The power of new media

Paula Simons of the Edmonton Journal writes of tweets posted April 14 that might have started the downward spiral of Danielle Smith’s Wildrose Party Alliance:

The first read: “A blog by Wildrose candidate @allanhunsperger where he calls #yeg Public Schools “godless” for being tolerant.” The post included a link to a column Allan Hunsperger, the candidate in Edmonton-South West, had written for his church website, in which he opined that homosexuals would burn in a lake of eternal fire and that the Edmonton Public School district was wicked for bringing in a policy to protect gay students and staff from discrimination...

Things might have ended there. But that Monday, Danielle Smith came to meet with the Edmonton Journal editorial board. Instead of using the opportunity to voice support for gay rights, she constructed a narrative in which Hunsperger, not gay children, was the victim of intolerance and persecution. The remarkably tone deaf response haunted her for the rest of the election…

Twitter message writer Blake Robert, the Tory campaigner behind the initial Twitter messages, claims he was motivated as a new parent to expose Hunsperger:

People are entitled to believe what they want to believe. But when someone’s running for public office, they have to be accountable for what they say. I’m a new parent. I don’t know what my kid is going to grow up to be. But I want her to grow up in a society where she’s accepted for who she is.

Categories: Prejudice

5 replies »

  1. No complaint about taking the Wild Rose and Ms. Smith to task at all.

    However, the Edmonton Journal needs to give their collective head a shake — “gay children”???

    Since when did our society start ascribing sexual preferences to children? There's something creepy about how Paula Simons of the Edmonton Journal expressed that point.

    Gay youth, OK. But “gay children”?!? Eeewwww, that smacks of over-sexualization of children, gay or otherwise.


  2. Perhaps youth would have been a better word but it is not “creepy” to acknowledge that individuals not yet adult are forming or have formed sexual preferences of one sort or another and can be subjected to abuse and discrimination. The important point IMO is the one expressed by Blake Robert. I have 5, soon 6, grandchildren and I have many hopes for them when they are grown. I hope the world they live in is healthful and peaceful, provides opportunity and satisfaction and yes, that each will be accepted for who she or he is.


  3. The other interesting angle, I thought, was that Robert tweeted under a fake name – Adam W. York. He says he wanted the focus to be on the comments, not on him. But it also served to conceal his party activism – and past employment – from readers.


  4. One thing that bugs me about the new media is how things can just be disappeared. When it appears in print, it's there for eternity — but when a newspaper's blog goes sideways, the publishers can just zap it. This happened twice in the last week, that I saw.

    On Friday the 20th, a News 1130 writer misread (I guess) BCPSEA as BCCPAC and had Susan Lambert blaming the parents for bringing the report card issue before the BC LRB. This was news to me, as I thought it was the employers (BCPSEA) who had lodged the complaint.

    I copy-pasted the original and sent it around to my school staff (cc to myself) which is the only reason I have the original:

    … BC Teachers' Federation President Susan Lambert says she's disappointed with the decision but tells us “this is an order and we will have to comply with it.”

    “It's disappointing that [BC Parent Advisory Council] even went to the LRB in the first place. This is provocative; this was unnecessary,” she adds.

    Within an hour of my seeing that, the on-line article was corrected, with no mention of the earlier error.

    Next issue was a Province blog about parents stepping in to help with extracurriculars. It was going along for a few days, with a few pages of comments… then POOF! It was gone.

    Thankfully, you don't pull those stunts here, Norm.


  5. There has been interesting discussion of this subject in the Twitterverse. Norman Spector has taken numerous shots at corporate media for changing or removing pieces without record or disclosure of the changes. His twitter account is:!/nspector4

    The subject gained much attention after pundits got the Alberta election result quite wrong.

    Have a look at my April 24 article “Secret Shared:”

    “The dirty little secret about political punditry, that is not actually a secret to anyone who watches and reads it, is that it’s all lies. It requires very little knowledge or skill, and there are no consequences for being wrong.



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