Defending Your Opinions

May 3, 2012

There’s a curious tic among some us who write critically about Mayor Ford where we always seem to wind up in a defensive position, finishing a piece with a variation of the claim that we’re not saying that former Mayor Miller’s administration was perfect but… Matt Elliott did so yesterday in his article about this year’s surplus. We too have found ourselves in a similar position. No. I’ve never said Mayor Miller was perfect. But that’s not the point here, is it?

No government is perfect. Who’s ever made that assertion? Disagreeing with one administration does not imply fidelity to another. Suggesting it does is simply a baseless way of undercutting without actually using facts or legitimate methods of discourse.

Yes, I voted for David Miller. Twice, in fact. I would’ve a third time if he had chosen to run again. I liked the direction he was taking the city. Do I believe he ran a flawless government at City Hall. Hardly.

No, I don’t like the direction Mayor Ford is taking the city. So I criticize him and his policies. Constantly. Disagree with me on the basis of the arguments I make not on whether this proves I think his predecessor was perfect.

Now we have the latest Toronto Star-Mayor Ford contretemps.

At this point, I don’t have all the pertinent details. I think it’s safe to say that very few people do. The mayor knows what happened. The Star’s reporter Daniel Dale does too. Outside of that, there seems to be an investigation underway. Everything else right now is purely speculation.

If evidence points to the fact that Mr. Dale was indeed trespassing on the mayor’s property, charge him and let the chips fall where they may. Until that happens however, any and all conclusions should be treated with a large degree of skepticism. What we are witnessing is simply an orchestrated attempt to get out ahead of the story and plant one version as the ‘true’ narrative as this goes forward.

That Mayor Ford is threatening a media blackout if the Star’s Daniel Dale is not taken off the City Hall beat and shows up at press scrums should be unsettling to all of us regardless of political stripe. Elected officials should not get to choose who reports on their activities. The Toronto Star has already gone to the Integrity Commissioner with a complaint of not receiving public notices from the mayor’s office. Negative opinions treated as some sort of nefarious, underhanded plot that someone in public office shouldn’t have to put up with.

But that kind of encroachment on the rights of a free press smacks of a contempt for democracy. You’re not saying what I want to hear, so I’m not talking to you. It’s also an admission that you aren’t prepared to make your case based on an informed debate.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard people say that they don’t/won’t read the Star because it’s hateful rag or some other variation on that theme. As if it’s some sort of badge of honour. But read the fine print on it and it actually says, I won’t engage with opinions that aren’t my own and you can’t make me.

Newsflash, folks. I spend more time reading the Toronto Sun than I care to admit. Why? Sure, it’s fun to mock the thinking and grade school writing of most of their columnists but it also offers up a window into the minds that make up Ford Nation. How did you arrive at that conclusion again?

It’s an attempt to understand an opposing view not just dismiss it out of hand because there’s a very good possibility I disagree. Engage, debate, argue. That’s how it’s supposed to be done.

Again, if Daniel Dale committed an illegal act last night that’s an entirely different matter. It’s just this rush to judgement in defense of the mayor in order to discredit an entire news organization because you don’t like what it’s been saying about a politician you support? Attacking the messenger not the message because it’s just easier that way.

And no, I do not think David Miller was perfect.

confessingly submitted by Cityslikr


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