How to Kill a Candian Chatline

I used to tune in to the Internet chatline associated with Inroads, the “Canadian Journal of Opinion.” You could be sure of informed discussion about electoral politics, the influence of political culture on the development of public policy, hopes for the socialist future, etc. Among the contributors were Henry Milner, Reg Whitaker, Bob Chodos, Garth Stevenson, Jan Narveson, Rob Leone, John Furedy, Phillip Resnick.

It was reliably Canadian, reliably well written, academic in the best sense.

Then Middle Eastern questions intruded. And soon dominated the agenda. Participants began to drop out. I’ve heard nothing of substance from the chatline for weeks, months.

Andre Payant, who writes as La Grenouille Qui Rit, is struggling to renew discussions. Here’s his recent contribution: “The creation of Israel as we know it today will prove to have been the twentieth century’s gravest mistake. It continues to blackmail the US to be an enthusiastic and proactive partner to its criminal activities in the Middle East and by its actions manages to rouse Muslim extremists the world over to a vengeful fury.”

Looks to me like another nail in the coffin.

I used to tune in to my university faculty chatline, MUFAGAB. We talked about use of computers in the classroom, administrator’s salaries, the trials and tribulations of fine arts programs, teaching techniques.

Then Middle Eastern questions intruded. And after a time, just as with the Inroads line, participants began to drop out.

In an effort to save a venue for discussion of university affairs, we split MUFAGAB. On Line One we would continue our old, more or less friendly and always informative talks about teaching and administration.

On Line Two, and only on Line Two, we’d address contentious issues in the international arena, which is to say, the Middle East.

Middle East discussants rebelled. They argued with some cogency that freedom of speech is central to university affairs. They considered it perfectly appropriate to discuss on Line One, the original MUFAGAB, whether to invite to campus out-spoken journalists on the Middle East, and to offer in support of their opinions comprehensive and copious analyses of Middle Eastern affairs.

Now things are getting nasty. Our moderator Neil McLaughlin, who supervises both lines, has developed an “official” ignore/delete list. Here’s a recent communication:

“Norm [Rosenblood] is now officially on my ignore delete list. He has written me a number of nasty off-line notes, to the point where I have asked him several times to stop writing me off line. My views on Galloway (don’t agree with him politically but don’t think he, or Melanie Phillips, should be excluded from Canada) are  fairly clear to anyone who can read with basic intellectual honesty. Norm’s appalling distortion …

And so another academic chatline implodes.

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2 Responses to “How to Kill a Candian Chatline”


  1. 1 Andy Muller February 6, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    Janet, I came across this while searching for a way to manage my mufagab subscription (which fills up my largely defunct univmail account. You were and still are dead right.


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