Post-modern bafflegab

June 9th, 2013
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“It is a grieving process”. - 

MD of Bighorn, Dene Cooper, quoted in the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

There is a charm to local newspapers and those from Rocky Mountain towns are no exception. Reading them can get a little predictable after a while though, becoming a kind of Cordilleran auto-journalism.

The Rocky Mountain Outlook that serves Canmore, Banff and area is a good example. Content seems to be dominated by griping about cut-backs at Parks Canada, zoning disputes in the Banff townsite and how many local Shi-tzu’s have been eaten by cougars.

All seemed normal in the Outlook a few weeks ago until I ran into quotes from the aforementioned Mr. Cooper. What would you think if you read that people were “grieving”? That a young person had been tragically killed in a hiking or climbing accident? That another lapdog had fed a hungry cougar? Well, here’s the whole quote and see what you think:

“They are grieving the loss of something they cherished. You can’t have much of a discussion when you are still reacting from grief. It’s going to take time and we’ve got time, but there’s no instant fix on this one. Something they loved has been lost.”

What do you think the object of grief is? Well, believe it or not, the story is about Lafarge Cement closing a local hiking trail due to their adjacent quarry. It’s a hiking trail residents are “grieving” over. Wow.

Apparently the trail is a long-used route along the west side of Exshaw Creek, a tributary of the Bow River, used by local families on casual outings. The blasting from the nearby quarry had made it unsafe so the company decided to close it. A rougher trail runs along the east side of the same creek.

So this was possibly a legitimate reason for residents to be annoyed or even upset – but grieving? Not to read too much into it, but there is the smell of some kind of post-modern ailment about this. What happened to simple, plain, direct language? Why couldn’t Mr. Cooper just say they people are angry? Does he really think they’re grieving, or was it needless hyperbole?

How far does this go? Would he expect people to need a grief councillor if they get the wrong topping on their burger? Well, maybe that’s a bad example, because people have called 911 over less.

At minimum it’s just political bafflegab taken to a new level. I wonder if they’re planning a Rocky Mountain pet cemetery for all those digested dogs and cats? Or maybe just a memorial for the “unknown pet”? Let’s get Mr. Cooper’s take on that.


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By John Weissenberger