Censorship of political opinion as we head into an election

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Sean in Ottawa
Censorship of political opinion as we head into an election

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ygtbk

Well, obviously censorship of political opinion is a bad thing. Please let us know more...

Sean in Ottawa

I am aware that the censors can get it wrong at the CBC. And I have seen some startling examples like a post I made questioning a clearly extremely racist comment -- my post censored and the racist comment preserved.

However, in my view, we are in another territory when a state-owned broadcaster censors purely political opinion.

My comment (below) may seem harsh but there is context: our Finance Minister has this week been contradicted by the Bank of Canada over whether we are in a recession; a Conservative MP told a falsehood to the country about the worst terrorist attack Canada has ever suffered; the same MP also compared the Prime Minister to Jesus Christ.

We are headed to an election and people expect to share political opinion in the comment section of our media – particularly the “unbiased” state-owned CBC.

That opinion should be respectful of other posters and private citizens. But if being respectful of government is a requirement, then we must drop the pretence that we are a democracy.

It is also an interesting point that the political opinion being censored is against a government that is hurting the CBC. Kissing the hand that beats it. Or more crudely: kissing the arse that farts on it.

Does it matter really if this censorship is due to a desire to please the Conservative masters by the CBC or due to a fear of what they will do to them? Or even -- does it matter if this political censorship is due to low paid censors who get to impose their political opinion in their low wage, low-watt power trips?

At the end of the day the lack of care for the responsibility to be balanced is lost.

We have an extreme government. Opinions can be harsh. To refuse to publish these harsh opinions is a gross misrepresentation of public opinion. In order to have a peaceful society you have to be able to talk harsh when you need to.

The CBC Ombudsperson's office told me that I have a right to my political opinion but publishers do not have to publish. I can accept that when the publisher is responsible to their shareholders. That is what private broadcasters are. But I am the shareholder of the CBC and so are all of us. The CBC is answerable to all of us and has a responsibility not to reject legitimate political opiion that does not use swear words or attack individuals in a personal capacity. Questioning if a public, political person does not know what he is talking about needs to be within the bounds of legitimate public opinion or we have to admit to no longer being democratic.

So here is my comment as censored by the CBC -- unedited unchanged.

*****

“Did the dollar lose a cent today because the Bank of Canada thinks we are in recession or because the Finance Minister, who recently denied we were in recession, doesn't know what he is talking about?

The real story may not be the downturn. It is the fact that we have a government that either is clueless about the financial condition of this country or constantly lies to the people about it. Or both. This is the second time the Harper government told us we were not in recession when we were.

In both cases they did this while economists were calling for stimulus policies while the Harper government ideologically insists on more austerity. We need a new government that is willing to work with facts and listen to experts. Our current government is being exposed as deceitful, incompetent, blinded by ideology, and uncaring about the realities Canadians face.”

ygtbk

Thanks, Sean.

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

Truth must be suppressed. How else can the Tories win the election?

They can't boast about the economy (even though they have since blamed both the NDP and the Liberals for the dollar losing a cent)

They can't boast about competency.

What do they have in their arsenal? Terrorism?

Attacking the Cons is very easy.They want a gun fight armed with a spoon.

North Report won't want to hear this but the Conservatives are on the ropes.

Sean in Ottawa

alan smithee wrote:

Truth must be suppressed. How else can the Tories win the election?

They can't boast about the economy (even though they have since blamed both the NDP and the Liberals for the dollar losing a cent)

They can't boast about competency.

What do they have in their arsenal? Terrorism?

Attacking the Cons is very easy.They want a gun fight armed with a spoon.

North Report won't want to hear this but the Conservatives are on the ropes.

I agree. They now know they might not win -- even if the election is unfair.

Wai Young is going to be the darling of the campaign... Cool

 

But I am very concerned about the idea that purely political opinion is being censored. Can the CBC get a tax break for this campaign contribution?

Sean in Ottawa

I want an investigation. I want to know how widespread political censorship is at the CBC. I understand a few mistakes but when it comes to political rather than between poster interactions this is beyond mistake -- this is political interference. Whitewashing legitimate political opinion.

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

Could you leave a link to where one could send an editor an email?

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Although I've never made a fuss about it, I've occasionally posted similar things on CBC stories and had them never appear. I am quite sure that there are some CBC employees who regard moderating comments as being similar to editing stories from reporters. That is, if you don't like it, you just kill it. Typical bureaucratic assholes, who could do equally well in the public or private sector.

Sean in Ottawa

alan smithee wrote:

Could you leave a link to where one could send an editor an email?

Sorry I don't understand. You mean the CBC censors? I don't know if they have an editor per se looking at these.

The CRTC has these links but since this is internet not broadcast I don't know if it is covered:

http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/info_sht/g8.htm

alan smithee alan smithee's picture

Sorry. I meant the mods.But something tells me they are anonymous shadow dwellers.

I was thinking of a way to flood the CBC with complaints.

Sean in Ottawa

Michael Moriarity wrote:

Although I've never made a fuss about it, I've occasionally posted similar things on CBC stories and had them never appear. I am quite sure that there are some CBC employees who regard moderating comments as being similar to editing stories from reporters. That is, if you don't like it, you just kill it. Typical bureaucratic assholes, who could do equally well in the public or private sector.

The problem is of course that there is an expectation that articles are treated that way so we understand that. To treat a public comment feedback section in this way is effectively a fraudulent misrepresentation of public opinion -- becuase people do not expect this.

I expect personal attacks, offensive and crude things to be removed. Not political opinion -- however harsh. By removing posts like this readers may get the impression that there is less outrage than there is and that can influence opinion. CBC has no business doing this. It is interference in the public process through misrepresentaiton. They need to understand that. Unfotunately they are not listening. The Ombudsperson's office claims to have no mandate -- and that is wrong as well.

Michael Moriarity Michael Moriarity's picture

Of course, I agree with you, Sean. I was simply adding my experience as a further example.

Sean in Ottawa

Michael Moriarity wrote:

Of course, I agree with you, Sean. I was simply adding my experience as a further example.

Thanks -- that is how I took it.

In other news after 15000 tweets I broke my no swear policy on twitter.

 

Asked my fellow Canadians --- where's the fuckin' outrage.

If you are going to save up a swear may as well adrees it at everyone.

Of course I never minded swearing here...

Sean in Ottawa

There was an article about backtracking on CBC today -- when politicians have had to eat their words due to a reaction. I decided that this was where I would try next to make my point. We shall see if this gets censored. In this context my words are not off topic so they woudl have a harder time justifying it than if I just put my complaint anywhere.

Here is what I put:

Backtracking comes after public opinion is expressed. Yet, increasingly, public opinion is shaped and misrepresented by censorship of comments. This makes reactions to these petty scandals, managed rather than real.

A censor gets to judge if a public reaction to what a public figure says can be shared with the public. This is manufacturing of outrage since censors will decide if the next scandal is legitimate or a public opinion to be removed. The more extreme the public figure's statement, the greater the outrage, the more likely the reaction will be censored. This distorts public opinion.

We understand articles are subject to shaping of opinion by editors. We do not expect the shaping of comments except for clear violation of published guidelines. But that's happening.

It may come down to some censors' over zealous reading of the guideline of being respectful. The requirement for participants to be respectful of each other and respectful of readers is obvious -- avoiding profanity, personal attack on private citizens for example. But when a censor determines this means a prohibition on criticism, even harsh, of public leaders and government, we have an interference in an essential public feedback loop for what public figures say and do.

At the time of an election, when these are political personalities running for office, this strays into political interference, disturbing when it is the CBC (a public institution) doing it.

The CBC ought not to limit criticism of public figures to professional journalists by choking public opinion with a standard higher than that required of their own writers. We should, for example, be able to say a Minister or politician does not know what she/he is talking about, when professional journalist have such liberty.

Slumberjack

Suppression of opinion?  You don't say?

DLivings

This makes me think of one of yesterday's leading headlines...

"Tom Mulcair takes heat online for not taking questions at first campaign event".  A related news story notes that Mulcair didn't show up at the VAncouver Pride parade.

Neither noted that he headed off to Flora MacDonald's funeral (which neither Trudeau nor Harper attended.)

Maybe the ndp didn't provide context.  Maybe the cbc didn't do their homework.  Or maybe it's the bias from the editor's chair about headline presentation and how the news is shaped.

DLivings

double post

socialdemocrati...

Skipping questions at one event is an anomaly. It's mindnumbingly partisan to turn that into an issue without there being a wider pattern.