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Margaret Wente

2010: What was I thinking? Add to ...

Hell hath no fury like a mommy blogger.

That was just one of the chastening lessons I learned this year. The fury erupted after I wrote a column wondering why blogging is such a guy thing. (Just check out our own blog sites.) I speculated that the explanation is connected to the male proclivity to seek status by showing off. "Men clearly have an urge to blog that women lack," I wrote. "Not many women are interested enough in spitting out an opinion on current events every 20 minutes."

I thought few people would take this tongue-in-cheek observation seriously. Wrong. The piece went viral, provoking outrage from every female blogger in the blogosphere. Who knew there were so many? They let me have it. I learned they feel ignored and marginalized. Many of them are moms with small children who specialize in terrorizing consumer products into product recalls. They certainly terrorized me. They reminded me of Newfoundlanders, who've never let me forget how grievously I insulted them back in 2005.

Nor were folks impressed when I wrote sympathetically about Conrad Black, Canada's most famous felon, now free on bail. When the U.S. courts tossed out two of his three fraud convictions, I opined that maybe it was time to set him free. "The rehabilitation of Conrad Black's reputation is well under way," I wrote. "Lord Black seems to be that rare inmate whose character has actually improved behind bars. Prison has made him kinder, humbler and more agreeable, and has vastly expanded his sympathies to those less privileged than himself." Harder-hearted readers pointed out that his other two convictions have been resoundingly upheld. "His 'corporate kleptocracy' has now been confirmed," wrote one. "I trust you'll want to correct yourself for announcing that his lordship had beaten the rap."

Judging by my inbox, certain subjects always leave people in a lather. Sarah Palin is one. After much effort, I actually met her. I disguised myself as an Alaskan and cornered her in her home town of Wasilla. I even shook her immaculately manicured hand (which, I can attest, showed no sign of dried-up moose blood). Alas, she cut me dead as soon as someone blew my cover.

Why are Canadians so obsessed with Sarah? I believe it's because she confirms our belief that Americans are nuts. This is a pleasant thought. It allows us to feel even more smugly superior than we already do. We Canadians are way too sophisticated to fall for simplistic slogans and populist politics. (Or so we thought, before Toronto's mayoral election. Ironically, my piece endorsing Rob Ford drew howls of outrage from people who were sure he'd sack the city.)

Sometimes, I write something I wish I could take back. That's the case with a column I wrote on Omar Khadr. Rather callously, I opined that Mr. Khadr is lucky to be alive, and even luckier to be on his way back to Canada, a land where he enjoys all the rights of citizenship even though he scarcely lived here. What I didn't say (but should have) is that classifying him as an "enemy combatant" was ridiculous, and that there's no excuse for the legal limbo in which he's been imprisoned. And for all I know, Mr. Khadr might be a perfectly nice guy. Piles of readers shredded me for that and, in retrospect, they were right.

I didn't write about the long-form census. That's all right, because everybody else did. It was the longest-running political story of the year. When I came back from chasing Sarah Palin, it was still going strong. So here, in case you've been waiting for it, is my view. Any country where the demise of the long-form census is the hottest political story of the year is a country in which I want to live. I am supremely lucky, and so are you.

And finally, a heartfelt thanks to all of you who've been in touch to object, argue, amplify, qualify or simply say "good job." My sincere apologies to those to whom I wanted to respond but didn't. I love hearing from you, and I do read my e-mail (although not the ones that start, "You moron"). My job is a privilege, and so is hearing from you. Don't stop writing.

 

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