Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Police thinking. Hypocritical newspapers.

In Ontario, a rash of traffic accidents and fatalities from mostly young drivers racing each other on the highway resulted in the provincial nanny state recently enacting a draconian “stunt driving” law that has some serious penalties attached to it: $10,000 fine, jail time, loss of driver’s license, etc., if you are caught going 50 kilometers an hour over the posted speed limit.

While it has been used to prosecute the people the law was intended to affect, in typical police fashion, foolish charges have been laid against those who are speeding for other reasons; such as, trying to pass a big transport truck on the highway to get to a safe lane. After a couple of these showed up in court, the judges ruled the law unconstitutional and those rulings await the appeal of a higher court.

Meanwhile an auto mechanic was charge with speeding on the express highway on his motorcycle. He was going 243 kph in 100 kph zone on a multi-lane expressway. There was no evidence of racing and the prosecutor chose not to proceed with the stunt driving charge. The man was convicted and fined about $1,400.

Accrding to a story in today's Toronto Sun, Mr. Julian Fantino, the Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner, a strong supporter of Ontario's stunt driving law, said in an e-mail: "I am disappointed that the sentence did not also include a psychiatric assessment before the individual is allowed the privilege of driving in Ontario."

If you are ever in doubt about the wisdom of letting the police mind set the public agenda, that statement should do it for you.

Anybody who has ever ridden a motorcycle knows that they cry out to be let loose on a good open road. There is no thrill to compare to cranking one of these things up to its high end to see how it can fly. That may be careless, or even reckless, behaviour, but it is certainly not abnormal.

What is abnormal is having a top police official who thinks that anybody who wants to experience the thrill of riding a motorcycle at a speed beyond the humdrum one permitted by law needs a psychiatric evaluation.

And Another Thing

There are four daily newspapers in the Toronto area market that duke it out for circulation honours and advertising revenue. The one in that regional market with the largest circulation is the Toronto Star.

In my mind, it is unique in another way. I find its rivals generally consistent in political bias. The Star, however, has no shame.

In a recent op-piece, penned by one of their editorial editors, Martin Regg Cohn, the writer pretends to be former Progressive Conservative Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, chastising the current PM, Stephen Harper, for how he is handling his international profile, particularly his relations with the American President, and comparing Harper’s allegedly dismal performance with Mulroney’s stellar one.

I am old enough to recall how the Star treated Mulroney and his government for the eight years when he was in power. I cannot recall them ever praising him for anything. This attitude was not just in the editorials, it infected every single columnist in the newspaper. Even the humour guy, the late Gary Lautens, who I thought was a genteel person who would never say the word “shit” if his mouth were full of it, wrote a serious, nasty rant against Mulroney to my complete surprise.

I recall that the government did some polling during the public discussion of the free trade agreement with the United States, then in the offing. The pollsters determined that 47% of the country’s opposition to the Mulroney-sponsored deal came from the Toronto Star.

The Star vilified Mulroney for having a close relationship with Ronald Reagan. Now they are pretending that was a good thing.

What a nest of hypocrites!

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