Tuesday, April 03, 2007

In For a Penny In for a Coyne

Andrew Coyne is one of Canada's brightest and most perceptive political commentators.

And it's rare that I disagree with him.

But one of those rare occasions occurred yesterday, when I read a posting on his blog in which he complains about the Conservative Party's anti-Liberal attack ads, which he calls "manipulative, inflammatory and tendentious."

Now I happen to think so-called "attack ads" are a legitimate weapon in any political party's arsenal.

So I posted this comment on his blog: "Memo to AC: Politics is a bloodsport, it's about time the Tories started fighting fire with fire."

In a posting today, Coyne replies: "Oh, but I forgot . . . .`politics is a bloodsport,' and this sort of thing just goes with the territory. Fair enough, I suppose: but doesn't anybody want to change politics any more?"

Now I am not sure what Coyne means by this.

Change it how exactly? By banning tough and hard hitting ads?

That would infringe on free expression.

By one side unilaterally declaring it won't use "negative ads"?

The Tories tried that "taking a knife to a gunfight" approach in the 2004 election and they lost out to the Liberals who had no compulsion about employing "manipulative, inflammatory and tendentious" ads.

The fact is, "negative ads", if used properly, work.

And there is nothing wrong morally with using them.

Democracy, by its very nature, is a messy, rough and tumble business --- it always has been and, I suspect, it always will be.

It doesn't need to be changed.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

While I agree that there should not be a banning or legislated parameters, Harper has once again gone beyond the pale with this. Honestly, what would you think if he had run an ad in English Canada saying we've had enough French Prime Ministers? Oh. Not a good example, he's already said that.

OK, what if the leader of the opposition was black and he ran an ad saying that the Leader of Her Majesties Loyal Opposition was an Uncle Tom, or called a woman a bitch in national ads. Decent, Prime Ministerial behaviour that reflects a leader wanting to represent us all? Or acceptable behaviour because, after all, politics is a bloodsport and so all is fair.

With all due respect, if politics is simply a bloodsport with no holds barred... why are you whining so much about Coyne's criticism?

Raymaker said...

"One of the top 5 political minds in the country."

I don't think you could rank as one of the top 5 political minds in kindergarten.

Ace said...

Anonymous and raymaker, like all Liebranos are against the principle of freedom of speech.

If the ad run was racist, sexist, or offensive then honestly - who cares in a truly free society. That kind of ad would simply reflect poorly on the party that issued it (ex. Liberals "soldiers in our cities ad").

Where an ad is a problem is whether the claims made are libellous (ex. again the soldiers' ad as it implied Harper would institute martial law).

Flavrflav said...

Ace put it best when he indicated that a free society is self-corrective. If ads are blatantly racist or sexist, it will reflect poorly on the sponsoring party.

What I found particularly amusing were the many complaints regarding earlier "attack ads" that featured nothing more that Stephane Dion's own words! Absurd.

Raymaker, I hope that you summoned all the resources of your rapier whit to condemn the Liberals for their unapologetic use of attack ads in recent campaigns.

Anonymous said...

Coyne's point was that dishonest attack ads are unethical. The recent CON ads are lies.

Anonymous said...

"Top 5 political minds in the country?"

It takes one of the Top 5 egos in the country to include such a line in your bio.