By Frank Moher
A young woman died of a drug overdose in Vancouver yesterday. Her name was Ashley. She became one of the approximately 120 people who will die of drug overdoses in Vancouver this year.
She happened to be at the Occupy Vancouver encampment when she died.
Or perhaps it wasn’t coincidental. Perhaps she had been drawn there by the communal spirit of the place. By a desire for company. Or safety. Maybe she was there because she believed in its ideals. Or wished she could. At any rate, that’s where she was.
It has been instructive, overnight, to watch her death congeal into a reason to shut down Occupy Vancouver, especially among journalists. One watches this, of course, on twitter:
garymasonglobe Gary MasonGregor Robertson has no choice now. The OV camp has to come down. Now. This isn’t about politics any longer.fabulavancouver Frances BulaCan see why this death an argumnt for shuttng camp. If you claim you’re in charge, you are responsibe. Imagine if a shelter had an OD deathrodmickleburgh Rod MickleburghThe point that #OccupyVancouver needs to consider is whether the occupation at VAG makes any sense any more, the original cause is forgottengarymasonglobe Gary Mason#occupyvancouver is a health and safety issue now. The original cause is beside the point.
steveburgess1 Steve Burgess@rodmickleburgh Eventually it was going to be about itself. It always happens.acoyne Andrew Coyne
Mr. (James Andrew) Coyne, son of James Coyne, the governor of the Bank of Canada from 1955 to 1961, appears to be saying that the Occupy movement has always been “about itself” — in other words, one big self-indulgent wank. Perhaps we should be grateful: It’s not often Coyne so candidly tips his hand.
One plaintive note of logic was sounded among Canadian journos:
How can a death at Occupy Vancouver be a cause for breaking up the camp in the absence of any real knowledge of the cause?
And so they did — overreact, that is. By the end of the evening, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, in the middle of an election campaign, and knowing that all this self-satisfied hand-wringing would show up in the newspapers over the next 24 hours, had announced that the city would “expedite the appropriate steps to end the encampment as soon as possible, with a safe resolution being absolutely critical.” Good luck with that, Mr. Mayor.
Journalists such as Mason et al. are paid to think — but only for a moment or two. Then they must produce their required column inches of opinion. So, in fact, what they mostly do is react, and, as we have seen, with no less emotion and bluster than most people. They simply have a knack for expressing it better. We can hope that by the time they get around to generating their think-pieces today, they will have gotten over the notion that Ashley’s death is any more meaningful, or any less, than those of the other 120 people who die of drug overdoses in Vancouver every year, and that somehow it means the Occupy Vancouver encampment should be shut down. That is an absurdity. Chasing the protestors off the art gallery lawn will make no difference to the numbers of addicts who die each year; it will simply guarantee that they go back to doing it on the streets of the Downtown East Side, where they may be comfortably ignored.
Of course, maybe that’s the point. Much of the middle-class is discomfited by the Occupy the World movement, and would like to see it go away — why should journalists be any different? But if that’s the case, they should just admit it’s all too messy and amorphous for them, and that they’d prefer to be able to watch football without the distraction. (The Lions game was another trending topic among them last night.) But let them not invoke Ashley and cry crocodile tears for her while they do it.
Because, somehow, I don’t think Ashley would appreciate it.