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National Post: gratuitous, cheap, salacious, depraved, malicious and grotesque

Amid the deluge of articles and columns raining down around Conrad Black’s incarceration, I was particularly struck by a weekend piece in the National Post. The authors attempt to examine, through the eyes of inmates at Coleman FCI and similar institutions, what life will be like for Black during his stay in the pen. Published under a double byline—Katie Rook and Mary Vallis—the piece makes use of correspondence between the Post and various inmates, who are, as a result, named in the paper. The information provided confirms what anyone with even a passing acquaintance with prison life would assume. Life inside is full of drudgery and marked by the ugly possibility of exploitation. Given the interest in Black’s situation, this sort of reporting is (if not exactly worthy) entirely justified. And then, out of the clear blue, this bit of nonsense: “The prisoners’ written correspondences to the Post are rife with sexual innuendo and longing.”

Besides being entirely gratuitous, cheap and salacious, this “revelation” paints all of the Post’s prison correspondents with the same sleazy brush.

It’s at times like this that I’m actually sick to my stomach at how snug (and smug) in the gutter my avocation really is. I worked in Canadian prisons for several years as a literacy tutor, and if there’s one thing these men lack (and many, let’s face it, for good reason), it’s dignity. Rook and Vallis cavalierly revel in the opportunity to buttress their point by further shoving the faces of their prey into the mud. Shame on them. Anyone with half a clue knows instinctively that this sort of reporting is depraved, malicious and grotesque. And though I know my expressing these misgivings is like pissing into a gale, I really hope somebody at the Post makes an effort to justify this calumny. The only way to get at cockroaches is to shine a light on them.

A glimpse of Black’s prison life [National Post]

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