The attendance of 14,000 people — many of them police officers from across Canada and the United states — was a telling tribute to the valor of Toronto Police Sergeant Ryan Russell. Sgt. Russell died in a particularly meaningless way last week when he was run over by a man who had stolen a snow plow truck. The irrationality of this act defies all logic, which perhaps accounts for the immense media interest in the incident and in the funeral.
The Toronto Star today devotes its first four pages to the funeral. The eulogy by Sgt. Russell’s widow takes up a full page.
There is no doubting the dedication of the fallen officer, or the tragedy of the event. But I wonder if the practice of organizing huge funerals for officers who die on duty is calculated as much to bolster political support for the police as it is to pay tribute to fallen officers. Not to be crude about it, I have to ask the question : Are these massive outpourings orchestrated public relations exercises?
Interesting letter on this point in the Globe and Mail today. Nick Fillmore writes as follows:
I question whether it is the best course of action for thousands of police officers and other emergency workers to come from across Canada and parts of the U.S. to attend his (Sgt. Russell’s) funeral.This practice occurs across North America whenever a police officer is killed. With all due respect, it seems to me that the likely millions of dollars used to transport mourning officers to these funerals could be put to better use.
The police in Toronto have had a difficult year. Numerous cases of alleged brutality hang over the force in the wake of the G20 meeting in June. Police Chief Blair is apparently the only city official not being held to budget cuts for 2011. Yet crime is on the decline and experts warn that municipalities must begin to reign in police costs if other vital services are not to be devastated.
A LITTLE BIT OF COMMON SENSE, PLEASE
Two recent developments point up the need to stand fast for Canadian values in the face of persuasion and threats.
In Vancouver, the University of British Columbia has put the establishment of a hospice on hold because of complaints from Chinese immigrants living in the area. They say that accepting death in their midst is not part of their culture. They feel uncomfortable with the idea of a hospice down the road.
The University is wrong in bowing to this demand. It should instead explain that while Canada holds out a welcome hand to immigrants, our willingness to accommodate their cultural practices cannot extend to denial of our own.
In Ottawa, the National Archives cancelled the showing of a film critical of Iran after complaints and threats were received from several quarters, including the Embassy of Iran. The film, Iranium, is critical of Iran’s nuclear program. Another gutless concession to political correctness by people who should know batter. Fortunately, the Minister of Canadian Heritage — whose department funds the Archives — has overidden the cancellation and has ordered the showing of the film.
These events follow on a decision by Canada’s privately operated broadcast regulator to ban the playing by radio stations of a song containing a satiric reference to “faggots.” This on the complaint of ONE person.
Oh! Canada, let’s have a little bit of common sense!
WHEN JUNK SCIENCE GOES PUBLIC
If you’ve ever wondered how “junk science” passes for credible research, here may be the answer.
The current issue of The Scientist features the 10 biggest scientific retractions of 2010 – cases where scientific papers were found to have been based on faulty data or where research results had been fabricated. Over the past 10 years, the magazine says, no fewer than 788 scientific papers have had to be called back for these or similar reasons.
The biggest retractions of 2010 included The Lancet’s pulling of the now discredited writings of Andrew Wakefield that falsely suggested a link between immunization and autism, and a paper on the effects of chemotherapy on breast cancer where a Duke University researcher apparently invented the data. Nobel Laureate Linda Buck retracted two papers from prominent journals because she was “unable to reproduce [the] key findings” of previous experiments.
So we can’t believe everything we read, even in the science journals.