Jul 22, 2023Liked by Line Editor

I laughed out loud at the end. Wish my husband would listen but I’ve thus far failed to get him to care about what’s going on in this country of ours.

The c-18 stuff - I’m intensely interested in it. It might actually upset the apple cart and the liberal love fest that so much of the big media companies seem to have. Maybe if they had to earn their viewers we would get more balanced nonpartisan news (because I really want to know both sides of a story without a social “what you should believe” being added in.) The unique and nuanced content with minimal crossover into partisan politics that the line posts is largely why I subscribe.

One last point - people are much more nuanced than Trudeau seems to give them credit for. What I’m seeing locally in my city is the kids graduating right now have a high rate of gender focus, but the kids in junior high are rejecting it as a fad. It seems to be a hot button topic right now, but I think inflation and cost of living is going to outrank it pretty quickly. Maybe that’s what Trudeau is counting on?

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Great discussion, generally agree with the observations of others above, but I want to point to the COVID reporting issue -- there’s nuance here too, but Matt I think Jen is more onto something than you’re allowing. This needs a deeper look.

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The drag queen brought in for my primary school kids (during the weeklong pride extravaganza) was literally wearing assless fishnets. I have photos. Yes some of the rhetoric is overblown but things have gotten beyond whacky, especially in Toronto schools, and I support the protesting parents

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From your headline ... "The photo ops aren't worth someone getting killed."

Someone in the PMO obviously disagrees. These are the smart people.

A little gory collateral damage ... easily sloughed-off / directed onto obviously-deranged anti-Trudeau nutbars ... is an acceptable trade-off for the LPC ... if it allows them (and the NDP, obviously) to squeeze-out one more final "fuck-the-conservatives" government.

These are spiteful people ... with solid pensions.

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Another great podcast Jen and Matt.

A couple of points about the gender stuff. If you have kids in elementary school, they’re too young for you to see what’s happening in junior highs and high schools. There are classes where 6 or 7 girls are coming out as trans. Are they all going to transition? Of course not. But to hear the Liberal Left tell it, each kid knows exactly who they are and nothing should stand in the way of hormones and surgery. It’s nonsense. But try pushing back on this and you’ll be called a transphobe.

This thing has become a conversation on the Right simply because the Left won’t talk about it. Which is nuts because a lot of the families affected are Lefties who don’t give a shit if their kid is gay or lesbian.

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Hilarious, yes we’re as normal as a statistical distribution allows. Brilliant again, I second your concern on the safety of the PM. I recall what his father championed, attack the policy, not the man. These are dangerous times, once that line is crossed, I’m not sure we would recover our peaceful identity

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C-18 reminds me of Trump’s promise to build a wall and make the Mexicans pay for it. Here, when faced with a demonstrable public reluctance to ACTUALLY PAY FOR the output of the much-touted legacy media, (i.e. when faced with the actual voice, and “revealed preference” of citizen-consumers) the Liberals nevertheless promise the print barons that they will still get their swag, and that the rich (and inferentially evil) “American Big Tech” will pay for it.

Thus, with a stroke of a legislative pen, the white hats will vanquish the black hats. [Can I still write that today?]. And on the oldest of progressive principles: to make the rich pay; so that, (so it is believed), there will be more “free” stuff for everyone.

I guess, we’ll see how it all turns out.

Thus, it remains to be seen how much of this anticipated largesse will filter down to working journalists. Or whether the NP or Bell Media (which by the way, is not an impecunious newspaper proprietor but rather a protected oligopoly) will rehire anyone. Likewise whether non-partisan or critical voices will get equitable access to the money pot created by legislative fiat and administered by government minions.

Count me as skeptical.

But one thing is clear: communications are not returning to dots and dashes over a wire, or ink on a page, delivered to your doorstep, each day, by some kid earning pocket money. The future is in individualized “pay to play/and listen/and read” on the one hand, and things like Wikipedia or You Tube on the other? All delivered via the internet, and displayed on screens of one kind or another. Like “The Line”.

I am old enough to remember the printing trades: those typographers, stereotypers, plate makers and pressmen etc. who once “made” the newspaper. And how they were eliminated by technology. Accordingly, all that has happened, here, is that innovation has moved up the intellectual food chain. And of course AI is on its way!

Finally, what is more important to citizens these days, the local newspaper or Wikipedia and You Tube? Especially when it would be effortless to make the workings of public bodies readily available to anyone interested. Just like FOI could be made to work, if there were the motivation to do so. But I am not holding my breath.

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Great as always.

One small point. It may be that I'm growing old, and my hearing isn't what it used to be. But I'm having trouble understanding Jen Gerson. Perhaps she could articulate more and giggle less. I hope so, because, the parts that I do understand now, are very relevant and I enjoy them greatly.


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Best Dispatch ever. Thank you.

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Hi. Are you putting out a dispatch this week? Your dispatch used to be the highlight of my week, and pretty much the only reason I have been subscribing to The Line's Substack.

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I don't usually dive into the comments so I'm not sure if this has been mentioned before - I get the podcast through iTunes and the volume is about half of every other podcast I have. I really have to crank the volume which isn't a huge deal I guess. I just have to change underwear after it flips to the next thing on the playlist.

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The staggering condescension of Trudeau with those parents. As if Parents can't be concerned about what's being taught to their kids without being "misinformed". F. All. The. Way. Off.

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I can list 20 reasons off the top of my head why I don't like the PM - and still never use a fuck Trudeau flag. Ridiculous and immature.

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For a site that claims to "reject bullshit" I call bullshit.

Okay, here's what I suspect is a major reason why so many people have moved away from trusting 'journalism': much of the mainstream media present narratives biased towards a political preference. Rather than be presented with a set of verified facts and be allowed to come to one's own conclusions, consumers (for lack of a better term) have grown tired of being spoon-fed a Just-So story (substituted for journalism) based on the interpretation of the media personality's politically biased opinion. A narrative... that may be factually wrong. Hence, untrustworthy.

That's what you've presented in part to your 'consumers' regarding tens of thousands of students staying away from school over the raising and 'celebrating' of pride flags at these schools: a bullshit narrative about schools where only a "stridently drunk-on-Kool-Aide-progressive 24 year(s) old teacher" inserts ideology about LGBTQ2S+ as if curriculum. Jen assures us that she's not seeing 'it', and explains criticism of a never-ending stream of examples as part of a socially conservative (wink, religious) response.

All of this is the northern product of a south facing bull.

Granted, pointing out the danger to the Liberals that calling reality 'right wing disinformation' has merit. But what's honest is recognizing that school curriculum has been ideologically captured. Parents, to demonstrate dissatisfaction with this ideology, staged a one day remain-at-home protest. Many, many thousands of students.

Ideologically approved LGBTQ2S+ curriculum - called 'gender' and 'gender identity' (is gender like a soul? Hidden, no biological markers, but... can be 'aligned' with medical intervention? And we must raise a flag to this on public properties and not complain or be considered, what, a social conservative? Well, the terms are far worse than that, let me tell you) - is being inserted across the education system of both BC and Ontario where I have taught. Also, anti-racism is being inserted. Also, emotional and social learning is being inserted. Progressive disciple is being inserted. Can't wait for gender math! Coming soon! This is a single ideology in action.

To pretend all of this 'woke/progressive' curriculum (again, for lack of a better term) is somehow rare or of little consequence or has no real bearing on what students are also supposed to learn is either magical thinking or straight up denialism of reality. Our student 'products' are declining in basic literacy and numeracy skills and international comparisons prove it. Functional illiteracy now approaches 40%. That kind of old fashioned learning, however, pales in comparison to the new and shiny benchmarks being inserted into curriculum. In fact, students DEMONSTRATING their Social Justice 'learning' (what honest people call 'activism') is very much a curriculum requirement. And not just in some few innocuous speciality classes scattered across the years but across ALL curriculum. Every year. And in Ontario, a teacher's licensing is dependent on instilling these curriculum goals of Social Justice activism demonstrated by the students! That's what 'Meeting expectations' now means!

Concern about all of this is not based on social conservatism of a few parents from some minority but by mainstream educators and the very real parents who do see what's going on and are legitimately concerned. Boards (like Windsor's for example) are increasing the number of times they have to keep the public out of public meetings for just this reason: imagine, real parents with real concerns borne out by declining academic achievement wanting real answers just so happen to cause ideological 'harm' to the poor trustees if they ask questions that are critical! Conservative narrative alert! Minority rights at stake!

Saying something critical as a professional results in professional and negative consequences. These 'problem' teachers are being weeded out, thank goodness. No story here. Affirmation only, baby!

Oh look... the VERY NEXT issue Matt raised after 'describing' the hypothetical wingnut extremist teacher teaching woke ideology is about a principled principal who, having taught in Buffalo and then Toronto disagreed with being selected by - let's stick to the correct terminology carefully taught during professional development sessions - a POC (person of colour) leading a DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) mandatory meeting for administrators as a fine example of a white supremacist. Imagine the temerity of disagreeing with the claim asserted by the DEI CEO (Chief Executive Officer) that Canada is more racist towards black students than is common in the US. And then to have his Board tell him he can expect no support from them. Yup, he committed suicide - literal suicide and not just the professional kind - after being professionally destroyed by the DEI instructors, his colleagues, and his bosses. Golly, I wonder why more teachers don't step forward and complain about all of this? I guess only the social conservatives have the balls.

Well, check out how many teachers in just Ontario alone have left the profession: I know of many including myself who have decided giving up one's liberal values and going along with lies by becoming an indoctrinating tool of the woke in exchange for a lucrative paycheck is not worth it. I have heard that many thousands of teachers have followed suit, leaving behind either fully woke teachers or teachers struggling to go along to get along by keeping their mouths shut and holding their noses while meeting certain curriculum goals. Of course, it helps considerably when teacher colleges create a curriculum for teachers who must be fully on board the indoctrination train in order to become licensed. Coincidence, I'm sure, that anyone who disagree while in teacher's college is now, by definition, some kind of right wing religious extremist - aka social conservative - and not worthy of the title 'Teacher'.

People who care about children and their education to learn how to critically think for themselves rather than become trained activists for the believers of the progressive ideology capturing our country are the ones you are labelling as minorities with competing rights. (Ideologies, like religions, don't have rights. People do.) That false narrative is so far out of touch with reality of what's going on in today's schools by ideological design, by institutional oversight and regulatory compliance, by government interference, by legal privilege, isn't really much of a problem. I call that narrative a sign of being duped and accepting bullshit. That's not why I pay a subscription to The Line. I can get that kind of bullshit for free at any school.

I understand why you want to avoid the 'culture wars'. But when major institutions and public policy drives this war then at the very least please don't revert to offering bullshit narratives to dismiss its importance.

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In the lively (and generally wonderful) comment-stream that now typically appears after the Weekend Dispatch, I would like to suggest to the editors that they allow only one use of the word "nuance".

And (obviously) inform The Line's readers/subscribers. :)

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Regarding Matt's question about the motive for the Proximal Origin authors to bury their initial suspicion of a lab leak, I suspect it was twofold:

1. The NIH is the US federal agency responsible for biomedical and public health research. Its director at the relevant time was Anthony Fauci, who had spent a good chunk of his career there. Fauci had been an outspoken proponent of experimenting with viruses that were potentially infectious, and the NIH had provided grant funding to the WIV through EcoHealth, a private company, to study and experiment on bat coronaviruses, which the WIV specializes in.

If the WIV had turned out to be responsible for COVID-19, the NIH and its top brass in particular were going to be wearing a lot of the ensuing scandal. That is why it matters quite a bit that meetings with Fauci occurred just prior to the authors of Proximal Origin completely changing their tune. When the lead author on Proximal Origin, Kristian Andersen, refers to the conclusion of Proximal Origin being a call that would have to be made above his pay grade (an insane statement coming from the lead author of a study, who should be the person solely responsible for the contents of a paper's conclusion), he is likely referring to NIH brass and to virologist luminaries like Peter Daszak, who runs EcoHealth.

2. The resemblance of virology as a field to Jurassic Park is somewhere been stunning and terrifying. It's the wild west, and it's not a China problem, it's a problem internationally. Despite pre-pandemic warnings that they were playing with fire, it was common in the field to perform experiments that involved human-infectious viruses, including genetically manipulating them and passaging them through human tissue culture to make them more infectious to humans, and an astonishing amount of this work was done with relatively few safety precautions - BSL2 and BSL3 lab conditions, not BSL4 - because operating at BSL4 is cumbersome.

So there was potentially quite a bit of pressure from within the field of virology generally to declare COVID-19 a case of natural spillover, because the blowback would impact the field as a whole, including a crackdown on the sort of experiments permitted and the level of supervision required, and you see that concern show up in the Slack messages as well.

It's true that "lab leak" becoming associated with Donald Trump and conspiracy theorists produced a knee-jerk response on the part of "right-thinking" society to shun any association with the lab leak hypothesis and to actively denigrate it as a show of political allegiance, but I really do think the story is primarily (1) and (2). It appears to me to be a very specific cover-up for the benefit of very particular people, institutions, and professional practices.

Of course, now a great many of those right-thinking people are on the record, often loudly and passionately, denigrating the lab leak theory, which is why we are hearing a certain deafening silence on the subject this week from institutional media.

P.S. I think the reasonable position to hold on the basis of the evidence is that it cannot be stated with certainty whether COVID-19 was a lab leak or natural spillover, but I lean lab leak. It's very unusual that the natural reservoir has yet to be found from which COVID-19 evolved, nor the animal where the jump to humans occurred. Balanced against that, China has refused to disclose the lab data from the WIV that would decisively clear the WIV of suspicion of a lab leak (or equally decisively prove it). I'm a litigator, so I put a lot of weight on parties deliberately hiding evidence - more perhaps than scientists do.

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