An act of negligence—or something worse

October 31 1977


An act of negligence—or something worse

October 31 1977


An act of negligence—or something worse

The insidious aspect of Barbara Amiel’s profile of Charles Templeton (An Act Of Templeton, October 3) is not that it contains numerous inaccuracies nor that it is a

gross misrepresentation of Templeton’s career and motivations, but that it is a snide, slick, superficial putdown of the man. I have been fortunate to know Charles Templeton for several years and 1 would have had great difficulty recognizing him from Amiel’s profile. I wondered if she shouldn’t have included herself in the group of “would-be doers or wishful thinkers in whose spleens Charles Templeton’s success rankles.” The fact is that she has failed to recognize a very complex and sensitive man. So much for rapid journalism.



The article on Charles Templeton by Barbara Amiel was an outstanding piece of writing. It presented a concise and perceptive impression of this most complex and intriguing personality. Templeton is a rare and remarkable man. Amiel, in a very few words, revealed this distinctiveness; and that, it seems to me, is what great journalism is all about.


There are worse ways to go

In One For The End Of The Road (September 19) you associate alcoholism with the elderly and mention 75-year-old Neville Barker as drinking 13 ounces of rye daily. Lonely old people often turn to the comfort of a “nip,” but many of our leading active figures in public and political life go even further. In a recent Front Page Challenge program, an aged reformed alcoholic was asked by Gordon Sinclair “How much did you drink daily when you were at it?” The old man admitted to drinking a 26ounce bottle a day; Sinclair quickly rejoined, “That’s not much.” Hearing this, Barker’s “mickey-a-day” looks like a simple solution as a solace to creeping old age.


I’m 77 years old and I’ve never needed an alcoholic drink or a tranquilizer in my life. But I want to strike a blow' for the many old people who are not so fortunate. I felt that the author of One For The End Of The Road didn’t know much about aging. In fact the only one in the article who knew what he was talking about was Neville

Barker who said, “It’s no goddamn picnic being old.”

I was teaching school at 65, so I do not consider anyone under that age really old. But now I can tell you that the Pollyanna approach by do-gooders, including doctors, does very little for old people. They aren’t around for much of the deadly boredom, frustration and, worst of all, sleeplessness. These presumably well-meaning persons advocate throwing away most of the aids that help these conditions—even though they have no personal experience with being old. Common sense should tell them that the only possible solution is the kindly administration of drugs, including alcohol. The worst I can wish for the author and Doctors Comfort and Morrant is that they live to be 90. Every year I would ask St. Peter to let me come back for a week or two and watch their painful, drugless existence. That would be heaven for me.


If straights can take it, why not gays?

My only difference of opinion with Sandra Martin’s television critique, How Vast Can A Wasteland GeC. (October 3), lies in the new sitcom Soap. Granted it’s not a-laff-aminute, but neither is it “sexy and trashy,” as Martin states. It is not urging us to laugh at homosexuality and impotence, but rather to abandon our stuffy attitudes and confront so-called forbidden subjects. If we can laugh at homosexuality, perhaps we can stop being so tediously serious about it and begin to view it rationally. Heterosexual sex has been the inspiration of so many jokes and skits and sitcoms, so why not homosexual sex?


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On Her Majesty’s Service

Thank you for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee article by David Cobb (October 3). I’m afraid there’s one error in reference to the Monarchist League of Canada. As a founding member I must point out there was not a Canadian founder as such; John Aimers was appointed by the Chancellor in London. The importance of this is that a Canadian did not conceive the league. Rather, the London Office in England promoted the idea and they are the real founders. The league today is a useless political group which no longer knows the role it was founded to fulfill. It is regrettable that it became a wing of one of the federal political parties and lost its independence.


Thank you for a much needed write-up about our Queen. I wondered, with your publishing the foolish Fotheringham comments, whether you had forgotten to defend her. One thing you might have mentioned, in this year of separation, is that our Queen does represent a unifier. Our head of state, through her bilingualism with Norman ancestry, presents a ruler whose roots come from the same place the original Quebeckers came from.


I think that the wild statements in Stephen Collier’s letter on the Queen (September 5) should not go unopposed. No wonder we have trouble over unity when Canadians of so many backgrounds show so little interest in learning Canadian history. Canada was not founded by Britain but by the French and for 150 years not a word of English was heard. English Canada was primarily settled by Americans, not the British. They called themselves American Loyalists and they were just as American as those that remained behind. Many of them were German and settled in such places as Kitchener, Markham and Pioneer Village, Toronto. Others were Scots who settled in Cape Breton. Only when the country was already open did the English come.

The British monarchy is the apex of a pyramid of privilege developed in England, like the keystone of an arch. American conditions made such a pyramid impossible and a monarchy is indeed an anachronism here. With but a third of Canadians of British stock, the monarchy is a force for division, not for unity.


Maturity should bo made of sterner stuff

I find some of your recent contributors to The Referendum Debate a little hard to take. First of all, if Quebec wishes to withdraw from Confederation, there isn’t a damn thing the rest of Canada can do about it. The BNA Act, like every other invention of the human mind, is subject to repeal, amendment, or even outright disassociation. The fact that Queen Victoria signed it does not make it an immutable act

of God and those who wave the BNA Act in the face of René Lévesque and tell him what he can and cannot do deserve far less generous responses than they are getting. Also, when will English Canada get through its head that getting anglophones to learn French is not the point? Learning French was considered a worthwhile enterprise by many people 30, 50 or even 100 years ago and, as far as I know, it still is. But that’s not what Quebec wants. Most Quebeckers probably couldn’t care less whether anybody learns French out here in Anglo-land; all they want is to be left alone to work out their own destiny.


Peter Desbarats’ column, What Will A Referendum Mean? (October 3) was useful in its reference to the creative tension that exists between the English and the French in Canada. However, I cannot agree with his confident assertion that Canada is now an independent and a mature political entity, much as I would like to believe it. How can it be when, among other things, its Constitution lies frozen in a foreign country, its citizens continue to cling tenaciously to the skirts of a foreign queen (yes, I am afraid that Allan Fotheringham is not alone in his subersive views), many if not most of its major industries are controlled by U.S. corporations, and many of its citi-

zens apparently see themselves as no better than second-rate Americans. What all this adds up to in my mind is not independence, but dependence, not psychological maturity, but adolescence, and if we can’t see this picture of ourselves, then I am sure that the separatists can.


An ounce of prevention...

One For The End Of The Road (September 19), on alcohol and drug abuse among the elderly, treats the problem with commendable compassion and stresses the importance of recognition and remedial measures which are needed to relieve it. But it misses the most important point of all— the time to deal with the problem is before it begins. If we are to get anywhere with it, we have got to get over the habit of easing our consciences with gestures of compassion and sympathy and get down to a sincere and wholehearted effort to stop the rot at the very beginning.


As long as physicians and social workers continue to concentrate on getting elderly alcoholics to kick the habit, they will be ignoring the true problem. By not helping the aged members of our society to revive their feelings of usefulness and of being loved, we force them to seek outlets, whether that is shuffleboard, checkers, drinking, pill-popping or suicide. Furthermore, by merely getting a person to stop drinking, we again force him to seek comfort elsewhere and elsewhere may well be even more distressing to our collective guilty conscience.


Plain talkin’, plain singin’

The Long Good-Bye (September 5) on Elvis Presley failed to zero in on the phenomenon of Presley’s rise to fame. When he died many people were reminded of how in America a poor person can still make good by relating to other poor people. The only condition for this is that the communication has to be honest or, as they say in country music terms, “spoken from the heart.” Presley’s feeling for the blues reminds me of something Huey Long, the Louisiana governor who was assassinated by a doctor, is reported to have said during a campaign early in his political career. His opponent, a white-haired entrepreneur, claimed he knew poverty intimately since he had to walk to school “as a little child in bare feet.” “Hell, that’s nothing, ” the Kingfish retorted, “I was born in bare feet!”


A day’s work for a day’s pay

As a participant from a Phase One project of Katimavik, I want to respond to Wasted On The Young (September 19). The only member of Katimavik you spoke to was a group leader who had been fired and ob-

viously his opinion of the program would not be complimentary. My biggest complaint is that you called us cheap labor, why not paid unemployment? The work at my project has been minimal so far and a dollar a day is more than enough spending money in an isolated place. If you write about us again, talk to the important people—not Barney Danson who hasn’t been to our training camp or project. Talk to us—the participants.


After reading your article on Katimavik, I’m a little confused on where the general consensus lies. When someone wants to raise the minimum wage, private enterprise screams and people yap about the young today expecting too much. Enter Barney Danson. He starts a program, the essence of which is to provide a person with a chance to travel and develop mind, body and a healthy set of ideals, displacing the tangible reward as the motive of one’s efforts. Hot on his heels however are a deleted expletive bunch of neoMcCarthyites among Conservative MPS.


The start of something big

It is interesting to find Mark Nichols perpetuating the fallacy that Bondi, Gold, and Hoyle enunciated the theory of the continuous creation of matter, and of the steady state universe, in 1948 (In The Beginning, August 22). The theory was first proposed by Reginald O. Kapp of the University of London under the name “Hypothesis Of Symmetrical Impermanence” in his book Science Versus Materialism and was refined, elaborated and detailed in a later book, Towards A Unified Cosmology. Since recent work on the validity of the observational evidence in favor of the Big Bang theory—at the Massachusetts Institute of

Technology and elsewhere—makes that theory very questionable, it is unfortunate that the originators of alternative theories are not given their due.


All the dirt that’s fit to print

To what depths of depravity have our peoples been considered to have sunk, when our national newsmagazine can think of no subject more newsworthy for their Interview section than the demoralizing subject of sex for the sake of sex. Do not misinterpret my reaction to the publication of your interview with Dr. Benjamin Schlesinger (September 19), because a dis-

cussion of the miracle of reproduction in the light of creation with a devout Christian or Jewish medical-scientist could enlighten your readers instead of giving the impression that one’s animalist tendencies are of paramount importance in life.


A man who knows whereof he writes

If Marilyn Powell had bothered to research John Le Carré for her review of The Honourable Schoolboy (September 19), she would have discovered that of all the many writers working in this genre, Le Carré is probably the only one with any real experience. He knows the world of

which he writes, and whether Powell approves or not his portrayal is accurate. At the same time, Powell would have done well to have read the other books in the same series. She would then have realized perhaps that it is a series; the reader is exposed to the gradual unfolding of George Smiley’s character against a background of the world as it is—not as Powell would like it to be. In this, Le Carré follows a very definite pattern. It was done in Anthony Burgess’ Malayan trilogy; it was done by Proust and by Shakespeare. What Le Carré has done is to take the spy story and turn it into legitimate fiction. Bearing in mind the limitations of that genre, he is

surely to be more congratulated than reviled.


The not-so-wild ones

The attitudes of the writers of Born-ToRaise-Hell Inc. (August 22) is immediately apparent by their phraseology in describing bikers as “punks,” and by referring to motorcycle clubs as “gangs.” To illustrate the distinction, there is no such thing as the Satan’s Choice motorcycle gang, it is the Satan’s Choice Motorcycle Club. In any club, members constitute a fraternal brotherhood of like-minded and free-spir-

ited individuals who group together to build and ride their bikes, to share a spirit of camaraderie, enjoy good times, and ride free with the wind in their faces. They do not take it upon themselves to terrorize little old ladies, rape young women or harass the public. All through the years, the only thing that club members have asked of society is that they be left alone, and for an end to the discrimination and harassment they suffer. City, provincial and federal governments have united in a conspiracy to eliminate motorcycle clubs from existence. They have stereotyped bikers in the eye of the public as social misfits, have harassed the clubs, denied them their rights and now jail the leaders.

The article served no purpose other than to attempt to discredit and sully the characters of numerous individuals. It is most unfortunate that John Schenk and John Kessel allowed themselves to be used as dupes in abetting the police campaign of disseminating false and inflammatory propaganda. In a way, I can understand what’s going on. By focusing on the bikers, officials are able to produce convenient scapegoats. Bikers project a high visibility profile and as long as law enforcement agencies concentrate on them, the public is satisfied and deceived into believing that war is being waged against organized crime.


Toward a post-Vatican society

I would like to comment on a couple of points in A Loss Of Faith (September 5). The Humanae Vitae article is only one tragic example of the Church contradicting her own theology. As a seminarian and a priest I spent close to 15 years trying to reconcile the contradiction in the Church’s teaching concerning religious freedom and her practice through dogma, law and authority (encyclicals). There is no doubt where the theologians—the Fathers, Augustine, Aquinas through Newman— stand on the question; man is a religious animal by nature, the Church’s theologians agree and there is no doubt. But her ecclesiastics, because of their concern for image, money and power, insist upon imposing supernature and speaking to man as though he were unaware of his own basic religious needs. At base, the mandarins realize that to retain power and control you must hold sway over conscience. How? Through canon law, dogma and authority. Always give lip service to the principles: for example, religious freedom is a natural right, praise and mystify the great theologians who talk about such things and do as your power and position dictates. Keep the goodwill of the faithful by reliance on ignorance and faith when blatant hypocrisy becomes evident. Since the Church in her role as teacher, dogmatist and legalist has lost faith in the simplicity and common sense of Sacred Scripture, theologians and Christians have followed their own common sense religious instincts naturally. If

this puts them outside the Church in anything but an ill-motivated legal sense which is unenforceable in the practical order, they can still go to the Sacraments if their conscience is attuned.

What I see evolving is a secular spirituality based on Sacred Scripture, man’s need as a religious animal, and plain common sense. If the mandarins want to bicker and fulminate over their images of power, delusions of personal grandeur and status, that is their pathetic condition. Man will go on in his own secular way spiritually, because it is his nature. We lived through this four centuries ago with the Reformation and experienced no decline in religious practice. The Bishops will discover they have no official claim to control over religion and spirituality among a laity more broadly literate than they are; nor do they have a special place in a Church grounded in nature and spirit.


Readers of A Loss Of Faith were in for a depressing view of the Catholic Church scene. Somehow Hubert de Santana missed the good news! His account touched the Charismatic Renewal Meeting in Montreal with ridicule. As one who attended all sessions at the Olympic Stade, I felt it was far from ridiculous. Rather, it was an inspiring and a deeply moving experience. He makes sport of the people

“rolling their eyes in a fine frenzy...” I saw no rolling eyes but this good news is: don’t be sad, be happy, let it show, dance, sing, enjoy it! After all, 45,000 people along with eight bishops and 900 priests were having a good time!

I really had to laugh at de Santana’s “while cripples leapt from wheelchairs and proclaimed themselves miraculously cured.” Crawled would have been a better description because it was with the greatest difficulty that some made their way to the podium with help and frequent rests.


It’s the results that count

The Bumper Crop (September 19) mentions that Why Shoot The Teacher, Who Has Seen The Wind, Rituals and Outrageous represent a breakthrough to “unselfconscious growth” for the Canadian feature film industry. All these films came into existence because the Canadian Film Development Corporation invested money in them—a piece of information that your critic felt, and I agree, was irrelevant to their quality. Too many Canadian feature films are reviewed in terms of whether or not the taxpayers should have put money into them.