Originally published as a column on CFJC Today Kamloops and Armchair Mayor News on Monday, January 20, 2020.

News travel fast. The controversial stories even faster, more so when they have a risqué edge. Such was the case of the story hailing from our very own ‘small town/big city’ as I like to affectionately refer to Kamloops. It was about a pub and a certain eyebrow-raising event and it got people talking.

If you happened upon it, or heard someone mentioning it… yes, it is about the ‘CEOs and Office Hoes’, scheduled to take place this past Friday at one of the local watering holes, Cactus Jack’s. Yes, it is 2020 but cringe if you must; many did. I shifted uncomfortably in my seat when I stumbled upon the news on CBC. Some way to show off the community, I thought.

It’s not political correctness that made me cringe. It’s the kind of stuff you might be tempted to say whatever, to each their own. But then again, no. The advertising poster, aside from some obvious typos which made it sound hilarious (more like a garden party, as someone pointed out in the comments,) was tacky and a few levels below what’s acceptable. It suggested that men come in suits (they are the CEOs?) and ‘collard’ shirts (like I said, funny typos) while woman (their spelling, not mine) wear, among others, heels. Because, you know, office attire for women.

It was like going back in time a few decades. There’s nothing wrong with silly fun but come on! What bothered me, aside from the above-mentioned, was some readers’ reaction. I know, I know, who cares, some people don’t think twice about throwing ugly comments. And boy, did they ever. It went from ‘What do you expect? It’s Kamloops,’ to ‘That place is nothing more but a glorified truck stop’ and ‘Kamloops is the least classy of places in Canada.’ Lots more. Ouch.

Wait, I wanted to say to them, you have no idea how great Kamloops is! We’re the most generous community when it comes to GoFundMe fundraisers. We have a bubbling community of people who care and that says a lot. We have fun too, lots, and most of us can tackle edgy and political incorrectness. But a glorified truck stop we are not, that’s for sure.

And it’s a beautiful place that you fall in love with. The way North and South Thompson run all glittery, the grasslands spreading as far as the eye can see, draped in colours as seasons roll by, the mountains near and far guarding it all, it is a visual gift that just doesn’t get old.

And then there’s the friendliness. My in-laws, who visit us a few times a year from the Lower Mainland, recently remarked on people’s friendliness here. Yep, it’s the way we do it here. Sure, we have our side of troubles and hiccups, like all communities do, but we also do so many things that can put us on the map in a good way. Which is why I was bothered by what made the news.

Controversy and outrage get people going though. In this case, a devil’s advocate would argue that the event was, after all, geared towards consenting adults and no one dragged anyone to attend if they did not want to.

Agreed, but a conversation is still needed. After all, we are trying to empower boys and girls to see beyond the obvious and beyond clichés that have been detrimental to many. Say what you want about the #metoo movement, but respect is respect and no one should hurt anyone, ever. Public discourse matters. Simply put, the event had a few shades of demeaning and sexism that no longer fit with the times and that is not OK.

As for people putting down our city… I’d rather have people choose Kamloops as their home or place to visit because they know what a great place it is. And if they can’t see that, well, no loss to us here anyway.