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Politics and its Discontents: Meeting Evil

In my days as a teacher, despite the fact that most of the students I taught were good kids, almost each semester would present me with one or two who, as a former colleague of mine once said, were ‘difficult to serve clients.’ These were the ones who … . . . → Read More: Politics and its Discontents: Meeting Evil

Montreal Simon: The Cowardly Attack on Refugees and the Silence of the Cons

I'm glad that police in Vancouver are calling it a truly disturbing hate crime. Vancouver Police Chief Adam Palmer is calling a pepper spray attack outside a welcome event for Syrian refugees a very troubling hate crime and asked the perpetrator t… . . . → Read More: Montreal Simon: The Cowardly Attack on Refugees and the Silence of the Cons

The Canadian Progressive: Justin Trudeau voted YES to Harper’s “Zero Tolerance for #BarbaricCulturalPractices Act”

Justin Trudeau and 29 other Liberals voted YES to Stephen Harper’s Bill S-7, the “Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act”, a law that appeals to white supremacism and proposes “zero tolerance” for the Other’s “barbarism”.

The post Justin Trudeau voted YES to Harper’s “Zero Tolerance for #BarbaricCulturalPractices Act” appeared first on The Canadian . . . → Read More: The Canadian Progressive: Justin Trudeau voted YES to Harper’s “Zero Tolerance for #BarbaricCulturalPractices Act”

The Canadian Progressive: Conservatives ask Liberals to “apologize for decades of racism”

The Harper Conservatives accuse the Liberals of “decades of racism” dating back to Liberal PM Mackenzie King, who served from 1921 to 1930 and 1935 to 1948.

The post Conservatives ask Liberals to “apologize for decades of racism” appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

The Canadian Progressive: Harper must clarify ‘zero tolerance’ for Israel boycotters: Church

The United Church of Canada wants “clear reassurance” that Prime minister Stephen Harper does not intend to criminalize Canadians critical of Israel.

The post Harper must clarify ‘zero tolerance’ for Israel boycotters: Church appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

The Canadian Progressive: Harper’s effort to criminalize legitimate Canadian criticism of Israel is diabolical

Canadians have a moral obligation to revolt against Stephen Harper’s efforts to criminalize both legitimate criticism of Israel and support for Palestinians.

The post Harper’s effort to criminalize legitimate Canadian criticism of Israel is diabolical appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

Montreal Simon: The Con Regime and the First Shadows of a Police State

When I saw this photo during the hearings into Bill C-51 it sent a chill down my spine.Because that posse is a horrible combination of stupidity and brute force, it looks like something out of a police state, or Pinochet's Chile.And I knew those three amigos would lead us to a bad place.And sure . . . → Read More: Montreal Simon: The Con Regime and the First Shadows of a Police State

Montreal Simon: Justin Trudeau and the Monstrous Con Hate Mongers

In my last post I said that the break-in at Justin Trudeau's home was a clear attempt to terrorize him and his young family.And I accused Stephen Harper and his Cons of having created a climate of hate. Which is so obvious in the comment section of this Sun story.

As well . . . → Read More: Montreal Simon: Justin Trudeau and the Monstrous Con Hate Mongers

Melissa Fong: Ignorance VS Hatefulness: How to talk about explain gay-bashing in Sochi

I’m kind of tired of people describing some racists, misogynists and homophobes as “ignorance”. ’Ignorance’ means that they just don’t know better, they are missing information and they just need […]

Montreal Simon: Ezra Levant and the Apology Song

Well I'm glad to see that Ezra Levant has apologized for his hateful comments about the Roma.Although it did take him forever to put his lips together and spit out the words I'm sorry.And knowing him, I'm pretty sure he's even sorrier that he had to write this formal apology. Read more »

. . . → Read More: Montreal Simon: Ezra Levant and the Apology Song

Montreal Simon: Harperland and the Foulness of the Cons

Sometimes these days when I go looking for my Canada, strong, noble, and decent, I can't find it.Instead of a young country charging confidently into the future, I see a country full of angry, bitter, crazed Cons, filling up with hatred, and heading for the bottom. Instead of the cool, fresh wind of the . . . → Read More: Montreal Simon: Harperland and the Foulness of the Cons

Montreal Simon: The Quebec Shooting and the Hatred that Kills

For a Montrealer like me, who lives and plays happily in both solitudes, and is always trying to bring Quebecers and Canadians together, it was the ultimate nightmare.

An old Anglo, in a balaclava …. and a bathrobe … screaming "The English are rising up!!! There's going to be fucking payback !!!"

After killing . . . → Read More: Montreal Simon: The Quebec Shooting and the Hatred that Kills

Canadian Progressive World: The day Canada’s white supremacists saluted Stephen Harper

So far, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s ideology-inspired of project of social and political engineering expresses itself most eloquently as the Conservatives’ egregious assault on civil liberties, the metamorphosis of Canada into a petro-state, and militarization of both Canadian society and foreign policy. We’re yet to acknowledge how this project oppresses the “other” while empowering utopian . . . → Read More: Canadian Progressive World: The day Canada’s white supremacists saluted Stephen Harper

CANADIAN PROGRESSIVE WORLD: Irish Fans Win Euro 2012

We all love the Irish. Don’t we? Well, now we should all love them. Or love them some more. So says the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). The European football’s governing body has decided to give Irish fans a special award for good behavior during the Euro 2012 soccer tournament. UEFA is so impressed . . . → Read More: CANADIAN PROGRESSIVE WORLD: Irish Fans Win Euro 2012

Accidental Deliberations: Parliament in Review: December 13, 2011

Tuesday, December 13 served to confirm the range of concerns that hadn’t yet been taken into account in the Cons’ seat redistribution bill – even as debate came to a close and the bill was rammed through against the protests of a united opposition.

The Big Issue

In response to the start and end of . . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Parliament in Review: December 13, 2011

Railroaded by Metrolinx: Sticks, Stones and the CRTC Ruling For Easing Broadcast Restrictions

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.– English Proverb

This is false logic. As a new media professor, I live in a steady stream of constantly updated newsfeeds through my social media networks. Daily, I watch how these newsfeeds also affect my students in their analysis of issues, . . . → Read More: Railroaded by Metrolinx: Sticks, Stones and the CRTC Ruling For Easing Broadcast Restrictions

Railroaded by Metrolinx: Sticks, Stones and the CRTC Ruling For Easing Broadcast Restrictions

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
– English Proverb

This is false logic. As a new media professor, I live in a steady stream of constantly updated newsfeeds through my social media networks. Daily, I watch how these newsfeeds also affect my students in their analysis of issues, perception of events, and subsequent social interaction and political engagement. As a result, I am deeply opposed to the easing of the CRTC regulations to ban “any news that the licensee knows is false or misleading and that endangers or is likely to endanger the lives, health or safety of the public.” With the addition of the second clause, how do we know when sticks and stones break bones? What line has to be crossed? What would my students say? And what would I say to myself as a younger student?

Words do lead to political and social agency. As I watch a new generation struggle with the social impact of negative comments, from the recently banned Bathroom Wall application in Facebook on which any friend can anonymously post what ‘they really think of you’, to young teens struggling with their identity, precipitated by prejudice of the newfound right, which has led to the rash of young gay suicides in the United States, I grieve for an earlier generation that could turn their social network off when they entered their home after school, and build their identity in private.

I was gaybashed growing up. It was one incident, and I was fortunate that it was not posted on a web site, permanently accessible to all. The scar would have been even deeper then, and more public in its impact, written on Facebook’s Bathroom Wall, and perhaps lead to suicide, as online postings have done for some gay youth in Canada, and the United States. I was able to lick my wounds privately, because no one tweeted or posted video of my attack. Today, I support campaigns such as ‘It gets Better’ which work to prevent gay teen suicide. These campaigns are made possible by those who work in the arts and media, such as Rick Mercer, but few have time to constantly generate responses to change public opinion. Social media campaigns cannot keep up with the generously funded, onslaught of news reportage, and online petitions are discounted by the government as ‘slacktivism’.

24/7 feedback on who you are does not allow adolescents to develop who they are independently of peer review, and form their identity backstage, with time down for family support. These same principles apply to the body politic as defined by news organizations. Our Canadian identity will be eroded by a barrage of misinformation masquerading as ‘news’, but will be really used to encourage bigotry and self-hatred if these CRTC regulations are weakened. Just as social media is beginning to determine adolescent identity, so will news deregulation alter our national identity, and embed the culture of name-calling, travelling down from the media into high school hallways. It will be alright to sling mud, and this news stream will not be able to be able to be turned off long enough to be examined in light of where and how it originated, particularly for impressionable youth, as there will simply just not be enough time to do so. As a journalism student said on the petition ‘Keep Canadian Media Honest – Don’t Let The CRTC Deregulate Truth in Journalism’,

‘I’m currently a Media and Communications student in my final semester. I chose this path so that I would be able to share the truth with the public. How can that be taken seriously if journalists can lie?’

And I add to this- why does the onus have to shift to the public to have us verify facts, rather than fact-checking the core mandate of the broadcaster? Who has time to do so?

Information is often separated from its original source in this social mediascape, and its content abbreviated through Tweets, links or viral memes, while traveling quickly to impact public opinion before its sources are confirmed for their veracity. (An example of this is the accusation that a cinema had bedbugs; the Toronto International Film Festival spent hours doing damage control to end this unfounded rumour, but still lost business.) The proposed easing of the CRTC regulation will encourage this trend, and allow a quick and dirty ‘truthiness’ to dominate the airwaves. Hate speech is powerful, and is used to end political discussion with epithets like ‘leftard’, ‘poverty pimps’, ‘commies’ and ‘pinko-kooks’- terms originated in Sue-Ann Levy’s Toronto Sun articles, names which now frequently come up in the online comments. Ms Levy, who is married to a woman, will have a soapbox on the new Sun TV channel to name-call in public, as of March 31st, and if this CRTC regulation passes, without censure. It is curious that Ms Levy feels she has the right to vilify the left, but would be quick to call foul if her sexual orientation was mocked in kind. May I remind her that the left fought for her right to marry?

The Conservatives govern through emotion, and it is not a coincidence that revisioning of what constitutes truthful reporting is being slyly introduced by the Harper government to be enacted September 1st , before Sun TV takes to the air on March 11th. Emotion will be permitted to trump rational-critical discourse, and ramp up the volume on vicious attacks on the left by the right. Truth in journalism is essential to a functioning democracy, and this narrowing of the scope of truth will make us callous to the nuances of kindness, just as researchers are finding with adolescents, who are exposed to constant criticism through their social media networks, are becoming more callous to their peers. We have built a just, tolerant, and diverse society, with a higher standard of journalism and education, and Canadians deserve more from the CRTC in terms of what defines acceptable information for broadcast.

In addition, the easing of this ban further harmonizes Canada with the United States, and its Fox News Network, to undercut our Charter Rights and Freedoms. The right contends that Sun TV guarantees freedom of speech, and its opponents, such as Margaret Atwood, are anti-free speech, however, is it my right to say anything I want without social repercussions? The Crown did not think so in the case of Ernst Zundel, and his NeoNazi denial of the Holocaust. His case was determined “to likely to incite hatred against an identifiable group”- and if that group is the left, progressive, ‘elitists’, why it is permissible that it is put further under attack by Sun TV through the CRTC?

At Harvard, one can say anything one likes, as long as there is a name attached to it to debate it. Will there be time for debate when the burden of proof lies with the judiciary system as to whether the Canadian version of Howard Stern, or Glenn Beck, spewing hate speech, “is likely to incite hatred against an identifiable group”? Will it be possible to protect the Charter of the Rights and Freedoms then?

I was fortunate after I was beaten up. I had a friend follow me into the bathroom, and console me in an era where homophobia was the norm. I dedicate this column- which is also my submission to the CRTC – to every adolescent I know who is different, and is told so daily, and to the gentle courage of my long ago friend. I do not want the media to be allowed to aid and abet hate crimes by the loosening of norms for truth in reporting, and encourage name-calling on air, so that adolescents are left on their own, with no back up from the government, to be attacked by words just as I was bodyslammed against a cafeteria wall, with no recourse to defend me from the culture of hatred perpetuated by high school in groups.

If it is not true, it is not news, and it should be recognized for what it is – tabloid journalism descending into hate speech for the purpose of entertainment. Words have the potential to be used a weapon to incite hate crimes against specific groups, and that whether this hatred is accrued incrementally, or immediately, it will be difficult to trace its point of inflammation in this ceaseless flow of media which determines our public and private identity. My small town encouraged the homophobic small talk; I paid the price for their ruthless pettiness. Ernst Zundel and his denial of the Holocaust was the Canadian test case for this theory; I was a minor player in the application of free speech in the public domain, and I was allowed to lose my dignity, throwing my body in rage against the bathroom cubicle that day, undefended by authority.

As a new media expert, educator, and a committed, sustainable designer and environmentalist – an active member of all the groups which will be taunted, derided and dismissed by the SunTV network- I ask that the CRTC take into account Canada’s communitarian history in relation to the application of free speech, and ensure that news networks are held accountable. As a petition-signer wrote, “A less regulated news culture will be created where the public may be inflamed by hidden agendas or political biases which will divide the people of Canada instead of uniting them.” I add to that that this new regulation will enable homophobic bigotry to be supported by public name calling, and it will be difficult, if not impossible, to determine when words turn into physical assault, after these names become legitimized through entertainment-driven news.

As Canadians, we pride ourselves on the higher level of integrity usually present in our media. Let’s not endanger that special trust. There may be a student in a small town high school who is waiting for their rights to be defended by the CRTC, not overturned.

I encourage all those who want to submit their comments to the CRTC to do so today, February 9th, at http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2011/2011-14.htm and sign the petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?stopcrtc&1001

References:
RMR: Rick’s Rant – ‘Bullying – It Gets Better’ at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t1Y7qpiu2RQ
‘Keep Canadian Media Honest – Don’t Let The CRTC Deregulate Truth in Journalism’ at
http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?stopcrtc&1001
Gloria Galloway, ‘CRTC plan to lift ban on false news prompts political investigation’, Globe and Mail, February 8th, at http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/crtc-plan-to-lift-ban-on-false-news-prompts-political-investigation/article1898147/ . . . → Read More: Railroaded by Metrolinx: Sticks, Stones and the CRTC Ruling For Easing Broadcast Restrictions