Category Archives: Liberal sexism

Liberal SEXISM and other comments on Andrew McKeever

The whole Andrew McKeever debacle has become a bit fascinating to me. It has so many angles. 

It has become part of one of the dominant narratives of this election campaign: lazy journalists, often being fed trash by unscrupulous campaigns, more preoccupied with “Gotcha” journalism than laying out real issues so that voters might make informed decisions.
It shows we need to do a better job of educating and socializing our children. What often happens in the virtual world is structurally similar to urban violence on the streets. Emotionally and intellectually stunted people incapable of dealing with anger and frustration lashing out in the most vile and inappropriate ways at people with whom they feel no human connection.  Now I get that the consequences are often different, and that this scenario avoids the analysis of power and class structure for instance, but there are interesting similarities.  We haven’t appropriate ways for discharging aggression and dealing with confrontation and conflict. By the way, those who ignore McKeever’s defense that his comments were exchanged in the heat of the moment, ignore that posting on the web is potentially more explosive than face to face heated exchanges. One often discounts that there is a human being on the other end and lashes out in the most dehumanizing ways.
Next, and I say this tongue and cheek, but also with a great amount of compassion. We are seeing the emergence of a new class of political beings: the Cyber Dweebs (unattractive, insignificant, socially inept people who are so desperate to feel empowered and gain some sense of control that they take refuge in cyperspace, where they bully, attack, and insult others while feeling immortal and unassailable).  Traditionally politicians and those in positions of power or  aspiring for them could bully, attack, insult people to their face with impunity (their rants, unsolicited sexual advances and insults directed at their staff haven’t been preserved for posterity).  Those days are over!
I am serious here, and the irony isn’t lost on me that I sometimes engage in this very behaviour myself.  Look at Cherniak, look at McKeever. They are obviously pitiful and pathetic figures. I cringe at the thought what their childhood and high school experiences might have been like. However, it is interesting that even in cyperspace a kind of social stratification still pertains, and that class distinctions still apply. Cherniak has the monetary, cultural, and social capital that situates him in a certain place in cyberspace and McKeever doesn’t and thereby is situated in a different position.

Should Andrew McKeever be fired? Personally I don’t really feel strongly either way. His comments were completely outrageous and venomous. His view on war resisters was completely baseless, unethical and not in keeping with NDP policy, but they were made prior to representing the NDP in any official capacity. Perhaps he’s changed his mind, perhaps he respectfully disagrees with that aspect of NDP policy. Perhaps policy and debate on dealing with war resisters could be the focus of a report, but that would require work.

Lastly, and most importantly, there’s the issue of SEXISM. Sexism, like classicism, racism, ageism, ableism, etc. knows no bounds. The discourses, values and narratives which inform our existence shape all of our realities virtual, fantasmatic, “real,” and otherwise.  McKeever’s comments were offensive, abusive, and sexist. He should rightly be condemned for his comments. He has openly acknowledged and actually sincerely apologized to all he directly offended. In fact, the very woman, Krystalline Kraus, he outrageously offended has openly accepted his apology, and they have issued a joint statement which we should all read before passing judgement.
 
Here, however, I would like to point out two significant differences between “progressives” and Liberals/Conservatives. McKeever took ownership of his offense, and apologized contritely. Within a “progressive” online community such as babble, there was open dialogue, debate, and dissension. Contrast this to a conservative online community, where dissension is often not tolerated. Or to online discussions by Liberals around Lesley Hughes, none of which were substantive, all of which were concerned with polling and improving the public perception of Dion.  For instance, is there no room to critique the official account of 9/11 or the events leading up to and following 9/11?
Anyways, Kraus openly accepted McKeever’s apology and in today’s Toronto Sun called the attempt to make political hay out of this by the Liberals a “dirty tactic”.  You see, even when they “defend” women, Liberals can’t help being sexist. They don’t necessarily want to be sexist, and often do it the most subtle way, but Liberals can’t help being sexist. Civil rights and social justice are merely Liberal strategies to get votes, but Liberals can’t change what they are: ideologically committed to the oppressively wealthy.

Is it lost on Durham Liberal candidate Bryan Ransom, that his indignation on behalf of Kraus is nothing but patronizing and self-serving. She’s accepted the apology, she’s moved on, but somehow the Liberals know what’s best for Kraus. As she says:

“If they [the Liberals] were so concerned about how I was treated, they would have contacted me first.”

Kinsella adds pathetic calumny and fear mongering to Liberal strategy, but hasn’t entirely dispensed with sexism

Truly I’d rather not be commenting on Warren Kinsella’s blunders, but he just keeps serving them up. Does someone pay him for these pitiful attacks and this fear mongering????

First, Warren, calling someone a “spokesMAN” is so 1980’s. The non-sexist and 21st century expression is “spokesperson”. To call Elliott Anderson a “spokesman”, especially given your recent sexist cock ups, implies that you continue to believe that speaking and power is the purview of men exclusively. But we all know you don’t really believe that.

But let’s say we get past all that. What fresh hell is this calumny of yours? I’ve met Elliott and he’s one of the hardest working, most dignified and scrupulous researchers in politics. I’ve never heard even a hint of an unkind word about Elliott. Moreover, if I’m not mistaken, he is Jewish. From where do you muster the audacity to smear him like this? Accusing Elliott of anti-Jewish blood libel???? I understand that you leave no room for critiquing the actions of Israel, but blood libel is a charge of anti-Semitism.

Blood libel and anti-Semitism are primed and loaded linguistic nukes. There is a history and significance in those terms such that their deployment should never be undertaken lightly nor undeservedly. To smear Elliot and the NDP even with the scent of anti-semitism is perverse and completely unfounded. You would consider it beneath you if you had an ounce of dignity. Is helping the Ontario Liberals in the polls at the expense of the someone else worth utterly stripping yourself of honesty and integrity? I guess to a Liberal there is no bottom to the depraved pit of politics.

Personally, this is worse even than your attack on Cheri DiNovo. But just as absurd. I truly hoped that after losing Parkdale High Park, the Ontario Liberals would not revert to American style campaigning, yet just days after Rove resigns, we see Rove like antics.

You seriously underestimate, again, the intelligence and the will of the Ontario electorate.

Something’s in the Air

I’ve noticed Liberal hacks are fine tuning and revising their blogs following Kinsella’s sexist gaffe. Yesterday Kinsella himself on his blog entry had a link to an article which read something very close to “More on my cookies cock-up“. It’s been edited out so I can’t reproduce it exactly. But I remember it because I thought to myself a “cock-up”? Probably not the best choice of words given his recent antics. Today Kinsella’s entry has been revised to read “More on dumb cookies joke.”

I’m guessing Warren thought better than to use phallocentric language to help this mess go away. Either that or he has received enough edification from all those who’ve attempted to attenuate his comments that he now feels it’s ok to make a joke about it. If Kinsella wants to single out Randy Hillier’s regressive social views, he should just do so plainly. But he should be under no illusion that his recent unwitting manifestation of sexism is any less insidious and detrimental to women.

At the same time Derek Raymaker, Warren’s sycophantic band mate, removed from his blog all references to women (and on occasion a man) as “douchebags”, and was kind enough to replace each reference with the word “psychopath”. Seems he’s now partial to calling women he doesn’t like a “heinous cow”. Seems he’s also no longer on Kinsella’s blogroll. Way to have your pal’s back Warren. Raymaker, still voting Liberal?

Hmm, interesting trains of thought. With friends like these women don’t need enemies.

I’m also wondering about the netiquette around this kind of thing. As journalism, and other forms of articulation, become less hard copy and more transient, ubiquitous, easily edited and revised forms of human expression, what accommodations must the term “publish” make? Once a post is published what are the ethics around editing and revising that entry? As someone who’s not wholly innocent of this either, I think this a very important question.

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Update:

It would appear these guys are really mired in “damage control” mode. First Kinsella cleans up his blog. Next, Raymaker, whose metier is hurling insolent and puerile (thanks for the word of the week Warren) attacks, has, in a delicious irony, suddenly begun moderatingthe comments on his own blog.

Update 2:
In the old days it was the shredder that went into overdrive in these situations, now it seems all it takes is the click of a button. Derek Raymaker went from referring to Parkdale High Park MPP, Cheri DiNovo, as a “douchebag”, which he attenuated with the much more edifying term “psychopath”. And now, the blog entry has been deleted altogether. I’ve kept a record for any out there curious to read it.

Latent Sexism Erupts in Liberal Propaganda: Thanks Warren

I’ve been second guessing my thoughts earlier this week on the racist email circulated by a public service employee working in a Liberal cabinet office. My basic point of imputing the action in its peculiarity to a racism latent in Liberal ideology, I thought perhaps was going too far. To be sure, the smugness, the arrogance, and sense of entitlement displayed by the Ontario Liberal government does seem conducive to this kind of senseless and careless action. Either the employee was too careless and naive to fully understand what she was doing, or her sense of entitlement so exalted as to feel beyond reproach.

More gravely, however, this was not only a stupid moment, it was a stupid racist moment. For all the talk in Liberal camps about being progressive, sometimes even “leftist”, about social justice and human rights, the truth is that when these kinds of actions erupt under their watch it can’t help but illuminate the hypocrisy at the heart of Liberal ideology. Liberal ideologues are nice, they smile, have middling intelligence. They talk a good game in relation to social justice, poverty, and human rights but the unchangeable truth is that Liberalism is originally and essentially about raw self-interest, laissez faire economics, and sidling up to big business interest. Progressive politics and Liberalism only come together incidentally or conveniently and not out of principle. The Ontario Liberal Budget of 2007 was a case in point. It not only was NOT anything approximating a “poverty” budget, it only became a “poverty” budget because of the hard work of folks like MPP Cheri DiNovo, the Ontario NDP, the Canadian Labour Council, and only then because the Ontario Liberals surprisingly lost a by-election (York South Weston) almost exclusively because of their stance on poverty.

Say what you will, but a New Democrat would never act in this way. Why? Because a New Democrat is under the sway of a different ideology. Vigilant concern over things like racism, sexism, homophobia, poverty, workers rights etc. is inherent to the principled progressive politics of social democratic ideology. Still, just as I’m overcome with doubt at what I’ve written, enter Warren Kinsella.

It seems in his zeal to smear the Conservatives, their leader and especially Randy Hillier, Warren Kinsella let his guard down and the truth of Liberalism spoke despite him not because of him. You see,in his blog yesterday, Warren published a photograph/cartoon, which he has already removed from his website so I’m left working from memory. Anyway, in his bid to regale us with his wit and humour, Kinsella affixed a number of comments next to those flanking Hillier and listening to him speak, implying that they were desperate not to be seen there nor associated with this brute. One of those standing there was MPP Lisa Macleod, next to whom Kinsella attaches a thought bubble saying something to the effect “I’d rather be baking”. Why exactly would MPP Macleod rather be baking Warren? Because she’s a dumb woman or because she clearly has food issues?

Now, this is Warren Kinsella doing this, not some inexperienced summer hire. But is this any less thoughtless and incendiary than last week’s racist incident? First of all, given how much talk there has been about the necessity of increasing the number of women in Canadian politics, I’m shocked and appalled that Kinsella was not more sensitive to his latent sexism, but still there you have it. Progressive, punk loving, hipster Kinsella, a bona fide sexist despite himself. Typical Liberal. With friends like him, progressives don’t need enemies.

According Kinsella, removing the picture from his blog has only to do with his wife not finding the cartoon very funny at all. Duh. Do you think? She’s a woman, no kidding she wouldn’t be terribly amused. Again, typical Liberal. As we saw with the racist email, when caught red handed, never ever take responsibility or ownership. Deny and deflect. Pathetic!!

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Update:
Classically Liberal show of contrition by Kinsella on his blog. After threatening to equivocate, Kinsella opts for high moral ground by listing potential excuses, getting in a couple of digs at MPP’s who were outraged by his sexism (you know the NDP is just retaliating for his smear of Cheri DiNovo and that he still opposes her fitness for office over something that happened more than 40 years ago, more on Lisa Macleod later) by leaning on his record of standing up for women, and even a character reference from one of his editors. You know, things he might have done were he inclined to equivocate, but since he’s not going to equivocate Warren Kinsella does the honourable thing and admits “he made a dumb, sexist mistake.” And thus, he falls on his own sword, martyred for the betterment of sexist males everywhere.

Although I believe his apology to be sincere, it is telling that not once does he acknowledge the immediate victim, Lisa Macleod, of this sexist incident. In fact, Kinsella apologizes to virtually every woman in the world, except the one he most injured by his insensitive mistake. In fact, all he can say about Lisa Macleod amounts to I don’t know what she’s so upset about, she should be more rattled by her colleague Randy Hillier.

I don’t think Warren Kinsella is a sexist, but I also don’t think he’s ideologically committed to ending sexism and other injustices. That’s my whole point. As a Liberal, his commitment to winning, even unscrupulously, is simply deeper than any commitment to progressive politics, to the disenfranchised and marginalized, to the poor, to a more just and equitable society. I’m struck that in his apology what he seems most contrite about is not offending Lisa Macleod and women everywhere, but that the cartoon was tactically a stupid move that backfired. It cost the Liberals points in the race for re-election and made Kinsella look bad.

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Update 2
I was just re-reading this from Kinsella’s blog:
“Or I could suggest that Cheri di Novo’s outrage relates to the fact that I loudly opposed the political candidacy of a person who had actually smuggled drugs in Bibles (which I did, and still do).”
What does the parenthetical comment refer to? Is Warren admitting that he too, as a wayward teen over forty years ago, smuggled drugs in bibles? Or worse, that he still does? I didn’t think Warren could be so squeaky clean as all that. You know, once too having been a teenager and in a band and all that.

Mr Kinsella get over it. You opposed her candidacy simply because she wasn’t a Liberal. And your opposition was not only loud, it was part of a scurrilous attack which John McGrath described as the worst smear campaign he’d witnessed. Yet, as is commonly conceded, MPP Cheri DiNovo is one of the best things to happen to Queen’s Park in quite some time. She’s a tireless advocate for the poor and marginalized, for small business and working families. She’s articulate, she’s courageous, she’s principled. The antithesis of a Liberal. I couldn’t ask for better representation in Parkdale High Park.