Blogs, the Fifth Estate

March 31, 2008 at 1:16 am 4 comments

When you write for a newspaper, there’s a certain degree of self-censorship that needs to happen by the time you gaze upon your finished product.  I think Mike and Katherine especially will agree with me on this point (and Paul, if you’re reading this), since we all write for the paper to some news-ey degree.  Travis has the luxury of writing his section full of his own opinion every week, Joe vents his issues in his edcomics, and Marc has made no bones about the fact that he never bothers to read anything the writers write, because we’re all a bunch of vain assholes.  I won’t contest that fact, because he’s probably right. 

As a trained graphic designer, he’s usually right about most things.

Anyway, I figure it’s safe to use this blog as a place to vent my own feelings about a few of the news stories I cover, since realistically, probably nobody is reading this*.  I bring it up because I was covering a speech by Romeo Dallaire today at Brock (for those of you who don’t know him, check the link.  I’m tired of explaining to everyone who he is.)  I won’t harsh on the guy, because he’s admittedly a Canadian hero, and his speech, though a little pro forma, was quite good overall.  He spoke about how sometimes peacekeeping means having to get your hands dirty and actually use a little force (which is saying a lot considering that came from a man who has had close ties to the UN for most of his career).

But he did say one thing that really upset me, although the crowd ate that shit up and actually applauded at his point.

I can quote this, because I’m a reporter!

RD: “I don’t think we should boycott the Olympics in China. I think, rather, we should work to make things very, very uncomfortable for the Chinese government, so it would make it harder for them to benefit from the Olympics in any meaningful way.” (emphasis mine)

Huh.  So the plan is…what?  To call China and breathe heavily into their phone?  To write nasty things about their ambiguous sexuality on the bathroom wall?  To go over there with a big chalkboard and drag our fingers across it?

Maybe it’s just my cold, shriveled walnut of a Conservative heart talking, but “very, very uncomfortable” doesn’t sound like the height of sophisticated global watchdog tactics.  I mean, this is a guy who has seen some of the absolute worst human rights violations in history.  He should be the FIRST to be angry that the Olympic commission gave the games to China, a country where:

  1. no family is permitted more than one child,
  2. the police ranks continue to beat down monks, and
  3. Internet access is heavily censored. 

Give me a break. Not to mention the fact that China has been on the US State Department’s list of human rights offenders right up until this year (another unforgiveable omission, but I won’t get into that now) and they government hasn’t been uncomfortable enough to change yet.  Maybe I’m just a cynic, but I get this irritating little feeling that the Chinese government couldn’t give a sideways fart for what we think of their human rights track record.

I can’t understand it.  Why are the Olympic Games so important that to boycott them in the interest of holding a major human rights violator accountable for their actions is so unthinkable?  What do the Olympic Games really add to the larger social schema?  Very little, except line the pockets of the host country – in this case a repressive Communist government that will not likely allow the citizens to see a single red cent of that money.

It was a wishy-washy moment with very little justification in the middle of an otherwise well-intentioned lecture.

In other news, this picture makes me laugh until milk comes shooting out of my nose.

*For the record and for any concerned Brock student who may read this, I continually strive to write/run the Internal News section in a fair and balanced manner with the utmost sincerity, and I loathe editorializing of any kind.  I even ran a story on the Communist Party of Canada leader, for Christ’s sakes, so cut me some slack.  I didn’t sleep well that night, I can tell you that.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Paul  |  March 31, 2008 at 2:38 am

    I think it’s totally fucked that even someone as politically untouchable as Romeo Dallaire refuses to take a strong stance on this issue. Of course, criticizing the man puts us in danger of getting “UNPATRIOTIC” stamped on our asses, but so be it. “Very, very uncomfortable,” he says. I can imagine a very, very uncomfortable scenario for China: an Olympic event that no one showed up to. That people keep rolling over for China is mind-boggling, especially now that they’re under the microscope and their citizenry is still struggling for survival. Bleh.

    Reply
  • 2. stevewoodhead  |  March 31, 2008 at 3:08 am

    Ha, well put Paul. I hate getting preachy about this stuff, but there are a few too many things that we’re forbidden to say about Canada lest we be labelled unpatriotic (nay, to stoop so low as to suggest that Americans are not the vilest race on the planet!? Absurd.)

    Reply
  • 3. Marc  |  March 31, 2008 at 3:14 am

    Thanks for the shout out. Glad to see you’ve finally realized I’m never wrong.

    Reply
  • 4. travis  |  April 1, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    I disagreed with you before, but you just convinced me otherwise. Or, maybe, constantly being able to babble my own opinion throughout has forced me to actually lose my own opinion. Either way, “very, very uncomfortable” sounds like a situation description found in any episode of Frasier.

    Reply

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About Upper Lip

It's mostly a collection of sweet links and copious amounts of talk talk talk. I like it more and more every day. And yes, even the ugly blue/green color scheme is not without a certain charm.

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