If you like stinky fish, you would probably like kippers.
Personally, I like stinky fish. And, I love kippers. (For the record, I understand the Canadian Sardine Mackerel and Herring Association would prefer that we use the more politically correct term: “full flavoured fish”.)
If you haven’t tried kippers – and it isn’t easy to find a place that serves them – let me describe them for you. Take a herring, a member of the clupea harengus stinkus family, and butterfly it. Then, make it smellier by smoking it. As a final touch, to add that extra bit of pungency, fry it. Serve the fried kippers on the side with eggs, a bagel and a slice of tomato and cucumber, and that is what I would call a perfect breakfast.
I used to meet a friend and colleague, Brian Gordon (z”l), at Kiva’s on Steeles Avenue monthly. We would catch up, kvetch, and frankly, we would solve all the world’s problems, if only we were put in charge.
My wife won’t allow fish to be cooked in the house because of the smell. But, she regularly joins me at Kiva’s for breakfast, demonstrating a most extreme level of matrimonial devotion.
And that brings us to today’s theme, tolerating that which you find offensive.
Numerous times, I refer to the views expressed so eloquently in Aaron Sorkin’s “The American President”:
"You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours."https://t.co/XAlrcUIyyb
— Mark Goldberg (@Mark_Goldberg) January 28, 2022
In no way do I suggest that speech freedoms are unbounded. There is such thing as illegal speech; Canada’s Charter doesn’t protect hate speech, or threats of violence. And, as I have said before, if a social media platform – any social media platform – has terms of service, then it needs to enforce those terms.
But, there are too many instances where people – and governments – take issue with what I like to call “the merely offensive”. Expressions that aren’t illegal, but hurts someone’s feelings. Taking issue with the stinky fish.
The Government of Saskatchewan demanded the deletion of what was clearly a parody of one of its ads. Various Federal Government departments have pressured social media platforms to delete what can only be described as “mean”, not illegal. A number of people and groups are calling for the CRTC to remove FoxNews from the authorized list of programming services on Canadian TV distribution systems.
Saying you support speech freedoms is easy, especially when you agree with the words being spoken. But, let’s see you defend the rights of someone speaking that which you find abhorrent.
Like tolerating someone having stinky fish served across the table from you.
Then you can talk to me about defending rights.
I’m happy to meet you for breakfast at Kiva’s any time. We can try to solve some of the world’s problems together.
I’ll have the kippers, thank you. Fried crispy, please.