As a former reporter and editor at the Tribune, Diana French carries on sharing her ideas through her weekly column. Monica Lamb-Yorksi photo

FRENCH CONNECTION: Fear stimulating herd instinct

B.C.’s Dr. Bonnie Henry is getting well-deserved kudos

B.C.’s Dr. Bonnie Henry is getting well-deserved kudos for her handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest an article in the New York Times.

The many British Columbians who followed her instructions also need a thank you. Let’s hope the naysayers don’t mess up the re-openings.

***

The late Bertrand Russell, noted philosopher and social commentator, said “Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.”

The biggest herd we have today is the white, economically comfortable, business- as- usual crowd. We have a herd believing we must stop the COVID-19 pandemic, another that thinks it’s a plot to restrict our freedoms. There are a number of different herds reacting to the current anti-racist protests.

The worldwide protests began over a disturbing police incident caught on video and widely publicized. It called attention to improper/illegal conduct and apparent racism on the part of four policemen and it has resulted in calls for police system reforms in the U.S. and Canada.

My personal experience with the police is practically nil, but my understanding is their job is to uphold law and order by detection, prevention and investigation. Police officers aren’t judge and jury. They aren’t trained health or social workers, either, so why are they called on to deal with people with mental health or social problems? Aren’t those issues better handled by the professionals in the helping agencies?

Case in point. New Brunswick police were called in to do a wellness check on 26-year-old Chantel Moore. She was shot after moving toward the officer with a knife.Was this in their line of duty? Is it impossible to have a system where 9-1-1 responders can direct complaints to the appropriate agencies, leaving the police free to deal with criminals?

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune.

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