One way Canada is better than America is the way we treat our dead. I don’t mean the elaborateness of the ceremony or the beauty and orderliness of our graveyards.

In Canada, when someone dies, virtually everyone begins to talk about their stellar qualities. Take Jim Flaherty. In the days after his death, members of every political party were out in force saying what a fine man he was, gentle, full of good humour but never too full of himself. The papers were testaments to his greatness as a finance Minister. Those who disagreed had the good grace to be silent, at least for a few weeks until the initial period of mourning was over.

Not so America. Witness Rush Limbaugh’s remarks regarding Robin Williams death (yes, he’s still in head). I’m not going to repeat them or link to them – that genetically sub-standard, hateful piece of crap doesn’t deserve any more attention (see, I’ don’t have to be nice to living scumbags). He views a personal and public tragedy as an opportunity to make a political point. You see it all the time in America. Dead soldiers are embraced by both sides of the debate to make some grand statement about America (too bad they didn’t treat their live ones better) rather than an important statement about war or peace. Canada is not immune to these bursts of patriotic vomiting but no-one does it like America.

But the really amazing thing about America is the way they treat dead children. Specifically the way they treat children who die as a result of some guy (almost always a guy; almost always white) who loves his guns with a passion that dare not speak its name, going mad with a semi-automatic in an elementary school.

For a day or two – until it’s forgotten or the next massacre occurs – the children become a symbol of all sorts of things: the decay of moral society, the insanity of gun culture; the necessity of more guns, a symbol of evil, hate, liberty, you pick it. They become everything but what they are: dead children, somebody’s dead child, an immeasurable pool of loss and grief.

But that’s ten minutes.


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