Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Belinda and Belinda

In defending some of the language thrown at Belinda as she crossed the floor, many Conservative apologists have been missing the point. Worse, they have been using the rhetorical device that I hate the most: The Dictionary Defense, ie. well, the Oxford dictionary defines "whore" as a ... blah, blah, blah... of both genders so it can't be sexist...

Fine. You and your dictionary can go govern Contextlessania. We're talking about politicians here. They're supposed to know how to talk -- even the straight-shootin' types -- without offending (over) half the population. Forget whether calling someone a "dipstick" is sexist or not; it would get you fired from The Political Apprentice in the first round.

Over in the media, all those wink-wink headlines on the newstands seriously turned off all of the women I've spoken with over the past week, even those who might call Belinda any number of catty names in private. As a (blonde) lawyer friend remarked to me, the Toronto Sun actually came off looking grown-up with their "Boo-linda" headline, managing to express their opinion of Belinda without mentioning the colour of her hair.

Meanwhile, all the "prostitute" talk on the blogosphere -- particularly in anonymous comments -- was just plain odious. I think Kinsella is right. Come election time, the Tories' biggest supporters are going to be their biggest liability. (I also think, as libel laws catch up, we're going to see comments disappear from most blogs in a few years.)

Conservatives and their supporters can learn a lot from the coordinated attack by the Liberal female MPs, like McLellan and Dhalla. The sexist police saw a former enemy parachuted into a prominent position -- shoving aside two less-glamous women politicians in the way -- and immediately jumped to her defence because she was part of their party. That's how the game is played, fool. Learn it, before we're stuck with the Paul Martin Liberals forever.

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