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(Published in the Chilliwack Times week of Oct. 23, 2006)

The Crying Game

  By John Martin

Did you hear about Jean Charestís crying session?  You must have Ė heís been telling everyone about it.  So distraught was the Quebec Premier with the senseless shooting incident at Dawson College that he arranged a photo-op grief session with the victimsí families.  Then he went home and cried some more with his wife.  And according to Charest, who must call an election soon, it was all very spontaneous.

A week later a new poll showed Charestís Liberals were on the rebound and running neck and neck with the PQ.  That Charest got a bounce in the polls following a much reported bout of crying comes as little surprise.

Our own premier miraculously survived a highly publicized drinking and driving adventure in Maui.  Breaking down beside his wife at a news conference, Gordon Campbell garnered considerable sympathy and the public put the DUI on the backburner, giving him a second majority government. 

After pocketing a $50,000 diamond ring, Svend Robinson arranged a media gathering and fell apart, crying on his partnerís shoulder.  He was largely excused, received the most lenient sentence the law would allow, and was soon campaigning in a federal election.

On the sporting side of things, Todd Bertuzzi made a tear filled public apology for his viscous mugging of Steve Moore, effectively ending the young manís career and dreams.  Not only was all forgiven, the fans were adamant he be allowed to dress up for Team Canada.

This isnít to cynically imply that when public figures cry on camera theyíre necessarily being calculating.  No one can doubt the sincerity of Mark McGuire who has broken down on more than one occasion while discussing his foundation for abused children.  Ditto for Rudy Giuliani after 911.  But itís happening so much lately that it gets difficult to gauge just how genuine and spontaneous all this crying is.

There was a time when the sight of a man crying; especially a high profile figure, was not met with such acquiescence.  Senator Ed Muskie was forced to quit his campaign for the Democratic presidential nominee when he cried in a speech during the 1972 primaries.  Today, that kind of drama can send a candidate over the top.

 But if politicians and athletes occasionally use the art of crying for their own self interest, theyíre not alone.  Inmates typically fall to pieces and cry at parole hearings where itís commonly understood that crying fulfills the remorse requirement.  Any number of criminals routinely cry in court, usually round about sentencing time.

Itís for the better that men are no longer socially compelled to hide their emotions and may now publicly grieve without shame or ridicule.

But for the time being, put me down as skeptical.



John Martin is a Criminologist at the University College of the Fraser Valley and can be contacted at

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