I recently received a comment regarding Gary McHale’s ‘presentation’ and my own. As I began to write a response, it led me in a direction that deserved its own post, so let me offer thanks to ‘tomax7’ for this one.
While I am for a settlement in Caledonia, I do however observe Wake UpCall’s website to be amaturish, bordering on sensationalism, and lack a focused presentation in quality.
He too, in six months will be retiring or fall pray to more sensationalist postings if he doesn’t change.
On the other hand, I have to note your recent poo-pooing Nathan’s post correcting your statement of “several thousand” at the march also discredits any journalistic quality towards this serious issue.
Basically what I am saying, two wrongs don’t make a right.
VOC REPLY: Let’s spend some time on the points you raise because they’re good ones and I have some intimate (not THAT intimate 🙂 )knowledge that may help:
A. McHale’s website:
First of all, thanks for the compliment re VoC. WordPress.com and a certain ‘Chris Pearson’ deserve the credit. The spelling and attempts at semi-decent grammar are mine, though.
When I first saw Gary McHale’s website, I thought just like you do: what a piece of garbage! He can’t spell worth a damn, and some of his headings border on nonsensical due to grammatical errors and displaced words. The layout is cheesy and, as you say, the ‘kiddie gifs’ are amateurish. All these comments I have made and more to Gary himself (except for the kiddie gifs; I was beating him up on the other stuff, so I didn’t get around to them.) So, you’re just as right about the site as was I. Now, let me tell you the other side of the story…
1. You have no idea how all-consuming this project and cause is; after I got involved, I actually apologized to Gary several times for pounding on him so badly about his site, his spelling and the fact that the t-shirts weren’t ready for sale. That’s because I could barely keep up with my own site, let alone also try to lead and organize the march, and do all the media appearances.
The simple fact is that McHale was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information coming at him, by the media, by his mortgage payments and by people like me trying to help, so he tried to stay focussed on the important thing – getting his message out the best way he could.
The Caledonia gang’s supporters tried to make much of the fact that McHale was asking for money, but he’s been working this on a full time basis with very little income. That should tell you how much he believes in what he’s doing.
2. From a technical point of view, CWUC was never designed for looks; it was specifically designed by McHale to be quick to update and easy to manage. Despite its shortcomings, it does allow him to get a large volume of news out in the least amount of time. As McHale said to me once, “I can’t afford to spend an extra 20 minutes per story.” Contrast that with VoC where I agonize over every typo and every comma, trying to get it perfect. I could never have accomplished what McHale has done in such a very short period of time.
3. Although the CWUC site must change and adapt in order to attract even more readers, it’s taken on a certain ‘charm’ of its own, at least for me.
4. I have often joked with him that he was making history despite being an overweight, unattractive guy with a ‘crappy’ website full of typos. McHale, however, is far more powerful than his presentation suggests.
VoC became #8 on the WordPress.com system on October 18th for one reason: McHale put a link to one of my stories. I just got an email from him today advising me that more than 3,200 people have downloaded my movie, MARCH FOR FREEDOM. The man has created an incredible following and brought to bear a burning focus on the Caledonia issue despite the worst efforts of the OPP and politicians at every level all the while having to live with very real threats against his life.
B. VoC ‘Journalistic Integrity’ and Crowd Estimates
1. I reread my reply to ‘Nathan’ who said he arrived at his estimate of 500 by counting the people in the photo. I stand by everything I said in my reply. What’s more – I was there taking the picture, while Nathan was where, exactly? Counting people in the picture.
2. Suggest you see, “Rally draws 2,000” by Karen Best from the Haldimand Review. Let me give you the opening paragraph:
“A mother maintained her composure as she told a crowd of more than 2,000 how her children are suffering. In an unwavering voice, she said her six year old son and 12 year old daughter were imprisoned in their school and home.”
Karen Best’s article confirms what I’ve said all along. So, do you believe Nathan who ‘counted the people in the picture’ or do you believe me, who took the picture? I don’t have a problem admitting when I’m wrong – when I’m wrong.
3. I’ve never made any pretensions to being a journalist with a mission to tell ‘both sides.’ I’m just a guy who writes about stuff that matters to him. I try to be accurate and fair, but if you’re reading this for an in-depth, unbiased analysis of both sides of a story, you’re in the wrong place.
Frankly, the real reason I can’t provide the ‘other side’ of Caledonia is that, to this day, I have not received a single ‘critical’ letter where the writer admits to endorsing the use of violence, threats, intimidation, arson, and theft to achieve one’s goals. If they can’t even own up to their endorsement of and/or use of violence, how can I possibly help readers understand the reasons they feel justified in its use?
Supporters of the gang dance all around the subject of criminality with specious arguments against my interpretation or characterizations, but that’s the best they’ve been able to do so far. I used one of these comments in, ‘Courage and Cowardice in Caledonia’ to show how vacuous they can be. Just once I’d like someone to explain – specifically – why they believe that violence and disrespect for the rule of law will strengthen Ontario’s democracy and justice system. I promise I’ll publish it if it ever comes.
C. The good news – if Gary McHale could do it, imagine what YOU could do!
1. I had never met McHale personally until October 5th in Brantford. It was at that presentation that I decided to do as much as I could to help him with the March for Freedom. On the day of the March, I was walking at the back, taking pictures and said to someone beside me, “You’re helping to make history, today.”
My remark was overheard by a reporter for Toronto Life, and she interviewed me as we walked along. I told her that I didn’t want to live in a province where some people were above the law; I didn’t want to live in a province where the police act as taxpayer-funded security guards for organized criminals, and I wanted to tell every politician who tried to obstruct McHale’s attempt to fight for equal justice to go to hell. For the first time in my lifetime, people in Ontario were coming together to protect civil rights, justice, law and order and democracy itself. Gary McHale made it happen. That’s what I told her.
2. McHale’s an easy target: he’s overweight; he lacks the Robert Redford looks; he doesn’t have a university degree (neither do I, by the way); he can’t spell, and he gets a little strident at times. McHale didn’t take a course in how to change history… he’s just doing it, warts and all. He could have sat back and eaten a bunch of pogo sticks, and said, “Gee, I’m fat and I can’t build a great website, so I’ll just do what everyone else is doing – NOTHING!”
Gary McHale is a flawed human being (like the rest of us) who chose not to make excuses as to why he couldn’t, wouldn’t, shouldn’t get involved. Even if, as you say, he disappears in six months, McHale has made an enormous contribution to the well-being of our province, and he deserves our respect.
Let me assure you, however, that McHale isn’t about to disappear. My sources tell me that certain politicians are ‘amazed’ at how effective he and his crappy website have been. Gary McHale is a brilliant strategic thinker, and I will be taking great joy in watching him, his website and his organization grow and evolve. Just watch.