So, I did something today I haven’t done since I was about 13. I picked up (from the table at the restaurant) a copy of to Toronto Sun, and read it.
Well, if you can call choking, sputtering, and huffing through an entire newspaper “reading” it. I am quite certain that the people behind me either though I had tourettes, or was having a seizure… possibly both. Reading the Toronto Sun is the kind of thing I do from time to time… Like watching Ezra Levant, Bill O’Reilly, or… when I’m feeling especially self-loathing, Glenn Beck/Rush Limbaugh (I do have trouble keep all the Fat Angry White Guys straight in my head.) Now, as I said, I haven’t actually looked at the sun since I was 13… the reason for that. I thought it was a paper for children.
My father used to take me to the local coffee shop in our small town on Saturday Mornings for breakfast, and the adults were always reading the paper. I wanted to be like them, but the only paper left was always the sun. The writing was at a level a 10 year old could easily grasp, with few big words, and almost no complicated ideas. I had yet to clue into the Conservative/Liberal mindset, and just thought the paper was written for pre-teens, and sold on that basis. Apparently I was wrong, and conservatives just don’t like big words…
Today however, my medium for masochistic delight was the Toronto Sun. The cover alone said I would be in for a treat.
If that doesn’t scream “you’re in for a treat” I don’t know what does really.
I found myself wondering what moron would have decided to put this on the cover… then realized this is the same group that gave Ezra Lavent his own Television show. So I flipped inside. Page 3 was still the sunshine girl (Interesting side note, I see there is no Sunshine Boy anymore? But a second pic of the Sunshine Girl?), wearing less clothing than I remembered from when I was younger, but whatever. It’s not like the sun sells itself on intellectual integrity and hard-hitting journalism anyway. I won’t get into the irony of putting “Jail bait” on the cover, and then having a picture of a woman barely over 18 in her undies on the NEXT PAGE, but it was quite a larf.
When I finally got to the actual cover-story I was rather shocked to realize it wasn’t a reference to the (rather young) accused… but to the brave women who put themselves out there to catch this person. This was the first moment of spasms that accompanied my reading of this paper, and possibly the most violent of them. WTF Sun? Seriously, What. The. Fuck. Now, my general rule in life has always been “don’t be a disrespectful asshole to anyone with a gun”… and it’s worked out well for me so far. I wonder if the Sun writers have considered it?
As my anger dimmed to a dull roar in the back of my mind, I started to wonder if they would have done the same in a male police sting (ok, we all know they wouldn’t….), or how they would handle the other stories of this nature…. As my mind wandered over these topics, I continued reading.
Then, something truly shocking happened. I saw a headline I actually agreed with. “Accused teen sexual predator should be tried as adult” – Joe Warmington… The name sounded vaguely familiar, though I still cannot place it. The piece was even decently (for the sun) argued.
Until the vary end. When he said this (emphasis Mine):
The different levels of sexual assault is understood but when it comes to alleged ambush attacks in the late hours in dark areas, there is no splitting hairs for the victims who suffer the trauma of being so allegedly violated.
Maybe I’m overreacting, but I almost spit coffee all over my wife. I was back to twitching, coughing, and sputtering… completely unable to articulate what it was that filled me with such rage. These are not “alleged” events. This is what happened.
This, right here, ladies and gents, is Rape Culture. This is our society’s victim blaming mentality. This paper, in the course of two pages, set out to slut-shame Toronto Police Officers, and then, to state that the attacks these brave women put themselves at risk to find justice for (not to mention preventing future attacks) might never have happened?
So, I find myself asking Why? Why does the Toronto Sun think it’s ok to make these claims? Why does ANYONE think its ok to use this language? Our choice of language is powerful. Word is the representation of thought, and our thoughts shape our world. The way we say things, phrases we use, and our “default” language when it comes to some subjects is like a beacon telling the world our values, opinions, and beliefs louder than any single statement can.
Right now, we live in a world where it isn’t just “ok” to mock womens contributions to society (in this case, the police keeping us safe), but to question even the sincerity of those brave enough to come forward after an assault.
For all our fire and brimstone rhetoric about this type of criminal, or, as then Sun says “perverts”, our language, even in a story supposedly calling for harsh treatment places us on their side. I mean, what are we dealing with? According to the Toronto Sun, we are dealing with “alleged” violations, and “alleged” assaults.
I’ve never claimed to be a nice guy. I say terrible things, and I do so loudly, and often. But even to me this seems low brow, and I find it amazing the Toronto Sun still has any readers left.
I know its libel to be another 13 years before I flip through it again.