Some news stories instantly evoke a response of, “Eew, yuck.”
You read about a Manitoba judge — of family court, no less — whose husband posted pornographic pictures of her online, and think, “Eew, yuck.”
A pistol-packing pastor in Florida plans to incinerate 200 copies of the Qu’ran, and you think, “Eew, yuck.”
There are a lot of yucky people walking around. Some of them even hold important, respectable jobs.
Perhaps Her Honour Baby should have adjourned for careful consideration of whether she should pose for photogenic fellatio.
Maybe the fire-breathing man of God should have realized that book-burning is primarily associated with the Nazis, and therefore most people would deem his actions repulsive — unless, possibly, he opted to toss volumes by Margaret Atwood into the flames.
The initial eew yuck shock is understandable. But the ensuing response and punishment is substantially more revolting and dangerous.
Judge Lori Douglas was removed from her position. The legal community pontificated about the need to maintain the integrity of and respect for the justice system. Instead, they showed themselves to be spineless.
Douglas did nothing illegal. Nor did her actions reflect on her professional capability. Presumably, her detractors think she should restrict herself to oral rulings rather than oral sex.
Kinky sex scandals are rare in Canada, never mind Manitoba. This one smacks of sexism, misogyny and racism all at once. So, Her Honour has a hankering for black men. Is this 2010 or 1610? Why not just whip the harlot? Or should the lawyers, her fellow judges and public admit she has a right to her sexual preferences?
Posing for porno pictures may be yucky — and probably not very common among learned benchers — but to conclude that is grounds for professional censure is beyond yucky.
It is ignorant, narrow-minded, immature, puritan, undemocratic, just plain wrong and, hopefully, illegal. I, for one, hope Douglas has a top-notch lawyer. Whether or not that lawyer has ever posed nude is immaterial.
As for the pyrotechnic pastor, some critics did have the honesty and decency to point out that he planned to burn paper, not people, and thus was within his constitutional rights.
No matter. The president, a secretary of state and a few generals warned that exercising that right would have dire consequences — namely, enraged Islamists would be moved to riot, destruction and murder.
U.S. President Barack Obama went so far as to say that smouldering Qu’rans in Florida could lead to suicide bombings in European and American cities.
There is a long list of good arguments against burning books generally and the Qu’ran specifically. But violent reaction by Islamists is not one of those good arguments.
Obama’s reasoning sounded a lot like statements that used to be made 40 or so years ago about women and rape.
Back then, it was common to hear the opinion that if women didn’t wear mini-skirts or go braless, they wouldn’t get raped. By this logic, “provocative” dress — not male aggression — caused sexual attacks.
Women, don’t provoke men. Westerners, don’t provoke Islamists.
To hear this coming from a former law professor, and president, is astounding, and should be more distressing and worrisome to people than the eew yuck actions that prompted it.
The eew yuck stories will keep coming. They are less important than how we react to them.
This week, some working schmuck in New Jersey, perhaps dreaming of Florida, burned a copy of the Qu’ran. He is no longer a working schmuck. He was a state employee, and the state fired him.
Burning books is bad and reprehensible, but firing someone for it is worse, because it transgresses civil and constitutional rights.
We can only imagine what kind of hell will break loose if a female judge decides to turn on a camcorder and lick a copy of the Qu’ran.
Brian Jones is a desk editor at the Telegram. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.