Spring 2001 - Editorial


I like to watch hockey.  I watch the Canucks a lot.  During the course of a
game, I see how they manage to get themselves in penalty trouble when
things they do are caught by a referee.  I've seen them get penalties for
clearly illegal moves, and not get penalties for equally clear illegal
moves.  I've heard the announcers talk about how a team that has had a
number of penalty calls go its way can expect to receive some penalties in
order to "balance" the administration of justice and ensure that there is a
degree of perceived equity in how the came has been called and controlled.
Sometimes when the home team loses, it's because of a "bad call"; sometimes
when they win, it's the result of a "good call".  Sometimes there is a
perception, loudly expressed by the spectators, that a referee or team of
officials is biased for or against a certain team.  Being a zebra, like
being green, isn't easy.

Being a judge in any endeavour isn't easy.  Judging in the world of piping
and drumming is one of those things that is a constant source of debate,
dispute, argument, and anxiety for many.  The fundamental and most
frequently asked question is "Is the judge fair?"  A judge must be, in both
the explicit and the abstract


In the court system, an idea central to a "good" witness is that the
individual must not only be credible or believable, but they must be seen
to be credible.  Continuing the analogy, not only must justice be done, but
justice must be seen to be done.  In other words, perception is equally as
important as reality and, sometimes perhaps, even more so. 

But, aye, there's the rub: can judges be fair -- objective and impartial --
when they are judging their own students, their own compositions, a band
they used to play in, a musician who plays the same or different style they
played, or, for that matter, the son or daughter of their best friend's

I don't know if there is an absolute answer to this, or perhaps there are
as many answers as there are people who think about and are affected by
judge's decisions.  But in all ways, a major ingredient of credibility is
the perception of impartiality.  Judges must not only be fair, they must
also be seen to be fair.

What do you think?

Rorri McBlane
Editor, B.C. Pipers Association Communications