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The Annals of Media Criminality: News of the World; Welcome home, Tubby!

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The News of the World

Trust Rupert Murdoch, this decade's Great Spokesman for wolverine capitalism,* to come up with a "market based solution" to criminality!

Consider the case of the News of the World's hacks hacking into the cell-phone voice mail of British murder victims, Taliban victims and bombing victims, not to mention their lawyers. Caught red-handed, what did Murdoch and his influential minions do? Why they shut down the entire operation and fired all the people who had nothing to do with their crimes!

And if the threat of prosecution ever comes close to the ringleaders of this persistent pattern of criminality -- one of whom worked until recently in the British Conservative prime minister's office, and some of whom are members of Murdoch's bazillionaire clan -- count on it that even from this side of the Atlantic we'll be able to hear their anguished cries of "haven't we suffered enough?"

This brings the concept of collective punishment so perfectly to the world of capital and media that one wonders why they aren't teaching courses about it in Canadian business schools. Of course, maybe they are, and it's just that we poor working sluggos can't afford the tuition.

After all, it worked in international relations -- when attacked by Saudi Arabians from Germany, for example, George W. Bush sent the U.S. Marines into Iraq. And it worked in the auto industry -- when the bosses at General Motors marketed crappy cars, the masses called for the heads and the pensions of the poor schmucks who worked on the assembly line.

But this is even better, because the hapless journos of the World are being punished for the outright criminality of their bosses. Given that, one would think their punishment ought to be more severe than the mere loss of their livelihoods and pensions!

Thankfully, their bosses will be able to continue doing business under a different name, keep only the employees they like, further extend their media monopoly and continue to call the shots for the rest of us. God's in his heaven, and all's right with the World, as it were.

If only Lord Tubby had thought of that, he'd be a free man today -- although the National Post would be out of luck.

Speaking of his Lordship, was columnist Lawrence Martin having a sly little joke at our expense in the pages of the Globe and Mail this week when he argued that Stephen Harper and his neo-Con government should ignore Tubby Black's recent criminality south of the Medicine Line and welcome the disgraced non-citizen back to Canada?

After all, Martin wrote, "for our Conservative government, there should be no reluctance to open the doors. Lord Black has played such a significant role in the renaissance of the right in Canada that he is owed the party's gratitude."

Basically, Martin argued, Lord Black led the destruction of Canada's media as a cornerstone of democracy, helping through the creation of the National Pest to turn the once-useful institution into the far-right, monochromatic, dishonest, drivel-obsessed, hate-fuelled source of propaganda and piffle it has become today. (I'm paraphrasing.) This, in turn, he says, was a key factor in the success of neo-Con radicals like Harper, a sentiment with which sensible Canadians are forced to agree.

"You don't hear many prominent Conservatives defending Conrad Black today, but you have to wonder how much harder it would have been for their like to rise from the depths without him," Martin concluded, to a chorus of basso-profundo hear-hears.

Now, normally, because of longstanding practice in the Canadian newspaper industry, a piece like this would need a label across the top that says HUMOUR and a placeline out of Miami in order to be published, which is why Canadian comics have to go to Los Angeles if they want to crack jokes with words like "Diefenbaker" in them.

But this one seems to have slipped through the net. Unless, of course, Martin didn't intend to write something humorous, in which case we may have to concede he he's onto something.

This is why you can expect folk here in Edmonton to start agitating to roll out the welcome mat for Peter Pocklington. Sure, Peter Puck sent Wayne Gretzky packing to Comedy Central and gave Gainers weenies a name they could never live down, but by God he put this city on the map!

I mean, really, people, who else could have made us the world-class city we are today? After all, Calgary had already grabbed all the white hats!

Surely you'd agree that a fellow who did for Canadian labour relations and meat packing what Lord Black did for Canadian journalism should be given the same warm welcome home proposed by Martin, notwithstanding a recent spot of trouble?

Alas, while we're at it, we're going to need to decide who has to be punished for their crimes… Any suggestions?

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.

* What it doesn't devour, it pisses on and destroys.

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