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It needs to Stop!

It seemed, for a while, Friday, that we were going to get a taste of what other regions of Canada have experienced recently — a flood of Biblical proportions.

It seemed, for a while, Friday, that we were going to get a taste of what other regions of Canada have experienced recently — a flood of Biblical proportions.

The skies opened and the rain came down, and ditches and creeks overflowed and streets were submerged in running water. Fortunately, and despite the tremendous amount of rain that did fall, the deluge lasted only about a half hour.

While there was plenty of damage that occurred, it was minimal as compared to the recent floods in Alberta.

Driving around, today, I noticed many areas where gravel shoulders had been washed away in spots, there are school yards and fields that still have standing water on them, there are trees that were uprooted, and we have likely all seen the pictures of the minivan stuck in the flooded Wellington Street underpass.

That incident, in particular, has been garnering a fair bit of comment, and what I have heard has been most offensive, frankly.

There were people in a local restaurant where I breakfasted this morning  making quite disparaging comments about the driver, and questioning this person’s intelligence.

I also listened in a local convenience store while a (male) customer and a (male) potato chip sales rep made further disparaging remarks about the driver, whom they were certain must have been a female. 

When I raised a questioning eyebrow at the customer, he shrugged sheepishly, although he didn’t quite apologize.

The sales rep, however, went even further to speculate how this driver’s husband would be obviously questioning why he had married her in the first place.

I found that comment very offensive, and told him to remember his comments should he find himself in a similarly awkward position someday.

What concerns me is that people make comments and leap to conclusions, knowing absolutely nothing about the situation other than a couple of pictures in the media.

They possess no facts whatsoever, and yet are able to diagnose what happened and lay the blame squarely where — they feel — it belongs.

So, what facts don’t we know?

• What was the depth of the water when the van attempted to drive through the underpass?

• Were there other vehicles ahead of this van that made it through?

• Did the driver, upon going through the lights and beginning the descent suddenly realize the water was too deep and then tried to stop, but was unable?

We have seen pictures. An early picture on SooToday showed the van submerged to about half-way up the doors. A later picture showed the water part-way up the window, and a still later picture shows only most of the vehicle submerged in the murky brown water.

Another fact we don’t know is how fast the water was rising. How far apart were the three photos I mentioned taken? 

That van may have been following other vehicles that made it through, but the water could have been rising too fast. The engine could have stalled out, stranding the vehicle, and then the water would certainly have continued to rise.

In other areas, I watched water flowing very quickly, and I can well imagine how fast the water would have been flowing down Carmen’s Way and both sides of Wellington West leading in to the underpass.

The driver may well have abandoned the vehicle before the water even reached the door sills — we just don’t have that information.

But, some people looked at those pictures and just knew what had happen, and felt it their duty to let others know how “stupid” that driver was.

And that was bad enough.

But to make the statement that the driver was obviously a woman?

I’m not sure what irritated me more, the simple jumping to conclusion, or the misogynistic attitude of those two men in the convenience store… but I’m leaning toward the latter.

As most readers will know, I am a driving instructor. I have taught roughly equal numbers of male and female students.

I cannot say that one group is better than the other. I have had students of both genders that struggled, students of both genders that were “naturals,” and most can be described as “average.” Gender is not an issue.

I am also a school teacher, and I have not noticed a difference in the overall abilities between male and female students. Again, some struggle, some excel, and most can be described as “average.” Gender is not an issue.

It baffles me that there are still people who cling to such a distorted view of humanity, who truly believe that males are somehow superior.

There has been a great deal of attention given to the problem of bullying, whether in schools or online “cyber-bullying.” While in an overwhelming number of cases both the perpetrators and the victims are children and teens, there are adults, too, who are both perpetrators and victims.

SooToday entertainment editor Donna Hopper recently posted a video on her Facebook page, that depicts an experiment on bullying. Three apparently teenaged girls were in a coffee shop, making entries on a social network page on their laptop, loudly commenting — negatively — about the person they were targeting.

It was undeniably bullying. At one point they even asked another customer to record a message,  saying “hi” to their target, and telling her she’s ugly. He did.

Fortunately, others refused to participate, and a few even gave the girls a piece of their mind for their bullying behaviour.

I’m not sure at what point it became acceptable for anyone — child, youth or adult — to berate another human being, or worse, to join in with others who are doing so.

“I’m just saying!” is the rallying cry of those who wish to make disparaging remarks without being held accountable for their actions.

In online forums, at public meetings, in letters to editors, and in face-to-face confrontations, there are people who seem to believe they have the “right” to say whatever they want, regardless of how hurtful their words might be, or even whether their comments are pertinent to the discussion at hand.

Really, “You’re a moron,” is hardly a witty rebuttal to an opinion with which one disagrees, and yet all too often that is the level of debate one encounters.

I am often accused of “sitting on the fence” for not taking a stand one way or another on an issue.

The fact is that, in many cases I can see both sides of an issue — sometimes I can recognize that there may even be further positions to be considered.

As well, why would I want to offer an opinion, knowing that people’s responses will be nothing more than disparaging remarks?

I tend to follow the principles of that time-honoured philosopher, Thumper’s Father.

You remember… from the movie Bambi. When Thumper makes an unkind comment, his mother asks him, “Thumper, what did your father tell you?”

Thumper bashfully replies, “If ya can’t say nuthin’ nice… don’t say nuthin’ at all.”

Wonderful, timeless advice.

We need to treat each other with far more respect than is generally the case. Whether comments are made about some anonymous person one has neither met nor even seen, a fellow participant in an online discussion forum, or a co-worker, friend or family member, what is to be gained from being insulting?

I am reminded of an old saying: Blowing out my candle will not make yours shine any brighter.

Hurling insults at another does not demonstrate one’s intellectual or moral supremacy.

Whether its a misogynistic diatribe, or just a straight-from-the lips insult, it needs to stop.


But… that’s just my opinion.