CTV parts ways with journalist after coronavirus joke
On January 26, CTV investigative journalist Peter Akman tweeted a photo of himself standing in front of an Asian man wearing a mask with the caption “Hopefully ALL I got today was a haircut.”
The now-deleted tweet was poorly received, quickly amassing dozens of accusations of anti-Chinese racism and insensitivity in the face of what has just been declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization.
The head of Wuchang’s city hospital in Wuhan is still being treated for coronavirus according to health officials. According to the Chinese government, Dr Liu Zhiming is said to be undergoing resuscitation after contracting the deadly virus but is alive, despite some reports claiming he had died. Many Chinese citizens remain skeptical of the news that Dr Liu remains alive due to previous attempts to cover up deaths of medical personnel.
Dr Li Wenliang died of coronavirus earlier this month. Wenliang was responsible for making knowledge of the coronavirus public and was punished for doing so by Chinese officials. His hospital denied any reports of his death initially before confirming it according to the Daily Mail.
All media outlets were instructed to suppress the coverage of the passing of Dr Li Wenliang. The news of this denial caused a great backlash from the public over the cover-up. Many took to social media to express their rage with the government however their posts were quickly censored.
“He wasn’t allowed to speak. He wasn’t even allowed to die,” wrote one person via the Chinese messaging app WeChat.
“Dr Li Wenliang was only allowed to ‘die’ after most web users had gone to bed,” wrote another person.
Dr Li’s family was paid just over $150,000 after Beijing ruled his death a ‘work place injury’ following the online backlash for the whistleblower.
Liu Fan, 59, was a nurse at Wuchang Hospital who died of the coronavirus after contracting the disease at work last Friday. It’s suspected that Ms. Liu became infected with the disease after failing to get a hazmat suit due to the shortage of medical supplies in Wuhan. The hospital has denied any such rumours.
The hospital released a statement urging all medical workers to protect themselves during work.
It continued: “All neighbourhood clinics need to enforce personal preventative measures according to requirement.”
“In this battle, the virus is cruel. We express our deepest condolences for comrade Liu Fan’s passing”
“We sincerely hope all medical workers remain healthy and will return safe and sound after the battle.”
Chinese authorities have said that those who died from contracting coronavirus in the line of duty should be named martyrs. The Political Work Department of the Central Military Commission said that family members of medical workers who’ve passed should receive financial compensation from the government.
Dr. Liu was the most high-profile medical worker to contract the virus and die and became even more famous after being reprimanded by police and accused of spreading “fake news.” It was in response to a social media post of Dr. Liu, warning of “SARS at a Wuhan seafood market” on December 30. Li’s post came two weeks before the coronavirus broke out in the city.
Kristina Shramko has decided to remain in Wuhan in order to stay with her cat, Kitya. Wuhan has been under lockdown since Jan. 23 in the wake of the coronavirus that began there and has now infected at least 67,000 people and killed more than 1,500. The majority of cases have been in the Hubei province, where the city of Wuhan, with a population of 11 million, is located.
China has so far quarantined more than 50 million people in the Hubei province and all transportation in and out has been shut down.
Shramko can leave her loft in Wuhan, although officers will check her temperature and she is required to wear a mask. Officers patrol the street and and shops to make sure that people comply with the precautions.
Shramko was born and raised in Vancouver and met her boyfriend in Wuhan during a month-long trip to the city. She moved there to be with him about a year prior to the coronavirus outbreak. Shramko’s boyfriend was not in Wuhan at the time of the shutdown due to a business trip. He isn’t allowed to return as per the quarantine rules, so he is currently staying with his family in another province.
Shramko had initially registered herself to be on an evacuation flight when Canadian authorities began chartering flights to get citizens back to Canada, however the strict no-pet policy forced Shramko to make the tough decision to remain in Wuhan to take care of her cat.
“I don’t know when the epidemic will be over so it’s kind of abandoning her in a way, even if I give her to a friend,” Shramko told Business Insider.
Shramko went on to describe the mental conditions of living in quarantine.
“After a month of just being alone and not having that much human interaction, it really takes its toll mentally,” Shramko said
“It’s pretty much a ghost town outside,” she said. “I live directly across from a huge mall and this mall was always packed with people. Even the street to get into the mall’s parking lot was always busy. Now, there are no cars at all and nobody outside.”
Shramko described many of the grocery stores shelves as being barren. She spends her time working on her YouTube channel, watching a Chinese version of Netflix, reading books and playing with Kitya.
She communicates often with her boyfriend and family back in Canada.
“They update me on what they’re hearing about the coronavirus in Canada and I let them know what’s going on in China,” she said.
The Chinese government has extended foreigner visas as a result of the epidemic, however money is getting tight for those forced to stay in quarantine.
“Nobody is working right now so there is no income,” Shramko said. “I’m trying to save as much money as possible since we don’t know when all of this will be over.”
Shramko was initially unphased by the coronavirus lockdown.
“In my mind, a super contagious and deadly virus just didn’t seem real,” she said. “It seemed like something you only saw in movies. After a few weeks, it really kicked in that this was a serious matter.”
Shramko said she understands the circumstances she’s in and doesn’t resent the Chinese government’s handling of the virus.
“I can’t say that I’ve put all my faith in the Chinese government, but I can say that they are doing their best,” she said. “It’s a highly contagious virus, so it’s hard to control.”
Shramko is getting restless to return to Canada now and wishes the government would allow her to take her cat on the plane.
“She’s been there for me throughout this whole quarantine,” Shramko said of her cat. “I should be there for her, too.”
Roxane Gay thinks Jeannine Cummins should go cry into her publishing contract. After Cummins’ publisher Flatiron Books cancelled her American Dirt book tour due to death threats, Gay said that was basically no big deal because lots of authors receive death threats. Gay dismissed the concerns of Flatiron and Cummins, saying that it’s “important to acknowledge the death threats people receive for daring to have opinions, for daring to be black or brown or queer or disabled or women or trans or any marginalized identity.”
Gay made the remarks at Antioch University in Culver City, CA, when she spoke on a panel with author Myriam Gurba as part of #DignidadLiteraria (#LiteraryDignity), a movement that emerged after the publication of American Dirt. The purpose of #DignidadLiteraria is to hold the publishing world accountable for not publishing enough stories by and about the Spanish speaking people of the Americas. This panel was part of a national week of action organized by the hashtag’s founders Myriam Gurba, David Bowles, and Roberto Lovato.
Cummins’ book was the subject of much initial fanfare. It was on The New York Times’ highly anticipated book list. It was a pick for Oprah’s Book Club. Movie rights were sold before the book hit digital shelves and Cummins received a seven-figure advance. All this indicates that the book was going to be a literary circle darling. Instead, it has created a crisis in American publishing.
While there were some positive initial reviews, most of the notices for American Dirt were incredibly damning. Once word got out why the book was no good, critics could not stop dishing on the white author who had the audacity to write a story about a Mexican mother and son running for their lives to escape drug cartels.
The complaints were that Cummins shouldn’t have written the story, that the story wasn’t hers to write. The authors who trashed her book know that the story sprang from Cummins’ imagination and that she spent years researching the subject. And primarily, the harsh critics of American Dirt were other authors, like Gurba and Bowles, who take issue not only with the work itself, but the fact that it was published at all. They’re using it as a bludgeon with which to beat the publishing industry into submission to identity politics.
It’s possible, however, that some of the reviews were written by people who hadn’t read the book. For example, this Jezebel review from Shannon Melero notes that “There is no sense throughout the book that Cummins is familiar at all with the landscape of Mexico, outside the names of towns. At times it reads as if she was purposely vague on the description of a neighbourhood so that the reader could imagine they were anywhere else. But the lack of specificity is precisely why such a book appeals so massively to a mainstream white gaze: they can put themselves in the story and imagine they are practicing a type of empathy, when in fact they’re just perpetuating erasure.”
Journalist Jesse Signal points out many passages that show the specificity of the location Cummins writes about.
This is not the first time a book has been trashed by people who probably didn’t read it. A year ago, Amélie Wen Zhao’s unpublished novel Blood Heir was brought up on charges of being racist. It was mostly a play to get people to buy the books of the complaining critics, instead of the one that received the big advance and heavy push from publishers.
In Gurba’s review at Tropics of Meta, she writes that she was predisposed not to like the book based on a publisher’s letter, and she hates it thoroughly. “Unfortunately, Jeanine Cummins narco-novel, American Dirt, is a literary licuado that tastes like its title,” Gurba writes eviscerating both Cummins and the work. “Cummins plops overly-ripe Mexican stereotypes, among them the Latin lover, the suffering mother, and the stoic manchild, into her wannabe realist prose. Toxic heteroromanticism gives the sludge an arc and because the white gaze taints her prose, Cummins positions the United States of America as a magnetic sanctuary, a beacon toward which the story’s chronology chugs.”
For this review and for speaking out, Gurba says that she received threatening messages as well. To Gay, the threats Gurba received are more worrisome than the threats Cummins received.
“People need to realize what real censorship looks like,” Gay said. “They need to understand how unsafe it can be to challenge authority and the status quo. These are not things that should be taken lightly, nor should this level of harassment be dismissed as mere trolling. You never know when one of those so-called trolls is going to take his rage from the internet into the physical world.”
Ideally, well-known authors would decry all threats made against authors for their work. Gay was asked about the intimidation that caused Flatiron to cancel Cummins tour. “This woman is going to be set for life,” Gay said to the panel. “This book is going to earn royalties in perpetuity, and so it just reinforces what publishing already knows, which is as long as white people are translating the experiences of people of colour, it will sell very well.” Perhaps she thinks that the threats don’t matter if the author is successful.
To publicize the threats made against those authors who wrote against American Dirt, an online “death quilt” was organized so everyone could see. While Gay is saying that this is what “real censorship looks like,” neither bad reviews nor cruel missives from internet trolls are what censorship actually looks like. Censorship looks like a political and cultural ideology that demands adherence to rules about who is entitled to write what due to the fact of the genetic background. Locking people into prisons of ancestral experience is what censorship looks like, whether it comes from government or organized advocacy to correct publishers for transgressing these rules.
This is the 5th installment in a series analyzing cult manipulation strategies, as they apply to the social justice movement. Read the rest of the series here.
Have you noticed cancel culture getting more and more extreme lately? A few years ago, men would get mobbed on social media for allegations of real-life sexual assault. Now people are getting mobbed online, not for what they say or do, but for merely liking someone else’s tweet. Now people are mobbed not for their own opinions, but for simply suggesting that other people should have the freedom to express one.
Cancel culture is becoming more and more extreme, because it has to. This is because cancel culture isn’t about holding people accountable or upholding social mores. Instead, it’s about feeding the social needs of the people doing the mobbing.
The social justice movement behaves in the same way as traditional cults that immerse people in a closed social environment (such as a university) and then make them completely dependent on a system of social rewards and punishments.
Of course, social rewards and punishments are normal in any society. But in the regular world, there are lots of ways people can gain social rewards like praise, love, and social status; they can do well in their job, or volunteer in the community. They can develop a good sense of humour, or create art, or spend time with family or friends.
In cults, the methods for gaining any kind of love or status are limited to behaviours that benefit the cult leadership. The social need for love and acceptance is a very real human need. Therefore, if obedience to the cult is the only way to fill this need–and avoid being shunned or banned by the group–then you’re likely to comply. This is compounded by your isolation from outside norms and information.
One of the methods for gaining acceptance in a cult is learning the cult doctrine. The other methods include whatever else leadership wants, such as recruiting new members, or fundraising, or–in the case of social justice–mobbing and harassing anyone who does not comply (“cancel culture”). In fact, the more complicated and contradictory the cult doctrine is, the easier it is to control people. We can see this in the increase in the extremeness of cancel culture, which is happening alongside an increase in the complexity of social justice doctrine. And social justice doctrine is very complicated indeed.
For an example of the complexity of these rules, consider social justice’s teachings on other cultures.
Indigenous are being oppressed by “cultural genocide”–the decline and loss of their culture. If you’re a non-Indigenous person, DON’T make any traditional Indigenous art–that’s “cultural appropriation”, and it’s oppressive. Or it might even be “cultural genocide” outright. Remember, we need to celebrate other cultures, but we can’t actually experience those cultures ourselves.
White women wearing Black hairstyles or feathers or chopsticks in their hair is oppressive. But making food from other cultures is cultural appreciation, which is a good thing.
Listening to music outside your culture is ok, but producing it is NOT OK, as we see here. Even when it’s between Indigenous groups, performing another culture’s musical concept is a grave evil, which must be protested through a boycott. Boycotting the rare avenues that promote Indigenous music is thus the appropriate way to fight cultural genocide (AKA the decline of Indigenous music). Now, all of this is the fault of colonization, and “colonizers” (i.e. non-Indigenous people) need to move over to make room for Indigenous peoples. But also, we need more immigration to bring even more non-Natives here, and any criticism of immigration methods or levels is racist.
Got all that?
Hopefully you do, because you need to understand it in order to gain love and status from your peers. If you slip, you’ll be shamed (but not completely mobbed) by someone telling you to “please educate yourself” before you commit further sins against the social order. You’ll be told that you’re wrong, but if you object or ask why, you’ll be shamed further, because expecting an explanation for why you’re wrong is asking for “emotional labour” from an oppressed person–another sin against the group.
Thankfully, there’s a solution that’s easier than mastering these convoluted rules and getting shamed for asking questions. You can simply join in an online mob to shame someone else who is stepping out of line. You can gain love by doxing someone or joining a boycott or harassing someone out of a job.
And herein is why cancel culture is becoming more and more extreme. It’s not about enforcing moral standards. That’s why the bar for moral progressive standards is becoming increasingly restrictive. The constant in all of this is cult members’ need for love, acceptance, and status, which can be fed through online mobbing.
If the moral code of social justice remained stable over time, people would get used to the rules and avoid breaking them. Then we would run into a shortage of people stepping out of line. It sounds ridiculous, but people stepping out of line is an actual resource–and a finite one at that. This is one of the areas where you see a distinction between the people who voluntarily agree with social justice ideals, and people under control of the cult. We all have social needs, and members of the cult are limited in how they can achieve them. One of those limited ways is through joining a mob.
And this is why we have people actually searching through Mark Hamill’s like history on twitter.
Because in a cult, hate is love.