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COLUMN: The challenge of not thinking about camels

Can you concetrate on not thinking about camels?
Bactrian camels were once used in British Columbia. These animals are found in Asia. The more common dromedary is found in Asia and parts of Africa. (

Do not think about camels.

It’s a simple statement and its meaning should be clear.

Do not think about the dromedary, or Arabian camel, found in the Arabian peninsula and parts of Africa. Do not think about the Bactrian camel, a domesticated camel found in eastern Asia. Do not think about the wild Bactrian camel, found in parts of northwestern China and Mongolia.

Despite the initial statement, you’re probably thinking about camels.

Do not think about how camels have been used to transport people and goods for thousands of years.

These remarkable animals are able to thrive in harsh climates. Dromedaries can handle hot and dry environments.

Domesticated Bactrian camels, with two humps, live in parts of Asia. They are also hardy work animals.

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READ ALSO: Petition calls on B.C. city to cancel upcoming Jordan Peterson event

The wild Bactrian camel is now critically endangered. However, wild Bactrian camels are able to survive on water saltier than seawater. They can also endure extreme temperatures, from 40 or 50 C down to -30 C.

In British Columbia, domesticated Bactrian camels were brought to the province in the 1860s where they were used as pack animals during the Cariboo Gold Rush.

John Calbreath of Lillooet purchased 23 of these animals, at $300 each, for use in hauling freight. The effort was not successful, but the camels are still remembered and a bridge in Lillooet is known as the Bridge of the Twenty-Three Camels.

Do not think about camels.

Despite these repeated admonitions urging readers not to think about camels, these animals are now on the minds of anyone reading this.

The idea of telling others not to think about camels – or anything else for that matter – is ridiculous. The more someone urges others not to think about something, the harder it becomes to think about anything else.

The concept of not thinking about camels may seem a bit silly. Nobody is issuing an anti-camel rant. However there are some other messages with a similar tone.

Beginning in late April, Bud Light and its parent company, Anheuser-Busch, have come under fire for putting a picture of transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney on beer cans.

People have expressed outrage over these beverage cans. Some have captured video of themselves destroying the cans. Others are boycotting the beverage. Despite these measures, the outrage is giving exposure to Mulvaney. People who had not heard the name before may want to learn more about this influencer.

The beverage company and the social media influencer are American, and the outrage is loudest in that country, but some of the same opposition to the image on the beer cans has seeped into Canada as well.

In this country, some have expressed vocal opposition to Jordan Peterson, a psychologist who has received attention for views considered extreme and controversial by some. When he is scheduled to speak in Canadian cities, there are sometimes calls to cancel his appearances.

The opposition helps to keep his name prominent in Canada. In some cases, people who had no strong views about him before have started reading his books or watching past speeches.

(Mulvaney and Peterson do not hold the same views, and those protesting one are probably not the same as those protesting the other.)

There are other efforts, including calls to remove books from library shelves or protests over drag story time events. In each case, the end result is similar. More attention is given to the person, product, book or event. This is about as effective as telling someone not to think about camels.

This is the problem with expressing moral outrage, and there is no way to speak out against something without drawing attention to it.

Perhaps it’s wisest to ignore some of the most vocal messages right now. This could be a good time to leave the latest causes alone and instead sit quietly and concentrate on not thinking about camels.

John Arendt is the editor of the Summerland Review.

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John Arendt

About the Author: John Arendt

John Arendt has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
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