If there is one individual in this city who I am quite sure I do not envy, it is whatever poor sucker got roped into moderating and editing the comments on the Winnipeg Free Press website.
Pat Martin is still in the news, you see, which is bad news for everybody. The thing you need to understand about Pat Martin -- and it seems a lot of people don't, but it's really quite obvious when you sit down and consider the available evidence -- Pat Martin's entire political strategy is to apply internet trolling to real life and just blurt shit out to get a reaction.
It all started, as you read last time, with the news that the civic and federal (but not provincial, yet) governments would be paying out millions' worth of taxpayer dollars to a distinctly nonsecular organization. Pat Martin could have approached the matter from literally any other angle, including a variety of very reasonable and realistic concerns about this practice, but because he is Pat Martin he started a big city-wide flame war instead.
<whosthatitspat> these people are EVANGELICAL FUNDAMENTALISTS luring in young prospects!!
<whosthatitspat> u think if they were Youth For Allah they'd get that money? YEAH RIGHT lol
And, as previously documented (plus still ongoing), everybody had a big ol' snit.
But that's small time! When you're internet trollin', a city is small potatoes; it just so happened that, the very next day after the Christ kerfuffle broke loose, a nation-wide flame war broke out over something that Pat Martin had said to Parliament three months ago.
<whosthatitspat> everyone should apologize to louis riel and he should be a father of confederation, he was MURDERED BY THE CROWN. justice and mercy deee-niiied
Now, here's what you need to remember about internet trolls: you're not supposed to respond to them. If you're in it for the laughs, sure, bombs away and best of luck to you -- but if you're interested in actual discussion, your best course of action is to let it slide and move on with your day.
And you might be good at ignoring idiots when they're being idiots, but somebody else is always dumb enough to get lured in and ruin everything. Even when somebody's being super obvious about their trolling! No matter how obvious the bait is, there's always that one guy who just unavoidably swallows everything he encounters.
Oh. Can I, uh... can I change the wording on that last metaphor?
You get my point, though. If everybody had just mutually agreed to ignore the latest in Pat Martin's string of fruitless, inevitably doomed personal member bills, the issue would have fizzled without incident and everything would have been fine. (You'll notice that we still use the penny, for example.)
But no, here comes Peter Goldring, so intent on PROVING THIS GUY WRONG RRRRRRR that he specifically wrote and sent out a mass-mail pamphlet to set the record straight with his own special brand of completely ahistorical gibberish. Then he mirrored it on his website, because that was obviously the smartest possible course of action.
Now, it only takes one look at this guy to deduce that he most likely types in all-caps, all the time. Probably bolded, too, because that's as close to shouting as he can get without actually having to be in the room shouting at someone. (Remember: if you're loudest, you're right!)
So the final draft of the letter that went out to the public had to have been (mercifully) converted to mixed case by his well-meaning children, or somebody, but it still ended up a mess of grammatical errors and rather incoherent rambling. You can actually read the original letter in full here, if you'd like, but I do believe this sums it up pretty well:
<GOLDMEMBER> LOUIS RIEL IS A VILLAIN AND A TRAITOR, AND ANYBODY WHO SAYS OTHERWISE IS QUESTIONING THE JURORS OF 100 YEARS AGO. WITH REVISIONIST "TIME TRAVEL".
<GOLDMEMBER> RIEL WAS FIGHTING THE FATHERS OF CONFEDERATION HOW CAN HE BE A FATHER OF CONFEDERATION. DO YOU THINK HISTORY SHOULD BE RE-WRITTEN WITHOUT REGARD FOR THE FACTS OF THE TIME?
<GOLDMEMBER> ANARCHY AND CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE AND SWEAT AND FEAR AND THE ODOUR OF DEATH
<GOLDMEMBER> AND IT'S LIKE WE'RE LIVING IN JAPAN AND DENYING WORLD WAR TWO, BECAUSE TRUE HISTORY IS LOUIS RIEL IS A VILLAIN AND EIGHTY PEOPLE DIED.
<GOLDMEMBER> SUPPORT OUR TROOPS
(Again: I'm neither kidding nor exaggerating.)
Now, this is the same guy who wants Canada to annex some Caribbean islands, so maybe he's not used to being taken seriously either. But badmouthing the founder of a province and a revolutionary leader taken as an inspiration by an entire race of people? Not a good idea, as it turns out!
So no less than the Prime Minister of Canada had to step in at that point and go "whoa whoa whoa wait no", as you'd expect, and then the federal Conservatives within Manitoba also had to step up and distance themselves from the whole thing.
Metis Conservative MP Shelly Glover stepped up to the plate first, and then promptly collapsed into a squishy jellyfish-y mess because it turns out she has no spine. Check out this repertoire of unequivocal, strong-willed statements in defense of her riding and her proud Metis heritage:
"We have different opinions."
"It's very unfortunate he doesn't understand the true accomplishments of Louis Riel."
"I'd like to see him perhaps open his mind to the other side of it, to see that there were injustices during that time."
"Let's just say we agree to disagree on the facts of history."
Damn, Shelly, ease up! You'll break him!
Yes, Glover told the media -- apparently everybody in the media, because this part appears in every story about it -- that she got into contact with Goldring right away and the two of them 'agreed to disagree', which probably tells you everything about who ran that conversation.
<part_time_glover> omgggg dude o_o;; you can't just say stuff like that!!
<GOLDMEMBER> YOU CAN'T TELL ME WHAT TO DO, I SAY WHAT I WANT WHEN I WANT IT
<part_time_glover> but you need to open your mind! and you could have at least warned us you were going to say it!
<GOLDMEMBER> I'M TIRED OF YOU PEOPLE ALWAYS GETTING UPPITY
<part_time_glover> oh yeah?
<part_time_glover> well... well...
<part_time_glover> ...well idk then.
<part_time_glover> i guess we just have to agree to disagree -_-;;
<GOLDMEMBER> WHATEVER SQUAW
<part_time_glover> wtf you did not just
<NevilleNevilleLand> I am not even involved in this at all but I DEMAND an apology for that!!!!!!!!
<part_time_glover> shut up, anita
<GOLDMEMBER> SHUT UP ANITA
But what about our other Metis Conservative MP? (By that, of course, I mean the other Metis Conservative MP; there are two in the whole country.)
Rod Bruinooge, no stranger to metric tons of mailouts himself, found himself in quite the dilemma on this one. He obviously had to distance himself from Goldring, because Jesus Christ what the hell is wrong with Peter Goldring, but on the other side of the issue was Pat Martin and he obviously couldn't let anybody think that he was agreeing with Pat Martin. Trolling's only funny when it happens to somebody else!
So Bruinooge thought it over, made a statement about Goldring's comments being unhelpful to the Metis people, and then dropped this bomb:
<SnoochToTheNooge> I don't think a non-Metis politician has any business getting into this.
Ha ha ha ha, oh snap! You hear that, Pat Martin? You don't get an opinion! You know why? You're white!
(You learn something new every day; going by his own rules, and judging from his notorious zeal to fight abortion, Rod Bruinooge is both a woman and a doctor. I'll bet you didn't know that!)
Of course, you can imagine how well that went over, and either he decided it was unfair to say it or the Prime Minister yelled at him for it because he apologized to everybody involved within the next couple of days.
Just to recap so you caught all that: Rod Bruinooge had to apologize for a statement that he made in a rejection of a statment which was made in a pamphlet written as a rejection of a statment made in a private member's bill. Everybody got all that? Good. And who does this whole trail of trouble track back to? Pat Martin! Right. God, nothing but trouble from that guy this week, huh?
So, with that established, I'd like to return to my original statement of this post: I really, really do not envy whoever has the job description of editing comments for the Free Press website. Because somebody made a comment rejecting the apology rejecting the pamphlet that rejected the bill, and -- instead of rejecting it -- some poor intern or webmonkey had to try to edit it into a respectable comment.
Accurately entitled "Greatest", here is the pearl of wisdom from a brilliant and profound Winnipeg Free Press commenter that puts the whole great and terrible affair into perspective:
Oh man oh god oh man oh god that is amazing. Read that aloud! Drink in the intellectual majesty that flows from the Winnipeg Free Press online comments section. And when you do, do your best to contemplate this question: what the hell must this comment have looked like before they edited it?
One can only wonder!
So the next time you read the online Free Press and you make the mistake of scrolling down to read the vitriol and thinly veiled nervous breakdowns of your fellow citizens, please take a moment and spare a kind thought for whatever poor souls are serving as the hardworking and underappreciated web editors. After all, just think how much hassle people would save if we had editors keeping us from saying stupid things!
Oh -- and unless you happen to enjoy chaos, please don't feed the trolls. You can never be quite sure what's going to happen, if you do.
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