Hint: “LOL” doesn’t stand for Liberal Opposition Leader

by Colby Cosh

Attention newspapers: trying to milk the Lee Harpey Oswald scandal for every possible ounce of news value may seem like fun now, but you do realize, don’t you, that we journalists will end up being bound by the standards of taste we’re all now blithely applying to partisan propagandists? The longer we countenance this grotesque farce, the more likely it is that editorial cartoonists will eventually be forbidden by custom from drawing statesmen with knives sticking out of their backs. (It’s a direct reference to assassination! How dare you?) This is a problem, since the code of their profession requires them to do so a minimum of five times a year. (I think it’s in the handbook right after the “Dead celebrities being greeted by St. Peter” quota.)

By the way, let me extend a hearty “Welcome to the Internet!” to whichever Liberal flunky thought that a Photoshop competition was certain to be a bastion of good taste and non-offensiveness. Yes, you’ll notice the place is one big ethical minefield—best of luck navigating it with the remaining leg!




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Hint: “LOL” doesn’t stand for Liberal Opposition Leader

  1. A reporter who agrees that this isn't a story? I'm shocked.

  2. "that we journalists will end up being bound by the standards of taste we're all now blithely applying to partisan propagandists?"

    This might be true if public was actually paying attention to the topic.

    I am gobsmacked that this is an issue, I can't believe Globe and a couple of other news providers are paying attention to this at all. Why does msm feel it necessary to mediate between who's incident is more offensive, Libs or Cons, when there is a big world out there with lots going on.

  3. I'm more curious as to why every time the Liberals do something so offensive like this that the media have no choice but to cover it, they can't help but also dredge up something offensive that the Conservatives did in the past.

  4. During the 2008 campaign a number of acts of vandalism were reported in Southwestern Ontario, where I live. Citizens who displayed Liberal signs on their lawn were victims of different pranks, including a number of cutting of brake lines. Maybe you've read about it, otherwise you can google and find the information easily.

    I am a member of the Liberal Party and I never once wrote that Conservatives were the perpetrators. I don't know who the perpetrators were. I just hope that we won't have to go through this again.

    So, if you have any proof that the persons who posted these montages were Liberal flunkies, why don't you put it on the table?

  5. Because they are incapable of thinking for themselves and rely on WarrenK for ideas on what to write about.

  6. I know. MacLeans should have just hired the original instead of bringing in Cosh to post his talking points.

  7. hate to burst your bubble Jason, but I'm quite sure his reasons are disimilair to yours.

  8. It is obvious that Taber gets all her ideas from WarrenK and other Lib partisans. I have no idea why Globe employ's Taber to be stenographer for Lib party within their paper.

    • I actually think Lawrence Martin is way more of an obvious Liberal Party shill than Jane Taber. Taber's just kind of an inane gossip hound. Martin's pieces in the Globe are like propaganda pieces straight from the Liberal War Room.

      • I can't agree or disagree with you because when those two appear together I switch channels.

  9. [youtube EbaxSNh3KB4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbaxSNh3KB4 youtube]

    What kind of proof are you looking for here?

    From the Post:

    "It's important to keep in mind that the pictures are created by visitors to our website, and do not always reflect the views of the LPC," spokesman Daniel Lauzon said in an email, noting the submissions were intended to be humorous.

    "That being said, offensive photos have no business on our site.

    "Though we do screen the pictures before posting them, it appears the Lee Harvey Oswald picture slipped through the cracks — it has since been removed.

    "We apologize to those who took offence to the image."

    And, my favourite piece of the story:
    ….

    The Liberals have also removed a photograph depicting the Prime Minister with his hand up the rear end of a cow.

    "It was considered a joke on methane emissions from cattle. But since it can be misinterpreted, it was taken down as well," Mr. Lauzon said.

    Like the man says, a proof is a proof. And when you have a good proof (like an apology), it's proven.

  10. Fundamentally they're probably NOT dissimilar: the image itself doesn't present any kind of moral problem for the Liberal Party. But to the degree that there is any basis at all for the ongoing "crisis of Liberal strategic competence" story, the bright idea of having a Photoshop competition and winnowing the entries in such a lazy fashion can fairly be used to advance it.

  11. I doubt it, Colby. There's a quite defensible double-standard governing what political parties can say and do versus the rest of us. Remember the storm of indignation over those Tory ads allegedly making fun of Chretien's face? Yet what was the stock in trade of every cartoonist in the country — or cocktail party impressionist, for that matter — but making fun of Chretien's face? People seemed quite able to make the distinction, as arbitrary as it seems. But it isn't: we make these sorts of distinctions all the time, depending on the context. What is deemed improper for a priest or judge to say will be quite different than for a standup comedian. I hesitate to bracket politicians anywhere near priests or judges, but one lives in hope.

  12. I don't think the "reasons" are very complicated. It isn't a big deal. Get over it.

    Here's what I wrote on July 23, 2008 (no longer linkable):

    "I was not outraged by the picture. I don't believe the picture puts Stéphane Dion in danger and I am quite certain that wasn't really the Tory intention. It is more likely that some summer intern posted the picture thinking it was funny."

  13. That sort of seems right instinctively, but I'm having trouble making "quite defensible" and "arbitrary" fit together.

    • "Seems" arbitrary, I said. Seems, but isn't.

      Anyway, I sort of agree and disagree with you on the larger point: I think this was a story on the first day — just not the second. The contest was a dumb idea, the monitoring of it was slipshod, but they took it down pretty quickly after it was spotted.

  14. Do you see a difference between this picture and the Tory thing? It seems to me that when you read the quotes from the various Liberals that were on the page beneath the Tory pic, the point was that even Liberals were shooting holes in Dion's plan. I'm not quite sure that the same defence is available here, unless Jack Ruby represents voters in swing ridings and Lee Harvey Oswald represents Harper's plans for a majority government. That seems a little abstract to me.

    Incidentally, there was also a picture of Harper's face photoshopped over Heath Ledger's in a picture of Ledger with Jake Gyllenhal's arm around him on the site that got pulled. If a Tory had posted something similar, you'd never hear the end of the comments about how they've revealed what giant homophobes they are and how they can't be trusted with a majority government.

  15. "There's a quite defensible double-standard governing what political parties can say and do versus the rest of us."

    How cute. Coyne thinks there's a material distinction here.

  16. I don't know why but msm's ability to focus on ephemeral issues and blow them way out of proportion continues to amaze me.

    They are simply holding a mirror up in which we see ourselves…my local paper gets more mail to the editor when they change the comics than on any other issue.

  17. If this were a Big Idea meant to win an election, then I would actually agree. However, I'm not so sure that it is reasonable to judge the entire Liberal strategy on the basis of one kid given too much freedom to make a mistake online. If it happens again, then you might be on to something.

  18. In both cases, it is a matter of bad judgment online. The contest was "where would Harper rather be". The dumb picture's answer was "being shot by Jack Ruby". Funny? No. Worth national media attention? Also a big "No".

  19. I don't see how the Tory one is bad judgment. Saying that one's own team is shooting holes in their leader's plan is perfectly acceptable. As you correctly point out, it certainly wasn't the Tory intention to suggest that someone should shoot Stephane Dion or that such a thing would be funny.

    As I indicated above, I'm not sure what the plausible (or, hell, the implausible) argument in defence of the Harper/Ruby photo is. I agree with Cosh that the story is bad judgment rather than the picture itself; I'm not sure that any fair minded person can say the Tory example is an example of the same thing.

  20. Actually, given that context I think it is decently funny. I think this pretty well marks the day the right wing became open to being politically correct to score points even if we lack the basic impetus to apply it as thouroughly. What straightjacketed times.

  21. Well, let's leave aside the "This is the first time the Liberals have ever made an embarrassing technical screwup" argument (speaking of LOLs…). My question is: "Kid"? Um, if "kids" are handling the party's online strategy, that's a story right there.

    • Generation gap being story? Puh-leez!

      • Just reverse the characters to see just how big a story it would be if a conservative had photo-shopped Iggy blown away by Oswald.

        Conservatives always give Libs a break over their gaffes but don't seem to notice that the favor is never returned. Get rid of the double standard. Either both parties get reamed for this kind of bad taste or neither. The typical liberal hypocrisy has to be called out where they get all preachy about conservative transgressions but when the identical transgression is perpetrated by a lib, suddenly it's "Move on, folks. There's nothing to see here", with a bonus round in the USA now: "Any criticism of a black president is racist"!

  22. Both images were identically in poor or benign taste, according to one's judgment. Treating them differently is stupid.

  23. I think Coyne meant to say the rest of us who aren't running for public office.

  24. I'm sure they didn't mean it literally, it's not all that bad in the grand scheme of things, but when you're a political party trying to sell a brand its best to err on the side of professionalism and hopefully non-violence.

    Same as when the Conservatives did it.

  25. In this specific case, it's going to be because the conservatives did something so similar so recently (and I hope it plays out exactly the same). The so-called 'false equivalence' won't be coming into play here.

  26. Kinsella's rebuttal was even stupider than the original non-story. "Look, those are bullet holes! Dion was being shot at in this Reformatory graphic!"

    No wonder so many Canadians are turned off by our country's politics when they watch embarrassing grade-school antics like this on TV (from both sides, I should add – this isn't a partisan thing)

    • In the world of bureaucracy, no issue is too small.

    • Yeah, that was a classic classy move (apology) followed by a non-classy one (take a potshot at the Tories whom you just sort of apologized to) by Kinsella. There's partisan, and then there's Kinsella.

  27. I'm only going on what Kinsella's said about a "kid" being responsible. Maybe you have a point, but maybe the new safeguards deal with precisely this issue.

    I didn't mean to suggest that the Liberals have made no embarassing techincal screwups. This just seems to be the first under Ignatieff that is purported to be "outrageous" and requiring of an apology.

  28. The worst thing about the whole Photoshopgate issue is that the Conservatives will see it as a license for whatever partisan nastiness they see fit to inflict on their opponents. "Look!", they will say, "the Liberals do it too!"

    Of course, there is no proof that an actual Liberal submitted the image in question. But that won't make any difference.

    • I was more concerned by the mentality of the person who submitted that photoshopped photo. Like, what was their point? That Harper is the equivalent of Lee Harvey Oswald? Because Harper is, like, killing people? I really wonder about the mentality of some people who can't seem to discuss or comment on politics and public policy without demonizing other people.

  29. I don't know, when you witness first the hand the militancy of those opposed to Mr. Harper, or recall (because who goes there more than once?) the kind of stuff at rabble.ca you wonder?

  30. Oh, I'm sure that some Liberal supporters are partisan idiots. But there's a world of difference between nonsense spouted by an overzealous follower of a political party and official party policy. And this is precisely the difference that the Conservatives will now attempt to obscure.

  31. Here's the thing: If Ruby Dhalla can run a freaking SLAVE operation from her home and count on the Liberal media (Macleans' excuse making and FUD manufacturing on her behalf was especially nauseating in this case) to whitewash it, do you really think the Liberals give a crap about offending anyone with a photoshop contest?

    That's one part of the equation. Another factor leading to this was the "character deficit" and the "talent deficit", the former referring to how you'd have to be a bit of a sleazeball to work for the Liberal party in the first place, the latter acknowledging the new and fail Liberal policy of hiring and promoting based on race and gender rather than hiring someone with a freaking clue.

    I guarantee you that it wasn't a straight white anglo male who signed off on the offending photoshops (I thought the one featuring Harper fisting a cow was a bigger deal) because by this point he's been confronted with aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaangy and offended people a thousand times in his life and would think twice about doing anything remotely offensive. The same can't be said for women, ethnics, and gays. Put another way, there is one standard for white guys and a far, far lower standard for everyone else and that manifests itself by the "everyone else" cohort being potential time bombs in sensitive jobs.

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