Two things that caught my eye on television this past week - bet you've seen one of them
Two scenes from television shows of the past week stick in my mind. One was from the movie "Bowling for Columbine" and the other was a segment of coverage on C-Span. A third movie scene, a vague recollection I have of a documentary from several years ago plays into this and I'll mention it as well.
In the movie "Bowling for Columbine" Michael Moore demonstrates a difference between habits in the USA and neighboring Canada by walking up to the front doors of people's homes and opening them. In the US the doors would have been locked and he might very well have got himself shot by jiggling a door knob or two, but in Canada most if not all were unlocked and when he was confronted by homeowners no one flew off the handle. Michael Moore makes a point to note that attitudes change at the border. I suspect many of you have seen* this scene*.
The next scene, thursday morning, around 10:00am and our President is in flight to Ottawa. Prior to his landing by about a half hour C-Span turned its coverage over to a Canadian sister program. The format of the program was similar to Washington Journal with callers asking questions and sharing opinions. What was notable about the segment was how respectful of the caller's opinions the moderator was as they conducted a respectful conversation and what was most noticeable was that they did not cut callers off. Greta will cut off a Democrat in a New York second and even Pedro yanks the mike at the 45 second mark. To their shame no matter how bubble headed the caller is none of them will engage to correct even the most imbecilic of comments either. So the difference is the Canadian programming is more informative, and more civil and certainly more respectful of the caller's points of view.
The next scene that comes to mind is from a documentary I saw a year or two ago. The story was being told of the differences in the penal systems in Canada and the US. I remember few of the specifics but the conclusions remain. Conditions in Canadian jails were luxurious by US standards, many fewer people were in jails, and the recidivism rate was much much lower than in the US.
And now I ask how is this? Why does our neighbor to the north seem so much more civil than we? Why are they more trusting of their neighbors? How is it that they produce fewer criminals than we do and why are they more successful than we at setting them straight? These seem to me to be interesting questions as we go forward in reshaping and investing in our future. We should be following the best examples we can find. Oh, and did someone mention healtcare?
* See, I actually do know the difference between seen and scene, and if you'll look above you'll see I also got to, too, and two right. I only wish I could have worked in there, their, and they're too.
1. You have to take the Michael Moore stuff with a grain of salt.
I'm not saying there isn't any significant difference between the crime situation in Canada and in the States, but the picture he paints of Canada as a completely crime-free paradise, in which absolutely nobody feels the need to lock their doors at night, anywhere in the country, is an exaggeration.
There are places in Canada where the crime rate is very low and people don't lock their doors...and places where it is higher, and they do. Just like in the States. Maybe there are more places in Canada like that, but the "Nobody ever feels the need to lock their doors in Canada at night" meme is way exaggerated in "Bowling for Columbine." (True, if you rattle the door handle, you're not too likely to be greeted with a gun, but the idea that nobody locks their doors, and is amazed that anyone should feel the need to do so, is silly.)
It made me mistrust Michael Moore just a little tad to see him exaggerate this, because I know it not to be true, and it made me wonder a little what else he exaggerates to make his points that I don't know he is exaggerating.
Don't get me wrong--I still think he does a lot of great stuff--but that bothered me.
2. We had a car stolen when we were on vacation in Canada
and were treated like royalty. It happened on the first night we were there. The hotel refunded our money and the Mounties not only told us to go to a new hotel, they made the reservation for us and gave us a ride there and then to the car rental place.
The new hotel gave us a free night and dinner in a restaurant. The manager of the restaurant gave us tickets to the local minor league baseball game. When we got to the game they invited our son who was 12 into the locker room, gave him an autographed ball and a team jersey. Then the announcer at the game introduced us to the crowd and told them we were tourists whose car had been stolen, gave a description of the car and asked if anyone had seen it to please call the police.
It was unreal. For anyone visiting here to get this kind of treatment, they would have to be victims of a murder or rape or other violent crime.
Everywhere we went the people apologized. It took a week to find the car and get it repaired. And every day we were showered with kindness and hospitality. One day there was a knock on our hotel room and a lady was standing there who just wanted to tell us how sorry she was that our car had been stolen.
Shortly after this, I saw Bowling for Columbine and did not once assume Michael Moore was exaggerating. I had experienced crime in Canada first hand.
3. Maybe that's the really big difference between crime in Canada and crime in the States.
If you vacation in Canada and you're a crime victim, the country looks upon it as a huge embarrassment and shame and wants to treat you like gold to make up for it. Everyone is sorry, and they actually try to figure out who did it and recover what you lost.
If you come to the States as a tourist and you're a crime victim (or hell, even if you live here), the attitude is "Oh well, them's the breaks--shit happens--we'll file a report, but we'll probably never find out who did it or recover what you lost. And by the way, why did you leave your house, car, etc., vulnerable to that anyway? What's the matter with you? You should know you gotta lock everything down around here or it'll get stolen."
4. You certainly have a point - and there is more too.
I agree with what you've said. It should be clear that no everyone leaves their doors unlocked in Canada, or anywhere else where locks are available. He did exaggerate that and he should not have. It detracted from his credibility. I also though his ambush of Charlton Heston was unconscionable. The old man, pimp for the gun manufacturers that he was, did not deserve that.
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