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Posts Tagged ‘Media’

The decision on Rob Ford’s conflict of interest case was announced moments ago. He’s been found guilty and in 14 days he will no longer be Toronto’s Mayor.

This has been a good week for Toronto: first the Argos won the Grey Cup, then we lost the gravy train.

There is already a Craig’s List listing for a slightly used Ford:

And just in case we had forgotten what a hilarious mayor Ford was, Vice magazine reminds us of all his goofs with this satirical piece, “Toronto Just Fired the Greatest Mayor of All Time.”

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This is the kind of story that Canadians love: A U.S. cop went for a walk in a park in Canada, was approached by two gentlemen asking whether he had been to the stampede yet, and felt unsafe because he did not have his gun.

Nose Hill Park in Calgary

Nose Hill Park in Calgary

The original letter is pretty funny. Wawra’s account does not make it sound like a particularly intimidating encounter. The men repeated themselves twice and then moved on looking “bewildered” when Wawra met their inquiry with a rude dismissal. Yet this was enough to make Wawra believe he was unsafe and needed a gun, since police cannot protect people all of the time. (As it turned out, the two were attempting to offer free tickets to the tourists, according to Gawker.com).

Canadians love this kind of story because it allows them to feel superior to their fearful and gun-loving neighbours to the south. Canadians want to mock this kind of story because it is unlikely that we would have felt threatened in a similar circumstance because we would have taken it for small-talk, or a typical greeting Calgarians might give one another when Stampede is on.

But that kind of fear is real among some Americans. I have several cousins who have told me that they don’t feel safe visiting me in Canada because they cannot bring their guns. My cousin from Detroit told me that he felt unsafe going to a bar in Toronto because in Detroit no one will mess with you because they assume you are carrying, while in Toronto he could not see what would keep someone from starting a fight. (Although the Crime rate in Toronto is actually much lower than the crime rate in Detroit) It doesn’t occur to my cousin that people in Toronto often won’t start a fight just because they have no interest in starting a fight and aren’t out to get each other.

My American cousins often tell me that guns make them feel “safe,” but from this side of the border it seems to me that guns actually just make them fearful.

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On Sunday July 22, 2012, the Québec Student Strike (grève générale indéfini, #ggi or Indefinite General Strike)  resumed protesting after a brief pause in June to give students some time to rest.

Student Protest on July 22, 2012

Students marching in the streets on July 22, 2012.

The Student Unions that organized the #ggi in Québec used the summer pause to travel to Ontario for a “Solidarity Tour” to help educate Student Unions there about how to organize a successful student strike. The Canadian English media’s coverage of the tour has been astonishingly poor. Take for example Tasha Kheiriddin’s article in The National Post: “We don’t need no solidarity with Quebec students.” Here is an excerpt from her piece:

Rather than inviting Quebec students here to infect them with their protest virus, the Ontario students would be better off going to Quebec, to see the effects of all this mayhem there. I played tourist in Quebec City and Montreal last week with my partner and his teenage children, and we had no trouble getting into any attractions because there were few big crowds. In June, hotels reported that business in Montreal was down by $5.8-million from the May of the previous year, with 5%-10% of bookings cancelled. While it might be great for vacationers who do show up, it is bad news for tourism operators and merchants — and for their employees.

Among those employees, of course, are students working summer jobs to pay their tuition. Between May and June, employment in the hotel and restaurant sector fell by 9% — at a time when it usually increases to serve the high season. Meanwhile, student unemployment overall stands at 16% compared to 14.5% for the same period time last year. And even if they find jobs in July, students have to head back to class in August to recoup class time lost to the strike, precluding them from holding full-time employment for the rest of the summer. (Source: The National Post)

It is not clear to me why Ontario students would be expected to take advice about their solidarity interests from a Whitby-based journalist who is unlikely to share the same interests as them since she is no longer a student.[1]

But even more striking in this quote is the lack of understanding of what a strike is, what a strike is for, and how one might measure the success of a strike: It is even less clear to me why Ontario students should take advice from a journalist, like Kheiriddin, who could not even be bothered to research strike actions and their history before writing about them in a national newspaper.

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A fun craft for today:

Storm Trooper Snowflake

Storm Trooper Snowflake

You can get this and several other templates for Star Wars Snowflakes by clicking this link.

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Protesters on the Bridge

Protesters on the Bridge

This is the second post in a series of posts I am writing in response to some inane commentary about #OccupyWallStreet. I am beginning with a response to Sally Kohn’s Piece “Follow No Leader” but will add to the discussion as I read more inane commentary from journalists who seem content to point out their own incompetence and call this “reporting.” I am not singling out Kohn’s piece because I think she is incompetent and other journalists are competent. Instead, I chose her piece as representative of a genre.

I don’t see this post as a defense of the movement as much as it is a criticism of journalism.

The sections I examine are as follows:

1. I Demand One Demand

2. Leaderless Clearly Means Pointless (This post)

3. They are Middle Class the Hypocrites!

4. Those “Smelly”  “Jobless” Hippies Should Just Try Harder if They Want to Succeed

5. Focus on What They are Wearing

6. Are Journalists Simply Incompetent?

Bibliography:  Link Round-Up of Decent Places to Follow the Protest

In the first post, I argued that the demand for one demand is forgetful of history. Once we recognize an injustice it is easy to identify that injustice as the demand (in retrospect). But at the time an awareness of a new form of injustice is developing the sense of outrage is usually amorphous, because we don’t yet have words or concepts to name that injustice. Usually there are a series of smaller demands that only later seem to be related to a single goal. “I have a dream” that we will be taken to “the promised land” is not exactly a specific demand. In retrospect, once we have a name for the injustice we can see how the “disparate” demands are actually “one demand.” But that only happens over time.

In this post I want to look at the criticism in the mainstream media that seems to say that if there is no leader, then the movement cannot have any point. Once again, this criticism was raised in response to the G20 protests in Toronto, but once again, all it does is point to journalistic incompetence.

2. Leaderless Clearly Means Pointless

One of the main criticisms of the new kind of activism that eschews leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King is that without a leader the media cannot figure out what is going on, so clearly nothing is going on (they mistakenly conclude).

As was the case with the demand that there be one clear demand, this only shows that old-style media reporting cannot keep up with new-style activism. I agree with the journalists that it is probably more difficult to get a “sound bite” from a movement with no leader charged with producing such sound bites in their inspirational speeches.

I wrote before about why reducing arguments to sound bites in the media is harmful, but here is another shot. In philosophy we teach students that they must criticize the premises, or the connection between the premises and the conclusion. They may not just attack the conclusion. The reason we teach this is that if all one does is attack the conclusion one has “contradicted” the speaker, but one has not argued against the speaker. By reducing arguments to sound bites, as journalists have recently been doing, all we get in political discourse is contradiction. We don’t get any argument. If this seems confusing, watch Monty Python’s Flying Circus’ “Argument Clinic” sketch.

The complaint that there is no leader of the movement really boils down to a complaint that this makes the job of the journalist difficult in a way it used to be difficult before journalism gave up. If there is no leader, then journalists will have to research and think about possible reasons for a protest rather than reducing the argument to a “sound bite” which is even worse than reducing an argument to a conclusion.

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I work in health care ethics, and there is a saying in the hospitals, “Nurses Eat Their Young” (see for example this podcast from the radio show “White Coat, Black Art” on the topic of nurse bullying). Well it seems to me that the same can be said of left-wing activists. Once again a bunch of young activists from a “left” perspective are trying to do something and raise awareness about the economic injustices currently occurring and the (allegedly) “left-wing media” seems incapable of figuring out what is going on. The same thing happened after the G20 in Toronto, and I wrote about that here. I am a philosopher, and what we do is analyse arguments, so I am going to comment on the ridiculousness of mainstream commentary on the occupation. I am beginning with a response to Sally Kohn’s Piece “Follow No Leader” but will add to the discussion as I read more inane commentary from journalists who seem content to point out their own incompetence and call this “reporting.”

I don’t see this post as a defense of the movement as much as it is a criticism of journalism.

The sections I examine are as follows:

1. I Demand One Demand (this post)

2. Leaderless Clearly Means Pointless

3. They are Middle Class the Hypocrites!

4. Those “Smelly”  “Jobless” Hippies Should Just Try Harder if They Want to Succeed

5. Focus on What They are Wearing

6. Are Journalists Simply Incompetent?

Bibliography:  Link Round-Up of Decent Places to Follow the Protest

This list will grow as I read and run across new inane commentary in the media. Guess what journalists, I am an oldster, well out of my 20s, I earn well over $100K per year, and not only can I figure out why there is a protest, but I also think the protesters have a legitimate point.

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This is amazing:

What I find particularly interesting about this video is the way in which Sir Michael Parkinson cannot seem to get off the topic of Helen Mirren’s body. In fact, though her body is not that voluptuous and she is not dressed in a particularly revealing way.

One of the best/worst parts happens 1:33 when Parkinsons says “You are ‘in quotes’ a serious actress.” Mirren calls him on it. Then he asks if her equipment will hinder her pursuit of becoming a serious actress. She makes him spell out what he is trying to hint at. It is marvelous.

Basically, Parkinson’s argument amounts to the idea that there are no serious actresses because all actresses will have breasts. But Mirren won’t let him get away with it.

Parkinson is just so condescending and Mirren manages to make him look like a fool. It is great. She has such poise and even though he is being rather vulgar she manages to keep her composure.

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