Saturday, December 05, 2009

How to Play to Your Base (At The Expense of Truth and Logic)

Antonia Zerbisias recycles discredited rhetoric

If there's anything that Canadians can learn from observing the most fervently ideological amongst its media personalities, it's that virtually anything can be treated as true, so long as it's repeated often and insistently enough.

The most recent case in point has been the exaggerated controversy over the Conservative Party's move to -- with the support of MPs from the Liberal Party and the NDP -- abolish the federal long gun registry.

Antonia Zerbisias has gone particularly ape shit over the matter. Zerbisias, along with Heather Mallick and a few public activists, has pretended that the issue is actually one of gender politics, not one of an ineffectual public safety policy being committed to its rightful place on the ash heap of history.

In a column recently published in the Toronto Star, Zerbisias practically labels Minister for the Status of Women Helena Guergis and Candice Hoeppner as traitors to their gender:
"If it weren't so hypocritical, it would be hysterical.

On Wednesday, at a Parliament Hill ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the Dec. 6 massacre at Montreal's
L'École Polytechnique, Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner co-starred in Status of Women minister Helena Guergis's show of sympathy.

Bad enough that, last month, Guergis voted for Bill C-391, the legislation that aims to kill the long-gun registry and Hoeppner was the one to introduce it in the House.
For Zerbisias, this almost certainly isn't bad enough. It's just one sign of Guergis, Hoeppner and the Conservative Party rejecting the colonization of government policy by gender/identity politics.
"No wonder that Status of Women committee members Anita Neville (L-Winnipeg South Centre), Irene Mathyssen (NDP-London- Fanshawe) and the Bloc's warrior queen of women's rights, Nicole Demers (Laval), boycotted the ceremony.

As Neville told me Wednesday, 'The Conservatives' record on women has just been abominable.'
And of course if Anita Neville says it, it simply must be true! After all, it isn't as if the Liberal Party critic for the Status of Women has anything to gain politically from criticizing the Conservative government, even on something as fundamental as a memorial service.
"Never mind that, since the registry was introduced in the mid-'90s, the number of women killed by their rifle-wielding partners has dropped significantly. But, even with the registry, Statistics Canada reports, one out of three femicide victims is still killed by a rifle-wielding partner."
At this point, there is simply no way that Zerbisias and her compatriots don't know full well that they can demonstrate no causal link between the long gun registry and this decrease in homicides involving guns.

There is simply no way that Zerbisias and her compatriots don't know full well that what they are making here is a correlational argument, and that correlation itself is not causation.

The decrease in these homicides could be just as easily linked to anything else that took place in the years since 1995, when the federal Firearms Act was passed. Such as the other measures passed at the same time.

One of the things that Zerbisias and her compatriots tend to omit when discussing the long gun registry is the institution of what was then harsher penalties for crimes involving guns, and the institution of Possession and Acquisition Licenses, that put further requirements in place for gun ownership, and made it more possible to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals.

The gun registry merely kept a record of who could own guns. It did nothing to prevent an unbalanced individual from pointing their gun at a human being -- male or female -- and pulling the trigger.

This became painfully evident on September 13, 2006 when Kimveer Gill stormed Montreal's Dawson College and shot 19 people, one of whom died. Gill perpetrated that shooting with a registered gun.

Oddly enough, Neville voted against a bill that would have toughened the penalties for gun crime even further.

One shouldn't expect these little factoids to appear to Zerbisias. She's too busy using the memories of those killed in the L'Ecole Polytechnique massacre to promote the long gun registry as a matter of gender politics.
"For a frigid few days, I followed the panel around rural Quebec, where it heard horror stories from women whose partners took advantage of their isolation to terrorize and torture them.

There were testimonies from local social services groups recounting terrible murders. Meanwhile, back in the Montreal area, women were being picked off at an alarming rate by former spouses, even those served with restraining orders.
Once again, this is the kind of thing the long gun registry has done nothing to prevent. Although putting more police officers on Canadian streets certainly could.
"One of the things that many of the gun nuts espouse is more guns – for women. As they say, "You can't rape a .38.''

That may be true if you're walking your dog or coming home from work late at night, but it's going to land you a murder charge if you pull the trigger while being 'date raped.'
This is easily the most provocative statement Zerbisias makes in the course of this column. She neglects to mention that such an act would quickly (and rightly) be ruled to have been committed in self-defense. No proper-thinking judge or jury in the country would dare convict. (Unless that judge was liberal supporter. Thankfully, they don't appoint people that stupid to the bench. -ed)
"n any case, it's pretty tough to be packing, say, in an aerobics class, especially when the assassin sneaks in, turns off the lights and starts firing – which is what happened in Pittsburgh this summer when three women were killed and many others injured.

What's more, there's no guarantee that an abused wife could actually get a gun, or not get it used against her.

Research shows that the determining factor in preventing most violence against women is helping them to be economically independent, through secure employment with appropriate benefits and fair wages, or decent rates of welfare, adequate social housing and daycare.
Zerbisias also neglects to mention -- or simply fails to understand -- that women in social housing, or on welfare, are not economically independent. But that's only one of the failures in basic logic Zerbisias commits in her column.
"Little of which is forthcoming from the Conservative government."
On the contrary, the Conservative government put far more of these things in place, when they shifted the Status of Women's mandate away from reasearch and advocacy and toward providing actual services -- like job training -- to women in their communities.
"That said, it has bumped up funding to some shelters this year. But that does nothing to head off violence."
Neither does the long gun registry.
"In fact, according to Neville, 'Their whole focus on violence against women is what one colleague refers to as `after the gavel.' That means putting more people in jail, harsher sentences, mandatory minimums, that kind of thing.'"
This is still a superior approach than the preceding approach, which largely focused on using cosmetic legislation as a bullwark around which they could build an ideological program -- one that even some of the most fervent supporters of the long gun registry admit is purely symbolic.
"Or as Hoeppner recently said in committee: 'The best thing we can do to protect women is to make sure that people who commit crimes against them go to jail and stay there for as long as they need to.' Which, not only closes the slammer door after the deed has been done, it does nothing to get women out of dangerous situations and into self-sufficient lives."
Interestingly enough, neither do social housing or welfare. Once again, what Zerbisias makes up for in ideology, she lacks in basic reasoning skills.
"As for Guergis, well, although her resumé includes many years of volunteering at Barrie's Rape Crisis Centre, she just tiptoes the party line.

With girlfriends like these, who needs enemies?
Maybe the answer to this question doesn't truly matter. Ideologues specialize in attracting and inventing enemies.

Antonia Zerbisias would have invented herself an enemy, one way or another. It just helps that there are some women willing to reject Zerbisias' absurd concept of gender politics.

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