Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Media predictably focus on Olympic torch run protestors but ignore cuts to vulnerable children

Photo Copyright VANOC/COVAN

Dissent and BC's Media

Olympic torch run protesters may be wrong but civil liberties are always right.

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday November 3, 2009

"Whenever we take away the liberties of those we hate, we are opening the way to loss of liberty for those we love."

- Wendell Willkie

Civil liberties are never in question unless they are exercised in a way that the majority of the population disagrees with -- and that's when they need to be defended.

That became evident Friday, when anti-Olympics protesters in Victoria succeeded in blocking a small portion of the Olympic torch run.

Predictably, the media focused not on why 200 protesters occupied an intersection to voice their opposition but on the torchbearers who were unfairly deprived of their opportunity to run the flame.

More predictably, media featured a young man with cerebral palsy who could not take his turn. Fortunately he
later got his chance in Nanaimo.

A fundamental right

I strongly disagree with disrupting the torch run or preventing volunteers from their chance of a lifetime to carry the Olympic flame in their own home town.

It discredits any legitimate protest goals.

I believe police could and should have arrested anyone breaking the law.

But I also strongly believe protesters have the right to exercise civil disobedience -- if they are willing to face the legal consequences.

That's a fundamental right in our democratic society.

It's ironic that one young man with disabilities who was wrongly deprived of his rights by a handful of protesters gets massive media attention while hundreds of vulnerable children with special needs also being wrongly deprived of their rights to treatment by the provincial government are barely a news story.

Protesters the media chose to ignore

Last Wednesday a group called Moms on the Move held
protests in 20 communities to protest B.C. Liberal cuts to funding for special needs kids, including to autism, fetal alcohol syndrome and mental illness treatment programs.

Despite the obvious importance of their plight, the protests received next to no media coverage, with less than a dozen news stories online and none in major media.

But disrupt the Olympic torch run and watch the media fly -- there were hundreds of stories about the protesters' disruption and it dominated television coverage.

Media and protesters: get creative

So columnists can complain loudly about
"anarchist knuckleheads" but the sad truth is that they get more media attention than children in need.

Protesters should have that right in a free and democratic society -- but they should find more creative means to do so without removing the rights of others to celebrate the Olympics.

And the media should give a lot more attention to funding cuts to vital programs that aren't as dramatic or easy to cover but are much more devastating to far more people's lives than either the Olympics or protests about it.



Ron said...

Good analysis Bill.

Why is it that I learned that the torch relay was initiated during the 1936 Berlin Olympics by the propaganda-wise Nazis only when I was on some progressive web sites?

The corporate media leaves the impression that it was an ancient Greek tradition!

Anonymous said...

The problem is the celeb-media in BC have all signed on to the Olympic propaganda myth either to get their hands on advertising contracts or in the case of CanWest/Global because they are personally and politically tied to Gordon Campbell.

Throw in the Campbell Olympic collaborators in the NDP and in the various Metro municipal governments and there is even less motivation to report "the truth" of the Olympics.

Remove the historical-specifics and Berlin 1936 and Vancouver 2010 have the same kind of ON-THE-TAKE trained seals pushing the various party lines($$$).

All this BS about "for the athletes" . . . give me a break, it's all about the BIG money, the patronage contracts and the photo-ops for BC Beautiful Elite to run around in 2010 clown-suits and be interviewed by CNN.

But after April 2010 and the bills for all the waste and over-spending come in you will find it very hard to find anyone in BC's elite, for example Mayor Happy Planet, who have even heard of the Olympics.

And for Furlong & Campbell it's Maui Time!


Anonymous said...

I saw the torch run in Ladysmith and it looked like a series of promotions for the RCMP, a bank and soft drink company. The torch bearer was overshadowed by all of these and the vehicles they were using. So much fuel was used to move the vehicles that we could not call it a green event. A good event and lots of fun for the kids on Halloween bur the torch bearer was secondary to all the others in the parade.

Gillian said...

Thanks for bringing this up, Bill. As a mother of one of those vulnerable kids, it was downright frightening not to see any major media coverage of the MOMs protests.
Especially since the media WAS there, the story just got cut.

Anonymous said...

Good points Anon. 12:12. There is a quote from "Hope," a Len Deighton novel that jumped out to me when I opened the book. It is, "When you dine with the rich man, you wind up paying the bill."
For me that summarizes the Olympics even though I admire the athletics.

Henri Paul said...

Ron said... 11:04 AM
the torch relay was initiated during the 1936 Berlin Olympics by the propaganda-wise Nazis
Ron, could it have been intended , running with and holding up the torch, was to symbolize the Hail, honor the Fhur, Hail Hitler.

Anonymous said...

I still think the torch run was worth it to see Campbell looking sexy holding that torch...


Anonymous said...

Comment #7 is a phoney, he is not The GREAT SATAN, likely it's Kevin Falcon trying to brown-nose to his one true love the "Honourable" Gordon Campbell.

Gordon Campbell sexy . . . only if you are Norman Bates from Psycho with mommy issues.


Anonymous said...

You caught me, I have a thing for gordo


Anonymous said...

So Bill you can mention the kids when it suits your arguement but otherwise you won't stand up for them when asked. In fact your response was basically that you didn't have the time because you were focusing on the Basi trial. Well, in the larger picture, kids issues always trump the railway issues. Not that the railway issues aren't extremely important bu,t the kids should always be the number one issue in regrds to the neglect and abuses whether cuts or other concerns

Henri Paul said...

Anonymous said...9:59 PM
You caught me, I have a thing for gordo
This thing you have, is it long, skinny, and red on the end?

Anonymous said...

Suddenly it seems that 6.7 billion dollars in Campbell Olympic Promises for BC have gone up in smoke.

Now we hear our taser-happy security forces are training hordes of "Trailer Park Boys" to be special security officers for the Campbell Games.

This means two things:
#1 Every Seven-Eleven and Cold Beer Outlet in Metro will be safe during February.
#2 If you are Polish, be afraid . . . run don't walk to some place safe like Kabul.


Julie said...

To argue that the protesters were wrongly taking away torchbearers' 'right' to carry the flame is to look at the whole question of the Olympics from a very narrow view. The Olympic institution has the right to promote a history of colonialism and fascism; the right to destroy the environment for more roads and infrastructure deemed necessary for the games; the right to host its games on unceded indigenous land despite strong opposition from indigenous peoples; and the right to reduce low-income housing and criminalize the poor, etc. Effectively, the rights of the Olympics are largely to remove the rights of others.

Interestingly, you fail to to identify the root cause of the differing levels of coverage of the two protests. A protest against funding cuts to special needs programs hold no interest for media which is dominated by powerful corporations. Conversely, these same corporations are incensed by an Olympic protest that attacks the shrine to corporatism that are the Olympic Games.

Anonymous said...

I was listening to Bill Boring on CKNW the other morning and heard many callers claiming they want their tax dollars spent on this olympic party. Bill said this himself. Sure they support tax money spent on health care and education, but why not on this? It is fun.

There isn't enough money to support both. This fact seems to go above their level of comprehension. Money has been taken away from meaningfull and necessary programs. It is like buying a new fancy car and now not having enough money for groceries to feed the family or paying the mortgage.

The Liberals have been running around for years buying fancy cars and starving everything else. They have been completly reckless with our finances and we will all feel the effects for many more years to come.

Shame on you Campbell and all your supporters. Greedy SOB's.

DPL said...

A starge thing happened at our house yesterday. a ladie came over to visit, she has a firm believe that Gordo and crew can do nothing wrong, went outside to watch "THE TORCH" go by. She said she was disgusted with the event, the biggest noise was by a pop company, the large crowd of cops, in and out of uniform, the gaudy uniform of the person carrying the thing, who seemed to be sort of an after thought add on to the event. The helicopter was hanging around as well. The locals were a large number of about six people.
Nice lady, I used to fly with her dad so we actually talk to her, even though she is firmly convinced the NDP are evil, and Gordo is saving us all from those socialists. The mind boggles. will March of next year shut up the boosters?

Anonymous said...

Julie: "The Olympic institution has the right to promote a history of colonialism and fascism;"

Can you back these allegations with a credible link?

Dawn Steele said...

Thanks again, Bill - it is only through journalists and media that we can alert the public to what is going on. Our province-wide MOMS actions actually got great coverage in the small local papers in the communities that participated - it seemed to be the big city papers that weren't interested but there will be other opportunities! The TV and radio coverage was also hugely appreciated.

We also stressed to all participating groups that we did not want to link our own issue in any way to the Olympics. We believe that it is up to BC citizens, not us, to decide on what they consider the most important funding priorities. What we are trying to show is that cutting early intervention programs for vulnerable kids is not just inhumane but foolish and fiscally irresponsible, since society will pay far more in the long term than the miniscule short-term savings.

FYI: MOMs is supporting another rally on November 6, starting at 9:30 am in Langley, outside Mary Polak's constituency office. Parents whose children will be hurt by Polak's decision to eliminate autism early intervention programs are travelling to Langley from around the province and we hope that a few citizens will join in to demonostrate their support.

More at: http://MomsNetwork.ca

Anonymous said...

CTV news did cover the "MOMS" rally.
They had footage from the freeway and Campbells office, with a clip from a mother.


Angela said...

Perhaps your best column ever, Bill. Not saying I agree 100% but it says volumes about our society. It's not obvious whether the Olympic protesters are in the right or not.

However, we only even hear about it because the media focus on the propaganda rather than real stories about special needs kids being deprived. And who can blame them, they only show us what we want to see.

Right or not, the protesters should keep on using whatever tactics they feel are justified to disrupt the Olympics, especially the frivolous torch relay, and the celebrations of these events. (Obviously, here is where we differ in opinion)

If they go "too far" then they should and will be arrested, but that doesn't mean they were in the wrong. In extreme situations, civil disobedience leading to violence, war, radical power shifts may be the only option left.

Sadly, we may be closer to that state than we wish or realize. If putting the dampers on a terrific party draws enough attention to all that is wrong with the Olympics and the government, both provincial and municipal, then that may be better than the Games for all of us. Let's hope that no serious damage occurs, either to property or person in the process.

Unknown said...

Hey Bill... not all "big city" media ignored the moms on the move protest. Rick Cluff interviewed Don Steele about it on the Early Edition that day. We covered both. cheers!

Bill Tieleman said...

Thanks Shiral - I'm glad to hear that and should have indicated it is easy to check online for newspaper coverage but not for radio or television. Good work!

Dad said...

BC parents are tired of watching the government allow the needless suffering and death of children and parents.

How can we allow the kind of suffering that would lead a person to murder their own children and then commit suicide themselves? Suffering so bad and tragic that killing your family was a better alternative can not be acceptable in Canada.

In Canada, this sort of suffering exists and recent deaths are easy to find:






Stop this insanity. Attend the next rally to show our government the unnecessary suffering and death of our children must stop!

Premier Gordon Campbell’s Constituency Office
3615 West 4th Ave
Vancouver, BC

Friday, November 13th, 2009
12:00 Noon

Why should you attend?

* The recent tragic deaths of two Canadian children with autism, killed at the hands of their own parents, is a wake up call! The status qua is putting the health of children and their very lives in jeopardy.
* September’s announcement by the Ministry of Children and Family Development has shown that our government is not concerned about the rights and needs of some of its most vulnerable citizens.
* No legislation or mandate exists to deliver health care to children with autism or to protect and enshrine their right to their medically necessary treatment. What little individualized funding being provided now is in jeopardy of being taken away.
* Autism is an epidemic! According to the Center for Disease Control, it now affects one in every 100 children in North America.
* It is time for our provincial government to recognize its responsibility to act and to demonstrate leadership for the rest of Canada!

Who should attend?

* Parents, grandparents, friends, consultants, therapists, anyone who is concerned about this injustice to our children. We urge you all to attend this rally!

For more information email: abarocks@gmail.com