Friday, May 19, 2006

Free advice to NPs Don Martin: Look in the mirror

The fourth paragraph of Don Martin's column today (subscriber only) is a promise that this piece is not:
"a tired rant about Harper holding journalists in disdain, which he does and we'd best get used to it because it's going to get worse."
If you want to read the rest, you'll have to buy a NP, because I stopped reading there. Whatever Martin had to say after that would likely be a lie, because that statement was.

In the previous two paragraphs Martin wrote that Stephen Harper had bypassed the podium set up by his staff and had instead, started up the stairs. Martin says:

"Having reached the desired altitude for showcasing his superior attitude in vintage Brian Mulroney style, Stephen Harper turned to lord over the assembled media with his message.

Free advice to the Prime Minister: Until you shape up, being filmed from below creates seriously lousy television optics. That button-straining gut fills the screen and the downward stare adds a chin or two."
Martin spews this sort of venom, then expects us to trust him that the rest of his piece is a balanced observation of the Prime Minister and his actions?

Advice to the columnist: Your inability to keep the personal jabs out of your writing belies your disdain for the PM. Don't expect me to take you seriously when you tell up front that your column isn't a rant, when you started it with a rant.

Don Martin's column might well be filled with the wisdom of the ages, but I couldn't get past his lie -- that his column had nothing to do with the animus between Harper and the media -- and I couldn't get past the fact that he tried to sell it immediately after slagging Harper with no less than three insults in the previous three sentences.

If the press wants us to see Harper as a bad-guy for his treatment of the media, they'd do well not to hit us over the head with it -- it makes them seem angry and petulent -- the exact qualities they attribute to Harper and claim to reject on our behalf. Better that they get to the point and in writer's terms-- show don't tell -- or better still, let Harper show how terrible he is, if in fact he is.

Martin's repeated personal attacks shut out any hint that what he has to say might be worthwhile. It's too filled with rage to be objective.

A scan of the rest of Martin's column uncovers the use of the words:
contempt, churlish, disregard, angry-Albertan, bitter and hard-done-by personality, furious . . .
Martin is apparently describing Harper with all of these adjectives, but I think he's projecting just a wee bit -- he could just as easily be describing himself.


Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Ah, to be flawless like Peggy Nash . . .

There are those who believe Harper is being 'petulant' for not putting forward another nominee to head the proposed public appointments commission after Gwyn Morgan was rejected as 'unsuitable'.

Morgan has a impressive credentials and is respected in the business and academic communities. His sin apparently, is expressing an opinion on immigration and multiculturalism that doesn't jibe with the left-lib, politically correct world-view.

Already we've had Maurice Vellacott resign because, by supporting one group in a criminal case (the police), it has been inferred that he is racist against another group (aboriginals). His opinion undoubtedly the wrong one -- not because it's actually wrong which it might well be -- but because it is not 'correct'. It would be the wrong opinion, even if it were factually accurate and verifiable because it doesn't automatically assume that the aboriginal side is always the right side.

Vellacott's other infraction is that he named Beverley McLaughlin as being the justice who suggested that the role of a supreme court judge was god-like, when in fact it was Rosalie Abella who believes she is a deity.

Harper gave them one. He accepted Vellacott's resignation -- but now he's considered petulant because he's not going to have another of his nominees shoved out for spurious reasons?

Go back a while to the days when Martin was PM. Remember Glen Murray -- rejected as chair by members of the roundtable on the environment because he had zero qualifications beyond being a Liberal who ran but lost in the previous federal election. And what did Paul Martin do? No, he didn't shut down the committee, but nor did he put forward another nominee -- he simply imposed his will on the committee members and Murray took the job and all the perqs.

Holding and expressing opinions that are neither racist, nor inflammatory should not disqualify a person from a job. Multiculturalism remains an experiment -- and Morgan is not alone in believing it's costs might outweigh its value. And, in the same vein, I don't believe Morgan was suggesting that certain 'racial' groups are responsible for violence, but rather some cultural groups don't drop their baggage when they set foot in Canada. Is this true? Well, we all know that not all Jamaicans or South East Asians are bad people. We know that most immigrants from all countries just want a better life and truly do try to achieve it here in their chosen land -- but we also know that economic and social conditions in the home countries of some immigrants lend themselves to violence. Suggesting that we watch the trends and choose our immigrants wisely and encourage them to become Canadian is hardly controversial, it just makes sense.

Morgan's biggest fault seems to be that he singled out two cultural groups. It might not be 'politically correct' to have done so, but funny, while the MP who introduced the motion to reject Morgan as commission chair, NDP MP Peggy Nash, called his remarks about Jamaican and South Asian 'deeply offensive' she never actually came out and said he was wrong. Hmmm . . .


Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Is murder just so common now?

Yesterday, a young Ryerson student was murdered. An arrest was made last evening over the supper hour -- and yet the Toronto SUN's front page story for today was:


Is it because people probably heard the news last night? Or maybe because 'domestic' - type homicides are fairly common? Sure, the tawdry sex story is more sensational -- but is it really news? Is some guy's sex life more more important than a young woman having been murdered in her home?

Is it just me, or is the emphasis on sex in everything getting overwhelming?

Mostly, I like the SUN. Often they'll have a sports win on the front page, or a celebrity, but not usually when there is actual big news in the city. This piece about they guy and his virginity might be an oddity or human interest, but it's also kind of smutty for a newspaper that gets left on tables in McDonalds etc.

Even if there were no murders in the city, no robberies, no important national news -- I think today's front page is tasteless.


On Seeing Da Vinci

Someone lent me The Da Vinci Code ages ago, long before it became such a big deal. I started to read it, then I put it down -- not because I was offended by the subject matter, but because I thought it was poorly written.

My oldest daughter read the book, and both she and my oldest son want to see the movie. Although I don't really want to add more cash to Dan Brown's coffers, we'll likely go see it.

A few of my friends have taken me to task for not reading the book but others are shocked that I would consider seeing the movie -- let alone allow my kids to see it or worse -- take them to see it.

My kids are smart people. I trust their instincts and their intellects. I've given them my POV on God, Jesus and all things spiritual and religious. They know my expectations of them when it comes to what they do and where they go, but at 13 and 15 I believe they are old enough and mature enough to read a book or watch a movie and determine whether they think it's fact or fiction. They are old enough to be facing these questions whether I'm there or not, whether I 'allow' it or not -- and they will form opinions without my help whether I like it or not.

With very few exceptions, I don't censor what my kids read. Their selections so far have been within my comfort zone -- although my oldest has read a couple of books that made me cringe (and thankfully, gave her the same reaction). My son's taste in reading rarely goes past the sports page, but yesterday we made a trip to Chapters and he wanted the Jose Canseco autobiography. I bought it for him and he finished it tonight (should've gone to the library.)

I'm more cautious when it comes to movies -- but really, they haven't asked to see anything that I felt was too violent or too raunchy, so it hasn't been an issue.

The Da Vinci Code is fiction -- they know that going in -- older copies of the book actually said "A Novel" on the cover. Even if the theory posed by Dan Brown seems interesting or plausible to the kids, shielding them from ideas or controversy will do nothing to sustain their faith if it is so shakey it can be shifted by a book or film.

While I respect the opinions of those who choose to stay away and keep their kids away, I think it's my responsibility as a Christian parent to allow my kids to see the world and choose their path. I always pray it will be the right one (though not necessarily the one I've chosen). I've provided them with a foundation; it's up to them now to build on it. Maybe this movie will make them read more to understand the history better, or maybe they'll shrug and say 'what's the big deal'. I won't keep them from it because I believe that if I were to impose my thoughts on them and insist they refrain from seeing a movie because of its premise, I would be giving the impression of power and value to Dan Brown's fiction -- it would send the message that I believed this book/movie was so significant that it could influence my kids more than I have.

I'm not offended by fiction. Dan Brown's 'theory' will not change my understanding of biblical history. It will not shake my belief system. It won't shatter my faith. If I've been doing my job properly so far, my kids will come out of the theatre knowing they were watching a drama, not a documentary -- and if they have any questions, I'll be there to help them find the answers.