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Post propaganda

Post propaganda

The recent violent, attempted insurrection of the US Capitol was stoked by Donald Trump and millions of people circulating misinformation about various conspiracies from pedophile rings to pandemic hysteria. Though some social media platforms have moved to curtail this, much misinformation remains in circulation, feeding dissent and mistrust of public health guidance.
To this end, I and all Gibsons residents recently received unsolicited ‘sample issues’ of The Epoch Times in our mailboxes. Masquerading as a ‘newspaper,’ the ET is a well-known vehicle promoting racism and, this year, pandemic misinformation. In this issue, the marquee column was by (convicted felon and Trump ally) Conrad Black, asserting the coronavirus was/is a product of a Chinese government plot to create and launch a virus to destabilize western governments. This claim, linked to alt-right misinformation campaigns (e.g. QAnon, Proud Boys, etc.), has been debunked by reputable experts numerous times.
I contacted Canada Post to complain but have now been informed by customer service it only screens such ‘mailers’ for physical characteristics and if it is overtly objectionable or pornographic. I was encouraged to post a ‘no junk mail’ notice on my mailbox, which would curtail the delivery of all flyers. In an interesting twist, I’ve also learned that the postal workers union (CUPW) filed a formal complaint last spring to Anita Anand, the minister responsible for Canada Post, about having to deliver copies of the newspaper in Toronto on the grounds it was racist. The minister dismissed the complaint and ordered the union to deliver the paper, citing the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. There’s a troubling irony here: the federal government sanctioning the circulation of (mis)information that ultimately undermines guidance its own health authorities are issuing to Canadians.
Clearly, this situation requires a pragmatic response stiffening guidelines for mailers like The Epoch Times. I, too, respect the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but I draw the line at sanctioning ‘free speech’ that undermines measures protecting my health and the tenets of democratic government. The epistemic chaos that has unfolded in the US Capitol and characterizes much of social media discourse has dispelled the illusion that we can have it all ways, all the time. And I’m sorry, a ‘no junk mail’ posting isn’t going to solve this problem any more than a blindfold will save a person in a burning house.
Michael Maser, Gibsons

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