Sunday, April 13, 2008

Leftonians Sick With Liberalism

As a socially liberal person, I cringe at the froth being stirred up by my caring fellow Torontonians. Two weeks ago a man named Jim Wallenberg left his $77,000 violin at a Queen's Quay bus stop. He posted a $1,000 reward for its return. A man named Wayne Wulff found the violin, returned it, and received a cheque for a grand.

That's the summary version; the whole story goes like this: a homeless woman found the violin, stuck it in her shopping cart, and wheeled the cart into a park. Wulff saw a poster advertising the reward, saw the homeless woman with the case, and bargained with her to secure it. He gave her thirty-five bucks and a silver ring (retail value $50-ish).

Now The Toronto Star's mailbox is overflowing with letters from angry readers decrying the swindling of a poor, innocent, lost soul. Talk-radio callers, with their eighty-word vocabularies, are calling to complain about this travesty of a mockery of a sham transaction. Wulff, they say, should split the money with the "bag lady"--that's what the press has tagged her. The bag lady deserves a fair cut. "Whoa is us! What does this say about our society! Think about the bag lady as we slip into our nice warm beds!"

"Give the bag lady everything we have! The Royal York isn't good enough for her. Oh, we're all so damned guilty! We did this to her; we must've. She couldn't have. No, no, she couldn't have."

This, folks, is Toronto. A city reclaimed from nature in which nothing is now natural. Is anyone pointing out that Wulff wears cheap silver jewellery? Is anyone pointing out that he takes the streetcar to work? This is obviously a blue-collar guy. Who cares about his wife, kids, taxes? But the homeless woman is the one we ought to be thinking about.

Wulff describes the bag lady as follows: "There was obviously a problem with communicating with her. She's constantly talking to herself, so I don't think she understood the magnitude of what was in the case."

The woman found the violin. She kept the violin. She had no intention of returning the violin to the man who'd gone on the radio to talk about its significance. But give her the $500! Why?

You know why? Because she's homeless. Because, as the really fringe leftists say, "our hearts go out to her." That's why it's tough to be liberal. There's a widening group of people who subtract all the reality from reality, then discourse on the Platonic ideals of fairness, love, and compassion. Earnest idealists are sick, sick people. (If Nietzsche says it won't work, then it won't work. But I guess the alternative is Kierkegaard's despair. Or just shut up and buy a TV.) If someone shoots you, it's society's fault. Society did it. Or at the very least society made them do it. The homeless woman is a product of society. Society did this to her. Society pushed her to the streets. Society forced her to keep a $77,000 violin in a shopping cart and then sell it for $75. She's the real hero here. Society...The villain.

If an employed--and this is funny--"housed" (that's what they're calling people who live in homes) person had found the $77,000 violin, kept it, and had been discovered with it in their possession...the shit that would ensue. It was a violin on a bench outside a streetcar shelter. Fair to assume it didn't blow there with the north wind. But, as all Leftonians do, they've ascribed a radical innocence to this woman who has been "hurt and tempest tost by the cruel modern world."

Yeah. She has. And what about me? And what about you? And what about the rest of us? Funny, but I don't consider myself as riding the sweet wave of contemporary society.

I'm just waiting--because I know it's coming--for someone to offer to take this woman into their home.

The reflex is to blame society. Or government. Personal responsibility ends at your heartbeat. After that you're the government's chattel. Given that the city can't forcibly institutionalize and treat the mentally ill homeless, what's the alternative?

Well, now we know what it is: five hundred dollars.

Bad capitalism is when we steal from each other, not when we strike good deals. But this is a North American sickness. We all have to be guilty about things we didn't do, weren't here for, and don't even really know about.

1 comment:

Oren said...

Mr. Adler, I know this is an old story but I stumbled upon your blog while looking up the story because I was curious as to whether there were any updates to this story since the end of April (I haven't found any). Anyway, although your profile portrays you as an intelligent individual and you obviously can write well, your interpretation of this story is surprisingly lacking.

Namely, you're creating a straw man argument, as you rightly criticize those who would blame society for the numerous factors in this case. What many of us find disgusting is Mr. Wulff's and Mr. Wallenberg's depictions of this woman. I would not blame society for her plight--unless strong evidence indicated that society was indeed to blame (yes, Mr. Adler, there ARE some cases where this is true). However, if she suffers from some form of mental health disorder as it seems she does, then Wallenberg, Wulff's, and your comments about her are contemptibly ugly and inappropriate.

However, I'll leave the last word on the topic to someone who seems to always balance compassion with reality and a call for taking responsibility for ourselves.

This link to says it all:

All Posts On This Site Are Intended As Juvenalian Satire. If They Veer Into Horatian Satire, That's OK Too. Just, Please, Don't Take Them Too Seriously. PhD Students Can't Afford Libel Suits. CUPE Doesn't Cover Court Costs.
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