Ottawa Citizen
Tuesday 23 January 2001

Activist minorities spoil quality of life

Dave Brown
The Ottawa Citizen

More and more I'm beginning to feel like a victim in what is a growing tyranny of advocacy groups. We are living through a period of rule by activist minorities.

I'm talking about what has become one of the most useful items in my reporter's toolbox. It frees me up from my desk so I can do what I'm paid to do: get out and get stories. It saves time and gasoline. It guides me down unfamiliar streets and keeps me in touch with people who know far more than I do about almost everything.

I'm talking about my cellphone. Until I got it, I was too often tied to my desk, a near-completed column on my computer screen, drumming my fingers while waiting for a return call that would confirm a detail.

Thanks to technology, I can now forward my desk phone to my cell-phone, and go about being productive. When the needed call comes in, I can make adjustments to my story if necessary, and send it in with a few key strokes. I can do it from office or home. My computers are linked.

Safety advocates say I'm going to kill somebody with my new efficiency, because I'm just too stupid to use it properly. They say I can't chew gum and walk at the same time; or in this case, drive and talk.

According to them, I'm going to hurt somebody as I drive at high speed through heavy traffic, dialing my phone instead of watching the road. Or I'll take my eyes off the road to make a phone call while driving at high speed on a mountain road, at the edge of a sheer and deadly cliff. They insult me.

I don't deny them the right to feel safe as they drive along. It is not only possible, but likely, that somebody using a cellphone is going to get into an accident. So is somebody smoking a cigarette and dropping it lit between their legs. Somebody unwrapping a sticky candy wrapper while driving is a risk. Scratching an itch takes a hand off the wheel. So does changing a radio station or adjusting the volume.

Ban Oscar Peterson. He makes me bop.

The only way to be truly safe in traffic is to stay off the roads.

If I thought I was doing anything to put my car at risk of dents or broken glass, I just wouldn't do it. Too expensive. If I thought I was doing anything to put myself or others at risk of injury, I wouldn't think of it. To be told otherwise is an insult from unknowns who think they know me better than I do.

Advocacy addicts have become powerful and know how to play the media and politicians to make changes. The doing of it has become more important than the need for it.

Nobody does it better than the gay community. I care very little whether Ralph marries Grant. It's the manipulation I resent. Gay activists know how to yank the media chain, and the media is afraid to do anything but play along.

As a result of a Supreme Court of Canada decision two years ago, homosexuals living together have the same rights as heterosexuals living together after one year. Property laws go into effect and issues of support, if couples aren't smart enough to iron them out, can be taken to court. Marriage is no longer necessary.

I believe marriage should be necessary if a couple is planning to procreate. Children need a mother and a father. A marriage should be difficult to undo to force sober second thought, and to allow for intervention before a split. If expressing opinions like this pegs me as an old fuddy, I have the right to be me.

And if all us old fuddies got together, we'd outnumber all the advocacy groups on all of the issues from cellphones to airport noise levels.

Wouldn't do any good. The majority has lost its voice. The people we elect to be policy-makers react to noisy activists with minority interests. Cellphone users near busy airports can't be heard, especially if they're straight.

Copyright 2001 Ottawa Citizen Group Inc.