Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Runt of the Literati

It has been a long time since I have thought of Michael Harris as a serious commentator of social and political events. Consequently, I usually choose to ignore him. However, the other day he wrote an Op-Ed in The Ottawa Sun about the piglets left, in the hot sun, outside Datlon McGuinty's constituency office (which I wrote about here). Here's a sample:

It caused a big stir. The politicians were shocked and appalled. Animal rights activists were squealing like ... well, you know. Luckily, the “abandoned” piglets were sent to a “foster farm.” Everyone likes happy endings, even if in a few months time these adorable porkers will be in packages not pens.

As is so often the case these days, decorum has become an indispensable component of making your point.

Be against the war, but don’t burn the flag; denounce the inaction from various seats of government, but don’t dump a load of manure on the front lawn of the legislature.

I say rev up the John Deeres. It is said that every society is seven missed meals away from chaos. So you would think that our governments would pay more attention to the men and women who provide our food. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not produced at the grocery store.

So we can either denounce the invasion of the piglets or ask a question King George might have asked when they began throwing tea into Boston Harbor: Why are the loyal subjects flipping their wigs?

What the h*ll is he talking about?

It is this line, "[i]t is said that every society is seven missed meals away from chaos", that seems the most convoluted. I understand that Michael Harris long ago gave up reasoned argument in favour of spouting catch phrases ("those who seek vengeance dig two graves!!!!", "lets out fox the fox!!!!"), but this one doesn't even make sense; aside from suggesting that an all pork diet is the epitome of health, there is no reason to believe that the closure of local hog farms will bring the world agriculture market to its knees, thus starving us all. Even if we accept that we need to artificially prop up this industry (despite the fact that it will make us all poorer), how on earth could a McGuinty-directed fatwa agaisnt the term "swine flu" have saved these anemic farms?

If hollow rhetoric will sustain us all, Michael Harris is the boy offering his loaves and fishes.

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