“There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge,” said Isaac Asimov, a famed science fiction writer, in a Newsweek column decades earlier.
Substitute “Kelowna” where the “United States” is and you have the quote that came to mind this morning when I read yet another series of comments aimed at attaching malevolent intent into the city’s new rainbow crosswalks.
One of the champions of bland road markings even invoked the name of the Supreme Court of Canada this week as they railed against the city for splashing around a little colour in support of the LGBTQ community.
Of course, there were no specific grounds for legal action offered, as doing that would require a higher level of understanding of this country’s court system.
There was, however, mention yet again about misuse of taxpayers money.
Concern about the cost of a few paltry cans of paint, but none for the buckets of dollars that would be spent on a Supreme Court Challenge dealing with the whingeing of a small minority?
Back to my point, though. That wrong-minded belief that “my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge” has people all worked up and pixels are being wasted from one end of the internet to the other, breathing life into the angry thoughts being made by the vocal minority.
But why are we talking about it at all? From what I can see there has been no legal action, as there’s little to no basis for there to be any legal actions. Threats to the contrary are just the hateful ramblings of a few malcontents being blown way out of proportion.
And there really is no place for hateful vitriol in my world, so I’m irked that I’ve been forced to read these foolish views over and over again. In part because I know what this community is about, so I know where to file this rubbish, but I wonder about everyone else.
Kelowna has some warts, but the vast majority of people who live in this community are decent, open-minded and kind. I have no empirical evidence, but I do talk to a lot of people and I’m sure most of them value the type of inclusivity needed for a healthy, functioning, forward-moving society. (In case you don’t, the United Nations laid out the case for inclusivity during World Summit for Social Development, which was held in March 1995.)
So there’s something strangely self loathing about the way Kelowna lifts its less stellar representatives into the spotlight for all the world to see and judge us by.
Does anyone honestly believe there aren’t bigots in Vancouver, Victoria and wherever else these crosswalks have been painted?
Of course there are.
Those cities just don’t air their ugly bits in the same inglorious fashion as we do ours, by tweeting, facebooking and generally covering them into undeserved legitimacy.
Education campaigns in those cities, just as in ours, do the heavy lifting when it comes to enlightenment. And,as more people become aware, that knowledge and understanding spreads. Never once has an online flame-war amounted to a clearer perspective.
So, here’s my request, Kelowna.
Let’s just shut it down. It’s wrong. We know that the nasty thoughts of small group are wrong. And we know they don’t share the view of the majority.
Let the awful people lurking in dark corners and on unsavoury internet chat forums stay in their dark corners and let’s collectively fight the instinct to share or weigh in on their ignorance. In the age of the Internet, we all have great publishing power, so we should use it judiciously.
Then the rest of us can have some peace of mind when we use the lovely new colourful crosswalks and some pride for the city that chose to set us off on the right foot.