The truth behind generalizations

My heart goes out to the family, friends and colleagues of Const. Daniel Woodall.

My heart goes out to the family, friends and colleagues of Const. Daniel Woodall, the hate crimes officer who was gunned down in Edmonton last week.

The tragedy that took hold of west Edmonton is a reminder of the ever-present danger police put themselves in and the bravery of those who don the badge.

Having spent around four years living in Edmonton, and prior to that growing up three hours away, this one hit close to home.

It was heartwarming to see the outpouring of support for the Edmonton Police Service, even notions as small as the changing of Facebook profile pictures to the EPS patch worn by Edmonton officers.

Not everyone was willing to use the soapbox that is the Internet to show their support. No, some people picked the worst possible moment to, in so many words, say a phrase made popular by former rap group N.W.A. I won’t repeat it here, that’s what Google is for.

Too soon doesn’t even begin to cover it. Yes, police should be held to a higher standard of scrutiny than most; yes, abuse from police is real and should always be investigated with the public’s interest at heart, but find another time and place to make your argument. Save those comments for the officer who broke up a Texas pool party, waving his gun around at a bunch of teenagers like it was made of candy and shot out lollipops.

What I get from the dichotomy of these events seems like an ever-present truth, no profession is perfect.

There are good doctors and bad doctors, bad journalists and good journalists, good people and bad people.

Generalizations are dangerous, and used far too commonly in print, or even in everyday conversation. If you start a sentence with “Police always …” or “Hockey fans are …” or, my personal favourite, “The media …” then I can guarantee without a doubt that whatever follows is going to be factually inaccurate.

We as humans like to group things, to make sense of the gigantic scales of the Earth that our five senses are barely equipped to understand. This gets dangerous when dealing with groups of people. It happens all the time in politics.

“The conservative right thinks …” Let me stop you right there, no they don’t. You’re generalizing to make your point. Joe Blow might vote conservative for fiscal reasons, maybe his views on abortion differ, and that goes for every one of the thousands of unique conservative voters out there.

It reminds me of Kevin O’Leary warning us all that the sky was falling and that oil companies (a generalization) weren’t going to work with Rachel Notley’s orange Alberta. Nice try Kevin, but a swing and a miss.

Generalizing race is a common practice as well. Phrases like “Black voters …” or “First Nations voters …” are a good way of summing up some data, but those statements aren’t off to a good start as far as being truthful or accurate. They’re really just talking points.

My aforementioned favourite “the media …” gets thrown around just as often as “the cops …” — but can the thousands of people who are essentially just doing their jobs, with different values, races and religions really get lumped together as one big metaphorical vulture? I would say not, but hey, I’m one of those vultures, so I’m a touch biased.

Pobody’s nerfect, and it’s a common political tactic that many don’t seem to realize is the status quo: pick one person associated with a group that makes them look bad, and draw the focus their way to further your own agenda, right or wrong be damned.

Just remember when you go to write an insensitive comment that, while you may not agree with their career choice or values, police, lawyers, doctors, chefs and students are groups made up of people, each their own unique person who eats, sleeps and breathes just like you.

We’re all in this together, at least until we set up base camp on Mars.

Dale Boyd is a reporter with the Penticton Western News.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Gavel (Courtesy photo)
EDITORIAL: High marks for Canada’s democratic process

Accusations of widespread corruption do not hold up

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will issue an apology for Canada’s treatment of Itaian-Canadians during the Second World War. (CPAC)
COLUMN: Apologizing for an uncomfortable wartime decision

Canada’s government will apologize for its treatment of Italian-Canadians during the Second World War

Kimberley case counts not at the point for 18 years and older community vaccination, says Interior Health. (File photo)
Many factors considered for smaller community-wide vaccination: Interior Health

East Kootenay resort town’s COVID-19 situation not at the point of community-wide vaccination, say officials

The BC Wildfire Service is urging caution amid forecasts of strong winds throughout the Kamloops Fire Centre. (BC Wildfire Service photo)
Strong winds forecasted for Kamloops Fire Centre, BC Wildfire service urges caution

“Wind can cause grass fires to spread very quickly,” says the BC Wildfire Service

Are you considering any ambitious home renovation projects? The Okanagan Regional Library can help. (Black Press file photo)
COLUMN: Redecorate your home with help from the library

Plenty of resources in place for home decoration projects

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

BC Wildfire Service
Small wildfire ignites in the Shuswap

The blaze is about 10 km east of the Squilax Bridge

A screen capture from Chris “Sky” Saccoccia’s Twitch live stream of his rally in Kelowna’s Stuart Park on April 22, 2021. (therealchrisskytv/Twitch.tv)
Anti-mask activist Chris Sky descends on Kelowna, incites violation of COVID-19 health orders

The appearance is part of Chris “Sky” Saccoccia’s ‘Freedom Convoy’ that is currently travelling cross-country

Vernon RCMP are seeking the public’s help in identifying a man who allegedly pointed a firearm at two people outside a downtown business Saturday, April 10, 2021. (Contributed)
Man who brandished firearm in downtown Vernon sought by police

Video surveillance image shows man pointing what investigators believe to be a handgun April 10

MLA Shirley Bond, right, answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on February 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Former B.C. gaming minister says she wasn’t told directly about dirty cash flowing to casinos

Shirley Bond said Thursday civil forfeiture, gang violence and gambling addiction were also major concerns in 2011

RauDZ pop-up patio located on Pandosy Street in front of The Okanagan Table. (Contributed: Audrey Surrao)
Kelowna restaurant gets creative to adjust to new health orders

The owners of RauDZ Regional Table open ‘pop-up patio’ to adjust to health order banning indoor dining

RCMP Constable Etsell speaks to tourists leaving the area at a police roadblock on Westside Road south of Fintry, B.C., Thursday, July 23, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Yvonne Berg
B.C. police say they take ‘exception’ to conducting roadblocks limiting travel

Asking the police to enforce roadblocks exposes officers to further risk and possible COVID-19 infections, says federation president Brian Sauve

The City of Vernon has placed 30th in Macleans.ca’s poll of the 415 best communities to live in Canada. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Okanagan city high on Macleans’ list of best places to live in Canada

Vernon ranked No. 30, fifth-highest in province and best ranking outside Vancouver Island; Halifax No. 1

Waterfront owners on Kalamalka Lake might want to check their docks, as one was spotted floating around the Oyama end of the lake Thursday, April 22. (Nick Clements photo)
‘Anyone lose a dock?’ in North Okanagan

Wooden structure spotted at south end of Kalamalka Lake

Most Read