From Ahab’s Whale, this seems depressingly true:
No matter who you vote for, the government always gets in.
I always get a chuckle over how the coffee shops around here always refer to Rice Krispies Squares as “Crispy Marshmallow Squares”. Who are they fooling?
I guess it’s an easier thing to say than “physically similar to but legally distinct from Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Squares”…
On Prejudice II
I wrote a lengthy post here that rambled too much, so I decided to revisit the matter and rewrite the whole thing.
A couple of days ago, the National Post got caught on a serious error on its front page. They had reported that the Iranian legislature had passed a new law establishing a national dress code. In this law, Christians, Jews and Zoroastrians would be required to wear different coloured fabrics in order to make their minority status clear to the public. As Andrew at Bound by Gravity noted, this bore terrible parallels to Germany in 1938 and the use of yellow stars and pink triangles to identify Jews and homosexuals.
Andrew believed it enough to post the link and make the comparison, and I believed it enough to comment that this was serious trouble. The problem is, the report appears to be completely bogus.
Andrew, to his eternal credit, posted the correction as soon as he was alerted to it:
Several experts are casting doubt on reports that Iran had passed a law requiring the country’s Jews and other religious minorities to wear coloured badges identifying them as non-Muslims.
Sam Kermanian, of the U.S.-based Iranian-American Jewish Federation, said in an interview from Los Angeles that he had contacted members of the Jewish community in Iran — including the lone Jewish member of the Iranian parliament.
They denied any such measure was in place.
My only defence is that, given the things that we’ve heard come out of the mouth of the loon that’s running Iran, the report seemed believable. Depressingly so. But that’s still my prejudice.
Given the current political climate, the National Post knows that a story of this nature could make (at least make part of) the difference between war and peace, and as a result, life and death for many people. With so much on the line, with the huge prominence given the story on the front page of the paper, and with the point of fact in question being so (relatively) easy to verify, these lies from the National Post rank, in my view, as about as big a breach of trust and violation of the public interest as it is possible for a newspaper to make.
It’s de rigeur in the blogosphere today to bash the mainstream media. Right wingers focus on papers like the Toronto Star or (more laughably) the Globe and Mail and accuse them of a left-wing bias. Other bloggers harp on the corporate media’s propensity to go after the stories that shock the most readers and sell the most papers. The fact that somebody at the National Post didn’t bother to fact check a pretty incendiary article and gave it front page prominence is not going to help the mainstream media’s battered reputation.
But what is really depressing about this whole incident is how the various bloggers jumped on this story when it appeared, and how other bloggers jumped on the first bloggers when the story proved to be false. This is why the blogosphere won’t ever completely replace the mainstream media because, however much the Star might have a left-wing bias and however much the Post might have a right-wing bias, their bias pales compared to the axes that various bloggers on both sides of the spectrum have to grind.
Witness the right wing blogs that leapt on this story and propagated the lie across the blogosphere and who now seem reluctant to admit their mistake. Witness the glee that left-wing bloggers are having shoving this mistake down the throats of their right-wing breathrens. Witness the vicious personal attack the otherwise personable Warren Kinsella of the Post makes on Antonia Zerbiasis of the Star for examining this story in detail.
And through it all, we seem to have forgotten that the Post made a mistake, and erroneous information was splashed across the front page. The search for truth has slipped into second place for both wings of the blogosphere as they alternately seek to score political points or cover their backsides.
Maybe I need to take a vacation from the partisan blogosphere for a while. It’s quite discouraging to see how fractured things have become.
Can we at least agree that the National Post made a pretty serious mistake here? Can we at least agree that the Iranian leadership is a disturbing dictatorship? And can we agree that those individuals who question the rush to war on Iran aren’t conspiring with the enemy? Can we at least agree that far more things unite us than divide us?
- Antonia Zerbiasis summarizes the controversy effectively
- POGGE and Crawl Across the Ocean on why this is serious.
- POGGE shows that the facts are secondary to the Toronto Sun.
- Interesting thoughts by Juan Cole.