Just a thought… Do the best you can until you know better. When you know better, do better. [Maya Angelou]
So, I got in deep deep trouble among some people on Monday. I’m not here to whine or complain; just to point out how carefully we all tread these days.
I am politically correct, in what I hope is the best possible interpretation of those two words that so many people use as a weapon of disgust. I go out of my way not to offend anyone, to include everyone and to try to stay up on all of the changes in our languages. I read the articles on the most mispronounced words and how language and meaning change.
I’ve even read a piece this week in The Atlantic that suggests that when we acknowledge the Indigenous lands on which we stand, or have our events, or in whatever circumstances we use the statements of gratitude, it’s actually just moral exhibition. Okay, that’s one I’ll read and consider. And maybe look again at my stance. I just don’t know.
That’s what I do – what I think we do – and following Maya Angelou’s gentle directions, try to be better.
But on Monday, I wanted to acknowledge a national day of remembrance for the 14 victims of the horrific massacre that took place in 1989 at Ecole Polytechnique. In being extremely careful about my terminology, I copied the wording from a post on a union website from last year that said, in short, that these women were murdered simply because of their gender.
And that, my friend, was my mistake. I took at face value a post from a credible source. But it wasn’t based on these women’s gender, it was based on their sex. And there is a difference, I was reminded in the firmest and foulest of terms on Monday (actually Sunday night when I posted and later checked before going to sleep).
I was accused by one poster (often retweeted) of adding to the violence of that day. I was told I “obviously didn’t remember,” which was really ridiculous in that I was on the air doing news that next morning on CHFI. I even had to fend off the worst reaction from a male co-worker, reacting to my sadness and shock by saying, “Who cares?” This is something I’ve never told anyone before now, because the story wasn’t about me. So this criticism Sunday night was personal.
No, the tweets were not an attack by a madman with a gun – and I am pretty sure that I can say he was a man – but I was deeply disturbed by the way that my tweet was tagged by several very angry people who had a cause, presumably from a transgender point of view, that I was not aware of. Gender and sex are not interchangeable in our current terminology.
Even the OCAD University website used these words: “The 14 women were killed in a gender-based act of violence.”
I’m aware now. I was to the point of thinking I would never again acknowledge the December 6th attack, lest I add the worst kind of distraction to a day of remembrance about 14 innocent women whose lives were taken because of their sex. Because they were women.
When I apologized and took down the tweet, then I was questioned in the least gentle of terms as to why I had taken it down. There was no pleasing anyone, except for the initial group of infuriated tweeters who said, “Fair play. She’s apologized.”
Look, this isn’t me. But I remember that Twitter doesn’t take into account the…account. Who I am. What I stand for and how I try to protect and give a voice to those who don’t have my platform and followers, when I can.
I’ll be careful but never careful enough, it seems. In AA there’s a motto that goes “Progress, Not Perfection.” I’m angry that I trusted some site’s presumably careful terminology because I didn’t know better. But I’m angrier because I was taken to the public square and hanged before I got a chance even to say what it was that I meant or knew.
Educate me, by all means. Help me to learn the ways that you can be acknowledged and aided in your cause, but by attacking and name-calling and trying to cancel me and still my voice, you are not helping me, and certainly not helping your case. You turned a day in which 14 women were murdered into your cause. And as much as we all need our eyes opened, there has got to be a better way. If you scream at me, I will not listen. And then how do I learn?
Have a gentle weekend. I’ll be in Kelowna visiting my dad and sisters for an early Christmas.