A must-watch for Uncle Pat and the rest of the fauxgrieved “WHITE FOLKS UNDER SIEGE!!11” brigade.
(Buchanan pwnage h/t Hubbit)
[Ranking Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama] pre-emptively declared that he would not vote for a judge who uses the “empathy standard” in deciding cases—a reference to the sensitivity toward average people that President Obama said he looked for in nominees, and which has been transformed by the political right into code for favoring blacks or other ethnic minorities over whites. Sessions seemed to predict nothing short of the collapse of American law as we know it if Sotomayor is confirmed: “Down one path is the traditional American legal system, so admired around the world, where judges impartially apply the law to the facts without regard to their own personal views,” Sessions declared. “This is the compassionate system because it is the fair system.”
Undeterred by his gross historical error—had every court in American history applied the law in this manner, schools would still be legally segregated, a woman’s right to earn a living and obtain credit would still be denied, and so on—Sessions went on to attack even Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In an unusual broadside against a sitting justice, he accused Ginsburg of being “one of the most activist judges in history” even though a glancing look at her record shows she has been part of an almost powerless, left-of-center bloc on the court that included three men, two of them appointed by Republican presidents.
Ginsburg’s affliction, then, is apparently the same as Sotomayor’s: She sees the world differently than does Sessions. This is the key to understanding the unhinged argument about “empathy.”
It presumes that the white male experience is the only authentically American experience, and therefore the only one that could possibly be unbiased. Whatever predispositions or inclinations these men bring to the law are the valid ones. After all, they are not hampered by some silly notions they may have picked up along the way had they lived their lives as women or as members of minority groups.
– Marie Cocco, Closet Racism in the Age of Obama
Related: Cory Doctorow points to an extensive Flickr gallery commemorating Sessions’ longstanding tenure as a dumbasstastic racist fuckateer. On a more serious note, U.S. News runs down ‘Sonia Sotomayor’s 13 Most Notable Decisions’.
Anyone following my Twitter stream this weekend would have noticed that yours truly was a little bit dissatisfied with several pieces recently published by The Toronto Star. We’ll deal with the egregious diversity fail over what constitutes the most ‘important’ works of art/literature over the past 10 years another time (as per the white male columnists commissioned by the Star to map the contours of contemporary Canadian culture, women need not apply). For now, I want to address Saturday’s cowardly hit piece on Star columnist/blogger (and good friend of the Logic) Antonia Zerbisias by Star Public Editor Kathy English.
The 800-word public flogging was apparently commissioned by Star publisher John Cruickshank, after a complaint was lodged by Bernie Farber, president of the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC). Farber, no stranger to public grandstanding, raised a stink after Zerbisias left an obviously tongue-in-cheek comment (on an otherwise unrelated post) ironically speculating on Farber’s sexual orientation following his curious participation in the Toronto Pride celebration. Of course, it’s kinda hard to earnestly claim ‘defamation’ on the part of Zerb when there are pictures of Farber in the parade wearing a t-shirt that reads “Nobody knows I’m gay.”
Not that there’s anything wrong with (apparently) bearing false witness to further a political agenda, of course.
A tone of thinly-disguised contempt towards new media applications (note how English repeatedly points out the marginal online audience Zerbisias’ Star-hosted blog, Broadsides, receives in comparison to her ‘real’ column–ZOMG ‘only’ 900 daily hits!) is apparent throughout English’s embarrassingly ignorant column, making one skeptical that she and Cruickshank can be trusted to craft a knowledgeable, nuanced social media policy for Star reporters/columnists, one that takes into full account the conventions and standards of the online landscape (to say nothing of basic respect for digital fora in general.)
Former Star intern Jen Gerson (currently based in Abu Dhabi) does the heavy lifting addressing (and utterly decimating) English’s thinly-sourced and imprecise charges (memo to Ms. English: a blog comment is not the same thing as a blog post, much like an editorial is not a horoscope, even though both are typically part of a broadsheet. Are you following so far? Good.)
Given the context of the comment, nobody but the most wide-eyed naif would assume Zerbisias was outing Mr Farber. She was calling a public lobbyist to account for his hypocrisy. You know, doing that “journalism” thing we all so love to talk about. Albeit, in the snippy tone of a blogger, rather than the staid voice of print.
The obligatory response by Mr Farber, and the ensuing blog banter are all standard fare. I only started to feel my hackles raise upon reading this one: ‘Gay’ blog post was just not fair’ by the Toronto Star’s public editor, Kathy English, who spent the next 870-odd words, knees bent, begging for Farber’s forgiveness while offering her columnist’s head on a sacrificial plate.
She writes: “blogs by Star journalists ‘may not put the Star in a negative light.’”
Yes, because God Forbid we express a Controversial Opinion that may or may not be perceived to be negative with people who we may or may not be trying to kowtow to.
The only journalist who has put the Star in a negative light is Kathy English.
As a columnist, Zerbisias represents herself. Her readership knows her views and biases and pick up the star to read and/or rail about them.
However, as the public editor, English is perceived to represent the wider paper. So that column made the entire publication look like it’s run by humourless, uncomprehending fools who are quick to throw their own people over the edge of the ship at the behest of a well represented and powerful lobby.
Perhaps the saddest thing about this chilling, over the top attack on journalistic autonomy and free expression is the fact that Zerbisias has been spanked–publicly–for violating an as-yet unwritten policy. Vague exhortations regarding ‘civility’ come across as fawning overcompensation; English is simply trying too damn hard to be seen as doing something, and, as noted by Gerson, ends up looking foolish in the process–especially when one considers Farber’s provocative reputation and contentious history with Zerbisias (another memo for English: if you can’t separate legitimate reader concerns from blatant concern trolling you have no business being a public editor).
Exactly why English–and Cruickshank–were so quick to jump on Zerbisias over something that, if inaccuracy is the primary complaint, could be addressed with a simple ‘regret the error’ mea culpa, remains unclear, though this certainly isn’t the first time that Cruickshank has zealously targeted an uppity, left-leaning woman columnist in response to manufactured outrage.
Dr. Dawg wonders if there’s something other than editorial prudence driving the TorStar bus that English and Cruickshank have tossed Zerbisias under:
Why, if there is nothing wrong with being gay, is Farber “forced” to state publicly that he is not? Why all the Sturm und Drang? What does it matter, one way or the other?
And then a Star editor and the publisher go into full damage-control mode–except that I can’t, as noted, discern any damage. Not, in any case, unless Farber, despite his protestations, thinks that the “gay” label is a stigma, and the Star brass agrees with him. Blogs by Star journalists, says English, “may not put the Star in a negative light.” An ironic comment about someone being gay does that?
Tempest. Teapot. And possibly a wee bit of homophobia disguised as hand-wringing concerns about fairness and accuracy? You decide.
Ultimately, however, this controversy isn’t about ‘gay panic,’ or defamation, or even ‘accuracy’; it’s about the gatekeepers of Old Media desperately and opportunistically attempting to assert top-down editorial control over a still-uncertain contemporary media environment where their presence is largely unnecessary and unwanted. Unless Cruickshank, English, and the industry in general learn how to craft an online identity for newspapers and newspaper employees acknowledging the rollicking, informal, interactive atmosphere that defines the blogosphere without sacrificing traditional journalistic ethics, their already fleeting relevance will continue to evaporate.
We still need the invaluable contribution to the public good that is provided by quality journalism; but we must also take into account the industry-wide online evolution that has taken place completely below the radar of certain oblivious publishers and oversensitive public editors.
Unbiased private citizen Kyle Simunovic told me to tell you that WHINY SOCIALIST MP Charlie Angus smells like fresh goat feces on a hot summer afternoon. Also, I hear that our glorious leader, Stephen Harper, farts rainbows and pisses Dom Pérignon. And doesn’t hate teh Joe Sixpack (unlike a certain WHINY SOCIALIST MP who shall remain nameless).
SO not a Conservative staffer (no, srsly!)
h/t Impolitical via Twitter
Dude, WTF?! Homobigoted opt-out FAIL from Canada’s new wingnut capitol:
The Saskatchewan Party government is proposing legislation that would allow the province’s marriage commissioners to refuse to perform same-sex marriages.
In a news release Friday, the government said the proposed law would ensure there are other marriage commissioners available to fill in if someone refused to perform the service because it violated his or her religious beliefs.
Provincial Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan said he’ll ask the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal for an opinion on whether the proposed legislation would conform with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Two legislative options will be put to the court, he said.
“One would grandfather the existing marriage commissioners that are reluctant or unwilling to perform a same-sex marriage and the second option would grant religious exemption for not only the existing ones, but for future marriage commissioners that would have the same concerns,” he said.
As Nathan Seckinger, spokesman for the GBLUR Centre for Sexuality and Gender Diversity aptly notes, “Ultimately, what it comes down to is that we can’t have government officials asking for the right not to enforce law…I mean, where does that stop?”
Which begs the question: What if an SK marriage commissioner (which, last time I checked, was NOT a religious title) was “reluctant or unwilling” to perform an interracial marriage? Would they too be allowed to refuse their services due to strong personal convictions?
Inquiring minds want to know, Don.
Shorter: “You won’t have Palin to kick around any more!”
For some reason, the very ambitious Sarah Palin finds the need to take herself out of public view. It’s hard not to speculate that there’s another shoe yet to drop. But don’t count her out; she’s as tenacious a political fighter as I’ve ever seen. She’ll no doubt put the time gained of her early exit from the governor’s mansion to good use — perhaps studying up on issues for her visits to the people of Iowa and New Hampshire.When I first speculated that she would be John McCain’s vice presidential pick, people said, Sarah who? Despite colossal missteps, she emerged from the 2008 presidential election as the darling of the Republican Party, her running mate returning to the Senate as a has-been. Mark my words: She’ll be back.
We (again, as in ‘progressives’) should remember what happened in 1968, after liberals and upper-class elites at the time had prematurely dismissed Sarah Palin’s political forefather, the man who wrote the book on exploiting class/racial grievance for electoral gain.
Much, much more over at Memeorandum.