Letters to the Editor

Reporting, context have effect

To the Editor,

Re: Preconceived bias colours reading, Wright Turn, April 9.

I enjoy reading Malcolm Gladwell’s writing. It was his Outliers that had me calculating that I would have to practice two hours a day for about 20 years if I want to play guitar like Steve Vai.

I think about an article Gladwell wrote in the Oct. 19, 2009 issue of The New Yorker when I see stories in the newspaper about children boxing.

Ostensibly about dog-fighting and football, the article describes the risks associated with constant low-level head trauma. It mentions a boxer’s one-in-five risk of dementia, although neuropathologist Ann McKee is quoted as saying “I think it’s probably higher than that ... and I also suspect that it’s going to end up being higher than that among football players as well.”

I believe the slogan to be true that, “It’s better to build a boy than mend a man”, and I loved reading Bryce Courtenay’s novel The Power of One. Still, with the rise of MMA-style fighting, I wonder if the number of young people suffering brain injury isn’t going to increase and will we be ultimately responsible for the potential long-term consequences.

Considering, for example, the case of WWE wrestler Chris Benoit in 2007, it’ll be more than merely higher health care costs.

The same article (and another one from What The Dog Saw) colours my opinions about laws that specifically target pit bulls for muzzling. Near Wakesiah and Fifth I saw two teenagers receiving a ticket for $500 for walking a (leashed) young pit bull without a muzzle. This was less than a week after another dog had been attacked and severely injured by two unrestrained dogs, so Animal Control was probably making a ‘show of force’.

And yet the News Bulletin prints a front-page photo of an unmuzzled pit bull (April 5). I often see people walking their dogs off-leash, even downtown, and I wonder what kind of consistency Nanaimo has in enforcing bylaws.

I love my friend’s pit bull, and the one he had before that. We wrestle (me and the dogs) and I’ve never worried about either of them. I consider breed-specific bans to be a form of racism, but I recognise that until all dog owners are as responsible as is my friend they are something that I have to accept.

And I realize how difficult it must be to craft policy or write legislation knowing that law is a rather blunt instrument to handle the complexities of human existence.

It’s a fine balance and too often weighed to one side or the other by how the media reports on those matters that most interest the community (or segments thereof), as well as the life experiences (the context) of the legislators.

So I do appreciate that there are people who are willing to “catalogue and appreciate all those variations” that make us as individuals so interesting. Not all Christians, or cannabis users, or vegetarians, or pacifists are the same, or for the same reasons. But this one is an optimist.

Ian Poole


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