Tag Archives: Twitter

Cunt: Never An Appropriate Descriptor for a 9 Year Old Child

When I close my eyes, and imagine all the terms that one could come up with to describe a 9 year old girl, the very last one on my list would be “cunt.”
In general, I would assume that most reasonable people would agree. There are fewer words as genderized, vulgar and riddled with hate.
While some feminists have strove to reclaim the label, it remains an extremely derogatory term.

Apparently, there is someone handling the social media for The Onion tonight that either:
a) doesn’t care
b) didn’t get the memo or
c)is willing to push the envelope for spin/media traction.

No. Bad. Fail.
Before it disappears off the face of the earth, take a gander at that. “Quvenzhane Wallis is kind of a cunt, right?”

I get that The Onion is satire. I understand that they exist only to push the limits of good taste and freedom of expression.
I am generally a fan of their ability to mock convention and the sacred cows of society just enough to elicit a hearty laugh.
This? Not okay.

This is Quvenzhane Wallis:

She is a child.
A  nine year-old child, who happens to have been nominated for a “Best Actress” Oscar this year.

…and according to The Onion, a “cunt.”

If, for any reason, you have the cognitively chosen to defend The Onion on this I’d love to hear the justification.

(Be prepared for me to eviscerate you if your reasoning is “First Amendment” based. I call bullshit.)

Points to ponder:

  • An adult, with a job, who broadcasts outside of a vacuum, decided it was acceptable to use this specific epithet in reference to a pre-pubescent child.
  • A  female child, who also happens to be black! (Imagine the media frenzy if a little blonde caucasian child were called this.)
  • It wouldn’t have been okay to call any woman a “cunt”, for what it is worth. It’s sexist and worthless as far as words go, and it is just that much more disgusting when aimed at a little kid.
  • By the time I got to this point in writing the article, the Tweet was removed. Someone over there in Onionland pulled it.
  • If you want to let it fly, you can ping The Onion on Twitter – @TheOnion

Gentleman! Step Up and Reclaim Your Wife! Pesky Newborns Be Damned!

Chattel.

That’s all you are, women.

The personal property of men.

If you dare to turn your attention to something as trivial as…a newborn baby?

YOU ARE LETTING YOUR KEEPER DOWN.

Your breasts are ALL his. All.

Stick some plastic in that kid’s cry-hole, STAT! Then get back to doing what you do best: being a walking pair of tits, for titillation.

Men, if she dares to try to use her breasts for functional purposes, stop her. RECLAIM her. Those are your jugs.  You shouldn’t have to share your property with a screaming, red, angry sausage.

*Ahem*

If you found that offensive, in any way? Good.
Enter an infant bottle manufacturing company called Bittylab.

Earlier tonight, Bittylab’s  Twitter page was using these premises for what can only be seen as a misguided, misogynistic, offensive and ill-advised social media marketing campaign.

OFFENDING TWEET 1: @bittylab – New baby? Reclaim your wife. Meet BARE air-free #babybottles

OFFENDING TWEET 2: @bittylab – Your newborn takes up all of mommy’s time? Meet BARE #air-free babybottles #breastfeeding

Is there any other way to interpret these Tweets? Not really. The implications are crystal clear. Women are property. They are owned. The baby is getting in the way, and must be stopped. Breastfeeding is a nuisance.

This ranks  as one of the most asinine, inflammatory things I’ve ever seen on social media in a marketing campaign to date. Maybe, if this was a one-off, badly thought out Tweet, I could turn a blind eye.  However, the feed goes on, and on, and on. These statements were made repeatedly. Ad nauseum. Someone at this company believes this is a great idea.

It’s not.

Tell them so.

 

Springtime for Hitler in Ottawa

 

Last week, our favourite sweater vest hoarding Prime Minister made the world’s laziest Nazi/Hitler invocation during Question Period. This is the latest in a string of Hitler references made by sundry politicos in Ottawa during 2012, and we’re not even half way through the year. His gaffe brought jeers and tears of laughter to denizens of the House and online. For your viewing pleasure, witness the exchange between Mulcair the Bearded Sandwich Explainer and Stevie Soulless Eyes HERE.

After I was done laughing and wiping tears of hilarity from my eyes, I went back to the Politics Respun crew, and asked them for their input. Stephen Elliot-Buckley, Kevin Harding, Jasmin Mujanovic and I weighed in:

Is there ever an appropriate time in debate for comparing our politicians, parties and policies to those of Adolf Hitler?
Short of starting some ethnic cleansing campaign or annexing a neighbouring state, no. The bar is set quite high. That said, I think there’s too much careless thoughtlessness when people are rejecting criticisms of fascism and totalitarianism and corporatism. Tossing those words around seems to fit some of the positions we’ve seen in Canada in recent decades that are contemptuous of democracy. As a society we need to be better educated about the meaning and historical context of those words so we can use them more intelligently. And we don’t need Hitler for all that. – Stephen

I’m not one to really ascribe limits to speech, save for the kind that involves things like yelling “fire” in a crowded movie theatre. That being said, I also think that there’s problems with making comparisons between exceedingly horrific historical events and the leader of the NDP asking Harper when he was going to bring Canadian soldiers home from our neo-colonialist romp in Afghanistan. There’s a balance; if you honestly, seriously, fully think that comparing the actions of your debate opponent to those of Hitler are necessary, then, by all means, do so – but don’t be surprised if you’re made out to look like an idiot after doing so. It’s a comparison that should be made exceedingly rarely, and only in circumstances that actually warrant it. – Kevin

Sure but only once they begin engaging in or advocating for the systemic genocide of a segment of our population. Until then, it’s juvenile idiocy. – Jasmin

If the politician/party/policies are truly akin to those of Adolph Hitler and not simply something that opponents of the politician/party/policies merely dislikes or takes offense to, yes. Using it as a tool to insult or derive a reaction (Godwin’s Law) does make it a de facto debating tactic. – Tia

Was Harper out of line on Thursday when he erroneously stated that the NDP did not support the fight against Hitler in 1939? Was Mulcair, when he shot back about Reform Party?

I think it would be wonderful to get into the debate about where Canada has stood on events like the Boer War, WW1, WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq x2, and Afghanistan. And the centuries of various forms of war against the first peoples. There is precious little serious, non-zinger based rhetoric floating around when, as a nation, we ought to be getting into the soul of the issue of the role of our military. – Stephen

No, and no. In the most literal sense. Take a look deeper at the statements – Harper said that the “leader of the NDP in 1939″ didn’t even support war against Hitler. This – and only this – is specifically true. J.S. Woodworth, an ardent pacifist, opposed war in Germany. And he – alone in the House of Commons – voted against the declaration of war. And he was soundly castigated for his actions, and made fun of quite rightly, for his vote. Extending this smear to insinuating that the NDP itself loved Hitler is just fucking stupid, plain and simple. Mulcair, on the other hand, shot back about the Reform Party’s policies – here, he took the policies of the party as it then was and compared it to the actions of the party as it is now. No spurious smearing; if the party changed names, it’s still the party’s policies as they were, not the actions of an individual who was then castigated by the party. – Kevin

Harper’s statement was the depths of gutter politics–pathetic more than anything else. I thought Mulcair’s retort was rather funny, though, and I don’t even really like the guy. Not much else to do in a situation like that than mock the Prime Minister. – Jasmin

If the HOC was a UFC octagon (which would actually make a lot of politics in Canada much more entertaining and culturally relevant for the masses) this tactic by Harper would have been a move akin to kneeing your opponent in the balls. It was cheap, lazy and a last ditch effort to keep away from having to tap out. Mulcair’s retort was priceless, and he chalked up laugh points from me with his verbal ground n’ pound. – Tia

In the media (both traditional and social) there are perpetual invocations of Hitler/Nazis by Left of centre thinkers/commentators directed towards Harper, his government, and Conservative Party policy. Is there legitimacy in this comparison?

Like I said above, I think we need to be more precise. When we say totalitarian, we need to talk about an issue like “free speech zones” in Vancouver during our Olympics corporate orgy, with respect to the Charter and how such acts are an egregious violation of reasonable limits from Section 1 [http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/charter/page-1.html]. When we talk about corporatism and the corporate-political junta that is the neo-liberalism of the Liberal Party, Reform Party and Conservative Party, we should be clear on how we talk about governing for corporate interests. When we bring up soft fascism or hard fascism, we should connect that discussion with these handy 14 elements of fascism: http://www.rense.com/general37/char.htm. – Stephen

There’s legitimacy in comparing a lot of the actions of governments to fascism. To Hitler? Nope. And don’t get me started in the stupidity that one can find in certain right-wing fora who insist that Hitler was a commie socialist, not a right-wing fascist. – Kevin

No, absolutely not. I have very, very strong objections to Harper’s policy in particular as it relates to our treatment of First Nations peoples and overseas(mis)adventures–situations where people are actually dying)but he’s not Hitler, nor are the Tories Nazis, either. We have plenty of fascist movements around the world (including Canada) who make very few bones about their politics; we’d be better off actually engaging those people than wasting time on these partisan theatrics. – Jasmin

Comparing what is actually going on in Ottawa with the current Conservative government and WWII Nazis is laughable and makes your argument look small minded and uninformed. Like Harper or not, he’s not actively gassing his enemies in death camps and annexing small nations. Find a better comparison in history or grab some originality and create a term. I’m fond of Sweatervestism, myself. – Tia

Is Nazism a useful symbol for what makes us angry, from opinions on extended breastfeeding to criticism about opposing politicians?

I believe in Godwin’s law. Short of contemporary Nazis and similar groups, I think we need to educate people with more precise terms. – Stephen

If you legitimately think that the comparison is necessary, sure. Just don’t be surprised if you’re made to look like a complete idiot on your comparison if it’s out of line. There are way more useful comparisons or symbols to use. Boots stomping on faces, sweater vests, et cetera. – Kevin
Only a Nazi could ask such a question! Which is to say: sure…but only if you’re kind of slow and un-creative. First of all, very rarely are our opponents actually Nazi-like in nature. And on the odd occasion where I have engaged with actual fascists, the comparison to the Nazis was hardly insulting to them. So, with very few exceptions, the comparison is unjustified–and none of those exceptions are part of the mainstream Canadian political scene. – Jasmin

What is the term I’m looking for? Ah, yes. Reductio ad Hitlerum: claiming that a policy/group leads to/is the same as one advocated or implemented by Hitler/the Third Reich, and so “proves” that the original policy/group is undesirable. Guilt by association. Having been called a “Boob Nazi” (somewhat erroneously) often and FemNazi a few times, I am always perplexed as to how the person making the comparison arrives at the choice of words. I presume that the person throwing the terms around lacks a functional vocabulary/creativity. – Tia

Does invoking Hitler/Nazi in Canadian politics trivialize and desacralize memories of holocaust and the horrors of WW2?

Yes. And while trying to elicit empathy for violated peoples is a valid motive, we should do it in a more realistic context. We don’t have to go to gas chambers to talk about the abject poverty that millions of Canadians are one paycheque away from because of neoliberal, totalitarian, corporatist soft fascism. – Stephen

No. It trivializes the person making the comparison, if the comparison is not justifiable. Cf “Godwin’s Law” and etc. – Kevin

Yes, full stop. – Jasmin

Hell, yes. It’s disrespectful of people who have been affected by Hitler, who dealt a lasting blow generationally to so many families and individuals around the world. My grandparents were children/teenagers during WWII in Germany/Eastern Europe and our family is still impacted, several generations later. – Tia

Other thoughts/comments on this topic?

Harper is clearly desperate. He’s seen his polling numbers drop stunningly since the NDP leadership race, which is the kind of event to give the NDP a bump, not usually a corresponding plummet in the governing party’s stature. And now that I enjoyed the Twitterverse Monday morning kicking the tires of the NDP talking about expecting a coalition government with the Liberals and not a merger, the Harper Junta will be further trimmed in the polls. And now that the Liberals are going to let non-members vote in their leadership race, Cullenistas in the NDP can vote for a leader who is interested in a distinct, yet cooperative posture with the NDP. And yesterday NDP House Leader Cullen called for the speaker to enforce more decorum in the house. Cooperation and dignity, two of Cullen’s core leadership messages, seem to be defining this era of the NDP even if Cullen didn’t “win” the leadership. Harper’s a politician full of hate and vitriol. He is so angry, eager to demolish the Liberals, eager to cram his self-assured ideology wherever he can for the sake of some monarchist imperial brand of corporatism. He knows that suppressing voter turnout illegally or through negative politics keeps voters who embrace hope from turning up and mobilizes his base that hates their enemies. We need to reject gutter politics. As simply as last spring when Layton unilaterally stopped his party from heckling in the House, there is room for building something positive. Harper is incapable of doing that. So he invokes monsters, and in doing so, Godwin. – Stephen

The meta-narrative on Harper’s stupidity in jumping into Godwin’s law so quickly ignores the fact that Harper didn’t have an answer as to when the troops engaged in neo-colonialism in Afghanistan will be coming home – so instead he pulled out Hitler. Idiot. – Kevin

I’ve been left with a Broadway show tune from The Producers in my head, ear-worming me endlessly. Springtime! For Hitler! In Germany! Thanks for that, Harper. – Tia

Occupy the Church, Occupy Together

Christians.

Church.

God.

Jesus.

Occupy.

What do these words mean to you?

For many, the connotations are negative. Personal experiences with judgemental, rigid, frozen people who identify themselves as Christians have left a bitter taste in their mouths. Memories of being harangued, condescended to and lectured linger long after their encounter. Media and political examples of those who proclaim to be faithful are nearly always of a deafeningly ignorant and perplexing sort. If these were my sole run-ins with Christians, I would write them off as a group as well. After all, who wants to yoke themselves to a group of closed-minded and finger pointing hypocrites?

I found myself bashing my head against my desk earlier in the day, when I stumbled upon a Tweet from Westboro Baptist Church. Westboro is notorious for being vehemently anti-gay, anti-Semitic and vicously Pro-Life,  and have gone to extremes to publicly harass and shame these aforementioned groups in the media, often turning up at events with angry pickets and inflammatory signage. Should you ever require an emetic to induce vomiting after eating some bad sushi, I whole-heartedly suggest reading through their www.godhatesfags.com website.

As someone who identifies as a Christian, I am loath to lump myself in with their ilk, and was disgusted and nauseated after reading through their prejudiced, hateful vomiting of words. Today, they were generating press for themselves by announcing that they were going to ramp up their new crusade of placards and brimstone, by picketing the funeral of deceased Apple founder, Steve Jobs. Beyond smacking of a cheap stunt to get attention, I fail to understand how this would be useful to anyone, other than the Westboro coffers that are filling up with the tizzied tithes of like-minded Tea Party wing nuts and illiterate mouth-breathers. According to Margie Phelps of Westboro, Jobs is sizzling in the deep-fryer of Hell tonight, because he failed to use his riches to give glory to God. Ergo, this is a good time to spread a little of the crazy in front of his mourners and the sundry members of media in attendance.  I’m impressed that Westboro has been struck with the divine ability to know with certainty what Jobs is doing for eternity. Margie, honey, it’s time to go back to the basics, and visit Matthew 7: 1- 5.  “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”  Hmm. Convenient to forget this choice nugget, n’est pas?

After I finished spitting at the screen, and hissing invectives, I was consumed by reading up and following the Occupy Wall Street solidarity movement, Occupy Together , that has been gaining traction worldwide. Borne out of backlash against the corruption, oppression and suppression of Americans by corporations and government, the movement has replicated like a virus, with a rapid surge of action groups springing up in cities around the world. As it should. For too long, people have been complacent in allowing themselves to be stepped on and kicked by the greedy and evil. A good, old-fashioned peasant revolt, replete with pitchforks and torches has been direly needed for a long time. It has begun. It is good. Again, Westboro’s various Twitter accounts decry the movement, proclaiming protestors infidels, sodomites and heathens. As do other fundamentalist, extreme right lurching (they don’t lean) organizations.

Epic fail.

Jesus would occupy.

The man, whose name so many draw upon to justify their hatred and prejudice?

He was a liberal.

He was a rebel.

He was a political leader.

He was angry.

The Son of God was no namby-pamby, milquetoast, limp-wristed man. He blasted money changers in the temple, who were thieving and corrupting though commercial activity. He didn’t keep company with royalty and rulers, starlets and the popular. He had a band of misfits and loners who shucked off the trappings of everyday life, and gave up their comforts to incite action. Jesus hung out with prostitutes, and worse, the universally reviled tax collector. He doled out free health care. He dispensed food to the hungry. He forgave people of their debts to God. He was a carpenter who labored, and became a radical teacher. He faced the death penalty for a crime he didn’t commit.

This man would Occupy.

So for those who need to return to the basics, and revisit exactly what Jesus DID espouse, I’ve got a few reminders of why Christians are called to be radical, inclusive, loving and political and why we need to Occupy the Church and our communities instead of hiding in glass houses.

Make Peace, Not War

Canada and the US spend absurd quantities of money fighting wars to protect the interests of multinational corporations that toss them kickbacks. We send our troops to places they have no business being, to come home in body bags, to fight wars that are not our own. Stop policing the world. Fix the problems here, where our people are being bled dry.

  • Matthew 5:9  “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be Called the Children of God.”
  • Matthew 5:39 “Resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite the on thy right cheek, turn the other also.”
  • Matthew 5:44 “I say unto you: love your enemies. Bless them that curse you. Do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which fully use you and persecute you.”
Corporate Greed is an Abomination
Corporations are not citizens. They are given leeway by the government to devastate the environment, enslave workers, create artificial economic hardship, destroy lives.
  • Luke 12: 15 “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in abundance of his possessions.
  • Matthew 6: 24 ” You cannot serve God and money.”
  • John 2:14 & 15 “In the temple courts, Jesus found men selling cattle, sheep, doves while sitting at tables, exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove them from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers, and overturned their tablets.” 
Equality and Social Programs
All people deserve equal access to free health care, free education, and accessible housing. Not just those who can afford to pay, to skip a queue, to be born into a better social standing.  Is that what we have now? Not even close. We are charged to take care of those who are unable to do this for themselves.

  • Luke 14: 13 & 14  “But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, 
    because they cannot repay you. You will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
  • Matthew 22:39 “So in everything do to others as you would have them do to you.”
  • Matthew 19:21 “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.”
Crime & Punishment
The recent case of Troy Davis in Georgia is a perfect example of the hypocritical nature of governance, law makers and those who are able to exert power over us. Even when presented with law that would cast reasonable doubt, decision makers in the state of Georgia were able to exploit loopholes to strong-arm their will. North Americans cried foul, rallied for benevolence, pleaded for justice. There was none. This was not the first, nor will it be the last time the death penalty was used to send a message to the world. “Screw you. We are the government. We do what we want.”
  • John 8:7  “If any one of you is without sin, let him cast the first stone.”
  • Matthew 7: 1 & 2 “Do not judge, lest you too be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged with the measure you used, and it will be measured unto you.” 
Christians are called upon to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14) and to speak for those who have no voice. God does not hate fags. Or Buddhists. Or single mothers. Or immigrants. God hates hypocrites who spread lies, hatred and death. If Satan truly comes to kill, steal and destroy, as it is written in John 10:10, then it is our governments, banks and corporations that we need to rebuke. Jesus came so that we could live life, and live it abundantly. To watch our fellow-man wither on the vine, broken and indebted is to defy what our mission on Earth is. Every day that you and I turn our back on social justice, deny righteousness and turn a blind eye to corruption is a day that all of us have failed. The sickness and the sorrow that we are drowning in are symptoms of our own depravity, and the willingness to put on a blindfold. It is time to unite, join in solidarity, and scream “This isn’t working! Stop the madness. Fix this, and fix it now!”

Occupy your city.
Occupy your church.
Tomorrow is too late.

How I Expect Journalists to Behave During #Elxn41

The short answer is: just as they are. I think they’re doing a great job, especially with the kind of contempt Harper has shown them for years.

By the way, #Elxn41 is the Twitter hashtag for Canada’s 41st general election. It is an exciting time as Twitter is redefining the relationships between estates. Candidates, citizens and the media are being forced to redefine their relationship with each other.

Twitter is the catalyst for this democratization of relationships away from strict one-way broadcasting. In the previous two elections it was the existence of blogs, then Facebook that allowed electrons to play an unpredictable hand in the campaigns.

The last few days has seen a number of self-reflexive tweets from mostly journalists discussing/engaging on how the current dynamic exists.

Before examining all this, let me just say a couple things:

  1. Without journalists doing good work, editorialists like me would have very little to go on beyond primary source documents/spin from political actors. So thanks for your work!
  2. With the demise of the CanWest management junta I have noticed a marked increase in the breadth and quality of analysis and political coverage in both the former CanWest properties and their competitors. This is no small element in what I find to be a democratic rebirth of our nation.

So there are a few events that are worth exploring to illuminate Twitter’s role in how politics is in flux.

One of Canada’s journalistic treasures, Terry Milewski has been trying to get a straight answer from Harper on why his Vancouver South candidate got an endorsement from a man linked to the Air India bombing. The party line is that she didn’t know who he was. The Twitterverse has interpreted that as that she’s either lying or incompetent since the person is of some significant notoriety. Milewski explains how at a recent Conservative party rally, the crowd shouted/cheered/clapped/chanted down his attempt to ask Harper a follow-up question, one of only five Harper deigns to receive each day. You can view video of the questioning here.

The analysis here is that outside of traditional media production channels [TV, radio, newspaper articles/stories] journalists are living their vocation live, in real time, in Twitter. Since the Conservative party candidates rarely show up to debates or all-candidates meetings, or take many/any questions, the journalists are left to comment on the process of the campaign. And they do it live.

I think the Conservatives realized years ago that it is better to say nothing or not show up to meetings/debates than to have the general public learn of all their policy ideas. Really, over 60% of Canadians vote against them. Why bother thinking the majority would be in favour of their ideas.

I’m not a very good journalist. If I worked as a journalist I would consider not attending Conservative party campaign events because of the party’s contempt for democracy: 5 questions each day, keeping reporters caged away behind fences, refusing to let candidates show up for debates. If the party is going to be weak on policy and undermine democratic elements of election campaigns, maybe journalists should boycott those events.

But that’s not what journalists ought to do. They need to show up, even if they are going to be used, manipulated, derided, neglected and spun. They’re bright people. They should be able to endure all that.

And in the event of an absence of policy to report on, the journalists can report on how the campaign is going and their experiences if they’re newsworthy, which the Conservatives would still prefer instead of pushing policy.

Here’s how real journalists explored these issues, instead of a boycott, focusing mostly on David Akin as the hub of conversation. For the most part, the tweets speak for themselves.

In reply to the quite reasonable suggestion that journalists protest their dismissive treatment, Akin suggests few would care. Maybe political wonks would, which is a happily increasing number.

Few would care, I’m afraid. RT @jkoblovsky: there’s a story on how the press has been treated through CPC campaign. Use your journo skills to protest. – David Akin

Akin on the role of questioning politicians:

I’m for free speech. Free speech includes reporters — national, local, alternative, I don’t care — asking questions. In 06, Martin shut us down. Harper has always done so .. – David Akin

Regarding the crowd shouting down Milewski:

All the more disappointing to hear PMO staffer Plouffe egging crowd on to drown out journalists as his last job was as a CBC journalist! – David Akin

Regarding whether Harper has had any positive media coverage, Akin questions whether that should even be a premise:

Was there a reason it should have been otherwise? MT @nspector4: don’t think Harper has had 1 day of positive media coverage – David Akin

When Chantal Hebert wrote about how this election has seemed to be about nothing, she may have been talking about how Harper called this an unnecessary election [after all, he was fired by parliament to set it off, so I can understand how he feels it is unnecessary] and how the Conservatives have a mostly substance-free campaign, and how the result may not end up being the status quo, but a profound shift in the balance of power in the House of Commons. Akin agreed.

Agree. Hebert: “An election that has seemed to be about nothing may result in the biggest shift in the federal tectonic plates in two decades.” http://bit.ly/heTOVnDavid Akin

This agreement does not translate into journalists withholding their services because of an empty campaign, but keenly analyzing the implications of how the campaign is rolling out: something they could not do if they boycott the campaign itself.

Maclean’s Andrew Coyne empathized with the Conservative campaign’s neglect of journalists turning into overt manipulation with a couple comments with that reasonable suggestion that journalists not take manipulation anymore:

@davidakin Seems to me there’s a point at which gallery have to refuse to allow themselves to be used this way, isn’t there? – Andrew Coyne

@davidakin I sympathize with their situation. But we’re now beyond limiting qu’ns, to using media as props for applause lines. – Andrew Coyne

Akin replied with the kind of price that good journalists pay, as opposed to gutless lackeys who are preferred by slippery politicians:

@acoyne Harper PMO has used us props for applause lines for 5 yrs. Tonight was just an exceptional example. – David Akin

In a related crucible of politician-journalist-citizen relationship evolution, Akin retweeted a Ralph Goodale tweet:

RT @RalphGoodale: It’s troubling that Mr Layton is prep’d to compromise Cda’s constitution in effort to get separatist votes for NDP – David Akin

Personally, I am tired of Conservative politicians, and now Liberal politicians, misrepresenting our constitution to undermine a party’s surge. But then, spin is spin. We parse spin. And here is Akin’s response to the some meta-spin critique about whether it is fine for journalists to retweet what politicians tweet:

So journos shouldn’t quote pols in print/TV stories? RT @Albertaardvark: . More troubling: Media RT’ing party candidates tweets. – David Akin

There is nothing troubling about journalists retweeting politicians. Journalists exist as objects of credibility. Exploring their communications to discover bias is more complicated than tracking one-off retweets. It takes concerted study over time to spot journalist bias. And accusations of bias need to be well-founded before being bandied about.

Ultimately, through all these examples of the changing nature of political discourse, I’ll leave the final word to Akin on what we all truly expect, or should be expecting, from the talented journalists monitoring our democracy. In response to Andrew Coyne’s suggestion that the media gallery not tolerate manipulation by the campaign,

@acoyne As frustrating as it is for the individual journo: I believe readers/viewers expect us to keep showing up … – David Akin

And we do.

And when they take one on the chin for doing their job, we should appreciate them more.

And one way to appreciate them is to follow them in Twitter; that also helps you engage in politics more effectively. David Akin has a list of most of the best Canadian journalists in Twitter. Pay attention because as politicians are slow to figure out how to include social media in their public lives, the good journalists are figuring out how the overall relationship is changing. And they discuss how that change is happening while they live it. It’s all very post-modern. Or is it post-post-modern?

And as citizens, we need to recalibrate how we relate to politicians and the media. Twitter can help, but we need to do our part.

2011 Class Warriors Include Anonymous and the Uncut Movement

Today’s note is simple.

It’s big picture context.

On one hand we have:

  1. 30 years of neoliberalism,
  2. with the Conservative-Liberal passive coalition in Ottawa,
  3. a Democrat or maybe Republican Lite in the White House after the Bush years,
  4. the Tea Party,
  5. anti-worker legislation in Wisconsin and Ohio,
  6. developed countries bailing out capitalist fraudsters to keep them out of jail while cutting social spending,
  7. and general right wing bliss-seeking.

On the other hand we have

  1. the democratizing capacity of texting, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube,
  2. some widespread anti-corporate, counter-hegemonic media in sites like The Real News and Al Jazeera,
  3. a sentiment that the fifth estate is becoming the fourth,
  4. populist democratic uprisings or revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, maybe Algeria, hopefully Libya if they can hold on, and several other African and middle eastern nations,
  5. a worker and pro-public sector populist, activist uprising in Wisconsin,
  6. the Uncut Movement, designed to reverse neoliberal public sector spending cuts to offset tax cuts to corporations and the rich, which is not even 6 months old yet and has already spawned groups in many countries and a dozen Canadian locations,
  7. we have Wikileaks which is speaking truth to power by exposing powerful groups’ truths to the power of the people, and possibly contributing in part to the Tunisian revolution,
  8. and we have Anonymous, a collective that may end up contributing significant elements to democratization movements, or they just may stay goofy.
  9. [And now suddenly, we have serious black eyes on the oil and nuclear energy sectors leading to more arguments for post-carbon/radioactive energy development, which is itself a democratizing movement because it erodes power of global energy oligarchs.]

The pendulum is swinging.

Perhaps the Tea Party pushed it too far and triggered some counter-populism.

All I know is that 2011 started in tremendous flux. Democracy is on the table. People are moving towards it. Old power elites, totalitarians, neoliberals…all of them are at grave risk of increasing irrelevancy.

The trick in each of our local areas is to mobilize the irate and motivated. We need to build community-based social movements for progressive change. We need to ally ourselves with regional, national and global movements that exhibit creativity, commitment to ideals and strategic engagement to change the nature of political dialogue so we can reverse the scourge of decades of neoliberalism.

Complacency doesn’t fit in 2011.

Corporations Behaving Badly, Again

Letting corporations regulate themselves is foolish for society, but good for them. This is why they fund right wing politicians who pursue neoliberal goals like tax cuts, deregulation and privatization. Did you know, by the way, that BC will become an onshore tax haven in January 2012 when its corporate tax rate hits zero for the first $500,000 of corporate revenue?

If you have seen the movie The Corporation, you know it effectively describes this virtual yet immortal “human being”/organizational model as psychopathic because it seeks to maximize shareholder wealth above all over goals. Here are two corporations who are classic examples of how we cannot trust corporations: Celestial Seasonings tea and Microsoft.

Fair trade certification organizations like TransFair are independent organizations that certify fair trade practices in something’s production. Producers pay for that certification process and should be able to charge a dime more per cup of coffee to massively improve the lives of coffee pickers, for instance.

But some companies like to do it on the cheap. They position themselves as ethical traders, pushing their corporate social responsibility out as PR copy, and undermine the legitimacy of third party certification systems, all designed to capitalize on the public’s increasingly moral behaviour in consumption.

Celestial Seasonings has a reasonably earth mother, granola crunching, tree hugging brand already. So why don’t they become certified as fair trade? They have a delicious explanation of their sustainable sourcing methods that makes me want to go tree planting this summer, but without independent verification, why should we trust them, just because they say so and wear Birkenstocks?

But they also have an immoral streak. Last September during the Colorado fire season, they promised to pledge money to a fire relief fund for everyone who liked their Facebook page:

On Monday, Sept. 6, a devastating fire started in the mountains just west of our hometown of Boulder, Colorado. In the week that followed, the Fourmile Canyon Fire burned nearly 7,000 acres, and more than 150 homes in our neighboring mountain communities were lost.

Rebuilding after the fire will be a long and difficult process. Celestial Seasonings is dedicated to helping restore our local communities – and you can help, too!

For every Facebook user who “Likes” our Boulder Fire Recovery postings, we’ll donate $1 to The Community Foundation Serving Boulder County’s Mountain Fire Relief Fund (up to our goal of $15,000). The Community Foundation Serving Boulder County is a local nonprofit that directly supports the residents and fire departments affected by the fire.

So spread the word – together, we can help our community get back on its feet.

To learn more and discover other ways you can help, please visit the Community Foundation Serving Boulder County’s website: http://www.commfound.org/news/FourmileCanyonFire.html

Thanks for your help!

Why contribute to a charity when you can do so, AND promote your brand!

But turning to the deeply disturbing we see Microsoft’s attempt to capitalize on the disasters in Japan last Saturday to promote its brand in Twitter:

“How can you #SupportJapan — http://binged.it/fEh7iT. For every retweet, bing will give $1 to Japan quake victims, up to $100K.”

Sure, it was a clever idea to leverage current events into promoting its Bing product. But it takes a special kind of heartless person to think up that particular tactic and another special kind of heartless person to approve it to be tweeted. You would think a technology company would get social media more than this because the backlash was fast and angry, here is a fine example:

“Coming soon! Microsoft branded Tsunami commemorative mugs and T-shirts. 20% of every sale goes to good causes! #fuckyoubing.”

Most sick, however, was Microsoft’s inability to acknowledge that they behaved offensively:

The furor over Bing’s tweet continued to grow after the company attempted to rescind its earlier tweet by apologizing not for the content, but because it was misconstrued.

“We apologize the tweet was negatively perceived. Intent was to provide an easy way for people to help Japan. We have donated $100K.”

This classic non-apology represents the kind of cold, heartless behaviour is stunningly typical from corporations, but increasingly intolerable.

2011 is an exciting year already with democracy movements in totalitarian states all over Africa and the middle east. But we also have the class warriors fighting worker-bashing Republicans in Wisconsin and Ohio, the Anonymous movement and the Uncut Movement, all this just a year after dozens of rallies across the country opposing Harper’s anti-democratic parliamentary prorogation sequel.

This is a new era of class war with citizens fighting for democratic and economic rights. And now with the tragedies in Japan we are already seeing a resurgent movement against nuclear power.

Corporations and the neoliberal political compradors should take note. We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore.