The National Post's Woman Problem

Nothing is perfect, including #MeToo, but #MeToo forcefully addressed the issue of what happens to women when they are sexually harassed and abused in such a way that it is difficult to prove it. Predators have practice and prey are ambushed. The United States was always Canada's bolder and braver counterpart. The Americans fight for what they believe in. Canadians try to maneuver and appease to steal away what they can. When Donald Trump called Canadians "smooth", he was letting them know he sees the gambit, and isn't impressed by it.

#MeToo is an un-Canadian movement, and that is unfortunate. Canadians do not like confrontation. They do not like to admit there is a problem. If everyone just shuts up and endures, then the façade is good enough.

#MeToo was the admission in the United States that all was not well. You have highly educated women in positions of real power who were cornered the same way the high school drop-out waitress was cornered by a superior. The women who who spoke out did not want to do so. They did not want people who wished them ill to get any pleasure knowing they were down because those same people are going to gleefully make jabs that the story is either a lie, or the woman did something to earn her abuse.

No civilized society can tolerate that.

#MeToo used social media in a novel way, and it did so because the courts are rigged in such a way that victims and accusers are not even afterthoughts. Most of the measures of guilt or innocence are not even scientific or empirical. There are a lot of assumptions based on folksy logic, nothing more, and there is also the assumption that the only way to determine guilt or innocence is for an accused to be innocent until proven guilty.

If you object, then, of course, people jump down your throat, and assume you want people to be assumed guilty until proven innocent, and that isn't the case.

We need a system that makes no assumptions one way or the other. We have never quite gotten out of our binary reflexes.

#MeToo's longevity is thanks in part to the fact women are not served in the justice system, and nothing has changed.

But to the National Post, the women who dare challenge an Establishment is a horrible, terrible thing.

As soon as there was a tiny lull, they pounced again, trying to reclaim the narrative that the status quo is glorious because women cannot be trusted to tell the truth, using the UK as an example.

Who cares what another country does? We are dealing with our country. Canadian women do not file reports or press charges over there.

It is an attempt at misdirection: let's look everywhere else but our own nation. We have a justice system that has no understanding of the dynamics of abuse.

For starters, there is a base assumption that if a woman goes back to an abuser, there was no abuse. There was no crime.

If that is the case, then husbands who murder the wives they have beaten shouldn't get charged because, hey, she lived with the guy; ergo there was no abuse or crime.

Of course there was abuse and crime. I don't care if someone goes back. We need to establish why people go back, and we do have clues. We see it with cults. We know there are economic factors. We know about grooming and priming. We know about cultural expectations. We know about habit formation.

We have to stop focussing on irrelevant details and start asking simple questions: did you hit her at this point in time? 

And then start asking more questions from there.

We cannot have a functional justice system unless we have a better understanding of human behaviour, and we don't.

Because we have journalists who aren't schooled in psychology. You cannot proclaim to study people and then be utterly clueless to how people actually think and behave.

The National Post is a depressing read: there is no connect to humanity in its pages. It is pure seething sophistry trying to prop up things that need to be questioned.

You do not have a static system and then expect progress or improvement. Women are dealing with the same basic justice system that was around when they were still considered properties of their husbands.

And that's a serious problem.

But the Post has decided to be apologists for rot and ignorance. They have a serious women issue because of it.

If you are going to proclaim to be a chronicler of reality, then you have to start dealing with the whole of reality.

And the reality is you have too many people who are being abused with no true recourse to correct it...

Do Canadian journalists get why they lost their clout? Not at all.

I was listening to Newstalk 1010 this morning where the host was talking to a newspaper columnist about the case of Marie-Maude Denis, a Radio-Canada journalist who is being forced by the courts to reveal her sources. Her story led to arrests, and now one of the parties on trial are claiming a variety of things, and that her source had a vested interest.

Canada never had the same protections for journalists as they have in the US, and mostly never needed to as journalists tend to be highly deferential to authority. This case is interesting in its own right, given the defence has used an effective strategy for its own fishing expedition, but considering the trial would have evidence that is not the actual story Denis filed, I am not certain how relevant putting her on the stand to make her reveal her sources would actually be.

Should she be compelled to reveal her sources? I would say no, but journalists often make promises they cannot keep in the hopes of getting information.

But the conservation about this case was more interesting to me, with the typical snooty assertion that everything was great until the waters were muddied with bloggers and citizen journalists.

Except Denis is not a citizen journalist.

And the argument falls apart on other factors: journalists, particularly in Canada, were never disciplined the way they should have been if they wished to be the ones entrusted with disseminating information. You need no special training or licence to be a reporter, for instance. There are no standards; ergo, there is no discernible difference between a "real" journalist and a citizen journalist -- one is in the army, and the other is a mercenary.

They both do essentially the same thing, but journalists have a little more money to show for it.

So it is not as if journalists were ever prepared. They could have been more effective at their jobs, and then the differences between their work and the citizen journalist would be obvious. You cannot use a Clubhouse Excuse why journalists have become weak and unable to fight back when people they have slagged in their stories retaliate. You put out a mediocre product; you cannot whine when the knock-offs look the same or better than your work.

The segment also brought up the case of Antoine Trépanier, another Radio-Canada reporter who was arrested for "criminally harassing" a source he was trying to interview, even though she had not exactly turned down his request when that would have been enough to make him not ask her again.

I am not unfamiliar with those kinds of sources, though the first time it happened was when I was just starting out and I was asked to write an advertorial about a store and the "source" who kept putting it off, but always said to "call him back" called my editor to complain I was "harassing" him. Never mind that it was advertising and it was paid for by the store's owner and then told the man (who was the manager) to give me a quick interview.

You get people like that all of the time -- those who do not know how to decline a request. The police should not have arrested him -- they should have spoken to him, he could have easily provided proof that the potential source had made no indication that she felt harassed.

The problem is that the profession never got its act together. It never had standards the way way a surgeon has standards. We never progressed was a discipline, and that's why everything got destroyed. People who are doing bad things can easily take advantage of that weakness, and that shouldn't be happening in 2018.

Because it doesn't matter if there are citizen journalists or bloggers -- if you have a system, the results elevate your work over the amateur versions of it. It is no excuse, and yet journalists whine about their glory days, never realizing it was that glory that brought them to their ruin in the first place...

#MeToo was never native to Canadian sensibilities, and it shows with the very different fates of two journalists on the Hitlist.

The National Post may have their whiners lamenting in columns that CTV's Paul Bliss was doomed because #MeToo is just a big old mean witch hunt ("There was no other way this story could end but in Paul Bliss being 'disappeared'", didn't you know?), but that's just a confirmation bias speaking. Steve Paikin was also accused, but he is still not "disappeared". He hosted the PC leadership debate. He is still on his show and still has his blog, with the latest entry begin on March 8. Journalists all enthusiastically marched lockstep in support of Paikin, but those same apologists stayed deafeningly silent when it came to Bliss.

So the notion that getting on that list means a foregone conclusion is highly inaccurate.

The impact of #MeToo -- a strictly Made in the USA movement has been profound in the US far more than it has in Canada. The impact on Canadian politicians has been more significant than it has on US politicians. Patrick Brown got shown to the door at lightening speed, and no one was happier than his own party. They weren't hanging their heads down in shame. They weren't condoning his alleged behaviour. They were relieved and marched on in uncharted territory moving ahead in that ensuing chaos quite cheerily.

But when it came to some other men on the list, journalists got pouty and indignant. How dare anyone accuse journalists of being less than perfect?

While the US #MeToo also enthusiastically got rid of some swamp insects in their communications, Canadian has been much slower to act, even though sexual harassment is just as prevalent here as it is over there.

Bliss was turfed, but so far, it looks like Paikin will have no trouble weathering this one out. #MeToo is not a witch hunt here, no matter what the fear-mongers decree. The US had its shock with Trump's obvious victory that they didn't see coming or had the cunning or clout to stop. Canada had no such overt reckoning to face. It is a difference in ortgeist, not zeitgeist, and why two neighbouring countries are having very different outcomes with an identical movement.

But, as usual, the National Post does not have the savvy or the sensitivity to see it.

Stupid media stunts, Part Two: Give one example, strawman style.

Journalists are not well-trained in general. They are not trained to be thinkers, and their shallow, dirty tricks blare loudly. Many do think they are cunning street fighters, but they are not. They have been trained in a single little trick, and then advertise their ignorance to the world. For example, the National Post ran this joke of a column, which probably commits every logical error ever created, with a headline so stupid, that it is honestly difficult to believe this paper is not put together by a bunch a teenaged trolls smoking in their parent's basement:

Anonymous letter shows #MeToo has spread to ranks of ordinary workplaces too

This sounds like the movie Reefer Madness: fear-mongering propaganda that is actually trying to be sneaky. 

Ooo! Flawless predatory men, watch out! The #MeToo outbreak is going to get you, too! Hide under the bed, children, before the bogeywomen get you!

Someone really ought to be testing the drinking water over there for high levels of mercury.

Can you imagine if the headline read:

Hijab-wearing immigrants have spread to ranks of ordinary Canadians, too.

We'd have hate speech.

And the article is pure fear-based propaganda.

And, as someone who has chronicled propaganda in a book or two or three, I am fully aware of propaganda when I see it.

So let's take a second to take apart this absolute knee-slapping sophistry of a column here:

In North America, how many workplaces are there? I am certain there is a lot. Thousands? Tens of thousands? Millions?

If one percent of these workplaces have sexual harassers, you have a problem.

So let's not pretend workplaces are perfect little places of paradise.

Amazon's workplaces have been under scrutiny for a reason. In Hamilton alone, we've had two workplace deaths in the immediate past. We have had labour violations. We have had employers punish minimum-wage employees after they were mandated to give them a raise.

These instances are all on the record.

There is a pattern of behaviour. There is a profile of the kinds of people who misuse their power. It has been there for a long time for the simple reason rules are rigged by those in power to maintain their power.

But now the Post wants people to play make pretend and believe that sexual harassment isn't a thing.

And what if #MeToo comes to everyday workplaces? It's about time. I have known women in all sorts of jobs who have been sexually harassed over the years. Some were fortunate enough to have parents with more clout than the harasser who picked the wrong target, and the harasser was removed from that position. Others physically fought back.

Others endured.

I have known women who have had multiple jobs and employers over the years -- just like me and everyone else -- and had no problems with the majority of employers.

But all it takes is one employer.

Just as all it takes is one serial rapist or murderer or even robber to make something as mundane as walking home from work a trauma.

Are we now painting all people as potential harmers?

Mature adults do not. People with undeveloped minds do.

So I am not certain what is the point of the Post's hypothesis: that it is a bad thing to make men in positions of power be responsible for their unsanctioned war strategies that are not relevant or required to do their jobs, but are destructive influences to those around them?

A few years ago in Ontario, a few print outlets were tagged by the Ministry of Labour for misusing unpaid interns.

As in, having people work 80 hours a week for free, while their employers took home a very nice pay check.

And so did other non-media sectors.

They should all be held accountable equally.

But then the article babbles about a particular case of harassment, which I am not going to go into the details here as it is not the forum for it.

Because it doesn't matter.

You cannot take a single example, impose a narrative that suits your own purposes, and then use that as proof of something bigger.

One case doesn't make or break an entire movement.

I have covered this sort of thing in my book Don't Believe It!: How lies become news: you have a spate of real hate crimes...but one turns out to be a fraud.

Does that mean the other ones are also lies?

No.

Does it mean the problem is being blown out of proportion?

No.

It means everything is case by case, and in the examples I cited in my book, the others were all legitimate abuses, but then someone sees an opportunity, and slips their hoax in, hoping people won't notice.

And it backfires on the person.

The one case proves nothing in relation to the legitimate ones because they are not like the others.

For a reason.

You still have a serious problem of a hate crime, and sexual harassment is a hate crime that society merely tolerates because for whatever reason, men are seen as little barbaric boys who are unteachable and are in some sort of need of protection and sheltering from the consequences of their actions.

Western society has functioned on infantilizing men and indulging their childish narratives with some idea if they are exposed to reality, their fragile little psyches will be shattered forever.

After all, boys will be boys. Old Boys Club.

You see the problem: males are Peter Pans never allowed to grow up, let alone be allowed to grow up as thriving and emotionally literate human beings.

It still doesn't let you off the hook or give any credence to your hypothesis that hate crimes don't actually exist.

They do.

But that's assuming a person making the accusation is lying.

Often, people have peculiar Victorian notions of what a victim should be.

Usually, a frumpy, staid virgin who has never sworn, smoked, had a taste of alcohol, or had a life.

She is in bed by 7 o'clock, wears a habit-like outfit, and would faint at the notion of a kiss. She also has to have a perfect memory and have never been upset or angry in her entire cloistered existence.

Anything that deviates means she cannot be trusted.

And this is the National Post's standard for acceptable victim.

The rest are those who had it coming.

The Post is a toxic newspaper. It does not know what news is. It has no idea what human nature is about. It does not understand what facts are, let alone logic.

It spews trash day in, and day out.

It has no pulse on people, let alone truth and reality.

It has lost money since day one, and there is a good reason for that.

It's trash.

It does not understand the extent of societal rage, or why. It does not understand why various visible minorities are frustrated. It does not understand why educated women have exploded in North America. It does not understand a single thing about the nation it is supposed to be covering.

It understands how to appease and console rich white men.

But the world isn't just about them.

If you are going to call a newspaper the National Post, start learning what the word "national" means.

If your mental capacity cannot stretch to encompass the "national", then rename your product to reflect your range: Elite Post. A Few Rich White Men Post. Politicians and CEOs Post. Nepotism Post. Good Old Boys From Toronto and Ottawa Post. Old Relics From A Bygone Era Post.

You're not national. Delusional, yes. Sycophantic, definitely. Clueless to reality, you're not kidding. Kissing up to those with diminishing power, you betcha.

But not national.

If your thesis hinges on a single example to be twisted to fit a narrative via the strawman, then you don't have a thesis.

You just have self-serving vitriol that demonizes women and holds the whole of society back.

No wonder journalism is dead.

It got the fate it so richly earned.

Memo to the National Post: For women whose careers were derailed by the men on the #MeToo hit list, there was no recovery. Why the Post is propaganda for predators.

This is a newspaper that has a genuine hatred for women. Their latest temper tantrum makes the assumption that the men on #MeToo are lost little boys who have been falsely accused.

There's no recovery, their resident propagandists whine.

For all those women who were terrorized at work and had their careers derailed and stymied, there was no recovery.

Funny whose side you choose to protect.

But Canada is a nation that is averse to both punishment and consequences. It has no sympathy for victims who disprove the narrative of a perfect place.

To the Post, all women are deluded liars. They make things up and are out to "get" these powerful men, who are all choir boys.

Which is ridiculous. The board is skewed, and men have every advantage -- and you still have those who that isn't enough: they put down women every chance they get because they feel threatened.

Journalism in Canada is in shambles precisely because of its inherent misogyny, and now it is trying to protect the last grain of a shell it has.

It is the reason the Canadian government should mind its own business and the that industry collapse.

We need another form of "journalism" -- one that is built from the very first step with true diversity -- from the inside and out, from the bottom to the top.

Because this article is not news. It's the reason we no longer have news.

#MeToo lands in Canada. Two politicians out in twenty-four hours as some columnists have meltdowns. An interesting day, wouldn't you say?

I often wonder about those who come to defence of the #MeToo men so vehemently. Is it ignorance of the severity of sexual harassment, or perhaps there are people afraid their employer is going to get outed, fired, and then the defender is going to lose that job as a result? Or are they so used to workplace abuse that they think this is normal? I don't know nor do I care, but after centuries of women not being believed, the shoe is now on the other foot.

And there are journalists who are getting very nervous and agitated, but are trying to shift the narrative.

So well-trained are the defenders of the Men in Power, that they do not question their own fragmented narratives.

It's not fair! they cry with a straight face.

Really?

How is it fair to those women whose own traumas were disbelieved because they were up against a powerful, wealthy, and connected man? How fair was the Ghomeshi trial when he had a high-powered attorney, and the accusers had a not very savvy Crown prosecutor leave them vulnerable?

Let's not forget throughout all that trial, he never actually denied anything.

And, while we are on the subject, a fourth woman -- the one who was working at CBC, saw the writing on the wall and never actually got her day in court.

Why don't these defenders ever notice how women were unfairly treated by the court of public opinion?

Are Men in Power just little boys who need mommy journalist to stand up for them because they are incapable of standing up for themselves?

And why aren't we asking the hard questions: why do we need a court of public opinion in the first place?

Because every other institution we have has utterly failed. Journalism failed women. Governments and all their institutional tenacles failed women. Education failed women. Businesses failed women.

They never failed men. Oh, no.

Men are seen as visionaries and titans. That is a given. It doesn't matter if the slobbering is over Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, Justin Trudeau, Barak Obama, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Kurt Cobain, or Mick Jagger, men have a far simpler time gaining that grit of traction.

We have had the Great Men Theory rammed down our throats for a long time. Sigmund Freud was revered for his misogynistic theories. Stephen Glass was a white hot reporter who just made junk up...but he got further in his career with his lies than any of his female colleagues ever got with writing the truth.

How many of these Great Men were openly -- and proudly -- abusive to their wives, children, siblings, and employees? How many of them stole ideas and money from others and were still icons and legends?

How many gossiped and spread rumours to destroy competitors? How many lied, cheated, stalked, and stole, and then they manipulated a public and got schools named after them and statues in their honour?

How many dark secrets have spilled out over time?

What happened?

One too many women were thrown under a bus and snapped, that's what.

One is too many, but the generations of abuse women have endured by superiors is vile.

There are too many who are going through it right now in silence.

And they are going to believe the accusations because life has been unfair to them for far too long.

And where were the dutiful little defenders back then?

Now these men need defending?

As if this doesn't go on all the time?

Have we already forgotten Dalhousie University's Gentleman's Club?

Do you know why accusers stay silent?

Because they still get thrown under a bus.

You don't like the court of public opinion, use a brain cell or two to figure out why it is being used.

Because every other avenue is rigged.

Because every other avenue doesn't take a woman's reality into its equations.

If you were capable journalists, you would have been reporting on that.

That hello! we have rules that don't actually serve every citizen equally.

For the first time ever on this planet, a rig seems to be -- for now -- working in women's favour. 

For once, crisis management teams, PR firms, lawyers, and image consultants are being stymied just long enough for someone to make someone else accountable.

No drudging up past sexual history as if that mattered. No having to sell the house to defend yourself or ward off combat from the experienced predator with a huge war chest who is out to destroy you.

Are there problems with #MeToo? Yes, a million of them.

But there were infinite problems with the old way of doing things.

So Patrick Brown got sucker punched.

He had a whole team of people who were close to him and worked for him day in and day out.

They all made a decision to walk.

No, the Brown downfall is not an affront to fairness.

Because fairness doesn't exist.

And no man is safe?

Really? And women were ever safe?

No one is safe.

Grow up.

Why is there #MeToo?

Because democracy failed.

Governments failed.

Corporations failed.

And journalists failed.

All this predatory behaviour isn't news.

Women endured until the day it all broke loose.

Had journalists been covering every ugly reality all along, things could have been changed for the better...and there would be no need for any of it.

#MeToo has now landed in Canada, and it already took down a pair of politicians in less than 24 hours.

All that unleashed anger is coming out now.

Anger that should have been dealt with decades ago.

 

Just as you thought the National Post could not be stupider when it comes to #MeToo...

Christie Blatchford opened her mouth. She perhaps is the worst columnist Canada ever had, but "quality" and "journalism" were never words that could go together in Canada. She is a misogynist's dream woman: attack and blame other women on cue, defend men whose testosterone is not strong enough to deal with the slightest trace of estrogen, and then use all sorts of sophistry to deflect attention away from the truth. She has never been an actual journalist, only an apologist for authorities.

She has been whining about the #MeToo movement from day one, and today's contrived and manipulative offering has been no different.

The demented reasoning this time? Well, now this movement is making predatory men seem worse than they are, and that really, they aren't that bad.

No, Ms. Blatchford, it has been far worse.

Or do you think Matt Lauer had a good reason to have a button on his desk to lock his office, or that Harvey Weinstein had a right to rape Rose McGowan?

Are you really going to be an apologist for psychopathic behaviour?

The propagandists at the Post have never been in tune with reality, but let us apply Ms. Blatchford's archaic form of demented logic elsewhere:

All these rape victims, should just shut up once already because they talk about it all the time, and really, it is time they just got over it, and we talk about something more important, like what socks the prime minister wore this morning.

All these people who have spent decades in jail for crimes they didn't commit should shut up about it because they got free room and board and the justice system isn't as bad as they say it is.

Cancer patients should also just stop talking about all that depressing cancer stuff once already because they lived long enough, and we shouldn't be talking about it because it's just a witch hunt against cancer cells.

And murder! We should just not talk about killers because they probably aren't as bad as most crime reporters portray them. I am getting particularly bored hearing about all Aboriginal Women getting killed or disappearing, and the press should just stop reporting it. If it goes on, people might get an idea that there is some sort of genocide going on against them.

Memo to self-loathing women such as Christie Blatchford: #MeToo is a volcano that erupted because that's what happens when you try to suppress abuse for a prolonged period of time. It erupted thanks to twits like you who were always trying to shut down other women who were getting abused at work, and then trying to spin a false narrative the women are nothing but shrews and liars who use sex to get things.

Perhaps that is the way you always operated, Ms Blatchford, but that was never the way I operated, and I am not an anomaly.

People get abused at work every single day. It doesn't go away. It never goes away. It can get better when everyone stands up to tyrants and robber barons who made it on terrorizing other people.

But when people keep quiet, it gets worse because there is no one to stand up to them, and abusers never know when to quit.

We have multi-billionaires who got that wealthy not because they are brilliant, but because they exploited workers, lobbied for laws to favour their interests, and managed to get the press to hide their sins and give them fawning press coverage.

And then, when we hear about workers falling asleep at the job as they cannot afford to live in a shack and are sleeping in their broke-down car, the world gets surprised.

If you can mistreat your employees by starving them and giving them precarious employment, it is not a stretch to force them to do other degrading things.

That women in the communications industry are finally speaking out instead of continuing a Stepford lie that everything is just happy, happy, happy and they should be envied should not come as any surprise.

In fact, hard news stories about women's treatment in the workplace should not be a one-off issue: it should have a permanent place in a legitimate news producing vehicle.

That's right: it should be a regular beat.

Women make up over half the population, but we do not have hard news segments to what matters to them.

You know, to inform women of the things that will impact their daily lives, and yes, how their workplace is functioning is extremely important.

Journalism always catered to men, as women are not even afterthoughts to them. Journalists were always waitresses, maids, and nannies to the Great Men (not the everyman) whose egos need constant reassuring because deep in their marrow, they know what they are doing is vile, heartless, but most of all, a sham.

And wrong.

Blatchford is not a journalist, but a nanny, trying to clean up the messes of the brats and shut out any fact based in truth and reality that the journalism business is a rotten place that has caused many problems in modern society.

She may be a misogynist's best friend, but she is no friend to the truth.