Sunday Sermon: Unhappy Anniversary

Today is the 20th anniversary of the Montreal massacre. Twenty years since a disturbed hater took his insane politics and a rifle to a Montreal school and murdered 14 female engineering students because his life was garbage and in his mad little brain it was somehow the fault of successful, independent women.

Twenty years later, and everything still sucks. (Toronto Star)

In some ways it sucks more, since the Conservative minority government has no idea what the hell it needs to do for women. Here's an article on that by Bernadette Wagner, which we published last year (reprinted on Rabble).


Twenty years ago I was a know-nothing volunteer at a student newspaper. On Dec. 6, 1989, the production night of the terms' last issue, we got the Canadian University Press wire story of the shooting. It was late, the paper was nearly done, and we decided not to run it. For the next month, the University of Manitoba's holiday edition newspaper sat in it's distribution stands shamefully free of any reference to the biggest story at a Canadian university in memory.


The thing is, this oversight is just typical. Every day women are menaced, threatened, frightened, hurt, abused and killed by their partners, co-workers, acquaintances and strangers. The scale of violence is so enormous we can't even see it right before our faces. And when we do give our attention to the horror we look at it as "isolated incidents" rather than seeing the bigger picture--that even now, in a time and place where many things are better, there is what amounts to an undeclared war on women.

This "can't see the forest for the trees" problem is what makes governments like our current awful Conservative one comfortable dismantling the programs and protections women need, from attacks on Status of Women to killing national day care to wrecking the firearm registry to undermining reproductive rights. The way right-wingers see things, there are no patterns or trends, only individual situations. It's deranged. But I'm getting off topic.

The point is, we as a society have problems. And pretending that we don't or that they're all behind us does not help us move forward.

I'll wrap up by sharing something I realized today. I have a friend who's an engineer. I've never thought of this friend as an engineer--I think of her as a fun pal, a comrade in restaurant adventures, a travelling companion to NHL games and my second-most despised arch-enemy in our hockey pool. (Her partner, code-name "Flipper", remains villain #1.)

But if my friend was older, and if she'd gone to a different school to be an engineer, I might not have met her. She might have been shot. Because she was female, succeeding at something some people still think women shouldn't be allowed to do.

Kind of brought it home today.

Reginans are invited to attend a candlelight vigil today with special focus on Bill C-391, which would scrap the federal long gun registry. The vigil starts at 4:00 at Conservative MP Ray Boughan's office, 2631 28th Ave. More information here.

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