March madness Ray Guy once called it.
In a normal year, March is the time when the animals rights crowd, a raft of C and D list celebrities and Newfoundland politicians chew up precious oxygen arguing the merits of smashing in seal skulls with clubs.
This year promises to be an abnormal year.
First, someone tosses a shaving cream pie into the mug of the Canadian fisheries minister.
Then a local politician gives a local radio audience this idea:
"I am calling on the Government of Canada to actually investigate whether or not this organization, PETA, is acting as a terrorist organization under the test that exists under Canadian law."
The Canadian Press story from which those words were taken includes this bit:
In an interview with radio station VOCM in St. John's, N.L., on Tuesday, [Gerry] Byrne said he thinks what happened should be reviewed under the legal definition of terrorism.
"When someone actually coaches or conducts criminal behaviour to impose a political agenda on each and every other citizen of Canada, that does seem to me to meet the test of a terrorist organization," said the MP from Newfoundland and Labrador.
The story wound up in Aaron Wherry’s blog at macleans.ca without much comment from Wherry. One of his readers nailed the whole thing in two separate comments. They are reproduced here for posterity:
There are about a million ways to respond to a pie in the face that do not require stretching our terrorism laws until they lose all meaning. Gail Shea could sue. She could seek charges under the criminal code for assault. She could ridicule PETA. She could admit they have a case and argue, sternly, that this is not the way to press that case. The reason it "might sound ridiculous" to seek to designate PETA as a terrorist organization because one of its members tossed a pie is because it is ridiculous.
The pertinent phrase here is "in an interview...with VOCM." You don't go on VOCM if you're planning to be thoughtful about NL's household gods: the fishery, the weather, resource revenues, equalization or Danny Williams. You go on VOCM to compete with every other NL politician to demagogue these issues around the block. It's a bit like the op-ed page of Le Devoir or the speaker's podium at the Petroleum Club. Local orthodoxies are there to be paid obeisance, not questioned.
That pretty much says it all.
Related: “Who’d waste the ammo?” (2005) Warning: not all links in that old post might still be working, much like the celebs who do the anti-fur thing each spring.
Incidentally: For those so inclined to ponder these things, here is a succinct statement of the law in Canada: “The non-consensual application of force by one person to another is an assault…”. The PETA stunter applied force to fish minister Gail Shea in the form of a shaving cream pie. Shea did not consent to the application of force.
For those Connie supporters out there who are screaming blue murder over the incident and looking for charges to be laid, they are on the right track. But then again, that would also have been the right track for Connie party lout who assaulted a reporter during the 2006 campaign.