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Media Bites: Turns Out All Journalists are Gun Violence Experts

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Isn't it impressive how every Torontonian with a newspaper column knows exactly how to prevent vicious gang violence? Granted, society would probably be better served if these people could learn to channel their amazing powers of criminal insight into a career more productive than filling the empty spaces between mattress ads, but no worries. If the important folks aren't listening the column people can always repeat louder.

And there's been quite a bit of loud repeating in the aftermath of Monday's horrific shoot-up of an African-Canadian street party in Scarborough, a completely unanticipated tragedy which has nevertheless inspired all of Toronto's brightest editorial minds to bravely champion the political causes they already supported.

If "you want to stop crime, do two things:" says Joe Fiorito at the Star, "stop cutting social programs, and start building daycare centres." Money equals good stuff, so logically more money will equal more good. It's basic math, Mister Mayor.

Oh Joe, you big dummy, responds Margarete Wente at the Globe and Mail, your bank-busting expenditures are just pathetic "Band-Aid solutions!" All "the social programs in the world can't make up for family disintegration," she lectures. Toronto's at-risk youths just need an ol' fashioned dose of "expectations, role models, structure, consistency, discipline and support," to straighten 'em out. And maybe a ruler across the wrist now and then.

No, no, no! That's not it either, Sue-Ann Levy pipes up at the Sun. What the city really needs is cops, and lots of them! "I'm talking about increasing police presence on an ongoing basis in the impacted communities," she says. Yeah! With "actual feet on the street getting to know the community's residents and establishing trust." No cop's going to be pansying around the office rolling up their coffee cup rims if Sue-Ann gets her way!

You're all wrong, thunders the Toronto Star editorial board. What we really need to do is ban all handguns "as quickly as possible!" If you make handgun ownership illegal, after all, then we'll greatly reduce the "supply available to criminals," because when you ban bad things they go away forever, duh.

So, just to summarize, in order to stop future Scarborough-style killings, we need to: a) fund social programs, b) provide families with daycare options, c) discourage socially dysfunctional behaviour, d) provide an adequate police presence in troubled communities, and e) enforce strict gun control. All of which...Toronto is already doing in some form or another.

Only Matt Gurney at the National Post seems content to view Monday's massacre as a "random outlier event" with no real relevance for his particular partisan hobby-horses.

Playing decry-and-demand may be fun, he says, but this idea that we can ever eliminate all forms of violent crime is a bit of a silly fantasy. In the real world, there "comes a point when governments have done all that can be realistically done."

Key word: governments. I'm sure the pundits will be happy to pick up the slack.

***

In less blood-soaked news, the London Olympics are almost upon us, and you know what that means: time for the papers to be filled with bitter editorials about how horrible the Olympics are!

In contrast to the World Cup, which I notice Canadian pundits tend to express an exaggerated, ostentatious interest towards (I assume because it emphasizes how worldly and trans-national they are), the Olympics have long been a favoured biennial punching bag for media-types eager to demonstrate why they're too cynical and independent-minded to enjoy anything big and popular.

With less than a week to go, the last couple of days have seen both of Canada's national papers participate in their own little opening ceremony of lowered expectations, as they remind anyone inclined to think otherwise that the games are, objectively, just a big noisy, commercialized, psychotic waste of time.

"The bread's been slightly crushed under the wheels of the circus," writes Elizabeth Renzetti in the Globe, referring to London's appalling "sideshow" of IOC lawsuits, Orwellian corporate sponsorships, and all that other junk that tends to scandalize people who are just learning about the Olympics now.

Liz is sad that no one seems to care about the athletes anymore, but her colleague Doug Saunders wonders if anyone ever did. Oh Liz, the Games have always been a money-grubbing exercise in elitist nest feathering, he says. It's all about "keeping the wrong sort of people outside the gates, and the right sort of people well provided." And then the well provided people can write crabby columns about everything they saw! It's really a brilliant business model.

Over at the Post, perennial hater-of-popular-things Andrew Coyne wrinkles his nose at this pointless "forum for the biggest and richest nations to beat the pants off their smaller, poorer cousins" and the ensuing "monotonous" predictability. Canadians sure like to fetishize our medal count, says Andy, but really, who cares about medals when all they represent is our ability to clobber some loser country like Ghana in the who-can-afford-a-better-personal-trainer contest?

I'll tell you who doesn't care: journalists! Which is why I'm sure the next couple of weeks will feature nothing but the most restrained, minimalistic coverage of this meaningless non-event.