Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Thankfully, Ann Coulter shut up by University of Ottawa students

Ann Coulter and Ezra Levant's free speech scam - talk about rank hypocrisy!

Ann Coulter
- Kyle Cassidy photo

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday March 30, 2010

Coulter's the one who denied Canadian students their freedom to criticize her repugnant views.

Bill Tieleman

"They're always accusing us of repressing their speech. I say let's do it. Let's repress them. Frankly, I'm not a big fan of the First Amendment."

God bless the University of Ottawa students who did something in one night that millions of Americans have spent years hoping for -- they shut up Ann Coulter!

But don't call this a "free speech" issue. Coulter -- the ridiculously rabid
right-wing American commentator, and federal Conservative Party activist Ezra Levant played the media like a cheap fiddle to make it appear she was muzzled -- not at all.

Coulter and Levant -- not the police, not the University of Ottawa -- cancelled her speaking engagement last week -- not because of a riot, or because violent protesters bashed down the doors -- but because it was a great publicity opportunity.

And most media bought it, hook line and sinker -- reporting that no matter how offensive Coulter's views are, they should be tolerated in a free and democratic society, especially at a university, blah, blah, blah.

What rubbish!

Well played, Ann

I strongly believe in free speech, including from obnoxious and blatantly intolerant people like Coulter and Levant. My
blog is full of comments severely criticizing me and others -- and I welcome it.

But I also support the free speech of protestors to express their views -- legally and without violence -- which is exactly what happened.

It was Coulter and Levant who shut down their own event, denying anyone else their free speech right to say Coulter's views are repugnant.

The facts are clear for those who dig deep enough and avoid idiotically simplistic editorials and bad reporting.

But not for the
Ottawa Citizen, which could barely contain itself: "The thuggery of student activists is a growing problem at Canadian campuses, but the spectacle at the University of Ottawa was truly a colossal embarrassment, for both the university and the city."

That's based on Levant's own self-serving inaccurate accounts, like this one: "2,000 people right now are pressed against the front doors, pressed against the police, refusing to allow people to come in," Levant said, adding that police and security had advised them it would be "physically dangerous" for Coulter to speak.

Or Coulter's
gripping version: "The police called off my speech when the auditorium was surrounded by thousands of rioting liberals -- screaming, blocking the entrance, throwing tables, demanding that my books be burned."

No, the police didn't. No, 2,000 people were not pressed against the doors or the police --

What Ottawa Police spokesperson Constable Alain Boucher actually said was that they were concerned the venue was too small for the disorganized event, with an estimated 1,500 people inside and out, most waiting patiently to be admitted.

What about the "thousands of rioting liberals" err, protesters outside? "I wouldn't call them rioters. They were people there to voice their concerns," Boucher said.

Another officer estimated there were perhaps 200 protestors at most -- a student
account said just 30 to 40.

So, was it a terrible assault on free speech? Or did some opportunistic right wingers convert their poorly-planned event into a cause celebre to sell tickets to other speeches while gaining international headlines for a fading demagogue?

The answer is obvious.

Levant's hypocrisy

As to free speech, consider that the totally hypocritical Levant actually applauded when his federal Conservative government banned an elected British member of parliament from entering Canada to speak!

George Galloway -- an outspoken pro-Palestinian MP whose views are often outlandish and always provocative -- was actually
prohibited from entering Canada for a speaking event.

Not by a small group of protestors on one campus but by Canada's government, which strongly defended its ban on the absurd grounds that Galloway was a "threat to national security."

Really? One lone elected British member of parliament? Who was admitted into the United States on the same trip? What total garbage.

But Levant's defence of free speech disappears unless it involves himself or Coulter. When the Conservatives banned Galloway, Levant showed his true colours:

"I don't see this as a free speech issue; I see it as a sovereignty issue -- keeping out an undesirable foreigner who has no right to be here, and who boasts about violating our criminal code. Good riddance," Levant

Eek! A pie!

Of course, by not admitting Galloway into Canada, at least the renegade MP didn't have to deal with the sort of terrible threats facing Ann Coulter in Ottawa -- threats made openly on Facebook!

Here's what gruesome plans the Facebook fascists were hatching,
according to Levant himself: "Vanessa Alexandra Peterson wrote: 'I wonder what the security would be like. I want to throw rotten veggies and eggs at her evil Barbie mask.' Saif Latif wrote: 'Somebody needs to throw a pie at her during her speech like they did at the University of Arizona.'"

Rotten veggies! Eggs! Even a pie! That's enough to make any gun-loving, military-backing, tough-talking freedom fighter crumble and run!

But let’s compare that to one of Coulter's more thoughtful free speech comments on violence:

"My only regret with Timothy McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building."

That would be the convicted and executed right-wing domestic terrorist who blew up a federal government building in Oklahoma City with a truck bomb in 1995,
killing 168 innocent people.

But hey, she realized her mistake and apologized: "Of course I regret it. I should have added 'after everyone had left the building
except the editors and the reporters.'"

And then there are Coulter's free speech contributions to a tolerant world. Like when she
said of Islamic nations: "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity."

Lessons learned

To recap, a right-wing American lunatic with a history of opposing free speech, making racist comments and espousing violence shuts down her own event and then blames a handful of student protestors for trying to exercise their right to tell her off.

A Conservative Party activist -- and the event's promoter -- then spins the story to a gullible media who mostly buy his codswallop and spread it around the world.

So whose free speech was really violated? I'd say it was that of the student protestors who were legitimately exercising their rights and are now being denounced for doing so, not the right-wing hypocrites who took advantage of them for their own gain.


Anonymous said...

Ann Coulter should thank Francois Houle, vice-president academic and provost of the University of Ottawa for the free advice he gave her about the laws of Canada. Instead she attacks him and says he committed a hate-crime. It is actually she who committed the hate crime by attacking him for giving her some helpful advice. She needs help and a lot of it. Even an article calls her an "Inflammatory right-wing pundit." I wonder if she will sue the newspaper.
After he gave the advice, she started to attack the University of Ottawa saying, in effect, that the IQ of the students who go there must be very low. She insulted the students and the university. It is no wonder the students were upset with her and her inflammatory remarks.

Anonymous said...

Check this site for a great cartoon by Bruce MacKinnon. But do it today.


Anonymous said...

Just one note. Galloway was rejected because he actively, financially, supports terrorist groups. Not because of what he might say or what he has said in the past. Your linked article from the Guardian says as much.

Anonymous said...

Ann Coulter is Hot. A nice MILF.

Anonymous said...

1) Anne Coulter & others like her in North America like to use Speculation that is nothing more than Propaganda backed by lies classified as Opinion .

2) These people use " SPECU-GANDA " backed by " LIE-PINION " to Reverse Reality & remove the last 40 years of societal evolution that was based in Science & not Religious Idiot-Ology .

steve dockeray
Milner B.C.

Anonymous said...

Ann Coulter is a 3rd rate Leni Riefenstahl devoid of brains or talent.


Anonymous said...

The modern face of Fascism grows in Canada. I can hardly wait for the "get tough on crime agenda" to grow.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mr Tieleman!
Ms Coulter Freedom of Speech was never denied, and she knows it. Did she get arrested for speaking? No, was she denied coverage in the press? Obviously not. Her only"beef" is that he critics freedom of speech wasn't denied, but instead vigorously used to voice their opinions of her.

Freedom to protest is perhaps one of the most important aspects of freedom of speech, without protests like those students provided, we'd still be looking at women as "property", minorities and homosexuals would still be denied their full human rights, work place rights/safety/minimum wage wouldn't exist etc etc.

If Ms Coulter wants to point out where freedom of speech is in danger, she should look to her own country. Canada does not have a "Patriot Act" and Ive yet to see a Canadian university student get tasered at a Q/A session with a politician for simply asking a question, like what happened at University of Florida in '07.

But perhaps we are wrong Bill, perhaps our freedom of speech values are eroded compared to the USA. Maybe Ann will be proven right. Just maybe a USA university will show us what freedom of speech is by allowing someone with the exact opposite stance of Ann to speak. Just maybe they'll allow a pro 9/11 to give a speech, and not arrest them midway through the speech. I doubt it would ever occur as most people who go on and on about freedom of speech usually resent their opposition having the same right.

I'd like to end my rant with a quite ironic quote from Ms Coulter, take from her website http://www.anncoulter.com/cgi-local/archives.cgi

"Not only do Americans have a right to know the legal backgrounds of lawyers setting detainee policy at the Department of Justice, but I personally demand the right not to have to listen to Eddie Haskell lawyers constantly claiming to be Atticus Finch."
Looks like those students were just following in your footsteps after all Ann.

Best regards,

Greg S

Anonymous said...

I bet Josef K. likes Ann Coulter too

Anonymous said...

Let me say first that I considerAnn Coulter to be a fraud—incidentally, for many of the same reasons that I consider, say, Michael Moore to be a fraud—not because of their opinions, but their overriding disingenuousness and dishonesty, their transparent attempts to misrepresent not only the facts of a situation, but themselves as well in order to further their ideological agenda. Coulter’s sporadic assertion that she is a comedian is itself laughable, and the notion that she is a satirist is, to say the least, a bit of a stretch. A satirist uses humor as a tool to highlight hypocrises and inconsistencies,not as a handy disclaimer to hide behind whenever the going gets rough.
My larger point regarding the Coulter debacle in Ottawa was that I find worrisome the idea of even attempting to prevent someone from speaking with whose views one disagrees, and I was taken aback by your seeming approval of this tactic, as the title of your article suggests. It seems to me the students were protesting not Coulter’s views as such, or even her fraudulence, but her very right to appear at all. And that, whether it is successful or not, whether it is staged by 20 people or 2000, is an attempt at mob rule, and an indicator of a totalitarian ethos.

Anonymous said...

For those who haven't seen it, David Letterman's take on Coulter, courtesey of YouTube. Not socially acceptable, but funny none-the-less.


Anonymous said...

Ann's turgidity no longer makes me turgid.

Anonymous said...

Can we get Noam Chomsky and Ann Coulter in the same room to:

debate Free Speech
manipulating and spinning

It would be interesting!

Anonymous said...

I agree with ABHIEL regarding Anne Coulter's marketing of herself but I will add that Bill T's analysis ignores the important fact of Francois Houle's letter. This letter belies the assertion that the University of Ottawa encourages free speech. Such a letter from a V.P. Academic is a disgrace to an institution that calls itself a university. Also it is quite misleading for Bill T to call Ezra Levant a federal Conservative Party activist when Levant does not speak for the federal Conservative Party any more than Bill T speaks for the NDP.

Bill Tieleman said...

To Anonymous 6:58 - the issue of the Francois Houle letter is interesting but hardly central to whether or not student protestors "shut down" or "shouted down" Ann Coulter.

Houle's letter may have been ill -considered but he does not speak in any way, shape or form for a group of protestors outside an event.

Secondly, as to Ezra Levant - here's a section of his biography from Wikipedia:

"Political organizer and aide
Levant was an active political organizer in the Reform Party, and guided the successful attempts by Rahim Jaffer and Rob Anders to win party nominations. In 1997, he went to Ottawa to work for the Reform Party, becoming a parliamentary aide to party leader Preston Manning and being put in charge of Question Period strategy.

In 1999, Levant left Ottawa to join the editorial board of the fledgling National Post newspaper in Toronto.

A close friend of Stockwell Day's son Logan, Levant proclaimed himself a "Stockaholic and supported the elder Day in his successful attempt to defeat Reform Party leader Preston Manning for the leadership of the new Canadian Alliance. Thus demonstrating his colours.

In February 2001, he returned to Ottawa as communications director to Day. In May of that year he resigned after leaking to the National Post a letter that he sent to dissident MP Chuck Strahl in which he threatened to sue over Strahl's criticisms of his office

Later in 2001, Levant returned to Calgary to practice law. By February 2002 he had won the Canadian Alliance party nomination for the riding of Calgary Southwest, but stepped aside after public pressure so that new party leader Stephen Harper could run there in a 2002 by-election. When the by-election was called, Levant, who said he spent over $150,000 to gain the nomination,[18] announced on March 28 that he would not step aside.

Later that night, however, he relented after widespread pressure from the party and accusations that he was putting himself ahead of the party."

If he isn't a Conservative activist I don't know who is. I didn't say he was an official spokesperson or party functionary.