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By BERNIE BELLAN A recent column by Bill Marantz has provoked quite a negative feedback. Without going into the detail of that column, which appeared in the June 24, 2015 issue of The Jewish Post & News, much of that column contained inflammatory language which should not have been allowed to go in unedited.

 

(By the way, CBC and CTV - when it comes to accuracy in reporting, none of your reporters has bothered to get the name of our paper right: It's The Jewish Post & News, not The Jewish Post - so please don't pontificate too much about getting facts wrong.)

Nonetheless, the column did appear and I accept full responsibility for not having vetted it properly. Anyone who reads our paper would know that we are not reluctant to tackle controversial, often "untouchable" subjects. Not too long ago I broached the subject of the Kapyong Barracks and why the possibility of its becoming an urban reserve is not considered an allowable topic for discussion within not just a good part of the Jewish community, but the community at large. Clearly when it comes to relations between natives and non-natives there are some subjects which are so clearly sensitive that they are simply avoided altogether.

Having said that, however, I do wish to apologize to anyone who was offended by Bill Marantz's column and invite anyone who is interested in writing a response to that column to do so, c/o This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

I should note though that I have received a fair number of e-mails and calls and have read tweets from individuals who have identified themselves as natives and who have  expressed agreement, either in whole or in part with the general tenor of what Bill Marantz had to say. That is not to say that I agree with Bill Marantz's piece myself. It's simply to indicate that opinions on sensitive subjects are varied.  What I find particularly problematic is the notion that we should all be censoring ourselves and that certain subjects should not be talked about in their entirety.

Modify language? Yes - I definitely should have used far more discretion in editing Bill Marantz's piece. But avoiding the subject altogether - the way politicians and so many of us avoid talking about the Kapyong Barracks becoming an urban reserve (which I favour)? Well, that pretty much leaves discussions of highly controversial subjects to the Twitterverse, which is hardly a forum for intelligent conversation.

 

Post script (added June 30): As one might expect, I've received a fair number of e-mails on the subject of Bill Marantz's piece. I've also received loads of unsolicited advice how to handle all this, going so far as to close down The Jewish Post & News (from someone who works for that paragon of journalistic excellence - the Winnipeg Free Press).

I have received one excellent piece written by someone who actually subscribes to the JP&N, in which that person offers a point-by-point rebuttal to Marantz's column. I will be printing that as an op-ed in the July 8 issue of the paper.

As for the other e-mails, I will probably print excerpts from a good many of them - trying to retain the flavour of the e-mails, no matter how harshly they may criticize either Marantz or me or both of us. Again - those e-mails will appear only in the print edition of the paper - and, because we don't have unlimited space, only a portion of the e-mails that I receive will be printed.

Lastly, I thought I'd offer some references to other writers who also found themselves in hot water - in their cases, with Quebec nationalists or, as in the case of Mordecai Richler, also with the Jewish establishment and feminists.

Here's how one writer put Richler's often offensive language:

"Lost in all this, is the fact that Richler was an equal opportunity insulter. In his most famous book, 'The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz,' Richler's unflattering portrayal of his own Jewish community was typically unkind"

"His reference to Quebecoise women as 'sows', forced by the Church to pump out as many children as possible, earned him the undying enmity of the nationalist movement."

And, for a pretty over-the-top quote, here's one from Pierre Trudeau: “politically stupid ... perpetual losers ... a bunch of snivellers who should have been sent packing and told to stop having tantrums like spoiled adolescents" (speaking of Quebecois nationalists).

Again, this is not to condone much of Bill Marantz's offensive language, nor my not having edited his piece quite a bit more scrupulously, but to have censored the entire column? Well, I suppose one might have said the same thing about Richler, especially in his polemic "Oh Canada, Oh Quebec".

(added July 2): We have received a large number of e-mails in response to the column by Bill Marantz in our June 24 issue. Our July 8 issue will contain excerpts from some of those e-mails, but due to the number and length of the e-mails received, we simply don't have the room to print them all nor without almost all of them being edited.

We will, however, be printing two full-length op ed pieces that take full issue with Bill Marantz's column. As of the time of writing, we have received one already, by Allan Appel - and it thouhgtfully addresses each of Marantz's points. We are awaiting another op-ed that Prof. Nigaanwewidam James Sinclair, who promised me that I would have his piece by the end of the day (June 2).

(July 2 5: 32 pm)

Oops - just received a message from Prof. Sinclair, saying he couldn't meet our Thursday deadline. He asked that I run something by the name of Heather Baril instead - which we'll do.

At this point we're closed to new letters for the July 8 issue. There will be quite a few, however, in that issue; again, I reiterate the letters will only be available in the print edition. Anyone who would like a copy of the July 8 issue is welcome to have one mailed out - if you phone our office at 204-694-3332.

Unfortunately, we have to charge $2 for the service, so please give us a credit card # if you phone.