Thursday, January 22, 2015

Al Jolson lives

  I can't speak for the black community because I'm not a member, but I suspect it's bemusing to watch white people argue over what constitutes racism.
   Duelling columns in the Globe and Mail this week tackled the relative cultural merits of a prominent Quebec theatre company's use of blackface in a portrayal of Canadiens defenceman PK Subban.  On the one hand, you have the earnestly progressive Toronto commentator tut-tutting about how the shameful history of blackface renders it inappropriate in any modern scenario.  On the other hand, there's the defiant Quebec scribe defending the skit as entirely acceptable within the francophone cultural context.  Interestingly, that I'm aware of no one has asked PK Subban what he thinks, and he's probably happy they haven't, because he's got enough on his plate without being drawn into a controversy over racism.
   On the heels of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the consensus on free speech standards has - temporarily, at least - broadened to the point where offensive expression falls under the banner of free expression.  That's not to say there can't be consequences, but that's part of the risk of bring provocative, and in a free society the right to offend is a superior alternative to arbitrary censorship.  Better that we make our own judgments than have them made for us by smug progressives or backwards apologists.

1 comment:

  1. Like you once said, some folks these days are just waiting for a reason to be offended. (to pounce).
    Myself, I'd put this PK thing in the category. An over the top reaction. The offence-du-jour at the moment is Eugenie being ask to twirl-dance In Australia. Its at worst a lame request. As was last year's question from the same Tournament; ''who's a guy you'd like to date?''
    You can put into question if its reasonable to ask but a full-out controversy?!