Aggravated assault

Peter
Peter Jackson
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There is far too much violence going on these days, and I'm not talking about that perpetrated by those troubled souls being escorted in and out of the courtrooms downtown.

I'm talking about people who should know better, like public officials. Ottawa, it turns out, is especially slap-happy. Here's an example:

There is far too much violence going on these days, and I'm not talking about that perpetrated by those troubled souls being escorted in and out of the courtrooms downtown.

I'm talking about people who should know better, like public officials. Ottawa, it turns out, is especially slap-happy. Here's an example:

"I think it's a slap in the face," a local MP said in July when he learned the federal Tories had no intention of keeping their promise of a boost for Goose Bay.

In fact, a local weekly (now defunct) chronicled numerous instances of Ottawa slapping us all in the kisser - although, some of the so-called victims were "fighting Newfoundlanders," so there's some question as to who started it.

Sometimes, two or more levels of government will gang up like tag-team wrestlers.

According to one report, a union representative said last year that fish harvesters had been "slapped in the face" by the provincial government. This year, they're being "kicked in the guts" by the federal government.

Is this junta-like behaviour acceptable?

The police are no better. When the RNC tried to stop striking postal workers from impeding traffic a few years ago, one worker complained. "Our objective was to slow people down, and this is the punch in the face we get for it."

Punch in the face? Can they do that? Have we become so desensitized that we don't even care anymore?

Once in a while, the victim is more mercurial. When the Paradise mayoralty was decided by drawing a name from a bin, one observer called it "a slap in the face to democracy."

Oouch, that smarts! But Democracy has been around since the Greeks. I think she'll survive.

It gets worse. The provincial government was up to its thuggish ways in 2004, delaying the opening of The Rooms for an extra year. "(This) is a kick in the face to the visual arts and artists in this province," wrote one advocate.

So, now it's kickboxing. And politicians aren't the only ones letting their feet do the talking. When thieves stole thousands of dollars in merchandise from a charity last winter, the executive director also saw it as "a kick in the face."

Even Mother Nature is getting in on the act. "Every year now," an editorialist declared last year, "it seems like some part of this province is getting a particularly hard kick in the teeth from Mother Nature."

Ugh! So, on top of flooding and wind damage, we now have to worry about dental bills.

For me, the worst has got to be the old instep to the solar plexus. There are a lot of important organs there, you know.

"What a kick in the guts this has been," said an older worker who found himself out of a job because of age discrimination. No doubt he was doubled over in disgust.

And when weapons are involved, it's a whole new ballgame.

While this province's oil and gas prices briefly remained stable during southern hurricanes, "other places were getting a knife in the back," said one expert.

A knife - perhaps surgical - was also wielded by the province's previous health minister. A letter-writer remarked that the minister seemed "intent on delivering a coup de grace to rural health care." Luckily, he was disarmed before he could carry out the merciful deed.

Leave it to the premier to up the ante. "Someone should be shot over there," he blustered when Eastern Health botched a news release. Too late to save the long-gun registry?

And I don't even want to think about sexual assault - like how foreigners are always "raping" the Grand Banks, and how Newfoundlanders - as the premier likes to say - are constantly "getting the shaft." (It's small comfort he doesn't put it more bluntly.)

We like to think we live in a civilized society, but metaphorically we still see things in terms of the bully on the street corner.

True, it's hard not to resort to such violent turns of phrase - I certainly do so myself, on occasion. Neither is it hard to see how a few people can end up resorting to the real thing.

All the more reason to tone it down a bit, don't you think?

Don't mean to step on anyone's toes.

Peter Jackson is The Telegram's commentary editor. E-mail him at pjackson@thetelegram.com.

Geographic location: Ottawa, Goose Bay

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