I have to cop to being completely naive and mystified how those anonymously-penned editorials get made, and what standard they’re supposed to meet in terms of accuracy & ethics. According to Allen Garr’s Dec. 4th column in the Vancouver Courier regarding what we now know was a Harvey Enchin penned editorial in the Vancouver Sun, the standard is quite low.
It’s not really that the fundamental premise of the editorial was factually incorrect (it was Superintendent Cardwell, not Patti Bacchus, who determined Chevron’s Fuel Your School program did not meet the VSB’s corporate donor policy). Though there is that.
It’s not really that, unbeknownst to the reader, the then anonymous writer is the spouse of the communications director for a political party then engaged in a bitter election campaign against one of the subjects of the editorial and this link was not disclosed in the editorial. Though there is that.
It’s not really that the Vancouver Sun is part of the Postmedia chain, which had or has a commercial arrangement with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers – of which Chevron is a member – to “leverage all means editorially, technically and creatively” to further the “critical conversation” on the industry. Though there is that.
It’s not really that the Chevron Fuel for School program, as we discovered in a subsequent post-election Pete McMartin article, works in the way Patti Bacchus said it does. Though there is that.
It’s not really that Enchin, unlike McMartin, apparently didn’t pick up the phone to call Chevron to confirm the details of Fuel Your School. Though there is that.
It’s not really that Enchin engaged his own children to photograph a poster to support his case against Bacchus. Though there is that.
It’s not really that this poster was not, according to Garr, in the place Enchin said it was. Though there is that.
It’s that in his effort to call Patti Bacchus a hypocrite he questioned the professionalism of Francois Clark, the teacher of his own children. In his own word, the mere existence of this poster, which Enchin admits he has not seen, has this effect:
No one should be deluded into thinking this has anything to do with education. There is no serious study of science, no discussion of economic benefits, no attempt to address the engineering challenges related to production and shipment of oil, no consideration of the people and communities that depend on resource industries for survival.
Claims that was not his intent is simply an attempt to have your cake and eat it too. Francois Clark’s name did not have to be used to make whatever point, inaccurate as it turned out to be, Enchin wanted.
I think all the above is actually quite appalling. But, as mentioned, I’m naive and don’t really understand how newspapers work.
Well, that’s shocking. Even if you are sympathetic to the teachers, there’s no excuse for the BCTF advocating violent intimidation on picket lines and….
…maybe we should read Mr. Sharpe’s cited article first. But even before that, let’s get to know our cast of characters.
Carl Ratsoy: A teacher at Reynold’s Secondary in
Esquimalt Saanich (corrected).
Matt Grinder: A teacher at Reynold’s Secondary in
Esquimalt Saanich (corrected).
Back to it…
Physics teacher Carl Ratsoy asked for protection from the B.C. Public School Employers’ Association and his colleagues at Saanich’s Reynolds secondary after a fiery email, penned by math teacher Matt Grinder, circulated among teachers there last week warning them not to cross any potential picket line.
Oh my. Still, that’s the actions of an individual teacher. Is it fair to characterize them as the position of the BCTF? Um. No. Does the BCTF have a responsibility to disavow? Maybe we should take a closer look at the Mr. Grinder’s fiery, violently threatening email.
Grinder says any teacher who crosses the picket line would have to be a “real sociopath.”
Oh. Well, that’s not very nice. Personally I don’t think crossing a picket line makes you a sociopath. It makes you a jerk, but not a sociopath. It’s an opinion, nothing more. Surely there’s more to it, though?
“[Crossing the picket line] is wishing horrific fines on your fellow teachers,” Grinder wrote in the email. “I would keep my children away from you, cause you’re evil. And I’ll shout at you.”
Heh. Depending on the context and what precisely is said, shouting at someone can be inappropriate and deemed harassment. But not always…or even often. And one would think seeing someone cross a picket line is a socially – and legally – acceptable time to shout at someone. It is, in fact.
But I think it must be a new record for X-Treme spin[tm] to construe Mr. Grinder keeping his children away from Mr. Ratsoy as a violent threat against…Mr. Ratsoy.
Let’s keep in mind this hasn’t actually happened yet. Teachers have not picketed. They may or may not. Mr. Ratsoy has not attempted to cross a picket line. He may or may not. Mr. Grinder has not kept his children away, to my knowledge, from Mr. Ratsoy or shouted at him. He may or may not.
Oh, there’s a pertinent detail I’ve left out:
Carl Ratsoy: A teacher at Reynold’s Secondary in Saanich and B.C. Liberal Party candidate in Esquimalt-Royal Roads in 2009.
Oh…that might have been nice for the Sun to have mentioned [UPDATE – The story has been changed since this morning to reflect this].
Now you may be saying that nowhere in the newspaper article is there talk of “violent threats” and you’d be correct. Mr. Ratsoy himself states he thinks the email falls short of actual harassment. However Mr. Sharpe, the original Tweeter, was adamant.
Now I don’t usually concern myself with someone’s background. It’s the argument that’s important to me and bringing up someone’s credentials all too often veers into dismissing said argument via attacking the messenger. But Mr. Sharpe was quite concerned about my background – which he stated was a BCTF lackey [I have no association with the BCTF. I have friends who are teachers and a friend who is a principal. I’m also a parent].
But, all things being equal…let’s make the final update to our cast of characters:
Geoff Sharpe: On Twitter he’s a Digital strategist. On LinkedIn, however, he’s President of the BC Young Liberals of the BC Liberal Party
Perhaps we should call this the Feinting Couch.