Coultergeist Be Gone!
March 25, 2010 44 Comments
So, I won’t go anywhere near my personal opinions of the skanky-assed shock-jock supremacist that is called Ann Coulter… oh wait.
I just did.
I despise everything that she represents and says. And I will probably get my Canadian Libertarian ass chewed off for saying the above… be told about how stupid I am or how wrong I am for thinking she is a waste of space and energy on this planet.
Whatever: bring it on. If you agree with her then your racist views will speak for yourself.
Don’t expect me to engage you in debate over her asinine relevance (or is that sagging irrelevance) on the political scene while you attempt to convince me of how she is the voice of the average right-winged conservative American (because if you are… then I DO NOT want to even acknowledge your presence in my life).
Now, this posting isn’t about her political views. Nope. Not at all.
Rather this is about the recent waste of time the media has given her (thanks to the genius of her PR machine in creating a media orgy) over a so-called incident that occurred at the University of Ottawa and her accusations of Canadians/Canada.
She is now apparently a victim of a ‘hate-crime’ in Canada, according to Ms. Coulter. She blames the University, who sent her a letter explaining the laws of the land and the freedoms and limitations of Free Speech, especially when they borderline no, ARE blatantly inciting and condoning hatred and in some cases, possibly violence… which in Canada is a criminal offence. She was warned to weigh her words with “respect and civility in mind” especially while on University grounds … which has now been translated into: We Canadians are fascist. Oh wait. We Canadians also ought to consider ourselves as ‘lucky’ the US allows us to exist on the same continent and just hope to her Christian god that the US doesn’t roll over one night and ‘crush’ Canada in its sleep.
Let me make something clear: Under section 319 of the Canadian charter for Freedom of Expression (Constitutional Law of Canada), it is illegal to publicly incite hatred against people based on their colour, race, religion, ethnic origin, and sexual orientation, except where the statements made are true or are made in good faith. Gee – it would appear as though this law was written especially for her since her views, politics and propaganda are nothing BUT based on hatred for anything that isn’t her. They are based on fear, hatred and racism. You simply cannot espouse hatred and then hide behind the guise of “freedom of speech.”
Ms. Coulter’s politics and propaganda also violates the “Hate Speech” laws of our country which includes any communication which disparages a person or a group on the basis of some characteristic such as race or sexual orientation. In law, hate speech is any speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it may incite violence or prejudicial action against or by a protected individual or group, or because it disparages or intimidates a protected individual or group. The law may identify a protected individual or a protected group by race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation, or other characteristic. It is an indictable offense under the Criminal Code of Canada.
Now I already can hear all or a large majority of the Conservative blogger body yelling: FREEDOM OF SPEECH IS NOT HATE SPEECH YOU FASCIST CANADIAN!!!
Let me explain why I believe she got more than she deserved with a warning from François Houle, the vice-president academic and provost of the University of Ottawa, of the Laws of the land in which she finds herself. Just proves to me her arrogance and ignorance that North America DOES NOT EQUAL United States.
Actually… I think this article from Ozlem Sensoy, assistant professor in the faculty of education at Simon Fraser University, says exactly what I feel about this situation. For those of you who might not have the time or are too lazy or arrogant to try to see the other side of this issue, let me paraphrase the article in chunks that might make it digestable:
“What people who launch the charge of “free speech” (and other charges such as “anti-democratic”, “censorship” and “lighten up, it’s just entertainment”) fail to acknowledge and understand is the social concept of power.
Sexism, racism, ableism, heterosexism, classism and anti-semitism are not about individual acts of discrimination (what some conservative commentator might have specifically said to offend someone or some group). These terms do not primarily refer to acts of discrimination (expressions of prejudices like Coulter’s). They refer to systems of privilege that “normalize” a particular way of talking about and thinking about particular groups of people in society.
That is why Coulter’s speech is not just “free” (i. e. bias-free, objectively sent out into the atmosphere). The effects of her speech when launched into public space are not simply situational. They are another series of burps in the historical and existing framework that has normalized a particular way of thinking about Muslims, gays and lesbians, and other marginalized groups.
That is why scholars of race relations and critical feminists would argue that so-called reverse-racism or reverse-sexism do not exist. Because of this difference, individual speech acts have different consequences in the social world.
The “isms” words (racism, sexism, anti-semitism) refer to power relationships that are historic and embedded, and these relationships do not flip back and forth. The same groups that have historically held power in the U.S. and Canada continue to do so.
From this framework, we can see how free speech is a slippery problem. Ironically, it seems to surface when there is a need to stifle speech that challenges social power (which is what the U of Ottawa students were doing, challenging the inequitable social power relations that Coulter’s “speech” upheld).
In a parallel way, while “left wing” voices might not receive the kind of caution that Coulter did from Francois Houle, the vice-president academic and provost of the University of Ottawa, to be aware of Canada’s hate speech laws, it doesn’t matter: The effect of Coulter’s speech is not the same as the effect of marginalized speech.
There is also a type of context-appropriate speech. For example, the morning baby-talk I know many of you use when chatting with your kitty-witty or puppy-wuppy would probably be inappropriate at a job interview or with friends at the pub.
The point is, we live with these types of speech limitations every day, limitations governed by social norms. When the “free speech” card is played (by those whose speech aligns with power structures, like Coulter), it is a defensive response to their perspectives and power being challenged. The “free speech” discourse protects power and privilege by acting as a shield against such challenges. If you dare challenge free speech as a normal social value, you dare challenge the founding ideals of Western-style democracy.
Perhaps we should have a discussion about the degree to which we experience and foster “free speech” in the West.
Whether it’s humorous “jokes” about Muslims taking flying carpets instead of airplanes, or “real” remarks calling for the deaths of abortion doctors and condemning gays and lesbians, all speech is not free, neutral and deserving of utterance. You can’t just say whatever the hell you want.
University of Ottawa students embody the spirit of student activism. Thank you, students.
There are limitations.
Simply because a VERY large majority of Canadians disagree with Ms. Coulter and are exercising their right to protest (and personally, in this case, this was a very smart and intelligent protest)… does not make Canadians fascist. And receiving fair warning to educate yourself on the laws of the land… does not equate to human rights violations – especially comparing Canada to those of Iran, Nazi Germany and Cuba.
Now if she did actually take the time to truly educate herself properly, she would have clearly understood that the Provost had no authority to “criminally prosecute” her, or that the letter had been intended to advise her, for her own sake, of what the Charter actually said and where she might be vulnerable given her penchant for gay-baiting and Muslim-baiting. (Coulter told newsmax.com that: “The Provost of the u. of Ottawa is threatening to criminally prosecute me for my speech there on Monday–before I’ve even set foot in the country!”)
Her accusations are that of a spoiled rich ignorant bitch who didn’t get the adoration she wanted on Canadian soil, and needed to figure out a way to make money while in Canada. I resent the fact that the very fabric of which she promotes, she also accuses and demean those who use it against her. Oh and one more thing: The UofO students simply said to Ms. Coulter: No thanks. Take it back where you came from. It’s not welcome here. It isn’t that the students, or the university, were “afraid” of her right to free speech. They just weren’t that into her.
Read here for more of her insults and archiac politics in London, ON where she insulted a Muslim 17 yrs old political science teen to take a camel to school…