We are reproducing Mr. Diotte’s article below that needs no comment from our part except for commending Mr. Diotte for his courage in exposing a very disturbing trend in journalists: Political correctness that stifles freedom of speech. Having experienced this type of journalistic attitude first hand, we can only full heartedly agree with Mr. Diotte’s column.
If you asked most people, they'd tell you they're not big fans of hypocrisy and political correctness.
So how is it that journalists, of all people, can fall prey to those two nasty traits?
For the last couple of weeks, board members of a national journalism association have engaged in some heated discussion over an advertisement a lobby group wanted to place in Media magazine
That's the publication for the Canadian Association of Journalists (CAJ). I'm one of 13 people on the CAJ's national board.
Normally, we see eye-to-eye on motherhood issues, including freedom of speech, fairness from bias, truth, accuracy ...
But when a pro-smoking group called Tobacco Smokers of Canada wanted to advertise in our national magazine, all bets were off. I've learned one lesson: Where there's smoke, there's ire.
In a display of hypocrisy and political correctness, our magazine publisher turned the group down flat, claiming the ad violates Canada's Tobacco Act. Most all board members agreed with the decision.
No lawyer was called for a legal opinion, I'm told.
In my view and the view of an Ottawa consultant intimately familiar with the Tobacco Act, the ad is perfectly legal, especially since the magazine is targeted only at people over the age of 18.
Political correctness and hypocrisy were behind the decision, not rule of law.
Judge the ad for yourself:
"Dear News Industry: The opposing side of the tobacco smoke issue is not being reported. Many researchers, scientists, even doctors and politicians, as well as millions of news reading, taxpaying voters, do not believe the anti-smoking claims about second-hand tobacco smoke.
"We tobacco smokers appeal to you all. Please, also report our side of the tobacco smoking issue in accordance with the principles and ethics of journalism and the news industry's fiduciary duty to the public."
The group then rubbed a little salt in the wound by quoting, in the ad, the CAJ's principles and ethics guidelines that include the defence of free speech and the belief in allowing "disparate and conflicting views."
Clearly, the ad is not advertising tobacco and the smoking group had a right to its opinion.
That seemed lost on most CAJ board members.
Some said we'd have to investigate the group's claims and delve into the studies disputing the extent of harm caused by second-hand smoke.
Others figured the group spokesman should write a column, not buy an ad.
When I asked one board member if they would grill every potential advertiser on the facts of every ad submitted, I received this response: "Yes, every time someone wants to place an ad dealing with any product proven to kill people I would definitely ask these kinds of questions."
lt's obvious from that some people just have blinders on when it comes to the topic of tobacco, which is, last I checked, a legal product in Canada.
A major study published in the British Medical Journal backs up the group's view that second-hand smoke is not as deadly as most anti-smoking activists claim.
In that study, more than 118,000 adults were monitored for almost four decades. Essentially, it found that people exposed to a life of second-hand smoke were about as healthy as those who weren't.
It concluded: "The results do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco-related mortality, although they do not rule out a small effect."
It's tragic when political correctness trumps freedom of speech.