by Wayne Litke
I feel stifled. My voice is gone and the words you now see on this page are lifeless – for all intents and purposes they are dead. They have shape and form but no pulse.
“Why?” you rightfully ask. The answer is censorship. This column is under severe restrictions regarding its subject and content, and it is with a heavy heart that I admit that in a country where freedom of speech is (or was) a democratic right enjoyed by every citizen.
Who is responsible for censoring the media, an opinion piece in particular? Firstly, I will ask readers not to jump to conclusions and assume it is my wife, who has been the focus or star of many of my columns. After 35 years of marriage and being the brunt of many jokes and references (all too often lame jokes and misleading references), she has not decided to restrict the boundaries of my world. However, I am sure there have been many times she was tempted to alter (I mean correct) statements in Wayne’s World as she proofed them prior to publication.
If it’s not Angela, who else would play big brother and media Gestapo? Before readers grab a rope and head for the local newspaper office, I need to explain that I have not received any gag orders from Sarah Vermette, the new managing editor at the News-Times. I have not yet met Sarah, but my wife assures me that she is a great person.
“How does she know?” you ask. It turns out the ladies got together for lunch a week ago, and you know the rest of the story. A woman’s first impression is never wrong and Angela picked up nothing but good vibes about Sarah during the meal. She did note the new editor ate very little, so I am wondering if Sarah doesn’t need a few friends to take her on outings for a healthy drink and good, polyunsaturated food that will put a little insulation on her bones.
Stop. Before anyone accuses this newspaper’s publisher of being a print media control freak, I have to say that is definitely not the case and never has been. I think everyone who has worked in the news office would agree that staff have an open license to pursue any story that is news worthy. That free rein and employees who care about the product they produce has led to the News-Times winning many awards over the years.
“So, who is tying the hands of the author of Wayne’s World?” you ask in desperation. The answer is the goons, buffoons, idiots, ignoramuses and shit-disturbers on social media who feel they are pursing great causes since they are God’s gift to the Internet and on-line morality. Hold on – that may not make sense, so let me explain.
Firstly, I have to admit that was a diversionary tactic that takes the focus off me and directs it at someone else. Politicians regularly use such tactics and people fall for it all the time. Secondly, and far more importantly, is it points to the truth . . . and the truth is I am censoring my own material.
I have written all this stuff (538 words to this point) simply to drive home the point there are matters that I would deeply like to address, but their sensitive nature at this point in time will not allow me to discuss them on record. Actually, that is not totally accurate – my conscience will not let me discuss certain issues at this point in time because it may inadvertently add to wounds people have suffered, intensify anger, cause others to lash out with derogatory terms and generally contribute to the divisive spirit that has filled our province and the hearts of people across Canada.
People are so damn busy making sure their voices are heard because they have a platform called social media and their education, experiences and conviction makes them an expert on any subject on which they wish to weigh in.
What appalls me more than that is the way people assume the role of moral policemen (and let’s not forget moral police women and moral police persons) and are quick to judge and pass sentence on others. These individuals seldom think that they should keep their thoughts to themselves because it may be offensive to others. Once they have access to a keyboard, they believe it is their God-given right to say anything they want, especially when offering an opinion on something they consider to be a controversial matter. Their statements often cause offense and offended people lash back with poisonous words or threats.
A vicious and destructive cycle ensues that has no winners. Social media maggots feed on death and carnage. They do not offer assistance or solutions, which a true expert or caring person can do after careful scrutiny of the matter at hand.
Therefore, I have purposely chosen not to write about subjects this week that is close to my heart. I may write about it down the road, but I have purposely censored this week’s column so I do not fan the flames of anger and hatred. I suggest politicians and users of social media do the same, especially the maggots.
I leave you with a famous quote and a proverb to ponder. Please give it careful consideration regarding your words, comments and social media posts.
“For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” “He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction.”