Resisting the pull of cynicism since 1969.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

What I *can* say about the Gomery rumours

The ban was a stupid idea. That much is clear now, even if it wasn't when it was put in place. But the puffed-up, American-neocon bravado of the only people who have been writing about it (and the U.S.-specific ethos that's been driving that writing minus any sense of the Canadian context) has been driving me batshit. In so many ways, it would have been better for everybody had these American bloggers just gone on being ignorant of Canada, especially since the ban is likely to be lifted imminently anyway. If I were a conservative Canadian, I'd be embarrassed; as it is, I'm just disgusted. I'll just add that it's not the desire for a ban (I understand and mostly agree with the reasoning) that has made me think less of Judge Gomery; it's the fact that he actually thought it would *work*. This man actually thought a short-term publication ban would be possible in the digital age, which only proves how out-of-touch this man is. And that, if nothing else, concerns me a great deal.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, then I'm sorry for not providing more context; as a resident of Canada, it seems that I'm probably not allowed to link to the sites in question even from a blog, and I'd rather not get deported, thankyouverymuch. But this news story at least alludes to some of the more interesting aspects. Note particularly this part: In an interview with The Gazette, the blogger, who cannot be identified for fear of violating the publication ban, said he had no idea the sponsorship scandal even existed before being contacted by someone who was present for Brault's testimony. "Somebody contacted me and said, 'I've got some information on this story.' It took about 24 hours for me to do some research on the issue at hand before I could make sense of the information that I was being given."

I have little doubt at this point that the information the blogger was given was accurate. I also have little doubt that he was manipulated by someone--probably someone in the Canadian Conservative party--with an agenda that reaches far beyond the supposed question of "free speech". The fact that this American blogger didn't know anything at all about the scandal until twenty-four hours before writing about it only made him an easier mark for a certain kind of spin on the story: a la "Stick with me, baby, and I'll make you a star." After all, the "currency" in blogging is your hit count. It was an ingenious way for a very clever someone to manipulate the tone of the only stories Canadians read about the testimony, at least while the ban is in effect. And all that at absolutely no cost, political or financial.

If nothing else, though, it sure makes for an exciting case study in how the Internet, and more specifically blogs, can force entire governments to stand up and take notice. We'll be analyzing this one for years to come.