Dr. Dawg

On hypocrisy, politicians and the media

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Vic Toews is mad as hell. He wants a House of Commons probe into who “leaked” publicly-available documents about his messy divorce and his spending habits.

If he had gotten his way with Bill C-30, which would have authorized warrantless surveillance of online Canadians, that might have been a snap. But the Conservative government, now hanging around the swing set with the rest of us child pornographer supporters, is now apparently open to amending this wretched piece of legislation. It ain’t over till it’s over, mind you, and there will be a lot of folks watching.

The conversation shifted. The most powerful weapon against politicians proved once again to be ridicule. Twitter was alight with mockery, under the DontToewsMeBro and TellVicEverything hashtags.

And someone calling him- or herself Vikileaks began Tweeting details of Toews’ personal life.

Those details were already public record, obtained without the warrantless taps and probes that the Public Safety Minister wanted to lay on the rest of us. They expose the unpleasant fact that the man who ran on a platform of “family values,” and preached to the world about the “sanctity of marriage” and what-not, is an arrant hypocrite.

He then added to that by stating that all those who opposed his thuggish bill were “standing with child pornographers”—and then calling the leaks “gutter politics,” as he was still dripping head to toe from a close encounter with one.

Now he has further compounded his hypocrisy by demanding an investigation to track down the identity of “Vikileaks,” who has committed no crime and done nothing remotely actionable. Whining about his own privacy, he sees nothing wrong with outing the Tweeter who mocked him.

Recall, too, that the government in which this man is a minister was responsible for leaking Sean Bruyea’s private medical records to denigrate him and the cause he fought for.

Fellow hypocrites quickly rose in the House in his defence. The spectacle of Angry Baird wagging his finger about dirty politics is truly something to behold. And Peter Van Loan, who called the Irwin Cotler sleazefest “freedom of speech,” stood up to rail against that same freedom being exercised by Vikileaks—who, by the way, unlike the Conservative catspaws in Mount Royal, told nothing but the truth. Both of these gentlemen, on the basis of no credible evidence whatsoever, went on to blame the NDP.

Hypocrisy is obviously catching. The media soon got a bad case of it. Wringing its hands about the alleged “nasty,” “toxic” Vikileaks, the Ottawa Citizen primly states:

In Canada, the personal lives of politicians have generally been off limits unless they’re directly relevant to policy questions. When attack ads do get personal, parties know they’re playing a dangerous public-relations game that could backfire.

Need one point out the obvious? For the past several years this old reprobate has made the institution of marriage a central “policy question.” Then it turned out that the “family values” guy had none himself: the excruciating contrast between his behaviour at home and his public posturing on marriage is eminently, properly newsworthy.

What brought the world crashing down on him this week, furthermore, was a piece of legislation that would have removed the privacy of every Canadian with Internet or a cell phone. But when we were permitted a glimpse or two of the down-home Vic Toews, all from publicly-accessible sources, the media and various individual journos threw up their collective hands in horror.

When the media fail, others will take up the slack. Vikileaks has done so, and we should be grateful—not only for giving us the measure of Vic Toews, but for dealing a short, sharp lesson in what privacy means. All of us should heed it.

UPDATE: Blogger Jeff Jedras looks at another angle of media hypocrisy—the determined efforts by the Ottawa Citizen to out Vikileaks.

Jedras makes two important points:

It should be noted that had @Vikileaks30 given their documents to a journalist who chose to publish a story based on them, then the media would be reminding us how important it is to protect the confidentiality of their sources. Even competing outlets wouldn’t try to unmask another journalist’s confidential source. That’s just not cricket, old boy.

What the media reaction to @Vikileaks30 really shows though is how angry, and perhaps frightened, they are about losing their traditional role as the gatekeepers of news, the people that get to decide what we, the unwashed masses, need to know and what we don’t need to know. Journalists are used to being in the know, to having the inside details, the scoop. It helps make up for the low pay, long hours and heavy drinking. [emphases added]

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This page contains a single entry by Dr. Dawg published on February 17, 2012 3:09 PM.

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