Re Vaclav Havel, Czech Playwright And President, Dead At 75 (online, Dec. 18): The death of Vaclav Havel gives us an opportunity to pause and reflect on his greatest gift – the moral force of his words.
Of these, perhaps the following passage from a 1994 address in Philadelphia best captures the uncertainty of our times. “In short, we live in the post-modern world, where everything is possible and almost nothing is certain.” Indeed.
Paul Moist, Winnipeg
Re The Meaning Of Hitch (Dec. 17):
“God does not exist.” – Hitchens.
“Hitchens does not exist.” – God.
Frederick Sweet, Toronto
Elizabeth Renzetti is right (No More Happy Campers: We Are The New Punks At Home And Abroad – Dec. 17). We disgrace ourselves where we live and around the world. We should all look in that mirror she holds up for us.
Canada: No longer a pretty face, made beautiful by a noble soul. For shame!
J.C. Sulzenko, Ottawa
Jeffrey Simpson's passionate cri de coeur (Canada's Message: The World And Its Climate Be Damned – Dec. 17) sums up perfectly what has happened to my country's role in the world since this government has changed our direction in so many ways. Stephen Harper's party has become the Regressive Conservatives.
Stephen Woollcombe, Ottawa
How interesting that the Tories support truth in advertising when it comes to airfares (Ottawa Forces Airlines To Advertise Full Ticket Prices – Report on Business, Dec. 17). Would it be a stretch to expect them to do the same when it comes to their own statements?
Naeem Siddiqi, Markham, Ont.
Pa rum pum pum …
Cancelling a Christmas concert to “accommodate” nine students who didn't want to participate does not teach kids the true meaning of “accommodation” (Do They Know It's Christmastime At All? – Dec. 17). Suppressing the wishes of one group to please another goes against its spirit. All too often, we have observed incidents that smack of political correctness in the name of accommodation.
The Peel District School Board got it right, by encouraging staff to celebrate Ashura, Hanukkah, Yule and Kwanzaa in addition to Christmas. This is the only way to nurture mutual respect in our multicultural country.
I. Fung, Mississauga, Ont.
Why not revive the ancient Roman name for marking the winter solstice: Saturnalia? It was a week of merry-making. People suspended business, closed schools, postponed executions and military operations, gave temporary licence to slaves, and exchanged gifts (wax candles and clay dolls). The popular greeting was Io Saturnalia.
Why don't we just let the three major religions celebrate this season privately and apart from the current commercialization? And we can continue to bring greenery indoors as a pagan promise of spring life, despite the dead of winter. That would be something we could all share.
Jane Coryell, Oakville, Ont.
I celebrate the click, click, click of Tabatha Southey's high heels (Minister Kenney, Can I Become A Citizen In These Shoes? – Focus, Dec. 17), but her brave defence of the niqab seems naive – as if its wearing were only a matter of a woman's choice.
There are a thousand mullahs out there demanding that women cover up and shut up. I greatly prefer the cri de coeur of Nazneen Sheikh (Don't Change My Country! – Dec. 16).
Peter Wyatt, Toronto
Eye of Newt
Re Gingrich Seeks Absolution In Iowa Caucuses (Dec. 17): Only in America would a presidential candidate be required to sign a pledge to remain faithful to his (third) wife.
Manuel Matas, Winnipeg
Head of hit
The discussion over NHL player safety is ridiculous (Ken Dryden To NHL Boss Gary Bettman: Only You Can Take On The Head-Injury Crisis – Focus, Dec. 17). NHL commissioner Gary Bettman runs a for-profit business. If he believes that banning head shots would decrease viewership, then he has every right to keep them in the game.
The only people responsible for concussions are the NHL players themselves. They acknowledge the risks of the game when they sign their multimillion-dollar contracts. They're grown men, and no one's holding a gun to their heads forcing them to play.
If fans stopped watching hockey because of the head hits, then Mr. Bettman might have a valid reason to ban them.
Benjamin Deans, Toronto
While I fully agree with Ken Dryden's assessment of the “head injuries” problem, I doubt that Gary Bettman is capable of finding a solution.
Mr. Bettman is a “smart” man, as Mr. Dryden alleges; but, as with most of today's business and political leaders, the word “smart” is about self-preservation through ambition and greed, not intellect and vision.
How else can you explain the current “state” of Western society?
Jim Plant, Port Hope, Ont.
Gonnae no dae that
With reference to your article on Formula One racing (The Ferrari Kid – Sports, Dec. 17), I wish to point out that Jim Clark was not English but, in fact, British, having been born in Fife, Scotland.
I should also point out that, quite apart from being a Scot, anyone born in the Kingdom of Fife is known as a Fifer and we are a “thrawn” bunch! So exercise more care.
William Neish, Saltspring Island, B.C.
A study in wordplay
In his review on Hollywood's turning Sherlock Holmes into just another action hero (Brains, Brawn – But Where's The Heart? – Arts, Dec. 16), Rick Groen uses one of the tidiest plays on words I've seen in a long time: “Hollywood calls the tune and Britannia waives the rules.” I doff my deerstalker to you, sir.
Scott Walker, Toronto
Okay, two more
May I add one last sign? I saw it on the door to the ladies' washroom at a small railway station in England: “As there is no female attendant for this toilet at the moment, the stationmaster has been given permission to look in occasionally.”
Ron Baylis, Cobourg, Ont.
In London, I once saw a poster on boards around a construction site with a stern warning: “Bill Stickers Will Be Prosecuted.” Under it was scrawled: “Poor old Bill! What's he done now?”
Peter Cranston, Victoria