Thursday, October 26, 2006

Do you hear what I hear . . .

What colour is this: BROWN.

If you're like most adults, you got it wrong. Our adult minds are programmed to read information. Our senses tend to take the back seat when competing with our learned thought processes.

Keep that in mind as you read a poem I've written to mark events in parliament. It might take a minute to work out the rhythm, but I'm fairly sure there is one. (Don't worry, I haven't quit my day job.)


Conditional sentences for kid porn on the net,
new sponsorship charges, won’t deal with that yet.
North Korea, Darfur, who really cares?
Belinda’s been wronged, what else compares?

The matter’s decided, but we won’t let it be
not with that mean-talking man roaming free.
Mr. Speaker must listen, then listen again
until those terrible words are etched in his brain.

"You already have her," the man might have remarked
And we Liberals just know he meant that she barked.
We remember his gesture to her empty chair
and the cruel implication that a doggie sits there.

The bad man denies ever saying those words
but Liberal MPs know what they heard.
To the trivial world, we’ll remain blind
while we shoulder this burden for all female-kind.

"He’s a liar, a sexist, a dishonourable lout!
We know what we know, we heard that man shout!
Ruin any career! Blacken anyone’s name!
It’s in defence of all women – not political gain.

You'll listen, and listen and listen some more.
The words at the bottom will help you be sure.
If the sound was inscrutable the first time -- well then,
just be sure that you play it -- again, and again.

Keep reading the captions right there on your screen;
reread it and listen, you'll know what we mean.
Listen while reading – those same words you will hear
Don't worry, your eyes won't play tricks on your ear.

Accused of a gesture and a meaning implied
and if that's not enough, we'll prove that he lied.
We’ve printed the words, so you’ll hear that it’s true
If you just keep on reading it, you’ll hear it too.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Not the Medium -- the Malice

Yesterday in the comment section of Garth Turner's blog, I wrote:
Garth, if you were any more full of yourself, you'd explode.
Well, I think he has -- at least his brain.

In his latest blog entry 'The chasm', St. Garth of Petulance expounds upon his ejection from the Tory caucus. One would have thought there was no glowing cliche left for him to use about himself, no singley-held principled stance not yet exhausted by his already endless exposition on all things Garth. One would have been wrong.

St. Garth portrays himself as champion of populism and martyr to the cause of 'freedom'. The lone Conservative MP with principles and conviction, Garth speaks of his heroic staring down of "the we-know-best PMO which now has an icy grip over establishment politics".

He blames the chasm between the Conservatives and himself to the Party's anachronistic nature and his own digital accumen. He uses the progressive momentum of the Internet to symbolize his own advanced stage of intellectual evolution and an analogy of rigid men 'in suits' to represent the Stephen Harper government and its puppet MPs.

From the beginning, when Garth spoke out against the Emerson appointment, he has characterized himself as a lone voice of ethical conscience within a party of mindless or mercenary followers and now he blames the Internet for his downfall. He seriously thinks Stephen Harper's disapproval of a modern method of communication is why he was turfed. Delusional.

Think about it.

It's your first day in a new job and you say publically on your celebrity blog that your boss has behaved unethically and that anyone who doesn't agree with you is unprincipled. How long do you keep your job?

Back in February, Garth acted like the press sought him out, as though his criticizm of Harper on his blog played no part in their seeking his opinion. For a time, Garth Turner was the name on all lips -- a man of honour, falling on his sword for the sake of integrity. And since this is precisely how Garth speaks and writes about himself, the publicity he received as reward for his brave stance acted as an inducement to sustain the image and engage in further acts of disrespect.

Note that I use the word 'disrespect'.

Throughout his blog there are various claims of moral superiority, most of which tend to imply his colleagues are morally inferior. There are smatterings of denigrating terms, like 'homophobe' and 'hats and horses' colleagues, etc. His blog oozes with pious righteousness and contempt for those who fail to adopt his point of view. Dissent doesn't have to be disrespectful or dismissive or derisive, but Garth Turner has taken smug sanctimony to its limits.

Disagreement within parties is hardly new. There are bound to be differences of opinion about direction and policy in any group larger than one -- but Garth still can't see that it wasn't his opinions, or even the medium he used to express them -- it was the whole tone of his blog and the divisive nature of his commentary.

When the cabinet appointments were announced, these are some of the things he said:
First, I pledge to remember every day that my job is not to serve the party or the prime minister, but rather the people who sent me here.
. . . why I wanted to return to Ottawa. It was not to be a minister with a limo, but, as I exlained, to try and empower elected people more, to make them relevant and free, so the voters would also become more empowered.

***These first two statements imply that he is the only Conservative MP to feel this way.
By the time I got to Parliament Hill, I was infused with the spirit of a new era in government, stated on the belief that we would see freedom reign in the Chamber and that the days of subjugation of MPs by the prime minister's office were numbered. . .

***Here he tackles his boss head on.
Everybody who makes up the government should be elected. They should be elected as members of the party that forms the government. Anybody who switches parties should go back to the people. To do otherwise is to place politicians above the people . . .

***He makes a pronouncement and anyone who disagrees doesn't care for democracy, just power.
But my comments were deemed not helpful, even though I chose them carefully and pulled some punches, suggesting Minister Emerson be given a little time before deciding on whether or not to get elected as a Tory.

***I've only pulled the stuff from his blog. His interviews were equally provocative. It is provocative because Turner presumes his own reaction to the appointment is the only legitimate one and given more time, even the unprincipled Mr. Emerson will see the errors of his ways.
I was just hoping that this time I would not be asked to choose -- between party and principle. I chose principle. My deepest loyalty is to what I believe . . . The Minister may decide not to take the heat. . . But he should still have the conviction to get elected a member of the team he chose. The same team I chose, and fought like a warrior to join . . . hopefully he will decide that's the right course of action.
I will try, at first, to get my government to champion these causes. If it does not, I will champion them myself. How will that happen? Well, just watch me.

***Between party and principle? The arrogance is astonishing.
Bold and defiant, yes, but also reckless and insulting. Turner could have disagreed with his boss and party without questioning their integrity and showing disdain. He could have said:

People are aware that I believe an MP should go back to the people should he decide to switch parties. In Canadian history, this has not been the established practice, and while I personally would want to do that were I in Mr. Emerson's position, our system of government elects a person, not a party. Mr. Emerson is the MP for Vancouver Kingsway regardless of what party affiliation he holds. He is under no obligation to resign his seat and I doubt the Prime Minister is going to change over a hundred years of precedent.

Mr. Harper did not support anti-floor crossing legislation when his party was on the other side of the equation last year, nor did he demand a byelection. He has been consistent in his views and I respect that. Not one Liberal supported a bill to limit floor crossing that was presented to Parliament just last fall. Perhaps in the next sitting of the House, if I, or someone else puts forward a bill setting out conditions for such a move, some Liberals might be inclined to support it now. At least we'd see if their current attitude is because it's happened to them, or if they are truly committed to a change in the practice.

There is room for dissent and diversity within the Conservative party, but when a demagogue persists in antagonizing his co-workers, the result will be tension and distrust. Turner's Emerson reaction was the first in a series of overtly hostile acts that placed Garth Turner on the outs -- not just with the PMO but with his fellow Conservative MPs -- the same people he hoped pass along to, the ideas and goals of the interested souls who communicate with him electronically. They should listen to a man who sees them through the prism of contempt?

A blog that waxes romantic about its own author is narcissistic tripe. It might have remained harmless self-promotion had Garth not made his attitute towards his colleagues so apparent.

It isn't the medium that brought him down, it wasn't even the message -- it was the malice towards the Garth-proclaimed 'homophobes' and the rural 'hats-and-horses' crowd. When you have that much contempt for so many parliamentarians and so many Canadians, it's bound to bite you in the ass eventually -- especially if you post it on your blog.