Jul. 5th, 2010

felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)
There's more to say than could be said about what happened in Toronto this week. It was revolting what happened to Canadian citizens on Canadian soil. I've seen police brutality close up, of course there was Quebec 2001. But never anything on this scale, never anything so blatant. And never has so much been captured on camera before for us to see.

There's so much I could link, and did on Facebook - which itself was a small fraction of the evil perpetrated there. And let's not mince words or hide behind euphemisms. This was evil. You know it by the awful feeling in your gut when you watch it.

Two things were more haunting for me than anything else - for others too, clearly, as they've gone viral. The first is Tommy Taylor's powerful account on Facebook of his arrest. The other is this moment of peaceful protesters being attacked while they sing "O Canada." This is now my favourite rendition of our national anthem, and the only one that stirs my patriotism:

Yet 73% of the country think the police did a good job. And that's way too high for the right-wing nutjobs in this nation - after all, only 39% voted for Harper.

I wondered how could anyone think that? How could that be thought after the bloodied journalists and the trapped activists singing hippie protest songs bloodied by batons? While other pictures show police standing by and looking bored while anarchists - in suspiciously new brand-name black clothing - break windows and set fire to police cars?

How could they read the descriptions of the 40-person cages full of peaceful protesters and random passersby (tourists who are never coming back here again) as they stood up for 16, 18, 24 hours with nothing more than a dixie cup or two of water and a toxic sandwich, and not be sickened?

How do they rationalize the targeting of gays, and anyone who spoke French? The lies the police told? The officer who threatened a journalist with rape? The tasering of a man with a pacemaker, the abuse of a man with cerebral palsy? How do they justify the scale - the camera panoramas that show it wasn't just "a few bad apples"?

Then I realized they didn't need to, because they didn't see it and they didn't read it. It's not in their world.

"Two solitudes" is our favourite cliché. It applies here. Not English or French, or central Canada and the rest. Not even the suited men (and one two women) in the conference and the people outside, though there it applies better. In this country, those who got the story mostly through old media and those who got it mostly through new media are the two solitudes. They got two different narratives.

Old media wasn't always awful. The Toronto Star got it right from the first days. CBC and the Globe & Mail - our two great bastions of old media - got better after day one. Even the National Post worked up some outrage.

Most failed absolutely, though. Just a guy breaking a window and a couple of burning police cars. That was the story. While we new media types saw the unedited footage of bloodied innocents and unprovoked assaults, for most old media it was just a story of hooligans captured.

We say that we "consume" old media and "use" new media. But that's simplistic. Both get used, both get consumed. But who does the using, and who the consuming?

The old media moguls make a big show of using new media. They can tweet, they can post to YouTube, they can set up a Facebook account. But they still imagine themselves as the talkers, with others as listeners. They still aren't listeners themselves, which was painfully obvious on the CBC's and Globe's first day of coverage - until journalists they knew were hit. They still don't believe that non-journalists have something worth saying.

I think the violence and horror will probably be one of the defining moments of our generation. That may sound bombastic, but ask someone who was a teen or twentysomething in the Sixties how many hippies they knew - the answer is probably zero, though they now define the era.

But I also think this will be one of the moments where we look back and say, "That was a nail in the coffin of old media." It was one of those moments we called "watershed" when we can easily visualize a gradual change.

No, I won't be cutting this one. I don't want this one to be optional.


felis_ultharus: The Pardoner from the Canterbury Tales (Default)

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