In our Politics section right now you’ll find Alison@Creekside‘s response to MP Stephen Woodworth’s Motion 132, which asks Parliament to examine the definition of a human being under Canadian law. Alison doesn’t like his initiative, to say the least. I don’t think I like it either — it seems like a weaselly way to get at what Woodworth really wants to do, which is to re-introduce an abortion law in Canada. But I don’t agree with Alison either. I think we should have an abortion law in Canada. Something like the laws that resulted from Roe v. Wade in the States would do. And no, I don’t think the fact that I’m male renders my opinion meaningless.
We pick up a lot of Alison’s posts from her Creekside blog, because she lets us and she’s a superb writer. Most of the time I read her to find out what I’m thinking. I wasn’t going to publish her post on Woodworth, though — not because I disagree with it, but because I didn’t read it until a few days after the event that precipitated it, and we try to keep things timely around here. However, then a scrap broke out on a site called Progressive Bloggers, which aggregates the feeds of various writers who think they fit that description.
Among these are Canadian Soapbox, The Scott Ross, Fern Hill at Dammit Janet! and Dave at The Galloping Beaver. When the former two published posts sympathetic to Woodworth and his motion (here and here), Fern Hill threatened, via twitter, to “organize a strike by actual progressive bloggers until mysogynists are booted,” and Dave delivered an ultimatum: “The moderators of Progressive Bloggers have 48 hours to respond . . . . They will censure those who believe a ‘debate’ on the rights of women is acceptable and they will do it on the front page of Progressive Bloggers.”
Well, that’s a bit too Maoist for my tastes. Just as Fern Hill and Dave believe absolutely in a woman’s right to control her body, I believe absolutely (or next-to) in the right to free speech, and that’s “free” as in “not subject to re-education or pillorying in the town square.” But to even have to say so, much less make the argument, seems to me so banal, so “Seriously? We’re even talking about this?” (which, again, I understand is exactly how Fern and Dave feel about the matter of choice), that I find it less irksome to simply publish Alison’s piece, even if I am late in doing so, and say, See? That’s how it’s done.
Of course, we aren’t a site calling ourselves “Progressive Blogger,” so I understand the semantic argument, which is what much of the furor seems to boil down to: who does and doesn’t get to wear the appellation. Backofthebook.ca tends to lean left, despite the fact that its editor/publisher is a mysogynistic theocrat-in-disguise (or so I expect I’ll be told), and we are certainly currently dedicated to afflicting the Harper government (including Mr. Woodworth, whenever one of our writers, or you, wish to do so — that’s the comments section down below). But what we really are is a magazine that values good writing, and argument. I have asked various right-wing types to write for us, and the only reason they don’t appear here is that, so far, they haven’t taken me up on the offer. If they did, I wouldn’t anticipate our left-wing types fleeing for the hills. If they did, it would be just as well.
Which is to say we are a magazine, not a silo. The Progressive Blogger affair demonstrates the disadvantage of the latter, whether they aggregate opinion from the left or, as in the case of Blogging Tories, the right. Eventually, the echo chamber becomes deafening.