Okay, I meant to post this like a week ago. There's a new hot issue in Canada now of which I hope to say more later...like, say, next week, when there's yet a third hot new issue for me to be behind the times on.
Anyways, the big controversy last week in Canada was that the Harper government preventing media outlets from airing coverage of military funeral ceremonies. Now forget that the "ban" isn't actually a ban. Now forget that Harper has allowed and encouraged media to attend any soldier's off-base funeral when held if the family wishes. Forget that the images of the coffins can still be shown from camera off-base. Finally, forget that the majority of military families, even those who have lost sons in Afghanistan, generally support the move.
This is the sort of government policy that has to come down one way or the other. The government has to choose one of two options which has some small benefits when you think about it, and some massive immediately obvious flaws. If the government picks the Harper route, it preserves the dignity of a military event when until recently (post Cold War) no country would allow the media into. It prevents the media from taking sensationalist photos of what is in fact a private organization's event. On the other hand, its blocking the fourth estate from doing its job, it gives the appearance of trying to hide military deaths, and it makes the government look like its trying to sweep deaths under the rug.
Or the government can take the other route: permit the media full access to the funeral ceremonies. This allows people a chance to share in the family's sense of loss when celebrating the life and unfortunate death of one of our nation's soldiers. On the other hand, it feeds a greedy media machine, gives free ammunition to every pacifist and policy objector, shows a callousness to the private grief of military families, and puts the crying face of relatives and friends front page on every tabloid outlet in the nation.
Notice what I mean? In both situations there are clear benefits (when you stop and think about it) and numerous knee-jerk opposing points to be made.
This is why its such a stupid controversy. No matter what policy was chosen, so matter which side the government took, and no matter which party was in power and which was in opposition, this is the sort of choice that governments will always make and support and which the opposition parties will always oppose and vilify.
That's right, if Prime Minister Paul Martin had made this exact same call, Harper would today be in the HofC making the exact same arguments that Bill Graham Cracker is currently using to slam the Conservatives. Likewise, if Harper had made the opposite call, Jack Layton and the other opposition MPs would all be on TV nightly criticizing the policy by saying the exact same things Harper is saying now. It's all just a silly elementary school calibre play being put on, and no mainstream media outlets will say so because it kills their coverage of the story (moreso since "coverage of stories" is the actual story in this case, though other examples of this sort of two wrong choices policy exist).
My assertion above is backed up somewhat by a comment in the MacLeans article linked above:
Families, military officials, opposition parties and even some Tory MPs criticized a decision to ban journalists from covering a repatriation ceremony for fallen soldiers returning to Canadian soil.Even some of the Tory MPs oppose the move, and likely a few of the Liberal MPs support it as well.
In a way, its a lot like the "no half mast" flag policy that was enacted at about the same time. There are arguments for and against each decision, the "against" arguments are easier to sound-byte and are easier to come up with, and no matter which one a government would choose the opposition would choose the alternate option by default. These really shouldn't even be controversies!
So the funniest controversy ever is the fun Cynthia McKinney has gotten into. First she hit (punched?) a white cop after he tried to prevent her from entering a restricted area of Washington D.C. having not recognized her. McKinney (naturally) claims racial profiling. I'm confused: isn't the contention that racists think all black people look alike? Here we have somebody who thinks blacks are all such uniquely identifiable people that all Cythia needed was a new hairstyle to look different than her former self. It can't go both ways now, can it?
But then it got even worse. Numerous aids have been subpoened. The media kept asking her questions. She kept deflecting the questions. Then, in one interview, she took a smoke break or a pee break or something, and forgot that she had a wireless microphone attached to her. She proceeded to discuss the case with her advisors in the back, and then realizing her mistake, came back into the interview room and demanded that the press not use anything they recorded while she was gone, insisting that it was off the record. Did the ploy work? Well, no.
View the transcript of the remarks from the Atlanta Journal-Constituion here.
ExposeTheLeft.com has the video for you to download here.
Now that's funny. When will people learn the old addage: "treat every microphone like it is a live microphone"? (One of the few times Hacker ever had to teach Sir Humphrey something). Some stories have compared this to GW Bush's "major league asshole" remark, or Reagan's "we bomb in five minutes" gag. There's really no comparison: Bush's comment was an insult said aside while trying to shy away from the mic: he knew it was there, just tried unsucessfully to not be picked up saying something that wasn't all that damaging when it got out (who knows, insulting a New York Times reporter might have secured him 75,000 votes here and there). Reagan's meanwhile was deliberately said into a live microphone. He knew it was a live mic, that's why they wanted him to test it...to make sure it was working. Totally not the same thing as a really lame attempt to cover it back up.