Category Archives: Entertainment and culture

Singin’ in the rain: a capital crime

A TikTok social media network user who calls herself amushroomblackly should be banned from posting on any such service till the end of her days, and without the tiniest right of appeal.

Frolicking between raindrops is a “black men frolicking” trend, she proclaimed, and white people enjoying a few drops of water falling on their heads in insupportably hot weather are guilty of cultural misappropriation.

American actress Drew Barrymore had the gall to post a video of herself enjoying rain, laughing her head off and, generally speaking, being quite a normal person.

That, amushroomblackly’s rant said, is a display of the mother (father? no, parents would be the most appropriate word) of cultural insensitivities aimed at “black creators.”

Guess what? Barrymore is a “coloniser” who made it possible for millions of her followers to “dismiss and disrespect the boundaries that black creators have set.”

Thus amushroomblackly, who, quite obviously has nothing better to do with her life than watch social media to detect all kinds of slights based on race.

So far as amushroomblackly is concerned, Barrymore’s video has become an integral part of a TikTok trend that is now known as “black men frolicking.”

How come?

Here’s how: another social media network user who calls himself thexsadxoptimistic (how do they come up with such outrageously stupid names, for crying out loud?) ran happily through a meadow covered by beautiful flowers, camera in operation.

Last May, he shared the clip on another social media network a.k.a. Mashable. The recording went viral in no time, and other social media networks’ users, mostly devoid of a scintilla of original imagination, started copying him. The Daily Wire claims that the entire fad spread to black women, as well.

Here’s a description of Barrymore’s crime: she had herself recorded for a short clip showing her enjoying the rain while she was standing in what appears to be the courtyard of a city building.

“Whenever you can, go out into the rain. Do not miss the opportunity!” she tells those who have nothing better to do with their time than watch such nonsense.

Barrymore’s followers, the Daily Wire story goes on to say, were happy to see the 47-year-young former child star embracing her happiness. According to the story, she can’t boast of a happy childhood, so no wonder her fans were ecstatic.

“Watching her heal her inner child makes me so happy,” was one way a Barrymore devotee expressed it.

“PROTECT DREW BARRYMORE,” wrote another user (yes, all in capital letters, which, in the accepted Internet code of manners, means that person was shouting on top of her/his lungs).

Considering that this particular video has collected more than 21 million views at time of this writing, why does Barrymore need to be defended?

Well, come to think of it, she does: morons like amushroomblackly, obsessed with what is known as “identity politics” won’t stop until and unless they destroy whomever they think is violating their idiotic notions.

Barrymore never said she was following the “black men frolicking” trend.

Why should she? Her country still has an Amendment in the Constitution that defends freedom of expression no matter what.

So, when amushroomblackly said the happy-among-raindrops video was racist, and stressed it is racist simply because she said so (verbatim: “When we say it’s racist, it’s racist.”) she has denied Barrymore her constitutional right. As simple as that.

The debate got even funnier when another participant (guess his skin colour, you have three chances to get it right), insisted passionately that only black content creators should be posting these types of videos. Anyone who considers themselves “allies” should agree with that stance, he demanded.

“If you’re a good ally, you know when to take a step back and re-evaluate your choices. And stop,” he said. “Let black people experience black joy with each other for once.”

Daily Wire, without much comment on the issue, put together a selection of recent stories documenting cases of this “cultural appropriation” (some go even further, they call it misappropriation) idiocy.

Don’t think this is a marginal issue. This is an example of identity politics introduced by people who don’t wish humanity well.

Why? Divide and rule. That’s why.

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Swiss? Reggae ain’t for you. Yodel, instead!

Swiss reggae band Lauwarm has run into a wall of complete idiocy: they were told to stop playing Jamaican reggae music because its white band-members were sporting dreadlocks and wearing bright coloured clothes.

Translated into English, their name means lukewarm or tepid, but – judging by their popularity in Switzerland – they are neither.

Yet, still, as they were playing a regular gig at the Brasserie Lorraine in Bern, some visitors got upset, and “several people” expressed “discomfort with the situation,” and, to make matters clear, they accused the Lauwarm of “cultural appropriation.”

If the shoe were put on the other leg, does it mean that nobody but the Swiss and the Tiroleans are allowed to yodel?

True, the band play Jamaican music while singing in Swiss dialect. To make sure everyone knows what kind of music they perform, they wear partly African ethnic clothing and dreadlocks.

It seems it was the costuming that got some visitors all riled up.

The Brasserie Lorraine management, seeing (and hearing) the uproar, decided to cancel the concert: the “cancel culture” and “woke” crowds know how to express themselves loudly enough to dim any debate.

In your typical Swiss polite manner, the Brasserie Lorraine management first discussed the matter with the band, before cancelling the show. They also apologised to “everyone for whom the concert had caused bad feelings.”

Still, the Brasserie Lorraine management had enough courage to issue a statement the very next day to say that “that members of the band or white people are not automatically racists.”

So, what was Lauwarm’s crime? Even though they themselves never experienced racism or colonialism, they still had the chutzpah to play Jamaican reggae music.

Classical musicians beware: how many of today’s performers have experienced the 18th century? And yet, they still do play Mozart with gusto, and to sold out houses.

The Brasserie Lorraine would resort to Facebook a couple of days later: “We would like to apologize to everyone who felt bad about the concert. We failed to deal with it enough in advance and to protect you. Our awareness gaps and the reaction of many guests to the cancellation of the concert have shown us once again that the topic is emotionally charged.”

This is called dancing between eggs.

Who were those critics?

Nobody has (as of yet) identified the politically correct crowd that could have got up and left if they didn’t like the Swiss version of Jamaican reggae, but Dominik Plumettaz, the band’s leader and singer, has been quoted as saying that the group had performed many times since it was formed a year ago but had never received complaints about appropriation.

“We were completely surprised,” Plumettaz said.

“When we played, there was a good atmosphere,” adding that during the break, the restaurant told them about the complaints.

“After that, we felt uncomfortable and decided to stop. Unfortunately, the critics did not come out publicly and we couldn’t have a conversation with them, which we regret,” he said.

Plumettaz had a point when he said that he understood that “some people are sensitive to this issue, but music thrives on the mixing of cultures.”

To drive the point home, the band went to their Instagram account, “We treat all cultures with respect, but we also stand by the music we play, our appearance and the way we are.”

A debate on topics like this is a must, the band said: “It’s important to us that we have this discussion – neutral and based on respect.”

The Brasserie Lorraine management are planning a panel discussion on the topic.

Swiss social media are now filled with debates about “cultural appropriation,” a non-issue like few others.

The debate, quote correctly, links the Brasserie Lorraine incident to “cancel culture” and “wokeness,” defining the former as dismissing controversial people and ideas by not giving them a platform, and the latter as awareness of social inequalities such as sexism and racism.

Definition?

The Swiss Tages-Anzeiger newspaper had a better description: “The Black Lives Matter movement has taken hold of the youth here. For them, European colonialism is present, continues to work in the underbelly of society.

“The explosive thing is that here a white band is taken off stage in a majority white context. This is what wokeness looks like in Bern.” 

The respected Encyclopaedia Britannica defines “Cultural Appropriation” as an exploitative, disrespectful or stereotypical adoption of foreign cultural techniques and symbols.

Others go further still: “cultural appropriation” happens when members of a usually white but in any case dominant culture use elements of a minority culture that they had systematically suppressed, such as Africans or Native Americans.

White and use Native American carnival costumes? Thief. White and wear dreadlocks? Thief.

Not the charge of cultural appropriation is anything new within the music industry.

Remember Elvis? Yes, that one, as in Presley: he stands accused of making money off songs sung by black composers whom otherwise were unheard of.

White rapper Eminem has raised a few cultural appropriation eyebrows, too, and so have the British reggae band UB40, whose white and black members are now filthy rich off pop versions of Jamaican classics.

Spanking the politically correct crowd in public would be a good first step to solving this issue.

Putin, Putin, la-la-la

The top authority of European football is upset that fans of Turkey’s Fenerbahce club dared chant Russian President Vladimir Putin’s name during their team’s home match against Ukraine’s Dynamo Kyiv.

That particular Champions League qualifying match happened in Istanbul. Dynamo midfielder Vitaly Buyalsky scored to put the Ukrainians ahead. His celebrations included gestures and sounds that even the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) acknowledged looked and sounded as a well-calculated provocation.

Fenerbahce’s fans, known as one of the most volatile supporters’ groups in football (so-called association type, a.k.a. soccer) this side of British Isles expressed their disenchantment by singing Putin, Putin, la-la-la.

And that upset the powers-that-be.

“A UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector will conduct a disciplinary investigation regarding alleged misbehaviour of Fenerbahce supporters during the 2022-23 UEFA Champions League second qualifying round, second leg match between Fenerbahce SK and FC Dynamo Kyiv played on 27 July 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey,” the UEFA announced with a seriousness deserving of more serious matters.

Indicating that the matter will receive UEFA’s most serious consideration, and that such consideration may take some time, the European football poohbahs concluded that whatever further information and decision on the matter there can become decided upon “will be made available in due course.”

The statement didn’t mention the chants specifically. It only said that Fenerbahce fans’ behaviour was unbecoming.

What now?

It’s going to be up to UEFA’s top dogs to mete the punishment they feel is proper, and the entire process may take some time. What if Fenerbahce do not like what the UEFA felt correct? Appeals galore, all the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), and who knows where else. After all, the Court’s main office sits in Lausanne and the UEFA headquarters can be found in Basel.

These two Swiss cities are just about 200 kilometres removed from one another. Travelling by car, using those splendid Swiss freeways, it’s a matter of less than two hours’ worth of a comfortable and safe drive.

While their potential punishment is unknown, an extreme outcome would be that Fenerbahce’s next opponents, Slovácko, would get a bye to the Europa League in their upcoming third-round qualifying tie for the competition on Thursday, August 4. The other option: the Turks may be forced to play the first leg at home against the Czech club behind closed doors.

Nobody has yet got an answer from 1. FC Slovácko which option they would prefer.

The Czech football club is based in Uherské Hradiště. They don’t take it lightly being called Czech, as the official UEFA literature does. Uherské Hradiště is a city in the Moravian region, and the Moravians claim that they not only have better wines than the Czechs, but also that the Apostles of the Slavs, Cyril and Methodius, first landed in Moravia and, in fact, never made it as far as the Czech lands.

And, remember, people in these regions takes such matters very seriously, as if they happened earlier today.

Here’s the issue: should 1. FC Slovácko get a bye into the next round, it’s fine and dandy, except: they will forego gate receipts for the Fenerbahce round.

The team, established in 1927 as SK Staré Město, became 1. FC Synot July 1, 2000 in a merger of the original club with FC Slovácká Slavia Uherské Hradiště. They have played in the Czech First League since 2009, winning the Czech Cup once, and making it to the finals on two more occasions.

The Městský fotbalový stadion at Uherské Hradiště sits 8,000 fans, with another 121 spots for standing room. Not the hugest of football stadia but still, losing gate receipts for what could be expected to be a sell-out could hurt the club.

What happened in Istanbul?

Dynamo midfielder Vitaly Buyalsky put the Ukrainian team ahead in the 57th minute.

He would celebrate, as UEFA described it in their discipline report, “ferociously” and, according to unconfirmed information, was supposed to have made a “provocative gesture” towards fans at the Ulker Stadium.

Everybody and their dog in the football world knows that only the British football hooligans are more devoted to their colours than the fans of Fenerbahce.

As it appeared on numerous social media outlets, that’s when most of the 45,000 fans who had gathered at the Ulker Stadium started chanting Putin’s name.

Shortly before Buyalsky’s opener, a Fenerbahce player had been sent off, and that didn’t improve host team fans’ mood much, either.

Tied at 1–1, the match went into overtime, with the Ukrainian side eventually winning it, 2-1.

Kyiv’s Romanian manager Mircea Lucescu who used to manage teams in Russia, told Turkish broadcasters after the game the chants were unacceptable: they were unsportsmanlike. He didn’t explain his view any further.

Russian athletes have been pariahs in international sports for quite some time. First, it was thanks to a doping scandal with tons of proof that Russian government were involved in the cheating scheme.

Due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, her teams are currently banned from competing in international competitions after UEFA and FIFA followed an International Olympic Committee (IOC) recommendation earlier this year.

The Russian city of St. Petersburg was also stripped of last season’s UEFA Champions League final. It was moved to Paris eventually.

Tying sports to politics isn’t the newest game in town. But it’s the most unsportsmanlike game in the world, no matter who plays it and why.

Watergate coverage led to today’s shoddy advocacy journalism

How it happened that a newspaper believes, almost half of a century after the fact, that it managed to make history by forcing a sitting U.S. President to step down should not be a mystery. The Washington Post, an inconsequential municipal rag till then, started a campaign never seen before in serious journalism.

Richard M. Nixon resigned his Presidency August 8, 1974, amid accusations (some real, others not so much) of serious wrongdoing.

The Washington Post has been basking in this glory ever since.

For most of American journalists and their employers (readers, listeners, viewers), the paper has created what has become known as “investigative journalism.”

Historical fiction (or lie?)

As illiterate statement as ever pronounced.

First of all, all proper journalism begins with asking questions and checking the veracity of answers. Printing and re-printing news releases isn’t journalism.

And, secondly, one of the first seriously recorded cases of investigative journalism didn’t happen in America. It happened as the 19th century was coming to its end and the 20th century was starting, in what used to be the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The guy’s nickname was The Ardent Reporter (der Rasende Reporter), and his name was Egon Erwin Kisch.

Kisch was of socialist, communist, even, persuasion. Still, some of the stories he had managed to unearth have become an integral part of history, and several would become famous as books, stage plays and movies. Their authors wouldn’t attribute their works’ origin to Kisch. They picked up news stories as their subject matter, ignoring bylines as they proceeded. Kisch even tried to challenge one such case in court. He lost. Did you make it up? No. You recorded a fact. So can anyone else. You have no patent on facts.

Not so Washington Post: the names and characters of Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward would be immortalised by none less than Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford in an Alan J. Pakula movie based on their book, All the President’s Men. Americans now know even that Washington Post staffers got to call the duo Woodstein, as if that was important.

Hotel Watergate name’s last syllable (-gate) would become a must in the trade when describing any scandals worth mentioning.

And yet, the entire story is worth recalling today as a sign of scandalously blatant abuse of journalism standards and the role played by secretive (and unelected) officials who happen to have chips on their shoulders.

The Woodstein duo called their major source Deep Throat. Today, their FBI informant would be described as a member of Deep State.

As a result of Woodstein’s very shoddy reporting, journalists (and journalism) would become undeservedly important and respected. A number of other reporters jumped on the bandwagon (Seymour Hersh of The New York Times comes to mind), and chasing Nixon’s wrongdoings, both real and imagined, would become America’s national journalistic pastime.

A number of people, steeped in real investigative journalism, would question what was happening. Starting with the mysterious intrusion into the Democratic Party offices at Watergate that triggered the whole thing, through claims of American intelligence agencies being involved in all kinds of dangerous hanky-panky, all the way to financial misdeeds allegations, never substantiated to satisfy an independent court of law, by the way.

A veteran criminal prosecutor John O’Connor published his first truth-bomb: Postgate: How the Washington Post Betrayed Deep Throat, Covered Up Watergate, and Began Today’s Partisan Advocacy Journalism a couple of years ago.

Now, on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the Watergate break-in, O’Connor wrote The Mysteries of Watergate: What Really Happened.

The Washington Post is caught here with their pants down. O’Connor, a prosecutor whose handling of the story reminds one of the legendary Lieutenant Colombo, has dismantled the Woodstein story all the way to proving this was a subversive act comitted by U.S. intelligence community, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in particular.

Immoral deals

O’Connor reveals deals between The Washington Post and the CIA that should have landed all of them, including Woodstein and their supervisors, such as Executive Editor Ben Bradlee, behind bars. It never happened.

Not only that: the paper that started as Democratic Party’s “official organ,” shared Joseph Califano as general counsel with the Democratic Party during the Watergate era.

And when some facts began surfacing later on, The Washington Post would hide the truth and allege that those who were trying to make sense of the scandal were lying through their teeth.

Another recent book, The Nixon Conspiracy: Watergate and the Plot to Remove the President, by Geoff Shepard, concentrates on some perfectly strange behaviour patterns displayed by several Nixon appointees. He calls them betrayal. And he has proof for his accusations.

The result: the man who had won Presidential re-election by a 520 to 17 electoral votes margin did the honest thing by stepping down. Yet, thanks to The Washington Post, he would be remembered as Tricky Dick.

If this sordid story reminds you of what has been happening in recent years, you’re on the right path. Starting with the Russiagate (it’s there again, too!), all the way to leaks about scandals that had never happened, these people haven’t changed.

They seem unaware of the difference between reporting and journalism: a reporter informs her/his readers about events, journalists think they are the events.

Lest anyone thinks that, thanks to Internet, we now have better ways to check the facts as presented by the mainstream (legacy, corporate, your pick) media, think again: these guys have gobs of money in their wallets and they’ve been using it to supress those whose news gathering differs from theirs, instead of bowing their heads in shame.

And that should be our lesson, half of a century since the Watergate break-in.

The West’s unfortunate affliction

Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin used to be western world’s Uncle Joe and overall darling during the Second World War.

He would become a sworn enemy soon after the arms fell silent.

Volodymyr Oleksandrovich Zelensky is western world’s Ukrainian David who had risen against the Goliath of Russia in a conflict that may soon become the Third World War.

What will happen to his reputation if the unspeakable happens remains to be seen. That is, if anyone survives the Armageddon a.k.a. nuclear war.

Russia Today (known more by its abbreviation, RT) news service have tried to put together an analysis, combined with frequent looks back and comparisons, and the West’s views do not come out in shining glory.

To sum up: not all is gold that glitters, and the West’s propaganda machine seems unaware of this undeniable fact.

Yes, RT is a Russian news service, with ties to Russian establishment, including President Vladimir Putin’s government, but that still doesn’t mean their observations are to be ignored. Not only can they be correct. They also can (and often do) reflect their administration’s views.

Even if one claims to be Russia’s foe for ever and a day, it’s still good to know one’s foes’ views. When one prefers presenting balanced information instead of today’s propaganda, knowing both sides’ views becomes a must.

A couple of definitions

Who is Volodymyr Oleksandrovich Zelensky? A capable comedian and executive producer of his hugely popular television show, and an owner of his production house, who became politician and the wave of his entertainment industry made him Ukraine’s new President.

That should not count against him: America’s most effective and efficient President during the 20th century was a former actor, too. Ronald Reagan, anyone?

Who was Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin? A failed seminarian turned what would become known as a “professional revolutionary.” Outmanoeuvring all of the other successors to the founder of the Soviet Union, Vladimir Iliych Lenin, Stalin would become his country’s undisputable and undisputed dictator. Eventually, he would end up with tens of millions of innocent lives as his victims, if not on his conscience: he had none.

To jot down the most recent similarity: just as Stalin used to go through his security services’ chiefs, having them executed for treason and other unspeakable crimes with amazing speed, so has Zelensky fired Prosecutor General Irina Venediktova and the head of his country’s top security agency, Ivan Bakanov, citing allegedly rampant “treason” in both services.

He claimed that a large number of staffers at Kiev’s successor to the KGB, the SBU — which Bakanov headed since 2019 — were working for Russia. Almost seven hundred “criminal cases have been registered on high treason and collaboration activities of employees of the prosecutor’s office, pre-trial investigation bodies, and other law enforcement agencies,” Zelensky announced.

To make sure everybody gets his stern message, Zelensky warned of appropriate answers to any similar behaviour on the part of his law enforcement forces, whatever that was supposed to mean.

Strange logic

It has been well documented that America’s political establishment and media-entertainment complex have regularly reacted in similar situations by putting those they had been preferring on pedestals, while condemning their opposition.

What they have is a “goodies versus baddies” complex.

In this case, it didn’t matter that Zelensky banned opposition parties, shut down media outlets, silencing the critics of the regime.

In all fairness, Russia’s Putin hasn’t been handling his opposition using velvet gloves, either.

Except: on surface, Ukraine and Russia are at war, and, in wartime, basic rules, human rights and laws tend to be crushed.

The West’s attempts to silence those who beg to question their authorities’ (and media’s) denials of the right to second opinion would be strange if they weren’t irresistible proof that the real combatants are, actually, the U.S. and Russia.

The tactics the West has been using are strange, to say the least.

For example, some have been calling Ukraine’s President a “defiant hero.” Others would go so far as to claim he’s a “modern Churchill.” CNN went further, claiming Zelensky has out-Churchilled Churchill.

Those same media have been saying till then that Sir Winston Churchill was anathema. After all, to them, Churchill was “an imperialist rather than a pure believer in democracy.”

Zelensky had the main opposition party’s leader arrested. He had critical TV and online outlets banned. Nary a word of objection from the intrepid West’s leaders.

What’s up, Doc?

That same Churchill and U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt had to turn 180 degrees after Adolf Hitler broke the non-aggression pact between Germany and the Soviet Union. Till then, the Americans were primed to hate the “reds” and now, they were told to support their face. Many would view it as “fighting one mass murderer with the help of another.” A popular joke back then had it that the only difference between Stalin and Hitler was the size of their moustaches.

For a number of reasons, some more legitimate than others, the West took the Soviets’ side during the Second World War. American authorities opened the Office of War Information (OWI) and if this name reminds anyone of the newest information control efforts, they are on the correct path.

The OWI would cost U.S. taxpayers $11.3 billion ($190 billion in today’s money).

The media did their part: the Uncle Joe nickname first appeared on their pages. TIME magazine called Stalin its Man of the Year in 1943, an honour it had bestowed on Hitler just a few years earlier, in 1938.

The Man of the Year cover had been a TIME tradition since 1927. Charles Lindbergh became the first Man of the Year. The intrepid pilot admired Hitler and Nazi Germany.

The idiocy continued with Collier’s magazine claiming, in a cover story, too, that the Soviet Union was evolving “toward something resembling our own and Great Britain’s democracy.” That but a mere half-decade after the Great Purge, when Stalin wiped out somewhere in the region of a million people during an attempt to eliminate perceived political threats.

The New York Times chimed in: “Marxian thinking in Soviet Russia is out. The capitalist system, better described as the competitive system, is back.”

Considering the Gray Lady’s shady record of reporting on the Soviet Union, this should not have surprised anybody.

There were many o such examples. To Life magazine, Lenin was “a normal, well-balanced man who was dedicated to rescuing 140 million people from a brutal and incompetent tyranny.”

According to Life, “If Soviet leaders tell us anything, we can afford to take their word for it.”

What’s changed?

Not much. The Pentagon insists that Ukrainian military efforts will become a source of in-depth study by future generations of the military.

That may very well happen. If there is any future: the West has been pushing the world into World War Three, and nuclear weapons tend to destroy everything they touch.

Meanwhile, the West has been describing Ukraine’s military as law-abiding citizens who wouldn’t harm a chicken, even if ordered to. The many Nazi elements, covered before February 24, 2022, have disappeared from the map. What made the Reuters change their song? In 2018, they reported that many volunteer militias in Ukraine use Nazi symbolism and recruit Hitler acolytes into their ranks.

It was only three years ago, in 2019, that about 40 U.S. senators signed a letter that demanded that some of those militias, including the infamous Azov Battalion, be designated as terrorist organizations.

Now? Zelensky is of Jewish origin, they argue, and that’s why he wouldn’t permit anything resembling Nazism even an iota.

Americans, with their warped sense of geography, hadn’t known that Ukraine ranked with amazing regularity as one of the poorest and most corrupt nations in Europe. Ukraine became a big news story during the 2014 U.S.-backed coup. Even then only one in six Americans were able to find the country on a map. The median guess was 1,800 miles off, a Washington Post survey found.

But why all this effort?

Elementary: the U.S. as a country, and its Administration as a family, have economic interests of their own to defend in Ukraine. That’s why they’re pouring billions of taxpayer money into the poor country. That the God-damned Russkies destroy most of U.S. military hardware upon arrival on Ukrainian soil is not an issue: let’s send them some more.

That’s why anyone who dares question the current U.S. (and NATO) policy can’t hope for better than a label of a Russian stooge or a traitor.

How about them stars?

Hollywood has always been a haven for illiterates who may look good on camera but whose knowledge of the real world is worse than shaky.

Their record in the campaign to sell Americans on Stalin and the Soviets is shocking. No wonder, many would appear on the released Soviet intelligence lists as “agents of influence.”

We’re watching the same now: U.S. film stars visiting Zelensky in Kyiv, telling him he’s their hero. U.S. film stars telling the U.S. Film Academy they’ll send their awards to smelters if Zelensky’s not invited to the next Oscar presentation night. (He couldn’t make it after all, but still, the show included celebrations of what it described was as heroism.)

Opera houses such as the Metropolitan in New York, literally firing today’s leading soprano (Anna Netrebko) in the midst of her contracted run because she’s Russian and wouldn’t publicly denounce her President.

It’s extended to sports, too: the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club banned Russian and Belarussian tennis stars from their annual Wimbledon Championship tournament.

Some in the North American National Hockey League (NHL, hockey world’s top league) are asking whether leading Russian stars should be allowed to return for next season, and whether their budding stars should be admitted in their Entry Draft.

One day they will regret it. If humanity still exists by then, and if they are at all capable of questioning themselves.

Judging by the latest developments, answers to both questions are getting too close to NO.

Russian? Guilty by association

If anybody needs any proof that things aren’t as Western governments and the so-called corporate (mainstream) media tell us, here’s another one: His Excellency, the Ambassador of Ukraine to Czech Republic Yevhen Perebyinis, sent an open letter to the organisers of the prestigious Karlovy Vary International Film Festival protesting that a Russian film, Captain Volkonogov Escaped, be shown there as part of competition.

In a typical authoritarian tone, the envoy wrote that the film was made with support from Russian government and that its creators used to make Russian propaganda movies.

So far as His Excellency is concerned, including that film in the festival’s schedule goes against all descriptions of humanity.

The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival was born the same year the International Film Festival in the French resort Cannes (1946), and it has gained and maintained a solid reputation throughout its existence, communist edicts, bans and regulations notwithstanding.

One of its rules: nobody is allowed to bring in (and promote) anything supporting any political organisations and movements.

The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival replied in style, and in an open letter, too. Signed by Jiří Bartoška, president, Kryštof Mucha, executive director, and Karel Och, artistic director, their letter recounted Czech Republic’s official efforts to help Ukraine in her war with Russia, and went on to say (verbatim quote): “Captain Volkonogov Escaped is one of the most remarkable films from the last year’s edition of Venice Film Festival, which is why it was invited to the KVIFF´s program already during autumn. Although the film is set in 1938, quite obvious parallels with the current situation can be found in its story. We believe that the film provides a fitting description of how the manipulative actions of a despotic leader can influence the mindset of the majority of the society, purposefully create enemies of the regime in the name of ideology and ruthlessly annihilate them, and how such actions ultimately lead to a national tragedy. In this sense, we see the film Captain Volkonogov Escaped as an indirect, but very distinct criticism of the current Russian state regime.”

As an aside: the Venice Film Festival is the oldest such event in history, first held in 1932. Together with the Cannes Festival, and the Berlin International Film Festival (active since 1951), it’s one of the most prestigious such festivals in the world. The one in Karlovy Vary is in the same league. The one in Karlovy Vary has a special distinction the other three do not share: it is the place where I met my then-future (and still today) wife. End of an aside.

The Karlovy Vary leaders’ letter concludes thus: “We understand your arguments, however, we strictly refuse your interpretation that the screening of this film, which was in the past supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, distracts the international community from the war crimes committed in Ukraine. On the contrary, we believe that by screening the film, we can generate a public discussion which will draw attention to the overlap of the film’s main theme with current events.”

The Karlovy Vary International Film Festival receives part of its support from the Czech government. It remains to be seen whether the government would be pressuring its organisers to give in to the Ukrainian emotional blackmail.

Precedent?

New York’s Metropolitan Opera basically fired one of the greatest sopranos of our era, Russian Anna Netrebko.

Here, verbatim, the opening paragraph from the Met, March 3, 2022: Not complying with the Met’s condition that she repudiate her public support for Vladimir Putin while he wages war on Ukraine, soprano Anna Netrebko has withdrawn from her upcoming Met performances in Puccini’s Turandot this April and May, as well as the run of Verdi’s Don Carlo next season. “It is a great artistic loss for the Met and for opera,” said Met General Manager Peter Gelb. “Anna is one of the greatest singers in Met history, but with Putin killing innocent victims in Ukraine, there was no way forward.”

Whether the irony was intended or not, Ukrainian soprano Liudmyla Monastyrska replaced Netrebko in the Turandot performances still remaining on the Met schedule.

Netrebko shot back: she told the French newspaper, Le Monde, that she was not guilty of anything and revealed that Peter Gelb went against the terms of her withdrawal from Turandot.

Netrebko told Le Monde, “The Met was the first to insist that I clarify my position. What I have done. But I was also asked to declare myself against Vladimir Putin.

“I replied that I had a Russian passport, that he was still the president.

“I could not utter these words publicly. So I refused.”

She added that they had agreed to the terms but that she was shocked when Gelb suggested to the New York Times that she would never return. Netrebko added, “It’s very hard because nothing foreshadowed this attitude. We had agreed to let some time pass, which we would see later… We cannot denounce all of my future contracts just because they judge that I am too close to Putin.”

According to Le Monde, all of Netrebko’s contracts are in question through May 2026.

Game, set, match

If all (or any) of the above reminds you of the attitude taken by the All-England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, yes, the one located in the London suburb named Wimbledon, you’re right.

The venerable Championship (as it is called in tennis circles, and nobody need add any other description), the organisers announced earlier this spring that they would not allow any Russian or Belarussian players to compete. The reaction from ATP (Association of Player Professionals) and WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) was swift: if you mean it, not a single point gained by players at the Championship would be included in the regular player rankings. This IS important: ranking standings are used to seed players in forthcoming tournaments, and it is also based on these rankings that the schedules are set up (and sponsors attracted).

The Championship takes place between July 1 and 9 this year, and, if internal sources can be trusted, ticket sales have been much slower than usual. Bluntly: most of the tickets to all of the 18 courts haven’t been sold yet. Even the fact that, there is no Court 13 (triskaidekaphobia or what?) on the premises has helped.

In fact, even the most popular and best-known Centre Court and Court No. 1 still have rows after rows of seats still vacant.

Does all this tell you all you need to know about the Western hypocrisy? It should.

What a boring life!

When a guy in India decided this world wasn’t worth it, and yet, committing suicide would have been against his convictions by being too final, he decided to sue his own parents: they had conceived him in an irresponsible fit of passion without ever asking him whether he wanted to be born or not.

The guy’s mom said she and her husband were guilty as charged. They never thought that their offspring (gender unknown yet) would be so keen on defending her or his rights. But, she added, she wonders who’s going to pay the damages should they lose the case.

And no, this wasn’t an April Fools’ joke.

And neither is LVRSNFRNDS. This is not a word picked from some exotic language. This is a down-to-earth abbreviation for lovers and friends.

Sophie Mona Pagés, founder of LVRSNFRNDS, describes herself as she/they, another of those esoteric expressions, so up-to-date these days.

If you don’t know what she/they means, you’re uncool, definitely not with the times, perfectly not in, and you should thank Ms. Pagés for her contribution to humanity: she put together an explanatory list of the terms used among the variety of genders. These seem to be so overwhelming that many universities have found it necessary to form gender studies departments.

To the basics

Anatomically, gender consists of genitals, chromosomes, hormones, pubic hair and other such parts, Ms. Pagés opens her tour of elucidation.

Then, she delves right into the matter at hand: “You may have encountered terms such as AFAB (Assigned Female At Birth) or AMAB (Assigned Male At Birth). That’s what it’s all about.”

About what?

Neither of these has the option of selecting their gender, not during their childhood, not when their reach puberty or adulthood, even.

Never mind having a say in selecting any while in one’s mother’s womb.

Cisgender

Jackie Golob, with all of four years’ worth of practice in Minneapolis since graduating from St. Cloud State University in 2018, offers this almost perfect textbook definition: “When a physician identifies a new-born as a girl, based on her genitals, and the person identifies with this assignment, she is called a cisgender.

Going with the times, people in this group like to call themselves using the abbreviation “cis.”

This kind of explanation goes a long ways to explain the name of Ms. Golob’s website: Shameless Therapy. She identifies as she/her/hers, whatever THAT is supposed to mean.

Transgender

Ms. Pagés to the rescue: these people are the opposite of the preceding case. Their gender differs from the anatomy of their genitals. They can be trans-male, trans-female, or non-binary persons.

Non- HUH?

These do not identify as either men or women, Ms. Pagés explains, adding a word of caution: they shouldn’t be described or addressed as trans or transgender. They [prefer transperson, or transgender person or, specifically, trans male or trans female.

Cishet

This term must have been invented by gender studies academics: it repeats the basics of another term, throwing a few more specific characteristics in.

Judge for yourselves: the term describes people whose gender identity is the same as their anatomy (cisgender, remember?), and who are sexually attracted to people of opposite gender.

A typical example: a person born with a vagina identifies as a woman and looks for men in her romantic life.

Non-binary persons

All you have to do qualify is to refuse to identify as either male or female. You can say you’re both, or neither, something completely different from both established basic genders.

Intersex

A person born with some kind of a combination of both genders (genitals, hormones, chromosomes) or a genital variation that differs from all biological genders.

This is described as a natural variant in human anatomy and there’s nothing wrong with it. In fact, two people out of a hundred can apply.

Genderqueer

A perfectly flexible gender: people identify as neither male nor female, or they identify as both male and female, or a combination of both of these genders. Experts say genderqueer and non-binary can be used as synonyms. Besides, genderqueer often carries political undertones, such as the third gender.

Genderfluid

Another proof that says life’s a change and change is life. Your sexual orientation and preferences can be changing, and so can your gender. You can feel masculine today and feminine tomorrow. One of the expressions used here is Genderbread Person.

Gender Nonconforming

Another sign of times have gone crazy. In exuberant attempts to look original, people like this ignore norms prevalent in their culture. For example, an AMAB (see above) with nails painted pink. First of all, you want to attract attention by not conforming: painted nails have been a typical sign of femininity in your culture, or just don’t know what to do: you’re so bloody bored.

Gender expansive

The LGBTQIA (or LGBTQIA+) community use this description to replace the Gender Nonconforming original. The acronym means Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Transsexual, Two-spirit, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Ally, A-gender, Bi-gender, Gender Queer, Pansexual, Pangender, and Gender Variant. With time, it can develop into something even more encompassing. That’s what the + sign is for.

Agender

Life must be exciting for this group. They don’t identify with any gender on the list, feeling neither male nor female. That’s where the “they/them” denominator comes from.

Some attach gender freedom to this designation, others say it signifies a genderless emptiness

Gendervoid

Similar to agender, except: people in this group don’t feel anything whatsoever about gender identity. Members of this group don’t experience any gender attachments and, they say, they are unable to, anyway. They define this state by saying that biological sex is a physical matter, while gender is all about feeling.

Back to school

You can learn all of this (and more) from so many websites your head will start turning as if in the feeling of weightlessness while flying to the moon.

Here’s where they will all agree:

  • theirs a safe space for self-growth for individuals by individuals with a queer and intersectional approach to life: everything lives on a spectrum and should be questioned, everyone brings something to the table, especially when there is something about them that breaks with “the norm”
  • theirs is a community-powered self-care. LVRSNFRNDS, for example, identifies itself as a space for self-discovery where people make friends. It focuses on conversations where people share both their highs and lows, where they connect on a deeper level.
  • theirs is a private and mission-driven network with a focus on quality rather than quantity of connections, and without pressure to pretend and perform.

That none of these sites explain the roots and origins of behaviours that border on the unusual, to put it mildly, and that their conversation doesn’t seem to contribute an iota to human progress sounds irrelevant. Judging by their literature, anyway.

So much scientifically-looking gibberish in just three paragraphs! Of course, for those who manage to hop on the gravy train of gender studies, the prebends can be endless. Especially if would-be gender academics manage to insinuate themselves all the way to tenure.

So long as they are different, it’s all that matters. Whether they add anything to humanity matters not.

Internet Canadian style: pushed under government’s boot

The Germans have a saying that describes current Canadian government’s strenuous efforts to muzzle the country’s citizens to a T: Maul halten und weiter dienen. Meaning: keeping your mouth shut tight and serving on.

As Ian Cooper, a Toronto-based media lawyer, wrote in the Wall Street Journal recently, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plans to regulate speech on the internet.

Simple: he would have it placed under the control of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).

Even the former vice-chairman of the commission was shocked. As Ian Cooper quotes Peter Menzies, the new Trudeau initiative “doesn’t just infringe on free expression, it constitutes a full-blown assault upon it and, through it, the foundations of democracy.”

Of course, Trudeau has an excuse at the ready: his government want nothing more than to level the playing field between traditional broadcasters and online players (read Netflix and Spotify).

Oh yes?

Trudeau’s own Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault was a bit more forthcoming, making the idea even more ominous.

Guilbeault will introduce the first-ever internet control bill to be tabled in Parliament within the “next couple of weeks.”

Scaremongering of the dirtiest sort was the foundation of his explanations in a recent news conference.

Knight on a white stallion

Since the so-called pandemic experience showed that people respond to fear by panicking, Guilbeault went straight into it: “My job is to ensure the safety and security of the Canadian population.”

Canada’s Criminal Code, wide-ranging as it is, and with a constantly increasing number of punishable misdeeds, isn’t enough, obviously.

As Guilbeault put it, new legislation is but the start to create what he called a “safer environment for all people online and not just for a handful.”

The plan is to regulate what he termed was hurtful content.

Who defines what’s hurtful?

Why, the government, of course.

Besides, the plan is to punish Canadians for sharing foreign content, and to twist foreign companies’ arms, too: “With the legislation we will be tabling, it won’t matter whether or not the company is Canadian. It won’t matter where the company is registered or where their servers are located.”

To make sure everyone understood, Guilbeault announced that “Once a publication is flagged it will have to be taken down within 24 hours of having it being flagged. There are not a lot of countries that are doing that right now.”

The minister is so proud of his achievement: “I think it’s going to be a really good remedy to a number of problems.”

But, he knows he could do better, just give him time: “But it won’t solve everything. One of the issues I’ve learned, looking at different models, is you shouldn’t try to tackle everything from the get-go.”

Hate speech will “definitely” be a part of the legislation being tabled, as well as other “online harms.”

Realising that his own Prime Minister is of the view that anyone who dares disagree with him hates him, this is a scary proposition.

Couching it all in seemingly soothing words, Guilbeault said that the basic idea behind the bill was to aid in maintaining the “social fabric of our society.”

Strange numbers

According to surveys commissioned by the Canadian Race Relations Foundation, some 93 per cent of Canadians (meaning: of those questioned) “believe that online hate speech and racism are a problem,” while some 80 per cent “want social media companies to be required to remove racist or hateful content within 24 hours.”

Who are those guys? Canadian Race Relations Foundation is a charitable organisation and a Crown corporation at the same time, a strange incest if there ever was one. Their official goal under law is to foster racial harmony and cross-cultural understanding in Canada. How? By eliminating racism.

Here’s something to ponder: the taxpayer-paid foundation opened in November 1997 as part of the Japanese Canadian Redress Agreement. Considering what Canadian authorities have been doing these days to Russians living in Canada, the Foundation will have its hands full in the not so distant future. And, to remind you, Canada was at war against Japan when she interned those Japanese people unlucky enough to live here, while she is not in any war against Russia other than words and sanctions that will hurt Canada more than they will Russia.

Guilbeault took the Canadian Race Relations Foundation survey results for granted, not really bothering to check them. To him, “the conclusions of this survey are clear. Hate speech has no place in our society. It’s time to step up against online hate. The numbers are disturbing, but they come as no surprise.”

How will they do it?

Anyone who makes programs available over the internet (social media or just so, for the fun of it, friend to friend, would be treated as a broadcaster. That would put these people all under CRTC’s control.

Websites won’t have to apply for a formal licence to operate in Canada. Not yet, that is. Still, the CRTC’s extended powers will include imposing conditions and forcing them to “make expenditures to support the Canadian broadcasting system.”

Remember the Canadian content idiocy demanded of Canada’s radio and television stations and networks?

Individual Joes and Marys will be liable, as well: the bill used to include specific exemptions for user-generated content. But, within a short period of time, this provision went up in smoke. This made social media such as YouTube responsible to CRTC, as well.

The government claimed the exemption was already addressed elsewhere. Upon further checking it emerges that it wasn’t.

To make the original bill easier to swallow, the government suggested that their newest regulations would involve “professional” content only.

Users themselves would be exempt, but, and that’s an important but, users who enjoy a large following would still be viewed as broadcasters.

Ian Cooper, the Toronto-based media lawyer, quoted minister Guilbeault as saying that the person responsible would not be “an individual — a person — who uses social media.”

Ian Cooper admitted he was mystified. And he’s a lawyer who knows a thing or two about laws and legalese.

Ian Cooper offers an interesting insight: minister Guilbeault spent his entire career as an environmental activist, until he entered politics in 2019.

As Ian Cooper put it in his Wall Street Journal article, “like many members of the Trudeau cabinet, he (Guilbeault) has no prior experience in the area of government he oversees.”

That is why minister Guilbeault, dancing to his Prime Minister’s tune, has no issues with, for example, letting Canadian government’s bureaucrats require that YouTube muzzle Jordan Peterson, fine Spotify for Joe Rogan’s words in his podcast, or order that independent podcasters such as Sam Harris contribute to the production of Canadian content.

Independent voices have a weapon. It’s called geoblocking. Their content won’t reach Canada. Why deal with those morons in Ottawa? They all seem to have better things to do, places to go, people to see. So long as other countries around the world don’t notice and become Canada’s copycats.

That’s precisely what Justin Trudeau wants. A Chinese-style firewall without having to go to the trouble of building it himself.

Here’s the worst part: with NDP’s backing, he has enough seats to make his perfectly foul dictatorial dream come true.

War hysteria re-defines hypocrisy

Adolf Hitler dragged politics into sports big-time in 1936 when Germany hosted the Summer Olympics in Berlin.

After the Second World War, when then-communist countries began taking part, with their master, the Soviet Union, joining the Olympic fray in 1952 (Norway’s capital Oslo for the winter, and Finland’s capital Helsinki for the summer), Olympic Games would become unabashedly politicised. Winning medals would no longer be a sign of the winners’ athletic prowess. It would signal whose political system is better.

The parallel between fascism, Nazism and communism is intentional: they are but three branches of the same tree.

With the communist countries falling into the toilet during the late 1980s and early 1990s, most international sports, and the Olympics in particular, would turn into outright business, with a dash of outright nationalism thrown in for good measure.

Yes, nationalism. What’s an athlete running faster than others got to do with patriotism?

Here’s what: biased media whip nationalism up into literal jingoism (our runner is better than your runner, nyah nyah nyah nah nah). Passionate fans, united behind the flag, do what? Yes, they buy tickets, they watch television, listen to radio broadcasts (including commercials), and they buy newspapers or visit their papers’ websites, paying for beyond-the-paywall access, with advertisements galore all over the place, and they buy shirts and other merchandise like there’s no tomorrow.

And into this din, some athletes (and sports officials) would try to impose all kinds of political slogans du jour. Some scribes covering sports would try to sound like social scientists, asking athletic stars and starlets for their opinions on this or that hot political topic of the day.

It has now swollen into a crescendo of hysteria, with one political movement trying to outdo all others, trying to paint professional sports and professional athletes as hotbeds of socially aware ideologies. An athlete serves as what they call “role model,” and that now includes proper opinions and stands on proper issues, instead of serving as a role model in, say, shooting the puck from any point in the opponent’s zone, or back-checking, or whatever else is important to and in the game.

Whether their fans really care seems to have become less than an afterthought.

Except: a war that fills newscasts and newspapers’ front pages has broken out, and it so happens that athletes from the warring sides happen to be employed in sundry professional leagues all over the world. Most of those host countries have decided that one of the warring sides is guilty. True, Russia did fire the first shot, but in the scheme of things, so far as sports go, this debate is not as important. The important question is: how to treat athletes born in Russia, and still citizens of the generally acknowledged aggressor?

Skating around the issues

In North America, it is the National Hockey League (NHL) that has the most Russians on their teams’ rosters.

Tensions flared up when someone who couldn’t write if it saved his life asked Alexander Ovechkin, a legitimate NHL superstar and captain of the Washington Capitals, for his opinion on the war between Russia and Ukraine.

The poor guy danced around it as if he was a trained diplomat. One of those who don’t tell their interlocutors that they are lying like nobody’s business but use instead sentences such as, “Correct me if I’m wrong but it seems to me that your statement can cause serious doubts in a more serious conversation.”

Whether that scribe was aware that Ovechkin just happens to be on friendly terms with Russian president Vladimir Putin doesn’t matter much. In fact, if he did know and still asked, it would show a considerable level of insensitivity at a time when all and sundry have to undergo so-called sensitivity trainings so as not to annoy people with their questions or statements, or just simple looks, even.

Of course, in today’s atmosphere of political correctness, Ovechkin was taken to task for not blasting his country’s president and personal buddy to pieces. Not so much by fans but by the media and, shockingly, by a former goaltender, and Hockey Hall of Fame member, Dominik Hašek. Confirming the accepted view that hockey goaltenders are generally crazy, because only crazy people would voluntarily face barrages of projectiles shot in their direction with alarming speed and precision, Hašek called poor Ovechkin all kinds of names, some bordering on expletive. And, while he was at it, he demanded that all Russian players currently employed by NHL clubs be suspended (at best) or outright fired (at worst).

That some of the Russian athletes are no particular friends of their country’s president, didn’t matter. Artemi Panarin, a Russian-born forward many hockey fans would pay a lot to see in action, has been open about his negative views of all Vladimir Putin stands for. Yet, in Hašek’s book, he’s still guilty as charged. Just because he was born where he was.

Most of the media reported on Hašek’s outburst with politically correct admiration.

How this approach fits in politically correct abhorrence of racism and nationalistic chauvinism remains unexplained.

All kinds of international sporting bodies have imposed sanctions on Russian teams’ participation in their competitions: Russians are banned from soccer events, the popular hockey under-20 world competition has banned Russia (and Belarus, as Russia’s alleged ally), and they all feel smug about themselves. They’ve contributed to what they think is justice.

Yes, these bans and boycotts may cost Russian sporting organisations a few dollars here and there, but anyone who thinks Russian government is bothered, they should have their heads examined. This kind of behaviour only confirms the traditional Russian view of the surrounding world: we’re not paranoid but here you can see that everybody’s against us.

Not only that, in the propaganda war context, it justifies Russian government’s view that their country is within her rights to put the stinking Ukrainians in their place.

There’s one word for the western reaction: counterproductive.

A strange request

A few groups of Canadians of Ukrainian origin have asked the Canadian government to stop granting new visas and work permits to Russian athletes.

Coincidentally, these groups have no issue with Ukraine’s security services showing their enthusiastic admiration for Nazi ideology and methods of governing. The fact that official Ukrainian view promotes the Second World War criminal Stepan Bandera onto a national hero pedestal doesn’t matter to them one iota, either.

And this is not a one-in-a-million case of nation-wide worship for Hitler’s Nazi collaborators among the Ukrainian population. While, granted, there have been many reasons why the Ukrainian dislike all things Russian, and a huge share of them very valid (the artificially-induced famine, a.k.a. Holodomor, of the 1930s comes to mind), this still does not justify making these individuals national heroes.

Of course, when Putin speaks of his desire to de-Nazify Ukraine (this is his own expression), perhaps he should start by cleaning up the anti-Semitism that pervades in his own country. After all, the word pogrom (attacks by frenzied masses on peaceful Jewish communities) comes from Russia.

Still, none of this justifies, for example, the decision by the world’s top soccer body, FIFA, to grant Team Poland a walkover win over Team Russia in the qualifiers for the World Cup. And none of this makes correct, for another example, the newest decision by the NHL to cancel its cooperative agreement with its Russian counterpart, the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).

Nothing in the world justifies the New York Metropolitan Opera’s decision to fire one of today’s greatest soprano ladies, Anna Netrebko, either. This happened, word from the Met’s top ranks says, just because she is Russian and happens to have Putin’s private telephone number on her speed-dial. She was hired, after all, to sing and attract thousands adoring opera lovers to enjoy her art.

Boomerang effect

Russian athletes, artists or scientists currently in North America won’t talk too much (and too openly) about what’s happening. Those who agree with Putin fear North American reprisals based on politically correct hysteria. Those who disagree with Putin fear repercussions imposed by Roskomnadzor, Russia’s top censorship office.

The tide is growing: a Russian F1 driver was banned recently from the British Grand Prix. Norway is banning Russians from upcoming skiing competitions.

Does it make any sense other than making those issuing these directives feel they are ahead of the stream, punishing people who have nothing to do with the events other than their nationality?

This kind of international behaviour didn’t help much with South Africa’s apartheid: the shoe is on the other foot now, and the old racial wars continue. The only thing that has changed is who owns more guns and controls the system.

Proponents of the banning game speak of collective responsibility. This is definitely not a brand new idea. Just look at atrocities imposed on losing nations by victors throughout history.

Does the fact that this kind of collective solidarity-based revenge has been an accepted rule make it acceptable?

For an answer, look up North American governments compensating the children and grandchildren of people of German, Japanese or Italian descent who were living on this continent during the two World Wars, and who were detained as potential enemy supporters during those conflagrations.

So, one more time: does the fact that this kind of collective solidarity-based revenge has been an accepted rule make it acceptable?

Be honest when answering: what would you think if it were to happen to you?

Let ’em eat cake: the Swiss reject taxpayer money for media

Swiss voters must have been looking at what has been happening in Canadian media lately, and they didn’t like it.

Thus, they rejected a plan to inject more than 150 million Swiss francs (about $163 million in American currency or more than $206 million Canadian) into broadcast and print media every year, including support for early-morning newspaper delivery and online media to the tune of 70 million francs (nearly $76 million U.S. or more than $96 million Canadian) a year.

All that in a country of 8.5 million, to put the amounts into a proper context.

Strangely, North American media, including the U.S. Editor & Publisher that quoted (verbatim) this Associated Press story on top of its regular daily newsletter, said the idea was a Swiss government plan.

Nonsense, of course, aimed at thoroughly misleading their public. The fact remains that the Swiss federal government in Berne simply had to put the question to the electorate as proponents of the idea had gathered a sufficient number of signatures to trigger such a vote.

Whether the Associated Press reporter knew that he was lying or whether he just wasn’t informed enough matters not. It’s the result that matters. And the result just happened to be an outright lie.

That Editor & Publisher used the AP story unquestioningly, not even pretending that it bothered to check it out shows how deep the would-be North American media beacon has sunk.

What the Swiss said?

While the plan did make it through Switzerland’s parliament last June, it was only because its proponents gathered a sufficient number of signatures to send it to public vote. That’s because Switzerland’s form of democracy gives voters a direct say in policymaking.

So far as the majority of Swiss voters were concerned, not only would the cash injection be an unfair waste of public money, it would also impact journalistic independence and integrity. The more they get in state (read: taxpayer) handouts, the more likely will the media be to dance to government’s tune.

Besides, big media chains and their owners would benefit financially, while free newspapers, of which the Swiss have many, would lose out.

Opponents of the measure put it bluntly: “A media subsidized by the state is a media under control. As the adage goes: ‘Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.’ ”

Pointing out that big print-media groups together took in more than 300 million Swiss francs (more than $324 million U.S. or almost $413 million Canadian) in 2020 profits, despite the market tensions caused by Covid-19, they asked a simple question: what losses?

Those who supported the cash injection had been claiming that journalism is, in fact, a form of public service. That, they said, was true in local areas in particular: these regions do not get much service from big media groups.

After all, it would be the same as it is with many public radio and TV broadcasters, both in Switzerland and elsewhere in Europe (and on other continents, too).

A number of European countries support newspapers through postal fee discounts, tax breaks and other measures.

There even are countries that dole money to media big and small outright, and Canada happens to be a typical example of media singing the government’s song even if it is out of tune with reality.

“Media groups are fighting to survive,” the Swiss Green party, a strong supporter of the measure, claimed. “Ad revenues for print press haven’t stopped declining or are getting swallowed up by giants like Facebook and Google, and subscriptions aren’t enough,” it had been arguing before the vote.

According to the Swiss Green Party, more than 70 papers have disappeared since 2003, while advertising revenue in all print publications in Switzerland plunged 42 per cent between 2016 and 2020.

What they forgot to mention was that most of those print publications simply switched into electronic (online) form, and that they somehow forgot to transfer the missing print publication revenue to their successors’ books.

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