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On red herrings and straw-men.

At first glance, you might wonder why Stockwell Day would issue such a feeble attempt in trying to draw Canadian outrage by equating the tasering death of a Polish immigrant to the issues of drunk driving. On the surface, it does seem pretty idiotic of Day – after all, this issue wasn’t one like the detainee question where the government is directly implicated and being directly attacked. This was mostly directed against the RCMP’s use of these tasers, and Harper and his office – normally so hypersensitive to any issue in which public opinion would turn against the Cons, and then trying to neutralize that particular issue as a problem – somehow allowed Day to issue his silly red herring, which has now drawn scorn and condemnation.

As the Star said in the editorial, one reason is that the Cons have law and order bills coming up for voting in Parliament, and one has to do with tougher sentences on drunk drivers. This was a rather obvious attempt at trying to somehow channel that outrage to this proposed bill.

There is more to it then just that though. In my opinion, what Stock Day was essentially saying with his statements to the Canadian public was “Why are you so mad at the police doing their jobs? Why not support our law-and-order agenda instead?”

This is typical Cons strategy. If someone attacks the government for being complicit in torture and violating international law, they turn around and try to accuse the Opposition of not caring about all our soldiers who are being killed at the hands of the Taliban and wondering why we should care about rights to people “with blood on their hands”. A classic setting up of a straw-man in trying to get the people less sensitive to human rights and more attuned to carrying out revenge, regardless of actions. “The ends justify the means” in all of its Machiavellian splendor.

Similarly, if the Canadian public is outraged over the tasering of an unarmed immigrant by the RCMP, turn around and give the public a guilt trip over a totally unrelated issue, ask them to support their law-and-order agenda, and subtly try to infer we shouldn’t be attacking our national police force and instead focus on criminals instead. In this instance, red herrings to distract the public.

I think on both accounts, this strategy will utterly fail. Canadians are smart enough to detect red herrings and straw-men.

[email protected]:46pm: Steve illustrates Harper using the straw-man in QP again today, and sums up perfectly what Harper and the Cons. are trying to project: “Somehow, people are less Canadian, less concerned about the troops, less supportive, if they ask serious questions about torture.”


31 comments to On red herrings and straw-men.

  • garhane

    Stockwell day pictured as working a strategy? I do not think so. That is like the talking dogs worked up by computer tricks on the TV. What is more interesting to me is the silence of the Blue Blazer crowd that is usually  wild to grab some publicity on anything that can even remotely affect 2010. This item should get their attention with all of Europe watching their TVs  to see  this guy  who- most dangerously- turned  his back and raised  his arms and, of course, got fried by what remains of the Mounties. They never should have let Walt Disney spin their tale for five years, now they are much reduced and are serving up tales of mind bending incompetence and plain bullying. But just look at the images for 2010: come to Vancouver and die! See at first hand how the North American police love to beat up anybody who does not fall to the ground at their command. Take bets on who in  your planeload will come out of the airport alive. Have  you bought  your police insurance?  I will expect to see the tourist crowd calling for Ottawa or somebody to divert all the Olympic traffic to  Abbotsford where there is lots of room to set up barbed wire enclosures, a sort of  Guantanamo Canada Style, where the Europeans can be housed and  "processed" (lovely word is it not) before they are  judged tame enough to let loose on Vancouver streets where they can dodge the   gangsters who are shooting each other and the occasional  person "in the wrong place at the wrong time" according, once again, to our very own Minister of public safety. I think Stockwell might contribute best to public confidence in government by retiring to the Kelowna area where he can race around all he wants in one of those ski-boats. Just so he is not in a position to be quoted.

  • I’ve seen Fred’s "work" over at Apply-Liberally, and here, and elsewhere.  I’ve seen more then enough to see he’s a flamer/troll, and one that has no place for civil comment on here.

  • mushroom

    Given some of the racist spiel that Fred has said over at, I will encourage that Scott at progressive bloggers post a notice which will drive him to the underground where some of his so-called friends can plot against us.  There is no need for his diatribes in any of the progressive bloggers affiliates.

    We live in Canada.  We treat speech like Bracken’s as "hate crime".  Freedom of speech did not apply to Jim Keegstra and Ernst Zundel.   

    I know one who is just like Fred.  Hung around with the Heritage Front and pumped himself with steroids.  Everything looked good for him, got media coverage.  Until a bunch of anti-racist punks attacked him and he got charged with assault.  Ended up spending a year in a correctional facility.

    It scared the shit out of him.  Will Kinsella wrote about him in Web of Hate.

    The sad thing was that the guy I knew was smart.  Read Nietzsche and stuff like that.

    Unfortunately, Fred is just a cheerleader of the right at the highest order.  When he is challenged, he just spews epitaphs like some of the Cons I know.  Of course, these foul-mouth Cons don’t hung around Small Dead Animals because they struggle to write coherently.


  • You want an answer… go read this:

    I may not agree with every detail but it pretty much sums up the issue with just throwing everyone in prison.

  • Fred Bracken

    [quote comment="10438"]Instead of sounding the tough macho Blackwater security officer, Fred is now reduced to asking a whole set of questions which no one is interested in answering.  Not that he will take our answers seriously.[/quote]

    Of course you don’t want to answer the questions I asked you mushroom-brain.  Your friends said prisons don’t work so I asked why we don’t close them down.

    If you can’t answer the question , it just proves my point that your argument is baseless.

    You should be proud of yourself mushroom.

    Maybe one day you’ll need Ameican health care to survive, and then you will learn about true politics. Not knee-jerk Liberalism like we have here in shitty Canada.

  • Can I be the conservative voice of reason here? Yes, Stockwell Day did use a red herring. Yes, drunk drivers do deserve to be put away. Yes, the RCMP cops do deserve to be charged with third degree manslaughter and lose their jobs.

    And no, it isn’t a typical conservative strategy.

  • mushroom

    Instead of sounding the tough macho Blackwater security officer, Fred is now reduced to asking a whole set of questions which no one is interested in answering.  Not that he will take our answers seriously.

  • Fred Bracken

    Another question that I have for you left wingers.

    If Canadian socialist health care is so great like the loons try to portry to the rest of the world, why did a Canadian have to go to Detroit to get life saving health care?

    Any leftist loons know why?

  • Fred Bracken

    If prisons don’t deter crimes, then why do we put people in prison?

    If someone is in prison, how can they commit new crimes? Your arguments are idiotic that make no sense.

    If prisons dont work then why do we have them?

    Why do we have courtrooms? Why do we have judges and justices? Why do we have the criminal code of Canada?

  • Fred Bracken

    So if prisons dont work, why dont we close them down?

    All you left wing loons support criminals. And by the way, violent crimes are going up, not down. You moonbats use the stats you like while ignoring the whole truth.

    Again, if prisons dont work, then why sont we close them all down.  And after that, why don’t we save the money and shut down all the courtrooms?

    Your arguments are ridiculous and proves how you people like to coddle criminals rather than care about the victims.

    I thought this was a far left NDP argument but the virus must have spread to the leftist liberals.

  • mushroom

    Anon at 7:04,
    I am not sure if the opponent is unarmed.  He has an interest in law enforcement and security and Blackwater.   

  • mushroom


    The reason why prisons don’t work.  They come out of prison and us clowns have to rehabilitate them in halfway houses.  Not just drunk drivers but people with criminal records tattooed like a Maori warrior.  We put them into employment and retraining programs and they get stuck with drug addiction and stuff like that.  They end up getting back into prison again.

    The right just wants to lock them up and throw away the key.  In reality, they want to build these nice prisons in rural areas so that there will be good jobs in Correctional Services Canada for them.  Gets the Conservative MP re-elected.  Then they get these nice pension employees and some end up voting NDP.  Oh well, when will the right ever learn.  

  • anon

    um…has this discussion become a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent (Braken)?

  • So talking about straw men in a general sense – in the sense they are easy to burn down…  Fred doesn’t have a clue.  Or better yet.  Fred, you don’t have a clue.  This whole ‘hug a thug’ issue is a gimmick created by those that would rather fear the public into an agenda of so-called ‘law and order’.  The reality is that jail doesn’t solve crimes nor prevent them.  It’s interesting to note that crime has been on the decline for years under a majority of centre to left governments… something that must be working somewhere and it has nothing to do with the right wing ideology of toss them all in prison.

    As for drinking and driving.  Yes it’s deplorable that people are still stupid enough to drink and drive, but you’ve missed the entire point of this post – it has nothing to do with the tasering incident.  We’re expressing our outrage at the issue at hand.  The two issues have nothing to do with each other but Day still found a way to try and use d&d as a method of distraction from the tasering incident.  Get with the program.

  • Fred Bracken

    [quote comment="10424"]I think it is pointless to have a sensible debate with Fred, whose blog has disappeared the last time I checked at The Maple Three.  Fred’s profession is listed as law enforcement and security.  It seems that with the police force too liberal for him and private security having employed too many people that he dislikes, he has taken to trashing us progressive bloggers. I sincerely hope that Fred would find happiness joining Blackwater.  The website for Blackwater is         [/quote]

    I would rather join Blackwater than support a party who gives convicted killers house arrest.

    You clowns should be proud of yourselves.

  • mushroom

    Oh, Fred said that he is "doing his time".

    What does this mean?  Hope this does not refer to something that is not pleasant with regards to security checks.

    Well, this sums up what he has been attacking us about.  Prisons don’t work. 

  • Fred Bracken

    [quote comment="10423"]Fred – Drinking and driving is not a left-right issue.  You are way off base.[/quote]

    This is a left right issue.  The left believes that people who kill others drinking and driving should get house arrest. That’s why the left wing liberals gave the judges that option.

    Harper would not be for that. So lets see here.  The left wing liberals allows house arrest while Harper is against house arrest. Clearly this is  a left right issue but I understand your embarrassed to admit it.

    i would be too.

  • mushroom

    I think it is pointless to have a sensible debate with Fred, whose blog has disappeared the last time I checked at The Maple Three. 

    Fred’s profession is listed as law enforcement and security.  It seems that with the police force too liberal for him and private security having employed too many people that he dislikes, he has taken to trashing us progressive bloggers.

    I sincerely hope that Fred would find happiness joining Blackwater.  The website for Blackwater is         

  • KC

    Fred – Drinking and driving is not a left-right issue.  You are way off base.

  • Fred Bracken

    How does road rage have anything to do with drunk drivers killing people. The Liberal party of Canada is a joke and they should be ashamed of themselves.

    Because of the Liberals support for killers, its not the norm to not serve a day in jail for killing someone while driving drunk.

    You leftist loons should be proud of yourselves. I wonder what the victims of these killers think about the Liberal hug a thug policy.

  • Fred Bracken

    Why have none of you left wing loons talked about how people kill others drinking and driving and get house arrest?

    Where is the outrage? Oh I forgot, the leftists loons feel sorry for killers.

    You guys are a shame and the victims of crime should slay you people in the head.

  • Red herrings and straw men arguments are used by those that can’t actually make their point based on the facts of the situation or fear the real issue.  A lot of conservative pundits in the States have made careers using this strategy (the others just use lies).  They’re especially useful when trying to sound like you’re in control of common sense and reason, which are not the same thing nor naturally allies.  However, as you can see from Day’s comments they have their place when you want to distract the masses and not deal with the issue at hand.  Ultimately it leads to a lack of accountability and it underminds the public’s confidence in the democratic system in the long run.

  • The Fwanksta

    Ok, I just watched it, and that was pretty weird. Does anyone know why Dziekanski was acting so strangely as to warrant the police being called?

    I don’t think that him being unable to speak English immediately justifies using a taser on him (obviously), but KC seems to suggest that was said. I don’t think that’s what Fred meant. I think you should put yourself in a cop’s shoes, who knows things are dangerous whenever he or she goes to respond to a call, and see how that nervousness might be exacerbated by knowing that you can’t communicate effectively with the other person when they speak a different language than you.

    That still doesn’t on its own justify the use of a taser, however. But I think the whole situation is really odd, so an answer to my question would be great.

  • Dan

    I take it that Fred does not work in the tourism industry.

  • Ron

    Yes Mr. Braken has been active today (check out MapleThree for more racist screed)  new troll?
    get up on the wrong side of the bed today Fred?

    Scott: brilliant of you to link these two. Is Stockwell that smart? I just thought it was a profound non-sequitor at first. OK I can picture the water cooler chat in Stock’s world … "how can they attack the police … there are real bad guys: criminals, drunk-drivers " etc. and it indeed mirrors their war spin.

  • mushroom


    Maybe one solution to alleviate road rage incidents caused by drunk drivers is to carry a Taser.  Better than pumping the guy who cut into me with live bullets.

  • KC

    Fred Bracken’s statement is one of the stupidest comments I have seen anywhere on the blogosphere with the exception of at Small Dead Animals.  Not only does he suggest that an inability to speak English is a factor that justifies using a taser, but he suggests that immigrants who dont want to die at the hands of our police should just "stay home". 

    Fucking despicable.  I watched the video for the first time this morning and thought that the cop who tasered that man was way out of line.   The maximum amount of force that might–and I put heavy emphasis on the word might–have been justifiable was a wack with his baton.   Even that is a bit of a stretch.

    Canadian’s are right to get outraged about this kind of thing.  If people don’t speak up this kind of thing will just get swept under the rug as per usual with the RCMP.   Im a pretty "tough on crime" type of guy but have no patience for cops who overstep their authority or use unnecessary force.   I’ve personally witnessed far too many instances where cops abuse their authority to let this go by. 

    What Stockwell Day is trying to do is deflect attention because his government wants to trust police with even more power.   This incident has brought the issue of overzealous police to the forefront of public attention and has damaged public trust of law enforcement.   Its no surprise that Stockwell Day would want to distract us and try to shame us into not caring.   

    Of course we are outraged by drinking and driving, but we are outraged by police brutality as well.  They are not mutually exclusive.

  • Canadians are smart enough to detect red herrings and straw-menExcept, apparently, Fred.  Poor Fred.

  • .The problem with drunk driving and killing someone, , the driver does not know what he is doing. ….that is no excuse..the fault lies with the drunk getting into a car, in the first  place…Russian Roulette. 
     By the way, I do not think that Polish man was crazy, as you say, Fred Bracken

  • Fred Bracken

    Let’s see here. In Canada you can kill someone drinking and driving and get house arrest. Now you leftists try to explain why the police should go to jail or even be charged for trying to subdue a crazy immigrant who couldn’t even speak english. If we don’t care about our own people who have died at the hands of drunk drivers then why should we care about a foreigner who should have stayed home?

  • anon

    Or, parent to 3-year-old: did you smack the dog with a hammer?  3-year-old:  oh, look, there’s a fly on the wall

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