Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - March 10, 1971, Lethbridge, Alberta
Wedne.doy, March 10, 1971 - THV LBTHMIDOE HWAID - 1 Caution: do not bear false witness By F. S. Manor, in Tlie Winnipeg Free Press WINNIPEG.- It is a pain-ful task for a newspaper man to have to return to the slick conclusions of the Davey commission. It is depressing that a great country such as Canada, in examining its communications, could do no better. It is even more depressing to see how the yardstick of Senator Davey, whereby a newspaper's excellence is measured by its success "in preparing its audience for social change" - that is advocacy of sheer emotionalism over cold, naked truth - has already been adopted by some of the best papers on the North American continent. The public's right to know extends only to incontrovertible or ascertainable facts. Where newspapers are concerned, it does not extend to emotional fiction. Yet in their yearning to hasten "social change" some of the media lend themselves to such blatant misuse that it is enough for any "progressive" to utter a meaningless figment of his or her imagination to have it broadcast from coast to coast and from sea to sea, to have it analyzed, subjected to vehement editorial comment, but never, never verified. "Oververification has ruined many a good story," was the cynical saying of one news- paper executive I knew, but it was on a par with the dictum about the dog-fight on Main Street being more important than a war in China. Once upon a time, in a little mid-western town, perhaps. But at a time when a single lie, repeated often enough, can literally kill - 50 million by Hitler: How many by Stalin? And how many by the lie uttered by Charles R. Garry, chief counsel and spokesman for the Black Panther party that "28 Panthers were murdered by the police"? It is the peak of reckless irresponsibility for a newspaper to lend such a lie its wings. ? * ? Mr. Garry's particular lie was the subject of a meticulous investigation by Edward Jay Epstein as published in The New Yorker of Feb. 13, 1971. The New Yorker is not a publication that can be faulted for indifference to the social ferment in American society, its causes and its roots. The 30 columns of print, matter-of-fact unemotional print, speak for themselves. Every single case of a dead Panther on the list submitted by Mr. Garry is examined in all its particulars, and the inescapable conclusions are that: "In any event, there are two cases in which Black Panthers were killed by policemen whose lives were not being directly threatened by these men. ? ? * These are the cases of Hutton, who was shot while allegedly running from the scene of a 90-minute gun battle in which three policemen had been wounded, and Hampton, who was apparently hit by a stray bullet in a reckless and uncontrolled fusillade . . . But the basic issues of public policy . . . can be neither understood nor resolved in an atmosphere of exaggerated charges . . . that are repeated, unverified, in the press and in consequence widely believed by the public." The charge made by Mr. Garry that 28 Panthers were "murdered by the police" was published on Dec. 7 and 9, 1969, in The New York Times, which gave no source for the allegation. On Dec. 9, 1969, the Washington Post published a similar story. Both the New York Times and the Washington Post stories went out to their subscribers all across the world, including the two Winnipeg dailies. On Dec. 13, 1969, the Free Press carried the Washington Post feature under a seven-column headline: "Police Pressure Takes Toll of Black Panther Party." The story said in its fifth paragraph; "Twenty-eight Panthers have died in police shootings since January 1968, according to Charles Garry, S'an Francisco attorney and general counsel for the Panthers." The Winnipeg Tribune carried on December 8, 1969, the New York Times article under a four-column head: "Panthers Say Leader Shot in Sleep." It included the following state ment: "Meanwhile, Roy Innis, national director o� the Congress of Racial Equality, has called for investigations into the deaths of 28 Black Panther party members killed in clashes with the police since January, 1968." ? ? ? Canadian Dimensions, the periodical published by Prof. Cy Gonick, MLA, and described by Senator Davey as "most authorative and thoughtful," in its issue of February-March, 1970, carried a feature called "Vietnam: Imperia^m and Repression." This feature contained the following paragraph (on page 27): "The Black Panthers are only the first target of political repression. Ramparts magazine this month quotes W. H. Ferry, formerly scholar in residence at the Centre for the Study of Democratic In- Hollinsworfch' FINAL ISPOSAL HOLLINGSWORTH'S FINAL DISPOSAL OF WINTER FASHIONS STARTS TOMORROW AT 9:30 A.M. TREMENDOUS MARKDOWNS HAVE BEEN AUTHORIZED BY HEAD OFFICE. SAVINGS UP TO 75%. DOOR OPENING SPECIAL DRESSES Broken Sizes As Long As The/ Last! WooU; Crimps; Corduroy's; Denims; plains; Stripes; Patterns. PANT SUITS Ranging from daytime to evening styles. Ordinarily to $30 Disposal Price s SWEATERS Cardigans, pullovers, long sleeve, short sleeve and sleeveless from shell weight to bulky knits. Reg. to $14. DISPOSAL SALE - DOWTOWN ONLY - FUR TRIMMED LEATHER COATS Sizes 8 to 16. Reg. $125. DISPOSAL SALE ......... CONVENIENT CREDIT TERMS Hanthfsworfch^ DOWNTOWN 320 6 ST. SOUTH and College Mall Centre stitutions at Santa Barbara. Mr. Ferry writes: "Twenty-one Panthers have been mun-dered by the police in the past year, and there would have been more stir in white-town if 21 panthers in America's zoos bad been wantonly slain . . .' " ? ? * How authoritative can you get? Or as the Italians say, more authoritative than this and one dies. A magazine quotes another magazine that quotes a "scholar-in-residence" who names a figure about as authoritative as a bingo number, and this becomes a fit subject for slashing editorial comment. When Mr, Garry was asked by Mr. Epstein to explain the figure of 28 he said "he chose the number 28 when newsmen called him for a statement after the shooting of Hampton and Clark because that 'seemed to be a safe number.' " We need instant comment and we have no time for verification. Undoubtedly, the "digging" Mr. Epstein undertook took months and cost a substantial amount of money in that it required travel all across the United States and much research into public records. The only digging done by newspapers such as the New York Times was to reach into their archives. The first story, of December 5, said "according to Charles Garry," and once "fit to print," it became an established fact. After that it was no longer necessary to qualify the figure. This is emotion gone rampant. Or should one say, "Rampart"? ? ? ? There is indeed much wrong with newspapers, and with our civilization as reflected in our media. We have communications rejecting the hallowed tradition that facts are sacred; and rich newspapers, such as The New York Times and the Washington Post, whose word is taken as gospel, seem loath to lose the week of "actuality" it would have taken a team of reporters across the country to prove Mr. Garry a bare-faced liar. Most of the time - one would probably be quite safe in saying always - the comment made on the spur of the moment in reply to a telephoned inquiry by a reporter who needs a "quote" is utterly worthless. If it is not a trite platitude not worth repeating, it can easily be a propaganda lie that should not be repeated. At one time it needed a person wielding real authority to implant a he in the public mind: Goebbels or Sen. Joe McCarthy. Now any tupenny-ha' penny lawyer in San Francisco can dream up a figure and bamboozle not only one unwary reporter but the entire world. The story was carried in Time, Life, Newsweek, the New Statesman and over the wires of UPI. The figure of 28, invented in a flash of imagination, became a magic figure that warranted charges of "genocide" and "guerrilla warfare," among others. ? ? ? The case of 28 Panthers "killed, by police" is merely one example. Newspapers, which should know better, have been swept by emotional hysteria as much as the rest of liberal intellectuals. It's no longer sensationalism. It's "commitment." What I would suggest to our schools of journalism, indeed our faculties of political science, is not to waste money on Sen. Davey's report and instead reprint Mr. Epstein's analysis as an example of honest, traditional and accurate reporting: not one that prepares for social change, but one that tells the truth. No decent society has ever been built on a foundation of lies and we are in danger of demolishing our society by the reckless, albeit unwitting (or witless?), propagation of what is ascertainable as patent untruth. 'Crazy Capers' Feiver farm subsidies The Hamilton Spectator /"OTTAWA'S decision as outlined in its semi-inflationary spending estimates for 1971-72 to cut $16 million from agricultural product subsidies and another $38 million from grains industry programs will cause some yelps of pain and the hollering probably will be loudest on the Prairies. But the federal move away from agricultural subsidies is Ottawa's first constructive and realistic step in years toward a rational farm policy. And it's fully in tune with Prime Minister Trudeau's election pledges to help bail Canadians out of wasteful, non-productive spending on programs that amount to little more than welfare that comes in formal attire. The government has known for more than three years that some agricultural subsidy programs, instead of stimulating rural prosperity, merely have put expensive props under poverty and created a wholly artificial farm economy that in no way reflects the fundamentally sound principles of the marketplace. In 1967, the Economic Council of Canada surveyed the multi-million dollar, federally-financed Agricultural and Rural Development Act (ARDA) and other programs aimed at upgrading farm economy. The council reported the programs, despite their staggering cost to Canadian taxpayers, weren't producing the desired result. The council reported ARDA farm programs "are judged unlikely to have had any appreciable impact on the problem of low-income farming. Indeed, it is possible that ARDA has played a part in prolonging undesirable farm situations: the small addition to farm income that ARDA promises could have influenced some farmers to postpone or reject potentially better-off farm solutions." The subsidies programs, with grants doled out according to production, favored the big producers without helping the small farmers. In some cases, the council found, rising land prices - the inevitable result of subsidies - have hurt low-income farmers. Farm aid that hurts more than it helps, and that siphons tax dollars off productive Canadians to distort the agricultural economy should be whittled down as quickly as it can be done with a minimum of hardship on the low-income farmers. It's good to see that Ottawa is capable of making an occasional sound fiscal move. Retraining for what? The Winnipeg Free Press WfHAT is the story behind the retraining program of the department of manpower? What is it doing and what does it cost? Instituted in 1967, it has come in for criticism and was the object of a demo-onstration in Montreal recently when trainees charged the government with deception for putting them through training with no jobs in sight. To answer these questions the Financial Times assigned a staff member to get the department's own story. The report was far from reassuring. It showed that since 1967 more than 1.1 million people have gone through the federally financed training mill, but that the results are so diffuse that they are difficult to measure. One figure, however, is clear. If 1.1 million Canadians have gone through a retraining program, this works out to one for every 20 of the total population, or one for every eight of the actual work force. Granted that we are living in changing times, and that a certain amount of job-retraining is necessary, this still seems an unwarrant-edly high ratio. Nor does the retraining come cheaply. The bill so far is $850 million and the program is only now getting into full swing. The cost per trainee ($580 at the beginning of the program) is now $906. Training courses and allowances will cost $290 million in the current fiscal year. The bill for the 1971-72 program is estimated at $323 million - an increase of 11 per cent. This estimate, moreover, was made before it was realized how high unemployment would be. We have no knowledge as to whether it includes university students whom no one wants to hire and who are now being retrained. All that the department will say is that 320,000 Canadians will have taken a retraining course during the current fiscal year. It cannot - or will not - say how many are enrolled now. No assessment of the program's value has been made since Sept. 1969, and since then "no minister has asked for an up-to-date check." There seems reason to believe that the government likes the program not only for its own sake but because it tends to obscure the full extent of unemployment. Certainly, in today's labor market, many trainees cannot find jobs and the value of the program, expanded to its present extent, becomes suspect. But there is no sign of a change in policy, and costs - and the number of trainees - keep mounting. The Financial Times report concludes: "The department of manpower and immigration will go on shushing the unemployed out of sight and flying blind on the rest of its programs, while it spends hundreds of millions of dollars, ostensibly to upgrade the labor force." It is time that questions on this subject were asked in the Commons. Global pollution The Christian Science Monitor COMEWHERE in Central Europe a smokestack may emit 50 tons of sulphur dioxide, mercury, and other poisonous chemicals per day. Pushed northward by prevailing winds, sulphur particles blemish the Danish countryside, possibly affecting butter and egg production, or the curing of Danish blue cheese. Continuing northward, the sulphur and mercury ink the Baltic and North Seas, affecting water quality, and very likely the fish, birds, and beaches. According to the Norwegians and Swedes, the smokestacks of Europe are damaging their forests, beginning with the 'pine and fir tree needles. How does one measure this type of pollution in the air, in the oceans, on the landscape, or determine its sources? How does one monitor the atmosphere effectively on a world wide scale? By low-flying satellites or planes? How does one achieve pollution abatement cooperation from the nations in which the pollutants originate? These, and hundreds of related questions have been discussed quietly and efficiently recently at a 10-day United Nations preparatory conference on the environment in Geneva. Under the direction of Canada's man- agement whiz, Maurice F. Strong, UN' Secretary-General for the environment, delegates of 27 nations are drawing up an agenda for the June, 1972, Stockholm conference on the environment At the latter confab, some 2,000 delegates will discuss the world's environmental issues. Once the problems can be adequately defnined and captured, the remedies must be sought on a universal scale. Creation of an international agency to perform this work - either inside the United Nations framework, or outside of it - must be achieved. In this effort, everyone - individuals, industries, nations, international agencies - must hurry. There are statistics to show that in as little as 10 years' time, Spaceship Earth, with its own limited supply systems of air, water, natural resources, could become a self-sealing gas chamber. There is already evidence of this in New York City, Tokyo and other smog-bound cities. Time is not on the side of humanity in these environmental problems, though man's ingenuity and intelligence are, providing they can be harnessed on an international scale. Non-liberation of women The Washington Post Well, I'll put it this way-your old ticker is losing) abou}: three hours a day. WITH a majority of 80 out of a total of 3,714 votes cast, the all-male electorate of the principality on Liechtenstein defeated a women's suffrage amendment the other day. We are, of course, indignant, every bit as indignant as the angry Liechtensteinerinnen who picketed the government building in Vaduz, Liechtenstein's capital, as soon as this anachronistic manifestation of male chauvinism had been tallied, with placards saying, "We Doubt Your Virility." But our indignation is somewhat tempered, frankly, by the thought that the tiny majority of this tiny principality has at least given Liechtenstein an identity. There hasn't been much of late to distinguish the little country, since it entered a customs union with Switzerland and abolished its own army back in 1868, except its own postage stamps. Now it has the distinction of being the only place in the Western world, if you discount a few Arab countries, where women are excluded from political affairs. Liechtenstein, furthermore, should now make Switzerland feel proud, superior and progressive, inasmuch as Swiss men granted women the vote almost a month ago. And it ought to make us feel superior, too. The United States, after all, has no trouble recognizing the political equality of women. We have all of one female senator and 12 congresswomen. And we have had two women cabinet members in our history. And . . . Well, at any rate, Liechtenstein is obviously a pretty backward place. More sacrifice By Dong Walker T thought I was making a significant sacrifice when I took my wife to the gold-plate United Church dinner recently. But someone must have thought it hadn't hurt enough because he spirited away my rubbers. That individual needs to know that his action is costing me more than just the price of a new pair of rubbers. I used to be able to work my way into my old pair wliile standing up. Now I have to bend over to put the new ones on! My wife, observing my expanding waistline, doesn't think it was all loss.