Thursday, August 18, 2011

Praise the lord and pass the ammunition

Every morning I pass the @edmontonsun newsstand and I wince.  

If you were to judge Edmonton based solely on the headlines of the sun you would think we had fallen into total violent anarchy.

I had a much loved social studies teacher in high school once tell me that people should only read the Sun for the stereo ads. Reading the alarmist bombastic headlines every morning as I walk to work I am realizing more and more how correct he was.  

If it wasn't the fear mongering and consistent misrepresentation of life in this city, its the blatant editorializing of the news.  More and more it seems to me that the sun is not a paper about news in Edmonton but a publishing arm of a conservative think tank.   

I understand that all papers and journalists have a political bias of some sort but few are as blatant as the sun.  After the chief of police put forth his plan to deal with the perceived spike in homicides (fuelled by sloppy reporting and punditry which has been debunked by this great site here and here) they splashed a message on the front page under the headline about how they had doubts about the plan.  (Note: The Edmonton Journal has not been much better on crime reporting front here so it is not just the Sun at fault). Now editorialize all you want but you should keep that shit on the editorial or blog pages not splashed in bold on the front page. 

I have a theory that this is all part of a neo-conservative effort to engender a culture of fear in us.

Michael Moore touched on this way back when in his bowling for columbine documentary.   He looked at the difference in gun culture and deaths in the US compared to Canada and then in the differences between how the news media in the two countries talk about crime.  Canadians it seemed were missing that critical element of fear.  

To modern conservatives fear is a critical element of political discourse.  Fear creates an Us Vs. Them mentality.  It is that mentality that is at the heart of conservatism today.  One of the cons major talking points in the last election was about how they were going to get tough on crime even though crime rates had already been dropping steadily for decades.  Talking about it makes some people think its a problem because no one is going to go to the trouble to look up the actual statistics and most newsrooms are too lazy to break it down for people.  

As a gay man who has been constantly vilified and accused of trying to destroy Canadian society and ruin the Canadian family by conservatives I am intimately familiar with this Us Vs. Them tactic.  Thankfully Canada didn't fall for it last time and I hope we do not fall for it again.

So here you have conservative politicians fabricating a problem to work a political angle just like it did with the gays.  Then magically the conservative newspapers start filling in that story constantly every day with such vigour and hyperbole that anyone would be crazy to disagree with it.  It just smells fishy to me.

Now I am not saying this is some big conspiracy by the right to terrify us but I will say the current leaders of the cons have taken a lot of moves from the playbook of the republicans in the states.   These are people who love power and a population that is terrified will almost always be willing to give up more than they should for protection.  Just look at the UK right now and the US after 911.   

I feel this culture of fear will keep getting pushed down our throats until it becomes an every day part of our lives.  Lock the doors grab the guns and your bible there are roving gangs out there and pray to Stephen Harper that he can save us from it all.

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