Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair, whom many up to this point thought of as a reasonably reasonable individual, has declared that the Black Bloc hooligans who broke windows at the recent G20 Summit in Toronto were "terrorists."

This thrills me. Not because I welcome the threat to my imaginary storefront, but because this may be a sign that Toronto, previously a modest and restrained metropolis, should be awarded the highest civic honour with which I am familiar: a sister city in Northern New York. 

Unfortunately (for me, and, I'm sure, for two or three other people) newscasts produced by local Northern New York television stations are not readily available on the internet. If they were, I would be able to introduce you in a far more dramatic and credible fashion to...the Rock Sniper.

Over the course of three weeks in 2002, John Allen Muhammad and Lee Boyd Malvo, better known as the "Beltway Snipers", shot and killed ten people. When, soon after this occurred, windows in Watertown (I'm pretty sure it was Watertown - as I said, the case has, inexcusably, not been well documented on the internet) were targeted and broken by rocks, the rhetorical temptation was unavoidable. They were dealing with the "Rock Sniper". They interviewed residents who'd borne (or rather whose windows had borne) the brunt of the Rock Sniper's rage. They solemnly intoned the phrase: "The Rock Sniper has struck again." They provided anxious viewers with Rock Sniper updates. Just as people on the east coast of the U.S. were gripped by the fear that they would randomly be shot, so too were the people of Watertown gripped by the fear that their windows would randomly be broken. Which of the two groups suffered more grievously from fear?  Who can tell? The word "sniper" has the remarkable ability to reveal the essential resemblance between situations which, to the untutored eye, might seem a tad different.

And now Chief Blair has revealed the same remarkable ability in the word "terrorist." Denizens of Toronto should immediately proceed to sympathize volubly with New Yorkers, Israelis, Palestinians..etc...etc... we can now shake our heads slowly and sadly and reflect on the terrible toll that terrorism takes on civil society. When someone speaks to a Torontonian of a "death toll", he or she can respond with harrowing tales of the "window toll." 

A final note: it wasn't just Chief Blair who used inspired and entirely defensible rhetorical flourishes in discussing the G20. Judy Rebick, a well-known local hippie ne-er-do-well, also insistently drew an ingenious and tenable parallel between totally comparable things when she referred to just about everything as being "like a concentration camp." Bravo to everyone involved! 

I was quite depressed when the journalist and television host Steve Paikin avoided any such illuminating phrases while describing his experience of seeing a journalist roughed-up by police. THEN, thankfully, he began his defense of the reasonableness and docility of a crowd of protestors by describing it as "middle-class" and I could rejoice once more.

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