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Anti-Sun News petition starts Twitter slapfight between Margaret Atwood, some blogger

In terms of effective activism, signing an Internet petition is about as useful as joining a Facebook group or blowing bubbles at the police, so we’re at a loss to explain why an on-line petition against the as-yet hypothetical Sun News TV is causing so much fuss in Canada. But it is: yesterday, none other than Margaret Atwood found herself in a Twitter argument with Sun Media reporter David Akin and conservative blogger Stephen Taylor over her signing of the petition.

According to the Globe and Mail:

“So disappointing you would put your name to what is an anti-free speech movement,” Mr. Akin said. “You’re smarter than that.”

…Like many Tories, Mr. Taylor also takes issue with the government funding of the CBC. As such, he asked Ms. Atwood: “Is the CBC and its compulsory funding essential to ‘free speech’ or against it in your view?”

But the author held her own, firing back with a quip about Munir Sheikh, who resigned as head of Statistics Canada over the government’s changes to the census.

“Naughty Stephen,” she said. “We’re not talking about the CBC but about the coercion of an arm’s length person, like Census head.”

Maybe it’s because the image of Margaret Atwood calling anyone “naughty” leaves us with confusing feelings, we can’t help but wonder why the anti–Fox News North crowd is so eager to give its nemesis so much free publicity. We hadn’t heard anything about Sun News in weeks—no new hiring announcements, no big shows teased—until this petition business came up. The whole thing seems like an own goal.

Of course, when one of the legends of Canadian literature finds herself stooping to win an argument on Twitter with a blogging Tory, it’s safe to say that even if the anti-Sun forces win, they’ve lost.

• Margaret Atwood takes on ‘Fox News North’ [Globe and Mail]
• Anti-Sun TV News campaign in U.S. [Toronto Sun]
• Kelly McParland: Margaret Atwood’s selective support for press freedom [National Post]
• Atwood tweet on Sun News TV sparks Twitter battle [CTV News]

UPDATE: Apparently, the only thing Peggy hates more than Fox News North is the picture accompanying Jane Taber’s article on the whole incident: “I look like all 3 witches in MacBeth (and pregnant too),” she tweeted.