Cheers & Jeers

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Jeers: to stupid comments. Tom Flanagan is now top contender for the How Quickly Can You Destroy Your Career Prize after last week’s bizarre remarks in front of students at the University of Lethbridge. Stephen Harper’s former adviser caused an uproar for defending people’s right to view child pornography. “I certainly have no sympathy for child molesters, but I do have some grave doubts about putting people in jail because of their taste in pictures,” he said. On Thursday, the CBC quickly severed its ties to Flanagan, saying he would no longer be participating in on-air political panels. Alberta’s Wildrose party disowned him as an organizer and the Manning Institute cancelled his appearance as a conference speaker. The University of Calgary has announced he will retire his professor’s post in the spring. To suggest that looking at child porn is a victimless crime is to deny reality. It’s exploiting a child’s suffering, pure and similar. What’s worse, Flanagan, astonishingly, also confessed he unwittingly ended up on the National Man/Boy Love Association mailing list for a couple of years. If he had an academic interest, fine, but the context makes it downright creepy.

Cheers: to being shown up as ridiculous. A company doing media analysis, Influence Communications, says its research shows that a contretemps over the application of Quebec’s language laws to the menu of a Montreal Italian restaurant is generating far more ink than Quebec Premier Pauline Marois’ recent trip searching for outside investment. “Every time the media mentioned, as an example, the visit of Pauline Marois in New York, we got 60 mentions for the Pastagate,” Influence Communication president Jean-Francois Dumas told The National Post. Language inspectors had ordered an the Italian restaurant Buonanotte to remove Italian words from its menu and replace them with French equivalents, including for basic words like “pasta.” Mention of the language police action has appeared in at least 350 stories in 14 countries. Other restaurants have since come forward with their own examples of bizarre orders, like a requirement that the words “on-off” be covered with tape on a kitchen microwave at the Montreal restaurant Holder. It’s just becoming an international joke.

Cheers: to the courts and the power of language. Judge Harold Porter — to our knowledge the only judge in the province to ever quote from “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic” in a verdict — is still keeping the law interesting. Here’s a smidgen of his verdict in a case heard in Grand Bank: “To set the scene, first it is important to keep in mind that these events took place in a part of Newfoundland where the Queen’s English is strictly followed, especially in the distinction between a store and a shop. A store is an outbuilding where things are stored. A shop is a commercial premises where things are sold. There were both a store and a shop near the place where the pellet gun was discharged, and witnesses referred to both. The distinction between the two helps avoid any confusion in the versions of the events heard from the witnesses.”

Organizations: University of Lethbridge, CBC, Manning Institute University of Calgary Boy Love Association Influence Communications National Post Grand Bank

Geographic location: Quebec, Montreal, Alberta New York Newfoundland

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