Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

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21

Oct

2018

The revenge motive for imprisonment

Author: Jim Taylor

Recreational cannabis is now legal in Canada. Whoopee. I’m already sick of listening to the endless pros and cons about what cannabis will do to the fabric of our society. Cave dwellers probably had the same debates about how fermented grape juice would change history, if and when anyone got around to writing it.

            Instead, let’s talk about recreational killing.

            That’s what I said -- recreational killing.

            In hindsight, that seems to be the only adequate description for the actions of Paul Bernardo and Karla Homulka, 26 years ago. The two of them abducted, drugged, tortured, repeatedly raped, and murdered four girls, one of them Karla’s own sister.

            They did it for fun.


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30

Sep

2018

Sexual predators incapable of hearing ‘No’

Author: Jim Taylor

The week opened with genial father-figure Cliff Huxtable -- better known as Bill Cosby -- named a “sexually violent predator” and sentenced to three to ten years in prison. In a Pennsylvania court, Cosby was found guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting a Canadian woman, Andrea Constand,

            The same week, Christine Blasey Ford, professor at Palo Alto University, testified before a U.S. Senate committee that she had been the victim of attempted rape by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, 36 years earlier.

             Also, former media celebrity Gian Ghomeshi published an essay in the New York Review of Bookswhitewashing his own sexual escapades. Although Ghomeshi was acquitted, Ontario Court Justice William Horkins made clear that he was not saying that “these events never happened.”

           Three threads run through this sorry tapestry.


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7

Jan

2018

A war is not over when a war ends

Author: Jim Taylor

“It ain’t over till it’s over,” New York Yankee’s famed catcher Yogi Berra once said. Berra may be right about baseball; he was wrong about wars. Wars don’t end when someone wins. They end only when the last generation of victims dies.

            That’s what makes the recent UNICEF report on child victims so disturbing. Child victims will live longer than adult victims. 

            UNICEF’s statistics are staggering. 

            The deaths are bad enough: 700 children killed by conflicts in Afghanistan; 135 children forced to act as suicide bombers in sub-Saharan West Africa. But – pardon me for even saying this – at least they’re now dead. They won’t carry their experiences with them for the rest of their lives. 

            Not so the survivors. In Ukraine, 220,000 still play amid landmines and unexploded ordnances. In Yemen, 5,000 children have been injured by war against terrorist factions. In Myanmar, almost half of the 650,000 Rohinga refugees forced from their homes into Bangladesh are children. In the (grossly misnamed) Democratic Republic of Congo, 850,000 children have been driven from their homes.



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3

Dec

2017

#MeToo hashtag should terrify every man

Author: Jim Taylor

The #MeToo hashtag should give all men a sense of dread. Suddenly, they’re vulnerable to charges of harassment, groping, or even rape -- from a time when they didn’t know any better.

            No one, it would seem, is immune. Film producers, network executives, politicians, news anchors – the list keeps growing.

            Perhaps we should be grateful to Harvey Weinstein. However repugnant his treatment of women, it has made it possible for women all over the world to talk about their experiences at the hands of men (that’s both a pun and an indictment) that they have, until now, suppressed. Or repressed.

            “I am a rape survivor,” a woman named Brenda wrote in an online petition. “I used to be ashamed to say those words. Not anymore. For almost 20 years, after I was gang-raped by four men, I lived in fear. In the recent past, I’ve shared my story and committed my life to fighting back.”

            A professional counsellor and psychology professor told me, “I could tell within the first five minutes whether a woman had been sexually abused. A woman could function just fine, but it was always there and would be for the rest of her life.”


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21

Oct

2017

Sex scandal is more about power than sex

Author: Jim Taylor

Two weeks ago, I had never even heard the name of Harvey Weinstein. Since then, his partly-shaven face has appeared on almost every TV newscast or entertainment program, every day.

            The Weinstein scandal has even changed the rules of what broadcasters can and can’t say on air. “Masturbation” and “erection” were once taboo words. But one can’t talk about Weinstein’s indiscretions without using them. 

            The Fox network listed 41 women who accused Weinstein of everything from vaginal rape to forcing them to watch while he masturbated, from fondling and groping them to forcing them to give him a massage. 

            The key word in that last sentence is “forcing.” 



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