Thursday, May 28, 2015

Why is Drudge Report ignoring Duggar scandal?

The following is an email sent to Matt Drudge on May 28, 2015.

_____


Dear Mr. Drudge,

I took a look at www.drudgereport.com today and couldn’t help noticing that there are no updates on the unfolding Duggar molestation scandal. (I hadn’t been on your site for at least a week, so I don’t know if you’ve covered it or linked to articles on it before today.) I find this very interesting, given that your site is geared towards those with socially-conservative views and/or supporters of the Republican Party.

Just as a coincidence, the Duggar clan has solid links with the Republican Party in their home state of Arkansas, with Jim Bob having served in the state House of Representatives under their banner. Also, the family is renowned for their support of socially-conservative positions on issues relating to marriage, procreation and sexual orientation.

This coincidence, coupled with the absence of coverage on your site, leads me to believe that you are  purposely filtering out a major news story that is definitely serving to harm the Republican brand and embarrass conservative Christians. I fully respect your right to exercise your own editorial discretion as you see fit, but given the right's usual complaints about 'left wing media bias', I also hope you respect my right to call your lack of coverage on this story as I see it in the absence of an explanation from you: cowardly.

In a similar vein, it has also been noted that as of today Fox News had devoted a total of two minutes to the Duggar scandal. Perhaps conservative news outlets are following the old real estate agent's dictum, "Don't s**t where you eat"? Simply courageous.

I look forward to seeing your rationale for excluding this particular story from your 'news' site. I will post this email on my blog (jamesdeagle.blogspot.ca), as well as any response from you in its entirety.

Sincerely,
James Deagle

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Was Duggar molestation cover-up protecting Josh or Arkansas political establishment?

The Duggar molestation scandal has sparked endless discussion and debate, with condemnation of the sexual abuse to which eldest son Josh has confessed, the way it was handled at the time by his parents Jim Bob and Michelle, and disagreement over the validity of the statements issued by various family members in the wake of the controversy.

For me, the disturbing aspect of the whole affair is not in the molestation itself – yes, molestation should be condemned under any circumstances, but almost any therapist will tell you that it’s far more common than you may think. Furthermore, those who abuse often were abused themselves, so the urge to point a finger at Josh and yell ‘Criminal!’ is more emotionalism than reason. So while I’m not ambivalent about whatever acts Josh may have committed in his youth, there are still too many unknowns to justify joining the chorus of shock and disapproval.

The real scandal here is in how it was handled not only by the parents but also the local authorities, though not for what would seem like the obvious reasons. On the face of it, the family worked in tandem with acquaintances in the police and their church to ensure Josh would not face prosecution. (That the police officer who gave him a “stern” talk about molestation has since been convicted of child pornography, and that the man who ran the religious facility where Josh was sent for treatment now faces sexual assault allegations from up to 30 women, obviously looks bad on an epic scale, but then it’s easy to cast judgement with the luxury of hindsight.)

It would be bad enough if this were simply an understandable (if misguided) case of parents trying to shield their child from legal troubles (the harm done to his victims notwithstanding), but I have the uneasy feeling that what now seems like an apparent cover-up all these years was not for the sake of Josh, but the local political establishment.

Take another look at the time frame of the abuse, which apparently started around 2002 and continued for another year or so (assuming that’s when it ended). In 2002, Jim Bob was in the last year of his term sitting in the Arkansas House of Representatives, where he also served as Vice Chair of the House Corrections and Criminal Law Subcommittee. That same year, he ran (unsuccessfully) in the Republican Party of Arkansas primary election for the United States Senate.

Although the Duggars had yet to become celebrities, in 2002 they were a prominent family in their neck of the Arkansas woods, and in the years since have remained active in politics, both in endorsing candidates for Governor and President, and in publicly advocating socially-conservative positions on issues such as abortion and gay rights. It would appear they have always been a family with political aspirations, either as office-holders or influencers. Given that fact, it’s easy to see (in a purely strategic sense) how they would have been motivated to keep their family troubles on the down-low.

That the way in which the family, their faith community and the police responded to the molestation of its children by keeping it ‘in-house’ may have been merely a product of the local political establishment reflexively looking out for itself would be the ultimate tragedy in this story if accurate. I hope I’m wrong, but the news that only last week a judge connected with Duggar-endorsed presidential candidate Mike Huckabee ordered police records of the molestation affair destroyed (where such records would otherwise have been kept indefinitely) leaves me with the icky feeling that I’m not.

Monday, May 25, 2015

'Everybody Draw Mohammad' and the free speech smokescreen

The following is an email sent to Dennis Prager concerning his recent column (Why Pamela Geller Is Hated).

_____

 
Dear Mr. Prager,

It’s hard to know where to start regarding your May 19 column concerning Pamela Geller, vis-à-vis the Mohammed cartoon contest, as you cover a lot ground. Therefore, I’ll focus on the main sticking point for me, which is the issue of "freedom of speech" as a smokescreen for half-heartedly concealing this event's true purpose, which is simply to offend Muslims, and therefore make them feel less welcome in our society. This event/movement constitutes an act of cultural warfare against that segment of the population.

Given the sheer amount self-censoring the media has done over the years since 9/11, I find it galling that the free speech banner is hoisted and heralded only when the freedom in question involves the right to caricature the central figure of a religion that has also happened to have been in conservative crosshairs for quite some time. Where were the chants of 'Je suis Charlie!' during the lead-up to the war in Iraq?

If you (and your ilk) are so concerned with freedom of speech, then just on a matter of principle would you defend a Burn the Flag Day, a Defile Jesus Day, or perhaps a Holocaust Joke Book? I doubt it, as patriots, Christians and Jews aren’t your preferred targets.

Events such as Everybody Draw Mohammed Day provide the perfect cover for those who wish to express their hatred openly from within the avatar of “freedom of speech”. It would be a show of integrity on your part if you just came right out and admitted in no uncertain terms that you are an anti-Muslim/anti-arab bigot.

As for contributing to the cause of genuine free speech, your column is little more than literary twerking for whatever band of misanthropic grumps comprise your following.

Sincerely,

James Deagle
Ottawa, Canada

Fight terror 'threat' with balanced foreign policy

The following is a letter to the editor as submitted to the Ottawa Sun in response to its May 25 editorial (Do more on defence).

_____


The jingoistic hoof-stomp of the Western mindset dictates that the imperative to ‘go after the Islamic State’ is best expressed through increased defence spending, rather than taking a more balanced approach to foreign policy.

Even as the U.S. was waging a militaristic and propaganda ‘war on terror’ a decade ago, that country’s own military intelligence was discovering that cooler heads should have prevailed. According to a recently-uncovered 2004 report of the U.S. Defense Science Board Task Force, commissioned by Donald Rumsfeld: “American direct intervention in the Muslim World has paradoxically elevated the stature of and support for radical Islamists, while diminishing support for the United States to single-digits in some Arab societies.”

The report went on to say that “Muslims do not ‘hate our freedoms,’ but rather, they hate our policies.”

Ergo, is the ‘war on terror’, even in its current iteration, really about defending against some threat, or is the Middle East being intentionally destabilized (and the threat being therefore manufactured) for the sake of pursuing Western economic and political dominance in that part of the world?

Before throwing more money at military offensives abroad, we should evaluate how existing dollars are being spent, which should include making sure that our veterans are being properly looked after, and not flinging our current military personnel into harm’s way for ulterior purposes like so many toy soldiers.

James Deagle
Ottawa, ON

Friday, May 22, 2015

Hurtful words constitute harmful actions

(The following is a letter to the editor of the Ottawa Citizen in response to an opinion column in its May 22 edition.)

_____


Dear Editor:

In Christie Blatchford we have H.L. Mencken turned inside-out while doing a handstand, in that her mission is to comfort the comfortable and afflict the afflicted. Her most recent column (When did we get so sensitive? It all started back in 1993) is a case in point, and one in which she utilizes a three-pronged attack.

Firstly, she delegitimizes victims by reducing reactions to mere “hysterics”, ensuring that those on the receiving end of sexual misconduct on any scale feel even less emboldened to take a stand against their perpetrators. Isn't there something more useful a nationally-syndicated columnist can do with their pulpit than pass judgement on the unguarded emotional responses of victims?

Secondly, she asserts that there are circumstances in which the victim should simply suck it up and take it. By Blatchford’s logic, being a Crown Attorney obligates one to accept a judge’s tongue in their mouth, and boozed-up golfers have the right to ‘heckle’ a performer with the implication of impending sex – with or without consent. Call me weird, but I believe there are no circumstances in which any of the above is acceptable. (All things being equal, if there is no excuse for impaired driving, then there is no excuse for any other act one commits while under the influence.)

Thirdly, she ties it all together by reducing the issue to a false binary, as if the true scandal in question is that one extreme (“hurtful words”) is being wrongly conflated with the other extreme (“harmful actions”). To the contrary, hurtful words do indeed constitute harmful actions because, by definition, they are intended to trigger a negative consequence (emotional or otherwise), and thus they are not mutually-exclusive. Our legal system recognizes this reality by categorizing hurtful words according to various infractions, such as libel, uttering threats, malicious harassment, inciting revolution, and, of course, sexual harassment, which is what the issue at hand is really about.

It is very telling that the term ‘sexual harassment’ is nowhere to be found in Blatchford’s column - 'harassed' appears on its own, but that's not quite the same thing. After all, if one is to legitimize sexual harassment in the workplace, and thereby reinforce the traditional power balance, then the first step is to eliminate the term itself from the debate. This, of course, fits in neatly with the greater objective of right wing populism, which is to turn the mainstream against the marginalized.

James Deagle
Ottawa, ON