The McGill Daily, Thursday, November 12, 2009
Majesté go home Sovereigntists disrupt Prince Charles’s state visit Anthony Lecossois The McGill Daily/Le Dêlit
rince Charles’s visit to Montreal Tuesday was met with anger by Quebec sovereignty activists, who said they had no intention of letting “monarchist passéisme [traditionalism] invade [Montreal] with impunity.” By 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, several hundred protesters had assembled on the sidewalk across from the Black Watch armoury, where the royal couple was expected. Under Quebec, Acadian, and even French flags, sovereignty activists chanted slogans denouncing the monarchy, Ottawa, and the Quebec premier, Jean Charest. The guests entered the armoury of Montreal’s oldest Scottish regiment, wearing poppies on their lapels. Many of the visitors seemed confused by the protest, but chose not to comment. Michel Boire, a Black Watch veteran who served for 43 years, was the master of ceremonies and conciliator for the evening. “Our soldiers in Afghanistan are fighting to preserve these protesters’ liberty of expression. They’re my fellow citizens and I’m happy they can express their opinions. That’s democracy,” Boire said. Asked about the appropriateness of a foreign prince being welcomed like a military leader, Boire pointed out that Charles is the Canadian regiment’s colonel-in-chief. “Don’t forget that his mother is our head of state,” he added.
On the other side of the street, spirits were heated. Some wanted to pick a fight. Word spread quickly that, “at 5 p.m., we’re crossing.” Three to four hundred protestors eventually moved as a block to take Bleury, which was soon closed to traffic. The prince was expected shortly after 5 p.m., but the mass of protesters blocked his arrival. When an officer of the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal tried to address the crowd, the crowd’s boos stifled his voice. Protestors threw eggs and other projectiles forcing the officer to take refuge inside the armoury. It soon became clear that the anti-riot squad were coming. The protesters, more determined than before to demand “democracy for Quebec,” energetically proclaimed, “le Québec, un pays.” Despite the arrival of the antiriot squad, the protesters sat down in the middle of the street. One of the leaders told the press, “We’ve folded too much already; we’ll move no more!” After the police had arrested three people, the crowd was pushed back 200 metres to permit Prince Charles’s arrival, through a concealed door, 45 minutes late. When asked about their demands, the protesters first evoked their “disgust for a foreign, imperialist monarchy that has nothing to do in this country.” Responding to the idea that the royal couple are only symbolic, Patrick Bourgeois, president of the Réseau de resistance du Québec (RRQ) and senior editor at the sov-
Miranda Whist/ The McGill Daily
Protesters accused the monarchy of supporting a cultural genocide against Quebeckers. ereigntist paper Le Québécois, said, megaphone in hand, “In national liberation struggles, symbols are fundamental.” One of those symbols, according to protesters, is the 1775 deportation of 12,500 Acadians by the British government, which left between 7,500 and 9,000 Acadians dead. This event is called “le Grand Dérangement” by Acadians. “Those people have blood on their hands,” said Michelle, a woman in her sixties, who, like others, was
incensed by the monarchy’s refusal to apologize. Suzanne Morton, a specialist in Canadian history at McGill, confirmed that even if they’re very difficult to quantify, these figures correspond to those generally agreed upon by historians. She pointed out, however, that a 2003 royal proclamation recognized the Crown’s errors. The other most commonly heard grievance Tuesday was the “theft of the 1995 referendum.” Allegations
of fraud surrounded the vote, but Morton said, “Investigations took place. The debate is over.” Some protests commented that the event was a success because it allowed the RRQ and other sovereigntist groups to measure the level of mobilization. They felt this will be important as the battle against Law 104, on the presence of English in Quebec, begins to intensify. —translated from French by William M. Burton
Gender-neutral IDs come to McGill Union for Gender Empowerment urges administration to follow suit Eric Andrew-Gee News Writer
he McGill branch of the Solidarity ID Project is trying to catch up with various Concordia-based cooperatives in issuing self-identifying Solidarity IDs. Funded by the Union for Gender Empowerment (UGE), McGill students Julia Wilk and Lydia Ould Brahim have issued the IDs to a hundred students since September. The McGill branch of the project has had a hard time getting off the ground. Of the four founding members of the ID project at the UGE, only two are still working on it. Wilk told The Daily that both of them are often too busy with other volunteering work to make the IDs. Wilk urged anyone interested in the project to volunteer, or at least to get an ID themselves. “If more people were really
involved we could go a lot further with the project,” she said. A photograph is placed next to essential personal information on the Solidarity ID, including name, address, birth date, and choice of gender – though information is optinional in each category. Many people include names other than their legal names, and occasionally “nonnormative” gender designations, like “Gender Queer,” or simply gender classifications different than their sex at birth. The project is thriving, driven by the food cooperative Frigo Vert at Concordia. In September 2008, the co-op decided to design a new membership card and, after coordinating with Concordia’s 2110 Centre for Gender Advocacy, the Solidarity ID Project began. Frigo Vert’s web site cites the imposition of “patriarchy and white supremacy” on groups like immigrants, indigenous, or transgen-
dered people as the reason for creating an alternative ID. According to Gab Stensson, a staff member of Frigo Vert, the co-op has issued at least 2,000 Solidarity IDs over the past year. All Frigo Vert members are issued a Solidarity ID. There is no club or organization at McGill that requires its members to have a Solidarity ID. “It’s been really helpful having a membership base,” said Stensson. Telyn Kusalik, one of the founding members of the Solidarity Project at McGill, pointed out that in most Canadian provinces it is impossible to get a government-issued photo ID that does not include a male/female gender signifier. Another issue Kusalik saw being addressed by the Solidarity IDs is McGill’s policy of using students’ legal names, and not their chosen names, for everything from dissertations to McGill IDs.
Kusalik acknowledged that McGill’s policy from 2005-2006 shifted to include students’ names of common usage on class lists, alongside their legal names. The problem with the class list policy, Kusalik said, is that “students whose legal name is of a gender other than the gender they appear to be are still ‘outed’ as trans to their teachers, and possibly subject to discrimination by those teachers.” Deputy Provost (Student Life & Learning) Morton Mendelson said of the class list issue, “This is the first time I’ve heard that the issue had been brought up again.” “We have certain legal obligations toward the government in terms of reporting gender,” added Mendelson. “We are obliged to indicate their sex, and the options are male and female.” In greater Quebec, citizens have to prove that they have lived under a certain name for five years before
being able to legally change it. “I have noticed, in my activism, that it’s often easier to create an alternative to the system than it is to change it,” said Kusalik. “And that’s exactly what the Solidarity ID project is: an alternative to the system of photo IDs that both McGill and the provincial and federal governments are part of.” Members of Frigo Vert met last year with Concoridia Dean of Students Elizabeth Morey about including the names students commonly use, rather than their legal names, on their student IDs. Morey seemed sympathetic to the initiative, according to Stensson. At McGill, when asked whether the administration would consider dropping given names in favour of names of common usage, Registrar Kathleen Massey said that that it was “an interesting request.” She added that she “would be open to exploring the idea.”
The McGill Daily, Thursday, November 12, 2009
Historian remembers the fall of the Wall Speaker addresses memories of both East and West Berlin 20 years after Rana Encol News Writer
tefan Wolle, an East German historian and the current scientific director of the German Democratic Republic Museum in Berlin, spoke at Montreal’s Goethe Institute this Monday in commemoration of the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. His presentation broached the subject of East and West German relations in what was mainly a narrative meditation on the chronology and symbolism of November 4, 1989. Wolle was actively involved in the dissolution of the East German Ministry of State Security, commonly known as Stasi, in 1990-91. On the afternoon of the fall however, Wolle was on his way to the cinema, only to find that the Australian film Crocodile Dundee had been replaced by an unprecedented Q&A session with Communist Party members in open dialogue with citizens.
By 11 p.m., all inner city checkpoints were opened, allowing Berliners to stream through the gates. Next came what Wolle called the “great liquidation” – the flow of Western products into the Eastern market, capsizing small businesses. Although two worlds were reunified, memories of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) remain multivalent. “When people speak with each other, the impression arises that they lived in different worlds. Some remember records for five pennies, the good kindergartens, and the nice rugged evenings in the workers’ collectives. Others point out the deaths on the Wall, the political verdicts, and the corruption of the political leaders,” said Wolle. Wolle eased into his native German as he took questions from the audience. The first question addressed the wish shared by many in East Germany who would rather have seen socialism amended than hurtle into capitalism. “I myself was one those enthusi-
asts of the Prague Spring model of 1968 – of the synthesis of socialism and freedom – and bade farewell to these ideas as just an illusion. At that point, socialism was overrun by the sheer need to exceed quickly to freedom,” Wolle said. He added that the economic and personal aftermath has been difficult for those in the former GDR. In the nineties, many felt that the reunification was not liberation but rather a devaluation of their own biography and a loss of their professional position in life. Although business and employment has increased, some still feel cheated or “torn from the past.” Katy Geissler, a German teacher who is involved with the Goethe Institute in Montreal, was an 18-year-old living in Leipzig, East Germany when the Wall fell. “[Wolle] was always looking for both sides – he was truly between two chairs. You cannot say that everything is better or not better. Many things were changed for the better, but many things were also
lost,” Geissler said. Jerzy Adamuszek, a Polish writer who was living in West Berlin, recalled the difficulty of crossing into East Berlin. At times he was told to undress at the checkpoints, or would have flyers removed from his vehicle by guards. Adamuszek was also one of a small contingent of audience members who questioned why Wolle placed so much emphasis on the role of the Berlin Wall, and were discontent with how the narrative of the Wall has come to eclipse the wider history of Eastern Europe, and other independence movements. “[Wolle] didn’t mention Jean Paul II, Reagan, or Polish Solidarity. If you want to talk about the fall of the Wall, you have to talk about historical background,” Adamuszek said. Wolle agreed that the collapse of the Wall should not overshadow other events.“The whole process wouldn’t have been possible without countries like Czechoslovakia
and Poland and Hungary. There are always some clever people who say it was all done from the outside, but wouldn’t have been possible without people starting revolution from the inside,” Wolle said, especially in reference to questions about the role of Mikhail Gorbachev in German reunification. Raymond St-Pierre, a RadioCanada journalist who was present on the day of the fall moderated the discussion. He commented on how the media has shaped the retelling of the day. “There were tens of thousands of stories in those streets. You could hand the microphone to anybody – and it was a positive story,” St-Pierre said. “TV likes a good picture – and try to beat that. For us it was a dreamland.” Wolle also acknowledged the irresistibly strong symbol of the Wall. “The media finds it difficult to put things back in perspective, but this is the task of the historian,” he said.
During an emergency situation people would have been unable to exit quickly.” When asked whether students would be compensated for the cost of their locks, Carson said he was sympathetic to student concerns, but stated, “The University is not liable for cutting locks on obvious entrances and exits, but is liable for any accidents that happen due to security negligence.” Orange signs now mark the exits as wheelchair-accessibile, but they will not be a permanent solution, according to Carson. While signs on some campus buildings do tell bicyclists not to park their bikes near entrances, Carson said the University is not responsible for putting signs on sites that are clearly entrances and exits to buildings. “They should find another place to park, even if it is farther away,” added Carson. “When you go to a restaurant you don’t park in the handicapped space or block a fire hydrant because it’s closer to your restaurant, nor does the City need to inform you not to park there. It should be common sense.” Students whose bikes were confiscated can contact McGill Security to retrieve them.
Bikes cut from Wilson Hall by McGill Security
Montrealers protest Turcot expansion Photo by Kim Doucet
Activists and residents of the southwest borough gathered in St. Henri Sunday afternoon to protest an upcoming plan to rebuild the Turcot Interchange. If the City gets its way, 200 buildings may be razed to increase traffic capacity by 18 per cent.
McGill Security cut the locks off ten bicycles and removed them from the railings near the back exits of Wilson Hall last Thursday. The bikes were confiscated without warning, prompting complaints from many students. “I went back to check multiple times throughout the day and when I got back from class the lock had been cut and my bike was on a truck,” said McGill student and Daily staff member Mallory Bey. “We really had no warning.” According to Christopher Carson, Operations Manager for McGill Security, the bikes were removed because of safety risks. “Mobility-impaired people were unable to use the handrails because of the numerous pedals and handlebars sticking out into the walkway,” said Carson. “We also received complaints from people that their shins and jackets were being caught on the bicycles.
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The McGill Daily, Thursday, November 12, 2009
Next steps for Israel and Palestine SPHR-McGill discussion explores options for peace Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights McGill (SPHRMcGill) held a panel discussion Tuesday called Israel & Palestine: The Next Step. The panelists included McGill political science professor Rex Brynen, Concordia political science professor Eric Abitbol, and Professor Jim Joyce of John Abbott College. The three professors discussed a variety of obstacles to peace – including ongoing settlement expansion, Israeli monopolization of West Bank water aquifers, and increasing religious fanaticism on both sides of the conlict. The Daily sat down with Abitbol, who specializes in peace studies and global governance, and Joyce, who is also Amnesty International Canada’s Coordinator for Israel and Palestine, to discuss the way forward for both nations.
Interview with Eric Abtibol, Concordia political science professor McGill Daily: During yesterday’s panel discussion, you mentioned the idea of a conflict ethos existing in Israeli and Palestinian society. What exactly is a conflict ethos in this context? Eric Abitbol: I would define it as an attachment to a particular interpretation of the conflict, and to a sense of victimization. It is a need for a strong sense of self-sufficiency, unity, and emancipation rooted in exclusivity and collective security, and a sense of delegitimization of the other. MD: How can Israelis and Palestinians get past this mentality? EA: By creating relational spaces with one another, in ideology and in practice, that reflect the desire to cultivate cross-boundary relationships, and by constructing, on the level of the imaginaire, a picture of future peace in the region. MD: What are some of the organizations involved in this process, and what is their potential? EA: I am particularly inspired by three of these organizations.... These three, specifically, are Friends of the Earth Middle East, the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, and the Israel-Palestine Centre for Research and Information. These organizations, and others like them, situate their efforts on a trans-boundary level. They contribute to constructing a trans-boundary base of knowledge. They work at a grassroots level, and deal with eco-political sustainability as well as peace education. They engage in a relationship of advocacy and lobbying, and do a great deal of intra-civil society work. They reflect very much the discourse of cultivating a political agenda with the “other” instead of in opposition to the “other,” and as such it can be argued that they are in the process of contributing to the development of a trans-boundary community, incorporating Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians, and others
in the region and worldwide. These organizations are doing some of the grassroots and multi-sectoral work that encompasses slowly building a security community. MD: In what ways can this culture of dialogue enter the mainstream of Israeli and Palestinian civil society and government? EA: There are many obstacles to making this an effective political movement. In a sense, we can begin by imagining how we may dismantle these obstacles.... There is a lack of inclusive regional civil space. Regional and international funders must attempt to build this. Other obstacles include separatist visions of peace, militant terrorist attacks, and continued settlement activities. The issue of leadership in civil society is very important. There are grassroots leaders who are taking risks and trying to facilitate dialogical encounters. We need this leadership to expand to encompass inter-generational work in the spirit of this culture. As well, these transboundary communities need to lobby the government of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas in order to eliminate specific obstacles. The transformation of the attitudes and imagination of a society takes place through risk-taking. Individuals need to recognize their participation in political culture, and take the risks of encountering the other, without simply accepting societal frameworks of how to relate to the other, and do this in places that are both comfortable and uncomfortable. People need to set the table for dialogue, and take place in encounters where the table is set by the other, as well. If we can begin to do this, we can begin to transgress some of the material and ideological objects that prevent a culture of dialogue. This culture has the capacity to influence and shape dominant political relationships. —compiled by Adam Winer
Constance Lahuna for The McGill Daily
Panelists spoke to a packed room in Stewart Bio Tuesday on Middle East politics.
Interview with Jim Joyce, John Abbott College professor and Amnesty International expert McGill Daily: During the SPHR panel discussion you mentioned the possibility of a “shared Jerusalem” and a more dynamic version of a two-state solution. Can you elaborate? Jim Joyce: While Amnesty International as a organization will not express views about what are desirable political outcomes, it will continue to comment about such outcomes inasmuch as they are consistent or not with the human rights agenda. The human rights of one individual cannot be founded on the loss of rights of another individual. In the conflict over the final status of Jerusalem, partisans on both sides make maximum claims to the city, exclusive of the other. Within proposed two-state solutions, there is the assumption of a divided city, perhaps enshrining the green line between West and East Jerusalem. A third – or fourth – proposal would return to the original conception within UN Resolution 181 of a “shared” city, an international city, open to the citizens of both Israel and Palestine. MD: Do you think it is more important to be critical of the injustices committed by Hamas and
the Israeli government, or to push forward with a purely “relational” approach, as recommended by Eric Abitol? JJ: Amnesty International, basing its work on a commitment to international human rights standards, understands that Israelis and Palestinians themselves must define and develop the human rights principles that will provide a just and durable foundation for peace. To account for past human rights violations should be part of the same process. The cycle of violence of the past decades has permitted both sides to justify their next act of violence as a legitimate response to the act of violence of the other side. The Goldstone Report, by calling for both the Government of Israel and the Hamas de facto administration in Gaza to undertake credible, impartial investigations of the possible war crimes committed in Gaza and southern Israel from December 2008 to January 2009, is an important step forward in ending the impunity which has so long fed the cycle of violence. Peace based upon justice would be served, not hindered, by such a process. MD: The panel discussions did not touch on the influence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the wider Middle East region. What impact do you think the currently
stalled negotiations will have on other countries in the area? JJ: The State of Israel is not currently recognized by most countries in the region. Its borders with Lebanon and Syria are not mutually agreed upon. The territorial integrity of a possible Palestinian state is not determined. In the Madrid Process of the early nineties, the rights of Palestinian refugees were part of the discussion as well as the bilateral relations between countries – LebanonIsrael, Syria-Israel, as well as the negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. In all subsequent bilateral Palestinian-Israeli talks, the concerns about Palestinian refugees have been pushed to the side, and no agreement has been reached. Canada undertook within the Madrid Process responsibility for guiding possible outcomes on the refugee issue – and made considerable progress on possible mechanisms. This work was put on the back burner when the Oslo Process became the only game in town. Oh yes, the Israelis and Jordanians did achieve mutual recognition after the Madrid Process. The ongoing “peace process” between Israelis and Palestinians will continue to flounder until it is located in a truly and fully regional context. — compiled by Julia Pyper
The McGill Daily, Thursday, November 12, 2009
Can’t teach an old dog “Sustainability” misses the real issue: capitalism Alex LaCroix
Matt Milne / The McGill Daily
Matthew Milne / The McGill Daily
People have been saying some crazy shit lately. Like vaccines don’t work. That shit’s crazy.
North America has a science problem Unvaccinated people endanger everyone else Jacob Severin The Concordian (CUP)
irst the H1N1 pandemic was going to kill us all, because people didn’t realize the word pandemic refers to geographical spread, not the stuff of science fiction. Now it seems the vaccine is what’s out to get us. “It hasn’t been tested; it has come out too fast; it’s not safe,” the naysayers howl. Forty-eight per cent of Canadians say they won’t get the vaccine. In the U.S., the numbers are even higher: 60 per cent of adults said they are not absolutely certain about getting it, according to a Harvard School of Public Heath poll. An ABC News/ Washington Post poll has 40 per cent of parents saying they don’t want their children to get the vaccine. In Ireland, it’s almost the opposite: 70 per cent of the population is planning to get the shot, according to the country’s national health agency. It’s not like there’s any question vaccines work. How many people do you know who have come down with rabies, rubella, measles, mumps, polio, or smallpox? In the early fifties, there were 50-million cases of smallpox each year. It was completely eradicated in 1979. The new swine flu vaccine isn’t that different from the seasonal flu
vaccine that comes out every year. Drug companies regularly put out more than one flu vaccine each year, some tailored to individual continents, and each specifically designed for certain strains of flu. Flu viruses have a tendency to mutate. Each year the prevalent strains have a slightly different genetic makeup than the bugs that went around the year before. The World Health Organization (WHO) tracks the mutation of these viruses. The WHO then shares these results with vaccine manufacturers so they can tailor the vaccines to the viruses. That’s what happened with this vaccine. So why are people so up in arms? Part of the reason is the addition of an adjuvant, a substance that makes the body more resistant to toxins. The drug manufacturers say this additive helps stimulate the immune system, but critics say that it might be dangerous. In this case, the adjuvant is a mixture of water, fish oil, and vitamin E – the same substances the naturopaths criticizing the vaccine probably already have in their cupboards. But this vaccine fear is part of a larger trend. More and more, vaccines are under fire. Celebrities like former Playboy playmate Jenny McCarthy have been making the talk show rounds claiming that mer-
cury in vaccines causes autism. The only problem with this claim is that it has absolutely no merit – there is less mercury in a vaccine than in a tuna sandwich. Now, I’m not saying there’s no risk: there are very few completely risk-free choices in life. There have been a few cases of contaminated vaccines being released to the public, but these were the result of quality-control failures, not inherent dangers in the vaccines. One thing the anti-vaccine lobby ignores is the concept of herd immunity. The higher percentage of a population to get vaccinated, the less chance a disease has of spreading. Unvaccinated people can also spread disease to people who can’t get vaccinations, like cancer patients whose treatment destroys their natural defences along with their cancer. There certainly are problems with the way pharmaceutical drugs are regulated, manufactured, and sold. Drug companies spend billions to develop expensive “quality of life” drugs, and lobby tirelessly to keep drug prices high. But if there’s one vaccine we don’t need to get worked up about, it’s this one. Jacob Severin is a student at Concordia and writes for the Concordian. This article originally appeared in the Canadian University Press.
oday, most people claiming to stand for sustainability illustrate how we destroy the environment with our small, day-today choices, such as driving rather than taking the bus to work. Far from making the problem any clearer, this myopic view frustrates our efforts to deal rationally with the problem. All the while, at a snail’s pace, people everywhere are awakening from their long slumber, finding the possibility of an ecological meltdown quite worrisome. While we scratch our heads, we continue to ravage the earth; with time the problem only grows worse. Before throwing our hands up in despair we ask: “What can we do?” We’re usually given solutions based on sustainability, including sustainable energy, sustainable housing, or sustainable agriculture. However, two problems directly arise from this “solution.” What does the term sustainability mean in the real world, and can this solution be enough to save the world from catastrophe? There’s something striking about most proposals preaching the gospel of sustainability: the only thing they seek to “sustain” is the current system, the system that is the cause of our dilemma today. In fact, the idea of “sustainable capitalism” is not only a utopian fantasy, but also a contradiction in terms. The words economy and ecology both find their origins in the Greek word oikos, which means a house, housekeeping, or living relations. Ecology is the study of how we interact with our home, the earth. The economy, like the Greek word oikonomia, signifies the rational administration of the home (oikos). Politics and economy are inextricably linked: the economy is in administration of resource allocation, while politics is the administration of relations between people in society. Since humans are all social animals who constantly consume resources, none of us can escape from the grip of political economy. This grip could be more broadly identified as the commons. When some claim they don’t have any responsibility to save the earth,
and therefore won’t do anything, your response should be as follows: “Okay, but only if you choose to do so without using resources. You can start by ending your oxygen consumption if you stop breathing….” Those who do nothing in the face of great peril have no excuse. Our house is being poorly managed: according to the Global Footprint Network, “UN scenarios suggest that if current population and consumption trends continue, by the mid 2030s we will need the equivalent of two Earths to support us. And of course, we only have one.” Rationality would say that sustainability is in the system’s interest. Eventually it will cut off the branch that it sits on, right? However, our economy doesn’t seem to work that way. As an example, consider that almost one-third of all commercially fished species in the coastal regions and open ocean have collapsed and the catch has plummeted by more than 90 per cent since 1950. Researchers for the magazine Science found that if we continue to fish at our current unsustainable rate, the world will probably run out of seafood by 2048. In the name of private profit, you would think that the fishing industry would have already done something drastic. Think again. Human footprints have grown too large for the globe, and we’re crushing everything in our way. Ecological activist Brian Tokar notes, “An international consensus is emerging that reductions in greenhouse gas emissions to the tune of 30-40 per cent are needed in the next decade or so to prevent a slide toward uncontrollable global climate chaos, with reductions on the order of 85-95 per cent required by mid-century.” This isn’t a struggle against the object of liberal ire, like Australian intellectual Clive Hamilton’s example of Texans cranking the air conditioning to enjoy a nice log fire. Lifestyle change is certainly necessary. But the real battle is for the masses to have true democratic control of the commons: let the revolution begin! Alex LaCroix is a U1 History student. Show him you’ve studied Marx, too, at email@example.com.
Errata In the article “Native voices from coast to coast” (Culture, November 5), it was stated that Native men who marry non-Native women are allowed to maintain their Native status, but women who marry nonNative men cannot. In fact, the children of Native men who marry non-Native women are allowed to maintain their Native status, but the children of Native women who marry non-Native men cannot. In the article “CFS should con-
sult its members on important moves” (Commentary, November 5), it was incorrectly stated that “the provincial government has already exhibited a willingness to remove tax-exempt status from students in its recent decision to tax the fellowships and stipends of post-doctoral researchers.” It is in fact the federal government that has exhibited a willingness to remove such status. The Daily regrets the errors.
Nov. 9-13 la Semaine étudiante du journalisme
Student Journalism Week
Intro to video editing 1, 2, and 4 p.m. in the TV McGill office TVMcGill’s editing experts take you from reel to clip in this hands-on session that promises to demystify Final Cut and unleash your inner producer.
We’re electing TWO new editors this semester
Percer dans le monde du journalisme 4 p.m. in ARTS 150 Un chroniqueur à La Presse, la vice-présidente de l’Association des journalistes indépendants du Québec, et un rédacteur au journal Voir vous disent comment percer dans le monde du journalisme. Creative design: the medium is the message 5 p.m. in Shatner B-24 Learn the basics of producing a visually captivating newspaper: indexing, tracking, headlines, fonts, eyeline, and baseline grids, and what all these words mean! Then, get an introduction to the techniques we use when laying out special content.
Illuminating the contemporary manuscript: print illustration today 6 p.m. in Shatner B-24 A chance to discover the creative possibilities that lie within the use of illustrations and info-graphics on a page. We’ll look at diverse works by contemporary illustrators; examine different aesthetic approaches to various subjects; discuss the differences between effective visuals and ones that are lacklustre; and practice techniques. An optional interactive brief on Photoshop and Wacom tablet techniques will follow.
Struggling for media democracy in Montreal 6 p.m. in Leacock 14 A prominent activist and journalist in Montreal will focus on reporting from within progressive social movements and ways to incorporate social justice ethics into coverage of local political struggles.
Approaches in culture writing 6 p.m. in Leacock 15 Learn about the various styles of culture writing – from analytic critical review to long-form investigative pieces, and everything in between – and talk about the anatomy of each. We’ll look at what makes these techniques successful and engaging, and discuss assessing a subject and selecting an appropriate approach.
Opinions are like assholes 7 p.m. in Leacock 15 How to write an effective, well-researched, and logically rigorous comment piece. No experience necessary. Just your big, beautiful brains. Photos in a flash 7 p.m. in Shatner B-24
Send samples and letters of intent
Come and learn how to edit photos to be printed in The Daily. This workshop will cover the basics for choosing effective photos to be published and basic Photoshop techniques.
Putting the rad back in radio 7 p.m. in ARTS 150
along with any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org applications due November 16 candidate run-down November 23 elections November 24
Learn how to get involved with CKUT’s Community News Collective – a presentation on how we make the news at CKUT, followed by a basic technical workshop on portable sound recorders and audio editing software.
Friday Nov. 13 From the printed page to the spoken word 6 p.m. in Leacock 26 A panel discussion getting started in radio production, with the host of CBC’s “Wiretap,” the music coordinator at CKUT, and a producer for NPR’s “On The Media” (and former “This American Life” intern). We’ll focus on effective ways to tell stories on the air, and the skills students need to make the transition into the audio realm.
Mirador Sasha Plotnikova
The McGill Daily, Thursday, November 12, 2009
Guilty of a double
Rosa Aiello examines the treatment and perceptions o
s of 1995, 4,500 sex offenders were incarcerated in Canada – only 19 of these offenders were female. Could it be true that only 0.4 per cent of sexual crimes committed in Canada are committed by women? Is it possible that the proportion of women incarcerated is reflective of the proportion of women actually committing sexual assault in Canada? It is difficult to answer these questions concretely, especially since underreporting skews sexual assault research for both male and female offenders. According to the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC), however, “many researchers consider [David] Finkelhor and [Diana] Russell’s (1984) estimates of the prevalence of female sex offending to be the most accurate to date. Their tentative evaluation is that females may account for up to 13 per cent of the abuse of females and 24 per cent of the abuse of males, either acting alone or with a partner. Finkelhor and Russell also estimated that approximately 6 per cent of sexual abuse against females and 14 per cent of sexual abuse against males is thought to be perpetrated by females acting alone.” Even if we consider that these figures might be somewhat overestimated, it is safe to say that the proportion of females incarcerated for sexual assault is very low – especially considering that the number of males incarcerated for sexual assault is only a fraction of those who offend. Joanne-Lucine Rouleau, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Université de Montréal, has only treated 15 to 16 female offenders in her career, compared with hundreds of male offenders. While Rouleau admitted that not enough research
had been performed in the area of female sexual offenders to come to any substantial conclusions about the reasons for these disproportionate numbers, she offered a profile of the female sex offender that may shed light on the issue. According to Rouleau and other sources, the age of female perpetrators generally ranges between 22-35 years old, as opposed to 14-90 years old for male offenders. Female sex offenders generally target children and adolescents, both male and female, who have some previous relationship with the perpetrator. Female offenders make very few random predatory attacks, typically using their positions of authority – parent, teacher, babysitter – to gain access to their victims. (It should be noted that this is also the case for most or many male sexual offenders.) Statistics also show that many of the victims of female sexual offenders are the perpetrators’ own children, a fact which may itself contribute to underreporting, since the perpetrator may act as a barrier between the child and a doctor or teacher who might be able to advocate on behalf of the victim. It follows that victims would be “reluctant to report sexual contact with a parent on whom they are dependent,” reports the CSC. Furthermore, the age and professional positions of many female sex offenders contributes to the persistent gender stereotypes that block society from viewing females as potential assailants. Traditionally, women are mothers, teachers, nurturers, and victims – not the violent monsters that we imagine rapists to be. If women are seen predominantly as passive, how can they be capable of sexual assault? Research from the CSC elaborates
on the effect of stereotyping on our perception of female sex offenders: “Women in general, and mothers more specifically, have more freedom than men to touch children. Therefore, a man may be more easily perceived as abusive when touching a child than when a woman touches a child in a similar manner.”
Female pederasts Sexual assault by female teachers in their thirties on male students in their early and middle teen years is one of the most common and most publicized forms of sexual assault by women. According to the CSC, the women responsible for these crimes have often been victims of sexual abuse, and are dissatisfied in their current romantic life, or are unable to form healthy age-appropriate relationships. Instead, these women tend to form what they deem to be loving relationships with their young male students, treating them as they would a boyfriend of their own age. The women often see little wrong with their actions. The media uses language such as “relationship,” “affair,” and even “love” to describe these cases, showing a bias toward the position of the offender, and contributing to underestimation of the threat and damaging potential of female sex offenders. A New York Times article reads: “Ms. West…then seduced the friend with ScoobyDoo boxer shorts and evening jaunts to sports bars and used her school authority to rearrange his classes around their sexual trysts.” There’s a playful tone in this quotation: the author calls the assault a “sexual tryst,” giving it a mysterious and even alluring air. Another
article cites a woman being “charged with repeatedly having sex with an 8-year-old boy.” Employing the neutral term “having sex” to an assault makes the woman’s actions seem benign. The attention and sympathy that these cases receive from the media is also a product of the attractiveness of many of the offenders, stemming from the notion that the “beautiful” woman cannot also be the predatory woman. Offenders whose faces have been made popular by the media, including Debra Lafave, Cameo Patch, and the smiling Stephanie Ragusa appear charming, harmless, and even vulnerable. It’s difficult, based on their appearance alone, to believe that their sexual exploits could be so damaging. This inability to view female sex offenders as threatening is part of a greater reluctance to criminalize women’s actions. Peter Vronsky, a history professor at Ryerson University and the author of Female Serial Killers: How and Why Women Become Monsters, explains that even in courtrooms, “we don’t recognize [women] as serial killers, we recognize them as something else entirely.” But perhaps reporters’ choice of sympathetic and even affirmative language to describe these cases is not symptomatic of gender stereotyping, but is actually reflective of the tenor of the incidents. Haven’t there been women convicted of sexual assault who, upon their release from prison, have married their supposed victims? Examples like the famous and contentious case of Mary Kay Letourneau and her “lover,” Vili Fualaau, call the criminality of their “relationship” into question. Letourneau and Fualaau first
The McGill Daily, Thursday, November 12, 2009
Whitney Mallett / The McGill Daily
of female sex offenders began having sex when Fualaau was only 12 years old. Years later, and after extensive legal battles, the couple is married with a child. Although this outcome might prove the sincerity of their romance, the question remains: did Letourneau’s seduction of Fualaau at such an early age leave him unable to form healthy, new relationships?
Classifying coercion Of the 19 Canadian female sexual offenders the CSC studied, 14 had male co-offenders. It is tricky to discern whether these assailants were male-accompanied or malecoerced – the latter meaning that the woman had been forced by a husband or boyfriend, often through threat of physical violence or abandonment, to commit the assault. (The victims of these assaults were often the female perpetrator’s own sons and daughters.) “It is tempting to categorize all the female offenders who were involved in offences with males as male-coerced,” the CSC admits. “However, a closer look at their cases reveals that such a categorization does not accurately reflect their motives or behaviour.” Only four of the 14 cases could correctly fall under the classification of male-coerced. In five of the 14 cases, women acted as primary aggressors, initiating the sexual assaults – they were not victimized or threatened by their male co-offenders. The tendency toward classifying female offenders as “malecoerced” implies the notion that behind every criminal woman there must be a criminal man: that a female would not, by nature, commit such acts if it weren’t for the love or the fear of a male. There are few Canadians who don’t shud-
der at the mention of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka. Much debate remains as to what degree, if any, Homolka was coerced into partaking in the pair’s sadistic attacks, including the rape and murder of Homolka’s own sister. Videos that Homolka and Bernardo filmed of the assaults show Homolka engaging with full complicity in the acts. Some perceive her plea bargain with the courts as a manipulative self-victimization. Her position is not uncommon: as Vronsky attests in recent cases of many female killers (although historically it has not always been true) “the females that acted with males oftentimes get a much softer deal, cloaking their case in the battered wife syndrome.“ There is no question, however, that Bernardo exercised extreme violence against his wife. Reports cite his beatings of Homolka as some of the most horrendous on file, the severity of the abuse leaving her close to death, with electrical cord lacerations to her neck, a detached retina, and spongy areas on her skull. It is difficult to claim that any degree of violence can account for the atrocity of the acts that Homolka committed, though it is equally difficult to imagine the atrocity Homolka endured living with Bernardo.
Stigmatized male victims Gender stereotypes play a role in society’s perception of the male victims as much as they do female perpetrators. Until recently “men [have been] viewed as physically incapable of being sexually abused by women,” according to the CSC. Recent research, however, cites cases in which men respond sexually to many states of emotional arous-
al, achieving erection even from feelings of anger and fear. Despite the changing views of male victims of female sex offenders, social stigma continues to prevent these victims from speaking out. Society believes that men should want sex, that a boy should consider himself lucky if an older woman shows interest in him. Darlene Hall, an employee of the West End Creche, a children’s mental health agency in Toronto, told the Globe and Mail that victims “of female abusers, especially boys, tend to be more traumatized than those victimized by men. It’s even more confusing for them.... It’s ‘I should have liked it.’ It’s the double whammy.” Though it is unproductive and problematic to create relative scales of trauma between victims, it is true that male victims of female abusers face the attitude that the abuse that they have experienced has been sexually educational, or in some way a rite of passage, making it difficult for male victims to seek help or report their abuse. Rouleau concurs: “Younger male victims do not speak out. Of the incarcerated offenders that I have treated, 25 per cent were sexually abused by women and did not say anything at the time of the abuse.” She also highlights the additional danger of letting instances of female sexual offense go unnoticed. While Rouleau makes it clear that “everyone who has been abused will not become an abuser,” there undoubtedly exists a cycle of sexual abuse in which the abused become the abusers. In a controversial statement addressed to a conference organized by the Toronto-based Institute for the Prevention of Child Abuse in 1991,
Fred Mathews, a community psychologist at Central Toronto Youth Services, went so far as to claim that “by not acknowledging the problem of female sex offenders, we may be creating rapists, men who are angry at women.”
Gendering assault Issues of gender weigh heavily in society’s neglect of female sex offenders, and thwart our proper treatment of the victims of female sexual assault. In attempting to view cases of female sexual abuse with more objectivity, however, we should not err on the side of gender neutrality, in the courtroom or in the media. Gender plays a critical role in understanding the life experiences of perpetrators: almost all women who end up as sex offenders have a history of sexual abuse, which is true of only half of male offenders; there are real cases in which females commit sexual assault out of fear for their lives; female perpetrators have different methods and patterns of abuse than do male perpetrators. In determining adequate sentences and constructive rehabilitation treatments for female offenders the issue of gender is inescapable. Indeed, the very way we treat female offenders belies our sexist assumptions. The persistent view of women as victims rather than criminals disempowers the offenders, absolving them of guilt because of their gender and perpetuating the power imbalances that underlie the cycle of abuse. We shouldn’t allow gender stereotypes to undercut the seriousness of sexual assault, nor to allow us to continue neglecting the problem of female sexual offenders.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, November 12, 2009
Monetary incentives for medical justice Megan Galeucia The McGill Daily
e’re living in an age where medicine is politics. Most of us walk around as pharmaceutical bodies, saturated with all sorts of unnecessary (or seemingly necessary) medications. We’re even bombarded with medical advertisements as we sit on the toilet staring at the door in a bathroom stall. These billion-dollar ad campaigns are waged by Big Pharma, a group of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies that bring in billions of dollars each year and exert a great deal of control in the government and the field of medicine. While there are many reasons to hate Big Pharma, we’ve largely accepted the fact that it infiltrates our everyday lives. What is undeniably unacceptable about pharmaceutical companies, how-
ever, is their role in keeping the world’s poor sick. The gap of health inequalities between rich and poor has actually widened since the beginning of globalization. This problem of medical injustice and how to prevent it from worsening was the subject of Thomas Pogge’s lecture at McGill last Wednesday, a part of the Osler Lecture series. A large proportion of the diseases and infections that the poor are dying from are preventable. The poor remain sick, Pogge explained, primarily because the high cost of pharmaceuticals makes them inaccessible. Well, the solution seems clear – we should make lifesaving drugs more affordable, right? Unfortunately, losing money to help the poor is not part of the game plan for team Big Pharma. They’re in it for the big bucks. Pogge, a professor at Yale and the leader of the Incentives for Global Health non-profit organization, has proposed a more
pragmatic solution to the health inequality problem. It’s called the Health Impact Fund, and it aims to make medicine accessible for all people and get Big Pharma to assist in the process. Pogge proposes that we need to stop accusing the drug companies, and “accuse you and me.” He gave this analogy to clarify his claim: There’s a dog in a room and a person has hung a steak in one corner of the room, which he tells the dog he cannot eat; there’s not a chance that the dog will stay put and not eat the steak, but it’s not the dog’s fault for eating it. Rather, the person who hung the meat in the corner is to blame. To translate this into the Health Impact Fund’s raison d’être: pharmaceutical companies need monetary incentives in order to make their drugs accessible to the poor. Pogge’s project intends to give pharmaceutical innovators an alternative to immediately launching
their drugs onto the market. They can voluntarily register their drugs with the Health Impact Fund, who will reward them monetarily for their contribution based on the impact on health that the drugs have. To receive the money – up to $6 billion, depending on the degree of impact – the pharmaceutical innovators must make one promise: To sell their drug worldwide to anyone that needs it at the lowest possible price and without market mark-ups. Then, after a 10-year reward period, the drug must go generic. The $6 billion allocated to innovators will come from the governments of all the countries who chose to participate. This money will only be a small portion of the governments’ incomes and will manifest a whole lot of benefits for the country. Firstly, taxpayers will have access to medicine at very low prices. They’ll also receive the benefits of the money that the country
saves when it gets put into health insurance and national health care systems. And the most pioneering aspect of the project is that it gives pharmaceutical innovators strong incentives, because the greater the drug’s impact, the more money they’ll make. While the project is coming into fruition, it seems to provide a number of answers and fewer loopholes. The lecture concluded with the entire hall of students, professors, and researchers, many of whom were clad in evening formal dress, bursting into applause. As one of the few attendees who never got the dress code memo, I saw the irony – these people had spent so much on their clothes to attend a lecture about injustices done to the poor. But they were there helping the Health Impact Fund make its mark. And if they’re trying to stop medical discrimination, I think I’ll leave the evening gowns alone for now.
Polyamory 101 Sex talks Maddie Guerlain and Amanda Unruh The names in this article have been changed, so don’t get any ideas.
olyamory seems to be rocking the boat a little these days, from MTV’s True Life: I’m Polyamorous, to a workshop at Queer McGill’s sex (re)education series next week. Yet because monogamy is so accepted and normalized, poly is often misunderstood or stigmatized, leaving me curious: what exactly is polyamory? Lickety Split, an amazing and hilarious smut zine, differentiates polyamory from swinging, which is a “purely sexual and recreational practice.” It’s a whole lot more than being an “honest player,” because players are usually in it for themselves and not for the relationship. And it isn’t just dating multiple people until you find “the one.” Rather, poly is about loving, dating, or being intimate with more than one person at a time in an honest way that is responsible to everyone involved. The more we’ve read, researched, and talked about polyamory, the more we’ve realized most people are just focused on building healthy relationships. Sitting down with my good friend Francesca, she explained that for her, polyamory is “rearranging
how you think about relationships and breaking down normative ways of thinking” – about what sex is, for instance, or what makes a relationship or a family. A lot of this focuses on actively working against ideas of possession or control. Instead, she described polyamory as loving someone as a whole person, which includes letting them be with other people as well. That said, people interpret polyamory in many different ways, ranging from casual sex to lifelong partnerships – so it can be a number of things depending on the person. For some people, polyamory is about reclaiming the way we talk about sex. People who have multiple partners are often labelled as sluts or players. These labels are incredibly problematic for the ways in which they affirm men having multiple partners, but degrade women who do the same. Moreover, both terms can be used in extremely derogatory ways that stigmatize the practices of those labelled. This can leave people with multiple partners without much positive vocab to talk about how they live. When talking to my other friend Roberta, she described to me how polyamory can be a way to question how “emotions, love, and desire are
normatively understood to be natural human qualities that aren’t politically shaped.” Poly relationships can be the result of a conscious and critical engagement with unpacking how certain patterns of behaviour and thought are conditioned and socialized – the idealization, for example, of the nuclear family by the media and government. As part of next week’s (re)Doing It! (a series of events on sex (re)education), sex blogger and educator Andrea Zanin will hold a workshop called “10 Rules for Happy NonMonogamy.” When looking over her blog, sexgeek.wordpress.com, I noticed many of the rules seemed to be applicable to making any relationship happy and healthy: know yourself, love yourself, be happy alone, communicate honestly, know what you want, be nice, practice safe sex, and go with the flow. Polyamorous relationships have their own unique challenges as well. First: time. It can be a struggle to date one person while balancing classes and work and eating and sleeping – try making time for two people or more! Second: because our society is so damn focused on two-person relationships, it can be difficult to convince people of genuinely caring for them when being involved with more than one person at a time. “Love is not limited to one person,” Francesca told me, yet building trust is hard when we grow up hearing that being with more than two people automatically means cheating. Third: safer sex – always important, but a top priority with multiple people involved. As polyamory has become more popular, particularly in queer com-
Kate Bass for The McGill Daily
Breaking with normative ideas about relationships can be tricky, but rewarding
munities, it can become an expectation, without a full understanding of the responsibility and emotional work involved. Even as poly opens up space for rethinking how we conceptualize relationships, there remains the risk of falling into old structures of oppression, where different people may be eroticized or sexualized in specific ways due to their social position (i.e. race, class, age, et cetera). But despite the challenges involved, its underlying framework of honesty, commu-
nication, and sex-positivity makes polyamory an approach to relationships’ potential for reclaiming language and breaking down social norms.
Maddie and Amanda work at The Shag Shop. Their column appears weekly. Write them with your sex and sexuality-related questions at email@example.com – the answers might make their way into the paper.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, November 12, 2009
Montreal Ink What happens to artistic freedom when your art is on someone’s skin? Kristene Quan Culture Writer
hether you have one yourself, or you know somebody who does, tattoos are becoming more and more popular. Although no statistics exist for Canadians, 36 per cent of Americans from 18 – 25 already have at least one. Getting permanently inked is becoming more commercialized, as tattoos become increasingly visible among celebrities and professional athletes. So, how do tattoo artists maintain their artistic freedom, when magazines like Teen Vogue are publishing articles targeted at teenagers about what they should know before getting inked? Emilie Roby, a Montreal tattoo artist, tries to retain her artistic freedom despite the recent popularity of tattoos by being “active in other art forms as it influences and nourishes my tattoo aesthetic. I believe that it is the secret of my singularity.” Roby experiments with other tools, like a scalpel, rather than sticking to the typical needles used to inject ink into the skin. On her web site, she writes, “the plastic qualities of my work in corporal modification have been enriched with the integration of scarification techniques, using cutting, ink rubbing, by themselves or combined with tattooing.” Roby’s methods of maintaining her artistic freedom are unique. Not all tattoo artists engage in such extreme measures. Dwayne “Darkness” Hanley, a tattoo artist at Adrenaline on the corner of Guy and Sherbrooke Ouest, also feels his artistic freedom can be limited in a medium where the canvas is somebody else’s skin. When a client doesn’t want Hanley’s artistic input, the inking becomes more of a business transaction than an expression of his own artistic autonomy. However, Hanley often creates designs for clients who have an image in their head, but cannot seem to replicate it on paper. This provides him with the opportunity to use his artistic flare, while still trying to figure out what exactly a client wants inked. Tattoo clients are also aware of the artistic limitations, whether it is space or freedom, which tattoo artists face with every new inking they must perform. Taylar Reid, a U2 Arts student, believes that it \ depends on what the client is getting done. “If it’s something plain and simple, like my Banksy stencil, then there isn’t much room for artistic expression. But if it is a bigger piece that the artist can have
Matt Kay for theThe McGill Daily
more freedom with, then I think they can take their expression a long way.” When Roby consults with her clients, she takes note of people’s preferences and ideas, but the final result is her own vision, which is why she believes they enlist her to tattoo them: “More and more people don’t feel the necessity of being involved in the process; I guess it’s a matter of growing artistic trust.” Tattoo artists face obvious limitations with the amount of creativity they can bring to a client’s design, but what happens when they are given the chance to freely design a tattoo? When does the artist’s ownership of the work end and the tattooée’s begin? Hanley had mixed feelings about this, and thought that as soon as the needle transfers the image to the skin, the client’s ownership starts. He also said, “I know it’s on them for life, and no matter where they go and they’re showing it to people and they’re asking who did it, and I did it, then I never really release the ownership. But it’s their image, it was their idea, I did it for them, it belongs to them. I just happened to be the one who did it.” Roby
also commented on her difficulties distancing herself from her works of art when she first started tattooing: “For a few years it was difficult to disengage, but I got used to it. Just knowing that they exist is now fully satisfying to me. And it helps to have a good camera.” Artistic expression may be restricted in such a thoroughly commercial medium, but the popularity has encouraged Montreal tattoo artists to band together and create a community where they can showcase and comment on each other’s work. The seventh annual Montreal Art Tattoo Show, which took place at the beginning of September, brought tattoo artists from around the world to participate in the Montreal scene. Artists and the general public were able to view portfolios, consult with tattoo artists, and, of course, get inked. Roby has attended the convention for several years, saying, “I always look forward to participating in that event, where I can meet tattoo collectors and tattoo artists from here and from abroad.” However, Hanley disagrees that a unified tattoo artist community exists,
because Montreal is so competitive, “It becomes more of our shop versus your shop, as opposed to a ‘Hey, you tattoo? I tattoo, let’s see your work, let’s see my work. Oh, you’re good. Oh, you’re not bad.’” The demand for tattoos has increased significantly, especially among younger individuals – perhaps due to the influence of celebrities like Rihanna, who displayed a tiny gun inking on her rib cage after her public breakup with Chris Brown earlier in the year. But does this newfound popularity make tattoos any more socially acceptable? A U2 Management student, who got tattooed last December, seems to think so: “Older generations still hold some sort of stereotype for people with tattoos, but I definitely think that tattoos will be more and more accepted – even in the professional field – among future generations.” Reid has also seen many young professionals with visible tattoos, like her veterinarian and dentist. Hanley agreed, but believes that there is still a long way before tattoos become socially acceptable. “[Tattooing] is going to be more
businesspeople, more customer service, more customer friendly. And caring people taking care of their tattoos. I think eventually it will [become more socially acceptable], like once you get rid of the negativity when it comes to tattoos, like people worrying about Hepatitis and diseases.” Although the surge of people getting inked has only seemed to further commercialize tattoos as an art form, the confinement of artistic freedom seems to be only a slight concern for the tattoo artists I talked to. As Henley says, “It’s the only job where if you get bored, it’s because you’ve done everything. And that’s insane, because you shouldn’t get bored. Because there’s different types of skin, different types of tattoos…. It’s always challenging.” Like any other artistic medium, the artists learn to adapt to the ongoing changes, even if the change is due to an increase in the popularity of getting inked. But like Roby said about which pieces she feels are works of art, and which are simply the fruits of labour: “It doesn’t make any difference in the end. I’m the only one who knows.”
The McGill Daily, Thursday, November 12, 2009
The latest Central Perk Bringing the independent coffee house to Montreal Preanka Hai The McGill Daily
he perennial quest for many McGill students: to find a space where you can attack those behemoth textbooks and term papers without crossing paths with every Tom, Dick, and Sally you’ve ever met at university (a.k.a. McLennan Library). So, insert here the student’s next-favourite destination: the café. If having sampled many of the cafés in the McGill hub, you still find yourself unable to enjoy a decent coffee while rocking your academic groove, you might consider paying a visit to Café Névé. Situated on the corner of Rachel and De Bullion, the café is directly across the street from the wildly popular Romado’s. Having opened only a month ago, Café Névé already seems to have garnered a contented hipster following. The ambiance is everything an independent coffee shop should be: comfy, cozy, cheerful. Panels of robin egg’s blue juxtapose the rather industrial workspace, and the barista shoots a friendly smile to every customer. Luke, the owner and founder of Café Névé, described the space as “shabby chic” – a cute description that nonetheless left me scratching my head a bit. Luke is an affable fellow who seems to have adopted the Montreal 20-something male uniform (skinny jeans, fitted T-shirt, and carefully tilted skull cap) but nevertheless harbours few of the pretensions that one would expect a trained chef to be afflicted with. A Melbourne native who has been a chef for the last 10 years, Luke began this single-man endeavour riding his bike around Montreal and actively seeking a space to house his little culinary haven. After stumbling upon what used to be J. R. Bike and finding an investor to work with, Café Névé was
Sara Traore/The McGill Daily
Luke, the owner and founder of Café Névé, says he doesn’t want his café to look like a “Macbook commercial.” born. I asked Luke why he chose Montreal as a destination to open a coffee joint. After expressing his love of Montreal’s bilingual culture, as well of its host of good food and wine, he noted that the North American east coast had few genuine coffee houses. He wanted to challenge the cliché that good coffee houses were exclusive artifacts of the West Coast. Moreover, as Luke emphasized, his café is also very much a restaurant. Although I busied myself with a jumbo chocolate-chip cookie (chocolatey, indeed) and a latté
(definitely one of the best that I have had in Montreal), Café Névé’s food menu offers what appeared to be a tasty sampling of breakfast and lunch plates. Among these were eggs benedict, English muffin sandwiches, and wraps of various sorts – simple, hearty foods that were all the more appealing because they were being freshly prepared in front of the customers. An additional bonus is that many of these breakfast foods continue to be served into the afternoon; Luke correctly anticipated that the younger population who would frequent Café Névé tends
to rise later than most. When I mentioned to Luke that many McGill students choose to study at cafés, he grimaced a little. While he assured me that he appreciates the business of his entire clientele, and that – for the time being – he will maintain the café’s wireless Internet access, he appeared somewhat uncomfortable with the idea that Café Névé would be monopolized by university students armed with their Apple merchandise. “Many cafes in Montreal look like a MacBook commercial,” Luke noted. Rather, he seemed to be more invested in the idea of
his café as a space where creative people congregate to interact, argue, and enjoy quality coffee – not simply a space where students hog tables and quietly contemplate their Foucault reading for hours on end. Excitingly enough, Montreal’s bands also pay Café Névé the occasional visit: “Arcade Fire drops by all the time,” Luke nonchalantly added. So, if you are in the neighbourhood, then certainly consider testing Café Névé, if not for a study pow-wow with your buddies, then for the coffee and food. Who knows? – you might just bump into Win Butler.
age to draw the audience into their respective characters’ horrifying reality. Director Carolyn Fe’s vision is rather uninspired, but is sufficient in bringing to life a daunting and heavy subject matter. Since Bent’s premiere in 1979, the mainstreaming of queer issues in the media has advanced significantly. There is something about the weight of the subject matter, though, as well as the play’s universal message, that is both shocking and humanely truthful. This quality allows the work to speak to today’s audience just as strongly as it would have to an audience in the seventies. As Fe explains, “The play is a powerful statement. [It portrays] an acceptance of self no matter what one is up against. It is the desperate hope of another life and successful-
ly creating it, if only for a moment, in the midst of chaos.” To some, Bent may seem overly male-dominated and homocentric. You wouldn’t be wrong to draw this conclusion. What Bent sets out to reveal is the hateful acts committed against a particular subgroup, a black stain on queer history that is often reduced to a footnote in comparison to the bigger picture of the Holocaust. Bent reminds us that hate toward a group, no matter how small, is worth remembering, and that expressing one’s true self and finding love is possible even in the unlikeliest of places.
Crooked world Altera Vitae’s Bent memorializes the pink triangle John Watson Culture Writer
ax has a hard time with the concept of love and monogamy. Waking up with a massive hangover, Max is told by his flamboyant boyfriend Rudy that he spent the entire previous evening asking every hot guy he saw to sleep with him, before landing on a stud in leather, who emerges from Max’s bedroom moments later. Max spends the remainder of the scene attempting to get rid of his drunken hookup, who is rather insistent that Max brings him to the country home that he claimed to own whilst obnoxiously drunk. From what I’ve described so far, Martin Sherman’s play Bent could
just as easily be the premise for an episode of Friends. The characters are relatively simple, concerned with day-to-day troubles like work and money, while enjoying love, drinks, and sex. What sets this play’s story apart, however, is that it’s set during the Holocaust. Today, as a gay man in Montreal, Max (played by Christopher Moore) would be dealing with the everyday social problems and discriminations that queer people face. In Nazi Germany, though, Max faces persecution, violence, imprisonment, and death. The story of Bent is not for the faint of heart. It’s about the Holocaust, but it focuses on the lives and trials of gay men specifically, who were branded with pink triangles (labelling them as sexual offenders) and sent to concentration
camps. We follow Max as he loses his home, his friends, and his innocence to the Nazi regime, but manages to find love even within the despair of the concentration camp. Montreal-based theatre company Altera Vitae’s production of Bent captures the timelessness and importance of such a story, keeping it relevant 70 years after the events it describes occurred, and 30 years after the play first premiered. Although relatively simple, the staging is effective in highlighting the wonderful dialogue and breadth of the play’s main characters. Playing Horst, Max’s love interest inside the camp, Concordia graduate Vance De Waele gives the play’s most memorable performance. Waele’s Horst is in turn serious and comical, and both he and Moore man-
Bent is playing until November 15 at Espace 4001 (4001 Berri). Visit alteravitae.com/bent for more details.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, November 12, 2009
An ode to black sheep TNC’s new production about every family’s sore thumb Johanu Botha The McGill Daily
ost families have that one relative – usually a distant aunt or twiceremoved uncle – who is so weird that they’re almost creepy, yet so quirky that they become endearing. The Caretaker, Tuesday Night Cafe Theatre’s second production of the season, gives that relative a second look. Written by the esteemed English playwright Harold Pinter, this play – much like its main character – comes strolling onto our campus bearing mischief in the one pocket and eccentricity in the other. Using their distinct floor-plan to their advantage, TNC forces audience members to pick their way through the ridiculously cluttered apartment of a set to get to their seats. This puts the viewers – quite literally – in the characters’ shoes for a moment. “You play an active part; by taking it all in, this show pushes you to think,” says director Laura Freitag. And indeed it does. While searching for a spot, you find yourself scrutinized by Mick (Joy RossJones), who unabashedly glares the audience into place. Without a word, he leaves, ceding the stage to a washed-up, homeless old man, Davies (Melissa Keogh), who is led to the apartment by Aston (Amanda Kate Bass for The McGill Daily
McQueen), Mick’s older brother. He starts the dialogue rolling, and it’s your job to keep up. Pinter is careful to flesh out his characters without explicitly describing them. From Davies’s idiosyncratic, twitchy movements, to the smile that almost – but never quite – escapes Aston’s face, to Mick’s unfaltering stare, we are given snapshots of people, from which we must draw our own conclusions. This is a ton of fun, as the play is surprisingly funny. Not in the way comedies usually are, but rather in an unspoken way, prompting giggling that comes up when it really shouldn’t – like at a funeral or during a church service. In fact, I found myself glancing around between chuckles to see if other people were laughing. They were. Behind, or perhaps intertwined with, this humour lurks a mysterious cobweb of facts that we never fully see but of which we become very aware. What really happens in Aston’s apartment? Why did he allow a homeless stranger in? And what exactly hides underneath Mick’s over-the-top pleasantness? Speculation about these answers is fascinating, though purely open to interpretation. For instance, was one brother mistaken for the other in events leading up to the play? That’s for you to decide. The Caretaker’s set is spacious, leaving much room for the eye to wander – perhaps even to
its detriment. Since the actors demand so much attention, they could have explored more opportunities away from centre stage. Despite some delays, the lighting in between scenes was welldesigned, giving us a sense of time passing. Strikingly, the director chose to cast women for the three male roles of Mick, Davies, and Aston. In a somewhat ingenious move, Freitag thus showcases the McGill theatre community’s female actors in engrossing roles, without worrying about character gender. Obviously aware of our politically minded campus, Freitag added an amusing note “for the feminists” who come see the show: “Is gender performed? Are these men? Are these women? Does this really even matter?” This decision was a success: these are male characters played exceptionally well by female actors. The current theatre season not yet out of its growing pains, we have seen some sharply acted roles (Jessica Kostuck’s Yitzhak in Hedwig comes to mind), but if McGill Theatre had its Oscar equivalent, we would now have a clear front-runner in Melissa Keogh. Playing a simultaneously zany, scared, and self-bewildering Davies, her performance exceeds all standards. With constant ticks and quirks, the role is physically demanding, but Keogh never backs down. It is the role that makes the play.
Falling out of nature’s favour Joshua Barndt’s latest exhibition attempts to make sense of environmental degradation Chelsea Blazer Culture Writer
rom emerging global environmental changes to increased air pollution and urbanization, civilization is subject to growing environmental stresses across the world. What has emerged is a vulnerable population, simultaneously affecting and being affected by these environmental conditions. As artist Josh Barndt sees it, the question is: can one person really make a difference? Is humanity hopeless in the face of the environment’s degradation? Barndt addresses these issues in his latest exhibit, “Leaps of Faith.” Barndt’s answer is not uplifting. Consisting of a selection of contemporary art pieces, the exhibit explores the triviality of human life in relation to the immensity of nature. “Leaps of Faith” is com-
prised of two distinct groups of work. The first section, “Free Fall,” is a multimedia exhibit, its pieces ranging from paintings and video clips to life-size photographs, occasionally illuminated by eccentric white lamps. Through contrasting visual images of humans falling, the artist expresses his pessimistic outlook. He draws individuals in free fall to express humanity’s collective powerlessness in the face of critical issues. The goal, according to Barndt, is to “exhibit the vulnerability of human life in relation to the severe and daunting disasters of the environment.” Barndt wanted to capture humanity as “having no feet left on the ground.” To this end, each image presents a unique group of individuals, completely unlike the last. Some faces smile while others are sullen, some are clothed and others naked, some are young and some old. The outcome is honest;
everyone, despite their age or social class, can feel defenceless at times. Indeed, none of the paintings display any sort of imagery that could betray their connection to environmental issues. In fact, the portraits of individuals falling are all painted against a plain beige background in order to create the effect of timelessness, thus providing the audience with an opportunity to interpret the images on their own terms. Through this ambiguous stylistic choice, Barndt allows the audience to engage with the concept of human vulnerability and come up with their own personal explanations of the work. Environmental issues become simply one out of the many causes of the instability in human life. While the pieces are fascinating, Barndt’s vision of humanity did appear overly cynical. “I admit I am too pessimistic,” he confesses. “After completing [the paint-
ings in ‘Free Fall’] my grandmother came to see my work, and her first response was, ‘Where is your sense of hope?’” As a result, “Leap of Faith” closes with a two-piece exhibit called “Affirmations.” One particular image consists of a lifesize photograph of Barndt’s grandmother with a three-dimensional light beam in front of it. This work represents his grandmother’s affirmation of hope and faith despite all the prevailing issues in the world. Barnt explained that with “Affirmations,” he wanted to “represent the optimism that I couldn’t project in my own work.” The incongruity between the two sections of the exhibit – the images of people falling versus standing, and the drab beige backgrounds in “Free Fall” versus the bright white colours of “Affirmations” – make the juxtaposition all the more interesting. Yet it is with “Affirmations” that
the exhibit really feels complete, and a vision of hope is presented to the audience. With his work in “Leaps of Faith,” Barndt displays a great deal of talent and a sincere understanding of the current social worry over the degradation of the environment. The initial response to the exhibit is a feeling of shock – the first image is an unexpected portrait of an elderly women falling with an intense look of fear in her eyes. As the exhibit continues, however, the audience understands that the work is not purely pessimistic. Rather, Brandt’s last portrait, as introduced by his grandmother, offers us “the promise of the sun coming out of the storm.”
Leaps of Faith is up at Galerie SAS (372 Ste. Catherine O. suite 416) through December 5.
The McGill Daily, Thursday, November 12, 2009
Lies, half-truths, and the colours, Duke, the colours
Daily to have special Frasier issue Unlike you, I am trying to pay attention to this boring lecture
Follows on heels of normal issue, precedes lit sup Télésphore Sansouci
Leacock 132 is dingy, stuffed with first-years, and generally insufferable even without you doing any of the following. Facebook stalking. Chances are, that friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend that you’re stalking is either me or the guy sleeping next to me. Using MSN Messenger. WTF? What are you, eight? Yelling over Skype. Please leave your existential and/or boyfriend crises until after you’re done Facebook stalking the guy next to you. Typing on your laptop like you’re playing whack-a-mole. Look, I might be looking over your shoulder to copy your notes, but it doesn’t mean I need to hear your commas. Watching Gossip Girl re-runs. It’s hard to concentrate on molecular bio while you’re watching two thirty-year-old actors pretend to be teenagers. Moving in. You’re only there for 90 minutes – don’t make it your home. I don’t care that you spent more on your Uggs than I’m paying for my apartment.... They don’t need their own seat. Acceptable behaviours include sending mass WebCT emails and selfdeclaring H1N1.
The McGill Daily
ey baby, I hear The Daily a-callin’, tossed salads and scrambled eggs.
Oh my. Mercy! And maybe I seem a bit confused, yeah maybe, but I got you pegged! Ha, Ha, Ha, Ha! But I don’t know what to do with
those tossed salads and scrambled eggs. They’re callin’ again. The Daily is accepting submissions for its literary supplement until November 16. Send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fuck This! is a therapeutic anonymous rant column, not necessarily about the library. Send your 200-word-or-less harangues every week to email@example.com. Anonymity guaranteed, but nothing hateful – just frustrated!
Mallory Bey / The McGill Daily
Camilla Grudova / The McGill Daily
You can find more of Mal’s work at malbouge.blogspot.com.
rite! Draw! Send a funny photo! Compose a Fuck This! Create a beautiful 100-Word Story! firstname.lastname@example.org
This comic originally appeared on yourcorpuschristi.blogspot.com.
Dan Hawkins / The McGill Daily
IN THEATRES FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 13 CONCEPTION GRAPHIQUE: ©2009 FOCUS FEATUTRES LLC. TOUS DROITS RÉSERVÉS.
incensed by the monarchy’s refusal to apologize. Suzanne Morton, a special- ist in Canadian history at McGill, confirmed that even if they’r...