I think before any journalist sits down in front of their computer to write something, they must ask themselves the following question: will what I am about to write constructively improve the dialogue on that topic? Or dig deeper: will it speak rationally to those who disagree with me, and/or passionately to those who may share my point of view?
And if they answer is ‘no’ to the first two and the only ‘yes’ applies to the third question, they should stop and find something that’s not a damn waste of time to both write and read.
Take this, for example: the article ‘NDP aims to stash its socialism in the closet’ by Les Macpherson at the Saskatoon Star Phoenix. Macpherson throws the word ‘socialism/socialist’ around seventeen times (I counted) in a 400-word article, lashing out at the NDP’s socialist plans for a socialist utopia where rights are trampled, the individual is quashed below the might of the community, and wealth is taken from those whose blood and sweat and labour has earned it and redistributed among the lazy masses in the name of socialist ‘equality.’
Macpherson starts off by stating that “New Democrats don’t like to be called socialists. They roll their eyes and sigh theatrically, but they can’t deny it. Their own constitution describes them as such. It’s right there in black and white and pinko.” Which shows what a great start we get off to, that there is something inherently wrong or shameful with being either being an outright socialist, or agreeing with many tenants of socialism.
He follows it up with your typical fear-mongering and suspicion over the inclusion of socialist objectives in the NDP constitution, capping it off with my favourite paragraph:
It is for good reason that New Democrats keep their constitution out of sight. Otherwise, it would alarm voters. Among other things, it rejects private property and free markets in favour of government control over the economy. We all have seen how well that worked elsewhere. That’s why socialists are in bad odour.
Yup – New Democrats ‘reject private property’ in all its forms and oppose free markets just like the Commies under Mao in China, the Che-worshipping Cubans under Castro, and the Ruskies in the U.S.S.R. under Stalin. They’re all five-year plans, long marches, forced re-locations, and collectivized farms. It’s all right there in the NDP constitution, according to Macpherson.
It’s easy to feel like Glenn Beck when you begin talking like this, and Macpherson is not far off in this over-the-top, flamboyantly theatrical, and unnecessarily vitriolic article for the Star Phoenix. But I wonder what the point of this is? I read it, and then re-read it to see what his point is, but there isn’t one. It fails to constructively add to the dialogue on politics in Canada, and it did not speak rationally to those (like me) who disagree with him. It was name-calling without a constructive purpose, pure and simple. And from a major media that is not SunNews.
(Disclaimer: for the record, it’s not lost on me that I too have been guilty of name-calling on this site, like when I called Don Cherry a ‘grunting sperm’, which still makes me laugh sometimes. But I have always tried to be as constructive as possible, to give the article a reason for being and a moderately useful message. I have never started an article with the thought that tearing my political opposites a new asshole – just ’cause – would be a good enough reason to write something down.)
But I digress. The most that can be said about this article is that it does resonate with those people who are so ignorant and literal in their understanding of the NDP’s brand of ‘socialism’ that no good can be seen in ANY of its proposals, and the references (both overt and subtle) to Soviet Union-style communism are rampant.
I just don’t understand. If Macpherson wants to oppose the NDP on policy or merit, by all means. But this half-baked fear-mongering over ‘socialism’ is played out. Done. Get over, move on, and accept your new official opposition for what they do and how they do it, rather than on what you falsely perceive them to be. The only people who would be moved by this to oppose the NDP would already be stalwart Conservatives, and what value does this kind of preaching to the choir carry?
None. Although, in the spirit of fairness, I suppose I could ask myself the same thing sometimes.
We could also ask that grunting sperm Don Cherry.