How do you deflect from being freshly outed as having a history of wearing blackface – while at the same time trying to maintain, and even bolster your public image as a progressive, liberal poster child of world politics?
Maybe by focusing on some real or imagined expressions of hate committed by others – in fact, by everybody and anybody else, over on the internet. It’s a popular target after all – and this could easily be the idea behind the political manifesto of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party.
Hot on the heels of revelations of Trudeau’s extreme insensitivity to racial sensibilities, come revelations of his party’s stated policy to put pressure on social media platforms to censor content for “hate speech.”
The Liberal Party’s program posted on its website, claims this political entity is strongly opposed to such things as racism, misogyny, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and other societal ills.
But the foremost place where Canada’s Liberals want to fight racism is decidedly not within their own ranks – but instead on social media.
“We believe that when social media platforms are used to spread these harmful views, the platforms themselves must also be held accountable,” the party said.
The Liberals’ plan is to regulate content on the internet by giving social media sites a tight deadline of only 24 hours to “remove illegal content including hate speech” – or end up paying “significant financial penalties.”
This puts Canada’s ruling party in the company of other governments around the world – notably those in Germany, France, and New Zealand.
That may be so – but do those governments and parties have as their leader a person who has blatantly demonstrated problematic behavior by wearing black – and brownface – something that is taken as one of the most obvious and identifiable forms of racist expression of hate?
All in all, the result of all this may turn out to be that a lot of hypocrisy and a little damage control does indeed go a long way – and that Canada’s Liberal Party and its leader will mask their deeds with some fancy words contained in their political manifesto, and emerge from the scandal unharmed – while harming online free speech.
Canada’s voters will have the last word on this when they go to the polls in the country’s next election.