aerosol product manufactured in Canada.
JIM WEGA, CANADIAN AEROSOL
EDUCATION BUREAU, TORONTO
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Won’t anyon* try to find out why?
I am writing on behalf of the Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association of Ontario to commend you on the excellent article The Visitation (August 9) regarding the 1973/74 “epidemic” of spina bifida and hydrocephalus and related neural tube defects in Wallaceburg. Recent publicity seems to have had some effect in bringing the matter to the attention of the respective levels of government who are in a position to initiate a thorough investigation into such occurrences. In the British Isles, the same type of “epidemics” have been noted and scientists there have been trying for some time to pinpoint a cause or causes. Is it not imperative that governments and local health authorities in other countries conduct full scale inquiries also?
The logical place to start would be with the parents, at the time the child is born. Why isn’t anyone asking them questions? It is really surprising and quite frustrating that in the past no one has seemed interested in gathering any pertinent information or family history—in fact some parents have offered such information and have been brushed aside. Our association was formed five years ago, primarily to provide information and support to parents. We are in contact with similar groups in the United States, Great Britain and Australia and keep our members informed of latest developments through our bimonthly newsletter. The general public, however, still is relatively unaware of spina bifida and hydrocephalus, and it is certainly encouraging to see the subject being given prominence in newspapers and magazines such as Maclean ’s.
MRS. JANET BAKER, PRESIDENT, SPINA BIFIDA AND HYDROCEPHALUS ASSOCIATION OF ONTARIO, P.O. BOX 859, STATION “K,” TORONTO
Far too much ado about Atwood
Who said Margaret Atwood was “Can-: ada’s foremost lady of letters”? This is surely a very subjective opinion. Most of us would award that accolade to Margaret Laurence, who has a truly international reputation and standard of excellence. We are told by Barbara Amiel in Once More The Poor WASP Heroine, Sufferer In Search Of Reason (September 6) that Lady Oracle at $10 is “touch and go,” so I doubt whether we are all going to rush out and spend $ 10 in a time of economic recession, especially when I am reserving my own eye-ball strength for The Diviners at $1.95. Just for curiosity, who would spend $ 10 on a book of indifferent merit—who has time to read it, if your reviewer can be trusted?
The interview with Atwood done by Helen Slinger is slightly sick-making. Lots of us have produced children, but I sure feel sorry for Atwood’s baby if she feels.it is like “sort of getting a dog.” This seems in common with a lot of intellectual youngish ladies I have met who treat motherhood as a very intellectual experience and lose all the spontaneous joy of just being mothers. If she really wants to be a private person, it is quite easy (if you work at it); i.e., don’t discuss your private life with journalists, and stick to talking about your writing.
GOLDIE JOSEPHY, TORONTO
A few words on behalf of management
Claire Hoy and Mick Lowe in Safety Last (September 6) could stand to learn a few things about fair, investigative reporting, in that they took the time to quote miners in Sudbury and made mention of the United Steelworkers which so capably represents those same miners. In reading the article, I wasn’t able to find the comments of any representatives of INCO management who spend so much time on safety training programs for INCO employees. INCO is just one of many industries that spend literally millions of dollars on an incredible paradox—teaching people that it is in their own best interests to protect themselves from accidents that could seriously injure or kill them.
A. CLARK GRIERSON, OTTAWA
Stalking the wild cartoonist
If I were a Regina hunter, I think I would devote my efforts to hunting cartoonist Uluschak and the Preview contributor responsible for Everybody’s Daddy’s Going A-Hunting (September 6). Once again the hunter has been maligned, and as a hunter I cannot escape the feeling that the subtle copy and the less subtle cartoon represent a personal attack.
I believe I have every justification when I request that you edit out future anti-hunting innuendoes, i.e., Nimrod, prowling, ringing the sloughs, well heeled, etc.; not to mention your cartoonist’s destructive imagery.
LARRY JOHNSTON, SCARBOROUGH, ONT.
The so-called cartoon with the hunters supposedly trying to find deer is horrible. The deer in the centre of the cartoon is supposed to be really worried about the nincompoops who are looking for an animal to kill.
There are many of us who are very much against the killing of wild animals. There is no sport or fun in killing anything. The animals don’t have a chance and many that are only wounded run and hide and die in agony because the “dear sportsmen” couldn’t be bothered to go and find the animal and humanely kill it. I don’t see anything “sporting” about these characters who tote a gun around and shoot at anything that moves. It would indeed be something if the tables could be turned to let the hunted become the hunter—I wonder how many men would want to take their part and be “sport” for the animal concerned!
The whole write-up is in bad taste— there is nothing funny about hunting.
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