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Once upon a time in New York City, there was a very reputable newspaper called The Sun. Although it was conservative, the public generally respected it. In 1897, a little girl asked her father if Santa Clause existed and her father answered, “if you see it in The Sun, it’s so!” The little girl’s letter to the editor and the editor’s subsequent response became one of the most popular editorials ever written.

Here in Canada, we have several versions of The Sun, based in Toronto, Ottawa, Edmonton, and Calgary. Run by Sun Media network and owned by Quebecor Media, they even have their own television station and are known for a rather biased opinion of the news; leaning sharply to the right. Bias towards one side of the political spectrum is not a crime, heck I myself am biased in my own way, but there is a difference between bias and malice. There is telling only one side of the story, and then there is making malicious, inaccurate statements. Sadly, Sun Media has crossed this line from right wing bias to right wing malice.

 

You're Tie is the Wrong colour Ezra, unless  the NDP has jumped to the right...instead of back to the left...

Your tie is the wrong colour, Ezra, unless the NDP has jumped to the right instead of back to the left…
Sun News

 

Notorious commentator Ezra Levant, educated at the prestigious University of Calgary and equally notable University of Alberta, writes editorials and has a news show for Sun Media. A right winger, he has ruffled feathers from Buena Vista to Vancouver Island and back again.  Now, Levant has left bias behind in favour of malice.

A recent episode of The Source with Ezra Levant included a rant about Justin Trudeau. Rather than sticking to the typical Tory line, “he’s in way over his head,” Levant took a more evil approach. The topic of contention was a photo of Justin Trudeau at a wedding where Trudeau (an invited member of the wedding party) gave the blushing bride a peck on the cheek. That Trudeau had asked the bride and groom before he swooped in seemed irrelevant to the well educated commentator. Maybe he hasn’t been to many weddings, but pecks on the cheek are usually a sign of platonic affection. Perhaps that is not the case in Alberta.

Instead of sticking to complaining that it was a shallow publicity stunt what came next was a far more controversial statement, where Levant said that Trudeau was acting in the tradition of jus primae noctis or Droit de Seigneur, where noblemen were supposedly allowed to have their way with newly wedded virgins in Medieval Europe. For quote Levant “the idea of the nobleman of the estate riding through like in medieval times to deflower whatever maidens he wanted—that’s still there in Trudeau.” You could see where Levant could get that from. But is this accurate? Probably not. Levant studied Commerce and Law at University; I study History. From what I’ve learned about medieval history, jus primae noctis likely didn’t exist. There is no hard evidence of it, and the only writings we have that suggest it existed are fictional. The image has become popular in modern fiction such as Pillars of the EarthGame of Thrones, 1984, and Braveheart as a way to make “the bad guys” (William Hamleigh, Ramsay Snow, Capitalists, and Edward Longshanks) seem even more loathsome. Yet, in a society where most people’s knowledge of history comes from popular culture instead of fact, we can forgive Levant for the mistake (if he ever opts to apologize). It was a mistake, after all, made in ignorance.

But the story gets worse. A lot worse. Pierre Trudeau’s womanizing style has oft been the subject of jokes, so it might not seem to be a huge issue when Levant decided to incorporate a reference to it in his rant. After all even Air Farce used to do it. But rather than make a light hearted innuendo Levant critically compared the younger Trudeau to the behaviour of his parents, and said of Pierre Trudeau, “he banged anyone. He was a slut. [Margaret] wasn’t much different.” For proof, Levant stipulated that Margaret and Pierre wildly publicized their sexual conquests. First of all, as the younger generation realizes “No slut shaming!” To translate for the older generation I remind you of the line “He who is without sin, throw the first stone.” Further I wasn’t around back then, but it seems that the media made a spectacle of the couple’s actions. Even thirty and forty years ago our media was uncomfortably pervasive at times. Making lighthearted innuendoes for a laugh is acceptable, but a poisonous attack against someone because of something their parents did long ago is unfair and inappropriate in such a public setting.

From start to finish, Levant’s rant on Trudeau crosses so many taboos that it makes him seem ridiculous. In reaction, Trudeau has decided to boycott Sun Media.  Sun Media merely shrugged their shoulders at this action, and have claimed that they have literally had to chase Trudeau over the past couple of months to get him to answer any questions at all. Generally Sun Media’s, and like commentator’s, opinions are that the younger Trudeau is being childish. But after the such inappropriate behaviour by an employee of Sun Media, is the boycott really unjustified? After all our current Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, doesn’t much like answering questions himself-keeping to a five question maximum per day since the last campaign. If Conservative politicians are allowed to ignore the media why can’t a Liberal?

In any case this wasn’t the tired Tory tactic of whining, “he’s in over his head,” or saying Liberal policies are still being formed. This was malicious, cruel and faulty accusation. Levant strayed from the political and towards the personal. Not unlike the PC attack adds against Jean Chretien in 1993 where they made light of Chretien’s facial deformity. These were of course official ads from the political parties, not produced by a hanger-on like Levant, but the backlash was such that several PC candidates even condemned the ad, as did many Canadians. We all saw how that election turned out.

As I mentioned earlier, bias in the media is one thing, but crossing into malice is quite another. In my writing, I am critical of certain politicians over others, but I am critical of their actions, their policies, and their statements. I do not question their ability to parent, their personal familial relationships, or slander their parents! In this country, the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation and I think the nation should keep its big nose outside of the bedrooms of the state! Levant’s attitude is nearly voyeuristic and sullies the name of real journalism. Even for Sun Media, such rhetoric is more appropriate for The National Inquirer than for a mainstream network. Let Sun readers and viewers continue to believe that what is written in the Sun is so, but, even if you’re giving a one sided view of the story, you shouldn’t do something as low or underhanded as what Levant did in his recent rant about Trudeau. That is more childish than any boycott that Trudeau is taking against Sun Media. We aren’t children, we are supposed to be adults. It seems, however, that Ezra Levant needs a few more years under his belt before he can join the big boys’ table.