By Emma Teitel - Wednesday, December 26, 2012 - 0 Comments
It only takes 140 characters to make a fool of someone. Exhibits A through H
Ann Coulter, conservative pundit
The professional firebrand made headlines after the final presidential debate in October when she tweeted this: “I highly approve of Romney’s decision to be kind and gentle to the retard.” President Obama didn’t seem to mind, but a Special Olympian with Down syndrome did. John Franklin Stephens, 30, asked for an apology to the special-needs community. “Come on Ms. Coulter,” he pleaded, “you aren’t shallow and you aren’t dumb.” She backtracked, saying it was just another word for “loser.”
Eat your words
Danielle Smith, Alberta Wildrose leader
The Wildrose Opposition leader was trying to do the right thing in October when she jumped on a Twitter follower’s suggestion that Alberta stop dumping tainted XL meat because the poor would appreciate truckloads of it. “I agree. We all know thorough cooking kills E. coli. What a waste. MT @lyechtel: Is there no way to cook it so it’s safe and feed the hungry?” The apology came shortly after. “I would have to say that if you can’t explain something in 140 characters, you shouldn’t try to talk about it on Twitter,” she told reporters. Continue…
By macleans.ca - Friday, August 13, 2010 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Hugo Chávez’s weird new quest, a flight attendant who’s had enough, and the Judy Garland of the American right
Miss Australia’s technicolour tent
The “national costume” is one of the quainter events at next month’s Miss Universe contest. Trouble is, Australians don’t really have one, so Jesinta Campbell, 18, will represent Oz in what has been called a “national joke,” a “travesty” and a “dingo’s breakfast.” She says she’s proud of designer Natasha Dwyer’s creation, accurately describing it as “incredible.”
Good night, and good luck
After six tumultuous years at the head of the CBC’s English Services division, Richard Stursberg was shown the door late last week. Stursberg was closely associated with the broadcaster’s turn toward more commercial fare, most notably helping bring to air ratings hits such as Little Mosque on the Prairie and Dragons’ Den. But he also oversaw some of the most trying events in recent years, including the 2005 lockout of English-language radio and TV employees, and last year’s wave of layoffs. No reason was given for the departure, which was effective immediately, though rumours have swirled the former head of Telefilm Canada clashed with fellow executives over the Mother Corp.’s long-term strategy. The broadcaster has only confirmed the decision to let Stursberg go “was made by [CBC President] Hubert Lacroix.”
By Mark Steyn - Thursday, April 8, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 606 Comments
MARK STEYN: Strange that the more Canada congratulates itself on its ‘tolerance’ the less it’s prepared to tolerate
Well, Ann Coulter is no longer in Canada, but 30 million Canadians are. So, for the sake of argument, let us take as read the frankly rather boring observation of the northern punditocracy that the whole brouhaha worked to her advantage, and consider instead whether the Canada on display during her 96-hour layover actually works to Canadians’ advantage. Which was the claim advanced by the eminent Canadian “feminist” Susan Cole appearing on U.S. TV to support the protesters’ shutdown of Miss Coulter’s Ottawa speech:
“We don’t have a First Amendment, we don’t have a religion of free speech,” she explained patiently. “Students sign off on all kinds of agreements as to how they’ll behave on campus, in order to respect diversity, equity, all of the values that Canadians really care about. Those are the things that drive our political culture. Not freedoms, not rugged individualism, not free speech. It’s different, and for us, it works.”
Does it? You rarely hear it put quite that bluntly—“Freedoms”? Ha! Who needs ’em?—but there was a lot of similarly self-regarding blather in Coulter Week euphemizing a stultifying, enforced conformism as “respect” and “diversity” and whatnot. “I therefore ask you, while you are a guest on our campus, to weigh your words with respect and civility in mind,” wrote François Houle, the provost of the University of Ottawa, addressing Miss Coulter in the smug, condescending, preening tone that comes so naturally to your taxpayer-funded, tenured mediocrity. “There is a strong tradition in Canada, including at this university, of restraint, respect and consideration in expressing even provocative and controversial opinions and urge you [sic] to respect that Canadian tradition.”
By Mitchel Raphael - Friday, April 2, 2010 at 9:00 AM - 19 Comments
What were the organizers of the Ann Coulter event thinking?
The cancellation of controversial conservative commentator Ann Coulter’s Ottawa talk seemed to Capital Diary to be due less to protesters and more to incompetent organizers. Those in charge of the event kept allowing people into the foyer of the lecture hall until occupants were in danger of being crushed. The two sets of doors that opened into that foyer became difficult to open with all the bodies pushing through, creating a serious safety hazard. (At one point the fire alarm was pulled.) Ottawa police officers, who are certainly used to dealing with large crowds, seasoned protesters and dignitaries (like Barack Obama) rolling through town, were on hand but decided to allow the crowd to grow as more and more people from the long line outside pushed in. Ten minutes before the event was to start, two organizers started to slowly check off names from an email list and let people in. It soon became obvious many of the hundreds of people in line who had been waiting for hours would not get in, yet organizers chose not to inform them, fuelling anger in the crowd. “Will we even get in?” people started shouting. Fifteen to 20 minutes after the first people had been let in, entry to the hall was stopped (even though lots of VIPs continued to get in through side doors). Around 8 p.m., with the hall about half full, the event was cancelled. Coulter was to have been introduced by Ezra Levant, who has had his own freedom of speech battles after he published the infamous Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in the Western Standard. But Levant notes that, compared to him, Coulter is in the big leagues when it comes to free speech. “She’s been pied,” he said. “When you look at who has been pied, it’s really big shots—premiers like Ralph Klein, Gail Shea, the ﬁsheries minister.” Could Levant have a case of pie envy? “When you’ve been pied,” he said, “you know you’ve reached a certain level.” Hoping to catch Coulter speak was her former editor. Doug Pepper, now president and publisher of McClelland & Stewart in Toronto, used to edit Coulter when he was working in New York. He happened to have business that day in Ottawa. “She took editing very well,” noted Pepper, who along with Levant ended up meeting Coulter for a bite to eat at the Fairmont Château Laurier where she was staying.
Harper’s house just happens to be in his jurisdiction
The Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs recently visited Ottawa. The association’s president, Bruce Burrell, says one of the top issues his group is lobbying for is a tax credit for volunteer firefighters. But the politicians “are not listening,” he said. Burrell is also Calgary’s fire chief. Stephen Harper’s home is in his jurisdiction.
The MP who has a beef with South Korea
The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association herded onto the Hill and held a big beef reception in 200 West Block. Liberal MP Mark Eyking says one of the issues he wants to have resolved for the group is trade barriers with South Korea. He suggested putting a few Canadian cows on the front lawn of the South Korean ambassador’s home. Noted the Cape Breton MP, “It worked when the Brazilians did it to us.”
For five years, Tory Sen. Nancy Ruth has been asking for throw pillows for the deep couches by the entrance to the Senate. And now they’ve arrived. But the new ones “are not that comfortable,” the senator said. Why the long delay? Ruth says she was told for years that if pillows were put on the couches, “they’d get stolen.” To which she replied, “What? Right in front of security?”
By Scott Feschuk - Tuesday, March 30, 2010 at 10:33 AM - 14 Comments
Welcome to last Wednesday’s mailbag on this Tuesday, where work, travel and illness conspired to prevent me from promptly answering your thoughtful and pressing queries. These same factors also kept me from following the weekend’s Great Liberal Chin Stroking, so I guess they had their upside. Thanks, horrible infection!
All the following queries were actually submitted by actual readers. And remember – there are no stupid questions, unless you’re asking whether there’s any simpler way to attract hundreds of comments to a blog than by writing a blog entry about commenters.
Ann Coulter says that she is a victim of hate speech as a member of an identifiable group: “conservatives.” How can one identify a “conservative” in Canada? Where can I get a guide to help with “conservative” identification in the field? Are they an endangered species as Andrew Coyne claims, or an invasive species, as Paul Wells claims? – A_logician
A terrestrial, day-active animal with sketchy taste in footwear, the conservative hibernates in snowy climes.
There was a time when conservative thoughts and the busy conservatives who think them had almost disappeared from Canada because of over-thinking. But the conservative, who will always be associated with Canada’s early days, has been reintroduced into many areas, and it’s made a successful comeback.
The conservative builds societies defined by the vilification of collective effort because he advocates a rigid, me-first ideology – and also because he has no friends.
With all the fear-mongering the conservative needs to do, it’s fortunate his sense of his own righteousness and self-worth never stops growing.
For a more complete story of the conservative, why not contact the Canadian wildlife service in Ottawa.
Let’s say you’re bed ridden with some horrible affliction. You need to send someone out to get meds for you. Unfortunately, it’s a bit complicated. Said person has to know Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Sunday, March 28, 2010 at 8:38 AM - 96 Comments
Greetings from Montreal, where, for the next three days, we’ll be hanging around the Liberal party’s Canada 150 conference. Herein a running diary of the proceedings. Day 1’s diary is here. Day 2 is here.
8:33am. Good morning again. The lights are now blue and the subject is The World. Up first is Robert Fowler, the former Canadian diplomat who spent a few months in 2009 as a hostage in Niger. Mr. Ignatieff is briefing his caucus by phone at noon and is then due to speak here at 2:30pm, with a press conference to follow.
8:39am. I arrived at about 8:15am and the tables reserved for media were empty except for three bloggers. Bloggers are like journalists who’ve not yet lost the ability to be genuinely interested in things.
8:42am. Liberal partisan John Mraz argues, quite rightly, that one shouldn’t make too much of yesterday’s carbon tax discussion. Indeed, he says pinning the policy on the Liberal party now would be “somewhat akin to having held Stephen Harper to account for the maddeningly hateful babblings of Ann Coulter.” Unfortunately, the Liberals tried to do exactly that last week.
8:48am. Mr. Fowler is here, officially, to speak about Africa, but he is now spanking the Liberal party. “I believe that the Liberal party has lost its way … and is in danger of losing its soul.” The Liberals don’t stand for principle, they stand for anything that will return them to power. “It’s all about getting to power and it shows.” He applauds this conference as a step in a better direction. Continue…
By Colby Cosh - Friday, March 26, 2010 at 2:00 AM - 375 Comments
At the Red and White Club on the grounds of Calgary’s McMahon Stadium tonight, more than 900 attendees gave Ann Coulter a remarkable, thunderous ovation. But they cheered, I would almost swear, with even greater volume for Ezra Levant, co-organizer of Coulter’s tour. I’m a friend of Ezra’s, but I had never seen him speak on home turf before. The love was palpable and astonishing. I suppose he is part of the city’s image, the legend it tells of itself, at this point.
And—chalk this up to bias if you like—he gives a heck of a speech. The stubbornest Stalinist alive would have been stirred by his fierce defence of strong free-speech norms as a social truce in which all have a stake. He made a particular point of noting that women, ethnic minorities, and gays and lesbians would never have attained civil rights if they had waited around for the Establishment to endow them out of the goodness of its heart. They could not have won an open power struggle; they had to engage in persuasive speech that, at first, offended contemporary sensibilities. Is it cynical and manipulative for Ezra to go into that territory? Maybe a little. But is what he says true and relevant? Indubitably.
The component of Ezra’s introduction for Coulter that rang a little false was the civic self-congratulation. “This is Calgary, not Ottawa,” he bellowed, inducing positively demented applause. “We’re interested in a diversity of ideas, debated vigorously and freely. Places like the University of Ottawa talk about diversity, but they don’t actually mean it, do they?” The fact is, Calgary’s anti-everything left managed a pretty good turnout, perhaps fifty strong, and they did no less to try to interrupt and drown out Coulter’s talk, and perhaps more on the whole, than the U of Ottawa students. But they faced a much tougher tactical situation: a free-standing, isolated venue on a hillside, virtually a fortress; crowd-control gates and wooden barricades on the exterior; and a whole squadron of bicycle and foot police, perhaps upwards of a dozen.
Uncowed, the antis attempted to rush the main doors of the building as Ezra was winding up his intro, spiderwebbing the glass with boot damage, and they battered the exterior windows of the club throughout Coulter’s main talk. Tomorrow morning’s news story may be “Calgary gets right what Ottawa could not”; I wonder, however, how things would have looked if Coulter had visited Calgary first and caught the Cowtown police less well-prepared.
(Incidentally, a pro-tip for the two guys who tried to dress as Klansmen: real KKK outfits have separate hoods. If you go for the one-piece look, you are not a scary symbol of race hatred: you are a scary symbol of the laziness of six-year-olds at Halloween.)
Eventually She came out. I paid little attention (and some of you will be relieved to hear it) to Coulter’s litany of familiar one-liners; I’m not sure anyone paid the words much heed, including Ann Coulter herself. As the thrumming of the protest outside grew louder and began to be punctuated with blows and crashes, she made sure to keep one eye in the direction of the stairway, doubtless ready to make a hasty exit behind the curtain at any moment. The atmosphere of danger, and her consciousness of it, made her seem curiously vulnerable, even as she vaporized hostile interlocutors in the Q&A session. Coulter, if you’re wondering, and you are, is more attractive in person than on camera. She is thus something of a contrast, in this regard, to Sarah Palin. (Meow!) Dame’s not my type, but you find out the second you write about Ann Coulter that she has many open admirers, and a LOT more haters who are unadmitted admirers―unadmitted perhaps even to themselves.
She really is a gifted comic. It was unfortunate that she didn’t bring Calgary new material, but this was a case where the medium truly was the message. During the Q&A, a young female U of Calgary student stood to say that there are “Jesus Was a Muslim” signs all over campus and she isn’t sure how she should react. Coulter, with a simple “Huh” and a nonplussed look, had the room in stitches.
Still, the more interesting action was outside all night―and I don’t mean the rioting, but the small-group discussions amongst smokers, latecomers who couldn’t get in, curious U of C campus-dwellers, and stray protesters. Here, on the grass, ordinary people talked sincerely to each other without punchlines or slogans or sneering. They seemed to be a different species altogether from the formidable, mantis-like Coulter and her mesmerizing blonde mane.
By Colby Cosh - Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 11:38 PM - 296 Comments
Ezra Levant, who was present at the venue for tonight’s aborted Ann Coulter talk at the University of Ottawa, spotted my quickie weblog entry about the cancelled event and had me chat briefly with the leggy agitator. Coulter tells Maclean’s she never had the chance to move on from a private dinner reception at which she was signing books, meeting local conservatives, and waiting for the all-clear from her bodyguard, who was on the scene at the university. “I was just reviewing my speech. It was a fine little speech, and by the way, I cut it down so we could have an extensive question-and-answer period. I gathered that I was going to have a very exciting crowd tonight.”
The police, Coulter says, “had been warning my bodyguard all day that they were putting up [messages] on Facebook: ‘Bring rocks, bring sticks, you gotta hurt Ann Coulter tonight, don’t let her speak.’ And the cops eventually said, we’ve got a bad feeling, this isn’t gonna happen. And they shut it down.”
Coulter agrees with the suggestion that conservative speakers face greater dangers and nuisances in trying to encounter audiences on university campuses. “I speak at a lot of college campuses and I need a bodyguard… Michael Moore does not; Judy Rebick does not. I think Mahmoud Ahmadinejad could have spoken tonight with less controversy.” She dismisses the possibility, however, that things are ever likely to change. “Unfortunately, conservatives are too polite, so they will never get a taste of their own medicine in that regard, in terms of angry mobs with sticks and rocks.”
She accuses the University of Ottawa’s academic vice-president, Francois Houle, of “inspiring hatred” toward her with his epistolary warning to her that she needed to be conscious of Canada’s criminal prohibitions of hate speech. Indeed, she says she intends, with Levant’s help, to ask police to proceed with exactly the same charges against Houle.
“He described the law to me very carefully—any speech that incites hatred toward someone based on membership in an identifiable group can be criminally prosecuted. Well, before I even set foot in Canada, he had identified me as having criminal proclivities because I belong to an identifiable group: conservatives. Or it could be because I’m a Christian, I’m a Presbyterian. I’m a female conservative. If what Francois Houle did to me is not a hate crime, then nothing is.”
After the event was cancelled by the police, Coulter says she went to her hotel room to relax and had a surreal moment. “I was watching the local news, which was all hockey and Ann Coulter, and some nut came on claiming that he was the organizer behind my speech. [murmurs in background] OK, his name is Craig Chandler. I sent an e-mail to my bodyguard saying Craig Chandler is disinvited from the event in Calgary. He’s on TV claiming to be the organizer and denouncing me!”
By Colby Cosh - Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 9:42 PM - 147 Comments
A crowd of columnists, tweeters, talking heads, and bloggers is already preparing to bore you with cynical proclamations that the Ann Coulter fiasco at the University of Ottawa was a “victory” for Coulter, that it was precisely the “martyrdom” she was looking for, and that it was “exactly what she wanted.” I would ask them to consider one question that is usually overlooked even by defenders of freedom of speech: what about the students’ right to hear Ann Coulter, or any other obnoxious political performance artist whose views they might like to entertain? Did they win too? Did they get exactly what they wanted? If we rebranded freedom to speech as the freedom to hear, as Robin Hanson has proposed, would the real nature of the harm be clearer?
When conservative students connect the dots and figure out that they too can assemble mobs and pull fire alarms—heaven forbid that there should ever be two sides to such undignified situationist power contests; the worst people are guaranteed to win no matter what—will we all greet that development with a dismissive sigh? (Would the Nazi metaphors stay locked in the drawer for very long?) One is tempted to compile a list of upcoming Canadian campus events featuring leftist speakers who have ever expressed a view objectionable to somebody or other. There must surely be about fifty of these a week, even if you don’t count ordinary scheduled classes. Ann Coulter’s safety is yours and mine. To which I feel I can only add: “Duh”.
By Carson Jerema - Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 12:06 PM - 180 Comments
UOttawa’s provost should educate himself on Canada’s hate speech laws
It isn’t just the student union that is having a fit over Ann Coulter’s planned visit to the University of Ottawa. Francois Houle, vice-president academic and provost at the U of O, has sent Coulter an email warning her to watch her mouth, lest she find herself behind bars.
Coulter has posted the email online, which reads:
I would, however, like to inform you, or perhaps remind you, that our domestic laws, both provincial and federal, delineate freedom of expression (or “free speech”) in a manner that is somewhat different than the approach taken in the United States. I therefore encourage you to educate yourself, if need be, as to what is acceptable in Canada and to do so before your planned visit here.
You will realize that Canadian law puts reasonable limits on the freedom of expression. For example, promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges. Outside of the criminal realm, Canadian defamation laws also limit freedom of expression and may differ somewhat from those to which you are accustomed. I therefore ask you, while you are a guest on our campus, to weigh your words with respect and civility in mind.
There is little question that Coulter has written many things considered provocative, rude and inflammatory. For a few examples see here and here. But has she ever said anything criminal? Something so offensive that it would actually attract the attention of the police? Our criminal hate-speech provisions no doubt require an arbitrary line be drawn between what is acceptable and what is not. But the way the law has evolved is that it has become reserved for the most egregious and vile offences, like this case.
When Section 319 of the criminal code, the hate speech provisions, was subject to a Charter challenge and reviewed by the Supreme Court some two decades ago, it survived only because the judges reasoned that, as written, it should not have an overly broad interpretation, and that only the most extreme cases should be subject to prosecution. Such cases typically include a sustained effort by the accused to willfully promote hatred over a period of time, and, in such a way that there would be no redeemable political speech. Hate speech has to be near fully void of relevant comment on issues of public interest. In fact this is written right into the criminal code and anyone charged with promoting hatred has recourse to several defences. The defences include truth, commenting on religious topics, making comments that stem from religious beliefs, and making comments that are on a topic of public interest.
Even if Coulter repeated every inflammatory thing she ever wrote during her visit in Canada, she likely still wouldn’t be charged. And, if she was, she would have several legal defences at her disposal.
Provost Houle wants Coulter to educate herself on our hate speech laws, I would suggest he take his own advice.
Originally published on March 22nd, 2010 at Maclean’s On Campus