Ann Coulter Gets Exactly What She Wanted in Canada

March 25, 2010

It seems Ann Coulter is lying about the police shutting down her talk at the University of Ottawa, having claimed a near riot threatened her security at the venue.  This was reported by Dan Gardner of the Ottawa Citizen , who I am a definite fan of, and then mentioned on Pharyngula .  Shame on her.  She is indeed a despicable woman with harmful rhetoric that one must decisively confront.

On the other hand, I can't agree - and voiced this loudly on the Michael Coren Show today (on tonight on CTS TV at 6pm EST) - with the message sent by the University administration essentially threatening her with a hate speech violation if she said the wrong thing.

As the Post reported:

The “accusation” of which Ms. Coulter speaks is a reference to an email she received from University of Ottawa vice-president and provost Francois Houle on Friday, warning her that freedom of speech is defined differently in Canada than in the U.S. and that she should take care not to step over the line.

That email included the following:

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.

That is a form of bullying and censorship which ironically helped incite hate against her, for which she is now pursuing a human right violation (I suppose she'll claim conservatives or christians as an identifiable group which should be protected by hate speech law).  She claims to have received death threats, and actually I believe it, having attended her talk at the University of Western Ontario.  Clearly she'll lose in front of the human rights commission, but when she does it will make a valid point about the hypocrisy with which our hate speech - and free speech - laws are applied.  How can they be applied to protect one identifiable group (say those with "muslim ideas") while condemning another (say those with "conservative" ideas) ?

For that matter, so too are our hate crime laws applied inconsistently.  Remember two years ago when the police refused to consider the attack against me while postering for an atheist event a hate crime, even if they had caught the assailants. Our hate crime laws differentiate between being attacked for two different epistemological positions, belief and non belief, for no good reason.

In conclusion, my friends on the left in Canada would have done well to have simply ignored Coulter and waited patiently for her to go back home, rather than hand delivering her victory, through administration bullying, unacceptable censorship and quite likely a death threat or two.  Don't you imagine she was setting herself up precisely for this, coming to Canada sponsored by a free speech organization , and having her presentations opened by Mr. Free Expression himself, Ezra Levant , who will now be making her human right complaint to the very commission that once tried to crucify him.

I already knew Ann Coulter was abrasive.  This week I learned she isn't stupid.  We on the left didn't give her a warm reception, but when she crossed our border we gave her exactly what she wanted.


#1 Aaron (Guest) on Thursday March 25, 2010 at 3:53pm

Actually, I’d have to disagree with the premise put forward by both Ezra Levant and Ms. Coulter. The protesters aren’t out there pushing hate speech against any particular group - they specifically hate Ann Coulter, rather than conservatives in general. That’s more caused by her being her supremely hatable self, rather than a member of any identifiable group. She’s not hated for being white, for being conservative, or for being Christian. She’s hated because she’s an incendiary shill, and because of specific remarks she’s made about Canada in the past. I agree that she got exactly what she wanted - why else would she come here, to a nation that she has denigrated vocally and in print on multiple occasions? Ultimately, a market of 35 million people—most of whom are much closer to centrist than their counterparts down south—is just not worth it to Coulter. However, drumming up the tired old “free speech” controversy is exactly the sort of thing I would expect from Levant.

This is more likely Levant’s lame (and ultimately doomed) attempt to “get some back” from the Human Rights Commission. His “youthquake” never materialized into the overwhelming political force he envisioned, he’s no longer in demand for newspaper opinion pieces, and now he’s deperately clinging to past battles to try to restore his own credibility by tarring the political left with whatever he can find, much like his father did with universal health care. Sad.

#2 SimonSays on Thursday March 25, 2010 at 4:20pm

While I agree that the Ottawa students succeeded in turning her into a martyr, which clearly backfired, I do *not* think that simply letting her have her say without responding is the answer either as Justin recommends.

The fact is, she decided to give talks at universities where students could confront her via comments/questions face to face. The best thing to do is what the muslim student did in an earlier talk and confront her face to face with a pointed question on the record. If she wants to engage the student population of Canada in an open exchange then by all means bring it on I say.

#3 copychief (Guest) on Thursday March 25, 2010 at 5:04pm

You say “Mr. Free Expression” like it’s a bad thing. Are we supposed to think it is?

#4 Ben Nelson on Sunday March 28, 2010 at 10:49am

Well Justin, I’d agree that laws against hate speech in Canada are excessive. And I think that’s certainly something we need a clearer national debate over.

However, the rest of your points misfire. It seems like you either want to argue that Coulter is clever, or that she is courageous. Neither point works.

First of all, informing and reminding a foreign visitor of the standing laws of the nation is not imprudent, is not bullying, is not *anything*. It mystifies me that you would making this out to be more than this. Whether you agree with the laws or not, they are there, and so you must at least be informed of them so that you can choose whether or not you want to abide them. Moreover, given her patently racist remarks at UWO, which you surely know about since you were there, the reminder was entirely prudent.

Next, to get the facts straight, the meeting was not “shut down”. The organization that hosted the event pulled out, and she refused to speak. This is not “martyrdom”, but cowardice. This was understandable cowardice, mind you, since the environment in Ottawa must have been shockingly less racist than that at my alma mater of UWO. But if we’re interested in talking about this particular political animal, we ought to call a fowl a fowl.

Second, on the subject of rhetoric and genius, I have a bit of a thought-experiment. Suppose you enter into an IRC chat room, and are heckled by someone named AC381. You reply by heckling them in return. They respond by complaining to their friend, who is a moderator, and who bans you from the channel. Suppose also that AC381 wanted you to be banned all along.

Is AC381 a genius, right up there with Kaiser Soze? Obviously not. It is simple trolling, and it only requires a mental capacity available to small rodents to pull off. So what’s the difference between AC381 and Ann Coulter?

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