It’s a journalist’s job to be skeptical, and to raise differing points of view, without fear or favour.
When a broad consensus is reached on an issue — in this case, bullying — it’s right for media folks to offer up contrary points of view. Dissent is a good thing, particularly when only one point of view is dominating.
This fall, there has been an avalanche of coverage about bullying in Canada. Every paper and every broadcast, it seems, has had investigations into the nature and extent of bullying. Many of the stories have detailed the tragic tales of teenagers who, after being subjected to bullying, chose to take their own lives.
Politicians have picked up on the media’s refrain. On Parliament Hill, and at provincial legislatures, politicians of every stripe have come together to denounce bullying, or to suggest measures to counter it. Some of the politicians haven’t necessarily practiced what they preached — like those federal Conservatives who have claimed to oppose homophobic bullying, while simultaneously opposing laws that would give gays true equality — but it has been nice to see the unanimous denunciations of bullying.
So, out of the rare show of unanimity, there has been dissent, which is theoretically a good thing. Unfortunately, the dissenters haven’t advanced the debate about bullying, or their reputations.
Take, for example, the Ottawa Citizen’s David Warren. In his columns, Warren reminds his readers that he is a Catholic — and, like all converts, he’s making up for lost time. Personally, I think he’s of little consequence and is obsessed with gays, so I ignore him. But sometimes he can’t be ignored.
In a column published in the Citizen on the weekend, Warren wrote that anti-bullying measures are a conspiracy against heterosexuals and Christians. All of it is “a scheme to impose ‘gay-straight alliances’ on unwilling Catholic and private Christian schools, and otherwise extend the reach of ‘LGBT’ propaganda.”
Being gay, he suggests, is a “moral aberration,” and the “jackboot of coercion” and “left-wing hate laws” are now being used against those who — like Warren, one assumes — have seen their “moral universe turned upside down.” Oh, and being gay or masturbating is the equivalent of bestiality, when it comes to morally abhorrent behaviour.
Got that? There isn’t really any bullying taking place, or at least none we need worry about.
The second dissenter wasn’t nearly as odious as that, but just about as obtuse. c walked her dog, observed some boys doing that hug thing that a lot of athletes do these days, and immediately went ballistic. Toronto is full of “sissies,” hollered Blatchford, and the best way to deal with bullies is for a mob of kids to give them, and I quote, “a pounding after school.” And, again, hugging isn’t manly.
The columns written by Warren and Blatchford — which you should read, in full, to experience the immensity of their collective idiocy — are part of the grand tradition of Canadian journalism. The two of them are doing what they think is their job — being contrarian big mouths.
And, on that night when their contrarian big mouths get them in real trouble, and a bully or two are getting ready to “pound” them into the pavement, it’ll be us huggy, sissy, gay-friendly types who intervene to help them out.
It’ll be worth it just to see the looks on their faces.