The Power of Boo!

By Michael Nickerson

Boo! Oh relax. I’m not a violent jihadist. Not even a passive one. Seriously, you can get up off the floor now. I won’t hurt you. No, I don’t want your wallet. Honest. Look, I know you’re scared but please keep your cell phone, I don’t want it; not your address book, your birth certificate, your passport, or your season hockey tickets. I was simply trying to make a point, so if you would just pay attention … stop rolling around with your belly in the air! My God, you’re worse than a puppy in a thunderstorm.

Does this sound like you? No? Well you must not be a Canadian. I’m sure you’ve heard of Canadians: timid creatures for the most part, scared of their own shadows, or at least women in face coverings who remind them of their shadows. And they wonder what lurks in the shadows, like perhaps Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, or something just as foreign and sinister. Nothing good, that’s for certain, or as certain as a Canadian can be.

See, Canadians can also be a confused, irrational lot. Easily perplexed and led astray by the complexities of life and the world around them. Why, put a whoopee cushion on one of their chairs, and before you know it they’ll be hiding in the attic waiting for the authorities to give the all clear, or perhaps just CPR. Those cushions can be pretty frightening after all.

Not that all Canadians are prone to cardiac arrest at the sound of a fart or sight of an untrimmed beard. There is a subspecies with a bit more backbone, and Canadians are more than happy to send them off to who knows where to confront the shadows and threats to what they hold dear. They’re known as soldiers. Epic heroes, lauded and fawned over by the general herd, there to confront threats and risk their lives for, well, lots of things.

Let’s see, hmm. Ah yes, democracy! Freedom of speech! The liberty to do, well, things … just not to cover your face. Because that’s scary, and we just can’t have that. And curiously enough, having sent soldiers off to defend all these very important things (and die doing it, which actually is a pretty scary thing too, when you think about it), Canadians happily give all those important things up the second they have a fright.

An odd reaction when you consider the sacrifices in lives, blood, sweat, tears, and billions and billions of Canadian dollars to acquire and keep all those really important rights, which then get tossed out the moment someone goes Boo! But it’s the reason why people wonder about not just the courage of Canadians, but their intellect and sanity.

Now there is many a saying about the propensity of people to overreact: throwing out the baby with the bath water, cutting off your nose to spite your face, making a mountain out of a molehill, and the like. But such clichés make little sense to the average Canadian. If you suggest that it’s a great idea to burn your house down to rid yourself of three rodents and a pair of roaches, well they’ll nod knowingly and hand you a match and gas card to go do it for them, now there’s a good chap.

For out of all sense of proportion that the threat of terrorism presents, be it “violent jihadism” or “flagrant wearing of head coverings,” Canadians and their elected officials are ready to sign away all their hard-earned (well, earned by other people, though let’s not split hairs) rights to save them from an apparent apocalypse of, well, apocalyptic proportions.

But curb or revoke my right to drive? No way! Force me to register a firearm? Over my cold, dead body (which at times has been rather prophetic). Force me to inoculate my children, cross at the lights, eat less trans fats, or cut short my golf game just because there is a storm raging overhead? My good man, let’s be reasonable.

Well, being reasonable would mean acknowledging that all those things have killed or injured far more Canadians each and every year than terrorists have managed in the entire existence of Canada. Yet Canadians are poised to allow their rights, already eroded and abused, to be signed away in the name of safety from a threat that ranks somewhere around that of in-grown toenail infections. Make sense? Nope, but it’s damn scary.