Saturday, June 4, 2011


Re-action has been mixed and divided over the actions of the Senate of Canada Page, Brigette DePape, who held-up a "Stop Harper" sign while the Governor-General, the Queen's representative in Canada, delivered the Speech From the Throne in the Senate on Friday.

What seems clear however is that the young woman's protest trumped the news value of the Throne Speech, and likely will be remembered long after the contents of the "speech" (whatever they were) have long been forgotten. To that degree at least; Ms DePape aged 21, sealed her 15 minutes of fame.

About 25 years ago I attended a writing seminar in Ottawa. The workshop designed to assist writers focus their vocabulary and message for better communications was conducted by Eric McLuhan, the son of Marshall McLuhan. He made no secret about the identity of his famous father, in a government town like Ottawa it was good business. Frankly I would not have hidden his identity either. He died in 1980, but Canadian educator Marshall McLuhan is regarded as the father of, and his book "The Medium Is The Massage (sic)" (1967) the Genesis of the modern electronic age. Lest I digress; 44 years ago a typographer working on the book's cover accidentally substituted "Massage" for "Message" - McLuhan chuckled and left it uncorrected.

Pundits commenting on Ms. DePape's unique protest have quoted Voltaire: "I don't agree with one word you are saying - but, I will fight to the death for your right to say it." Just as appropriate and to the point is Andy Warhol's 1968 observation that "In the future everyone will be famous for 15 minutes." - The American "Prince of Pop Art" was a contemporary of Marshall McLuhan and clearly understood the "massage"!

Increasingly, (We should be alarmed) it seems the world is being distracted by a media circus, and the news neutered by the public appetite for round-the-clock gossip masquerading as essential information. It is not a new phenomenon. Since the invention of the print medium, whether Paul Revere, Evangeline and/or Laura Secord, the media have fawned over the unique exploits of otherwise unworthy commoners. Though at least in those cases theirs' had purpose. If "News" is a first draft of history: It is, as foretold by McLuhan and Warhol, that the media's new obsessions are tantamount to a modern "Great Train Robbery" of the draft - to paraphrase historian Clinton Rossiter.

I am a fan of the popular personality "Judge Judy", and the television news satire of the "Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and the "Colbert Report" - Guilty as charged! I am nonetheless appalled by the number of people, victims of Warhol's prophesy, who are willing to be humiliated (or humiliate themselves) on these and the many other "reality" television programs of our times that substitute for journalism. These poor sods, their problems, and their issues ARE NOT, as Journalist Bill Moyers would suggest: "The actual experiences of regular people...the missing link in a nation wired for everything but the truth."

No wonder that the real news makers; politicians, business leaders, personalities of consequence can obfuscate and say anything but the clear unequivocal truth with impudence and little fear of challenge....and when they can't: There's a course they can take for that too!


  1. As for the young Ms DePape; Guess I should be watching for her on Judge Judy when she sues the RCMP for declaring her a "security risk" so that she can't fly to Fort Lauderdale for Spring Break!

  2. Had she chosen to stand on Rideau street, no one would have noticed.The truth of the matter is that unless you choose a more dramatic stand the gov't and others will not notice. She wanted to make a point and succeeded in doing so.

  3. She's calling for an Arab spring to overthrow the gov't now. She was a page who went to the U of O = No doubt she's a Lib. Should we have a revolt because her party did so badly?

  4. David,
    Perhaps she had enough of the shenanigans that went on prior to the elections.Perhaps more should have noted, then maybe she would not have had to be so dramatic.