What a week it has been! After signing a petition, which you can find at avaaz.ca — 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: http://bit.ly/cjMzyR
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.