Friday, March 16, 2012

Thoughts on Anonymous

Toews 2

“RCMP”, “serious threats”, “anonymous attacks”

When those words are reported time and time again with respect to the security of a certain member of parliament, one begins to think the worst, that at the very least the member and/or his family are at risk of serious physical harm necessitating a full and comprehensive police response.

But you’d be wrong.

What we are talking about here (if it isn’t already obvious) is the Anonymous video campaign threatening to out a few skeletons from Mr. Toew’s personal (and, if Anonymous is to be believed, very full) closet.

To be clear, any attempt to coerce a particular behaviour based on a threat to release damaging information about an individual is illegal; it is otherwise known as blackmail and warrants an investigation. However, this isn’t really about that at all. It is about a minister of the crown trying to avoid being embarrassed by the release of publically-available information that would shed some light on questionable decisions he’s made and actions he’s taken in his private life. The involvement of the RCMP, the tabling of this issue at the House and Procedural Affairs Committee (which threatened to call Anonymous to testify – good luck with that), the Sun Media coverage damning everyone in sight except Vic Toews, is all in response to the potential embarrassment of Vic Toews at the hands of an anonymous video maker.

And that, in and of itself, is worth a  few observations.

First of all one would think the Anonymous videos were being watched by millions of Canadians, bringing Vic Toews and the Conservative government into broad disrepute (not that they need any help with that). The reality is that none of the videos have exceeded a few thousand hits, and the majority of those have probably been by media types and Vic Toews’ own personal staff trying to find out what the fuss was all about. Canadians are simply not watching Anonymous in any numbers.

Second, if you have so much potentially damaging information in your background that some think it could be used as leverage to control your behaviour in Parliament, then you probably shouldn’t be in Parliament in the first place. Further to that, this over-excited response seems inconsistent with Vic Toews’ thick skin, so some might wonder if there really are career-ending details out there that have been oh so carefully hidden from public view until now.

And lastly, to badly mix a couple of metaphors, public life is like living in a fishbowl, so if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

No comments: