Proof that the Post needs to stay


In the twilight of 2007, the comment pages of the National Post were for a couple of days blessed with essays penned by two aging Canadian titans of the printed word — author and historian Peter C. Newman and former newspaper baron Conrad Black. It became a bit of a thing among some observers of the row.

The back-and-forth affair was a pleasure to witness. At times impetuous, the men battled each other in a war of synonymic attrition that became nothing less than a race to the circumlocutory bottom. It must have hurt their brains.

The winner of that contest is anyone’s guess. But one thing is certain: Black is no slouch. Over the past few days, the currently jailed former baron has once again lit up the pages of the Post. I don’t know if Black suffers from a superiority or inferiority complex, but his latest joust involved radio host John Moore, and it got ugly.

What unfolded was something to behold. A timeline, if I may:

Although he didn’t yet know it, Moore opened himself up to Black’s linguistic assault on March 11, the day that the Post printed his denigration of Ann Coulter’s latest book, Guilty: Liberal Victims and their Assault on America.

Black apparently took offence to that piece and replied with “Ann Coulter, John Moore and Me“, a veritable denunciation of Moore’s opinions that was printed on March 21.

The Post gladly printed Moore’s rebuttal on March 23, a clear attempt by the Toronto radio host to match Black blow-for-blow in what was now clearly becoming a Battle of Pretentious Writing.

Today, the latest from Black.

As an example of how vicious this has become, allow me to print the opening paragraph of Moore’s first rebuttal to Black, and then follow it with the conclusion of Black’s most recent work.

Said Moore:

I suppose there is a certain honour in being the subject of one of Conrad Black’s letters from the gaol. It reminds me of the scene in Gigi where Honoré sweeps into the room and says to his young nephew, “Congratulations, your first suicide!”

Replied Black:

I am philosophical, averse to solemnity, and seek no one’s sympathy as I fight this through. But I have an absolute right to be grateful to those who see this outrage clearly and publicly say so; and to the thousands of former total strangers who have written to me to express their revulsion at these pseudo-legal circuses. And I have the right to be unappreciative, and even disdainful of someone who finds this rape of due process so riotously entertaining and full of cultural antecedents that it reminds Moore of the Maurice Chevalier comic musical farce Gigi, and inexplicably puts him in mind of the long-gone Russo-American writer Ayn Rand.

Those who have been persecuted, defamed, and falsely condemned, while stoical and aware of many ironies, find it less side-splittingly funny.


And now, three words I learned after following this saga:

Unctuous: Oily or greasy; Profusely and unpleasantly polite and insincerely earnest
Encomium: a formal expression of praise
Hecatomb: a great sacrifice; an ancient Greek or Roman sacrifice of 100 oxen

Without the Post, I never would have added those words to my vocabulary.

One Response to “Proof that the Post needs to stay”

  1. If only I could regularly keep up on this vocabulary thing… What a world this would be!

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