Friday 01 Aug 2014

Letter to the Editor
David Simmonds

On September 15 this paper ran an article entitled "Busy Candidates", purporting to be a multiple choice guide for mayoral aspirants. The views expressed in that article and in the column generally are entirely those of the author and never represent those of this paper.  

In particular, the statement "if we were all three feet tall, we'd be Martians" was demeaning to a group of people bearing a common characteristic, as is specifically prohibited by s.205(3)(b)(iv)(3.1) of the Ontario Human and Other Life Forms Rights Act, and made without an evidentiary foundation and therefore in breach of Part IV of the Accusations Act, in particular s.99(9)(a)(i)4 thereof.  

The Wellington Times unreservedly washes its hands of the whole gosh darned thing, and undertakes to provide the complainant  the Canadian Friends of Mars (charitable registration  #MAR0p4588888888) with a free subscription to the Times for one month.  It has also sent the author on assignment to an indefinite period of alien cultural sensitivity training in the environment referred to in the demeaning statement; the cost of the return portion of which trip is to be borne by the author. 

THE BACKROUND DOCUMENTS (EXCERPTED)

September 16
Letter to Canadian Friends of Mars (CFOM).  Marked 'confidential'.
Grp tks jsp ipp ytt frr pkj xjj Wellington Times!  Cfd rtt pll kss "three feet tall."  Nvv lkk rww sjm writer a one way ticket to Mars!!

September 18
Letter from CFOM to the Wellington Times.  
We hereby call upon you to withdraw the referenced remark and make apology therefor, and to provide alien cultural sensitivity training to the author as provided for in the Accusations Act.

September 20
Memo from publisher to columnist.
We have received a letter complaining about the way you stereotyped Martians.  What shall we do?

September 21
Memo from columnist to publisher.
Nothing.  In the immortal words of Mr. Toad from Wind in the Willows, "I'm not sorry at all."

September 22
Memo from publisher to columnist
I'm getting more worried about this.  They could complain to our advertisers.  Better come up with something.

September 24
Memo from columnist to publisher.
How about a 'John Crosbie' apology - you know, the "pass the tequila, Sheila" incident?  I'm paraphrasing him, but it came out something like  "I sincerely regret if anyone was stupid enough to take offence at what was obviously an attempt at humour.  I'm only apologizing because I was told to."

September 27
Memo from publisher to columnist.
I'm starting to feel the heat.  We've got to come up with something better.

September 30 
Memo from columnist to publisher.
How about we follow the current trend towards an equivocal apology. Take Stephen Harper's apology on behalf of the Canadian government to Maher Arar - for "any role Canadian officials may have played in (your) terrible ordeal"; or Richard Nixon apologizing for  "any injury that may have been done" by his Watergate shenanigans.  Come on, boys: if you contributed to causing harm,  just apologize; if you didn't, don't bother; and if you're not sure then the apology is inherently insincere.  

Or how about the classic "but I was only trying to...", guilty-with-an-explanation apology.  Take this classic piece of Bill Clinton Lewinsky bafflegab: "I've tried to do a good job taking care of this country, even when I haven't taken such good care of myself and my family and my obligations. I hope that you and others I have injured will forgive me for the mistakes I've made, but the most important thing is you must not let it deter you from meeting your responsibilities as citizens." 
So we can say "the Times regrets any hurt the column may have caused Martians, but we were pulling out all the stops trying to interest readers in a municipal election.  Besides, the paper is free."    If you want something less flippant, you can find numerous websites, such as imsorry.com, to show you how to say sorry

October 6
Memo from publisher to columnist.
I've arranged for you to take what should be an interesting fact finding trip with our complainant.  I'll fill your space easily enough.  Be in your driveway at 8 sharp on Monday and look for a yellow flying saucer and little green people with ropes.

October 7
Memo from columnist to publisher
I just remembered the old saw that truth is an absolute defence.  So I'll go!  I'll be filing an expense claim when I get back.

October 8
Letter to CFOM.
xgd itg ekc osc ytg  plk kmj  scd pumpkinfest October 16 xxd  fdf  lkt wjk bulk order Hillier Women's Institute apple dumplings by October 13.

October 9
Memo from CFOM to publisher.
We enclose a self explanatory memo dated October 8.  We assume you will make the necessary arrangements.

October 10'
Memo from publisher to columnist.  Marked 'urgent'. 
Sorry for the last minute notice.  The trip's been put back a week.  Why don't you take the time to enjoy Pumpkinfest.  Oh, before I forget, would you leave room in your suitcase for a little hostess gift.  I hope you don't mind the warm aroma of pasty and apples.

David Simmonds, by nurture, is a lawyer. By nature, he is a perceptive writer, with a gimlet eye; a superb folk singer, lyricist and composer. Simmonds believes quirkiness is universal. This is his focus and the base of his creativity. His goal is to create gentle humour, in word and song. 'If my humour hurts,' he says, 'it's after the stiletto comes out.' Simmonds is an urban satirist on par with Mike Barnacle, Jimmy Breslin and the late Mike Rokyo. He writes from and often about the village of Wellington Ontario. Simmonds also writes for the Wellington "Times."

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