Saturday, March 31, 2012

Prejudice is opinion without judgement.

That's Voltaire.

Trayvon Martin was not a saint.

I suppose it seems obvious.  It is obvious.  However, here I am, a liberal, saying it.  Some on the right would have you believe that we're already petitioning the pope to have the requisite miracles documented.  He was not a saint.  I know hardly anything about the kid, but I know that he was sometimes rude, sometimes disobeyed his parents, was mean to his siblings, and he didn't always do his homework.  He was not always a good kid.

I don't know much about this.  Here's what I know for sure: a kid walking back from the store was shot by a man with a history of probable mental illness, and the police in the community decided it was likely self-defense.

This shouldn't have become politicised, but it did.  We should not be lining up along ideological lines on this situation, but we are.  A kid got shot by a man, and the "lefties" are blaming the man who shot him, and the "righties" are blaming the kid who got shot.

What are they blaming Martin for?  A bunch of things: wearing a hoodie, being in the wrong neighbourhood at the wrong time, hiding his hands, even attacking the man with the gun.  What's Zimmerman being blamed for?  Shooting an unarmed kid.

Obviously, since this has become a political issue, the blame and the dialogue has expanded.  People are wearing hoodies in solidarity, and columnists (I suppose including myself now, though I have no column) have expended billions of pixels in commenting (as is their wont).

My favourite columnist is no exception.

The most important thing that Michael Coren says about the Trayvon Martin brouhaha doesn't come until the last paragraph.  However, I feel I should bring it to your attention first:
I have no idea whether Trayvon Martin was a victim or an instigator...

He has no idea, but he is willing to side with those who claim he's an instigator.

A few days ago, I wrote about ad hominem attacks.  I said that when you insulted others, you were essentially admitting your argument was weak.  Today's Coren column is exceptional in one regard.  He doesn't bother being subtle in insulting who he perceives as his opponents:
  • Let’s try to make this as simple as possible, even for liberals. (translation: liberals are stupid)
  • ...the usual race pimps and inverted racists, such as Al Sharpton (Al Sharpton is a racist)
  • ...the increasingly hysterical and exploitative President Barack Obama (Obama is exploiting a dead kid when asked in a press conference for comment)

I find it very hard to talk about Michael Coren without resorting to these kind of attacks.  His writing gets under my skin.  He frequently insults atheists, liberals, environmentalists, and pacifists.  I am all of those.  It feels like he's insulted me first, so it's fair to lash back.  But once again, if I do, he wins.

His opinions are odious.  His writing is often weak and rambling.  He tends to substitute venom for passion.  His research is sporadic.  His examples are sometimes misleading and dishonest.  He's fond of inequal comparisons (such as pointing out that Shawn Tyson killed some people, so Trayvon Martin was clearly dangerous).  His views on history are questionable.  He likes to insult people who disagree with him.  His behaviour and writing are also achingly parochial and tribal (I'm not a fan of Islam or Protestantism, but I also don't have the arrogance to claim that my brand of monotheism is obviously right and good), insulting other faiths with impunity, especially Islam.

The rest of his column is what you'd expect from Coren: inflammatory, derogatory, revisionistic, and trying to be clever in labelling those who cry racism as racists.   Oddly, he tries to call liberals racists without actually calling us racists.  It seems an odd place to draw the line.  But I don't claim to understand him.

Please note:  I did not once insult the man.  I've staked out my small piece of the moral high ground.

Said moral high ground is slippery with the mud that others fling at us.  The gutter that surrounds us is slimy and provides ample ammunition to those that would have us join them there.  Please, let's watch our footing.

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