Wednesday, August 21, 2013

On Bad Days And Defiance

Yesterday was not a good day for me. First, I awoke to read about the government raid on the Guardian office resulting in the destruction of computers containing some of the material leaked by Edward Snowden on illegal state surveillance. Eerily reminiscent of the U.S. Department of Justice raid on the Associated Press back in May, there is little doubt in my mind that these are actions designed to cast a deep chill, not only on journalists themselves, but also on their sources, many of whom demand an anonymity that can no longer be guaranteed.

The second blow to my day was learning that Elmore Leonard, a peerless master of crime fiction, a writer of prodigious output, had died at the age of 87. If you have never read one of his post-western novels, give one a try. If, like me, you have an affinity for things slightly off-kilter, you will appreciate Leonards's slightly bent characters and impeccable ear for language and dialogue. Even though he enjoyed a long life, I am saddened that I will never again read a new work by him.

While nothing can stop the tide of time and mortality, much can be done to stand together against the tyranny of the state. The basis of that stand has to be access to information that allows us to decide for ourselves where truth lies, not where the state and the corporate-driven media wants us to believe it lies. And the basis for that information must be unfettered journalism, not journalism cowed and confined by intimidation tactics. In today's Star, Heather Mallick writes passionately about the issue.

Entitled Like food, we need good reporting to survive, Mallick, reflecting on the outrage at the Guardian, observes that there is a

... common attitude floating in the ether: that secret information must not be reported. Citizens — including in Canada, a most secretive country — must not know about who governs us, how they behave and how they keep us under surveillance so that we may be quickly pulled in on a hook.

She goes on to make two assertions that seem irrefutable to me:

Opposing reporting is like opposing food. We need food the same way we need information about where and how we live, globally, nationally and locally. Those intolerant of lactose and gluten may not like traditional milk or bread. But we still need and like food.


Without reporting, we fail as a democracy.

Creeping state interference with our ability to know, understand and assess information and activities does not bode well for our way of life. People who think otherwise, embracing and/or promoting willful ignorance instead of enlightenment, are doing great harm to each of us.

They are the real enemy we should all be on guard against.


  1. Democracy cannot survive, Lorne, when governments treat citizens like mushrooms by keeping them in the dark and throwing manure on their heads.

    1. I read your post this morning, Owen, and that certainly seems to be the strategy/philosophy Harper is avidly pursuing through his tiresome trick of proroguing Parliament, yet another powerful sign of his withering contempt for us and our democratic institutions.