One of my grievances against journalists today is that many of them seem to have forgotten the vital role the press is supposed to play in keeping its citizenry informed. The obvious example, of course, is its failure to ask any relevant questions before the U.S. invasion of Iraq. A more local but no less important one to Canadians arises over the tragic shooting death of an 11 year old boy in Toronto this past weekend. Our Minister of Public Safety, Stockwell Day, in response to growing calls for a handgun ban, is quoted in today’s Globe and Mail: “We’ve looked at other jurisdictions that have put in bans on handguns and it has not reduced crime with firearms, crime with handguns.”
What the minister said may be true, but to my knowledge, he was not asked when or how this study was conducted, the statistical basis for his conclusions, etc. When journalists fail to force politicians to justify their comments, they are, in fact, giving them carte blanche in making misrepresentations to the public. It therefore becomes even more important for the voters to think critically and independently, seeking out multiple sources of information (readily available on the Internet), in order to force our policy makers to be more honest and responsive to the citizens. By the way, I have sent an e-mail to my Member of Parliament, asking for the data Minister Day used to arrive at his conclusion. I’ll report back any response I get from him.
Again, this is another reason I think it is so important for public education to be inculcating the skills of critical thinking. The alternative is to be mute sheep, led by some very questionable shepherds.