Pubdate: Thu, 13 Jul 2006
Source: NOW Magazine (CN ON)
Copyright: 2006 NOW Communications Inc.
Author: Alan Young


But we're such hypocrites, we're loathe to admit it. Talk about an
identity crisis.

Canadians are in the throes of an identity crisis that borders on neurotic
hypocrisy. Take, for example, the results of three polls released in
anticipation of Canada Day: a Leger Marketing report stating that 58 per
cent of Canadians believe that pornography is immoral; a Strategic Counsel
poll concluding that 94 per cent of baby boomers don't smoke pot; and a
Reader's Digest survey ranking Toronto as the third-most-polite city in the
world behind trash-talking New York, the surprise winner.

The consistent thread linking these three polls is the utter lack of
honesty and self-awareness Canadians exhibit in responding to these

Even though pornogrpahy is an $11 billion industry in North America,
no one ever admits to watching porn. When's the last time someone
showed up at work and told his/her co-workers that they must run out
and rent International Dick Of Mystery? Pornography exists in a world
of denial. We indulge and we condemn, sometimes in the same breath.

This hypocrisy of simultaneously engaging in the pleasure of
indulgence while maintaining a dignified disapproval is also apparent
when talking about pot. The suggestion that 94 per cent of baby
boomers see marijuana as a mere youthful indulgence is undercut by
many other surveys showing steady increases in the percentage of
people in the 30-to-50 age group who still consume pot.

Pierre Berton may have been the only aging Canadian icon with the
courage to admit to long-term pot use, but there are plenty of silent,
stoned middle-aged Canadians leading highly productive lives. Yet
these same stoners deny their pot use and claim to be actively
steering their kids away from this bad habit. No wonder the laws have
not changed in the past 40 years.

Similarly, the notion of Toronto the Polite is somewhat

I would be happy to concede that in T.O. the courteous probably
outnumber the rude and obnoxious. However, this surface impression
obscures the fact that the American cultural preference for
confrontational and aggressive posturing is slowly becoming the
Canadian way.

We may actually act in a fairly civil manner when in public, but we
find ridicule and humiliation highly entertaining and are willing to
pay other people to be very uncivil on our behalf.

We may not have produced many Simon Cowells, Nancy Graces, Judge Judys
or Howard Sterns, but we eat this garbage up as readily as our friends
to the south.

We may still act a lot like Miss Manners, but we love seeing others
use speech as a weapon and not as a mode of informative discourse.

Look at legal culture in Canada. The profession is mired in a culture
of arrogant and aggressive posturing largely because this is what the
public believes is required for effective lawyering. Like dogs playing
in the park, it is believed that legal professionals must always
appear dominating. If not, some stronger dog will come over and piss
on their leg. So the institutional role of the lawyer becomes

The shark. The bulldog. The champion. The gilded mouthpiece. The
sarcastic and intemperate advocate.

This view of the lawyer is largely shaped by television and the
expectations of many polite Canadians.

On occasion there are cases where an aggressive, bold and insulting
advocate serves the ends of justice, but more often then not the
posturing just gets in the way. A good performance does not guarantee
a sound verdict.

Just last month a Commission of Inquiry into three recent cases of
wrongful convictions in Newfoundland concluded that a contributing
factor in two of the three miscarriages of justice was a "Crown
culture" driven by inflammatory advocacy, tunnel-vision and a
competitive need to win.

As for porn and pot, little can be done to force secret hedonists out
into the open, but the legal profession has tried to address the
problem of increasing rudeness among members of the bar. At a Canadian
Bar Association meeting the following advice was given to lawyers:
"Never wrestle with a pig you only get dirty, and the pig likes it."

This may be good advice, but it's hard to act upon because in Canada
the consummate professional will never admit to being a pot smoker, a
porn surfer or a pig.
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MAP posted-by: Derek