On covering hate-speech
Staying quiet has rarely worked to keep the peace. Virtually every corner of this planet has a sub-set of the population suffering the effects of hatred -- and suffering the majority’s long-term guilt. May 27th, the Bulletin published a photo and caption of a rare but local example of hate-motivated graffiti. Readers reacted (see pages 5, 6 & 7) – all protesting the Bulletin’s reproduction of that graffiti.
Several years ago, a confederate flag was draped over a display during one of the Galeries Aylmer’s seasonal trade shows. I happened to walk through the show with local MP Greg Fergus, an important and active member of the federal black caucus. Mr Fergus shrugged and explained that many people just don’t have the experience or the tools to see right from wrong. Over to you, school boards and education ministry!
Who gains from hiding the hate some of our neighbours might harbour? Not the Jews in our community. Nor the Somalis. Nor Aylmer’s almost 6,000 teens who are growing up from all sorts of origins. Plenty of distasteful concepts circulate among our readers, and we cannot pretend those views don’t exist, even if they are of a small minority. The Bulletin has not steered away from controversial positions for decades -- from city amalgamation to provincial legislation on cultural/religious apparel. Proof is all around us that holding up a mirror to society’s collective mis-guidance is far more effective than sweeping hate under the rug. La Meute feeds on being underground, counter-culture, on being a hide-out for damaged people.
Objections to the Bulletin’s graphic report on the graffiti are entirely legitimate. Their logic is sound, but it is not the only option for a community newspaper. Last year, just 40 minutes west of last week’s incident, in Bristol, in the Pontiac, a weekend celebration by a semi-underground English version of La Meute was widely promoted. Authorities stepped in to prevent the gathering of this group, which had already been linked to several incidents of intimidation. Newspapers were essential in bringing to light the hate there, which others hoped to avoid admitting even existed.
We at the Bulletin invite the individuals who etched a swastika in fresh cement in 2014 (see Bulletin online), or those responsible for this month’s chalk message, to a real dialogue, not a hit-and-run sneer on an empty sidewalk. “Come break bread with me, in my own home. Look me in my eyes and say to my face, that you wish my family dead.” That’s our response.
Enough wasting energy and holding back all the others who are labouring to build better schools or serve our seniors in crisis. Who even has the energy to waste which hatred requires? So while the objections of our letter-writers are valid, publishing that image makes it clear that hatred will be called out and that it has no future among us here.