Friday, May 6, 2011

"We will no longer accept comments on this story as submissions have been consistently unacceptable"

This seems to be a consistent line on the FreeP website in the "comments" area, typically revolving around a number of first nations stories.
I get that there are racists out there... really, I do. I also get that we cannot allow them "free speech", because it does incite others to feel the same way, and fuels that racism. As a society, we cannot allow those things to be said "freely", but...
Are we to believe that these things aren't being said in coffee shops, around supper tables, and any other place people are freely permitted to associate and have discussions? If these things that are unacceptable in public are held to privately, are we simply driving them underground? Is sheltering the rest of the reading public from comments the majority finds are over the top a good thing?
Consider our good buddy Ernst Zundel, (if you're too young, try this http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Z%C3%BCndel ) who for years was permitted to spew his anti Semitic views and Holocaust denial. He was given air time by virtue of being reported on, his jail sentences and trials were published... wouldn't this have raised the ire, and support, and reinforced a neo-Nazi to feel support for the views and persecution by the "Zionist establishment" blah blah blah...
You get the idea. If we can't comment publicly, should it be reported on at all? If the STORY is known to provoke "hatred", or views that are "unacceptable", should we even hear about it?
The FreeP has every right to moderate and exclude the comments submitted... and closing comments means there are a lot of them, and the moderators are overwhelmed, but even THAT will keep the "over the top" thoughts going. "Next time I'll get my comment in", and the thoughts continue to percolate until there is an outlet.
I suppose that it's simplistic to think the FreeP shouldn't report on a sentence passed on a woman who killed another on a reserve while on a home made alcohol fueled rage when she found her husband with another woman naked on a couch. ( http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/breakingnews/Woman-sentenced-to-22-more-months-in-jail-for-beating--121280489.html ) I can also imagine the comments such a story provoked. Some could have been about the pathetic sentence she was given, possibly a result of our countries need to treat some citizens different when crimes are committed than others. Some may have been angered by the two for one time credits we thought were supposed to come to an end. (Bill C-25... where are you?) Some could have been akin to "let them kill one another off", or along those lines... we'll never really know.
How do we stem this? What is the answer?
It all depends on where you stand, your up bringing, possibly your ancestry... but what is clear, is that the methodology used by the tall foreheads in the big building at the end of Memorial Boulevard, or on "the hill" in Ottawa over the past decade has had almost no tangible positive results, and the divide would appear to be growing... and THIS is problematic for all of us.
Great wisdom and leadership is required to bridge the growing chasm, and I don't see too much of that. Not only would the person, people, party, whatever need to be resilient to the attacks of racism, court challenges, and general hatred, they have to endure that from both sides if there is to be any fairness... and I haven't seen a politician that fits the "great wisdom and leadership" qualifications in my lifetime, and fewer with the back bone to do much about it.
Maybe we'd need an autocratic leader, able to impose their will of equality and fairness upon a people, but dictators don't typically have that sort of idea... dictators don't usually bring peace.
The title of this post points to a much larger problem. One that won't go away anytime soon, and one that we in Winnipeg, and in Manitoba NEED to come to grips with, because if we could solve the issues, and work together to build a great place to live for all of us, there would be no end to our prosperity. To continue to allow the status quo, to keep shoveling money at the problem, and to hope it will all just go away is a recipe for long term disaster.

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