Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Simply embarrassing

Everyone's favourite conservative agent provocateur, Ann Coulter, is doing a Canadian tour this week, and yesterday made her first stop at my alma mater UWO. Kristen told me that the lineup for her talk was out the door and down the street, which makes me wonder: are there that many conservatives at Western? are people just excited at the chance to see an American celebrity? or are those numbers swelled by media studies students attending so they can shout her down? (I'm guessing all of the above).

What's "embarrassing" however is not that my former school and others has invited Coulter, but that Francis Houle, VP Academic and Provost of U of Ottawa felt compelled to send her an email warning her that hate speech in Canada is defined differently than in the U.S.:

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.

This is cringe-inducing, painful, crawl-under-a-rock embarrassing—not least because it plays so perfectly into Coulter's hands that I'm sure she did a little dance of joy when she received it. And, entirely predictably, she ended her talk at Western by saying "I will be filing a complaint with the human rights commission" over the e-mail from U of Ottawa, and said she was "a victim of hate crime ... Either what [Houle] did to me is a hate crime or that whole commission is B.S."

The whole point of Coulter's schtick is to push people's buttons, and ideally to get them to respond as Francis Houle did; the only proper response is to ignore her. Threatening her with prosecution under hate speech laws—besides being inane—merely throws fuel on her fire and encourages her to ramp things up. At the Western talk, she suggested a Muslim student "take a camel"; she said that "In America everybody wants to be black. The feminists want to be black, the illegal aliens want to be black, the gays want to be black"; "There are only two things gay men can't do. Number one, get married to each other. Number two, throw a baseball without looking like a girl."

Obnoxious? Yes. Hateful? Yes. Hate speech? Hardly. But she would love nothing more than to have someone bring charges against her.

4 comments:

Greg said...

Your funny. Ann Coulter goes over the edge sometimes...Raises eyebrows sometimes, and almost always creates controversy. People like you who say they "ignore" her, crack me up. Your posting about her proves to your humongous audience that you not only CAN'T ignore her...But you don't want to ignore her. Admit it, you admire her, wish you were as well spoken as her, wish you could incite such pure emotion as does she. Ann Coulter is not a HATER...The hate I see usually hides itself in dark little corners of creepy little liberal minds...Um...And also at every gathering they have...usually ends up in violence, and or looting. Ann Coulter (and MOST conservatives dont play that game). Its sad to see the liberals giving away the things that will not affect them, and leaving the mess for their children to clean up (probably as domestic help). The saddest part, is that they work sooooooo hard to shut up those who don't agree with them, while simultaneously screaming and burning cars and injuring innocent people for the right to speak freely.
Unfortunately I see that Canada, seems to have turned that 'hat' upside down and used it as a toilet. Im surprised this is even an issue...Such an insignificant little ice box...

Chris in NF said...

Interesting. You know, I might take this more seriously if your comment here had anything to do with what I'd posted.

SOS said...

your funny

viagra online said...

It is very curious that you alma mater is UWO because it is my alma mater too. I think it is normal to have some embarrassing situations there!