Tuesday, May 09, 2006

On the Joys of Not Being "Mainstream"

So, today I'm told, " Your political views place you at the margins of the mainstream whereas the CBC is somewhere smack in the middle of it, for better or worse."
Ooooh. Break out the party hats, kids! I've been "marginalized".
Isn't that the story of my life: too conservative to be liberal, too liberal to be conservative.
It reminds me of something that happened to me late last year at The Gateway: With a federal election looming, an assignment came up to review Rescuing Canada's Right by Tasha Kheirridin and Adam Daifallah. The editor in question put out the call for a "conservative" to review the book, not wanting the assignment to fall into the hands of someone who would simply use it to bash the Conservative party on the eve of a key federal election. I volunteered to accept the responsibility as someone sympathetic to their cause, but added "I wouldn't say I'm a conservative."
At that point, the writer sitting next to me says, "no, you're a conservative," in a rather accusatory tone.
Which naturally came as a shock to me. Traditionally, conservatives aren't supposed to support such things as immigration or same-sex marriage -- both of which I do support, and have done so on this very site. Conservatives aren't supposed to support "new deal"-style social safety nets, as I've been known to do. In other words, if there is any such thing as a conservative's manual, I clearly haven't read it.
Then there's the other side of the coin. During the course of debates of bilingualism and U.S. President George W. Bush I've been labelled "a hopeless lefty." It seems that I am free to support some of the more common sense conservative causes, but the minute I step out of line, once again I become "the enemy".
So what is a man to do? I suppose I could try to wax poetically about the precarious position occupied by any society that is polarized along such ideological boundaries. I've even been known to do so on occasion -- although doing to in the presence of extremists from either "side" quickly makes one an outcast.
Then again, this is the problem with extremism -- as soon as a person doesn't sufficiently meet one particular extreme, they are shoved straight over to the other. If they don't fit in there, they can be left in a sort of limbo -- too liberal to be a conservative, too conservative to be a liberal. Naturally, I'll never be able to work within a Liberal (not liberal)-biased media outlet like the CBC. Nor could I ever write for a publication like the Western Standard. I am firmly stuck in the middle.
But more than anything I am certain of this: I cannot possibly be alone.
Somewhere in the void that is Canadian society there must be more like myself. In fact, there must be a great many of us. People so fed up with the bickering between those of different ideological alignments that they simply want to hear something different for a change. People so tired of being fed slanted garbage by the mass media -- regardless of whichever "side" it is slanted in favor of -- that they would change the channel, if only they felt there was somewhere to change the channel to.
If that describes you, then here we are: stuck in the middle together. Here in that indefensible no-man's-land that the extremists don't even want to admit exists. And I suppose we also have a choice: we can huddle here in obscurity, or we can strike out, and push the margins further outward until no extremist can claim they are "part of the mainstream".
Certainly, the day we allow a biased media outlet like the CBC to pretend that it is "the mainstream", we take one more step toward the day when honest and open political debate in this country die.
So here we are, on the raggedy edge of the mainstream: what say we do a little pushing?

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