I was mildly encouraged by reports that protesters had decided to disrupt the Rockefeller Center tree-lighting ceremony and "set that f**kin' tree on fire!". Tough on Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga and Seth MacFarlane & Sara Bareilles, but the simmering anger at ever lamer celebrity duets (as I touched on a couple of days ago) was bound to explode in violence sooner or later.
But then I discovered it was in reaction to yet another grand jury declining to indict a police officer for killing a member of the public. When I was in New York on Monday, many of my fellow pundits were at pains to distinguish between the Michael Brown case and that of Eric Garner, which at least a couple of telly commentators called "an open-and-shut case". Not to the grand jury, who chose not to open it at all. Mr Garner was choked to death by officer Daniel Pantaleo while being arrested for selling "illegal" cigarettes. Which should not be a capital offense. I am in favor of policemen being policemen. I do not think a policeman should be policeman, prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner. And it is dismaying to me how many Americans are comfortable with that.
~Earlier tonight, I joined Ezra Levant, my old comrade in the free-speech wars, on Canada's Sun News Network. We discussed my case and his case and the broader issues surrounding freedom of expression. Click below to listen:
~Speaking of hockey sticks, I'll take Jean Béliveau over Michael Mann any day. The man whose name is on more Stanley Cups than anybody else died yesterday at the age of 83. I had the pleasure of a very enjoyable conversation with M Béliveau backstage at a Canadiens game about a decade ago. We talked about Victoriaville, the Quebec town where he grew up and where he played his first hockey, for the local team les Tigres. Afterwards, the game was rather blah. Huge banners hung down over the rink of Canadiens greats, including Béliveau and the man who eventually pipped him as the Canadiens' all-time champion scorer, Guy Lafleur. It was hard not to contrast the elegant, helmet-less Béliveau with his squat, bulky, faceless successors on the ice that night. He was in his early seventies, a tall man who carried himself with a natural grace. I was aware that a few years earlier Prime Minister Chrétien had offered him the Governor-Generalship, which he turned down for family reasons. A pity. Compared to all the hacks the Liberals shuffled into the gig through the Nineties and Oughts, Béliveau had the perfect temperament for viceregal life, and, as much as with John Buchan or Georges Vanier, a lifetime of independent achievement that would have enhanced the office. Rest in peace.
~Some readers have pointed out that my new Goldfinger CD has sold out at Amazon. However, it is available, both on disc and digitally, at CD Baby, and, of course, at the Steyn store. You can even buy it with my new book The [Un]documented Mark Steyn as part of a limited-time-only Christmas-season twofer.