Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Where's my stick?

And speaking of the CBC: Last night I watched a wonderful documentary on Newsworld’s The Passionate Eye about Diego Maradona, the Argentine footballer – followed by good old George Stroumboulopoulos interviewing Al Gore on The Hour. How fortunate we are to have the public network(s), which is not under quite the same pressure as other radio and television outlets to dumb down its content in pursuit of ratings.

Unfortunately, most people want dumb, as illustrated by both traditional mass media and the Web. Even overtly political blogs too often generate more heat than light. One high-traffic right-wing blog site, which shall go unnamed, illustrates the tendency to substitute name-calling for intelligent argument. The proprietress drops bits of food (“CBC”, “Liberals”, “United Nations”, “Tommy Douglas”, “multiculturalism”, “moral relativists”) into the tank, and the feeding frenzy is on. The piranhas enjoying their meal are dumb but vicious. You can click on “Comments” to lift the tank’s lid and peer inside. It’s tempting to take a stick and poke at the writhing mass with a provocative comment of one's own, just for the fun of it. (This is called “trolling”, or “a waste of time”.) Fortunately, several Canadian conservative bloggers do more than feed the fish: have a look at Andrew Coyne, Jay Currie, Bound by Gravity, and North Western Winds (this last having an interesting leaning toward Catholic theology).

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