Saturday, 20 September 2008

Jason Cherniak gets it wrong

Jason Cherniak is a well known Liberal blogger cum pitbull. In a blogosphere of partisans Cherniak is a sectarian extraordinaire who never fails to rush to judgement in the absence of facts if he can score a few partisan posts. Recently, he has smeared a political activist named Stacy Douglas who was a provincial NDP candidate in Scarborough Agincourt in the 2003 provincial election and planned to be a federal candidate when it looked like there would be an election in 2007.

On Friday, Cherniak made a post on his blog titled NDP fired candidate who was anti-Israel which claimed in no uncertain terms that Ms Douglas was "fired" by the NDP for comments she made in support of Palestinian rights. He repeats the claim, using the phrase "getting rid of Dougls" instead of "fired" in a subsequent post. Cherniak's evidence? Well, she was the candidate at one point and is no longer and she wrote a letter to Jack Layton in March complaining about the party's decision not to back the Durban II conference on racism. In the absence of any actual factual evidence (such as a statement or news item) stating why Douglas no longer is the candidate, Cherniak assumed, in the absence of any facts, that Douglas must have been dropped as a result of the letter. After all, correlation must mean causation ergo a letter written in March and someone not being a candidate six months latter means the two events must be connected. So concludes the steel trap mind of Jason Cherniak and hey, if his finely tuned legal intellect makes a supposition it's not just an ordinary suppostion it's as good as a fact; hence Jason's assertion that his blind speculation must be true.

The problem is it isn't.

My grade 6 teacher used to say that when you assume you make an ass of u and me. In this case, Cherniak has only made an ass of himself. The fact is that Ms Douglas is not a candidate because she is in England this year pursuing her academic studies. Had there been an election in 2007 or early 2008 she would have been a candidate. Had there been an election, as scheduled, in the fall of 2009 after her year abroad was over, she also may have been a candidate but as the Prime Minister decided to break the spirit of his own law and call a snap election Ms Douglas cannot be a candidate because she is not in the country.

So here is the upshot of this. Because of Cherniak's combination of intellectual arrogance (if I thinks it it must be so) lack of due diligence (if I thinks it's a fact there's no need to verify it) and general sloppiness he's now defamed a once and possibly future poltical candidate with the claim that she was fired by her party for her criticisms of Israel, a claim which in this day and age also implies the existence of anti-Semitism.

It's one thing to criticize other political parties based on their actual deeds or misdeeds or on their policies but to engage in this sort of smear because of intellectual laziness is not acceptable. I say intellectual laziness because Cherniak is a law school graduate and should have at least a passing familiarity with the methods of critical thinking and debate. If this is an example of Cherniak's analytical mind at work then I think he's going to have a very serious problem practicing law, particularly when it comes to arguing cases in court. If he was deliberately disregarding logic and due diligence in order to score cheap points than shame on him but moreover shame on anyone who takes his blog seriously. The reason the BBC was a force to be reckoned with during World War II's propaganda wars was because they had a reputation for being factual and credible. Once you become known to invent facts for propaganda reasons you're finished and if Cherniak does not take responsibility for his mistake and apologize then I think he's finished as a serious commentator.
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1 comment:

leftdog said...

"It's one thing to criticize other political parties based on their actual deeds or misdeeds or on their policies but to engage in this sort of smear because of intellectual laziness is not acceptable."

I agree totally with your assessment of Cherniak's unethical blogging practices. I believe that he should be suspended from 'progressive bloggers' for awhile!

This is a great post!