Tuesday, July 08, 2008

One More For the Good Doctor

Over at the National Potato's Posted blog, tweezer wielding fuss budget Kelly McParland attempts to debunk some of the reasons offered in support of the Morgentaler appointment. As one might expect from a hack of such dubious quality, he employs that favourite ploy of the conservative and dim, false equivalence.

Before I haul him into the light it should be noted that he has trawled the nation's papers and blogs to find the quotes to which he responds. That is a fine enough thing in and of itself, but from a supposedly professional publishing concern, the least one should expect is proper attribution and/or hypertext link. The only quote he identifies in any way comes from the Star. And we know that only because he tosses off a lame jab at the rival paper. Mind you, McParland isn't exactly noted for practicing journalism with anything that resembles integrity.

He is happy to insert his own bias in a story, and where he feels it might serve his slant he'll fabricate details out of whole cloth. As the Post's Foreign Affairs Editor, one might expect some restraint or ethical coherence. One would be disappointed. McParland's partisanship is global in it's scope. Let's have a peek at his reporting on
political unrest in Haiti.

It’s not often that you see an establishment/right-wing news column quoting stories from the Revolutionary Worker. But there it was in this past weekend’s edition, a half-page commentary by Foreign Affairs editor and arch-reactionary Kelly McParland, “Haiti: anarchy reasserts itself: UN contingent well over its head.” Within the first two paragraphs, however, McParland shows his disdain toward Haitians who he clearly perceives as inferior, while proudly displaying his ignorance and confusion about the current political situation there. He opens the article by offering a skewed look at the Worker article:

“Wandering the rooftops of Haiti’s capital one day recently, a correspondent for the Revolutionary Worker happened across a boy named Gerald, who proved to be one of the most erudite 13-year-old Third World slum-dwellers you could ever hope to meet.”

Where McParland states that Gerald is “gathering rocks to chuck at tin rooftops the minute he spotted a cop or UN worker approaching his neighbourhood,” he obscures what the Worker actually states, “Gerald stood guard with two plastic buckets full of rocks.” Gerald, who is actually 14 according to the Worker article, was aiding the resistance fighters by alerting them when the “police, heavily armed with U.S.-supplied equipment, entered his street” [RW].

Most of us would agree that quoting something would indicate repeating the citation of another's work verbatim. That is all together too much bother for McParland. We've all grown used to the endless weeping of our friends on the right, how the main stream media is a hot bed of liberality and their own precious version of the truth is no where to be found. Yet there sits McParland, spinning like an old white-boy's club dervish. The Global Research article is an entire takedown on McParland's shoddy misrepresentation of the people and politics in a suffering nation wherein he mangles the copyright work of another journalist to achieve his slanted ends.

Measured against actually occurring realities in Haiti as according to credible and verifiable sources, all told, Kelly McParland serves to contribute to the propagandistic obfuscation of reality in Haiti, which effectively disempowers readers from utilizing the incredibly narrow and distorted context he provides to hold the actual responsible parties for the catastrophe in Haiti to account. Rather than honestly assess the situation, McParland shamefully deflects responsibility through his characterization that is much in line with typically racist media folk models of Haiti. Far from providing a reasonable analysis of the Revolutionary Worker’s article, McParland demonstrates that he is no sound position to refute a socialist analysis of events in Haiti short of relying on misinformation and disinformation to do so. Kelly McParland therefore lacks any credibility as a reporter or commentator on matters pertaining to Haiti.

That isn't the only example nor is it the most grievous instance of McParland's self serving efforts to bugger ethics and alter reality and the work of others. You may remember a little story that rippled through the media universe involving rewriting
Reuters releases.

On Sept. 17, CBC reported that CanWest newspapers were inserting “terrorist” into Reuters wire stories from the Middle East. David Schlesinger, the global managing editor for Reuters, said CanWest crossed a line from editing for style, to editing the substance and slant of the news: “If they want to put their own judgment into it, they’re free to do that, but then they shouldn’t say that it’s by a Reuters reporter.”

For example: Reuters, Sept. 13: “…the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, which has been involved in a four-year-old revolt against Israeli occupation in Gaza and the West Bank.”

National Post, Sept. 14: “…the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a terrorist group that has been involved in a four-year-old campaign of violence against Israel.”

Now Media Monitors is certainly not without bias, being an anti-zionist rag but that bias is plain to see. What McParland attempts is to sneak his bias under the readers nose. He defends his manipulations by insisting that he is somehow repairing or correcting the faulty report coming off the wire. His notion of truth therefore trumps the original writer that he
seems to be quoting. By doing so he gives his own twist on reality the imprimatur of a reputable news source like Reuters. His assessment of al-Aqsa may be perfectly correct but it is undercut by the dishonesty he employs to express it.

Let's take a sample of McParland's own reportage and treat it as he might handle another person's work. The original:

It’s true Morgentaler is not the first controversial figure to be chosen. But no previous recipient has been known primarily for their success in ending life.

and adjusted...

It’s true Morgentaler is not the first controversial figure to be chosen. But no previous recipient has been known primarily for their success in defending women's right to choose.

Tomato meet tomahto. Right Kelly? Of course! In McParland's world it is entirely within the bounds of fair play to crank on another writer's work to suit one's own ideas and notions of truth. I'm sure he wouldn't approve of the sentiment in my adjustment of
his quote but I will insist that it is absolutely and factually true. Every bit as much if not more true as his own assertions about al-Aqsa. So, after a lengthy preamble let's take a better look at his dissembling and manipulations regarding Dr. Morgentaler. Beginning at the beginning, he quotes... somebody or other.

Whether you agree with his actions or not, Morgentaler had a profound effect on Canadian society and an immense influence on public policy and the law.

A perfectly reasonable and non partisan statement, one that could easily have emanated from either a right or a left wing pundit. The original author could easily go on to laud or excoriate Morgentaler and his appointment to the Order. We'll never know and we have no additional information by which to find out. Rather McParland revs up the motorized goal posts and floors it, straight into the deep end of ludicrous false equivalence.

Morgentaler did have a profound effect on policy and Canadian law. So did the attacks on the U.S. on Sept 11, 2001, which led to a complete rethinking of Canada’s security, its policies on terrorism, its international relations and its role in the world. The same could be said of any number of perpetrators of crimes which forced new laws and intense debate.

Ah, the fabulous and never tired September 11 ploy. Because one is almost exactly the same as the other! Let's see, what else could we apply, how about child labour laws. Let's visit another doctor whose efforts helped shape law. From an interview before the British House of Commons in 1832,
Dr. Samuel Smith.

Up to twelve or thirteen years of age, the bones are so soft that they will bend in any direction. The foot is formed of an arch of bones of a wedge-like shape. These arches have to sustain the whole weight of the body. I am now frequently in the habit of seeing cases in which this arch has given way. Long continued standing has also a very injurious effect upon the ankles. But the principle effects which I have seen produced in this way have been upon the knees. By long continued standing the knees become so weak that they turn inwards, producing that deformity which is called "knock-knees" and I have sometimes seen it so striking, that the individual has actually lost twelve inches of his height by it.

Dr. Smith's testimony was part of the evidence presented by which reforms were made and legislators influenced to enact the
Factory Act of 1833.

The Factory Act, 1833 was an attempt to establish a normal working day in a single department of industry, textile manufacture. The way in which it proposed to do this was the following: The working day was to start at 5.30 a.m. and cease at 8.30 p.m. A young person (aged thirteen to eighteen) might not be employed beyond any period of twelve hours, less one and a half for meals; and a child (aged nine to thirteen) beyond any period of nine hours. From 8.30 p.m. to 5.30 a.m.; that is during the night; the employment of such persons was altogether prohibited.

McParland neglects to note that abortion is a voluntary procedure performed at the request of the woman undergoing it. None of the victims in the World Trade Centres or on the planes
chose to have their lives ended in acts of terrorism. He is pulling emotional strings in a grotesque and inappropriate comparison that fails in any aspect of either honesty or perspective. But what about controversy?

Morgentaler is not the first controversial person to receive the award. The Toronto Star pointed out that Buzz Hargrove and Brian Mulroney also received the award even though they are deeply unpopular with many Canadians.

A valid point. Fibber McP?

It’s true Morgentaler is not the first controversial figure to be chosen. But no previous recipient has been known primarily for their success in ending life. Honouring Morgentaler sets a new standard in conferring national approval on a figure who remains so deeply divisive. Individuals are free to their own opinion on abortion rights, but should that opinion be elevated to a position of national standing in a country that remains so split it is unable even to agree on a law governing the procedure at question?

At least here our scribe remains somewhere local to the issue. He still paints with a wide and tainted brush but at least we aren't enduring far flung comparisons to fundamentalist terrorists. After all, the only fundamentalist acts of terror in the ongoing and endless controversy about abortion are committed by people on his side of the argument. There is no question that Dr. Morgentaler's is a controversial appointment. Mr. McParland wouldn't have any association with other controversial appointments or holders of the Order of Canada, would he? Let's have a quick peek at
his bio...

About Kelly McParland
Kelly McParland has been toiling in the ranks of journalism for more than 30 years. As a callow youth he endured a brief but painful experience at the Toronto Star, from which he still carries the scars. He subsequently fled the country, spending a decade at publications in London, Hong Kong and Washington D.C. before returning to Canada thanks to gainful employment at the Financial Post, and has worked at the National Post since it was just a gleam in Conrad Black's eye.

I'll be waiting to hear McParland's call for Lord Black of Cell Block C to be stripped of his medal. After all, who could be less deserving than a man who insults our land, repudiates his citizenship, steals millions of dollars, is arrested, tried and convicted of high crimes and sentenced to a lengthy stretch in prison? Ready for more false equivalence? I thought you might be!

Abortion rights are supported, or at least acquiesced to, by the majority of Canadians. Those who oppose easy access to abortion are in the minority and should not be allowed to derail the will of the majority.

This seems like a perfectly reasonable statement, democratic in nature. Let the antic comedy commence!

The majority of people in Saudi Arabia, not to mention many other countries in the world, consider women inferior to men; does that make it so? For centuries, the majority of the world considered blacks inferior to whites. Majority support for abortion rights in no way validates it; it simply reflects current, and changeable, public opinion.

This is too rich, where even to begin? He wants to withhold the fundamental right of self determination and personal autonomy from women, making them second class citizens. He believes them incapable of thinking and acting on their own behalf when it comes to matters of reproduction. To shore up his argument, he notes other repressive regimes and societies that treat women as inferior to men. Ain't you breeders... I mean gals, ain't you worry yer purty haids none. Ol' Massa McP knows whats good fer ya. Hey, I know let's play another round of tamper with the other guy's quote...

Majority support for abolition of slavery in no way validates it; it simply reflects current, and changeable, public opinion.

Wow. That's like magic. Right out of McParlands playbook. All you have to do is replace the other persons words with some of your own, you can spin it and slant it make it mean anything, then publish it as though you're still citing the original work and voila, you have instant back up. Just add bullshit. Fear not kids, McParland isn't about to run out of that fertilizing goodness any time soon, he has plenty to spread around. I'm sure McParland is not awaiting the repeal of emancipation, well, except for uteri. He just doesn't care for democracy or the opinions of women.

Much of the opposition to abortion rights comes from men, who are not capable of giving birth and whose opinions should therefore be discounted. One writer to the National Post put it at its bluntest: “Men do not have the bodies to produce children [and so] they should have no say on this issue.”

Oh mercy sakes, he snuck another source attribution past me. Must be nice to be so lovingly acknowledged with that memorable byline, One writer to the National Post, take a bow. Now this is a tough argument to make. But at the end of the day I would concur that the final decision rests with the woman whose uterus is either to bear that child or not. In a relationship, I would think that it would be a decision made after consultation with one's partner (presumably the father). But again, her body, her decision. Fibber?

This is perhaps the most feeble of arguments. Should the issue of slavery have been limited to debate among slave owners? Should public policy on drunk driving be limited to drunk drivers? Much as it may annoy some women, two women alone cannot produce a child, or even a fetus.

Okay. What the sweet fuck is he saying here? Are women, in general, being measured against slavers and drunk drivers? Really? I don't think this even warrants a rebuttal. This is so patently ridiculous and insulting that it rebuts itself. McParland just doesn't think much of the unpeckered among us.

McParland goes on for a few more paragraphs countering peoples opinions and arguments with specious nonsense. The link is up there if you want to go and indulge in even more National Post Brand stupidity. McParland is neither ethically nor morally near the high ground, let alone holding it. He is representative of the worst sort of no choice zealot. He is willing to dismiss the opinions and feelings of the women whose bodily autonomy is in question. He is willing to override the popular opinion of the majority of the Canadian populace in regard to this issue, because you, the voting public are perhaps changeable. He is quite certain that he is right and that you are either daft or deluded. If he can offend you with just a few more graphic images of aborted tissue, maybe you'll switch sides. Of course any sort of surgery is gross to look at. Maybe if we papered the nation with exposed cartilage, blood and bone we could work toward a ban on arthroscopic knee surgery. God wants you to limp, sinner.

McParland doesn't give a tinkers damn if women are butchered in back alleys. The safe and hygienic practice of medicine doesn't interest him. He would gladly turn a blind eye to the fact that legal or not, abortions will continue. And nothing you or I say will dissuade this poltroon from his pious bloviating and preening obfuscations. He is convinced of his own righteousness and there is no force on Earth great enough to sway a true believer. You can disprove his lies, trump his assumptions with facts, blast holes in his arguments and at the end of the day he will scratch himself with all of the satisfaction of an ape that doesn't believe he's an ape and say nuh-uh, is not. And that's that. The rest of his smarmy, twisted bullshit is just window dressing. Fancy curtains on a closed mind. Perhaps one day his assumed moral superiority will be matched by his ethics. It's a tall order and one I doubt he's even remotely interested in living up to, true believer that he is.


LuLu said...


Will you marry me, PSA? Even though, you know, I don't actually believe in marriage?

Frank Frink said...

What the faux-moralizing, shriekaholick, obessesed-with-other-people's-sex-lives, feotus-fetishizing old timey religion crowd will never admit is that they are in the minority. The vast minority.

Just before I logged back into the bloggerdome and read this beautifully executed post I noticed a news item. Said item stated the results of a non-Freeped CanWest/Ipsos-Reid poll. Fully 66%, or two-thirds, support Dr. Morgentaler's investiture into the order of the snowflake. Of the 34% opposed only 19% strongly disagree.

Also what faux-moralizing, shriekaholick, obessesed-with-other-people's-sex-lives, feotus-fetishizing old timey religion crowd will never acknowledge is even if their cause is not completely lost in Canada they are at the very least on the losing end.

Somehow they will attempt to distort that 19% who strongly disagree into some sort proclamation that they speak for the majority of Canadians. It's what they do best: lie, distort, obfuscate, manipulate. And never, ever admit they are wrong.

Both JJ and ACR have the details.

Frank Frink said...

Addendum to the above:

I trust the editorial boards of the various CannedWaste franchises will wear the results of this poll like a yoke around their necks.

jj said...

PSA, you continue to astonish me. Most excellent fisking, my dear.

theo said...

Bravo, good sir! It's posts like this that help keep me from slipping over the edge.