Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Readers will know that, at least recently, I have tried to keep my eye on the news rather than on other bloggers, although admittedly some of the low-hanging fruit on the Right is difficult to resist. I run an open comments section, and generally we all manage to keep the debates civil.

The commenters who venture over here, from across the political spectrum, tend to cooperate in this: and
the result is some intense conversation that very often gets beneath the surface of events, and well past the political clichés, into a genuine exploration of the issues.

I don't tend to rule with a heavy hand over here, although regulars are aware that I don't have any time for trollin' and cussin'. As I've said before, this is a family blog, G-rated, and I'd like to keep it that way.

So far, so good. But there are times when I do intervene. I won't tolerate racism here, for example. I won't tolerate comments that make light of genocide. There are limits. This is not a First Amendment blog.

In the comments on my "URQ QOTY" post, which was simply a quotation from Canada's first-ranked conservative blogger, who urged the genocide of the Tamils in Sri Lanka so that traffic could get back to normal in Toronto, commenter "Raphael Alexander" (not his real name) asked a question:

But do you have an opinion on the illegal closure of a major highway artery in the largest city in Canada?

And commenter Jay Currie responded thus:

Raphael, nothing but a legitimate show of support for an illegal terrorist organization holding civilians hostage in a warzone. Pretty much taught Hamas and Hezbollah everything they know. So, of course, it's Kate who's the problem here.

Now, understand the context. In Sri Lanka, genocide is happening before our eyes. Between 50,000-100,000 Tamils are bottled up in a three-kilometre-square piece of land, under continual bombardment from Sinhalese forces. The last hospital in the zone has been shelled for two days straight. The United Nations has called that as a war crime, and described the on-going extermination of Tamils by government forces as a "bloodbath."

The Sri Lankan government, which forbids journalists from approaching the kill zone, claims that the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) are shelling their own people. No one with a milligram of cortical matter, of course, believes that for one moment.

There is a large Tamil community in Canada, whose friends and families are being ethnically cleansed as I write. In a desperate cry for help, they have crowded onto highways to block traffic, first in Ottawa, and more recently in Toronto. "Do something!" they are saying. "Make it stop!" Perhaps there is nothing we can do officially but wring our hands; but these people have strayed well beyond our usual Canadian calm. Their families are being slaughtered. And that has made them demonstrative.

But unimpeded traffic-flow for some is more important than human lives, particularly the lives of brown people. Kate just wants the Sri Lankan forces to finish the job; and "Raphael" (and to be fair, many others) want the traffic to get moving again.

Enter Jay Currie, who ventured the comment reproduced above. He jumps to the defence of a person who has just advocated genocide. He deliberately misrepresents the protests (they are not a "show of support" for the LTTE, but an anguished plea for official assistance). He reproduces Sri Lankan propaganda, claiming that the tens of thousands of Tamil civilians being remorselessly slaughtered by the Sri Lankan armed forces are LTTE hostages. And he shows not a whit of concern about that slaughter.

I had this to say in reply:

Congratulations, Jay, for the revisionist post of the year.

The Sinhalese have the Tamils bottled up in a tiny bit of land and are shelling them mercilessly, Tigers and civilians alike. Thousands are dying. And the best you can do is tell us that the Tigers are on a terrorist list in Canada? The friends and families desperately acting out their angst in Canada at the impending slaughter of their loved ones are--what?--worthy of a stupid, snarky comment?

You've provided the weakest excuse for genocide I've ever heard--worse even than supporting it because some traffic was slowed down, as the wretched Kate did. Frankly, I'm beginning to understand, as I've never fully understood before, the meaning of the phrase "the banality of evil."

I gave you a pass (eventually) on the "pancake" nonsense, because I thought it might have been a kind of over-the-top boyish exuberance that you were too stubborn to withdraw. But I'm afraid this reveals that you're simply a nasty, racist piece of goods. Begone.

And I banned him.

Readers are free to comment on this, should they so choose. Perhaps I went too far. Perhaps I misread Jay's comment. In the cold light of day, I don't believe that I did: the implications in his comment still seem rather stark. In any case, he has responded, to the applause of his regular gang of lightweights, and in fairness I am linking to his piece.

The thrust of his post, if "thrust" is the right word--his heart doesn't really seem to be in it--is that I am banning opinion that conflicts with mine. Those regulars who continually nip at my heels here might be amused to hear that. It's not political opinion at issue in this case; it's common decency. Those who find cause for amusement in peace protesters being run over by bulldozers, or who make light of genocide, are simply not welcome here.

If I overreacted, I'm sure some of my commenters will tell me. But, as pompous as it sounds, I do have standards, and I feel a strong need to maintain them in my own house.

UPDATE: I should have drawn attention to this telling phrase in Currie's response: "
[Dawg's] overdone sympathy for people of colour". Shorter Jay: I'm a "n----r-lover."

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