Media reactions to Latimer decision

The decision of the parole board in December to not grant convicted child killer Robert Latimer day parole was condemned by editorialists across the country. Also, most papers ran letters to the editor that complained that Latimer was being punished for not showing any remorse – in the parole hearings he showed no regret for his actions or understanding that what he had done was wrong – conveniently forgetting that he is behind bars for the second degree murder of his disabled daughter. The only major daily newspaper to support the decision was the Calgary Herald who correctly noted that the board is required to assess a convict’s remorse and not just his risk to society (as some critics of the decision had stated). The Herald editorial also said that freeing Latimer would send a signal that the lives of those with disabilities were worth less than others in society. On the other hand, the Globe and Mail ran four editorials in the ten days surrounding the decision calling for his release and, later, condemning the parole board’s decision not to grant him day parole. Surprisingly, two Toronto Star columnists – liberal Thomas Walkom and disabilities writer Helen Henderson – both applauded the decision. Walkom said he thought many people showed Latimer sympathy because “in their heart of hearts, many Canadians wonder if they might not have done the same thing. Which, in the end, is why it was important for the parole board to take the stand it did.” That is, the parole board signaled to society that Latimer’s crime was a serious one. Henderson, who has multiple sclerosis, said Latimer’s action reflect the too-common tendency to ignore the voices of those with disabilities, noting that the father killed the daughter because, in his words, “I can only go on what I would want for myself.”

People don’t trust the media

A Sacred Heart University Poll found fewer Americans are trusting the media. Just 19.6 per cent of respondents believe the media most or all of the time, while 23.9 per cent same they believe the media either just a little or none of the time. The remaining 55.3 per cent say they believe the media some of the time. The percentage of people who think the media attempts to public opinion is 87.6 per cent, up from 79.3 per cent in a similar poll in 2003. Just one third of respondents felt reporters made any attempt to keep their personal biases out of stories. Just three in ten thought reporters made any attempt to present both sides of a story. CNN scores very poorly on fairness, with nearly 45 per cent viewing its broadcasts as skewed too liberal. The most trusted TV news organization was the right-leaning Fox News Channel, (27 per cent) – nearly twice as good as CNN’s rating (14.6 per cent). Jerry Lindsay, director of the SHU Polling Institute, said most service organizations strive to consumer satisfaction ratings in the high 80s or even 90s, but the media’s overall consumer rating (40.7 per cent) is ‘dismal’.

Medical website interviews Morgentaler

In anticipation of the 20th anniversary of the Morgentaler decision, the National Review of Medicine interviewed abortionist. It began noting that he has committed “100,000 abortions, many of them while it was still highly illegal.” Calling him the “world’s most notorious abortionist” they talked about the Supreme Court ruling as well as punk rock and ping pong. Morgentaler said he was “proud of what I have been able to achieve” in securing a court ruling permitting abortion. He said the current Conservative government is ‘hostile’ to abortion but says they will not “risk alienating 80 per cent of Canadians who believe in freedom of choice.” [sic] On the issue of private versus public health care, Morgentaler said, “in general health care should be public,” but that in some circumstances private facilities are needed to serve patients, presumably such as his privately owned abortion facilities. He also denied that abortion traumatizes women if it is “done in a good setting” and reiterated his theory that abortion decreases crime by reducing the number of unwanted babies born. He also claimed to be a “ping pong champion” and that he doesn’t “necessarily” like punk rock music despite the fact a Montreal punk band (Me, Mom and Morgentaler) is named after him. Surprisingly, Morgentaler said he thought doctors had a right to conscientiously refuse to commit an abortion: “doctors should not be obliged to do things which they don’t approve,” adding, though, that doctor “who doesn’t believe in it is more likely not to do a good job.”