Who is Emma Teitel?

January 28th, 2012
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The departure of Andrew Coyne from Maclean’s no doubt rippled through the magazine’s subscribers, although to the time-challenged adults in this household, it took some weeks to even register. Meanwhile, I’d noticed opinion pieces by Emma Teitel appearing near the front of the magazine.

One on the Occupy Movement, was interesting enough, despite being weighed down by the first person singular. In subsequent weeks, as the absence of Coyne and Barbara Amiel seemed frequently to be filled by Ms. Teitel, my interest was piqued.

Teitel appeared to be a literate young woman and the fact that someone as detached as yours truly hadn’t heard of her really meant nothing. Oddly, the most powerful search engines of the 21st century turned up very little. One older Maclean’s piece was repeated here. I managed, through Linkedin, to find a short personal profile: BA (Arts) 2011 from the University of King’s College (Halifax), member of the Young Alexandra Society, current situation described as “Editorial Intern” at MacLean’s. Fair enough.

Though some might view this choice by Maclean’s management as idiosyncratic, Lord knows the Canadian commentariat could use some younging up. Is it just me, or does it seem like Jeffrey Simpson has been writing a national column for 70 years? Similarly, the average age of the Montreal Gazette sports page appears to be well over 65. One of its retired ranks still regularly contributes, while its sage brags that he broke in as a cub reporter in 1954, when he was 28. With similar longevity, if someone like Ms. Teitel could actually break in there, they’d be reporting on the Habs well into the 2070′s.

Given a 1000-word national pulpit, it’s of no small interest to see what a twenty-something might do with it. Recently, she ran headlong into the Republican primary, with unfortunately predictable results.

The headline – “Uniting under the Bigotry Umbrella” – pretty much sums it up. These other quotes round out the analysis: (of religious Republicans) “we may worship different gods but don’t worry, we feel the same way about gays, Muslims and the environment”; (who advocate) “wholesale discrimination and the advancement of a religious agenda, to the detriment of civil liberties”. What she called “everyone’s favourite travelling circus” was last week embroiled in the “God-fearing” Palmetto State (sic). She also refers to these Republicans being prejudiced against “the ‘secular liberal agenda’”. The over-used quotation marks imply of course that secular liberalism is some kind of mythical political creature.

It is quite remarkable that someone so young would have assimilated and strung together so many over-used anti-religious and anti-Republican brickbats. The conventional wisdom has long derided conservative Christians’ apparent obsession with the private conduct of others. Ms. Teitel seems to echo the corollary, that morality she disagrees with should be banned from public discourse, or at the least loudly ridiculed. Take that you “God-fearers”.

Fortunately, people of varied religious backgrounds continue to fight for their rights in the Public Square. Given the opportunity provided Ms. Teitel, it might be refreshing if a national magazine hired a youngster from that side of the debate too.


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By John Weissenberger