At a news conference this morning Charles McVety, president of the Canadian Christian Conference, said Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s wife Laureen is responsible for the war in Iraq. Fighting there, he claims, has increased the amount of tooth decay in Canada.
Prime Minister Harper responded, saying democracy is important: “Bombs over Baghdad will eventually mean ballots over Baghdad.”
Or how about….
At a news conference this morning Charles McVety, senior director of Defend Marriage Canada, said Canada’s gun registry was built by tiny former Soviet spies. Therefore he claims that anyone who registers a gun in Canada will have problems with their cable TV every second Friday.
Rogers says it is considering a rollout of fibre-optic cable: “We want every Canadian to have the best cable service possible.”
Or here’s another one….
At a news conference this morning Charles McVety, president of the Canada Family Action Coalition, told reporters that the government failed to solicit public input prior to legalizing same-sex marriage. Now that it’s law, teachers across the country are teaching pornography to 14-year-olds.
Gay activists say the news conference is an effort by the religious right to impose their beliefs on the country as a whole. “The religion of one should not become the law of others,” said Laurie Arron of Canadians For Equal Marriage….
Oh wait. That third example is the gist of what Canada’s national media — The Globe And Mail, The National Post, The CBC — really did report on Oct 24 after a news conference where McVety made those claims.
McVety was lying — or delusional (who am I to judge?). But rather than challenge him or do research, most reporters just called the “opposing side.”
That’s the way a lot of issue-driven reporting is done: He said/she said. This kind of journalism is called “fair.” When reporting the statements of one side, journalists rush around to find someone who will say the opposite — and let readers make their own decision. All opinions have equal weight, don’t they?
But some things are not matters of opinion. For example, there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq or there weren’t. When the latter is discovered to be true, there’s no “Will he use them or won’t he?” controversy anymore — just an embarrassed US government doing damage control.
On queer issues, the national media almost always takes the he said/she said approach. I can accept it up to a point becauseI think the equality arguments are better and will convince more people. But when McVety starts to make things up journalists need to realize it doesn’t balance out.
Journalists need to stop being fair in favour of being accurate.
The CBC reports: “Bill C-38, McVety said, was passed hastily and without proper study.” The story matches this claim with a quote from Arron: “The religious right wants to reopen this issue, delay the vote and drag things on for years.”
What CBC didn’t point out is that there were months and months of hearings in 2003 by Parliament’s standing committee on justice and human rights — 35 meetings were held. Committee members flew all over the country listening to Canadians. True, McVety himself didn’t appear. Are we to reopen the debate just because McVety didn’t get his name on the speakers’ list representing one of his made-up lobby groups? Is he so special?
This next McVety lie is my favourite. The National Post reports he “complained that the new law is forcing acceptance of homosexuality to be taught in schools.” The Canadian Press reported his example of a pornographic book, The Little Black Book For Girlz, which is “curriculum designed for 14-year-olds in this country and it is deeply, deeply offensive.”
The canned response in the Canadian Press story: “‘The religion of one should not become the law of others,’ said Laurie Arron.” Homo nuptials nurture teen sodomy and Arron is talking about religious freedoms? Give me a break.
Firstly, Bill C-38 makes no mention of school curriculum. It only changed marriage laws. It’s federal. Education is provincial, mostly governed by school boards. Hello? If butt-fucking. pussy-licking or even virulent homophobia are taught to students, it might be good or bad, but it has nothing to do with Bill C-38.
Secondly, The Little Black Book For Girlz is not taught in schools and is not intended to be taught in schools — it’s an advice book sold in bookstores. It’s a project of St Stephen’s Community House written five years ago — yes, long before same-sex marriage was a twinkle in McVety’s eye — by teenaged girls themselves.
McVety might as well have claimed that same-sex marriage causes seizures in children and that teachers have been told to bury their spasming bodies in big holes in the school playgrounds.
Certainly the national press would have reported it without question.