From POGGEh, I have learned that Arash Sigarchi has been sentenced to fourteen years for, essentially, blogging in Iran.

If you follow this link, you’ll be given instructions on how you can help.


Jim Elve of BlogsCanada wrote to me Friday morning, asking for opinions on the tragic shooting of four RCMP officers outside a marijuana grow-op in northern Alberta.

I think we have some serious discussion that needs to take place on the RCMP shootings and the surrounding issues. I’ve posted something on the E-group to get the ball rolling. I hope you’ll find time to join in.

I didn’t know what to say. In some ways, I still don’t. I’m still clearing my throat, here, hoping that something will come.

What can one say about such a tragedy without sounding trite? Timmy G at Voices in the Wilderness puts a personal face on this in ways that I shouldn’t expect to top. The RCMP haven’t experienced casualties such as this since the Northwest Rebellion of 1880. A community has lost four friends, family members, sons and fathers. The four officers gave their lives in service to their country, and should be remembered along with the others on November 11.

As Jim notes, this tragedy raises all sorts of questions on a number of issues, not the least of which are the decriminalization of marijuana and Canada’s gun control registry. And soon after I heard of this tragedy, I expected the Canadian blogosphere to catch fire, pointing to the incident as evidence of the need for/against legalizing marijuana. But what I think is remarkable is how it didn’t.

I’ve heard rumours of some on the right using this tragedy to highlight the dangers of decriminalizing marijuana, and some on the left using this tragedy to highlight the dangers of not decriminalizing it. It’s at once proof of the need and the futility of the government’s gun control registry. Rumours, as I said. But looking through my blogroll, I see that my contacts with the Canadian blogosphere by and large have not made hay out of this.

Andrew at Bound by Gravity took the high road, though one or two of his commentators didn’t. Robert McClelland also took the high road. And, on BlogsCanada, we have a sensible discussion that refrains from finger pointing, and which acknowledges the complexity of what happened. From POGGE:

More details are emerging now. This didn’t start out as a raid on a growop but as an attempt to repossess a pickup truck. When the officers got there they found evidence of a chop-shop and about 20 marijuana plants - hardly a serious grow operation.

It does sound as though the murderer was crazy, and a ticking time bomb just waiting to go off.

You know what? Nothing has really changed, save for the fact that we have four people to mourn. The incident shouldn’t change people’s mind on whether or not to legalize marijuana or whether or not to scrap the gun control registry. Some people on both sides of the spectrum may have had their opinions reinforced, but the room for either side’s arguments have not been reduced, and we shouldn’t let this tragedy become an excuse to lose our heads.

The last word, I think, should go to Stephen Harper, who spoke eloquently and sensibly, and also took the high road:

“there are calls for immediate and drastic action, whether it’s [that] the left will call for more gun control or the right will call for tougher penalties.”

The truth is, he said, there is no real way to protect people from every possible situation if a dangerous or disturbed individual lashes out.

“We can’t just run out on the basis of a single tragedy and make up a bunch of laws.”

Bravo, Mr. Harper. Bravo.

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