Posts Tagged ‘killing’

Death of the Cool

February 2, 2008

A few nights ago I was walking through the cold, wet streets in the area of downtown that straddles the shiny business district to the west and the grotty downtown eastside.  This is the area around Cambie Street.

A guy started following me and called after me.  I knew I didn’t want to know.  I kept walking.  He kept calling and following.  I kept walking. When he called for the fourth time, I finally turned and said, “What?”  He asked if I wanted to buy any weed.  “No!”, I snapped.

He’d followed me for two blocks.  Two blocks!  What kind of asshole follows someone at night for two blocks trying to sell him drugs he hasn’t expressed any interest in?  Remember when grass used to be ‘cool’?  We’ve come a long way since Kerouac.

This is nothing compared to what you’ll encounter just a few blocks to the east.  After walking past people shooting up in the street, when you reach the corner the twenty or so humanoids standing there ask you in series if you want rock.  You say, “No” to the first then the next one asks, despite being only three feet away.  They couldn’t have not heard you say “no”.  Then the next one, another two or three feet away,  asks.  All this happens in broad daylight, even in plain view of the police station.

Returning to the dealer over on Cambie, even if I had been looking, what should I think about his product if he has to chase me through the streets to push it?  Be cool, crusty, be cool.  I know it’s a lot to ask…

The area attracts a certain type due to the presence of various organizations and businesses promoting the legality and use of marijuana.  One of them is the aptly named Amsterdam Cafe, just around the corner from where Crusty McDusty finally realized I wasn’t shopping; an oasis of indulgence where customers smoke joints and pipes despite a smoking ban in public places.  Cigarette smokers in bars have to step outside, but an aromatic cloud hovers over Amsterdam.

Is there a connection between the intrepid bush pusher and the ‘cool’ people at the cafe?  He didn’t seem smart enough to be in business for himself.  Then again, how smart do you have to be to figure out that if the crack and scag dealers can get away with selling under the cops’ noses, a grass mover is probably safe enough?

Meanwhile, the gangsters fighting over the BC bud industry are shooting each other in restaurants, cars, and homes.  Innocent people have been killed in the crossfire.  Connect the dots.

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Absolutely Relative

January 21, 2008

We assume parents are always right.  Society is geared towards the idea of parental infallibility.  “Don’t do anything your mother wouldn’t do/would be ashamed of”, we’re told.  “Honour thy mother and thy father”, one of the Christian commandments reads.  It reinforces the ideas of authority and continuity.  The family is a module, a building block of society.

But what if your parents are wrong?  What if they are racist, for instance?  You love someone of another race, but your racist parents tell you it’s wrong or that they’re ashamed of you.  You’re mother would never get involved with someone of another race.  Do you follow the rule of honouring your parents and their example, or your conscience and heart?

Let’s subject the assumption to extreme scrutiny.  Hitler had children.  What if they had seen what a monster he was, and killed him?  Would they have been heroes for doing the world a favour, or patricidal maniacs?  If they’d had the opportunity to grow up, should they have honoured their father and followed in his footsteps?  We’re supposed to follow our parents’ examples, but not every parent sets a good example.

Moral absolutes simply don’t work.  As soon as you make a universal statement, it has to stand up in every instance – including the most extreme ones.  But there are always exceptions.  There are always special situations, extenuating circumstances to take into account.  Every case is unique.  The ethical landscape changes relative to these unique circumstances.

Surprisingly, people who claim to be moral absolutists are often some of the most strident supporters of moral relativism, when it suits them, without realizing it.  The god fearing bible thumpers who swear by the ten commandments are often the same people who defend their right to own a gun and use it to kill someone in self-defense.  The relevant commandment does not contain a clause regarding extenuating circumstances.  It is just assumed by those who think it should apply, relative to the situation.

Conservative thinkers don’t like to… think about such things.  That might encourage change, after all.