Thursday, November 11, 2004


"In Canada, even hardened convicts get golden government handshakes. Documents obtained by Sun Media reveal some federal prisoners are collecting five-figure taxpayer-funded payoffs when they hurt themselves during activities, training or work programs behind bars. Offenders are also eligible for benefits if they've suffered an "occupational disease" in jail or "aggravated" a pre-existing condition through a program.

Government records reveal dozens of claims over the past three years, including one for $52,372, another for $38,511 and several more for $25,000-plus.

Sylvain Martel, president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, fumed that guards have to fight "tooth and nail" to have workers compensation board claims approved for workplace injuries or post-traumatic stress. "It's atrocious to see what we have to go through while the inmates are getting paid directly," he said."



In Massachusetts, of course

"In today's society, most everyone has a built in self-monitoring device called "political correctness." It stems from the atrocities committed upon minorities throughout history. It is like a badge of shame, a constant reminder that we owe something to those who have been less fortunate. Each and every person lives with the watchful eye in the back of his or her head, and this eye directs us towards being kind and generous towards minorities who have been wronged by white males and females. African Americans, homosexuals, Jews and Asians are some of the people we feel obligated to. But when, if ever, does this self-monitoring device hurt us? Where does one draw the line between political correctness and the other desires that pull us in the opposite direction?

As a young freshman, I was approached by a man on the street who said he liked to meet people who he thought were interesting and to go out for coffee with them. He was friendly and charming so I acquiesced. Soon enough, I began to form a friendship with him. I realized quickly that he wanted to be more than just friends, but I was trapped. The political correctness was like a cage and I couldn't break free of it. I kept telling myself I didn't want to be homophobic. I wanted to tell him off. I hated him for putting me in such an uncomfortable position and I hated him for not understanding that I was straight. He seemed to want to believe that everyone was bi-sexual, as if this simple piece of information one obtains in an anthropology course is enough to convince anyone to have homosexual sex with you.

The problem was that I wasn't sure what I owed him. And that was the only accurate word: owe. I felt the watchful eye in the back of my head. It was giving me a stern glare, and I kept thinking that I simply didn't know how to get along with a gay person. I had never had a homosexual friend before. I had hardly ever known any homosexuals in my entire life. I felt I owed him an explanation for not wanting to be around him. But what could I say? He wasn't coming onto me. He was just making me uncomfortable. And I wasn't going to turn bisexual just because some anthropology teacher said it was a basic fact of human nature. Sexuality may be something that is determined by society (or it may not be) but my sexuality had already been decided long ago.

In truth, I hated him, but my feelings seemed irrational and unjust. So I continued to hang out with him, and I felt more and more frustrated with my situation by the day. What did I owe him? A polite thanks, but no thanks? Did I owe him an explanation or should I simply have told him I was going on vacation and never spoken to him again? Would that even work? He had so many arguments against it and he was the type of person who wouldn't take no for an answer. He would evade it. He would say he was sorry that he was making me feel uncomfortable, and continue down the same path he was on. Did I owe it to my own feelings to cuss him out over the phone? Where does one draw the line, political correctness or natural impulse?

I tried political correctness at first. But just as I suspected he said he just wanted to be friends. The cage grew smaller and smaller. Finally, one night on the phone I told him I didn't like being around him and I didn't want to be friends anymore. "So you don't call me and I won't call you," I said. He told me that was fine and called me a week later to try to explain that he didn't mean any offense. This time the anger was so intense that I went with it. I told him off in the most disrespectful way possible, and like that, the relationship was over. I was left feeling so much anger I couldn't express. I felt violated, emotionally raped. But I learned something about what I owe people.

I realized I don't owe people anything. I'm not homophobic, a racist, or a sexist, and it is possible to kill that watchful eye in the back of one's head by simply affirming to oneself that one is not prejudice. Our emotions are too important to be ignored. It is imperative that one breaks free of the cage that is political correctness. That watchful eye gets us in trouble. If one treats everyone with respect, one's boundaries will invariably be violated. This is something one learns with age. But if you meet a homosexual who makes you feel uncomfortable for whatever reason, you may have to decide between your emotions and political correctness.

Choose your emotions. In today's society, all we have are our feelings and our own personal truth to make our decisions with. Everything else is a form of imprisonment. Break out of your cage and see how much better freedom feels".

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