Saturday, April 09, 2011

Faytene Kryskow, David Mainse and "Bible Bill"

[Posted at Bene Diction Blogs on, Jan. 7, 2011]

Faytene Kryskow and David Mainse, as Bene D has noted, may be two fingers of the same hand when it comes to how they handle the media and blogging. (That is, they share similarities in their outlooks.)

And this leads me to wonder whether Christians with dismissive attitudes towards old and new kinds of reporting might be tempted to want to repeat one of the greatest threats to freedom of speech in Canadian history.

Do I say they certainly will be? No. But I am reminded of the historical precedent and how "reasonable" it sounded...

You'll remember my post on Faytene's self-described "rant" against bloggers and possessed reporters from last year. Faytene treats them with contempt, it's fair to say.

I've been reading Bene D's fine posts on the various controversies surrounding Crossroads. Bene D did not ask me to write this, but it's self evident that he holds himself to high journalistic standards. So, I would also say that if there are any problems with what bloggers in general might write about Crossroads, it is mostly the fault of Mainse and his charity for not being open and upfront.

Let's compare the two for a moment.

Faytene's the more wild-eyed of the two here, cursing bloggers, saying
reporters might need to be delivered from devils and such. But I was sitting listening in the audience at The Cry Vancouver two years ago when she said that when "we" take over the media, that things were going to be very "different".

David Mainse is more polished, wearing a suit, and having a television show. But if you parse what he says about the "lies" and "half-truths" that he says plague blogs and then says that to avoid that, he appointed an "editor" to edit opinions on his channel. He also implies that he may be thinking that perhaps blogs should have "editorial boards" as newspapers do. So, we have to consider whether he would follow this logic and call for government regulation and editing of the Internet. To ensure "checks and balances", you know.

I am confident that David Mainse would not take the next steps in his logical train of thought. He would perhaps feel that conservative Christian TV in Canada would be effectively neutered if it were subject to the whims of public "editorial boards". Well then, given that Blogs and the Internet are effectively taking the place of old media, in the minds of some, shouldn't we be very careful about how we choose to regulate them?

Faytene Kryskow would perhaps just shout down the "unChristian" bloggers. I wonder, given his comments in the interview that Bene D quotes, whether David Mainse would be open to reasonable-sounding curbs to ensure "checks and balances" in the blogosphere. It seems like their stances are two fingers of the same hand.

You would no doubt understand that as a former reporter I am a free-speech libertarian. But as a christian, I am saddened by whining and complaining by Christians about blogs and the media. I have great confidence that my faith and apologetics are defendable . As the Bible says, I am confident that I can give an answer if someone asks me about my faith.

But I have to wonder if Mainse and Kryskow have the same confidence that their beliefs would be respected in the court of public opinion.

Mainse: "People are lying about us!" Well, are you sharing the truth in your TV show? Do you have you own blogs explaining the details of the various controversies facing you?

Faytene: "I'm being attacked by Pharisees!" Well, if she includes BDBO in that criticism, Bene D and I have always welcomed her input, and will no doubt continue to. I gave her comments careful thought and consideration when she offered them.

As I know more about Faytene, I can add this. After hearing her in person and on tape, and reading her books, I can say that even if I don't necessarily agree with her at times, she is skilled at teaching. She has some wisdom. Her rhetorical skills make her persuasive in front of the right audience. If, and I say *if*, she were correct in any disputes with bloggers or the media, could she not effectively refute what they have to say when they "slap their opinions all over the place"?

Does she not trust those who have an interest in her public activities to have wisdom of their own to look at both "sides" and tell which is wiser?

Not giving an answer for your faith-- in your words, teachings and the wisdom of your actions--that you have inside you is not only unBiblical, it is lazy as well.

Kyskow and Mainse, however, might be tempted, due to what they have been saying, to an old temptation. It was a former radio Bible teacher, William Aberhart who, when he became premier of Alberta in the 1930s, actually tried to have legislation to censor the press as needed in order to rein in the excesses of the media.

The "Accurate News and Information Act", colloquially know as the "Press Gag Bill" was passed by Aberhart's Social Credit MLAs following ongoing critiques of the government by Alberta's newspapers.

The Accurate News and Information Act includes an extensive outline of how a Social Credit party official could require a newspaper to print, verbatim, what the government demanded ("...such statement shall be given the same prominence as to position, type and space as the statement corrected thereby..."). Other provisos of the Act included a requirement that a newspaper name all its anonymous sources upon demand. Punishments included fines and gave the government power to suspend publication of a newspaper, or to ban a particular person from writing for the newspaper.

Early in 1938, five out of six Supreme Court justices ruled that such powers were "ultra vires"--that is, beyond the powers of a a provincial government--in addition to being contrary to British traditions of freedom of speech. It never went into effect.

After reading Mainse and Kryskow's complaints, I wonder if Aberhart's arguments would sound reasonable to them? Substitute "blog" or "Internet site" for "newspaper" or "radio station" and you can read below how in "the public interest", censorship can be made to seem sensible and wise, if not godly. Aberhart never saw the Internet, of course, but I can imagine the same reasoning being used against blogs and websites.

Press abuses, Aberhart argued in a June 5, 1937 radio speech over the CBC, which argued for the need for such legislation before it was introduced in the Alberta legislature, demanded to be treated with "rigid discipline".
(Aberhart begins his argument)

"....But life today is complex. It is no longer merely individualistic or paternal. People have combined into a state, and the individualistic law of the liberty of the jungle no longer can be maintained in its entirety. The state refuses to allow the Britisher to inflict inhuman cruelty upon his wife, his children or even his domestic animals. Civil liberty therefore is a freedom limited by laws established for the welfare of the community generally or of the state as a whole, rather than of the individual.

I conclude therefore that modern liberty lies in the freedom of the individual from selfish control, duress, fear or exploitation inflicted by another or others. If an autocrat, or a plutocrat, or a large corporation controls, directs or regiments the actions of any individual or number of individuals without their consent, these latter have to that extent lost their liberty in the true sense of the word…

After some thought I am inclined to agree with Walter Lippman, who a decade ago wrote that the crisis of democracy is a crisis in journalism.

It seems to me that in the decade which has passed, this crisis of democracy has been followed by decadence instead of recovery, and it is feared that the so-called free Press is rapidly dying, and its freedom with it.

I am wondering if we should not do everything in our power to revive it and restore its freedom.

If anything is to be done to restore the press to its proper place in the public consciousness, we must consider wherein its weaknesses lie, and prescribe some form of rigid discipline that will enable these weaknesses to be removed…

…I propose to summarize [the weakness of the modern press] under four headings:

1. Commercial
It is claimed that newspaper standards are too often determined by a preponderant desire for circulation, which is so basic to large advertising returns.

2. Patronage
Most newspapers today are subservient to local political machines, and therefore colour their news items in accordance with the propaganda of the political party supporting them. The policies of the paper are therefore intended for the welfare of the party, and not for the welfare of the community.

3. News and Moral Values
Dean Ackerman declares that news values of many papers are often superficial and trivial. Headlines frequently do not correctly reveal the facts nor the tenor of the article. A great majority of the reporters are quite inaccurate when reporting interviews, and it is not an uncommon thing to find that news and photographs even are falsified.

4.Social and Educational
Too many of our citizens have learned by experience that the newspaper violates the individual right of privacy.

Newspapers unhesitatingly make heroes of criminals by glowing accounts of wrongdoing, vice and the sordid details of lust and violence…

This discussion is hardly complete without the further consideration of some means which might accomplish such a result but my time is up. Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen.....

(Aberhart concludes)

I can imagine, thinking of the the wild west world of the Internet, cries that if the blogosphere were only properly regulated by the government, it would be even better. Or more Christ-like.

I hope that Christians see through this temptation. And that Kryskow and Mainse consider carefully what they call for, even if only out of a fear that any regulation of the Internet would be used to hamper the conservative Christian causes and ideas that they are hoping to support.

I am confident that they will be content to whine, and think that the wisest course. But I need to note that they may not be.