Too much of a bad thing

January 12 1981

Too much of a bad thing

January 12 1981

Too much of a bad thing


Although your article The Dream of a Painless Threshold (Medicine, Dec. 1) is generally very good, I must take strong exception to the author’s liberal use of the word “terminal” in talking about sick people, and especially how he equates cancer with pain, dying and death. In my opinion, there is no such thing as a terminal illness or a terminal patient. Life itself is the one thing that is terminal. “Terminal” implies a factual statement, whereas it is no more than a symbol used to represent a highly inferential concept. To those who are easily influenced, a word such as terminal used by a professional becomes more dangerous than the illness itself. People often suffer needlessly or even die to live up to powerful expectations. Negative attitudes and words can, and do, kill. Let us terminate “terminal” as a prognosis and start using more positive, healing, life-promoting images. —JOHN D. EVANS,

Thunder Bay, Ont.

Toronto the torpid

Allan Fotheringham’s tongue-in-cheek column An All-Day Sucker Signals the Sixties' Last Licks (Nov. 24) both amused and saddened me. I have long been an admirer of John Sewell, as I am of anyone who has the inner fortitude to stand and be counted. However, as with other remnants of the ’60s, I wonder why Sewell didn’t learn to express his views more softly, in order to persuade the masses he was right. Instead, his unrepentant abrasiveness in the end worked against him. I find it sad that another radical voice has bitten the dust, especially in view of the fact that people generally tend to be turning to conservatism. —BARBARA FOX,

Milton, Ont.

As a former Toronto municipal office clerk who worked in the office of the deposed mayor, John Sewell, I enjoyed Allan Fotheringham’s insight. Toronto can now return to its former theme: the good, the bland and the ulcerous. Now that the breath of fresh air has been replaced with a “blue” (conservative) yawn, I realize I moved out in the nick of time. — ANDYLESK,


Letters are edited and may be condensed. Writers should supply their full name and address, and mail correspondence to: Letters to the Editor, Maclean’s magazine, 181 University Ave., Toronto, Ontario, M5W1A7.

No bad blood

Your article A Battle of Flash and Blood (Health, Nov. 10) implied that The Canadian Red Cross Society has wandered from relieving suffering and promoting health to self-aggrandizement and growth. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Red Cross’s main concern is to supply Canadians with high-quality blood and blood products at the lowest possible price. In recent years we have been forced to buy specialized products outside Canada. Yes, we would like our own blood-processing or fractionation plant, and we do have a 32month contract with a Californian company to process our blood plasma. In the interests of the Canadian public we felt that the Canadian laboratory, Connaught, should first prove its ability to produce AHF before giving them a contract. The Red Cross has been involved in first aid for many years. Our expansion will ensure that more Canadians know first aid and how to prevent unnecessary deaths. In lifeguarding, we have an amiable working relationship with the Royal Life Saving Society and we intend to maintain it. Our aim in recent years has been to improve our services and meet the needs of the public. Hopefully time will show the true, altruism of our actions.

—H. WAYNE HANNA, National Director of Programs, The Canadian Red Cross Society, Toronto

The WASP that wasn’t

Allan Fotheringham’s column (It Hasn't Been Called The Establishment for Nothing, Oct. 20) on the Canadian Establishment showed that he is hopelessly out of date and doesn’t know what he is talking about. He says that J.A.

( Bud ) McDougald wouldn’t accept Paul Desmarais on the board of Argus because he wasn’t a WASP. That could hardly be the reason as neither was McDougald. While McDougald was undeniably white, he was neither AngloSaxon nor Protestant, being a purebred Scot and Roman Catholic.

—JOHN M. GODFREY, The Senate of Canada, Ottawa

A wave of misrepresentation

I have been grossly misrepresented by your columnist, Barbara Amiel (Freedom Is Not a One-Way Street, Dec. 8). Ms. Amiel makes it appear that I’m against the operation of the judicial system. This is so far from the truth that it’s ludicrous. Either she wasn’t present at the Ian Adams benefit at which I spoke, or her biased presentation is deliberate and malicious. What I in fact said was that the first people to go in any totalitarian take-over are writers, followed by lawyers, judges and trade union leaders. In other words, if a government can control free speech, fair trial and workers’ bargaining, it can control almost everything else. My views on this matter are on record in several places, including The Canadian Forum, the Amnesty International Bulletin and the November issue of Books in Canada. Maybe Ms. Amiel thinks “free speech” means that anyone even remotely associated with a person or cause she dislikes deserves to be made to look as foolish as she can make her, even if the process requires misrepresentation by omission. My own position seems to me fairly simple and easily grasped; I do not think it would be perceived as “hysterical” except by someone whose, ahem, “mind-set” resembles a permanent wave.

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In her article on Ian Adams, Barbara Amiel misrepresents the concerns of The Writers’ Union of Canada and other writing and publishing organizations and she neglects to discuss key and unusual issues in the Bennett-Adams case. The Ian Adams Defence Committee did not suggest that individuals should be denied the right to sue for libel. Objections were to the threat to investigative writing presented by the court’s demand of Adams to reveal sources. Unfortunately, Ms. Amiel’s article does not grapple with the question of adequate protection for journalists and novelists to present information and issues to the public. This protection, germane to our modern concept of democracy, is cursorily dismissed. Ms. Amiel stated “freedom is not a one-way street . . . simply to protect and help writers. It also protects and helps citizens—even ex-RCMP officers.” What she neglects to inform is that in the Bennett-Adams case, freedom was a oneway street. Bennett was protected from revealing information to the court by the Official Secrets Act, while Adams was afforded no similar protection.

—HAROLD HORWOOD, Chairman, The Writers' Union of Canada, Toronto

A man with no shame

I think that Allan Fotheringham has done a service in highlighting the dangerous character of Henry Kissinger (.Henry's Hushed Lessons in Escaping the Glue Pot, Nov. 3). The answer, I believe, to Fotheringham’s rhetorical question as to how Kissinger escaped the repercussions of Watergate is that, among other capabilities, the man can lie without the slightest blush of shame. —BEATRICE MCCREARY,


A source of inspiration

Carroll Allen’s protest to Bill C-32 as expressed in her article Life Is Not a Bed of Patents (Podium, Nov. 17) was excellent. It inspired me to clip it out and write to Mr. Whelan and my member of Parliament. I hope that it inspired others similarly. Congratulations on a very good piece of writing.


The tears of manhood

In your article The War of the Worlds (Canada, Nov. 24), Randy Smith was concerned about students who cried when they heard the announcement that the U.S. had declared war on Iran. I cried the day Canada went to war in September of 1939. It didn’t bother me. Just a natural emotion. After five years overseas and at war’s end, I cried again. Tell the students not to worry.