Marginal Gains

Musings of a student who should probably not be musing

David M. Perry’s False Assist/Fix Dichotomy

There was an article published in Al Jazeera America yesterday called “The Future of Assistive Tech is Surprisingly Simple.” In it, David M. Perry argues that the focus of technology developed for people with disabilities should be on assisting and accommodating rather than on “fixing” them. But in so doing, he doesn’t clearly differentiate between fixing and assisting. In the “fixing” category he places both cures and extravagant technology like robotic prostheses. In the “assisting” category he places telepresence robots and waterproof wheelchairs. While cures, if they existed, would certainly constitute “fixes,” it’s unclear what his criteria is for placing pieces of technology in one or the other category. There is a hint it given about two thirds through the article. Talking about a documentary on the subject, Perry writes:

Brashear intersperses interview footage with dance performances featuring people with disabilities, offering a wordless, but powerful, rebuke of the notion that such bodies necessarily need fixing.

But in Perry’s “fixes,” such as stair-climbing wheelchairs, people’s bodies remain unchanged. Rather, extensions of them are added or enhanced. And from where does this notion come that people with disabilities “necessarily need fixing?” Perry writes:

The transhumanist ideology and the breathless media pursuit of feel-good “miracle” stories feeds our “ableist” (quotation marks Perry’s) culture, telling us that non-compliant minds and bodies need to be fixed or normalized.

How many of the viewers of those “deaf person hears for the first time” videos would argue that people with disabilities should have technology forced upon them, let alone curative medicine? Would any? I’ve never heard this sentiment expressed anywhere. It’s neither what these stories imply nor what their audiences take away. While it’s true that many in the transhumanist movement seem to see disability as more of an abstract aesthetic problem than one of human suffering, this is neither a widespread view nor the one driving the creation of what Perry calls “fixes.”

He writes that innovation is coming. It certainly is, and when it gets here, people with disabilities will be best served by choice, included among their choices the advanced technologies arbitrarily called “fixes.”


Improved formula for area of circle with flat side

Another blogger (seriouscephalopod, who’s still blogging regularly and doing an awesome job of it) pointed out to me about a year ago that there’s a problem with my original derivation, namely that it involved two variables (x and θ) that are dependent on each other. I don’t know why I didn’t get around to fixing it before now, but better late than never.

The original formula was:

A = 2r – θ)(r – x)²(tanθ)

With variables that can be read from this picture:


But x and θ are mutually dependent. (r – x)² can be written as (rcosθ)² and tanθ can be written as sinθ/cosθ. Then our formula is:

A = 2r – θ) + (rcosθ)²sin(θ)/cos(θ)

Which simplifies to:

A = 2r(π – θ) + r²cosθsinθ

Using the double angle formula, we obtain:

A = 2r(π – θ) + (r²/2)sin(2θ)

And that’s that, we’ve finally gotten rid of that nasty x, almost a year later.

Why I don’t believe in doxing

Doxing (or doxxing), the leaking of personally identifiable information of people on the internet who’d rather remain anonymous, has long been used as a method of vigilante justice on the internet, and understandably so. I’ve never done it (I don’t even know how), but I imagine it must feel good to see someone forced to realize that their actions on the internet have consequences, especially if the person in question really is as contemptible as doxing victims so often are. But in spite of this, there are some good reasons not to dox, and to speak out against it, no matter the doxer or doxee.

First, it’s unnecessary. There are those who believe that doxing is justified when particularly heinous crimes have been committed, but in these cases there are probably actual charges that could be brought against the perpetrator. But if you haven’t got sufficient evidence to convince the relevant authorities that such a crime has taken place, then you really don’t have enough evidence to dox someone, either.

Second, there are likely to be unintended consequences. You probably have no way of knowing whether this person lives alone, and no one deserves to be punished for something someone else has said.

Third, in the case of doxing because of speech, I’m not entirely sure the punishment can ever fit the crime. I’m not confident that anything a person says on the internet, a place we can all freely opt out of any time, can merit their feeling physically unsafe in the real, actual world that we’re all stuck in (Note: I’m not trying to belittle the danger that individuals can feel online, or suggest that the onus is on them to remove themselves from a threatening online space. What I’m saying is that this pales in comparison to feeling physically unsafe).

But these are all really just secondary reasons not to believe in doxing, and two of them are actually pretty questionable. Fundamentally, the reason I’m against the practice is this:

If you set the precedent that doxing is acceptable in certain cases, what are you going to do about the problem that opinions will intractably differ as to which cases these are? You’ll have lain a moral framework that could conceivably justify the doxing of a person whose opinions someone finds too liberal. What will you do about the religious person who believes that blasphemy calls for doxing? Or the MRA who sees “man-hating” everywhere and believes it merits doxing? You’d have to agree that both these people are right in the broadest principle, just wrong in the particular application.

But couldn’t this argument be extended to any form of punishment that society metes out? No, since these punishments are collective, whereas it only takes one person to dox. In the case of society-sanctioned punishments, you at least have the inertia of public opinion protecting you from being convicted of anything too ridiculous in the near future. But if some renegade doesn’t like what you have to say and decides your personal information belongs on the internet, it’s not hard for it to end up there, especially if they see doxing consistently endorsed on both sides of the political spectrum.

Flirting with vigilantism is a dangerous game, and the sooner it stops, the better off we’ll all be.

A Carol Shields quote you’ve probably heard, and what it really means

This is a re-post from the blog on Tumblr.

“Go for long walks,
indulge in hot baths,
question your assumptions,
be kind to yourself,
live for the moment,
loosen up,
curse the world,
count your blessings,
just let go,
just be.”

-Carol Shields, The Stone Diaries

Let’s talk a little about this quote.  I’ve seen it pop up here on Tumblr wherever Carol Shields’ name is mentioned, and I feel like a lot of people don’t understand it for want of context.  The Stone Diaries is a book about a woman’s life and her ultimately fruitless search for its meaning.  This quote comes at a point when she’s going through a midlife crisis, and the lines are all pieces of advice her friends and family give her.  If you read the quote in context, you see that Shields’ intent was almost certainly to illustrate the sheer futility of these sorts of platitudes in the face of a true existential crisis; they all sound nice but ring hollow.  In fact, if you look closely, you’ll even see that some are actually contradictory: “curse the world” vs. “count your blessings”, “loosen up” vs. “scream”.  Either way, the context makes it pretty clear, to me at least, that Shields wasn’t endorsing these little supposed gems of wisdom.  So to those of you who’ve seen this quote and recognized its vapidity, don’t let it turn you off of Shields.  She was a brilliant author and The Stone Diaries is a masterpiece.

A Letter to an Editor

This also appeared in The Silhouette.  I was under the impression it would be published as a standalone opinion article (hence the awkward wording at the beginning), but ah well.  Also, they’ve fixed the error in the original article’s title.

This article is in response to one that appeared in last week’s Silhouette titled “Honouring Mykayla (sic) Sault’s Legacy.”  It was in part a report on a forum at Mac about the indigenous experience of the Canadian healthcare system, and in part a call to listen to and respect the perspectives of indigenous peoples.  Naturally, this is a noble sentiment, but I found the implications that the authors drew to be troubling, to say the least.

Although not strictly relevant to the larger point that this article was trying to make, it contained some misleading points that are worth clarifying.  For one, it claimed that the media downplayed the toll that chemotherapy took on Makayla Sault’s body.  This is false.  The very first sentence of the Canadian Press’ report on the event, picked up by CBC, The Globe and Mail, The Ottawa Citizen and CTV, reads “Chemotherapy took such a horrific toll on Makayla Sault’s weak body that she begged her parents to take her out of treatment and try instead traditional medicine.”  This is not what downplaying looks like.

The article also claimed that the media neglected Makayla’s legacy of cooperation between biomedical and traditional medicine.  However, a paragraph appearing in the same Canadian Press wire story picked up by so many mainstream outlets reads, “[Makayla] continued to receive treatment from her family physician, Dr. Jason Zacks, as well as an oncologist at McMaster hospital. She also received traditional medicine from a healer near her home on the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation.”  In all, the Canadian media’s reportage was not as inaccurate as the authors contended.

Their article then went on to make some troubling points about traditional medicine.  It argued that there are different ways of knowing, that evidence is not necessarily something quantitatively measured, that the “Western worldview” isn’t universal, and that traditional medicine can’t be dismissed just because it isn’t supported by this “Western worldview”.  I’d strongly take issue with these on two fronts.  First, to suggest that the scientific method is the exclusive property of the West is to completely erase the numerous scientific contributions made throughout history by those outside of the West.  The scientific method is no more a “Western” way of knowing than algebra is an Arabic way of doing math.  These are both valid methods regardless of context.  Second, science is not only universal, it’s universally true.  As the adage goes, alternative medicine has either not been proved to work or been proved not to work.

I by no means want to be insensitive here.  The choice Makayla Sault and her parents had to make is one I wouldn’t wish upon my worst enemy.  And I certainly don’t blame them for what they chose.  Frankly, there is no right answer to the question of whether it’s better to submit to immense short-term suffering for a chance at longer life or to try to live out the time one has left in as much comfort and dignity as possible, and these are decisions that ought to be left up to individuals.  However, if they’re being made on the basis of faulty information about the efficacy of alternative medicine, as I’m worried they may have been in this case, this is where science and the expertise of medical professionals needs to be relied upon.  When lives are on the line, the stakes are too high to pretend that every approach to medicine is equally effective.

A Twitter response

Twitter user @danjdob contends that the higher incarceration rates of African-Americans isn’t reflective of racism, but rather of the disproportionate rate at which they commit violent crimes.

Some dispute this, but I’m not a statistician so I’ll just reserve judgement.  It’s actually irrelevant since this is a false dichotomy.

Since humans in similar environments will behave in similar ways in the aggregate (reading Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel and Marvin Harris’ Cultural Anthropology will convince you of this), then a difference in average behaviour indicates a difference in environment.  “But what about free will?” you say.  Well, even if you believe in free will (which there are good reasons not to do), you can still simplify the problem of looking at complex societies by treating individual choices as effectively random, and thus subject to the law of large numbers (random events will cancel out given a large enough sample, leaving you with an average that is in this case reflective of the conditions in which the population is living).  If you believe that there is no institutional racism in America, and that the higher rates of incarceration of African-Americans reflect their own choices, then you must believe that transplanting the white and black populations of America into some sort of social vacuum would yield the same results, i.e. that given no external influence, your average African-American is more violent than your average white person.

And that is racism by the most uncontroversial definition of the word.

Formula for the area of a circle with a flat side

I.e. the area of this shape:



If I’ve done this right, it should be:

A = 2r(π – θ) + (x – r)²(tanθ)


Before I begin, it’s helpful to derive the formula for a regular old circle first.  (If you’d prefer better diagrams for this, you can find them here.)

So, you can imagine putting an isosceles triangle inside of a circle:


Where “b” is the base of the triangle and “h” is its height.

Now imagine filling this circle up with identical triangles side to side so you get, say, an hexagon or an octagon with all side lengths b.  The area of this shape would be A=½bhn where “n” is the number of triangles.  In words, the area of one triangle (½bh) times the number of triangles (n).  This can be rearranged to A=½hbn.

Eventually, as the triangles get really small and the number of triangles get really large, the value of bn will approach the circumference of the circle (given by the formula 2πr) and the height of the triangle (h) will approach the radius of the circle (r).  So the new formula is:


Which simplifies to:


So!  Now we know how to find the area of a circle.  Back to the original problem.  If we divide the circle up like this:



Where “x” is the amount of radius shaved off of the flattened side and “r-x” is the length of a line running from the center of the circle to the middle of the flattened side, perpendicular to it.

Now we’ve effectively divided the shape into two portions: those two triangles (the ones with angle θ inside), and the rest of the circle, the pac-man-shaped part.

We’ll start with finding the area of the pac-man, since that’ll be harder.  We start with the triangle method:


Where again “b” is the base of the triangle, “h” is its height.  Again, we have the formula ½bhn, where “n” is the number of triangles.  Rearranged: ½hbn.  The value of “h”, of course, approaches “r”, and the value of “bn” approaches the circumference of the circle, minus the length of the arc of the section that’s missing.  This is given by the formula:

bn = 2πr – 2rθ

If θ is in radians (arc length over radius), rθ gives us half the arc length, times 2 to give us the whole arc length.  This can be simplified:

bn = 2r(π – θ)

Next, we need the area of those two triangles, the bases of which have a length of (r-x).  Easy enough.

A = 2(½bh)

= bh

= (r – x)[(r – x)(tanθ)]

Where “(x – r)(tanθ)” gives us the length of the side of the triangle opposite θ.  Simplified:

(r – x)²(tanθ)

So!  Our final formula is this:

A = 2r(π – θ) + (r – x)²(tanθ)

On the Values Charter

At the time of writing, the PQ tabled its charter of values (I refuse to refer to it by the propaganda name they prefer) in the Quebec National Assembly about an hour ago.  So I thought I’d quickly share my thoughts.

To begin with, cards out, I oppose the charter.  But to argue against its imposition requires an exploration of the rationale behind it.  So let’s begin.

It comes down to religious neutrality of the state, which sounds all right in the abstract, except that, much like in the case of negative and positive rights, religious neutrality can constitute anything from impartiality toward any one mode of religious expression to active suppression of all modes thereof.  The charter in question takes the latter route–which is harmful, destructive, and, if I weren’t worried about sounding fanatical, fascistic.

Any form of religious suppression (because let’s call this what it is) leads to alienation and resentment on the part of those whose religious rights are being curtailed, thus exacerbating any pre-existing tensions.  And for what, exactly?  To stop people having to be reminded that they live in a multicultural society?  Furthermore, any public official who would actually let their religious views affect their public service would not be stopped by this charter–one could even argue the opposite.

In the end, however, to look for a rationale behind the charter that’s grounded in political philosophy is futile.  The whole situation is best understood through the lens of sociology and as a function of both the nationalism that’s long been pervasive in Quebec and the secular reactionary sentiments that have only recently taken hold.

I’m impressed that the Liberals, despite being the great brokerage party, actually oppose the charter (if you believe the polls, it’s pretty popular among the Quebecois).  Hopefully it’s enough to derail the thing entirely.

Further Thoughts on Kay vs. Rebick

I was lying in bed a few nights ago thinking about something that Jonathan Kay said in the debate that I looked at in the last post, and I realized that I forgot to fully analyze it.  So I’ll do it now.

I would have written this earlier, but you know.  School and such.

Anyway, what I’m talking about is when he said, “You’ve got to accept every level of discussion on it[.]  It can’t just be the basket of issues that Idle No More wants[.]”  It’s important to note here that Rebick didn’t say she only wanted the favourite issues of Idle No More to be discussed.  What she did say, as a quick recap, is that Sun News treated Theresa Spence poorly in their coverage and that CBC should never have run the audit leak as a news story.  After that, Kay pointed out that the audit brought up the issue of governance, and that Idle No More didn’t like that.  Rebick replied that Idle No More isn’t opposed to discussions of governance, and Kay didn’t challenge her on that.  It was shortly after this that Kay made the statement now under the microscope.

It’s a rhetorical device that I’ve heard called “hedging one’s bet,” where a person dilutes their thesis such that it becomes uncontroversial.  It gives one’s opposition a chance to entertain the toned-down version, and thus can foster understanding between two sides of a debate (which is what I’m all about here at this blog).  But at the same time, it’s a convenient way to avoid real debate (usually the debate-inspiring specifics of one’s thesis are left out).  I think Kay’s statement had both effects.  The applause at the end signified that the audience (which, it seemed to me, was left-leaning and more sympathetic to Rebick) agreed with Kay’s diluted thesis–They agreed that Idle No More can’t try to silence discussion of certain topics that may be relevant to Native well-being.  However, Rebick already disagreed on the only specific of Kay’s thesis that he brought up, namely that Idle No More was opposed to discussions of governance and, as I mentioned before, she went unchallenged.  In other words, Rebick probably thought that Kay’s reasoning was valid, but not true (logic jargon, you can read the difference explained here).  Had he been looking for a really good point of debate, he could have tried to show that Idle No More is, in fact, opposed to discussions on this subject.  Therein lay the real disagreement.

Some Pitfalls of Live Debate

On February 1st, CBC’s Q with Jian Ghomeshi was in Hamilton doing a live broadcast before a crowd.

At one point, they brought out a media panel to discuss Idle No More, Chief Theresa Spence, and the media.  The panel was comprised of Jonathan Kay (National Post columnist), Judy Rebick (activist and founder) and Paul Berton (editor-in-chief of Hamilton Spectator).  The discussion was lively, but only really adversarial between Kay and Rebick.  They got into something of a debate.  It was entertaining to listen to, but little was resolved between them.  Upon listening again later (which you can do by clicking here.  The discussion begins around the thirty minute mark), I realized it was because there was no central proposition put forth to be supported or refuted by the debaters.  This enabled the figurative goalposts to be moved repeatedly, and led to a confusing exchange.  So I decided to transcribe a little section of the debate and analyze it.

My analysis is in italics.  Dialogue is in plain writing.

J Ghomeshi: Judy Rebick, your assessment of the news coverage you’ve seen of chief Theresa Spence?

J Rebick: I think it was disgraceful.  I think… *cheers and applause from audience*  I think first of all, by questioning whether it was a hunger strike without looking into what she was doing–it was actually an important ritual using fish soup.  It’s something Native people did in the old days to survive the winter, so it was very important to the spiritual part of what she was doing.  And then secondly, the audit.  I was horrified that the CBC accepted that leak of the audit as a news story.  It was a manipulation, I’m sure Harper’s government was behind it… *cheers and applause from audience*  And it wasn’t a news story.  I mean, that was last year’s story.  She was exonerated from any wrongdoing, and all the audit said was there was a problem with paperwork.  It wasn’t a big news story.  And what did it have to do with the hunger strike anyway?   So I think that started a kind of “get Chief Theresa Spence” thing  in the media.  And we had the horror stories of Sun Media calling her “fatty” and all this kind of stuff.  And very little respect to her, I thought.  And also misrepresenting what she wanted–She didn’t ask for a personal meeting with the Prime Minister and the Governor General, she asked for them to meet with all the chiefs.  And all the premiers, by the way.  That was her demand, that was her demand from the beginning, and it remained her demand.  So I really think the media treatment of her was disgraceful.  And I agree that there wasn’t enough discussion of the fundamental issues too.

Since there’s no central proposition, Rebick brings up two points and the debate begins two-pronged.

She doesn’t finish the thought that began with, “By questioning whether it was a hunger strike.”  She ends up explaining the significance of the fish soup and never gets back on track.  However, from what she did say, her argument seems to go as follows: The media shouldn’t have questioned whether Theresa Spence was really on a hunger strike because they didn’t know what she was actually doing (which, of course, doesn’t even make a rudimentary amount of sense–how else to find out what Spence was actually doing than by questioning whether her hunger strike really was one?)   Perhaps this would have turned into a cogent argument had she finished it.

Her next argument is that the audit should never have been published, and it goes as follows:  Spence was exonerated from any wrongdoing with regard to the handling of Attawapiskat’s funds.  The audit’s only claim to relevance was that it allegedly discredited Spence and showed that she was part of the swath of problems facing First Nations.  Therefore the audit was not relevant and should not have been published.  Of course, this whole syllogism hinges on Spence’s having been exonerated (For the record, a Google search of “Theresa Spence exonerated” yielded only two results that corroborated Ms. Rebick’s statement.  One was a comment on a Huffington Post article, the other was an article written on a bookstore/publishing company’s website.  Neither mentioned their sources.  I remain skeptical, but open-minded and curious).

J Ghomeshi: All right, Judy Rebick.  Said a lot.  Jonathan Kay?

J Kay: Look, Theresa Spence said, “I’m willing to die for this.”  She put herself at the center of the narrative, and when she said, “I’m willing to die for this,” it meant to Canadians that she was depriving herself of food.  So that became the drama, that became the story.  Once that became the story, it’s fair game for people to say, “If you’re willing to die, if you’re presenting yourself as a hunger striker, how much are you eating?”   And after six weeks of an alleged hunger strike, I think a lot of people, in good faith, are going to ask, “Where are we now?  Have you lost the fifty pounds that a hunger striker is going to lose, if you actually don’t eat?”  And I think a lot of people said, “Well, you know, it’s not legitimate if you question actually how many calories she’s eating.”  I don’t buy that.  If you’re telling people that you’re putting yourself at mortal risk, and you’re not losing weight, maybe Sun News put it in somewhat crass terms by calling her “fatty,” but guess what?  They were saying what a lot of people were thinking, because she put herself in the center of the narrative in that context.  As for leaking the audit, you know, bad governance on reserves happens to be one of the problems facing First Nations.  Not all reserves, some are very well-governed.  But bad governance, such as at Attawapiskat–and I visited Attawapiskat, and everybody there tells me the governance is horrible.  They tried to get rid of Theresa Spence in September.  And yet idle no more–

Here Kay is cut off by Rebick.

His first point isn’t a rebuttal, but rather a whole new argument (with regard to Rebick’s hunger strike comments, there is nothing to rebut).  He makes his position quite clear, but I’ll put in syllogism format nonetheless: When Spence said that she was willing to die, people were led to believe that she was depriving herself of all sustenance.  She was not.  Therefore the media was right to point this out.

Kay’s second point is a perfect example of the moving of goalposts.  He argues that releasing the audit brought up an important issue regarding native well-being, namely governance.  However, this doesn’t mean that the audit itself was relevant, and it doesn’t contradict Rebick’s assertion that it wasn’t.

He goes on to make a third argument.  He says that Spence did a poor job at governing Attawapiskat, as evidenced by the fact that that’s what the residents have told him and that they tried to get rid of her in September.  He doesn’t mention whether this poor governance has to do with the mismanaging of funds, and thus again doesn’t quite contradict Rebick (who, remember, said only that Spence was exonerated from any wrongdoing as far as finances are concerned.  Rebick didn’t exclude the possibility that Spence screwed up some other way.  But now I’m just splitting hairs).

J Rebick: Yeah, but that’s not the issue.  The issue–

It isn’t clear what Rebick meant by “that.”  She may have meant Spence’s governance or First Nations governance at large.  Kay interprets it as the latter.  It also isn’t clear what she meant by “the issue.”  She may have meant that it isn’t the largest issue affecting natives or that it isn’t the issue brought up by Idle No More.  Again, Kay interprets it as the latter:

J Kay: No, no.  The issue isn’t what you decide it is.  The issue, if it’s First Nations and how to improve their lives, the issue includes First Nations governance.  And Idle No More didn’t like it when that was raised.  They wanted–

J Rebick: That’s not true–

Just for clarification, Rebick here is responding to Kay’s statement that Idle No More didn’t like it when the issue of governance was raised, not his statement that governance is one of the issues relevant to the improvement of the lives of natives.

J Kay:  They wanted a raise on their t–

Kay drops his voice at the end of whatever word he says at the end of that sentence, making it inaudible.

J Rebick: Excuse me, that is not true.

J Kay: They wanted a raise on their t–

If you listen to the recording, it sounds kind of like “tips.”

J Rebick: Idle No More organized because they’re not happy with the existing leadership of First Nations.  That’s why there’s a grassroots movement to develop a different way of doing things. *applause*

J Kay: But Spence is one of those leaders.

J Rebick: So first of all, that’s not true that they don’t want to talk about that.  Not true.

J Kay (speaking concurrently): Spence is one of those leaders.  She’s one of those leaders.

Here, Kay and Rebick talk past one another.  Rebick argues that Idle No More is not opposed to discussions of governance, but she doesn’t make this unequivocal when she uses the term “existing leadership.”  So when Kay says that Spence is one of those leaders, that serves both to move the goalposts (again) by arguing that Spence is a bad chief, but also to make it clear that “existing leadership” includes chiefs.  This is confusing, since Rebick did seem to express discontent over the discussion of governance in her opening statement (If you read closely, she didn’t actually, but I can understand Kay thinking that she did), and Kay said that Idle No More was opposed to discussions of governance.  So both seem to be changing positions made minutes ago.

J Rebick: Number two, she said “I’m willing to die” because she successfully–and that’s the reason we’re all talking about it.  And you said, yourself, to me, it’s the reason you went up to the north–It’s because she inspired all the young people who moved out with Idle No More and she put the issue on the table.

Now this is really confusing.  Rebick doesn’t explain the causal relationship between Spence’s inspiring young people and her being willing to die.  Does she mean that Spence just said that to inspire people?  Bizarre.  Even more bizarre is the fact that Kay agrees.

J Kay: That’s true.

J Rebick: She put the issue on the table as the urgent issue that it is.  And that’s why we’re all talking about it now.  That’s why the Prime Minister had to blink for the first time that I can remember, and actually did something that he didn’t want to do. *audience cheers and applauds*

Not an argument.  Also, Rebick mentions “the issue” without clarifying what she means.  Kay interprets it as meaning the poor conditions that Natives live in.

J Kay: I agree with you that it was necessary and it was great to put that issue out there.  What I’m saying is that once that issue’s out there, once you’ve got journalists talking about it–like us–you’ve got to accept every level of discussion on it, in terms of governance, in terms of corruption, in terms of private property rights.  It can’t just be the basket of issues that Idle No More activists want, such as treaty rights.  It’s got to be everything. *audience cheers and applauds*

Here Kay hedges his bet.  His argument changes to a much more broadly applicable one, and he argues simply that “…you’ve got to accept every level of discussion[.]”  He doesn’t mention whether Idle No More disagrees with him (he already admitted they don’t with regard to governance).

So, perhaps a quick recap of the arguments made, boiled down to their essentials:

J Rebick: The audit wasn’t relevant should never have been released, because Theresa Spence did no wrong.

J Kay: Spence misled the public and the media was right to expose her hunger strike.  The audit raised the important issue of governance.  The governance of Attawapiskat is poor.

J Rebick: That’s not the issue.

J Kay: Yes it is.  Part of what plagues Natives is poor governance.  Idle No More didn’t want to discuss this.

J Rebick: Yes they did.

J Kay: But Theresa Spence is one of the people perpetuating the poor governance.

J RebickTheresa Spence said she was willing to die because she inspired young people.  She put the issue on the table.

J Kay: Agreed.  But Idle No More can’t choose the issues up for discussion.

So one sees the sort of chaos a debate can become when there’s no central proposition to be supported or refuted.  The goalposts are moved constantly, and very little is really resolved.

The discussion continued afterward, but I won’t keep commenting.  Transcribing this stuff is difficult, and this post has already ballooned into something much larger than I’d originally planned.  I’d only expected it to be about 1000 words.

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