Thursday, September 17, 2009

Stephen Boissoin IS NOT THE LETTER

Context People

Over the last several months, I have taken a lot of time and energy to try to understand Stephen Boissoin. Along the way, I found a Brother in Christ, and made a friend. I first came in contact with THE LETTER through Shakedown, Ezra Levant's book, after Ezra was here in London, Ontario in early May, 2009, with Kathy Shaidle and Salim Mansur.

On May 16, 2009, I posted my first blog entry about IT and him. Since then, I have had countless email contacts with him, back and forth about various things, some of a personal sharing nature. I have written about him or referred to him in over 57 postings to date.

I spent a long time taking apart the Appeal document, to understand where his lawyer was heading with it, to grasp the law involved and to make the people who might read my blog have a better understanding of the legal aspects of the case.

I wrote about the work that Stephen did with youth, and his pastoral care work for all kinds of kids, regardless of religious affiliation, or sexual orientation. I do not presume to KNOW him and his mind, though I have a sense of his heart, and I was trying to share with readers some of that heart, so you could know more of him than THE LETTER.

I also tried to put THE LETTER into context, the dynamic of the feelings that the kids had about what was going on in the schools regarding sexual education or indoctrination as it seems, with an inordinate emphasis on teaching the goodness of homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle to impressionable kids who are struggling with their own issues. And there at the center of that teaching was Darren Lund, the Complainant.

From what I have read and my conversations and correspondence with Stephen, I know why he wrote THE LETTER, what he meant when he wrote it, who he wanted to read it, and what he wanted to achieve. If THE LETTER came off as angry, Stephen had every right to be angry at the time. His Kids, those he ministered to, were at risk, and he was trying to help them. Someone had to bite the bullet, so he did it. You didn't, and I didn't. Stephen did. He put it on the line. I think his words could have been better chosen, and if he thought that there would be no debate, that rather than listening or dismissing him, this would have happened, I imagine Stephen might have used different wording, or then again maybe not. Frankly, in a world where Free Speech is enshrined in our Constitution, his choice of wording is just that, his choice of wording.

So, here's an interesting observation. Only a few media outlets have picked up this trial, and here are a few selected headlines:
National Post - Anti-gay pastor fights hate law
Edmonton Journal - Alberta pastor appeals hate law ruling
The Vancouver Sun - Canada's hate-speech laws are being put on trial -- again
Calgary Herald - Former pastor appeals sanctions for letter attacking gays
Calgary Sun - Rights law targeted in gay letter case
And in the online media world a few more gave it attention.
Anglican Mainstream - Rev. Stephen Boissoin In Court Today Challenging “Hate Speech” Conviction - Rev. Stephen Boissoin In Court Today Challenging "Hate Speech" Conviction - Free speech vs. hate speech debated in appeal of Alberta human rights ruling

Bloggers and others have picked up one or more of the above, as I have, some with direct copies.

When THE LETTER was published by the Red Deer Advocate, it was given a headline by Advocate staff, not by Stephen that read "Homosexual Agenda Wicked", which damaged some of the context of THE LETTER.

Looking at the headlines of the online versions of the print media I see a couple that have pejorative tags in them. Let's take a quick look.

National Post calls Stephen "anti-gay". That is incorrect. He is anti-gay agenda, and he will gladly explain to you what he means by the gay agenda, particularly as it relates to education of children.

Calgary Herald uses the term "letter attacking gays". No, the letter was attacking the gay agenda, particularly as it relates to education of children, not gay people as a group.

Ottawa Citizen used the term "pastor who condemned gays". It was not gays he was condemning. He was condemning the yadda, yadda, yadda.

Here is my point about journalists. Journalists operate under deadlines, and more and more tighter deadlines all the time, just like everybody else. They are being pushed to produce results, and their results need to sell papers. They don't have or don't take the time to work their way through all the details of a case like this, and so limit themselves to throw away headlines that will grab attention, like the above, most of which were accurate. But the inaccurate ones "expose people to hatred or contempt" as much as anything else that is communicated, certainly as much as THE LETTER.

So, how does that point work to Stephen. If journalists can mangle this case in their reporting, and they have only grasped about 1% of it, why should Stephen in a letter to the editor have to be word perfect, with every dot and tittle in place to not be gonged by a Kangaroo Kourt?

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