Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Mark Steyn: the Paul Lynde of right-wing punditry

A friend of mine once pointed out that the bearded, show-tune-loving, imperialist leg-humping Mark Steyn seems contractually obliged to make a giggly, vaguely homophobic slur in just about every other column he writes. Steyn's been blogging the Conrad Black trial for Maclean's – a perfect choice, since he's already made clear he thinks the whole thing is a sham, and Maclean's editor Kenneth Whyte may get called as a witness. (So you just know you're in for nothing but hard-nosed, objective journalism.)

It only took a few posts for Steyn to slip in a little gay-baiting. Apropos of just about nothing Steyn gets this dig in:

Incidentally, on a flight a few months ago, I found myself next to a New Englander who chanced to mention that his Congregational Church had just interviewed a potentially very exciting new pastor. We chit-chatted about him and I happened to ask, “Is he married?”

“Well, he has a, er, partner,” he said. Silly me, I’d forgotten how rare practicing heterosexuals are in the contemporary Congregational clergy. “But,” added my friend brightly, “they were married in Canada.” And I remember thinking that “married in Canada” was a lovely euphemism for what we used to know as “not the marrying kind”. By the end of this trial, the prosecution clearly plans to have “legal in Canada” established as the last refuge of not the law-abiding kind.

This would be the same Steyn who elsewhere refers to lead prosecutor Eric Sussman as a "boyish charmer." If there's ever a neo-fascist version of Hollywood Squares, I know who gets centre square.

Steyn's blog is also notable for this defence of Barbara Amiel's notorious "slut" and "vermin" outbursts:
The "sluts" and "vermin" brouhaha seems to be leading the London papers this morning. But it's worth bearring in mind why Barbara Amiel had good cause to be angry just before she stepped into the elevator: She'd just learned that a juror had been dismissed because he'd supposedly called up the court after being selected and said that anyone who makes in a year what it's taken him a lifetime to earn must be a crook. The clerk mulled this over and decided to remove the juror from the panel. A new juror was then appointed. When the first juror was informed he'd been dismissed, he protested indignantly that he'd never made any such call. He wants to remain on the jury. So too do the defence want him on the jury.

What's going on here?

There are two possible answers:

1) Whoever took the call made an error and got the name of the juror wrong. That calls into question the competence of the court, and means a juror whose mind is already made up is on the panel.

2) Somebody called up in the juror's name. Given that the names of the panel have not yet been released, that suggests a highly sophisticated form of jury nobbling.

Neither alternative is very reassuring for the defence, and both speak poorly for what's supposed to be a fair trial in which four men face jail terms for what could be the rest of their lives.

But that's what Barbara Amiel was mad about just before she stepped into the elevator. It's not about Barbara's temper, but about a staggering incompetence that reflects poorly on the court's credibility. It needs to do better today.
So you see? She was just upset about some jury stuff. If she chooses to let off a little steam by calling journalists "vermin" and a female CBC producer a "slut," well, hasn't she the right?

This is called "Guilty, with an explanation, of being an asshole."

Next week in Steyn's blog: "The judge overruled those reasonable objections, so it's perfectly clear why Amiel later called her limo driver a 'filthy wog' and the woman who works in the courthouse canteen a 'frustrated old dyke'...."

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