Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Jan.13: What is a news story?

A news story tells us what happened. That's all. It does not tell us what to think of it. That is not the role of a reporter. A columnist can try to tell us what to think. That's why the columnist's writing is listed as a column, and not as news. Any reporter who uses news to express his or her opinion needs to be spanked and sent back to journalism school. And any news editor who would run such a story (I believe it's a David Gauvin for this one) should be fired on the spot. I intend to write the Irving press ombudsperson on this one - but with no great expectations.

It's in the issue for Monday, January 12, section B, page 1. The story, about the Paris shootings, come from The Associated Press. (which doesn't surprise me at all. Read this carefully.

"Blood-curdling, al-Quaida-inspired murder that tore at the heart of the nation which raised him wasn't ghoulish enough for Cherif Kouachi."

This is the kind of "news" writing one usually finds in supermarket tabs which enjoy a huge sale among the gullible----as in "...and then the depraved beast reached his filthy hands out to tear at her delicate, pink panties..." An ethical reporter does not use emotionally loaded language. An ethical newspaper does not print it.

Our newspapers never used such language in reporting on the American lieutenant in Vietman who ordered his men to slaughter a whole village, some 800 men, women, and children, and quite innocent. In fact, the North American press had to be shamed into reporting it at all. And when the lieutenant was found guilty and was sentenced to prison, the president pardoned him that next day. And there was no lurid reporting of that. either.

Our press is also turning this into an issue of free speech and, intellectually, satire.

I have looked at the cartoons. Neither free speech nor satire is an issue here. In the first place, no country in the civilized world allows absolute free speech. It does not exist, and it never has. As my elders used to tell me when I was a kid (lord, elders can be annoying), "Stop saying things like that. Nobody is allowed to shout 'fire' in a crowded theatre".

Every civilization I have ever heard of puts limits on what we can say. Canada, the US, Britain, France all have laws limiting free speech. And the US, Britain, and France have all imposed severe limits on speech in their days of empire. Indeed, in parts of the American empire, to this day, you can get killed for speaking too freely. Ask anybody in Guatemala.

As for satire, I have seen the cartoons. I know what satire is. And these ain't satire. If they are, then I shall start a magazine showing cartoons of leading New Brunswickers that show them sexually assaulting cattle. The Charlie Hebdo cartoons are at that level. And they have only one purpose, to cause hatred. If you find them funny, then for your next birthday party, I can get  you a comic who entertains by blowing out the candles - with farts to the tune of happy birthday to you....

What they have done is to stir up fear,  hatred, paranoia, manipulation that could well lead to millions, many, many millions of deaths. This is not about satire or free speech.

For example, huge demonstrations all over the world don't happen by accident. I don't think we have ever in history seen such big and widespread demonstrations. That happens with organization and money - big money. And we had forty "world leaders' leading the street procession in Paris. Gee! How many world leaders attended demonstrations when the US murdered millions in Vietnam - and millions in other places. How much of it is even reported? Think. How much to you know about American drone attacks? How many have their been? How many people killed? How many innocent? How many children?

And three million people marched in Paris. How inspiring! And how many marched when French armies were torturing and murdering people in Indo-China, Algeria and Tunisia?

I very much fear we are watching an orchestrated campaign to justify one hell of a war. Our politicians are in on it. So are our newspaper owners. On the basis of some loutish cartoons, we are laying the groundwork for a war that will almost certainly go global. And we are tarting it up with absurdly grand titles like "freedom of speech" and "satire". We are being played like fools. And we are acting like fools.
There are also a couple of amusing news pieces.  On the same page, we h ave Harper honouring John A. Macdonald.  And everything he says is pure malarkey. Harper called John A. "a shining example of modesty, hope, and success".   No, he wasn't Stephen. Like you he was a front man for big business - first for Canadian big business, then for British big business. That's what confederation and the CPR were all about. He was also as corrupt as a - well, as a conservative. The only thing making him more attractive than Harper is that he was an alcoholic.

Mind you, we had a prime minister from just over the border in Nova Scotia who was possibly even more corrupt than John A.

This is all part of a series of Government "history" commemorations that Harper is planning to show how patriotic he is. There's a letter to the editor of the TandT in Tuesday's paper from the Hon. Shelley Glover on how we will learn and be inspired by our country's history - just as in the celebrations of 1812 and World War. Come off it, Shelley, nobody learned anything significant from those "celebrations". This is pure politics, and getting Stephen re-elected at our expanse.

Oh, and we have special assault troops going up the Arctic to look out for spies. I'm not sure why. After all, the only country to openly reject Canada's claim to the Arctic is the US. It routinely sends ships through the northwest passage without asking Canadian permission. ( And the Canadian government routinely pretends it gave the US permission.) The only time an American ship was every stopped was by Inuit who parked their dogs and sleds on the ice ahead of the American ship.


For Tuesday, Alec makes some good points at the expense of Premier Gallant. Gallant has said he wants  consultation with all New Brunswickers to solve our economic problems. Uh, Brian, all New Brunswickers are not financial experts. In fact, most of us ( almost all of us) are not. To say you're going to deal with the economy by general meetings is like a doctor stopping in the middle of an operation so he can consult with all New Brunswickers on how to do it.

In fact, dealing with the problem is what YOU were elected to do.

Norbert gets all excited, saying the TantT cartoonist make the most powerful statement of all on the Paris shootings. Norbert, neither you nor I have seen as much as one percent of all the cartoons on those shootings. I saw nothing original in his point of view - and nothing helpful.

By the way, flying a flag at half-mast does not mean putting it half-way down the pole.

Alan Cochrane does quite a decent column about the Paris shootings. Without quite saying so, he makes the point that to speak of free speech in loose terms is a dreadful mistake. He closes, "Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, just like the debate over how to use it responsibly."

He also points out that it can be used to spread hatred and violence. Bang on.

Section B3 has a predictably big news story that French Jews are fleeing to Israel. That raises an important question. Where can Palestinians flee to?

As it is, Israel is stealing their land and destroying their homes. What will happen as the population of Israel grows? (Too bad all those world leaders in Paris didn't show up recently to protest when Israel was killing a lot more than a dozen cartoonists.)

On the same page, Pope Frances denounces "deviant" religions that cause violence. Too bad he didn't notice all the Christian in such deviant religions - the ones who say that God is on our side, that the US has God's wish that it should rule the world, that for the US to invade Canada in 1812, Mexico later, and native peoples all the time was part of God's "manifest destiny" for the US. In fact, you can find deviant religion in just about every Christian group I can think of from Baptists to Roman Catholics.
But the story that scares me is the one about Paris. This is being orchestrated very skilfully, and with big money behind it. The use of terms like "free speech" and freedom of the press)  is a clever use of emotive  language to rouse hatred and fears. We are being manipulated for something very big, and the news media have signed on. And it is likely that a great many, a very great many, innocent people are going to die.

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