It has become part of one of the dominant narratives of this election campaign: lazy journalists, often being fed trash by unscrupulous campaigns, more preoccupied with "Gotcha" journalism than laying out real issues so that voters might make informed decisions.
It shows we need to do a better job of educating and socializing our children. What often happens in the virtual world is structurally similar to urban violence on the streets. Emotionally and intellectually stunted people incapable of dealing with anger and frustration lashing out in the most vile and inappropriate ways at people with whom they feel no human connection. Now I get that the consequences are often different, and that this scenario avoids the analysis of power and class structure for instance, but there are interesting similarities. We haven't appropriate ways for discharging aggression and dealing with confrontation and conflict. By the way, those who ignore McKeever's defense that his comments were exchanged in the heat of the moment, ignore that posting on the web is potentially more explosive than face to face heated exchanges. One often discounts that there is a human being on the other end and lashes out in the most dehumanizing ways.
Next, and I say this tongue and cheek, but also with a great amount of compassion. We are seeing the emergence of a new class of political beings: the Cyber Dweebs (unattractive, insignificant, socially inept people who are so desperate to feel empowered and gain some sense of control that they take refuge in cyperspace, where they bully, attack, and insult others while feeling immortal and unassailable). Traditionally politicians and those in positions of power or aspiring for them could bully, attack, insult people to their face with impunity (their rants, unsolicited sexual advances and insults directed at their staff haven't been preserved for posterity). Those days are over!
I am serious here, and the irony isn't lost on me that I sometimes engage in this very behaviour myself. Look at Cherniak, look at McKeever. They are obviously pitiful and pathetic figures. I cringe at the thought what their childhood and high school experiences might have been like. However, it is interesting that even in cyperspace a kind of social stratification still pertains, and that class distinctions still apply. Cherniak has the monetary, cultural, and social capital that situates him in a certain place in cyberspace and McKeever doesn't and thereby is situated in a different position.
Should Andrew McKeever be fired? Personally I don't really feel strongly either way. His comments were completely outrageous and venomous. His view on war resisters was completely baseless, unethical and not in keeping with NDP policy, but they were made prior to representing the NDP in any official capacity. Perhaps he's changed his mind, perhaps he respectfully disagrees with that aspect of NDP policy. Perhaps policy and debate on dealing with war resisters could be the focus of a report, but that would require work.
Lastly, and most importantly, there's the issue of SEXISM. Sexism, like classicism, racism, ageism, ableism, etc. knows no bounds. The discourses, values and narratives which inform our existence shape all of our realities virtual, fantasmatic, "real," and otherwise. McKeever's comments were offensive, abusive, and sexist. He should rightly be condemned for his comments. He has openly acknowledged and actually sincerely apologized to all he directly offended. In fact, the very woman, Krystalline Kraus, he outrageously offended has openly accepted his apology, and they have issued a joint statement which we should all read before passing judgement.
Here, however, I would like to point out two significant differences between "progressives" and Liberals/Conservatives. McKeever took ownership of his offense, and apologized contritely. Within a "progressive" online community such as babble, there was open dialogue, debate, and dissension. Contrast this to a conservative online community, where dissension is often not tolerated. Or to online discussions by Liberals around Lesley Hughes, none of which were substantive, all of which were concerned with polling and improving the public perception of Dion. For instance, is there no room to critique the official account of 9/11 or the events leading up to and following 9/11?
Anyways, Kraus openly accepted McKeever's apology and in today's Toronto Sun called the attempt to make political hay out of this by the Liberals a "dirty tactic". You see, even when they "defend" women, Liberals can't help being sexist. They don't necessarily want to be sexist, and often do it the most subtle way, but Liberals can't help being sexist. Civil rights and social justice are merely Liberal strategies to get votes, but Liberals can't change what they are: ideologically committed to the oppressively wealthy.
Is it lost on Durham Liberal candidate Bryan Ransom, that his indignation on behalf of Kraus is nothing but patronizing and self-serving. She's accepted the apology, she's moved on, but somehow the Liberals know what's best for Kraus. As she says:
"If they [the Liberals] were so concerned about how I was treated, they would have contacted me first."