Deborah Gyapong: Why the mainstream media is not all over the Steyn and Levant HRC cases

Why the mainstream media is not all over the Steyn and Levant HRC cases

I woke up this morning, expecting the Ottawa Citizen and the National Post to carry not only editorials and columns about the Mark Steyn and Maclean's Magazine show trial starting today before the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, but also big, front page news advancers by journalists, perhaps Joseph Brean who has written the most so far.


And these are the papers that have been among the most responsible in covering the human rights abuses of so-called human rights commissions.

Well, maybe CBC Radio senior producer Peter Kavanaugh was onto something when he was asked about why the mainstream media has not been all over this issue.

Kavanaugh (in the centre) was part of a mainstream news panel at the Catholic Media Convention in Toronto last week that included CTV News anchor Lloyd Robertson and the Post's Charles Lewis. reported on this panel here, though about another topic.

Kavanaugh said journalists value freedom of speech, but this value was competing with another value, that of protecting vulnerable minorities. He said Muslims are widely seen by journalists as a vulnerable minority and Maclean's, Mark Steyn and the National Post seen as being "mean" (may not have been his exact word, but it was a word like this) to Muslims.

I would not jump to conclusions to say Kavanaugh shares that perception, but I think he is on to something about most mainstream journalists.

But I also think there is a vast, vast ignorance about what's going on. I think that if journalists actually read the Justice Department's intervention in support of the Canadian Human Rights Act's subsection 13 and saw that truth is no defence, nor is one's intent, they might wake up. It's rather disgusting to me, actually, that some kind of animus towards conservative writers like Steyn is making them ignore the wider implications. I suppose as well, many are concentrating on bogus scandals like the Cadman affair and Maxime Bernier's ex-girlfriend's breasts. As Mark Steyn wrote recently, he'd have a hell of a lot more support if is writing were obscene or blasphemous about Christianity.

Before I left for Toronto, while waiting for the president of the Ukraine to come to a Holodomor Memorial on the steps of Parliament Hill, I asked a reporter why the Globe and Mail had not covered the human rights issue as a news story. He kind of shrugged it off, as if the deep pockets of Maclean's somehow mitigated the abusiveness of the process. He also insisted that complainants could get their costs covered. Well, maybe in some jurisdiction that I haven't heard of, but I reminded him that Calgary Bishop Fred Henry was left paying thousands in legal fees even though the complaints against him were eventually dropped. He told me he thought the complaints were ridiculous, mind you, but otherwise the story was kind of ho hum. All was well in Canada.

For those who are not ignorant of what's going on, I wonder whether there is a weird Stockholm syndrome at work. Rather than see they are being held hostage by their fear of radical Islam, (and tiptoeing so as not to offend or blaspheme so foreign correspondents won't get kidnapped orworse) they have displaced their fear and loathing onto the people who write about it. They are like the bank robbery hostages or hijacked plane passengers who get pissed off at police for shooting their captors. They have identified with their captors, even formed a bond with them, for their own psychological survival. If the captors see that I like them, they will like me and I will come out of this okay they tell themselves.

Most of it, though, is massive ignorance I'm afraid. I don't think most journalists can even conceive that we have such a shadowy, parallel "justice system" that can hand out severe penalties without any of the normal protections in a criminal or even civil law court.

Lloyd Robertson had left the panel discussion by the time the second round of Q & A started, so he did not comment publicly on this issue. But stay tuned to CTV National News. Ottawa Bureau Chief Bob Fife may have something very soon on this issue.

I hope tonight. We'll see.



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