Sunday, January 24, 2010

Another entry in my "weird/awesome traditional and customary law" collection

CBC News - Nova Scotia - Surfing etiquette's up in court

Asleep at the wheel?

CBC News - Toronto - TTC to investigate 'sleeping' fare collector

Okay, I'll start off with full disclosure: as someone with a sleeping disorder, it antagonizes me when people jump all over "laziness" as an explanation.

But that aside: the dude fell asleep.

He does a job which, like most service jobs, is probably super busy for a few minutes every shift, and brain-meltingly boring for the rest of the time. It's not an easy job, in the sense that he has to deal with people who are surly or confused (though I admit the actual "collecting" is probably not difficult). He probably works underground, where the air quality is awful. He can't get up and walk around when he gets sleepy. He can't start knocking back coffee at an obscene rate, because there's no coffee, and even if there was he has to consider not going to the washroom.

So, he nodded off.

No one was in danger. I'm sure he would have jerked awake, totally embarrassed, the minute someone approached the window or pressed the designated waiting area alarm. It was a mistake, an accident, an error, but it was hardly morally blameworthy and I don't think he deserved to be lambasted in the press or made the focus of such derision for it.

And as for Jason Wieler, the guy who snapped the photo? He posted it with some glib comment about how his tax dollars are being spent, and now claims he didn't want to get the employee in trouble. Well, guess what, Mr. Wieler: you did. And by the way, money has nothing to do with nodding off at your post, so your crack was meaningless. TTC collectors earn about $55k--not bad, but hardly the cause of the public transit crisis.

What Wieler should have done--what I hope to God most people would do--was to tap on the glass, not so much to see if the guy was alright (although that would be a concern) but to save a fellow wage-slave serious embarrassment. The same way you would tell a woman if her skirt was tucked into her pantyhose, or a man that he was trailing three feet of toilet paper, or a fellow passenger that the train was at the last stop.

This poor collector has become a scapegoat for the general public's anger at the TTC--which should be anger at the federal government's failure to properly fund the TTC. The collector made a small mistake of the kind which any of us could make at any time, and I think we need to let it go.

Friday, January 22, 2010

If you're a journalist, should you just let people die?

Rather obviously not, I would say. I think as a reporter you have a moral duty to make getting the story out your first priority, and a sort of "prime directive" not to influence the story. However, if you can help without doing that, I think you have a secondary moral duty to try. This is even more obvious in the case of a doctor, who has sworn an oath to care for people, should do so.

Why Sanjay Gupta did the right thing | FP Passport

Today in obvious news

CBC News - Ottawa - Harkat didn’t hide fake passport: lawyer

The fact the refugees use false passports because if they didn't, we'd prevent them from GETTING TO CANADA is one more in a long line of stuff we should not still have to litigate.