Monday, February 23, 2009

Kathy, Kinsella and Krap

There is a big flap going on in the blogosphere at the moment over TVO’s decision to include Kathy Shaidle as a panelist on the recent talk show that dealt with atheism and the bus ad campaign.

It appears that well-known Liberal operative, Warren Kinsella, tried mightily to persuade Steve Paikin, the host of The Agenda to drop Shaidle from the panel on the grounds that she is a racist. Reading through the commentary on Steve’s blog it appears several regular viewers share Kinsella’s opinion.

I don’t agree, and not just because it is Warren Kinsella saying it, although that might be reason enough for some people. Free speech is free speech. There are no conditions.

Kathy Shaidle could go out in the streets of Toronto and give a speech to a crowd about her views, so why should it make a difference if she is on a public broadcasting network? If you don’t like what she has to say on the street you can walk away. If you are watching her on television you can switch the channel.

The Agenda has also had guests like the Imam, Aly Hindy, who brags about defying Canadian law because it conflicts with Islam by performing polygamous marriage ceremonies. I didn’t hear of Kinsella complaining about him.

I had heard of Shaidle and have occasionally dropped in on her blog, Five Feet of Fury. I must miss the good stuff that everybody who likes her raves about because every time I have visited she seems to post pithy comments that amount to cheerleading for Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn, with links to their sites. Since I already read those two on a daily basis there is not much for me to glean from Five Feet of Fury.

I was curious to see what she had to say on the show.

It wasn’t much. She made some cracks about Madlayn Murray, the famous U.S. atheist activist in the 1960s, who was murdered by a felonious employee, but failed to mention that Murray succeeded in having pray and Bible readings banned from public schools.

I didn’t get the feeling that she either knew very much or cared very much about the topic under discussion, so I suppose the real question is why The Agenda’s producers thought she was worth inviting on this particular show.

She did contribute some irony, however. At the beginning she complained about how unfair it is to see fundamentalist Christians labeled as “wing nuts” and dismissed out of hand. Thirty minutes later she was calling Barack Obama a “Marxist professor” who she couldn’t be bothered with and then defended the labeling of people in this manner as a legitimate exercise in debate!

Altogether, I got the impression she is a shallow thinker whose main shtick is making outrageous right-wing comments strictly for their incendiary impact. This is a field well-plowed already by the likes of Ann Coulter and Rachel Marsden. But, enough people whose opinions I value laud her, so I remain open-minded about her and will look for something meatier in the future.

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