Friday, January 13, 2006

On Attempting To Remain Civil Amid This Storm Of Flying Crap

One of our readers has posted an excellent observation on the CTV blogsite lamenting the quality of discourse taking place in all quarters during this federal election campaign. Coupled with a disbelief that Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party of Canada are actually any different from past incarnations of the Reform/Alliance, it points out the lack of restraint exercised by all too many people in an attempt to get their candidate or party into power. It's definitely worth a very close read.

We get the occasional comment on this site. That is always a good thing. The concept of a blog is that it is interactive and allows some debate. And with all the positive strokes there are also the opposing views. That's fine too, as long as that's what it is.

Occasionally, however, the discourse turns, shall we say, nasty. A reader, instead of providing an opposing view, resorts to a form of insult to defend a position they are clearly unable or unwilling to substantiate. That's fine too, because it exposes something about the commenter: a) The commenter never actually read the article, or; b) The commenter is unable to articulate their thoughts and resorts to a form of base reactionary insult demonstrating a lack of civility.

I wonder, when I read an unsubstantiated insult, if the writer is aware that he/she is harming the cause they have so poorly defended. When a commenter comes across as a semi-literate knuckle-dragger, which side of the argument does the commenter thinks has been advanced?

The attack ads being run by all major parties are no better. When the information on the Liberal attack ad referring to the Conservative plan to lodge army battalions in various cities around the country emerged, I couldn't help but wonder what idiot even conceived that strategy. That ad, now that it's public, had the direct effect of costing the Liberals 40,000 possible votes. Members of the military, past and present, tend to hate all politicians. It isn't easy to attract those votes. It's a simple matter to drive them away though, and insinuating that they represent something bad is a sure-fire way to do it. Couple that with the fact that most Canadians actually like the members of the Canadian Forces and, well... would you like a bandage for that foot?

The traditional media is also to blame for the lack of civil discourse. Rather than do the deep research required to properly inform the public about everything surrounding an issue, a candidate or a party, major organs of the media skim the surface, issue forth with a quick pontification and move on - the news cycle is complete. They need something "new" to feed the next reiteration. In order to stay "on top" of the news cycle they leave huge amounts of valuable information behind, untouched, unresearched and unknown.

Blogs do something different. Blogs invert the news cycle. And, whether anyone likes it or not, most blogs actually take a firm position. In an election campaign, they will normally fall into the camp with which they feel comfortable.

We have been accused of being a "fanatic liberal website" by one commenter. That's patently untrue and the commenter knows it. There is nothing fanatic about it. What this blog represents is a position which resolutely questions the past and present background of Harper and his Conservative Party of Canada. We believe that Harper, his candidates and his party machinery represents an extremist right-wing constituency modelled after the current US Republican Party and that he is not being truthful with the electorate. We have supported that view here, here, here and here. And we have no reason to shift our position. Certainly, that position will only be reinforced when a commenter presents no substantive argument and resorts to insults, strawmen and red herrings.

And, to our readers from outside Canada, I offer greetings. As you have probably been able to deduce from this post, the election campaign here is getting a little dirty. (Sort of like going to an election and having a hockey game break out.)

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