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Resisting "soft-totalitarianism" in Canada? (Part Two)

By Mark Wegierski
web posted January 9, 2012

(This essay is based on the draft of a presentation read at the First Sir Thomas More Colloquium: Diplomacy, Literature, Politics, at the Akademia Polonijna (Polonia University) in Czestochowa, Poland, held on March 11-12, 2010.)

The first aspect of Canadian society to be considered is the all-pervasive media environment. One aspect of media is the North American (U.S. and Canada) pop-culture. This pop-culture, focussed on such subgenres as rock and rap music, sports, fashion, and "porn" tends to encourage very antinomian attitudes, especially among young people. Various media critics such as Neil Postman (Amusing Ourselves to Death; The Disappearance of Childhood) have drawn attention to the media's sexualization of the lifeworld, and the promotion of what in the old days were called loose lifestyles. This heavily pervasive sexualization comes into immediate conflict with the moral teachings of the Christian churches – and the latter become perceived as increasingly tedious and irrelevant to young people. Such notions as sexual abstinence and chastity are seen with ever increasing derision.

Furthermore, there is in most current-day popular comedy and satire in Canada today, a focus on the Christian churches as the typical target of frequently derisive humour. The author himself remembers a rather nasty sketch on one of Canada's premiere comedy shows (Royal Canadian Air Farce) deriding Pope John Paul II. Appreciation of such often unfunny humour is frequently seen as a mark of sophistication among the so-called "cool" people. Thus, attitudes of derision against Christianity become popularly ever more ingrained.

Another aspect of media is the function of news and information. Here one notices an unusual degree of media scrutiny of the various Christian churches, and especially the Roman Catholic Church. The figure of the "pedophile priest" has become a fixture of North American pop-culture today. Other professional groups in society where sexual abuse may occur in ratios comparable to those among the Roman Catholic priesthood (this ratio is certainly not as high as the impression one might get from media reports) are very rarely brought to as much public attention.

The media also dwell heavily on various past iniquities of the Christian churches, especially of the Roman Catholic Church. The media tend to enthusiastically take up such stories as the Catholic Church's purported complicity in the Holocaust, the idiocy of fundamentalist Protestants, and so forth. In 2000, when Stockwell Day became leader of the center-right Canadian Alliance, he was sandbagged in the November federal election by being derided as a "fundamentalist Christian extremist". 

One might indeed perceive a generalized anti-Christian bias in the Canadian media as a whole. In March 2005, a Conservative member of the federal Parliament (Cheryl Gallant) circulated at the Conservative convention, a leaflet entitled, "Is Christianity under attack?" The reaction of the media was savage, and the M.P. was almost universally denounced as an "extremist". By this act alone, the M.P. was considered to have negated her chances at ever being named to the Cabinet, should the Conservatives have won an upcoming election.

Nevertheless, the media's attitude to Christianity can sometimes admittedly be seen as somewhat bivalent. When Christians happen to embrace so-called "progressive" causes such as helping the poor and disadvantaged, especially in the Third World, they are usually praised. However, when they step outside the parametres of what current-day society – or more precisely, today's opinion-forming elites -- consider "permissible" – even when these are some of the core teachings of the Christian churches  –  they are severely censured.

To be continued. ESR

Mark Wegierski is a Canadian writer and historical researcher.

 

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