This week in Alberta politics was an eyeopener; for all the wrong reasons.
The topic of “differing viewpoints” began earlier this week when LGBTory Alberta director Harrison Fleming defended the United Conservative Party’s willingness to make room in their party for those who believe LGBT+ humans will be smited; eventually. “It limits the message of inclusion” he said without the tiniest trace of irony.
The Flat Earth Society arrived in Alberta as well, holding their first, and impressively attended, conference in the province. Around 250 people paid to hear a panel of speakers discuss how science, as some of us know it, has been used to stifle debate. Some attendees acknowledged they are made to feel “small” and are even insulted for their belief that everything we have learned about the shape of our planet since we discovered it wasn’t flat is wrong.
A report was also released by three independent researchers on the controversial polling by Mainstreet Research that was promoted by Postmedia subsidiaries including the Calgary Herald and Calgary SUN. During Calgary’s 2017 municipal election, a poll was released by Mainsteet showing Conservative challenger Bill Smith leading incumbent Naheed Nenshi in every demographic. Quito Maggi, President of Mainstreet Research admitted to “big polling failures” after Smith lost. The report brings up a number of potential issues that both the highly suspect poll results, and Postmedia’s incessant promotion of the same, may have had on the race.
Is there harm in accepting “differing viewpoints” as valid? It probably depends on where your own views lie. If you hold one, you may feel that it deserves to be valid. The question then, is whether or not a standard of “truth”, or “right and wrong” applies.
If you are a flat earther, you may believe that this view deserves equal space in literature; perhaps should even be included in the educational curriculum. Is there a standard of truth that applies to this viewpoint? Many argue that differing viewpoints are essential for the development of critical thinking; more importantly, though, is the ability to verify those views.
In the era of “fake news”, false information is spread in the guise of “differing opinions”. Half-truths or outright lies are placed into memes and shared more widely than anything resembling the truth. We should demand better.
If “differing viewpoints” are treated as equally valid, we are saying we have no standards; no standard of truth and certainly no standard of right and wrong. This is unacceptable but quickly becoming the norm as people who lie are given as much credibility as those who do not (see Daniel Dale, a Canadian journalist who was given the full-time task of fact-checking Donald Trump’s claims).
I, for one, am demanding better.
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Categories: Alberta Politics