Commentary | Letters: Beef with The Daily’s military commentary, pro-life groups

Death is sooo passé

Re: “Campus Eye” and “Off-Campus Eye” | News | Sept. 25

Activism is a noble pursuit. The manifestation of lofty ideals in the form of protest is nothing, if not, admirable. However, we feel there has been a stagnation in the creative impulses of our bleeding heart compatriots.

Recently, The Daily chronicled not one, but two die-ins, back-to-back on pages seven and eight of the September 25 issue. It would appear that guerrilla protest tactics have come to a standstill: if not a complete, one might even say dead, stop.

Students can’t help but nonchalantly glance over die-ins these days, as they come a dime a dozen. Perhaps, campus groups could incorporate new and innovative protest actions to spread their messages far and wide, for example: balloon giveaway-ins, speed reading-ins, or jive-ins. We trust that these suggestions will help to put an abrupt and much needed end to the guerrilla movement’s current rut. Your comrades,

Miriam Gough

U1 IDS

Jenna Gogan

U1 Sociology and Hispanic Studies

The military’s not all bad

Re: “Endorsement: Let’s go to the GA” | Commentary | Oct. 6

I’ve got beef concerning the military issues on campus and the General Assembly (GA). I can see where The Daily’s coming from on the military research bit. It’s understandable, not wanting crazy-ass bombs getting developed on your campus. However, beyond this research, I’m not seeing this “all too familiar” military presence on campus. Maybe it’s because I’m an American and seeing Canadians panic about their “conservatives” just makes me giggle, but I really think the military presence on campus is extremely minimal.

I think that the motion to ban the military from campus greatly ignores the good that militaries can do as well. They don’t just drive around in tanks and blow shit up. They can provide support for natural disasters and provide humanitarian aid in crisis areas. So don’t cry “Save Darfur!” and then proceed to ban the military on campus. Humane interventions require people with which to intervene humanely. That’s basic arithmetic.

Militaries have the capability to do a whole lot more good in the world, especially if people would focus their efforts more constructively on reforming the missions militaries undertake.

Furthermore, just because there’s media on campus that promotes something besides SACOMSS and animal rights doesn’t give cause to ban it. If you ban one group because you don’t like them, it sets a sort of Stalin-y precedent. Anyone could then ban anything with the right amount of people and a GA motion proposal. (I would ban those club promoters trying to hand me flyers for parties at Tokyo.)

Also, passing any motion in a GA which requires a mere two per cent of the McGill population to vote is just stupid. Direct democracy sucks because it can easily be hi-jacked by assholes of any political orientation. Give the GA some reform and maybe I’ll take it seriously.

In a completely unrelated note, props to The Daily for the wang on the cover of the last issue.

Logan Clark

U2 Political Science

The Canadian Forces has rights, too

Re: “Endorsement: Let’s go to the GA” | Commentary | Oct. 6

The Daily holds the view that “the military simply does not belong at an educational institution.” For a publication that supposedly promotes openness, equality, and mutual understanding on campus, I find this statement to be amazingly hypocritical. I am quite certain that if someone publicly stated that some organization The Daily supports simply did not belong at an educational institution, The Daily would be up in arms (irony intended).

The Canadian Forces, like countless other organizations, look to employ intelligent and hard-working individuals. Perhaps The Daily is unaware that having or being enrolled in a university program is a prerequisite for being a commissioned officer in the Canadian Forces, and that many non-commissioned members also have a university-level education. Thus, the military is interested in connecting with students at McGill. In the spirit of a free society and a non-exclusivist campus setting, the armed forces cannot be denied the same rights as other organizations to recruit new talent and buy advertising space at a public university.

Beyond that, The Daily’s statement seems to imply that military service and education are mutually exclusive concepts. This is insulting. Like it or not, there are more students than you’d think at McGill and on campuses across Canada who are involved with the Canadian Forces. The Daily is clearly not doing its part to make these individuals feel welcome in an inclusive and diverse university community.

Jeff Vavasour-Williams

U2 History

Don’t hate on the military

Once again the initiatives of some McGill students baffle me, only this time just enough to induce me into writing a letter to The Daily.

Reading a recent SSMU listserv email, I came across the initiatives for last Tuesday’s GA. There was one for opposition of development of thermobaric weapons – great! And even one to organize a catered party to raise money for student groups – excellent! Some use the arena-filling popularity of GAs to submit their Star Wars naming motions, or my new personal favourite, “No Pants Fridays.”

What irks me is the opposition to military recruitment on campus. It is understandable that an organization like SSMU may oppose recruitment or publicity within their own edifice, but to extend this preference over the entire campus is absurd. Consider reasons why people might join the military. Here are a few: for money, to be a good citizen, to establish a career, to work full or part time, family tradition, pride.

I am not in the military, but have voluntarily spoken to representatives so as to get an idea what the benefits of joining would be. For many, military service is quite a viable opportunity, one that may well assist them through not only university, but life.

I am trying to think of reasons why one would oppose allowing others the opportunity to learn more about these career pathways within their campus. I can only think of two: opposition to solicitation and antagonism to the military in general. Neither of these is a legitimate reason to stand against campus publicity. And for those who subscribe to the former, let’s hear more bitching about career fairs and those assholes who hand out flyers at Milton gates.

Steven Ahern

U3 Biomedical Sciences

SSMU is totally unprepared for a zombie apocalypse

After one of our members was tyrannically shut down at the GA, we couldn’t help but think, “Is the current SSMU executive really that unprepared in the event of a zombie apocalypse?”

A little background: during the debate on the motion to ban military recruitment on campus, one of our members took the microphone to propose an amendment. The amendment would have made an exception for military recruitment in regards to McGill having a well-stocked militia to defend against the threat of zombies. He was told that the point was out of order (although, we add, the motion seemed to have received popular support from the students at the GA), and that there was no way to fight the speaker’s ruling without going to the SSMU Judicial Board.

What kind of neo-zombie fascists have we elected to the SSMU executive? Are our elected officials just a masquerade, protecting the interests of zombie propagation? How are students supposed to organize in the case of a zombie outbreak if we’ve passed a blanket ban on military recruitment on campus? The Zombie Defense Militia, a newly formed student group, which will hopefully be active by the Winter semester, will need to recruit students and train them in the art of human-to-zombie combat (in which decapitation is the preferred method of eliminating a “z”). The ban passing puts the ranks of the Zombie Militia in jeopardy.

Ideally, we would like to operate with the mandate of being a SSMU club and/or service; however, this ban might very well prevent students from being preemptively organized against our loved ones – reanimated with the sole purpose of feasting on our flesh.

We quote the great war General Robert E. Lee on the importance of training McGill students for this threat, “The education of a man is never completed until he dies.” It will be up to the Zombie Defense Militia to ensure that once that man or woman dies, they don’t use that education against the living. If SSMU won’t protect McGill students against zombies, we’ll have to take matters into our own hands.

The Zombie Defense Militia

James Christopherson

Arts U2 English and Economics

Stefan Perrier

Arts U3 Political Science

Freedom of speech does not trump women’s rights

Re: “Pro-life group seeks SSMU club status” | News | Oct. 6

Pro-choice groups state that women should be free to decide what to do with their bodies, including having access to safe abortion services if they so choose. Meanwhile, so-called pro-life – or more accurately, anti-choice – groups take the position that women should not have access to abortion services. Anti-choice groups like “Choose Life” state that they do not want to campaign to change the legal status on abortion (yet).

Irrespective of nuanced yet similar positions, anti-choice groups’ ideology, campaigning and/or implementation of their positions through policies (e.g. Bill C-484) are harmful and discriminatory toward women because they attempt to control women’s bodies and can force women to have unsafe abortion options, risking their health and lives.

Natalie Fohl, founder of the “Choose Life” group – applying for club status from SSMU – states that “freedom of speech is an important factor to consider when debating the legitimacy of the group.” This argument is flawed because it assumes that any group’s position on a subject matter should be considered “legitimate” on the basis of freedom of speech.

Would SSMU be going against freedom of speech if, for example, it did not grant a white-supremacist group club status? No. Freedom of speech does not trump people’s rights, where a group’s position can marginalize, exploit, or oppress people of a society, in this case: women. “Choose Life’s” anti-choice position and campaigning would perpetuate patriarchal values, on and off campus, where women are not seen as the best-decision makers concerning their own bodies and would marginalize women (including those at McGill) who may decide to have an abortion.

SSMU should decline this anti-choice group’s application ensuring that freedom of speech is not misused and that resources are not given to groups that promote and perpetuate sexism or any form of discrimination and marginalization.

Farha Najah Hussain

Master’s Speech-Language

Pathology I

Call me vague

Re: “The mesmerizing commute” | Commentary | Oct. 2

Call me Christopher Hitchens, but I smell a rat.

Sana Saed should be ashamed.

Max Silverman

U4 Canadian Studies

The Daily received more letters for this issue than it could print. They will appear in the next possible issue.

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