Thursday, June 12, 2008

The triumph of paranoia

Balbulican has a nifty little contest going on over at Stageleft that I stand to win, unless other folks join in. The task is to find hyperinflated commentary on the BC Human Rights Tribunal and the desperate plight of the Dirty Half-Dozen™, aka the Canuck Six.

It's not rocket science, to put it mildly. Google is your friend.

Such commentary has a habit of feeding on itself, in fact, and the result has been a frenzied, escalating shriek-fest of untruths, hyperbole, hysteria and utter paranoia: Kanada is a Velvet Fascist police state! No, a gulag! The BCHRT is a "nanny state style knuckle rapping kangaroo court!" The hearings are an Inquisition! A Star Chamber!

It's called "communicated insanity." Nothing like hyperlinks to facilitate the process, too. Cyberspace can literally drive you mad.

Even the normally reasonable can fall into this bubbling vat. It is to be expected that a site like
Free Dominion would be in a state of fugue at this point, but Jay Currie, too, has been obsessing over the BCHRT hearings like a boy with a bug. So perhaps it's no surprise that he has linked up with FD yet again in a further episode of folie à deux, and thrown all caution to the winds.

Richard Warman, as everyone in the blogosphere (but not the general public) knows, is suing
Free Dominion for defamation. Part of this process involves mediation, and a mediator has been appointed by the court from a roster. It happens to be Muriel Korngold-Wexler, an official with many years of experience, including a long stint on the Public Service Staff Relations Board (now the Public Service Labour Relations Board).

Presently, Korngold-Wexler is Director of Grievance Analysis and Operations at the Canadian Forces Grievance Board. The predictable shrieks and groans have commenced.

"A very interesting coincidence since we know someone else who works in the very same DND department. Hint: Richard Warman," says Connie Fournier. And Jay Currie, swallowing it whole, writes,

Mediator: Impartial, Unbiased and, Hey, Richard Warman’s Boss.

Or co-worker. I can’t be arsed to figure out the chain of command.

The fact is that the mediator assigned the Free Dominion v. Richard Warman madatory mediation, as well as being late, happens to work with our man Lucy.

Now, call me crazy, but I have to say there might be a reasonable apprehension of bias lurking in those weeds.

So now the regular court system is run by hopping marsupials too? Those 'roos are everywhere!

But I'll take Jay up on his offer. Jay, you're crazy.

When you confess that facts don't matter ("I can't be arsed to figure out the chain of command"), you know you've already begun the slide into delusion.

As it happens, there is no "chain of command." You don't have to live in Ottawa to know that the Canadian Forces Grievance Board isn't a "DND department," to use Connie's phrase. (Departments have departments now? Who knew?) It's a separate, independent, arms-length agency that deals, as its name would appear to suggest, with grievances from members of the Forces.

We union types call this "third-party review." It is exactly analogous to the aforementioned Public Service Labour Relations Board. When grievances cannot be resolved in-house, they can be referred to agencies such as this for an impartial hearing. Members of these Boards have no working relations with in-house departmental officials.

Poof! The delusions disappear in the cold light of day. Except, of course, for those who are so clearly enjoying their paranoid fantasies.

UPDATE: More ignorami pile on madly. Next thing you know they'll be confusing the Canadian Human Rights Commission with the Department of Justice. You read it here first.

UPDATE: (June 13) Paranoia triumphs even further: Korngold-Wexler has now recused herself, no doubt after emails from the FDers started pouring in. Her role as mediator, with FD as one of the parties, has been seriously compromised by all this.

While the CFGB is independent, and does not, therefore, work with DND on specific grievance files, DND and the CFGB, at some level, have been collaborating on administrative procedures to clear a grievance backlog. This is, of course, a far cry from the earlier ill-informed claims that Korngold-Wexler and Warman were colleagues in the same department, or were in the same chain of command. Indeed, Korngold-Wexler says she has no connection to Warman, but she is taking the only course available to her at this point. Besides, who needs this kind of filth?

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