Licia Corbella injected her own subtle perspicacity into her Calgary Herald column today and used her digital ink to make a splash with her sober understanding that's rarely seen in the world of Canadian punditry.
Her position is this: the high school teacher that showed his high school class the video of the stabbing, dismemberment, rape and cannibalism of a Concordia student erred in judgment.
That's right. She took it upon herself to raise an issue of unanimous consent and echoed that same position.
An opinion that is irrefutable and obvious.
There never was any debate on this question.
No one ventured a personal view suggesting that this guy had the right idea or they should go easy on him.
The only question that sprang up among the columnists was more along the lines of "how quickly can this guy get fired?"
As you read her column, you're assaulted by its obviousness. You sit transfixed by Corbella's ability to stretch out a column while never adding a glint of discernment. Really, every single Canadian reached that consensus five seconds after hearing the news but only Licia Corbella thought it worthwhile to write nearly 1,000 words to the effect that "this guy's an idiot!".
This kind of blandness is so revolting that it's both comical and tragic. When PostMedia is cutting journalism staff and the Calgary Herald is no longer printing a Sunday edition, you wonder just how low the bar is to get fired once you land a job as a columnist. Her job is engage with ideas, stir debate, take principled yet unpopular views. But this is unbelievably mundane even by Canadian punditry standards.
She even asks a criminology professor for his opinion. Guess what his position is? He agrees! Of course he agrees! No one is disputing that this man is unfit to teach kids! No one!
So why did Licia Corbella write a boilerplate column that would only elicit yawns from its readers? Because she subjected herself to watching the Magnotta video. She wanted to write a column about some aspect of these events. Fine. But write something with just a modicum of worth!
To me, the least commented on aspect of these brutal slayings is how derivative they are from horror movies. Someone better informed on horror movies than I could trace the parallels beyond the rip-off of the "Basic Instinct" stabbing or the boxing up of body parts much like that in "Se7en". This attention-starved psychopath is little more than uninspired brute. It's shocking of course but it's the most sickening plea for attention you can make and demonstrate that horror is not synonymous with individuality. He is not a once-in-a-generation killer more than an unoriginal psychotic mind.
You only feel revulsion when you think of his actions and you only feel revulsion when you think of a teacher subjecting his students to watching the video.
So why is Corbella writing about something when she clearly contributes nothing to engaging in a debate or elevating the conversation?
Because she's unable to think for herself as accusations of plagiarism have flown around her in the past.
When you think in talking points, you stand up in opposition to original thought.
A stale group of columnists anchor a newspaper chain that netted over $11 million in losses in the last quarter. Now consider that the newspaper with the highest circulation is the Toronto Star and its mostly progressive editorial stance. PostMedia's answer has been to cut journalists, erect a paywall and keep delivering the same lacklustre conservative opinions that they can offer.
As long as the Jonathan Kay's and Licia Corbella run editorial boards of PostMedia, the disengagement will continue to grow.