On Friday evening, residents of the Christie Pits area of Toronto marched against the sexual assaults that have been plaguing women in that area for the past several months. According to the Toronto Star:
“Residents in the area of Christie Pits park marched for a second time in as many months against the string of sexual assaults that have brought a culture of fear to the downtown neighbourhood.”
“Three assaults over the Thanksgiving weekend sparked the second rally.”
“About 300 women and men, old and young alike, marched through the neighbourhood streets with a number of prominent figures, chanting slogans, carrying signs and sending the message that assaults like the 13 that have occurred in the area will not be tolerated.
Trinity-Spadina MP Olivia Chow and city councillor Mike Layton were on hand, leading chants on a megaphone and putting up posters in support of the White Ribbon campaign to stop violence against women.
“This isn’t indicative of the neighbourhood,” Layton said of the sexual assaults, adding residents’ voices are strong against the violence. “Women are saying ‘no you can’t take this safety from us.’"
I hate to tell the women who live in the Christie Pits area, but if all you are going to do about the problem is to hold stupid rallies, then yes, your safety can and will be taken from you.
Marches are fine for solving political problems. It brings pressure to bear on politicians. The problem - as anybody with a scintilla of common sense can divine - is that this is a criminal problem. How is a rally going to affect the predator? If anything, the fact that he inspired them will stoke his ego.
It would be different if the police were not taking the matter seriously. That would be a political problem, and a political rally would then be appropriate. But this does not seen to be the case here.
Back when people where in the habit of doing things for themselves, they would get this. They would not try to convert a criminal problem into a political problem. They would get on and work on the real problem.
How would they do that? First, they would look honestly at its nature and come up with an appropriate remedy. In this case, it might involve escorting women whose schedule requires them to travel on foot after dark. It might manifest itself in a neighbourhood watch program. It might even involve conducting citizen patrols.
Of course, we can’t have that. That would be vigilantism!
I think the reason many modern people recoil from self-defence is that their increasing reliance on others has enfeebled their souls. They don’t get what their DIY forbearers instinctively understood, but it is not because they are dumber. They are simply afraid to look reality squarely in the eye because it has been so long since they actually did something for themselves. If asked, they will say that they are against people “taking the law into their own hands” (as if the law did not belong to them in the first place); that it would lead to anarchy and tit-for-tat reprisals. But these are just excuses; it is moral preening designed to cover up moral atrophy.
Country people would never behave like this: they are too used to taking care of themselves. This is also why downtown condo dwellers are more prone to this folly than suburbanites are.
People resort to holding impotent rallies because they have a dilemma: they desperately want to do something but, at the same time, they are afraid of the real solution. Such events temporarily empower them. But after the crowds dissipate, the uneasiness that comes from the realization that they are no longer masters of their own fate inevitably returns.