July 9 1979


July 9 1979


God cure the Queen

I enjoyed it so much that brief segments of Allan Fotheringham’s column The Two Female Profiles We Contemplate Have Nothing to Do with Haircuts or Teeth (June 11) warranted re-reading. That’s a first! And, since even in 1979 and even in Canada, chauvinistic environments do exist, it is good to have clarified what crippled the United Kingdom.


The brain chains

This being the International Year of the § Child made What Johnny Can't Read S (June 11) doubly disheartening. At a time when much is made of children’s rights, no attention seems to be given to 2 a very fundamental children’s right: the freedom of intellectual discovery. Parents have a definite right to some control over what their children read in school, but I feel that they have no right to impose their prejudices on a child’s mental growth. At some point in life a young person will be confronted with ideas different from those he was brought up with. Surely it is better to teach him to deal rationally with such things. People have a right to teach their children what they believe is good and true, but as children grow they have an equal right to explore and choose from alternate beliefs. Lately there are a number of citizens’ groups trying to impose their values on the rest of society. Clearly, this is dangerous. Religious fundamentalists are entitled to believe in creation rather than evolution but they are not entitled to force that belief on anyone else. Faith in one’s beliefs is a fine thing, but often that same faith can lead to intolerance of anyone else’s.

Sadly, people are not always wary of this. The purpose of education is to dispel ignorance and prejudice, not to foster them. If schools are to do their job, they should be independent of bigots like Norma Gabler. Ignorance, after all, is a form of deprivation, too. To put shackles on a child’s mind is as much a violation of children’s rights as malnutrition or physical abuse—and equally harmful.


Thumbs up!

I was fascinated by the photo of Lionel Tiger which accompanied the box The Tiger's Tale ... (May 28). The biology of Tiger poses no mystery to students of the ancient art of chiromancy (palmistry). The top joint of Tiger’s thumb

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bends back at more than 90 degrees, a sure sign of a happy, adaptable, optimistic nature. Extravagance and lack of serious persistence are associated traits, as well as other symptoms of a relaxed, non-uptight personality. Stiffthumbed readers may console themselves with the knowledge that the real work of society is done by people of their ilk. All the supple-thumbed people usually achieve is a lot of fun and laughter.


In Happy Days Are Here Again (May 28) I found it frightening when I read Lionel Tiger’s statement: “Perhaps the promises of Marx, Mohammed, Jefferson and Jesus are engraved not on stone but in chemistry,” in reference to the substance beta-endorphin. Becoming enthusiastic about the possibilities of obtaining happiness through chemistry is a disgusting step into the Brave New World. It appears that Mr. Tiger looks forward to a world where happiness can safely be obtained by popping a pill. The prospect that this idea could win converts through Tiger’s books is indeed cause for pessimism.


Act of the heart

I do not consider the article “We Had to Eat Him and We Did ” (June 11) responsible journalism. To resort to cannibalism must be one of the most heartrending decisions a human being would ever have to make. Why must the agony of survivors be announced for the entire world to share or condemn?


The new pornography

I am offended by your presentation of Joan Armatrading (People, June 11) as a sneaker-wearing, man-hating feminist. Part of the tragedy of figures in public life is their vulnerability to being taken lightly. A further tragedy is the proliferation of the kind of journalism wherein (to quote Woody Allen) gossip becomes the new pornography. I suggest that you listen, with eyes and mouth shut, to Armatrading’s lyrics, music and voice, and reserve comments to the artistic merit of the performer, rather than dwelling on the transitoriness of sneakers and onstage kisses.


Pot out of luck

A university student these days faces a hydra of frustrations and the irksome comparison the media insist on making between this generation of students and our flower-power predecessors. By comparing one decade of students reacting under specific circumstances to another generation of students with different problems, a total gap of misunderstanding has opened up. First, the public was convinced that the university students of the ’70s wallowed apathetically in a swamp of torpidity. Now, your article The Class of '79 (June 11) suggests that we are not really apathetic but serious, frightened and rightwing. When it comes down to the bottom line, university students know implicitly that there is no viable way to play it safe and collect the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow if they choose the right program. Those students picking up programs like stocks in an attempt to graduate from the most commercially accessible program offered at their university are not unaware of the slim chances they have of getting a job because they have a degree. The worst thing any nation can do is squander the energies and potential of its youth.


I would like to compliment Jane O’Hara on her perceptive, if somewhat disconcerting, analysis of the graduating class of ’79. The juxtaposition of the idealistic militancy of the 1960s and the cautious self-concern of the late 1970s accurately and sadly reveals that the dreamers of one generation have given way to the pragmatists of another. It is clear that today’s students have a greater need to look more closely into their immediate economic future, but it is not at all clear why this must be done at the cost of political and social awareness. Today’s students, being fully aware of the situa-

tion in which they find themselves, should attempt to shape their education in such a way as to guarantee their social and political as well as their economic future. That opportunity never presented itself to those of us who found themselves caught right in the middle of the transition from the New Left to the New Right. Perhaps that sleeper generation of students to which I belonged never carried the torch of idealism as high as our older brothers and sisters, but neither did we allow it to be extinguished totally.


One pilgrim’s progress

Does anyone else get tired of Allan Fotheringham’s snide remarks? His recent comments on Ottawa in Has 2U Sussex Been Checked for Termites and Things That Go Bump in the Night? (June 18) made me seethe. I just returned from that clean, clean city and was impressed with its beauty and the kindness of its residents. Every day of my visit a stranger put himself or herself out for me—unbelievable. I fell in love with Ottawa and very much resent Fotheringham’s column.


The gropes of academe

As women’s commissioner at the University of Toronto, I would like to correct some of the misrepresentations made by Barbara Amiel in her column Consensual or Coercive? A Simple Dictionary Cure for the S-H Epidemic (June 4). Ten per cent of all respondents to our survey have been harassed, not 10 per cent of all female graduate students. The figures for this group are much higher. That only two of these students have taken their case to the ombudsman only indicates that sexual harassment has not been publicized enough. Many women on campus are not aware of the mechanisms available to them in order to deal with this problem. Furthermore, Amiel has missed the real issue entirely. It is not the numbers of percentages of women who have experienced harassment that are important, but that it occurs at all. No one should be placed in the situation of being asked to bargain with their sexuality for grades. That a professor should use his/her position to influence a woman’s academic standing is a situation that should not be tolerated.