The Lame-Stream Media Strikes Back

The following is a draft post I came across from more than a year ago (March 30, 2013). Not sure why I didn’t post it. Thought I’d do it now.

Just when you think the mainstream media couldn’t get any lamer, they go ahead and lame harder than they’ve ever lamed.

It started with the whole Graham James saga, how he was given a lenient sentence for the crimes of sexually abusing his former hockey players, Thereon Fleury and Todd Holt. It was all over the news, especially here in Saskatchewan, where the crimes were primarily committed.

Apparently, one of the StarPhoenix‘s readers had enough of the coverage given to the principles of the trial and wrote a letter to the editor expressing her displeasure. The letter is not available online for reasons I’ll soon explain,  so here it is in full:

Is anyone else as sick of hearing and reading about Theo Fleury as I am?

What Graham James did was wrong, and abuse should never happen to anyone. Did Fleury and Sheldon Kennedy do anything to stop it? Fleury could have walked away and in doing so may have prevented it from happening to someone else.

But Fleury wanted to get to the NHL at any cost. That cost was James.

And what about all the people in whom Theo Fleury gave drugs and money for sex? Is it not the same thing? Is being a “john” and doing drugs not a crime? Where is his jail time for his crimes? Enough already.

It’s signed “Carol Belton, Saskatoon.”

If you’re like me, when you read this you probably thought, wow, what a nut, she sure hates Theo and has some surprising assumptions about sexual abuse victims, and then you move on.

But, as what happens in these days of perpetual outrage, some people weren’t too happy about this. Fleury posted about it on his Facebook page, apparently, and the winds of fury blew up across the land or something. Fair enough. It would have been a stupid, insensitive letter at any time, much less at the tail end of Graham’s trial. Of course people were going to be pissed.

What’s stupider, however, was the reaction of the StarPhoenix to this outrage. Here’s the editorial from this morning, entitled “To our readers”:

It was a letter that should not have run. We were wrong and we apologize.

On Thursday, The StarPhoenix published a letter to the editor submitted by a reader suggesting Theo Fleury could have taken steps to stop the abuse that was inflicted on him by confessed sex offender Graham James.

The letter was disturbing and shocking in its lack of understanding around the issue of child abuse.

Every year, we publish hundreds of letters dealing with sensitive topics. Like the letter in question, many represent views with which members of the editorial board at The StarPhoenix strongly disagree, but are selected for publication to promote free speech and encourage dialogue. It was here the paper fell down.

Mr. Fleury is a survivor of child sexual abuse. There is no constructive moral debate to be had around the question of whether he could have fought back or “walked away.” For anyone to blame him for his fate is unfair in the extreme. The letter did little to advance intelligent debate around our need to confront and address the horrors of child abuse.

We have personally apologized, by telephone, to Mr. Fleury . During that conversation, he spoke of his belief that any discussion exposing the troubling issues of child abuse can be taken positively. He also said he welcomes all opportunities to advance his work as an advocate for greater understanding of the issue. We appreciate his grace and understanding.

We regret The StarPhoenix could not have contributed more constructively to the important discussion of the issue of child sexual abuse. We again apologize to Mr. Fleury , his family, other survivors and all of those we offended by publishing the letter.

Oh, please. Where do I begin?

There is no constructive moral debate to be had around the question of whether he could have fought back or “walked away.”

I hate to shock you, SP, but you obviously had at least one reader who disagrees with that position, wrongly or otherwise. And where there’s one, there’s probably others, which would mean that there might be a small subset of people who don’t approve of Fleury and his silence in these matters until now. This means that there is a moral debate going on, no matter what this city’s paper of record insists.

The letter did little to advance intelligent debate around our need to confront and address the horrors of child abuse.

Even though on the same page, the paper published no less than 13 letters to the editor advancing precisely that intelligent debate.

[Fleury] spoke of his belief that any discussion exposing the troubling issues of child abuse can be taken positively. He also said he welcomes all opportunities to advance his work as an advocate for greater understanding of the issue.

Of course he would say this. He’s taken on tougher opponents than some nobody on the letters page. He knows that the way to fight stupidity is with a good, solid argument.

The late, great Andrew Breitbart knew this better than anyone. The man was the news editor of the Drudge Report, helped build the Huffington Post, founded a formidable collection of Big websites, and took on all comers. Those of us who followed him on Twitter took delight in his constant re-tweets of every vile, wretched, subhuman comments directed his way by the vermin Left. He knew that sunlight was the best disinfectant, and that the way to battle ignorance was by exposing it for the foolishness it is.

He had balls not to run away from a bad argument, but to confront and challenge it to oblivion.

That original letter to the editor was stupid. So what? The public responded the way they should have. Good on them, shame on the editors of the StarPhoenix and any other self-described “journalist” who feels that, when it comes to bad taste, censorship is an option.

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