The Art of Civil Discourse (or why your comment didn’t get published)

Commentators on The Soapbox are generally a well-behaved lot, however Ms Soapbox has noticed an uptick in off the wall comments lately and would like to review why some Soapbox comments are published and others die on the wrong side of the firewall.

The Soapbox has never had rules telling commentators what to say or not say.  Instead Ms Soapbox hoped that commentators would pick up the tone of the blog and frame their comments accordingly.

Here’s a short quiz to determine if this approach was successful.

Question 1:   Comments that echo a politician’s talking points (eg “take back Alberta” and “restore the Alberta Advantage”) will NOT be posted because:

  1. They are devoid of meaning
  2. They are not supported by evidence
  3. They are slogans
  4. All of the above

Answer: (4) If a commentator wants to engage in dialogue about a political position they should raise the point and provide facts and thoughtful argument to support their position, without this they’re simply partisan cheerleaders.                      

Question 2:  A “squirrelly” comment is one that:

  1. Is tangentially related to the topic
  2. Directly on point (or in lawyer-speak “on all fours” with the topic)
  3. Speculates about Ms Soapbox’s ideological leanings and suggests her time would be better spent gardening.

Answer: (3) Posts are intended to encourage conversation about the main theme and tangentially related issues; comments about Ms Soapbox’s purpose in life or her political affiliation are as helpful as a squirrel running across a dog’s path.  The dog shouldn’t chase the squirrel, and neither should we.             

american-red-squirrel_istock_000016694173medium

Warning:  Do not chase this animal

Question 3:  An “ad hominem” comment will NOT be published because:

  1. It doesn’t discredit the argument
  2. It is irrelevant
  3. It’s the last resort of someone who doesn’t have a decent counterargument
  4. All of the above

Answer: (4).  Ad hominem comments are a waste of everyone’s time.    

Question 4:  Racist, anti-semitic, homophobic, misogynist, or Islamophobic comments will be published:     

  1. True
  2. False

Answer: (2).  Such comments will not be published even if you swear on a stack of bibles you are pure of heart because your comment indicates otherwise.   Think of it as the “Todd Beasley UCP candidate test”.

Question 5: The Soapbox is a kumbaya blog, contrary opinions are not welcome:

  1. True
  2. False

Answer: (2) The political spectrum is broad, no one has all the answers, and reasonable people disagree.  Readers who respectfully disagree with Ms Soapbox and each other and back up their positions with facts and rational argument will be published.  

Question 6:  Every comment should be published as a matter of free speech:

  1. True
  2. False

Answer: (2) FALSE, FALSE, FALSE!!! The free speech argument has been misused on social and main stream media to justify the publication of misinformation and hate speech.  Everyone has the right to their own opinion, but they don’t have the right to force Ms Soapbox to publish their opinion on her blog.  If your opinion is that important to you start your own blog. 

Question 7:  Conspiracy theories will NOT be published because:

  1. They are red herrings that distract readers from the main point
  2. They add nothing meaningful to the conversation
  3. They cannot be addressed rationally
  4. All of the above

Answer: (4) Conspiracy theories are popular with people who are frightened by economic and social change.  It is impossible to refute a conspiracy theory with evidence (an example would be paranoia around the NDP’s modernization of the school curriculum) and there’s no point trying.  Comments based on conspiracy theories will not be published (why fuel someone’s deluded fantasy).    

Question 8: Fear mongering comments like “what is the NDP hiding?” or “why is the NDP pushing through legislation that will destroy our way of life?” will NOT be published because: 

  1.  They belong in Question Period
  2. They are unsupported by facts
  3. They add nothing to the debate
  4. All of the above, except (1)

Answer: (4) Fear mongering comments are annoying and unproductive.  Ms Soapbox can’t keep them out of Question Period, but she can keep them off The Soapbox.    

Question 9:  Is it OK for commentators to attack each other?

  1. Yes
  2. Maybe, depending on how ridiculous the comment is.
  3. No, life is too short to waste on silly stuff

Answer: (3) Ms Soapbox tries to nip nasty comments in the bud but sometimes her readers get ahead of her (don’t you guys ever sleep?) and an antagonistic comment and snarky reply will show up on The Soapbox.  In this case, Ms Soapbox will remove both comments.  Let’s not get personal.        

 Bonus Question:  The optimum length of a comment is: 

  1. Twice as long as the original post
  2. The same length as the original post
  3. Half the length of the original post
  4. I don’t know

Answer: (4) Generally speaking a comment shouldn’t be longer than the original post because everyone, including Ms Soapbox, will lose interest, but there are exceptions.  Bottom line:  if the comment is interesting and informative it will be published, but there’s no guarantee it will be read.         

Do we need Blog Rules? 

Albertans will go to the polls in 2019.  The run-up to the election will be intense.  Politicians and their supporters will be tempted to engage in behaviors that create what author Michiko Kakutani calls “the new nihilism”, a feeling of loss—loss of faith in our institutions, loss of respect for the rule of law, and the loss of respectful debate with people who don’t think like us.

A blog can’t fix everything in our new post truth political environment, but Ms Soapbox believes that by asking readers to treat each other respectfully, especially we disagree, we will preserve our ability to engage in civil discourse.

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45 Responses to The Art of Civil Discourse (or why your comment didn’t get published)

  1. Elaine Fleming says:

    I have sometime wondered, Susan, about your blog getting abusive, or just generally outrageous commentators, who are not really interested in sensible discussion. I am glad you have standards for the discourse on the topics you present- it is vital for people who sincerely want to express opinions or concerns to have some assurance they won’t be attacked. I have stopped reading comments following news stories, as they descend into ridiculousness, and on the rare occasion when I have commented on something myself I have been excoriated. Who needs it? Thanks for giving Albertans who have an interest in the political scene to have a safe and thoughtful place to talk about stuff.

  2. ed henderson says:

    Thank you Ms Susanonthesoapbox. Great comment.

  3. Best yet, Ms. Susan. Time to graduate as a writer/political commentator. I mean a print/e-zine regular – weekly column. I don’t know you. Maybe your up to your butt in family, husband, kids – but you ARE good. Try to advance that, okay?

    • Thank you RockyMountain! I have been thinking about ways to expand my reach but I must admit having the freedom to post when it suits me as opposed to meeting someone else’s timetable does have its merits.

  4. jane walker says:

    Thanks for this, Susan! I agree with Elaine.
    I have always appreciated the fact that you set the tone in the blog and the replies are respectful and objective. We have sufficient ‘tabloid trash’ happening in so many other places; we appreciate your ability to weed out the offensive or volatile remarks. One gets pretty weary in these difficult times. Thank you for your commitment!

    • Jane, your comment at the end (“One gets pretty weary in these difficult times”) really hit home. Last weekend Elizabeth Renzetti of the Globe & Mail said Trump’s epic lies have created “truth pollution” which like pollution in the oceans, respects no borders. We feel it here in Canada and we know some of our politicians will adopt Trump’s modus operandi because they want to win regardless of the damage truth pollution does to democracy.
      Renzetti says we need to stay informed and be vigilant and not allow ourselves to be blinded by partisanship. That’s a huge challenge, but we have to start somewhere. I choose to start here on the Soapbox with readers like you.

  5. Munroe Scott says:

    Godd parameters Susan. Well said.

  6. Munroe Scott says:

    Sorry. Meant “good”, not “Godd” 🙂

  7. Bob Raynard says:

    I always enjoy reading your posts, Susan, and appreciate the opportunity to add my own thoughts. Thank you for both.

    An additional point that needs to be made, and a third thank you given to you, and that is acknowledgement of the other job you do: filtering through the sewage that we never see. Like Elaine said, there are so many ad hominem comments in news stories, I assume you see a fair bit of that when you are moderating comments.

    • Thank you Bob. I enjoy getting your thoughtful comments. In the beginning I tried to have a dialogue with people who engaged in #1, asking them for facts to back up their opinions/slogans. Other readers would do the same thing, but invariably the conversation devolved into attacks which violated #3 and #9 and I decided it was a waste of time and blocked them. There are lots of places for these people to rant, I don’t need to make a space for them to do it here.

  8. marfrances says:

    A very clever and entertaining post. It certainly addresses a lot of daily occurrences that we see on social media. I will be following you with interest.

    • Thanks Marfrances. I guess its up to each and everyone of us to push back against the people who abuse social media. And of course there’s that wonderful little feature that lets us block them when they get to be too much.

  9. Concerned Lifesmith says:

    I totally agree with your rules Susan. It feel it would be great if social media was legislated to have responsibility for the content on their respective platforms. AND…. to have politicians and mainstream media held to high ethical standards to stop all dis-information. I hope you don’t mind but here is one of my columns that was published in our local paper a couple years ago which deals with opinions in a complimentary fashion with your post.

    Not All Opinions Are Created Equally
    It is quite common to agree with the expression “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.” But should everyone really be? And who said so anyway? Well apparently the quote is attributed to Daniel Patrick Moynihan (March 16, 1927 – March 26, 2003) an American sociologist, politician, and ambassador. The problem however is that most people conveniently embrace only the first half of the quote and totally neglect to heed the second half. The quote in its entirety is “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

    Not everyone neglects the constraint of the second half of that quote because generally most people make a conscious effort to speak factually so as to avoid looking foolish or ignorant to those who know the facts. But there are those who purposefully choose to neglect the second half of the quote in an attempt to advance their unsupported opinion. And still others who intentionally use bogus facts, propaganda, and hearsay to support their opinions thereby applying “their own facts.” Facts as defined by Meridian – Webster are: something that truly exists or happens; something that has actual existence; a true piece of information. So the reality is that there is only one set of facts; no alternate facts, no “your facts and my facts”, only THE FACTS.

    The problem with bogus opinions arises when those that hold them come to believe that their opinions, void of fact or based on bogus facts / dis-information, are in some way equal not only to an opinion derived from facts but to the actual facts themselves. When they have convinced themselves that their bogus opinion should be given the same weight as one based on actual fact simply because someone once said that they were entitled to it.

    It is undoubtedly because of our polite society that this abundance of false opinions were allowed to happen but we really do not need to continue to endure it. For instance, a person who is not able to explain the difference between deficit, debt and the debt to GDP ratio should be called out when they babble on in a totally clueless fashion about a government’s fiscal performance. Just as with people who never had kids or a dog but yet go on at great length about how to raise them. And when we hear a statement start with “well they say….. “ – we should immediately be asking who is this “they” and where did they get their information.

    Gullibility and laziness are other components that allow for the proliferation of BS opinions. It is important to recognize that if the topic being discussed is not abstract in nature, an opinion would normally be accompanied by verifiable fact. If none are offered, that would be a very strong indication of an uninformed or propaganda based opinion. Propaganda is the epitome of “one’s own facts” and therefore a greater effort should be undertaken to recognize it. The easiest way to distinguish BS propaganda from fact is, facts are logical and verifiable. People often inadvertently form and express false opinions simply because they did not make an effort to question the information they received. But then there are also those who have a pre-established opinion and merely seek out propaganda and false information in an attempt to support their opinion.
    They fall into the category of people who feel that they are entitled to opinions which are harmful and hateful. Opinions based on ideals that are extremely prejudicial, racist, greed driven, and self-serving at the expense of people and things around them. Ideologies sociologists view as anomalies within society and even sociopathic. Should we as an advanced society actually allow people to freely express harmful and hateful opinions? I am a huge advocate for freedom of speech and, for most of my life, employed the belief of “live and let live.” But I have come to think that the “live and let live” attitude is at least partially responsible for these destructive opinions.

    These harmful and hateful beliefs going largely unchallenged has led their promoters to incorrectly assume their anti-social actions and opinions are in fact acceptable. Having rarely been opposed and shown the inappropriateness and deviance of their views and ideologies they actually come to believe that they have the same right to their hateful and harmful philosophies and actions as do the rest of the civil, caring and just society. Some have in fact come to demand the right to be anti-social and to impose and interject their destructive hateful ways on our otherwise civil and just society. And within recent years, some of them have been elected to top political positions in our country and others.

    Is it not time for society to collectively take a firm stand and speak out against this wherever and whenever we encounter it? To demand our hate laws be expanded and fully enforced perhaps in conjunction with a complementary mental health initiative to professionally deal with those that hold and express harmful and hateful deviant views? Otherwise, how can we expect, for instance, to stop bullying in schools when the trees that bore the fruit are not addressed?

    • Concerned Lifesmith, excellent points. I agree with your conclusion that in order to tackle hateful behavior we need to address the problem holistically.
      What’s really distressing is when political leaders like Trump encourage hateful behavior while at the same time gas lighting the population to the point where they don’t know what’s true any more. When Trump told Americans to trust only him because “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening” he crossed into 1984 territory. We can’t let power hungry politicians pull the same stunt here.

      • Concerned Lifesmith says:

        I’m pretty sure this falls into the category of “too long”. My apologies.

        As I’m sure you are aware, the Trump-like politicians are already here Susanonasoapbox and have been actively trying to get away with the same Trump-like circus for quite some time. The only difference is that when right-wing extremism reared its ugly head under Harper, he was shown that the extremist ideals of the Reform Party and the National Citizens Coalition we unacceptable and unpalatable to the vast majority of Canadians of all political stripes therefore preventing him from being able to gain power. So, in response, Harper was wrapped in an unthreatening blue cardigan and dispatched to kiss babies and cuddle kittens in an attempt to portray him as an innocuous family man. When that still did not work, Harper and his henchmen invaded the still acceptable but disseminated Progressive Conservative party like a malignant cancer and immediately dropped “Progressive” from the name since nothing about them was going to be progressive. That demise of “progressive” conservatism combined with a tsunami of dis-information finally got Harper elected to a minority. But unlike bombastic lying Trump, Harper realized that in order to remain in power he had to silence all the crazies that were elected with him and to continue cloaking their collective deviant ideologies and extremist agenda. And so, from that point forward, only Harper and a small handful of the extremists closest to him spoke publicly. All democratically elected conservative MPs were forbidden to express any personal opinion or bring forward constituent based input and were only allowed to parrot prepared statements from the PMO or face harsh punishment. A top-down dictatorship style of governing that was an attack on the very core of our democracy. And instead of calling the press fake news like Trump, Harper instead held no unplanned media scrums and when the press was allowed to ask questions of the government they were required to submit the questions in advance for screening and only favorable media and questions were addressed. His attack on freedom of the Canadian press included debilitating blows and patronage appointments to the CBC in an attempt to rot it from the inside. But his gagging did not end with the press and representative democracy, he also gagged science and scientists. And so began the dark decade of Harper, the precursor to present day Trump conservativism.

        Ultra right-wing societal deviants and their extremist politicians here in Canada have to this point been required to be more guarded with their aberrant views and agendas. But it is obvious that “Trump The Lying Incompetent” has emboldened the deviants and made the far right politicians orgasmic with the prospect that perhaps the willfully ignorant in Canada may have now become equally as ignorant as in America. And the election of Ford in Ontario may very well be the sign that they have. If we are going to stem this attack on our just and caring society, we are going to have to stop being nice about it. The evolutionary challenged and their extremist leaders don’t understand “nice” and in fact view it as a weakness to be exploited. And the time for non-partisanship has expired because: 1) it failed miserably since it requires both parties to have maturity of character and intellect and 2) ultra conservatives view everyone else as the enemy who need to be, a the very least, thoroughly trampled and preferably completely annihilated. It has become painfully evident even to a casual observer that this is the case not just in the USA but here in Canada too. So anything short of an equally determined and forceful response from a just and caring society against ultra conservative’s aberration and dis-information would allow them to continue to win and their cancer to spread. It would be absurd to try to deal with a bear by offering an outstretched hand full of honey let alone a bear that is angered and attacking. So too in this instance.

        It needs to be recognized that conservatism has shifted greatly to the right on the political spectrum and that we are no longer dealing with rational progressive conservatives of the 1970s whose philosophies and ideals were positioned just slightly to right of center thereby presenting an acceptable opposing view. That balance / equilibrium no longer exists as even the left has shifted towards the center. And we also have to realize that just because extreme right-wing or ultra conservatism is now the political norm for conservatives, it in no way makes it normal or acceptable for any society in any fashion.

        That is not to say that there no longer are any progressive conservatives left out there; there are. And it is possible that they may even still make up the majority of today’s conservatives but you would never know it. Politically, there are two distinct and different conservative parties (progressives and extremists) with divergent views but neither could ever get elected to power without the help of the other so they continue to climb into bed together since power (and greed) is what drives them. The conservatives still considered “progressives” like to pretend that their hands are clean and that they are somehow not participating in the extremist insanity but yet they obviously actively act to elect extremist leaders (Kenny, Sheer, Ford, etc) and then go on to elect them to power as well. That makes them just as culpable as their extremist brethren and therefore void of any sort of leniency or consideration and deserving of identical contempt and disgust.

        So yes, Trumpish conservative extremism exists in Canada and it is just as active, determined, ruthless, partisan, ignorant, hateful, prejudicial and absent ethics and decency; just not yet as absurdly blatant. It is immune to polite, rational, non-partisan dialogue and reasoning and therefore must be dealt with equal aggression and determination. Societal deviance, which conservatives still try to pass off as values, needs to be opposed at every opportunity and exposed for the cancer that it is. Our world’s just and caring societies are imminently at grave risk otherwise. Future world conflicts will not be fought between opposing nations, religions, or cultures but between right-minded and wrong-minded peoples that exist in every nation, every religion, and every culture. Between those who ignorantly support present and expanding power and oppression by the few over the many and those who recognize and oppose it. A non-religiously based “good versus evil”. The meek will not inherit the earth by sitting silently and idly on their hands in response to this cancer. History is full of warnings and reminders demonstrating horrific and epic failures due to society’s complacency, underestimation of the threat, and inappropriate responses.

        You are doing an excellent job of exposing, opposing and educating Susanonasoapbox, keep up the good work and please encourage others to follow your example. Alberta, Canada, and the world needs as many Susanonasoapbox’s as we can find.

      • Excellent points Concerned Lifesmith…Canadians forget that Harper did many of the things Trump is doing now but he did it more stealthily and we missed it. That’s one advantage of having Trump in the US and Ford in Ontario…they give Albertans a preview of what’s in store for us if we fail to take steps to stop it. Like you said, we need to listen, learn and educate others each and every day.

    • Fred Brook says:

      May I use your essay and who do I attribute it to? I have been involved with some intercourse with members of my family (and others) and have used that statement. Your words put it so much better than I have done.

      • Fred I assume you’re talking to Concerned Lifesmith. I’ll leave it up CL to follow up with you.

      • Concerned Lifesmith says:

        Fred, you would need written permission from me prior to selling it, having it republished, or personally benefiting from it in any way. However you can use it in part or in whole if you are NOT going to make money on it or take credit for it. I intended it to educate people on why all opinions are not equal and If you can further that education, please do so. Crediting Concerned Lifesmith would be fine.

    • Carlos Beca says:

      I agree 100% with your view on this subject.
      Regulating the social media is not urgently needed. Social media as far as I am concerned should follow, with adjustments, the rules of the printed press.

      Furthermore existing rules for the printed press should be reviewed and changed to adjust to our ‘non fact’ society. It is getting worse by the day as a result of people like Trump, Ford, Jason Kenney and their sympathisers. Lies are now common reading in any newspaper.

      I feel that people are a bit overwhelmed with this change but we better do it or suffer the consequences of information and propaganda out of control.
      Conservatives these days do not want regulation of any kind but that is easy to understand. Their political strategies rely deeply on misinformation and propaganda.

      • carlosbeca says:

        I am sorry but have to make a correction even after reading 5 times
        Second sentence is supposed to be
        ‘Regulating the social media is urgently needed……’

        Gosh I sound like Trump – Would or Wouldn’t

        🙂

      • Carlos, “would” or”wouldn’t”, “is”or “isn’t””: Die hard Trump supporters and others (like the fellow who said God (!) sent Doug Ford to save us and our children), don’t care one way or the other. They’ll go to extreme lengths to rationalize the behavior of their dear leader even when it makes no sense.
        I’m watching the QAnon conspiracy theorists twist themselves into a knots to rationalize Trump’s behavior. According to a PBS interview QAnon says he’s a highly placed government official who is leaking clues to his followers, they use these clues to show Trump is actually saving America from the criminals like Hillary and Obama who took over the US government. They say everything Trump does is for this purpose. For example, Trump wanted to make it look like he colluded with the Russians so Mueller would be hired and Trump and Mueller could team up to investigate Hillary and put her in jail.
        This would be just another nutso conspiracy theory unfolding on social media except for the fact that real people saying they’re part of QAnon are showing up at Trump rallies demanding action. I don’t know how one can stop this. It’s not illegal and there’s nothing one can say to a conspiracy theorists to refute their position because they’ll simply reinvent reality to dismiss your facts. Rather like the flat earthers who say the reason we see the curvature of the earth from an airplane window is because every single airplane in the world has been fitted with special windows to make it look that way. Here’s the link to the PBS interview https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/how-the-false-fringe-qanon-conspiracy-theory-aims-to-protect-trump

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Yes Susan ‘How do we stop this?’
        Like you I do not believe it is possible but if that is the case what is our future like?

        Unfortunately it comes to mind a book that I read when I was about 15 which shocked me profoundly. At an age when we start building dreams and consolidate principles and ideas and make mind plans, it is easy to get ‘PTSD’. Summarizing. the author (science fiction) theorized that the reason why we would probably not find any more developed civilization than ours in the universe, is because intelligent species would blow themselves to pieces as soon as they had the ability to do so.

        As a young person, I was a bit sad about it and I could not get over it because I believed strongly that knowledge would always promote us to a higher level of consciousness.
        I realize now how wrong I was. I still want to believe that we can and should build an amazing world for all of us but I struggle daily with the thought that we will have a very sad end as a species only because of greed and selfishness.

  10. GoinFawr says:

    Susan, I’ve always liked your guidelines.

    That #8 in particular, ending an accusation with a question mark, is a lazy, but textbook technique employed by the gas lighting set to imply something horrible, without the writer actually being culpable for stating it as fact, eg.:

    ” Isn’t Susan actually responsible for the deaths of 15 defenseless kittens as a result of her Soapbox? Inquiring minds want to know!”

    Anybody belly aching that #5 is ans.1 needs to do some reviewing, because, in my opinion, the evidence is clear that healthy debates are encouraged on this blog, not stifled. One of the many reasons I enjoy visiting your Soapbox

    The rest are common sense/reason based, laudable.

    Reflecting on some of my previous comments: I’ll bear in mind # 2!
    🙂

    • GoinFawr says:

      “Reflecting on some of my previous comments: I’ll bear in mind # 2!”

      I mean, mostly because I have been known to digress from the original topic of the article from time to time,

      , ie. “1. Is tangentially related to the topic”

      NOT because I think ‘you should spend more time gardening’…. that said, I DO think everyone should spend more time gardening

      • GoinFawr, I like your digressions, they’re usually related to the original topic one way or another, sometimes by a gossamer thread, but related nonetheless. 🙂
        Your point on #8 is well taken, that question mark is a good indication that the story is either gas lighting or click bait, both are a waste of time.

  11. My blog is not political at all, but I have received some very disturbing and hate-filled comments. Some people have nothing better to do with their time I guess. I also live in Alberta and I am looking forward to your posts.

    • Carol, your blog is lovely. I was going to say I’m surprised it would attract nutso comments, but then I remembered that my sister who writes a sewing blog is periodically plagued by weirdos too. Here’s the link for other readers https://chopkins2x3.wordpress.com/
      Ironically one of the comments I got on this post was from a woman (?) flogging a miracle cure for MS. It never ends.

      • Thank you for your kind words. Yeah, I was once castigated for not delivering the “help” this person expected….it is what it is….as the song goes ‘haters are gonna hate”. Thanks for the link.

  12. Brent McFadyen says:

    Susan on the Soapbox, my time to read sanity of politics, always relevant to the times. Best of all you know of what you write (facts) and express it well. Monday is always better because of the blog.

  13. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Thanks for another great blog. This was spot on. I like what you write about. I see other things, like YouTube, and what gets posted there, such as on news sites. It can be quite nasty. It is full of unacceptable things.

    • Dwayne, you’re right that the nastiness that has become pervasive. It causes many people to tune out completely, unfortunately this works in favour of those who will say anything (true or false) to gain power and it makes our job even harder. But we hang in there because we’re watching the turmoil in the US and know we can’t risk the same erosion of democracy here in Canada.

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Susan I think that the erosion is way more advanced that we think and accept, except we are more careful with the language we use. We are always more polite.

        The election of Ford in Ontario is just an example.

        Jason Kenney is waiting in line. I am hoping we can end the process with Jason Kenney
        Ford is behaving like a maniac so that will help us a bit – I think this false Populism is starting to smell bad – it is nothing but a brutal extreme right wing power grab and Harper seems to be one of the big wig voices behind it. Interesting Times. Suddenly he showed up with his briefcase full of anti-democratic methodology as director of the so called ‘International Democratic Union’
        Interesting name for a group that hates Unions.

      • Carlos, I agree with you 100%. Doug Ford’s election is the most recent example of the erosion of democracy in the name of “efficiency” and “common sense”. Ford will cut the number of Toronto city councilors from 47 to 25. He justifies this on the basis of “efficiency”, completely ignoring the fact that he’s running roughshod over the rights of 2.8 million Torontonians by warping the democratic mechanism governing municipal elections. He didn’t campaign on this (Kenney slammed Notley for not campaigning on the carbon tax but has no issue when Ford unilaterally takes away the democratic rights of 2.8 million people with no consultation whatsoever).

        I checked out the International Democratic Union website. The IDU want to “act together, establish contacts and speak with one strong voice to promote democracy and centre-right policies around the globe.” It says “today’s idea in one country is tomorrow’s policy in another.” The roster of IDU members includes people like Viktor Orbán, the leader of Fidesz – Hungarian Civic Alliance. Orbán’s ideas and policies are not something Canada should emulate.

        I noticed something interesting on the website. It says the IDU has a major event every 4 years that coincides with the Republican Convention, and the last one was held in Sept 2012 in Tampa (Florida). I wonder why they didn’t attend the 2016 Republican Convention where Trump accepted the GOP nomination. https://www.idu.org/about/history/

      • Dwayne says:

        Susan: I totally agree with you. You do need these guidelines in place. I wish it was like this on other sites. On YouTube recently, I saw a post on a Canadian news channel supporting Justin Trudeau getting killed by bullets. The Rebel type crowd is still out there. There are people that got upset when Facebook and other media platforms would not give these “media types” a voice anymore. On another news item posted on YouTube, by a Canadian news outlet, one person said that Faith Goldy should be Toronto’s mayor. These things are not right. I’m glad you have these guidelines in place and I’m glad you do not have a YouTube channel. It would be dreadful to see what would posted on there.

  14. Randy Wolstenholm says:

    Well said!

  15. Rick Cowburn says:

    O tempora, O mores — that such fundamental training in sanity and politeness should be necessary…
    BUT perhaps most tailless monkeys were always this distracted and diffused, there was just no window on their state of being. And when the herd reinforcement of Conspiracy Websites and Like Minded Mindlessness arrives–the harvest is rich.
    So thank you for your Sanity Gardening, O Susan – to paraphrase Cicero, “dum spiro spero” (as long as I am breathing, I have hope)
    (BUT not to forget what happened to Cicero… “On Antony’s instructions his hands, which had penned the Philippics against Antony, were cut off as well; these were nailed along with his head on the Rostra in the Forum Romanum…” Our politics are nasty, but not yet at that level.)

  16. Rick, one can only hope Alberta politics won’t deteriorate to the point where those in power punish critics by nailing their heads and hands to a platform as a lesson to others!
    As you point out, the conspiracy websites and social media echo chambers are extremely powerful reinforcers of screwball ideas. Modern day flat-earthers believe the earth is a flat disc surrounded by an ice wall (they call it Antarctica). Apparently all the other planets are round. Go figure.

  17. Fred Brook says:

    Thank you Susan and concerned lifesmith. I very much enjoy your blog. That is why I was lurking here.

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