Little Black Box

McGill, Pepper Spray and the Arab Spring

Last week as I was perusing the Internet, I came across the writings of third-year McGill Student Teddy Weinstein on the National Post’s Full Comment blog.

The piece was entitled “Dear McGill Protestors: this isn’t the Arab Spring, and your principal isn’t Mubarak,” and wow, I could not agree more.

I’d like to say that I absolutely loved the piece*—despite it mostly not being based on any facts, which made it oh, so powerful.

Weinstein busted out some pretty deep insight, expressing that McGill is, indeed, not a third-world country and that the school’s president, Heather Monroe-Blum is actually not Hosni Mubarak.

I’d like to add some similarly insightful statements to Weinstein’s list: fire burns, rain makes you wet and llamas are South-American camelid.

Weinstein goes on to argue that students were comparing last Thursday’s We Are All McGill event with the Arab Spring, despite the fact that, over the nearly five-hour event, no one made such a reference.
But, you know, good argument anyway!

Interesting thing, though was that Teddy didn’t witness the event himself. Of course he “was able to stitch together a rough timeline”—how Without a Trace of him, minus the professionalism. Did he talk to the students who got maced? Did he contact the SPVM or the McGill administration?

Seems like Teddy took the easy option by skimming through social media and reiterating hearsay. And it’s not like he’s an international reporter filing from the other side of the world—Teddy is a McGill student. All he had to do to get the scoop was go to school.

Tons of firsthand witnesses were available at We Are All McGill. It shouldn’t have been hard for him to get an interview with them and then boom! Firsthand testimony.

Maybe the core problem lies in the fact that Teddy doesn’t know that journalistic opinion pieces have to provide more than simply a point of view: they need to be based on more than strong feelings.

“Some of the blame must also fall on the protestors themselves,” he asserted. Here again, Teddy’s not all that precise: should the protesters be blamed for getting maced? For expressing their opinions? Staging a non-violent occupation? Not enjoying getting a baton back massage by dozens of riot squads swarming student’s space?

One particularly insulting argument Teddy mobilizes against students out there fighting for their rights is that apparently we ‘romanticize’ protestors. Interesting. I’m not so sure the Libyan and Tunisian protestors who suffered during the last months opposing dictatorial regimes would agree.

Teddy just doesn’t ‘get’ students who complained about the riot squad’s intervention on Nov. 10, as, “This university is not a true democracy. It doesn’t pretend to be. If you don’t like it, you do not have to come here.”

Hell yeah, man! It’s not like Freedom of Expression is a protected Charter right (who cares anyway) or that going to university is about strengthening democracy through education—who do those students think they are, asking for accountability, transparency and non-violence?

It’s not like university professors ever encourage students to participate in discussions and express their opinions, backed by factually based arguments. So how dare students express an opinion, am I right? Go home, study, and pay your tuition fees. (Bonus: get maced and thank the officer.)

After reading this phenomenal piece of journalism, I can’t wait to see what Teddy writes, and the NatPo publishes, next. Something about tuition hikes would be amazing. I can already see the headline: “Dear Students: Education is Not a Right, and Charest is not Severus Snape.”

Also, with such solid arguments, I’m sure Teddy will receive a promotion pretty soon—Fox News, get ready.


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