Issue 16: Darts & Laurels

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Darts

Threats to press freedom

Press freedom is under threat in the U.K. and the US, as greater regulation and governmental interference becomes the norm. In the US, the Obama administration has cracked down on whistleblowers and conducted shocking surveillance of news media. In Canada, Prime Minister Harper seems to have an adversarial relationship with the news media. Harper strictly limits media access to his government, and his control has only become more draconian over time. After he attempted to limit media access to a recent speech he made, almost all news organizations boycotted the event. Following this boycott, the Conservative party sent out a fundraising email saying “You won’t believe what the Press Gallery just did in Ottawa”. Press freedom is vital to democracy. Politicians always resist transparency, so information needs to be forced out of them. While Harper’s strict limits on media access can’t necessarily be spun as an issue of press freedom, the Obama administrations intrusions are truly frightening.

Three Canadian National train derailments this month

Train derailments are the natural byproduct of increased rail traffic. In particular, more and more oil is being shipped by rail as oil pipelines are being held up in regulatory proceedings. While oil transport by pipeline is allegedly safer than transport by train, both are far from safe as oil spills from pipelines are often much larger than those produced in rail accidents. When it comes to new pipelines, the public gets a much greater say in terms of what is being transported and when. As the global climate warms, conversations about different types of oil transportation will pale in the face of a much more important debate: why we are still transporting oil at all?

Middle school student suspended for drawing picture of bomb

A 13-year-old boy in South Carolina was suspended from school after he drew a picture of a cartoon bomb. The boy, who has an autism spectrum disorder, wasn't violent in any way, although the school alleges he made “threatening comments”. Compounding this sad reality is the ongoing fad of “zero tolerance” behavioural standards. These unreasonable expectations result in grand overreactions where children get major punishments that are entirely ineffective. If a child is sent home from school after drawing a bomb, what is he or she supposed to learn from that experience? A genuine creative education would be one where children are encouraged to release whatever might be preoccupying them so that it can be dealt with in a healthy social or educational environment.

Laurels

Success for sporting Gaels, especially against the Gryphons

The Queen’s Gaels have had a good run as of late. It was a great week for both rugby squads. The men’s rugby team secured a perfect regular season and is marching towards a second straight Ontario title. Women’s rugby has earned an opportunity to meet Guelph in the OUA final after a tough loss to the same team in last year’s championship game. Queen’s football has clinched a bye into the semi-finals after defeating Guelph and shattering that team’s perfect season. Since all of these wins came on Homecoming weekend, it was a great time for alumni to reclaim ties with Gaels sports teams and see the strength of some of this year’s programs.

Photo series shows regular men posing as underwear models

The photo series entitled “Real Men vs. Underwear Models” by Jenny Francis and daily tabloid The Sun is a step in the right direction for men and women hoping to understand male body image. “Real” may have been a poor choice of wording, as there’s no true “real” body type. Still, the series is a provocative juxtaposition between the “real” men and the underwear models, and also between the series itself and similar campaigns that have featured women. It’s understood that women face huge pressures to look a certain way in our society, but it’s less well-recognized that men face similar pressures. While women mostly focus on looking skinnier, men often obsess over having the right muscle build. The ongoing rise in male anorexia is the type of development that should provoke us to undermine strict beauty standards for males and for females.

Canada is the most educated country in the world

A recent Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development survey places Canada at the top spot as measured by the proportion of adults with tertiary education. Many of us underestimate how lucky we are to live in a country where education is so valued. There’s a huge array of educational options available in Canada. While Canada does not have many elite post-secondary institutions, we don’t have many of the poor institutions that plague other country’s educational systems.

- Journal Editorial Board

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