On Americans, Canadians, and guns
Why we don’t have a well-armed militia, and why maybe we should.
“We are fond of interpreting [Canada's and the United States'] different gun cultures as the product of their origins,” Colby Cosh writes in the National Post, but as recently as 100 years ago, the differences were few and far between: “a housebreaker or robber in Canada could then still expect to be greeted by the nose of a revolver,” and concerned homeowners could purchase their weapon of choice by mail order. The fact that US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s amazing defence of the handgun (e.g., as opposed to a rifle, “it can be pointed at a burglar with one hand while the other hand dials the police”) now “seem[s] to float to us from some alternate universe very far away” is proof, says Cosh, of how “small social differences … can be exaggerated by means of policy within just a few generations.”
The Toronto Sun‘s Peter Worthington, meanwhile, trots out all the usual statistics to show that gun control doesn’t work, including the fact that the murder rate in Washington, D.C. went up after the city instituted the handgun ban that was overturned by the Supreme Court last week. We wholeheartedly support Worthington’s campaign against Toronto mayor David Miller’s hopelessly facile anti-gun campaign, but as usual with these arguments, it’s really just a big mess of chicken and eggs. For example: is Arlington, Va.’s miniscule murder rate in comparison to Washington’s a byproduct of its relatively high rate of private gun ownership, or its relatively rich and well-educated populace? (Answer: it depends whether the gun control opponent is trying to argue that gun ownership reduces crime, or that criminals, not law-abiding gun owners, are the real and only problem.)
On climate change, fear-mongering and axing the tax
The Ottawa Citizen‘s Dan Gardner compares scientifically challenged climate change alarmism to scientifically challenged Y2K alarmism and concludes that when it comes to so-called “worst-case entrepreneurs”—fear-mongering businesspeople offering to perform a “public service … for a fee”—we don’t seem to have learned a thing. We’ve learned so little, in fact, that Gardner recently witnessed one such fear-monger citing the Y2K experience as a positive precedent! (The basic pitch: Remember how airplanes were supposed to nosedive to earth, en masse, at midnight on January 1, 2000? Didn’t happen, right? Therefore, we should spend gazillions to tackle climate change or else we’ll all perish in a tornado wrapped in a fire-breathing hurricane.) This approach shouldn’t work, Gardner concludes, but it does. “In matters of the mind, nothing is as compelling as someone with a frightening message and a great stage presence.”
British Columbia NDP leader Carole James explicitly committed to axing Gordon Campbell’s carbon tax on a radio show yesterday, the Vancouver Sun‘s Vaughn Palmer notes, the tape of which “is surely ‘a keeper,’ should the NDP win the next provincial election.” Until then, however, James has some work to do—namely, addressing the budgetary shortfalls her pledge entails in what she promises will be a “fully costed” campaign platform. The solution likely lies in the NDP’s own climate change plan, Palmer predicts, which will tax carbon at its source. But whether British Columbians will buy into such a plan when the costs will almost certainly be passed on to them anyway remains to be seen.
On university students, their professors, and Barack Obama
The Globe and Mail‘s Jeffrey Simpson agrees with the “professoriate” and the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada when they say lack of government funding is to blame for the plight of the nation’s undergraduates. He doesn’t really explain just what this plight is, but it seems to have much to do with research-obsessed professors who can’t be arsed to actually teach. And, at the risk of hooting and hissing from yonder ivory tower, Simpson says there’s at least something to that argument. The current paradigm holds “that improved research leads to better teaching,” he argues—indeed, “no nostrum is more passionately held in universities than this.” But your average undergrad can be forgiven, he says, for missing the connection.
“As the U.S. presidential race enters its final days”—on a geologic timescale, that is—the Globe‘s John Ibbitson breaks down the possible outcomes. They include an “Obama blowout,” in which the swing states all swing Democrat, and “the black vote doubles, and it all goes to Mr. Obama”; and a “McCain blowout,” in which Obama’s race, inexperience and “liberal agenda” drive swing voters to the GOP while all those bright-eyed youngsters “who voted so enthusiastically in the primaries are too preoccupied with classes”—read: their bongs—”to show up in November.” The smart money, Ibbitson concludes, is on Obama—unless, “as one wag put it,” your bookie’s willing to give you three-to-one odds on McCain.
The Post‘s Jonathan Kay says pro-life types can reasonably blame Henry Morgentaler “for his relentless pro-abortion propagandism” and “for opening the floodgates” on abortion by successfully challenging the system that was in place before 1988. But that system was “frustrating, inhumane and inconsistent in practice,” Kay argues, and it’s hardly Morgentaler’s fault that Parliament has been too cowardly in the ensuing 20 years to craft a new abortion law. Still, he concludes, activists should only be awarded the Order of Canada if “their cause is embraced with near-unanimity by Canadians”—and Morgentaler’s cause most certainly isn’t.
The Vancouver Sun‘s Ian Mulgrew applauds the Canadian Human Rights Commission’s decision to dismiss the case against Maclean’s and to launch a review of the way it handles hate speech-related cases. And he laments that the lawyer conducting that review seems poised to deliver his report before the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal finally gets around to ruling on the same complaint. “Word is it could take the three panelists months to decide whether Steyn’s a witty, annoying polemicist or a racist,” he writes, “and probably much, much longer for the agency to realize no human rights tribunal or commission should be policing editorial decisions of the nation’s media.”