Much to my surprise, Barbara Kay emailed this to me, and asked if I wanted to run it on my blog. Of course, I said yes.
So here’s… Barbara Kay:
When Toronto Star columnist Antonia Zerbesias was in Grade 9, she was suspended for lampooning a teacher in a cartoon, and sent home with an accompanying note calling her “rude, obstreperous and bold.”
Apparently she so enjoyed the experience (or maybe, having been raised in the self-esteemy school of education she thought everything she heard about herself was a compliment), she decided to make “rude, obstreperous and bold” her default mode of communication.
Certainly her writing skills (indifferent to lousy for an adult) and critical acumen are about what you’d expect from a Grade 9 student, but never mind: simplistic writing and thinking coupled with rudeness, obstreporousness and boldness are exactly what you need to build a career at the Toronto Star.
Even the editors of the Toronto Star, though, had to be wincing at the rather extreme simplicity and extreme rudeness displayed by Ms Zerbesia Jan.26 when, agitated at the National Post’s editorial comment on an issue she felt strongly about, she tweeted “F*** you, National Post National Post and the horsesh** you rode in on.”
Golly! That’s harsh. (Although I am informed by a reliable source that when apprised of this shot across the bows, instead of flinching in mortification from Antonia’s stinging rebuke, the entire National Post Comment section erupted in a fit of the giggles.)
I must say that Antonia’s action is one that fills me with astonishment. Disgust too, of course, but most of all astonishment. For, considering she is a “journalist” who, you know, works with, like, words in her work, “F*** you National Post” was not what you’d call a very professional way of expressing her disagreement with the Post’s opinion.
I mean, I too am a columnist, but somehow I have never felt any inclination to communicate my displeasure in the manner Antonia has chosen. When I don’t like what the Toronto Star says, for example, I don’t have any impulse to write “F*** you, Toronto Star” on my FaceBook page. No, what happens is that I find myself motivated to pick up the tools of my trade: you know, nouns, verbs, phrases, sentences, clauses, that sort of thing – and then I make paragraphs out of them, you see, and in the paragraphs is what we in the trade call a “theme” or an “idea” which, when backed up with evidence, then becomes known as a “rebuttal” to the offending opinion.
I am trying very very hard to imagine Maureen Dowd of the New York Times tweeting to the world, “F*** you, Wall Street Journal!” Or Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post Writers’ Group tweeting “F*** you, LA Times!” or Conrad Black of the National Post “tweeting” (as if) “F*** you, Toronto Star!” No, I can’t imagine any of them doing anything so shamefully infantile either.
Was there any wringing of hands over this incident at The Toronto Star? Or did their editors sit quietly paring their nails and sighing, “Well, there’s that disclaimer in her Twitter account, so there’s really nothing we can say or do about our looking like idiots for giving such an idiot the run of our pages…” Oh please tell us, Toronto Star; inquiring minds so badly want to know.