Tuesday, October 07, 2008

A Lament For Lessons Unlearned

Here's what you should have learned, Heather

As most people grow into adulthood, they find themselves in a rather precarious position.

No longer children but not yet fully adults, the safety net that had accompanied childhood is mostly gone -- except under the direst of circumstances -- and the pressure to become a better, stronger and more independent person truly mounts.

A premium quickly emerges to learn from one's mistakes.

So then what does it say about CBC op/ed columnist and fervent blinkered left-wing feminist ideologue Heather Mallick that she can't seem to learn from hers?

In a column published by CBC yesterday, Mallick at long last offers her thoughts on the controversy that emerged following her notorious "Mighty Wind" column:

"A month ago, I wrote about Sarah Palin's unfitness to be the Republican vice-presidential nominee and attracted the wholly unwelcome attention of Fox News and its viewers."
So Mallick considers Sarah Palin unfit to be the Republican Vice Presidential nominee. Fair enough. There's a case to made for that, if one can actually make it.

But many observers feel that Mallick herself is unfit to be a journalist -- the case she made for herself when she resorted to a personal attack in lieu of actual legitimate political criticism.

For those, like Mallick, so driven to the depths of loonishness by Palin's nomination, may benefit from a few quick notes about how to not make oneself look like a political vulture:

First off, attacks on a politician's family are extremely bad form.

Second, the personal relationships of family members of a politician (such as Bristol Palin's relationship with Levi Johnson) should be considered off-limits. Once again, not only is this bad form, but actually suggests that you're unable of debating the issues.

Third, try not to show your actual contempt for the people you claim to give a shit about.

Fourth, making unsubstantiated claims about a broad group of people tends to make one look, frankly, stupid.

Last but not least, don't bait the crazies. For example, if one knows that there are unstable individuals among America's Republican right -- and there most certainly are -- then dismissing the lot of them as sexually inadequate "white trash" may not be the best idea.

Which is really what Mallick's characterization of the attention of Fox News and its viewers as "unwelcome".

Was she operating under some delusion that cbc.ca is unavailable in the United States? Or that maybe, just maybe, they'd never find out about it?

Or maybe the entire point was to attract said attention, and to stir up the ensuing controversy. Except that this one turned out to bite Mallick in the ass a little bit, fatally damaging the very slim journalistic credibility she once possessed.

There's something about writing a column with the vicious character of Mallick's "Mighty Wind" article and then complaining about receiving hate mail afterward.

Sarah Palin's favourite joke could probably be paraphrased as such: "What's the difference between a pit bull and Heather Mallick? A pit bull doesn't poke a hornet's nest and then whine about it afterward."

Or was it "lipstick"?

No matter.

Unsurprisingly, Mallick seems ill-prepared to take any responsibility for her own comments. In fact, in Kevin Potvin-esque fashion, she predictably blames Fox News for provoking the outrage:

"After Fox got the firestorm restarted, we redirected the next few hundred threats to the e-mail belonging to my husband, who is British and unflappable. He initially read them, rather than mass-delete, so that kind people offering encouragement would not be ignored. Readers are hurt when you don't reply. Canadians are nice. Angry sometimes, but not violent.

But Fox viewers are a piece of work. I last appeared on Fox News in 2004 when I went on Bill O'Reilly's show to defend American war resisters sheltering in Canada. O'Reilly lost his mind, if he ever had one, and he was so mad about Vancouver's safe-injection site that he threatened to tell his fans to boycott Canada and destroy our economy, as they had that of France, he alleged, ludicrously. The conversation was so deranged that anti-Foxers sent me personalized "baguette" coffee mugs as souvenirs. "Beellions of dollairs," they read.

This time, I explained to Fox producers that I couldn't appear because Fox viewers are, like their hosts, too violently brutish to alienate. Fox shows aren't interviews so much as bear-baiting. I didn't watch the Fox shows on the subject of me or read the subsequent Canadian commentary in print or online.
So in the end, Mallick seems to take no responsibility for the response to her own comments. In fact, in Mallick's mind, her comments have nothing to do with the entire affair. Instead, Fox News (and all the other news outlets, both off- and online) are to blame.

Yet perhaps the greatest irony in Mallick's response to the entire affair is that she doesn't yet seem to have comprehended just how much like her hated right-wing counterparts on Fox news she really has shown herself to be.

Take, for example, the comments offered on the matter by Fox News commentator Greta Van Susteren, who responded to Mallick's comparison of Sarah Palin to a porn star by calling Mallick a "pig".

To put this in suitable context, when Heather Mallick was confronted with a Vice Presidential candidate she didn't like, she wrote an insult-laden tirade about her and her supporters. When Greta Van Susteren read the article, she settled for insulting Mallick back.

Sadly, this is all preschool calibre politics with no sense whatsoever of the larger issues at stake in this particular matter.

As mentioned here previously, Heather Mallick, of all people should be able to regard a pregnant teenager as a societal dilemma -- one created as much by Mallick's left-wing feminism as by the religious right -- rather than merely a political football to be punted.

Political field goals may be treated as points on the board, but recognizing and solving the real problems are the touchdowns of the game.

But if one needed any further proof that Mallick simply doesn't get it, one only needs consider the following passage:

"Online has brought instant media democratization as well as the erasure of national borders. And websites have not devised a way to keep online forums civilized. "There's no point debating anything online," writes the columnist Charlie Brooker. "You might as well hurl shoes in the air to knock clouds from the sky."

I used to write for print newspapers - an endangered species of their own - but this squabble made me think of Lévi-Strauss's theory of human culture, the raw versus the cooked: Cooking marks the transition from nature to culture. Online commentary is still mostly raw.

I have now discovered the joy of no e-mail; I cannot tell you how peaceful and happy life has become in the world of the cooked.
Apparently, in Mallick's mind, to attack the family of a political opponent and label their supporters as "white trash" qualifies as cultured.

The absurdity of that very notion need not be commented on or explained here.

Only a blinkered ideologue -- as Lindsay Stewart, an apparent huge fan of Mallick's wound describe her if he could muster the sense to do so -- Heather Mallick could come out of something like this with their arrogant sense of superiority intact.

But then again, this may be the greatest tragedy of an individual who, even at Mallick's age (she turns 50 next year), has yet to achieve full adult hood.

It's a lament for lessons unlearned.

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