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Brandon Sun - PRINT EDITION

Dinners and deadbeats

The Brandon Sun managing editor pulls apart a double arms length of raffle draw tickets at the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba’s President’s Dinner on Thursday while speaking with CKLQ/STAR FM news director Clay Young and local musician Mariah Phillips of Misty Street.

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The Brandon Sun managing editor pulls apart a double arms length of raffle draw tickets at the Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba’s President’s Dinner on Thursday while speaking with CKLQ/STAR FM news director Clay Young and local musician Mariah Phillips of Misty Street. (COLIN CORNEAU BRANDON SUN)

Tom Flanagan’s novel on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s rise to power awaits its fiery demise in my woodpile yesterday.

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Tom Flanagan’s novel on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s rise to power awaits its fiery demise in my woodpile yesterday. (JAMES O’CONNOR/BRANDON SUN)

"The father of my paperboy refused to let him deliver today’s Brandon Sun because of the front-page article."

— An online quote following last Tuesday’s A1 story on the sentencing of a soldier for a sex crime.

First off, the father of this Sun carrier is doing his boy no good by showing him what censorship is.

Secondly, the father of this Sun carrier is doing his boy no good by placing him in a position where he could lose his part-time job.

Thirdly, the issue brings up the entire debate on how this news organization gets its product delivered to customers still partially using a 19th century delivery model in the 21st century. But the latter is a discussion for another day.

So let’s see what the father could be so concerned about. The headline was pretty standard.

"Jail For Soldier Guilty Of Sex Crime"

Sure, if you’re in the military, you always hate seeing that type of headline. But as in any large organization, there are some bad apples. Just look at major-league sports.

Then we ran a content warning. Now you know we only run those when there is some seriously disturbing material contained in the body of the story. It’s standard practice to run such cautions in print, radio and television.

» Content warning: This story contains graphic details that may offend some readers.

Now sure, the story itself is disturbing. So is life at times. But these incidents really happened, it really involved local people and it really has to be reported.

It concerned a CFB Shilo soldier who offered to pay a girl and woman to have sex with him and a dog — then sent them images of himself engaged in sex acts with a dog. He was sentenced Monday to 90 days in jail.

"There are two … women out there who were disturbed, upset and victimized by what you did," Judge Shauna Hewitt-Michta said in Brandon court on Monday.

In December, 31-year-old Tyson Larry Shiels admitted to contacting a 17-year-old girl online in September via the Plenty of Fish website.

He then offered her $2,000 to have sex with him and his dog and sent her a video of himself performing oral sex on a dog.

Plenty of Fish is supposed to be an adult website and users are meant to be 18 years or older, so Shiels may not have realized that the girl was a youth. The second incident is similar.

We did take some heat from readers for publishing the name of the accused, as it brought embarrassment to his family. Sorry, that happens all the time in court stories.

As for the content of the story, sure it’s gross. It’s disgusting and it’s some of the worst type of human behaviour. In fact, it’s sub-human. But what would the public prefer we do? Sugar-coat it? Ignore it?

It’s our job to let people know what’s really happening out there. What kind of people are living in your community. What type of creeps are slithering through sites like Plenty of Fish.

It also serves as a warning to others who might be thinking about committing such horrendous deeds.

•••

But that wasn’t the only content kerfuffle we had here on Rosser Avenue last week.

Here’s a Sound Off from Wednesday:

What does it take to be recognized in this paper?

Ontario’s Rachel Homan won her first national women’s curling title on Feb. 24 at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Kingston at the age of 23. Jennifer Jones and her team were outplayed in the final game and the Brandon Sun missed a great opportunity to highlight the best team. We should be celebrating the skill of this young team and possibly this will awaken the interests of more young people to take up curling — a sport for the young and the mature.

As was reported via Canadian Press, Ontario’s Rachel Homan defeated Manitoba’s Jennifer Jones 9-6 on Sunday night to win the gold medal at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Kingston. The photo selected to accompany the story by the sports department was that of the downcast Jones team, featuring second Jill Officer — who called Brandon home for a number of years.

If challenged on a dare, I couldn’t pick the winning skip or any of her team out from a crowd. But sports fans in these parts have followed Jones & Co. for years. Hence the reason to run that shot.

Ironically, on Tuesday, sports editor James Shewaga did run a photo of Rachel Homan and her victorious team with the trophy they won in a follow-up story.

There are reasons for everything we do here. I hope this column will help explain how we come to make our decisions, which aren’t taken lightly.

•••

I had my most successful tweet ever this week, if you use retweets and being made favourites as measuring tools. I was so outraged when I heard the boneheaded comments made by an old Conservative kook about child porn images not being harmful, I tweeted:

Tom Flanagan says viewing child pornography does no harm. His book, Harper’s Team, is now on my woodpile. I’ll view it burn soon. #cdnpoli

While I paid a decent price for the hard-copy version of Flanagan’s book I used to have respect for both him and his former boss — the book will now be the centrepiece to my first spring evening sitting beside my firepit.

As for the tweet, it had 11 retweets, was favourited by six people and gave me a few more followers, bringing @Monstereditor nation up to 1,174.

•••

I had the pleasure of attending my first Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba President’s Dinner on Thursday. The sold-out (440 people) 16th annual black-tie gala celebrated a century of producing fairs in Brandon, as well as the centennial of the historic Display Building No. II. The landmark structure, also known as The Dome Building, was built in 1913 as the city prepared to host the world-class Dominion Fair.

But of course, there was some griping from the shadows about that event as well.

This town at times can be so pitifully petty. But I digress. I’m trying to enjoy the place.

Here a comment received at the Sun:

The Provincial Exhibition of Manitoba is a partner in the Keystone Centre. It has representation on the Keystone’s board of directors and a seat at the Keystone leadership table along with the City of Brandon and the Province of Manitoba. The Provincial Ex recently held its President’s Dinner at a local hotel rather than giving that business to the cash-strapped Keystone Centre. One wonders how serious a partner the Provincial Ex really is.

I understand there were two reasons the gala was held this year at the Victoria Inn. The first was at the time the decision was made on where to hold the event, negotiations were ongoing between CanadInns and the Keystone Centre on catering rights at the complex. In addition, major repairs were scheduled and are taking place now throughout the Keystone.

Sun files confirm the event has been held at the Keystone in the past. So sorry, no big scandal here.

But there was some tasty beef and entertainment by the hilarious Johnny Bagpipes — "When clean comedy meets the bagpipes." I kid you not.

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 2, 2013

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Looking forward to summer evenings beside the firepit. And the Dome Building, like the CAPTM and other historical assets we have the opportunity to develop, help put Brandon on the national and international tourist map. That's a very good thing for long term economic development opportunities and for community pride!

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"The father of my paperboy refused to let him deliver today’s Brandon Sun because of the front-page article."

— An online quote following last Tuesday’s A1 story on the sentencing of a soldier for a sex crime.

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"The father of my paperboy refused to let him deliver today’s Brandon Sun because of the front-page article."

— An online quote following last Tuesday’s A1 story on the sentencing of a soldier for a sex crime.

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