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Friday, October 15, 2010

A travesty, huh?

Ah, the joys of reading articles in the TorStar.

My friends on the far left are at it again.  As I've mentioned before, they're really struggling to keep the G20 issues awake.  This usually involves sharing stories from the TorStar.  I can barely stomach that paper and usually ignore them.  My kids, however, are encouraging me to blog about this one. :-P

This story was shared with musings of "ZOMG!  I can't believe the media isn't freaking out about this like we are!" and how this is a travesty of justice.

Staggering conditions on accused G20 ringleader

The story begins with some rather trite literary tricks of sentencing and spacing that are supposed to pull us in to this travesty.  All they're saying, though, is this guy can't talk to the media.

Apparently, that's considered news to the TorStar.  As if they've never encountered a media gag before.

The man in question, one Alex Hundert, is an accused ringleader of G20 violence.

Now, let's be very clear on this, since the article sort of brushes passed it.

This man is AN accused RINGLEADER of G20 VIOLENCE.

This means that
a) he's just one of an unknown number of accused ringleaders
b) as a ringleader, he would (allegedly) be someone who organized and incited others and;
c) what he incited and organized was violence.

So we're not talking about someone who sat around singing kumbahya, here.  It was know well before the G20 that people were planning violent protests.  They were counting on violence.  Riots break out at pretty much every one of these G20 meetings.

Now then.  This guy, allegedly someone who organized or somehow inspired violence at the G20, was released on $100,000 bail and with 20 bail conditions.

Not long after, he was arrested for breaking one of those conditions.  He was speaking on a panel discussion at a university.  His bail conditions have now been clarified.  He is not, among other things, allowed to speak to the media.

This, according to his lawyer, is something "I've never seen before."

All that tells me is that he's either not a very experienced lawyer or he's lying.

The article goes on to say how bail conditions are intended to prevent further crimes from being committed, but that these conditions go too far.

Too far?  Really?

I love these lines.

“People have to be able to air grievances, and the media is a primary tool in which people can air grievances effectively.”

“Speaking to the media does not threaten public safety,” she said. “These bail conditions are only aimed at silencing speech.”

Let us look back again at what this guy is accused of being in the first place; being a ringleader of violence.

How does one do this? Well, in this day and age, a lot of it is done over the internet (I wonder if an internet ban is among those bail conditions?).  They also do it by getting together in groups.  Like... oh... I don't know.  Panel discussions, maybe.

How else does one incite violence?  By publicly airing "grievances" as far and wide as they can.  The best way to do that?  Through the media.  The media, in its various forms, is frequently used as a tool to incite violence around the world.  They're not exactly well known for checking their facts anymore, and aren't above publishing incendiary stories without bothering to find out if they're true or not.  Likewise, the spreading of rumours through groups of people by other means is also used.  What can the result be?  Around the world, stories reported in the media, or even just rumours spread through word of mouth, has led to rioting, destruction and death - like when some Christians were killed and churches burned on the rumour of desecrated Korans, or even when some "vigilante justice" was inflicted on someone rumoured to be a sex offender.

The point being, speaking to the media can and does threaten public safety.  It's not about silencing speech.  It's about silencing someone who is accused of using speech to incite violence.

Restrictions of this sort are not common, but they are not unusual, either.  If this man turns out to be innocent, he will then be free to lambaste the powers that be through the media all he wants, and his supporters will be free to use his story to flog their anti-[fill in the blank] views.

Of course, if he's found guilty, they'll just keep doing what they're doing now - passing on stories about these travesties of justice - at least in their eyes.

And the TorStar will continue to take something ordinary and try to make it into some kind of scandal.

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