“Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in the face of certain defeat.”
― Ralph EllisonInvisible Man

In a serial act of masochism I’ve tried over the last month to digest the daily froth whipped up by the usual suspects around the issue of Occupy Vancouver. But columnists Jon Ferry (The Province), Mark Hasiuk (Vancouver Courier), Bill Good (CKNW) and the editorial ravings of both Sun and Province have become so predictably reactionary and fear-based that reading them  has become something akin to being water-boarded with angry spittle. The consensus among almost all is a mean-spirited act of wishful thinking: that the Occupy movement disappear, evaporate back into the realm of invisibility where it no longer interrupts the neat and tidy discourse of mainstream journalism. The Globe’s Gary Mason, on the other hand, has at least tried to take a measured approach. His columns wear the see-through veneer of fairness with a token attempt at empathy and an obligatory effort at writerly description.

“He was earnest and almost breathtakingly naive, but also charming in his own way,” Mason writes about an “archetypal occupier” in Tuesday’s column, Cold Comfort as Occupy Vancouver washed away with the rain. This is condescension wearing a mask of compassion and it’s typical of the good-cop pundits who think they can ease the consciences of those who want the occupiers to recede from view but without the aid of batons or pepper spray. In fact, “charming and breathtakingly naive,” would not be an inappropriate way to describe Mason’s own stance as he surveyed Monday’s dismantling of the VAG settlement. He gives himself and his privileged perspective away in his first sentence, comparing the colour of the  “mud pit” left by the occupiers to a “dark French roast.” If this isn’t a joke, it should be. And do the rolled and folded tents bear an uncanny likeness to almond croissants? But even if Mason had been unconsciously pining in the rain for his Starbucks fix, he summoned enough feeling to grant the occupiers a few column inches: “We built a family in a pretty short period of time,” he quotes the earnest/naive occupier. “It wasn’t easy…But it’s a growing process and we’re not done yet. We will get through the winter and look forward to the spring.”

“The Canucks’ Cup run, like war, has brought us together.”

The local newspapers have given the troops their marching orders. Over the past few weeks, Canucks “news” has been consuming trees faster than a biblical swarm of pine beetles, with news desks putting reporters’ assignments on a loop: Give me something with a hockey tie-in, and give it to me yesterday! Recipes, fashion statements, trips down memory lane, cultural events — as long as it is tinted blue and green, then it’s a tie-in that’s a shoo-in.

But I just about did a spit-take of my official soft-drink of the Vancouver Canucks when I read the above headline in Doug Todd’s A4 column of Tuesday’s Vancouver Sun. Curious. Todd, the paper’s religion reporter, is one of the few columnists who asks hard questions, often dipping his quasi-Christian sandals into the philosophical and ethical questions that our phantasmagorical culture arouses (i.e. painted Canuck faces), and doing so with the closest thing a newspaper writer (as I once was) can come to an emotion like compassion. (That’s when you care about things, right?)

Here, however, in tackling the phenomenon of sport, Todd makes some long jumps in logic that seem bush league. His main thrust, as the headline declares with bravado, is that the Canucks have united our multi-ethnic city around the rallying and trademarked call, “We Are All Canucks.” Despite my own four-decades-long irrational following of this team, however, I can’t read or hear “We are all Canucks” as anything but an insidious (and of course corporately created) slogan with a tell-tale totalitarian ring. It’s about as heartfelt as the response to the computer-generated noise meter. And Todd himself knows the peril that surrounds sport when mass noise is channeled through the wrong regime.