Monday, August 28, 2006

This little on-line universe of ours, is it the last bastion of free speech?

Rafe Mair waxes eloquently on, on behalf of those that express their opinions over the internet, in support of what he sees as the last pulpit for opinion unfettered by corporate yoke.

Mair who famously exited CKNW a few years ago and more recently hosted a talkfest on AM 600, a station mired much further down the ratings pile, has pitched his tent recently in the on line world, both with his own website and as a contributor to the

They are places where he continues his axiom of keeping their feet to the fire, more or less. Certainly the numbers are much smaller than his halcyon days at NW, when he battled the powerful daily from his studio, single handedly it seemed bringing down the Vander Zalm government of the day, picking fights with politicians of all stripes federal and provincial.

It’s a combative voice that doesn’t seem to exist on the once fiery Vancouver talk show lines. Today’s crop of hot liners are more sedate, more inclined to explore the issues, rather than take the strident activist tones of days gone by.

To be fair, a few examples of the British Columbia media still get the job done, Bill Good and Michael Smyth on CKNW do a very good job of keeping BC’s big issues on the front burner, but theirs is a measured approach, you just don’t see them working into a good rant like Rafe Mair could once he got an issue and ran with it.

Mair’s thinking on the whole de-fanging of the media is that since most of our media is now held by one or two large multi media corporations; there is little benefit to attack those in power. Convergence has brought us diversions, as in Mair’s opinion the newspaper or radio station in your home town, is unlikely to take on a politician too hard these days. With an ever decreasing media world, the current players don’t want to lose out on a valuable licence opportunity in some other form of the media universe, by saying the wrong thing about the wrong person.

It’s a thought that has been made before, with the ever growing monopoly that the Asper Empire claims through print, radio and television, many feel that they control the news that best benefits their bottom line and not the public good. This perhaps makes them the poster children for Rafe’s greatest fears.

The same could soon be said for the Bell/Globemedia Empire that continues to absorb other media options at an alarming rate. Will the Globe tackle a government issue if the absorption of the Chum stations is at risk?

This means that the independent voices, lost in the wilderness of the internet may be the last bit of free thought and speech left in the nation. It will mean much more work for those looking for independent thought, for every good on line resource out there; there must be dozens or more that are pure nutbar like theories. I like to call them the conspiracy quackers, those that find something ominous in every situation. They’re not too hard to find out there, painted up like a news source only to spew out some of the silliest stuff you‘ll ever spend a mindless night surfing over.

Yet, Mair is probably partially right, the net provides each and every citizen to contribute to the process. Have an opinion, set up a blog, a website or an on line shopping list of opinion and share your word.

My friend Sean late of seanincognito (presently appearing with an occasional post at his Etymologica site) dropped out of the day to day blogging world almost eight months ago, if Rafe were to have his way (me too by the way), the incognito brand would be back on the blog block without delay, providing that all important independent point of view.

Many others have dropped out over the years, as a part time hobby became a millstone and they chose to give up the tiresome drain of keeping a site up to date, informative and entertaining.

However, today Rafe has called you all back to the battle, the torch is there for you to pick up and light the way. Hard to believe it at times, but the net may be the last hope for the exchange of free thought and expression, don’t waste your little corner of it.

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