It's common in journalism. Headlines often reflect the prejudices (or the ignorances) of their writers - usually news editors. Take, for example, p.1 of NewsToday. "Violent Protests kill 15 in Pakistan". (This was in reaction to the film about Mohammed.) In effect, this is a headline that screams "all them there Moslems is crazy. They's all fanatics and extremists." You'll find that tone reflected in most of the American press, in which the usual term that features is "Moslem rage".
That headline is important. For a high proportion of readers, the headline is all they will read; so that's their whole impression of what's going on. The headline can be the most effective propaganda in a newspaper.
But now take a look at the sub-head. "Demonstrations peaceful in most of Muslim world". Gee, that's quite different.
And now read the story. Almost all of it is about violence and death. (With no mention that most of the deaths have been caused by police and soldiers.) Of course. The story is from Reuters. Some other news sources are quite different, emphasizing how most Moslem leadership has tried to calm the situation, and how the ones fanning the flames are those who want to establish Islamist states - people very similar to some fundamentalist Christians in Canada and the US who want our government to become a ruling arm of their version of Christianity.
Who gains from all this? Extremist Moslems who want a state controlled by their religious leadership - and extremist Christians who want a state controlled by their religious leadership. The only difference between them is that our press always calls the Moslem ones extremists. The Christian ones, no matter how nutbar and dangerous they get, are never called extremists.
Indeed, this is a film apparently made by the Christian right. They, as so often, constitute a major factor in this drift to holy war. So how comes Reuters (and the TandT) and the North American news media in general pay so little attention to the Christian right? Gwynne Dyer has an excellent column about this on the op ed page.
So here's a story that effectively lies. Those big, black letters of the headline tell one story. And that's the one that has reader impact. The subhead, which tells the truth, has little impact.
In fairness, that headline may not be entirely due to deliberate lying. It could be, it could very well be, a TandT editor who is - well - a typical TandT editor.
In NewsToday, as on the oped page, Dr. Parrot's expulsion from the Conservative caucus is the big scoop. (And it's nice to see Brent Mazerolle writing a column that isn't trivial.) But it's hard to see what the fuss is about.
I don't question Dr. Parrott's integrity or his commitment to those who voted for him. But - Dr. Parrott joined a political party. That indicates a belief in the principles of that party. He was, I take it, a member of that party for many years. He knew the people in it. And, being a big boy, he must have known what the party and its members stood for. And he not only joined that party, but ran and won for it.
Dr. Parrott says he is a tory. I don't know of any clear and generally understood meaning of the word tory. I doubt very much whether Dr. Parrott does. (It's often connected with the Church of England (the high version) and with aristocracy; but I expect Dr. Parrott means neither of those.)
Nor, I thnik, does he understood the correct meaning of the word conservative. If he did, I would dearly love to know what he has ever seen anything conservative in the conservative party - or how he has ever seen it in any way as arising from any principles whatever. Nor can I understand what difference it is he can have seen between liberals and conservatives in this province.
Nor does he seem to understand the basic workings of our political system. Getting elected does NOT give anybody the right to sit in caucus, not any more that Mr. Irving had a right to declare himself in coalition with the government or the right to appoint economic advisers to the government. (However, I'm sure that if Mr. Irving demanded the right to sit in caucus, Premier Alward would roll over to have his belly scratched.) That's the way the political system of New Brunswick works. Dr. Parrott surely knew that when he entered the game. (If he didn't, then he is too naive to be let out by himself.)
Dr. Parrott has NOT been silenced. He can still say what he likes whenever he likes.
Prermier Alward, unlovely though he may be in general, has done nothing that wrong or anti-democratic or even unreasonable in this case.
And, no, Brent. I don't think we should change the whole political system of Canada just because of this, one case. The issue here is a system that is fundamentally corrupt, dominated by two parties of no principle whatever - and a doctor who appears to be politically naive.
The editorial is about a poll that shows, among other things, that a majority of Moncton residents want an events centre (hockey rink) at a hundred borrowed million for the city. And that just proves what a relentless newspaper campaign of misinformation, disinformation, and no information at all can do.
Meanwhile, this city is getting close to one hell of a transit crisis. Indeed, the whole province is. It might be difficult to deal with that in a world in serious and unpredictable recession, with a city and province hopelessly in debt, and with a city council and planning staff that has yet to notice there is any crisis. Add to that the certainties that the cost will go well over estimate - and that the land deals will be highly suspect.
And why this cry to revive Main St.? Main street was born in an age when one travelled by foot to shop. Then it lingered on, with difficulty in the age of the bus and the tram. The car killed it. Shopping centres took over. Reviving Main St. today makes as much sense as reviving the outhouse for downtown. Main Streets are gone for the same reason hitching rails for horses are gone. They are obsolete.
If it must be revived, the fundamental change it needs it to get rid of the cars and replace them with mass transit, preferably in the form of a subway. I have never even heard of any city in the world that tried to revive a main street by building an events centre. For that matter, I've rarely heard of a city that wanted to revive a main street in the first place.
Oh, I've sent in my right to information request for information about pollutants under Highfield Square. So far, no answer. Not even an acknowledgement. But I have faith.
Some years ago, while teaching a class on World War One, I suggested they might be interested in a musical called Billy Bishop Goes to War. There as a long silence. At last, a hand went up.
"What's an LP?"
I felt a hundred years old. If you want to feel even older, go to the youth section, F p.2. There's a column by Jessica Melanson. If you're forty of more, this will boost you to a hundred and fifty. If you are under thirty, you won't even understand what the fuss is.