Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Fake Outrage - Klander

I'm a big fan of Bill Maher. He coined a term a while back that I just loved - it's called "fake outrage". It's a bottled version of the real thing that politicians and partisans use when they want to make it seem like someone has done something deplorable, or when they want to manufacture as much anger towards someone as possible. It's all a big show, of course - that's the nature of the game. It works well politically for politicians and their hacks to look like they're mad as hell and not going to take it anymore - it rallies the troops, not to mention the voters. Maher used the term to describe the reaction of a nameless Alabama congressman to his comments about the US military's recruiting problems; said Congressman called him a "traitor" for noting the troop recruitment problems in order to get his name-recognition up by manufacturing a small scandal.

The reaction I've seen from Tories thus far to Mike Klander has been, to be blunt, as pathetic an example of fake outrage as any I've ever seen. Fake outrage allows some... creative license. So for example, Bill Maher pointing out the obvious recruiting problems of the US military in a humourous and politically incorrect way (does anyone remember the name of his old show...?) as a politically incorrect comedian could be expected to do, can be conflated into him being a "traitor". Get how it works? Great, so let's see here, what were Klander's sins?

  • He compared Olivia Chow to a Chow Chow. Okay, not the most original attack (actually a bit childish), but that's about it. But wait, enter fake outrage and all of a sudden it's racist! You heard me. Conservatives have been calling Klander's comments racist. One can only assume it's because "Chow" is a common Chinese last name. Okay, so was the "Jack-o-Layton" racist? Needless to say, it takes a pretty big jump to go from "Chow Chow" to "card-carrying member of the KKK". For this alone, people making this ridiculous charge collectively should receive the Volpe Award for Outrageous Hyperbole and Overreaction
  • He called Jack Layton an "asshole". Again, crude. But nothing most of us haven't said about one politician or another at some point (if not all of them). Ill-advised? Yes. Childish? Yes. But have a little perspective - it's not as if he was breaking new ground.
  • He claimed that he'd never be a politician because he would have to pretend to like stupid people. Maybe I'm a misanthrope, but when I read that I laughed, because it's true. There are a lot of very, very stupid people in this world, and by association in this country, and yes, politicians do have to be nice to them. Is this news? Next.
  • Pointing out that Harper is using the attractive and female Rona Ambrose and the attractive and ethnic Rahim Jaffer as campaign props to demonstrate diversity within the Conservative caucus. Again, is this news? But of course, enter fake outrage, and all of a sudden he's a racist and a sexist. Right. So it's not racist or sexist for Harper to blatantly use Ambrose and Jaffer as campaign props, but it's racist and sexist to point that out?
  • He said Dalton McGuinty and Michael Ignatieff look like Martin Landau and Anthony Perkins. Okay, and we're outraged about this why? They DO look like Martin Landau and Anthony Perkins. I wasn't aware that pointing out similarities between politicians and actors was worthy of a full-frontal assault.
  • He pointed out that cowboy hats make Stephen Harper look "gay". Many people, including Paul Martin at the Press Gallery Dinner, have pointed this out. Did we all see Harper in that ridiculous village-people get-up? Oh, just to inform you - village people? Gay poster boys. Shocked? Cowboy get-up has been a primarily gay subculture for decades now. Yet this is an indication that Klander is homophobic. Oh, make me laugh and gag at the same time. This has got to be the most pathetic line of attack I've seen from Conservatives ever. Okay, so it's "homophobic" to make a humourous observation about someone wearing a cowboy costume (and it is a costume, let's be serious here, there are no real cowboys left) makes them look "gay". (Well, DUH.) And yet, Stockwell Day calling homosexuality a mental disorder, John Williams saying gays are "repulsive", Art Hanger calling it a "repudiation of nature", Dave Chatters saying "society has a right to discriminate against them", and Myron Thompson calling gays "unnatural and totally immoral", is completely acceptable!? Who are these people trying to kid? The Conservatives have no business calling anybody homophobic. Conservatives, let's not forget, are the only party running on a platform that seeks to deny gays their constitutionally-determined civil rights.
  • Pointing out that if Irwin Cotler, John Efford, and Chuck Cadman hadn't had funerals and medical procedures, they would have been in the House to make a tie out of those pseudo-confidence motions back in May.
  • Elaborating on well-known Liberal strategy of promising an election 30 days after the Gomery report.
Did I miss anything?

Well, honestly, it seems to me that what Mike Klander was most guilty of was giving the Conservatives ammunition to fire with their fake outrage guns, unforgivable during an election campaign, but just fine any other time.

Half of that stuff shouldn't even be controversial (like comparing Dalton McGuinty to Martin Landau appearance-wise), and the most of it is blown out of proportion (like comparing Olivia Chow to a funny-looking dog.) The rest of it just seems to be the random musings of someone with a foul mouth and a politically incorrect sense of humour. I'm not ashamed to say that I fit that definition, and frankly, seeing Klander assaulted the way he has been makes me wonder whether or not people like me have any place in the political discourse, or if we'll always be attacked with manufactured outrage every time we say something "offensive".


At 12/28/2005 5:29 p.m., Blogger Dan McKenzie said...

'Manufactured Outrage'

I can't believe the amount of Harper supporters that adapt party talking points. It's sad and demonstrates a lack of independent thought. It also illustrates the distance to which normal people will go have a government ousted. These people should be reminded that they aren't politicians and don't have to lie! The Klander incident testifies to why Conservative have the upperhand in the blogosphere.

At 12/28/2005 5:39 p.m., Blogger Sara said...

What Klander did was a stupid thing. What Reid did was just as stupid but you noticed who was forced to resign?
The Conservatives didn't make a big deal of it, the Liberals did. They called him a volunteer not an exec.
I switched to Conservative reciently because of the childcare issue. I am a stay at home mom and the Liberals have labeled me as a non-working dependent! The Liberals are financially rewarding us to let Institutionalized daycare raise our children. The stay at home parents get absolutely nothing. Would you want to be bribed to leave your children just so you could pay more taxes to the government?
This is not an attack in any way this is just me showing you my point of view.

At 12/28/2005 6:15 p.m., Blogger The Truth Hurts said...

It has taken me forever, and given me a headache. But I have completed my seat forecast model. At it shows the Liberals gaining seats nationally.

At 12/28/2005 6:52 p.m., Blogger ToryHitman said...

Sooo, what's the excuse for the RCMP criminal probe? Is that an "accident" too? Is that the "Conservatives having the upper hand in the blogosphere." Face it, no one wants to elect slime-buckets anymore. Get over it, move on. Accept it. That's why 1984 was so beautiful...a Liberal in opposition. Oh I love it.

At 12/28/2005 6:54 p.m., Blogger Red Tory said...

You're absolutely spot on with the "fake outrage" thing, but it was just stupid beyond belief. And sadly, it wasn't even funny.

At 12/28/2005 9:47 p.m., Blogger RJL said...

Interesting piece. I won't call the guy a racist, but I will call him a dullard and a child.

His comments were immature, and they shouldn't have been made publicly. Comments like that do nothing to bring civility back to politics, which is what politics needs.

Just look at the election between Bush and Kerry. That was ridiculous.

At 12/28/2005 10:31 p.m., Blogger OttawaCon said...

You clearly have no idea how this comment is playing in the Chinese community.

At 12/29/2005 2:36 p.m., Blogger Platty said...

This is politics, I am sure you understand that "fake outrage" is the norm in this arena. Do you recall Paul Martins over the top, Tom Cruise like "I Love Canada"?
If this is an attempt to downplay or excuse the childish, insulting comments made by Mr. Klander, it is, at best, very weak.

At 12/29/2005 8:26 p.m., Blogger Platty said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 12/31/2005 6:39 p.m., Blogger Xenophon said...

It works well politically for politicians and their hacks to look like they're mad as hell and not going to take it anymore - it rallies the troops, not to mention the voters.

Hmmmm ... almost word for word, Paul Martin's "reaction" to evidence of Liberal corruption in the Sponsorship Scandal.

A double edged sword, this 'fake outrage' concept ...


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