Bad Journalism: A textbook case

January 29, 2014 § Leave a comment

On Saturday, Montréal’s left-wing, nationalist French-language daily, Le Devoir, published a rather simple-minded article about a series of homophobic attacks that have occurred lately in Montréal’s Gay Village.  A series of assaults last weekend came on the heels of several others in Fall 2013.  This has left many in the Village feeling unsafe.  The Service de police de la Ville de Montréal, not surprisingly, refuse to see a connection between a series of attacks on gay men and homophobia.  Plus ça change, I suppose.  Amazingly, while people in the village are feeling unsafe, Vincent Richer, the commander of Station 22 in the Village, claims that the neighbourhood is safe and secure.

But then there’s the article.  It talks about the fringe characters of the neighbourhood, the ones in shadows, the homeless, the drunks, drug addicts, etc.  And then there’s the usual drunken frat boys who like to show off how enlightened they are by heading downtown into the Gay Village to call people names.  As an aside, a funny story: back in the day in Vancouver, I was sitting outside at the Fresgo Inn, an all-night greasy spoon in the West End, on Davie St., that’s long since gone.  Next door was a café, with all of these big, huge, hot gay men on the patio.  A bunch of meatheads started calling them names.  It did not end well for the meatheads, they got beaten pretty good for their efforts. And that being Vancouver, the police, after reprimanding the neighbourhood guys for getting violent, arrested the meatheads for creating a disturbance.

Le Devoir also set a team of journalists into the Gay Village one night last week, as if they were heading out into Whitechapel, London, on the trail of Jack the Ripper.  Seriously, the article reads like a horrible anthropology paper.  But then, as my friend Anna Sheftel pointed out on Facebook, the paper proceeds to insinuate that the hate crimes on gay men is being perpetrated by the homeless, drunks, and drug addicts (the frat boys get forgotten).  As if, to paraphrase Anna, all violence is the same, as if all marginalised groups are the same.  As she notes, the LGBT community has a disproportionate number of homeless, especially youth, even in a place like the Gay Village.

All in all, this is horrible, bush league journalism from a newspaper that should, and usually does know better.

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