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Two Different Shows on One Screen
The Emergency Act Inquiry is catharsis but there is no substance.
I haven’t commented very much on the Emergency Act Inquiry. I have been following the Independent and Mainstream media that have been commenting and reporting and I find the scene unfolding before us to be so much more interesting then the inquiry itself. Here are some thoughts on what I have seen so far.
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One Screen Two Shows
Scott Adams, you know the “Dilbert” guy, is an interesting follow on Twitter. We also share a love of coffee and morning rants, his draws a large audience on Locals, my co-workers not so much but I digress… he has a theorem that I have attempted to introduce into my thinking and I try to use it to take a more birds eye view of topics and situations. The “One screen Two shows” theorem is a bias test. You and I can watch the same event on television and come to two completely different conclusions.
When this happens it can be the result of two types of reasoning:
“Confirmation bias”. We only take the information that backs up our already held beliefs into consideration while ignoring the rest or we have a conclusion we want to believe and we seek out the evidence that proves the conclusion only while ignoring other evidence.
“Cognitive Dissonance” Evidence is provided that conflicts with a securely held belief system. The evidence is then perceived in a certain way that will remove the discomfort. In extreme forms this can result in double speak, double meaning, double think.
Why is this important to know?
The Emergency Act Inquiry
The Emergency Act inquiry is looking into weather or not the Emergency Act was justified in being used by the Federal Government to end the Freedom Convoy protests in Ottawa. It has gone on now for well over a week and we’ve heard from a variety of Government and non-Government personnel. What have I learnt so far? I’ve learnt that no one is going to change their mind and everyone is looking for the smoking gun to justify the actions taken be their side. I have purposely followed two key sources on this who I know take diametrically opposing views and are quite well know for it. I have watched them report on the exact same videos and it is amazing how they will take the facts that suit their narrative, for their base and ignore the other ones or play them off as inconsequential.
It also pays to be a reactionary about these things as well. Some off the cuff comment that has no real substance is analyzed to death and in some cases I believe that both sides have engaged in some form or another of attempting to mind read intentions from the witnesses.
We also have to remember that this is an inquiry and not a formal Court setting, feelings are highly involved in this and feelings will always be subjective and open to interpretation as well as attacks from others.
Everyone is taking what conclusions they want to draw from the EM inquiry to justify the narrative that they want to justify. If you are on the left you are hearing harrowing tales of a city under siege by far right extremists, racists, misogynists and terrorists. A city unable to cope with the forces that bore down on them. You may even believe that the protestors assaulted people, robbed a food bank and tried to set a homeless shelter on fire.
If you are on the convoy side you are hearing stories of hope from people who went to Ottawa to expose a rotten Government, corruption and to restore freedoms taken away during an overblown health scare. You will hear about the utter incompetence of the Governmental forces from the Municipal to the Federal level responding to this protest.
One screen, two shows.
Was the Emergency Act justified?
I don’t think the Emergency Act use was justified. Based on what I have seen and heard so far this situation did not require the final civil response before calling in the Armed Forces. I am aging myself abit here but I remember being a young man when Stephen Harper held the G20 Summit in Toronto and watching video uploaded onto the internet of businesses being destroyed and looted, crowds being corralled by riot police, black bloc anarchists running rampant through the streets. Business owners threatened as capitalist scum that needed to be torn down. It was an incredibly violent spectacle but not Emergency Act justifiable.
Was the Freedom Convoy violent, no it wasn’t. The other convoy protests had already been dispersed and from what I understood the Freedom Convoy itself was starting to ramp down as heavily armed, unidentifiable Police Officers bore down on them. It was annoying, for sure, as most protests are. Were there consequences for residents and visitors to the City? Of course and from what I have seen of protests and labor strikes over the years, the disruption is part of the protest.
Did the Freedom Convoy pose a threat to our democracy and freedoms? No, it did not. It was incredibly disruptive for the people of Ottawa. It was a black eye for our Government but there was no threat to end democracy.
The Inquiry is Catharsis
Since the Freedom Convoy began until the inquiry started there has been a pressure cooker of emotions built up on both sides of the isle. We are very social creatures. When we experience things, especially things that are out of the ordinary, we want to tell others. We have a need to tell others. People suffering from PTSD often benefit from telling their story and feelings over and over again, the reason why is that the more you tell about what happened in the most detail possible the more it becomes a story and doesn’t feel like it’s happening in the moment or just happened. Criminals have a natural inkling to want to tell other people about what they did, not to seek validation or forgiveness but because the act of telling is an act of confession within itself. A famous Canadian case was the use of the “Mr. Big Operation” where a Federal Police Officer would pose as a fellow convict to get a suspect to confess the crime to them. A priest who takes the confession of a parishioner allows the parishioner to remove that burden from their mind and their heart. It’s all catharsis, the releasing of strong emotions, taking the pressure from the system and allowing the person to move on.
All these people with their stories, their beliefs and their desire to be heard is important. Lives have been ruined on both sides. Others on both sides have used this inquiry as a chance to propel themselves to fame. These are human stories and they need to be heard and understood. For me this inquiry will neither prove or disprove anything because it is almost all subjective. If you are in one camp the Emergency Act was justified, the other it isn’t. However this has given Canadians the unique opportunity to release these emotions, to take the pressure down a notch or two and that may end up being far more important then the inquiry itself.