Saturday, July 11, 2009

Hell freezes over again

I find myself in agreement with Kathy Shaidle today. Does she ever have that "earnestness" thing right. John Cruikshank, who in a previous incarnation went after Heather Mallick for being unkind to Sarah Palin, slaps down another uppity broad today through his "public editor." At least I read it that way. Shorter Kathy English: "Antonia Zerbisias was unfair to Bernie Farber, and our publisher agrees!"

Let's take us a closer look. In her comments here (amazingly enough not deep-sixed like Mallick's column--Cruikshank must be mellowing), the Zerb said the following, cited here in context:

the CJC marched in the Pride Parade.

So unless I missed a source (even heard Farber on CBC's the call for banning) you may have got it wrong or worse put your own spin on it.

Posted by: Susan Cardikan | July 07, 2009 at 11:29 AM

Yes, Susan, imagine my surprise when I saw Bernie Farber identifying himself as queer by joining a pro-Israel gay rights group in the parade. Funny because I had never seen him in the march before. Funny because I didn't know he was gay.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Now the wider context here was pressure from various interest groups to ban a group called "Queers Against Israeli Apartheid" from the Gay pride march in Toronto. Zerb was obviously being sarcastic, suggesting that his presence in a pro-Israel gay contingent might conceivably have had more to do with the "pro-Israel" part than the "gay" part. She could well have been wrong. But the reaction to her throwaway comment was astonishing.

Farber was not amused (but when, in all honesty, is he
ever amused?) His response, in fact, was to do a little shuffle, as described by the "public editor":

I think Zerbisias's ambiguous words forced him into the awkward position of having to make clear that he is not gay, while also affirming that "I take no offence at being misidentified as gay. I am offended, however, at the fact that a professional journalist would simply make up information of any sort and post it publicly."

Why, if there is nothing wrong with being gay, is Farber "forced" to state publicly that he is not? Why all the Sturm und Drang? What does it matter, one way or the other?

And then a Star editor and the publisher go into full damage-control mode--except that I can't, as noted, discern any damage. Not, in any case, unless Farber, despite his protestations, thinks that the "gay" label is a stigma, and the Star brass agrees with him. Blogs by Star journalists, says English, "may not put the Star in a negative light." An ironic comment about someone being gay does that?

Tempest. Teapot. And possibly a wee bit of homophobia disguised as hand-wringing concerns about fairness and accuracy? You decide.

(I'm with Shaidle on the "house blog" thing, too--a blog that isn't really a blog, but a bit of extra supervised pasture within which journalists are permitted to roam. But as for the blog-traffic issue, here we part ways and I find myself in more congenial company.)

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