Monthly Archives: September 2010

The SUN article, the Great Pumpkin, and the Purple Cross-eyed Zozzle Curse

What a week it has been! After signing a petition, which you can find at — the actual “petition” is the part in the box — and then being singled out and attacked for doing it, and after the Twitterscuffle described below — connected with it, though not caused by it — two extraordinary things happened. First, the person heading up the “Fox News North” SUN TV News effort suddenly resigned, as the result of a chain of events described below:

Second, George Soros sued the SUN, as a result of allegations made about him in one of the articles– here is an account of that:

… and the SUN published a retraction and apology, which you can see here (though I am not sure that matter has been fully resolved):

Meanwhile, although I had grounds for a lawsuit or two of my own, I decided not to go down that road at present — who can afford the time? — and instead invoked the Great Pumpkin. Not saying that it and the Purple Cross-eyed Zozzle Curse it controls had anything to do with the defenestration and squashing effects seen above, but let’s just say that although Le Gros Pompion is very open-minded and likes to smile and shine light all round, it is a powerful entity. It does not like the publication of damaging whoppers, and understands very well the difference between those and “opinions.” It also does not think that hanging up on obscene phone calls or their equivalent is “censorship.”

After consulting with the GP, I decided to give the poor SUN a chance – after all, it would be mean of me and a seasonal vegetable to crush such a weak media conglomerate, with a mere 10.5 million (what are they? subscribers?) and a bazillion dollars. They offered me 600 words. I took them. (That’s why the piece below is rather terse.) I tried to cover some of the high (or low) points of the many allegations about me made in their various articles, though doubtless I didn’t get them all. Their lawyers went over every word to make sure it was all factually accurate.

I still don’t understand why they bothered — after all, as one of their supporters told me genially through Twitter, nobody gives a rat’s ass what I think. So what did they intend to accomplish? And what will happen the next time I wander out into traffic or stroll unwittingly into the Mug-A-Little-Old-Lady Woods? Did I lure the poor things in by looking so witless and all, and giving a good imitation of free candy — so much fun to scrawl swearwords on “icons,” and I was an inveterate drawer of arms on the Venus de Milo, when juvenile? Did I then do dastardly things to them in my naughty gingerbread cottage? Perish the thought. Honest. The Great Pumpkin is my witness.

Here’s the link to the SUN:

Here’s the piece, in my text (minus odd SUN headline):

Dear SUN Readers: Last week I signed a Twitterpetition and got into a Twitterscrum — silly me, slap wrist, shut mouth — and SUN and friends published several defamatory pieces accusing me of everything but kitten-roasting and causing bubonic plague. Here are some of the spins, smears, and whoppers:

Avaaz: SUN: George Soros “funds” Avaaz, a U.S. organization. By signing its petition, I have “sold out” to both Soros and the U.S. Fact: Avaaz is international, funded 100% by members. Once, George Soros gave 5%.

False names: SUN: The Avaaz petition was stuffed with signatures from people who didn’t sign it. Fact: Someone in Ottawa stuffed; Ex-Quebecor v-p Kory Teneycke has admitted he knew, almost as soon as it happened. The RCMP has been asked to investigate. Maybe it’s fraud. Would you want your name on something you didn’t sign?

Al-Jazeera: SUN: “Al-Jazeera lover.” Fact: I was once interviewed by Riz Khan about my writing. Many folks associated with the SUN appear on CBC TV shows. Does that make them “CBC lovers”?

Travel and drinking habits: SUN: champagne-swilling jet-setter. Truth: I prefer Scotch, and use public transport. Planes, trains, and buses for work-related and charity events. I offset with Zerofootprint and Offsetters.

Political leanings: SUN: Leftie pinko Green. Fact: Swing Voter. We look for values, not labels. I’d vote for a turnip if it was accountable, transparent, a parliamentary democrat, and listened to people. “Green” is not the same as “Left:” many people like the outdoors and don’t want their kids killed by chemicals.

Did I speak at a pro-separatist rally? Nope — I spoke at a pro-unity rally. (People mess with my Wikipedia.)

The actual petition: “As concerned Canadians who deeply oppose American-style hate media on our airwaves, we applaud the CRTC’s refusal to allow a new “Fox News North” channel to be funded from our cable fees. We urge Mr. von Finckenstein to stay in his job and continue to stand up for Canada’s democratic traditions, and call on Prime Minister Harper to immediately stop all pressure on the CRTC on this matter.” The verbs are “applaud,” “urge,” and “call on;” not “ban,” “suppress,” and “censor.”

The “Fox News” comparison is from the SUN’s own CRTC Application # 1. Is it “American-style hate media?” You judge. The CRTC refused Sun TV’s request for a special licence that forces all cable and satellite distributors to offer the station, thus gaining automatic income. Application #2 — almost the same deal as #1, but for three years — will be considered. The Sun says it needs this special deal for its “business plan.” Should it get one? Should anyone? Can I have one too?

Am I a proponent of “censorship”? Nope. Read the petition again. Now Mr. von Finckenstein has said he isn’t under pressure (unlike his fired CRTC deputy), and will judge Application # 2 on its merits. Good! Real censorship includes: book burning, murdering, jailing and exiling writers, and shutting down newspapers, publishers, and TV stations. If you are against this, support PEN International and Index on Censorship. Calling the Avaaz petition “censorship” is beyond cheap. Is it “censorship” to block trolls on Twitter? No, and it’s not “censorship” to send back hate mail unopened and refuse material for your own blog, either. Anyone can vent on their own Twitter or blog. And anyone can sign a petition to express their views.

Last word: Folks to left and to right have been attacking me for 40 years. But smearing me is hardly an argument in support of SUN TV’s special licence. Maybe that’s what SUN TV News has in mind: smear early and smear often? Would you want that to happen to you? Could you afford to sue them? Neither can I.


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On Signing Petitions

So, I walked into The Office of O.W. Toad Ltd., where the usually smiling staff (two in number) who attempt to run my life with whips of steel were giving me the frowny treatment.
“You’ve been signing petitions again,” they said. “Naughty Margaret! Don’t you remember that you promised not to do that?”
I knew it would be pretty feeble of me to protest that signing petitions was something anyone in a democracy should feel free to do. That would be saying that I was the same as anyone, whereas – it appears – I am not. Scampering off to sign petitions would be – in the eyes of The Office – like Marie Antoinette playing milkmaids. So yes, I had promised – more or less – because I know how much trouble it causes, and what kind of trouble.
For instance: some years ago, before the invasion of Iraq, I signed a mild, gutless petition that said wouldn’t it be better to negotiate and investigate before just invading Iraq. (Remember Hans Blix, who said there were no Weapons of Mass Destruction that he could find? Remember how he was dumped on? Remember the No Weapons of Mass D. that were eventually found? Remember how much money and world prestige this war has cost America? Remember what Jean Chrétien said when he declined Canada’s participation: “What we need is da proof, and dat will be de proof.” Succinct. Now, for 50 extra points: Would it have been a) good for Canada or b) bad for Canada to have gone into that war?
No sooner had I signed the Iraq petition than the organizers of it were on to me to come and speak at a meeting. “No,” said I. “All I did was sign the petition. I do not want to be the poster person for it.” And I went off to get my hair cut. Contrary to popular belief, I do that sometimes, when I’m not taking the nail scissors to it.
Next thing, I find myself being denounced in newspapers as someone egging on Saddam Hussein in his baby-killing activities. I also find myself being quoted – notably by Margaret Wente in the Globe– as having said, at that meeting, that the biggest threat to world press was George Bush and his gang of thugs.
Three letters were sent to the Globe, pointing out that I couldn’t have said anything at a meeting, because I wasn’t there; which also meant that those doing the quoting weren’t there either – they were getting the news from Martians, or through the fillings in their teeth.
As the three letters were not published, I called my lawyer, who dropped a Notice of Libel onto the Globe. I kind of looked forward to the trial – the haircutter would have to testify that indeed the snarly white bit at the back was attached to my head and nobody else’s – but the Globe swiftly published a teeny-weeny retraction, which was read by several ants and mice. Was this “censorship” on my part? Does “free speech” mean that anyone can make up stuff you said, even if you were getting your hair cut at the time? I think not.
(There followed a hurt phone call from the Globe—why had I done such a mean thing to them? The guy who edited the Letters to the Editor was away on vacation, etc. etc.)
So that’s the kind of trouble signing those pesky petitions can cause.
Nevertheless, I occasionally sneak out and sign one, just for old times’ sake. And now – since there is Twitter – I sometimes pass them along. Ones about stuff like sending aid to Pakistan or Haitian flood or earthquake victims don’t cause much of a stir, it seems. But this one did.

Now, you will note from the Report on Business article below –

that what Sun Media wants is not a licence to broadcast – it will have that anyway – but a very special kind of licence, “a rare must-carry licence. It would have guaranteed distribution by all cable and satellite firms – and the subscriber fees that come along with that distribution.” In other words, it wants special treatment. It is the special treatment – the must-carry licence and the subscriber fees – that the petition seems to me to be addressing, along with possible undue pressure being put on a public regulator by the Prime Minister. Is this a “censorship” or “free speech” matter? I think not. Sun Media has lots of “free speech,” and lots of money to create more for itself. Nobody can stop it saying what it wants, within the laws limiting public speech (and Canada does have such laws: anti-hate speech laws, laws against child pornography, and libel laws being among them).

I immediately found myself jumped on by some of the Sun Boys and accused by them and others of “censorship,” lack of patriotism, supporting terrorists (???), and all kinds of other crimes and misdemeanors – leading to the conclusion that I was a Really Bad Person. I fully expect accusations of witchcraft and incense – sorry, incest – to follow, as with Marie Antoinette and Ann Boleyn. Next I’ll be told I was at a meeting I wasn’t at, saying things I didn’t say.

Which is a fun way of deflecting public attention from the issues that ought to be being discussed. These seem to me to include a discussion of: a) whether or not Lawrence Martin, Linda McQuaig et al (see below) are lying about PM Harper’s mysterious off-the-record media-mogul special lunch – is that any of the taxpayer’s business, or did they discuss family matters, and did we pay for the lunch?
b) whether special influence should be brought to bear on the granting of special must-carry licences,
c) if such a licence is granted under such influence, won’t Sun Media owe the PM a big favour, and if so what price the watchdog function of the media, and
d) whether there should be special arm’s length regulators like the CRTC in charge of granting special licences that supply a guaranteed income to special large media corporations, for special channels headed by the PM’s former special advisor.
e) Whether Canada is drifting rapidly away from parliamentary democracy towards a special form of one-man micromanagement is a not unrelated issue.

Those issues are pretty specially special, and legitimate topics for debate. Whether I am a Really Bad Person would seem to come under a separate heading. According to The Office, I am a Really Naughty Person, as I have caused them much extra work, what with the phone ringing and people wanting me to be on their radio shows and so forth.
Sorry, Office. I’ll try not to do it again. But those little “click-here” buttons are sooo tempting. Can’t I push just one…. ?

Here’s the petition:

Here are the specific sources:

Globe and Mail: “Is Harper set to move against the CRTC?”:

CBC: “The absolute last thing this country needs”:

Globe and Mail: CRTC refuses Sun TV’s bid for preferred status on dial:

The Star: “Harper’s foxy luncheon”:–mcquaig-harper-s-foxy-luncheon


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