Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Dan Gardner, the Media Party, and the Disintegration of Modern Journalism

Some Nexus readers may recall a Byline segment from early October wherein Brian Lilley commented on a segment of Canadian journalism he refers to as "the media party".

In the segment, Lilley actually names a few journalists he considers to be members of the media party. Chief among them is "author, journalist and lecturer" Dan Gardner.

Last night, Gardner witnessed Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney refer to unreported crime in explaining and defending the Conservative government's omnibus crime bill. Garner couldn't hold back his objection -- nor, necessarily, should he -- and took to Twitter to voice his objection.

Gardner, who Tweets under @DGardner decided to respond to Kenney's comments by first selectively citing data from the study, then by dismissing unreported crime as "trivial":
Your not-so-humble scribe couldn't resist the opportunity to ask Gardner a few questions about the assumptions he was making. Gardner's ultimate response was that he ultimately would not consider any other data points:
In other words, Gardner refused to talk about any weaknesses in the assumptions he was offering, or even any other information. If it was going to be discussed, it would have to be discussed with other people, because he won't.

There's good reason for this. The survey as a whole says far more than Gardner says it does, and the data points he himself is offering don't necessarily support his claims about it.
There are obvious problems with a response that begins and ends with "not important enough", and it has to do with the respondent's perception of the meaning of that phrase. The question of who the incident in question is perceived to be "not important enough to" is a very real question.

To blithely assume that this means that the victim of the crime in general didn't consider it important enough to report is to also assume that all respondents perceived the meaning of that phrase in a uniform manner. This would be a mistake.

When a response begins and ends with "not important enough", it's every bit as likely that the respondent could conclude that the crime in question was not important enough to the police as not important enough to them personally. In lieu of a better-defined response, either conclusion is equally likely, and it's much more reasonable -- and responsible -- to allow for the probability that those who submitted that response had either of these in mind. Some likely concluded the former, and some likely concluded the latter.

Yet to ask Dan Gardner if the conclusion he reached -- that this response indicates that most of Canada's unreported crime is trivial -- is reasonable considering the ambiguous nature of this data is apparently to precipitate a meltdown on his behalf. If last night's events are any indication, he simply can't cope with that idea.

To ask him about the second-ranked response -- "police could not do anything about it" -- is apparently to make it worse. Gardner's response was that this was a worthy point to be discussed, but that he personally wouldn't. (That the second-ranked response trailed the first-ranked response by less than ten percentage points apparently did nothing to boost the worthiness of this data point in Gardner's eyes.)

It becomes difficult to avoid reaching the conclusion that, in the canon of the far-left media, these are forbidden questions. "Does the data actually indicate what you're saying it does?" That question is forbidden. "Isn't the second-ranked response also worthy of consideration?" That question is also forbidden.

What seems to emerge, in Dan Gardner's case, is that of a man who has not embraced journalism as a means with which to provide people with information or even ideas. Rather, he's embraced the journalistic enterprise purely as a means of political advocacy. Nothing else.

It's hard to escape the conclusion that Gardner is simply a card-carrying member of the media party. The media party has an agenda, and in this case it's in preserving the soft-on-crime, hug-a-thug policies that they claim have reduced crime in Canada, but in reality have not. The Stats Can study itself states that in no uncertain terms -- victimization in Canada has remained stable.

In support of that agenda, Gardner sets out to turn public attention away from specific data points that do not support that agenda, and toward data points that seem to support it only if they go unexamined.

It's one thing to insist that Canadians aren't reporting specific crimes because they're "not important enough", whatever that might mean to the individuals who offered that response.

To insist that the unreported crimes are trivial is remarkably obtuse when one considers what those unreported crimes are:
Of the crimes unreported in Canada, the number one is break and enter. That is not a trivial crime. The second is motor vehicle or parts theft. That is not a trivial crime. The third is robbery. That is not a trivial crime. The fifth is physical assault. That is not a trivial crime.

The fourth was vandalism. That could be a trivial crime, but not necessarily. The sixth and seventh were theft, or personal property and household property respectively. That, too, could be a trivial crime, but not necessarily.

It's not up to Dan Gardner to decide if the unreported victimization of Canadians is trivial. It's up to each individual victim to decide that for themselves and admittedly, many of them might reach that conclusion. Many might not.

But this is how the media party operates: they assume that they speak for Canadians as a whole, then they pretend to.

In the end, Dan Gardner's impotent response to the questions he was asked was to label your not-so-humble scribe a "troll". Basically it amounts to an accusation that the questions over whether or not Gardner has given ample consideration to the meaning of the data points he offers is "inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic", as Wikipedia would have it.

The questions over whether or not Gardner is accurately interpreting the data offered by this survey are very clearly on-topic. It's simply a question that he considers forbidden: it's entirely reasonable to ask in the face of ambiguous data with a wide berth of potential meanings, but it seems to be Gardner's belief that no one is allowed to ask that question.

To this end, Dan Gardner is wrong. People have the right to ask these questions, and if Gardner, demanding merit in the public eye, refuses to discuss them, then it's he who has abandoned the lofty aspirations of journalism.

It's not what one would expect from a journalist. But it's precisely what one would expect from a member of the media party.

Monday, November 07, 2011

The Scandal Machine Backfires: Sask NDP Admits to Electioneering on Voting Day

When the NDP issued this press release, one can imagine the reaction they hoped to elicit was one of outrage.

Instead, they've drawn attention to what seems like a potential violation of Elections law. The press release, which claims that Saskatchewan Party staffers, including Deputy Chief of Staff to Premier Brad Wall Terri Harris, was issued on November 7, 2011. It claimed that the staffers had been spotted removing NDP door-hangers mere moments after they had been placed:
"The Sask Party operatives were removing NDP literature which helped the senior renters know where and when to vote, and offering rides to voters in the bad weather.

'I think she’s seen me,' said Rogochewsky upon being spotted by NDP team members, who had already noticed that literature seemed to be disappearing from doorknobs minutes after it was placed there.
The problem for the NDP is obvious. It's illegal to campaign on election day, and if they're in a seniors' apartment complex anywhere in the province hanging partisan material on door knobs, they're in violation of the elections act.

Certainly, it's awfully nice of them to offer rides to seniors. They can quite easily do that without leaving partisan material behind.

Any Saskatchewan Party staffers encountering the NDP leaving such material behind are certainly not obligated to allow the NDP to break the rules to the Saskatchewan Party's disadvantage. This is, of course, presuming that what the NDP claims is happening at all.

Considering that the NDP were already lying to the people of Saskatchewan before the writ was even dropped, they'll need some evidence. There's no reason to simply take their word for it.

When Does a Single Interview Cancellation Constitute a Ban?

The attention-hungry continue to falsely martyr themselves

There's no martyr like a self-made martyr. Over the last year, Canadians have seen far more self-made martyrs than anyone really needs.

Now Margie Gillis, Franke James and Brigette DePape have some strange company among them: Fog of War author Mark Bourrie.

According to Bourrie, he'd been scheduled to appear on Michael Coren's show on the Sun News Network. Later on, that interview was cancelled.

Quickly following the cancellation of his interview, Bourrie wrote a blog post for Ottawa magazine claiming he had been banned.

"Well, that’s it. I’m banned," Bourrie claimed. "I am lower than low, mere scrapings from the bottom of the dog walker’s boot. Yes, I’m not fit to be on the Sun News Network."

"My publicist booked me on Michael Coren’s show a couple of weeks ago. Last Wednesday, I got an e-mail saying the interview had been cancelled by Sun TV," Bourrie continued. "It wasn’t Coren or Coren’s producer who made the decision. Someone higher up had killed the booking and banned me from Sun TV."

The evidence Bourrie offers? Precisely none.

This author hasn't yet had access to Bourrie's book to give it a fair consideration of its merits. So your not-so-humble scribe won't automatically lump Mr Bourrie with mediocre self-made-martyrs like DePape, James or Gillis.

But Bourrie's martyrdom seems no less self-made.

Simply put, one interview cancellation does not a ban make. Bourrie's planned interview on Sun News could have been cancelled for any number of good reasons. Here's a very good one, and a very plausible one: perhaps the topic of episode on which Bourrie was scheduled to appear was changed.

This author doesn't know this to be the case. Nor does this author have any evidence to support it. However, under the evidence already offered -- Bourrie's complaint that his interview was cancelled -- this explanation is no more and no less plausible than Bourrie's.

The obvious difference is that Bourrie's explanation simultaneously lionizes himself while portraying himself as a victim. Bourrie's explanation unfortunately precludes any other possibility that doesn't require Sun News to be the bad guy of the story.

If Mark Bourrie wants to know what a real media ban looks like, this author has a story for him. Unfortunately for Bourrie, it doesn't make him out to be the martyr he seemingly wants to be so desperately, so he may not be interested.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

LGR Advocates, You Have Some 'Splainin' To Do

Long gun registry not the life-saver they claim it is

With Canada's far-left scrambling to save the long gun registry by any means necessary, it seems the facts just aren't lining up to support their arguments.

When the Globe and Mail put crime data recently released by Stats Canada into a chart, the conclusions became unavoidable. Those who claim the long gun registry saves lives -- as former Liberal MP Mark Holland used to delight in doing -- have some serious explaining to do.

The chart reveals that the last time more long guns than hand guns were used in homicides was waaaaaay back in 1990. (The L'Ecole Polytechnique massacre happened the previous year.) The bill authorizing the long gun registry was passed in Parliament in 1995, and the registry itself was established in 1996.

There's good reason for this. As the numbers have it, murders involving long guns have been steadily declining in Canada since 1984 -- twelve years before the LGR ever existed. There were occasional spikes in homicides involving long guns, but the general trend has been a decline since 1984.

During the same period of time, murders involving handguns -- which the law has required to be registered since World War Two -- have remained stable.

This is very clearly a difficult question the champions of the LGR desperately need to answer. They have relentlessly attributed the reduction in homicides involving long guns to the registry. Yet not only does the decline pre-date the registry, the handgun registry has no noticeable effect.

It's clear that registration has not had the magical properties LGR advocates have attributed to it. They have some serious questions to answer, some serious explaining to do -- although previous experience with these individuals suggests they will simply decline.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

There Is Something Deeply Wrong With Some of These People...

If you were to ask any of them to their face, the far-left in Canada are the champions of rainbows and puppydogs. Their leaders are all "inspirational", and their causes in the best interests of "99%".

But scratch the surface of some of these individuals, and what is left underneath is a complete lunatic. Stark, raving, mad. And brutish to the core.

For evidence one needs look no further than the individual who identifies himself as @HarrisAJackson. The "A" apparently stands for "Ace".

Okay then.

As it turns out, Ace is an advocate for the long gun registry. There's very little wrong with that, in and of itself. But how Ace deals with political defeat leaves a lot to be desired. He tweeted:
"Wonder how many hard core Cons will think deregulation of the long gun is a good idea, when they're [sic] son or daughter ends up dead? We can only hope its a conservative victim, since those with brains and national pride are fighting to keep it alive."
Ace subsequently insisted he didn't wish gun violence on anyone, but screencaps have the final say:
(Following several Tweets of this image directly to him, Ace still couldn't figure it out.)

Even while objecting that he hadn't wished gun violence on anyone, he literally couldn't stop. Couldn't help himself.
This issue has keenly focused the mania of individuals like our dear Ace. Irrational rage that would otherwise have thrashed helplessly across the Twitterverse is now brought to bear on this singular issue. For the first time, we can see just how disturbed these people are.

And Harris Ace Jackson is very disturbed indeed. The civilized approach to the issue of the long gun registry is -- whether one supports it or opposes it -- to wish for no gun violence. Ace has adopted a very different approach: he simply wishes the gun violence to be aimed at a very specific group of people.

It's sick. It's evil. It's reflective of someone crying out for help.

His LinkedIn profile identifies him as "Senior Analyst at UFO Investigator Citizen Reporter". He lives in the Vancouver area.

If you, or anyone you know, knows Harris Ace Jackson, reach out. Let him know about any mental health resources in his area, and urge him to seek help before he does something he may not be mentally healthy enough to regret.

Fuck It. Let Greece Burn

Greek leftism becoming a global parasite

Imagine, if you will, a close cousin or younger brother who just can't seem to live within his means.

Once a year, every year, he comes with his hand out, begging for a not-insubstantial amount of money to sustain his grandiose lifestyle.

After several years of indulging them, hoping they'll get their shit together, you finally decide enough is enough. You tell him that you'll only help him if he stops going to the pub every night, and drinking himself into a stupor while his bills go unpaid.

Stunned by the ultimatum, he instead tells you that he'll have to take a referendum of his barfly buddies before he's willing to make that kind of a commitment. Bankrolled by your generosity, he frequently buys rounds for the bar. They like that. One thing firmly in his favour is that he has a guarantor for all his bills, and that someone else will ultimately be on the hook if they go unpaid. From his point of view, his worst case scenario is that you and his other creditors go unpaid.

Substitute Greece for the bum in question and you have precisely what happened in Greece today. After the European Union worked tirelessly to come up with a bail out package and a stabilization plan for the Greek economy, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou told the EU that he and the people of Greece will have to think about it.

The Socialist Party has already declared the deal "dead".

So it's time for the EU to take a different approach: kick Greece out of the Eurozone and the European Union, direct their bailout package toward cutting the losses of Greece's creditors while they foreclose on every debt-backed piece of property or capital in Greece.

Enough is enough. It's time to let the far-left parasites in Greece burn in the economic fire they started. Far-left socialism, as it's manifested itself in Greek politics, has become a cancer on the global economy. It's time to excise the tumour.