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Appropriate - Innappropriate

The words "appropriate and inappropriate" have bothered me for a long time. Who is to say what is "appropriate" or "inappropriate"? Another question might be "Appropriate for who?"

Here is something I wrote in 2007

Two people died in airports in North America in the past thirty or so days. One was a woman in the USA who was extremely upset because she missed her flight. Another was a Polish immigrant to Canada who felt lost, confused and afraid in Vancouver, Canada. Both died at the hands of police who were called by airport security. I would say, in fact, they were both killed, directly or indirectly by the police.

In the first case I saw a news video of a reporter asking the police chief in the local police office in the US if he thought the police action was appropriate. The police chief, or spokesperson, responded, (not surprisingly) "Absolutely."

Then I read an article which reported that an authority in the Vancouver airport said he believed the airport staff acted "appropriately". Yet two people are dead now. Two people I believe died needlessly. (And who really "needs" to be killed? And who makes these decisions about when someone else needs to die?)

On the topic of who needs to die, some will say George Bush needs to die. Some will say Osama bin Laden needs to die. How do we know if either of them really need to die? Who do we believe? Who do we listen to? And do we have a choice? Perhaps more importantly, do impressionable children and teenagers have a choice in who they listen to? Or what they are told? Or who their teachers are? Or their parents? And would the world be a safer place if they had more choice or less choice?

I have been thinking of a question I would like to see sent to all the journalism schools in the entire world. I would like all journalists to ask this question when someone dies at the hands of the police. I would like them to ask if the police action was appropriate for the victim who died.

In the case of the mother from the United States, whose name I can not even remember now, (which is an indication of how many other distressing things have happened since then, not allowing me to focus satisfactorily on her case), I would like to see a reporter ask the follow up question when the police captian says "Absolutely". I would like to see the reporter say "Was it appropriate for Mrs. So and So?".

And I would someone to ask the Vancouver airport spokesperson if they believe the actions were "appropriate" for Mr. Dziekanski. Then I would like to ask them, or perhaps just before that, I would like to see them be asked "How do you define appropriate"?

If all of us are going to use words like "appropriate", wouldn`t it be helpful to know just what we mean by them?

I spoke to a teenager from Europe a while back. We were talking about America, freedom and hypocrisy. He said "Yes, American is the land of the free, but it is freedom on their terms."

This reminds me of the definition of the Golden Rule.

"Them that has the the gold, makes the rules."

So we can also say "Them that has the power, defines the terms."

If this is going to be the case, wouldn't it be at least helpful for the rest of us to at least know exactly how they define the terms?

This is a problem I have with the Mayer Sal