Make the silent heard and the invisible seen.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A better man for it

(The following is an edited written version of the keynote speech delivered by Dave Brindle at the Canadian AIDS Society World AIDS Day Gala - A red tie affair - December 1, 2009, Ottawa, ON)

My name is Dave Brindle, and I’m here tonight to recruit you. If those words sound familiar, they should. The anniversary of the assassination of gay civil rights leader Harvey Milk was five days ago. Those were his words, as were: "come out." Simple, powerful words.

Harvey Milk did not live to see the onset of the HIV/AIDS horror that killed the thousands and thousands of too-young gay men - whose lives he championed, and forever changed - I am here before you tonight to give his words re-newed emphasis. I think we need to remind ourselves of how effective the simplicity of those words can be in bringing about monumental change, if we are to change the stigma of HIV/AIDS.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

2010 Olympics: Don't believe it

The 1984 Olympics - a rare Olympic success - created a new class of news reporter, the "Olympic journalist." It is their vocation, just as it fell to Christianity’s composites Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, to write the Olympic gospel.

This disciplehood follows the doctrine of the International Olympic Church, which includes: host organizing committees, such as VANOC and its patron saints, er... sponsors. For their faith and favourable coverage of all things Olympic, the media monks of the Olympic Church receive an array of fringe benefits. If they blaspheme, they might be denied access, even expelled. As an avowed Olympic atheist, I don’t even try anymore to garner favour with VANOC bishops. I know, I’m going to hell.

The "Olympic salvation" poses a serious threat to media objectivity, accuracy and autonomy, that is if the trinity of journalism is not already extinct. The disciplehood believes in the Second Coming. (Their ascendency in the media monasteries coincides with the biennial Olympics, and they transcend their unaccredited heathen brethren). Sportswriters, in particular (the Knights Templar of the Holy Games), are alleged to receive 'freebies,' wined, dined, given gifts, even money, to be Olympic friendly. (There are some curious parallels with Luther worth pondering here.)

The Olympic industry is modeled on the most successful hegemonic industry in history – organized religion; specifically, Christianity. In 1894, the founder of the modern Games, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, called his creation, “a new civil religion.”

The family of Christ became the Olympic family called upon to unite on a pilgrimage and gather in a host city where these faithful solemnly observe ritual. It is, by definition, a liturgy. Hell, there’s an Olympic hymn.

The Olympic motto – Swifter, Higher, Stronger – is three words, and the number three represents the Christian Holy Trinity. The ring is an important Christian symbol for the Trinity and eternity. Baron de Coubertin borrowed the motto from a Dominican priest, and the more informal motto – “The most important thing is not to win but to take part!” – is lifted from a Bishop’s sermon. Every religion throughout history has appropriated from the religions before it.

If you believe
A blogger with nothing better to do, analyzed the Olympic medals table by each nation’s religious culture. Christianity is the Gold-medal-winning religion of the world. 70% of the gold medals have been won by 33% of the world, and of these, 57% of the Christian gold medals were won by Protestants, which might have shaken the Catholic faith of de Coubertin.

Do you believe?
In her conclusion to 'The Olympic Industry and Civil Liberties: the threat to free speech and freedom of assembly,' Helen Jefferson Lenskyj writes:

“... (Pseudo)-religious terms like 'Olympic movement' and 'Olympic spirit'... are carefully selected to evoke feelings of universal excitement and belonging, while the less savoury and profit-making motive is concealed. Activists who attempt to uncover this hypocrisy often find themselves silenced, as the mass media and local politicians capitulate to Olympic industry pressure to censor critical voices and to criminalize peaceful protest in Olympic host cities.

Now, what do you believe?

2010 Olympics: the tithe that binds the media disciplehood

Photo credit:

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The News Is Getting More Social

People would rather converse than be told, so journalism is opening up. By Steve Anderson, Today, “…three basic ingredients necessary for engaging participatory journalism:
1. Good Facilitation (skilled, respected, knowledgeable)
2. Value (informative/relevant content)
3. Openness (provides access via various points of entry)
Keep it simple
Participatory journalism need not be complicated; sometimes it's just a matter of incorporating the conversation that is already happening online. For example, when I was asked to go on the Dave Brindle show to talk about the use of Twitter in the uprising in Iran, I sent a message to my Facebook and Twitter networks asking for input. The input I received helped inform my comments on the show -- but more importantly, David Brindle took note of the discussion and used the comments as conversation points during the interview. Thus we had radio journalism that was crowd-sourced and integrated into a broader discussion that was happening online.”

Monday, June 8, 2009

Liberals dumbest decision in decades

Too much time, energy and reporting was wasted recently on the tiresome Marc Emery. Anyone who has promoted himself by consistent reference into becoming the 'drive-in' media's "self-described Prince of Pot" is tiresome, and we, the news media, were lulled into missing the importance of Bill C15.
C15 - based on ideology, not study and evidence - more than exposes the sham which federal politics in Canada has become with successive minority governments. It is also, as one prominent Liberal said, "one of the dumbest things I've seen the Liberal Party of Canada support in decades." (I assume he was excluding support for the Iraq war and Stephane Dion's leadership.)
The bill would impose mandatory minimum sentences for drug offences in Canada. It is conservative social agenda, passed by the House of Commons because the Liberals sold out. Was it worth it? Was it worth disregarding all of the evidence against this unjust bill for the sake of... what? Certainly not liberal principal.
C-15 would not have brought down the government, but it brings up concerns about Canadian liberalism under Michael Ignatieff. Canadian Liberalism is more than can be studied in textbooks and news reports. It is a life experience of shared social beliefs and values, and common sense. It's the character that is expressed from having lived Canadian liberalism.
Liberals also have balls. Chretien, Martin (though unlucky), Trudeau - all balls. Ignatieff needs to grow a pair. For all of his admirable intelligence and academic liberalism, for all of his memory of the smell of the barn, for all of his reading and writings, he lacks having lived as a Canadian liberal. He wasn't here when Trudeau said the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation. He wasn't here when Trudeau flipped-off western Canadian liberals, or watch him stare down the barrel of a gun at the FLQ, or stand as the gunslinger against the separatists, or give us the Charter.
In a profile, Ignatieff admitted, "My career has been a bit of a focal point for a debate about what makes a good Canadian." He has been tirelessly promoting a sound, valid, and eloquently expressed argument against those who use his 34 years spent outside the country to attack him. He now needs to answer, what makes a Canadian liberal? Having lived abroad when Trudeau was changing Canada, does Ignatieff have the shared social experience of Trudeau liberalism - smart and ballsy, socially progressive liberalism? It's not that Ignatieff isn't a good Canadian, but I am growing suspicious of his street cred as a good Canadian liberal.
Liberals do not support such egregious legislation as C-15. For reason not based on ideology, study or evidence, the Ignatieff caucus sided with Harper's Gang - sold-out to Harper on social and judicial legislation. This is a kick in the nuts to Canadian liberals.
But breath - there is faint hope. There remain Liberal senators with big brass bred-in-the-bone liberal balls. They were here in the Trudeau years. We can hope those with memory of Canadian liberalism and sober second thought in the Upper Chamber give Ignatieff a swift kick, a lecture on Canadian liberalism, and give C-15 back to the House to correct.
Photo credit: