Thursday, May 5, 2011

They've Burnt The Soapbox

They've Burnt The Soapbox

(Again, it's been a while, hasn't it.)

Well, in all honesty, there really hasn't been much to report in the way of refused or deleted comments at as of late, owing primarily to the fact that the CBC have foregone the moderation process by depriving us of the privilege to comment in the first place. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it appears that the CBC has indeed gone and burnt the soapbox on which many of us have stood. And no, I'm not talking about the usual types of stories they tend to close to commenting (‘Young Woman Sexually Harassed by History Professor’, ‘Tory MP Raped Native Teen at Gunpoint 40 Years Ago’, ‘Second-Grader Suing Boyfriend for Child Support and Uninvited Groping’, etc.), but rather stories so mundane and innocuous that they don't automatically entail any legal gag orders (‘publication bans’).

For example, there was the story about former UN Special Envoy and overbearing goody-two-shoes Stephen Lewis criticising Madonna's failure to deliver on a promise of a new school for a small village in Malawi. “This story is closed to commenting,” stated the ubiquitous coda. What were they afraid of? Too many spurned and irate Madonna fans swamping their lazy moderators with tides of angry comments to wade through? Humiliating castigation of Saint Stephen Lewis?

Then there was the story about talented-yet-annoying singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright siring a daughter for Lorca Cohen, daughter of Leonard Cohen. Again, no commenting was permitted. What was the problem this time around? A fear that the story of a gay man (“Daddy #1”, as he refers to himself in the story) with a partner (‘Daddy #2’, presumably) fathering children for the daughter of a Jewish, bohemian singer-poet with a legendary libido would rock the right-wing, fundamentalist Christian boat out west, resulting in a barrage of vicious comments referencing the (alleged) left-wing bias of the CBC? On the other hand, might Wainwright and Cohen have demanded that commenting be closed in exchange for their willingness to share the story with a major news outlet? Probably a lot of both, I'd wager.

Even more interesting was their coverage of recent stories involving literary awards and competitions—hardly stories at all, some might argue, given the tired names and talent-optional contest criteria involved. Over the past few weeks, has posted at least three such stories: a new Montreal poetry contest boasting a grand prize of $50,000 (and guidelines and other particulars that are too ludicrous to take seriously!); famous former underaged whore Evelyn Lau and a few unknowns being shortlisted for the Pat Lowther Prize for women writers (Yawwwwnnn); and pissant Michael Crummey's latest tacky novel making the list of finalists in the IMPAC Dublin Award (which doesn't say much for what Canada has to offer the world these days). In neither instance was commenting allowed. Did they fear the snide comments of other writers (including moi), namely those who refuse to play the patriotic cultural game and/or kiss the government's arse, and the fallout such comments might incur? O happy me, if we're actually that dangerous to the cultural status quo!

Of course, most stories—i.e., the most blasé ones—are still open to commenting; and, as one might expect, my comments still get removed on those rare occasions when I bother to opine. Just recently, for example, on the day of the federal election, I submitted the following exaggerated observation in response to the CBC's obligatory (and pointless) marking of the polls' final open hours and closing:

“From my study window, I can tell it's obviously election day: the local wife-beaters and daughter-rapists who rarely leave the house are out in full swing today, driving to the nearby community centre to cast their ballots—the big letter ‘C’ in their car windows. It's enough to put one off food, let alone the voting process.”

My comment was initially posted, but removed some short time afterthe moderators having presumably acquiesced to the complaints of some Harper lover.

The government may change, but the CBC doesn't.