Local writers, local issues: the student U-pass and our righteous Olympic indignation

A couple of pieces by two local writers (and friends):

Zach Fleisher (@zachfleish) recently wrote in to the Winnipeg Free Press about the student U-Pass, in response to Councillor Scott Fielding’s critical comments about a transit subsidy for student bus passes. I line up with Zach’s logic on this one. More people using more public transit will benefit the city, and all of the communities within it in the long run. Less carbon footprint, more disposable income for students when comparing U-Pass costs to daily gas/parking, less road wear, less traffic congestion…

Council did end up voting in favour of the U-Pass. I’m looking forward to seeing it implemented!

Kevin Linklater (@kevinlinklater) wrote on the contradictions of our Olympic outrage during the Sochi games. Certainly, Russia’s treatment of and attitude towards homosexual / queer Russians is deplorable, which is acknowledged in the article. But Linklater also asks some very good questions. How long has the West been supportive of queer rights? What was our role in creating the kind of unbalanced society that concentrated the power in the hands of a discriminatory few? Why don’t we give similar attention to less visible groups, like ethnic minorities and immigrants in Russia, facing similar persecution?

I would disagree with Linklater on one point. I’m no fan of righteous indignation, flaunting our supposedly unimpugnable human rights records, while scorning Russia. But I have no real issue with outrage. We need more, not less of it. If outrage trickles in selectively, well, let’s take it and run with it. Is it “just” to criticize Russia’s discrimination, when so much exists in Canada? I don’t know if it’s just, but it’s encouraging that people are even considering the ideas of discrimination, power, and injustice. It might lead to more open conversations about local oppression.

It’s easy to find injustice, when glancing around the world. Still, I am encouraged, not discouraged, by the fact that Sochi got the platform it did. No doubt media corporations and national governments had their own interests in seeing Russia castigated on an international stage. They can control which issues receive the most attention. Once the general public starts thinking with greater awareness about injustice, how it is perpetrated, and their own role in abetting it, media and governments cannot control where that goes next.

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