LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Letters to the Editor/Opinion by

Foucalt you, Ricky.

Re: “Piñata Diplmacy: James McGill – Turning in my grave” by Ricky Kreitner (22.09.09)

What up, James McGill, Michel Foucault here (also conveniently undead for the time being). I am writing to clear up certain misconceptions you seem to have regarding my personal area of expertise: cultural studies. To be sure, there is great value in studying classical works, but it seems to me, oh gracious namesake of this institution, that a fur trader such as yourself might miss the importance of studying the workings of culture in postmodern society. After all, your lifespan (1744-1813) barely qualifies you as part of the modern age, let alone allowing for a comprehension of the complicated relations of the postmodern. Well, let me get you up to speed on a few things that have happened in the last century and a half.

Despite your skepticism regarding the necessity and value of teaching “cultural literacy,” I must insist as a critical cultural studies theorist myself in the importance of understanding the world around you. Things are slightly more complicated now; a pelt is not worth what it used to be! Instead, existence in the wake of modernity and industrialization as well as postmodernity and globalization is complicated by ideas of cultural hegemony and embedded power relations. Sorry if this is over your head, Mr. McGill, but that is precisely my point: cultural studies literally teaches you about yourself by theorizing one’s relationship to the world, as well as exposing the hidden workings of culture itself. Nothing exists outside of culture, Mr. McGill – except us, because technically we are ghosts.

Before I return to my place as a key theorist in McGill’s cultural studies curriculum specializing in the relationship between power, knowledge and discourse, I must fight fire with fire! In response to your threat, remember: the panoptic gaze is watching you James McGill and he/she/it is pissed! Internalize surveillance!

– Mishki VaccaroU3 Cultural Studies

Kira hearts the Tribune.

The group which protested last week’s Choose Life event was not, in fact, affiliated with QPIRG in any way – except that, along with most McGill students, we had all probably paid our fees. Unlike the Daily, the fine folks at the Tribune have recorders – use them.

– Kira PageU2 Philosophy and Environment

The Daily reads the Trib.

Re: “Charkaoui: innocent until proven guilty” (Editorial, 29.09.09)

While I appreciate the sentiment expressed toward the end of last week’s editorial on Montrealer Adil Charkaoui’s recent victory at the Federal Court, it included some factual inaccuracies that need clarification.

First, a security certificate can be applied to any non-citizen, not only “suspected terrorists.” For instance, Charkaoui and his family arrived in Montreal in 1995, yet he remains a permanent resident while his parents and wife have acquired citizenship. This distinction allowed the government to send Charkaoui to jail for two years and impose severe bail conditions on him for the last four, all without ever publicly releasing the information in his file. How? The so-called evidence is secret, as to protect “national security” – one of many terms, including “sleeper agent,” that remains undefined in Charkaoui’s file.

Second, in February 2007 the Supreme Court ruled the security certificate law unconstitutional. For some reason, the Court suspended the effect of its decision by one year. In no way did they require “the Canadian government to create a new class of defence lawyers for suspected terrorists.” In October of 2007, the Conservatives introduced new security certificate legislation – which they managed to push through Parliament at an astonishing pace – which included a provision for “special advocates.” These lawyers have access to the secret files, but cannot communicate this to security certificate detainees or their lawyers, and are not obligated to respect normal conditions of confidentiality with the client.

And again, it’s not just for “suspected terrorists,” but for any non-citizen who finds themselves stripped of their freedoms and labeled a “terror suspect” overnight. It’s a subtle yet vital distinction: your consistent use of “suspected terrorist” as opposed to “security certificate detainee” throughout the editorial unfairly links the villainous term to Charkaoui in the reader’s mind, when in fact there is nothing to substantiate the claim. And what exactly is preventing you from saying “with any confidence that Charkaoui is completely innocent”?

Lastly, it isn’t “necessary that CSIS operate in the shadows,” it’s necessary for CSIS to be accountable. If not, our government will continue to fund the unlawful detention, deportation, and subsequent torture of Canadians.

Everyone deserves the right to see the evidence against them in order to properly defend themselves. However, this will not be a reality in Canada until discriminatory measures like security certificates are banished altogether.

– Max HalparinU4 Geography

Corrections

In the article “QPIRG members protest first Choose Life event of the school year,” (29.09.09) the Tribune mistakenly inferred that QPIRG McGill organized the protest of the event. In fact, QPIRG did not officially organize the protest.

In the editorial “Charkaoui: innocent until proven guilty,” the Tribune asserted that Charkaoui “won a Supreme Court case in February 2007 that required the Canadian government to create a new class of defence lawyers for suspected terrorists.” In fact, the Supreme Court ruling did not necessitate the creation of a new class of defence lawyers; the federal government created this provision after, and in response to, the February 2007 Supreme Court decision that struck down key provisions of security certificates as grossly unfair.