By G.D. Maxwell
Regular readers of Pique often refer to Bob Barnett as the Voice of Reason. They call him that because his page 4 editorial is invariably well-balanced, even-handed, chock full of salient facts, historically grounded, insightful and a meaningful catalyst often sparking further enlightened debate.
Those same readers often refer to me as simply the Voice. Im not sure why.
Playing bookend to Bobs thoughtful editorials is a lot like living in the shadow of a smarter, better-mannered brother. People are always saying, "Why cant you be more like him?" It is, in a word, trying.
So I was overjoyed recently when I began to notice a fissure in Bobs trademark reasonableness. A tiny undertone of radical yes, almost reckless thought creeping into his writing. Oh, hes a long way from spending quiet evenings gently tamping black powder into crudely made pipebombs but there is no denying the trend.
How else would you explain his idea to use the cover of darkness, caused by a power failure, to visit vandalistic terror on houses and neighbourhoods not actively supporting affordable housing?
Whats that? Dont remember that editorial? Well, it was August 29 th , shortly after the lights went out for 50 million folks back east. Referring to a New York Times story about how there hadnt been much looting during that citys power outage, at least not compared to the free-for-all rioting enjoyed by one and all during the blackout of 1977, he wrote: "...the main difference was the massive effort begun 20 years ago to rebuild neighbourhoods, primarily through affordable housing.... turning record numbers of New Yorkers into homeowners with a vested interest in keeping their areas safe."
While he acknowledged the unlikelihood of looters and arsonists in Whistler at least as long as those losers from Surrey stay in their own hood he held New Yorks effort out as an "...example of what creating opportunities for people to live in decent housing can do for neighbourhoods and communities."
Okay, now that I read it more carefully, maybe Bob wasnt really advocating trashing suiteless homes and exclusive neighbourhoods. Maybe making a list of those targets and having a plan ready was just an idea I read into his carefully weighed, even-handed words. But that may have been what he meant... on some subliminal level. Or maybe I just skimmed. Whatever.
But clearly, when he supported converting a golf course into affordable housing, well, if that aint radical, buy me a suit and send me back out in the workforce mama. I mean, hey, were all in favour of social housing, but give up a golf course? Get real.