Thursday, December 9, 2010

Regarding opinions, 'informed', 'qualified'...or not so at all...

(Yes, this topic is not Stoney Creek-centric, but it deals with my passionate belief in good communication, robust dialogue, on engagement based on informed, qualified opposed to fear-infused rhetoric.)

Recently I had an exchange with someone close to me. They'd been sent one of those 'If you agree with this, please send it on to 50 people!' forwarded emails. This one had to do with Bill C-428 as put forward by Ruby Dhalla, Liberal MP for Brampton-Springdale that deals with changing the required number of years of residency for immigrants to receive Old Age Security benefits. In her own words:

The bill itself can be seen here.

A CBC story courtesy of The Financial Post can be found here.

Some typical misinformation and shaking-fist vitriol can be found here and here. Here is a slightly more civil discussion.

A response to the misinformation can found here. (Personally, I'd start with this item, because not only does it lay out the general social history preceding the bill, the Comments section speaks volumes about why I'm posting about this at all.)

Finally, a Facebook page can be found here.

I'm not here to present the case for either side of the issue, so if you're expecting me to hold forth one way or the other, I'm not able to fulfill these expectations. Sorry. I've been compelled to post about this bill simply because the notion of people engaging in what amounts to Internet-based mob mentality behaviour not only disappoints me, it riles me something wicked. (As a side-note, take a look at this Newsweek feature found on MSNBC this week.)

The need to go off half-cocked, loaded for bear, villagers equipped with their burning torches and their pitchforks seems to be pandemic online these days. People and their need to vilify, to demonize. The 'Us vs Them' mentality that frankly is far worse than just about any issue capable of dividing people.

In a nutshell, as I'm the one constantly yammering-on about increasing the relationship of engagement between citizenry and elected officials, I'm wondering it people in general might be advised to hone not only their communication skills in order to maximize the hoped-for increase of participation...but also their ability to research any given topic.

Otherwise, aren't we just as 'bad' as the politicians we so quickly invoke high dudgeon over?

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I'm always interested in feedback, differing opinions, even contrarian long as they're delivered with decorum...with panache and flair always helping.