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Rehtaeh Parsons’s family says the teen, who died by suicide, was sexually assaulted and cyberbullied.
Rehtaeh Parsons’s family says the teen, who died by suicide, was sexually assaulted and cyberbullied.

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April 11: Gender barbarism here, and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Barbarism here

Lysiane Gagnon objects to a government document, a guide for new immigrants, that uses the word “barbaric” in describing cultural practices such as female genital mutilation (‘Barbaric’ Is The Wrong Tone – April 10). Although she decries such practices, she thinks the language is over the top, and inappropriately emotional.

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But after reading, in the same edition of The Globe, about what happened to Rehtaeh Parsons, the Halifax teen who killed herself after a vicious round of cyberbullying, I think that what is wrong is that we aren’t applying the word “barbaric” to our own cultural practices (‘Everyone Turned Their Backs On Her,’ Teen’s Grieving Mother Says – April 10). What would an immigrant think, after reading such a story?

This primitive punishment of females who are sexually violated harkens back to medieval times and beyond. We need governments, federal and provincial, that recognize this for what it is – barbarism – and are willing to take it on.

Claudia Cornwall, North Vancouver

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Canada’s role

Re Canada Offered A Role In Middle East Peace (April 10): Canada can only play a constructive role in Israeli-Palestinian peace if it adopts a balanced and a fair policy. Unless the Harper government plans to overhaul its ultra-pro-Israel policy, it is hardly in a position to play the role of an honest broker.

Ajaz Haque, Toronto

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Nah, couldn’t be

It’s fascinating that Margaret Wente laments the lack of good jobs for young people on the commentary page (I’ll Take Fries With That BA – April 9) while, on the facing page, The Globe’s editorial board lauds Margaret Thatcher (She Changed The World For The Better). Could there be some link between Mrs. Thatcher’s anti-union, pro-corporate, tax-cutting, deregulating, free-trade agenda and today’s economy that’s great for profits and terrible for workers?

Nah, couldn’t be.

Desmond Fisher, Ottawa

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I wonder if many of these underemployed, BA-wielding baristas would consider actually creating a job or career? Starting their own company? As opposed to kvetching about the lack of meaningful employment in Canada today? Of course, this would mean re-examining beliefs about owning a company – a (gasp!) corporation – as a way of building a life outside of “get[ting] people towels.”

Is it a deeply held bias around business? Or the academic “marrying down” of enrolling in a community college? Governments don’t stoke an economy, small businesses do.

Kerrie Penney, Calgary

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No crying in hockey

Re Heartbreak (April 10): Tom Hanks had a famous line in A League of Their Own: “There’s no crying in baseball!” The same holds true for hockey. This is no way to behave.

The Canadian womens’ hockey team is in a league of its own, the highest. They should be holding their heads up and be proud – and if they can’t, don’t put them on the podium.

Sharon Twidle, Fort Erie, Ont.

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A leader’s death

As a British historian who studied in the U.K. during the heyday of Thatcherism, I appreciated John Doyle’s article (The Iron Lady’s Accidental TV Legacy – April 9). Mrs. Thatcher did indeed inadvertently give jobs to many artists who were her critics.

Spitting Image was one of the most popular shows on British television. Broadcast by ITV from 1984-1996, this satirical comedy series, employing puppets, was a Sunday-night staple. One of its main targets was Mrs. Thatcher herself, who was generally portrayed as a bullying cross-dresser (she wore a suit and tie, used urinals and smoked a cigar). In one famous episode, Mrs. Thatcher, dining with her cabinet in a restaurant, orders a raw steak. When the waitress asks about the vegetables, she replies, “Oh, they’ll have the same as me.”

The success of Spitting Image attests to the degree to which Mrs. Thatcher, while admired by many people, was also loathed by some segments of British society; hence, the mixed reaction to her death.

Mariel Grant, history department, University of Victoria

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Why is it that all too often, when a world leader dies, sycophants look at the individual’s achievements through rose-tinted spectacles? It happened with Ronald Reagan, now it’s happening with Margaret Thatcher.

To gain some perspective on Mrs. Thatcher’s “legacy” in the U.K., one need look no further than the expensive, stuttering rail system, the high cost of water, gas and electricity, the lack of rentable council housing, and the bloated remuneration in the financial sector. Mrs. Thatcher may not have been for turning, but many thought she was fit for burning.

Tony Warren, Vancouver

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None of the foreign-policy failures ascribed to Mrs. Thatcher approached the success of her domestic policies, which forever changed and improved Britain. Margaret Thatcher was, and always will be, regarded by history as a great leader, a remarkable human being, a truly “Iron Lady.”

W.E. Hildreth, Toronto

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Bouton’s bon mots

Martin Levin’s review of Jim Bouton’s Ball Four took me way back (The Books Behind The News – April 6). I’ve read the story of his 1969 season a few times, but not in a while. I still quote it regularly.

Those days, players got $30 or so in daily meal money when they were on the road, which was quite generous for the day. Bouton became known as cheap because, rather than go out with the team for a steak dinner with drinks, he’d get takeout and save the money. Then, a couple of times a year, he’d bring his family along on the road trip, rent a wreck of a car, and tour whichever city they were in. The quote from the book, which still lives with me is, “It’s not a matter of being cheap, it’s a matter of deciding what you want to spend your money on.”

Another time, checking out of a hotel, his bill had a charge, which he considered excessive, for cleaning a sweater. He told the young lady at the checkout that he wasn’t paying it because it was a shirt, not a sweater. She claimed he had to, because it was “right there on the bill.”

Again, the great quote: “Just because you write it on a piece of paper, doesn’t mean I owe you the money.”

Mike Galt, St. Andrews West, Ont.

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