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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Conservative! Faint!

Why is it that members of the NDP, hip transgressives they claim to be, shriek like Victorian dowagers at the sight or sound of principled opposition? Is it fear? Is it a failure to understand root causes? Or just plain cowardice?

American conservative firebrand Ann Coulter won't be in London until Monday but already the dust is flying.

Local activist and one-time NDP candidate Megan Walker says of Coulter, "She's venomous . . . She crosses the line and promotes hatred and violence."

I've heard that one before, let me try to remember... Then there was the fool academic (I repeat myself) who decided to lecture Coulter on free speech. My initial guess was that he was a publicity hound. Oops, wrong sort of publicity. The whole thing gives the world the impression that we are a nation of schoolmarms. An inappropriate remark and we turn to rioting in the streets. Not a fan of Coulter personally. It's a stylistic thing mostly. I prefer my American conservative to be nice chaps in Brooks Brothers suits, the sort who can quote Burke and Disraeli. Yet she does sometimes speak the truth:

The worst Americans end up going (to Canada). The Tories after the Revolutionary War, the Vietnam draft dodgers after Vietnam and now after this election [2004] we even have blue states moving up there . . .

If I had a nickel for every draft dodging American anti-American I had to hear blather on in school. Do ten-year olds really need to be told about the Military-Industrial Complex? Should a survey class on American history really spend two-thirds of its time on the 1960s? Does Abbie Hoffman deserve more discussion time than Thomas Jefferson? Just sayin' She also knows to go for the gut, reminding Canadians that the defense of the Dominion is essentially at the courtesy of Uncle Sam. 

Don't like her saying that? Fine. Advocate increasing the defense budget and acquiring our own nuclear deterrent. Until then we are free loading off the American taxpayer. The mature thing is not to whine like petulant children against the United States, while also being dependent on their gracious assistance. Coulter has every right to point out that obvious bit of pan-continental unfairness. Her success is as a controversialist - being pretty and blond also helps. Like Canada's own Kathy Shaidle, she says outrageous things to both make a point and be heard. It's also sometimes a necessity. Polite smothering of the truth is far worse than over the top schtick. Desperately trying not to hurt anyone's feelings is appropriate for dinner parties, not always so for political debates. The real fear that Coulter instills in the Left, especially the dowager variety we have in Canada, carefully nurtured in the hothouse networks of our schools and universities, is that she will call her opponents bluffs: "Yes, I really do believe that." After abortionist George Tiller was murdered, the vixen told Bill O'Reilly, of all people, that:

"I don't really like to think of it as a murder. It was terminating Tiller in the 203rd trimester. ... I am personally opposed to shooting abortionists, but I don't want to impose my moral values on others."

It's obscene because it's funny. A glib "he deserved it" would just have sounded appalling and pathetic. The extra twist in the gut is that, at some level, she has a point. That's Coulter's other crime. Even when she's horribly wrong, she is still far wittier than her critics. For those who pride themselves on being smarter than their opponents, by mere virtue of their opinion, it's an unsettling prospect, that narrow blond face. In an odd way Coulter reminds me of Mies van der Rohe, the presiding genius of the post-war international style of architecture. Mies was the master of minimalism. Stripping buildings of ornamentation to reveal their basic structure and function. When Mies did minimalism, you got the Seagram's Building and the TD Centre. When everyone else tried it they were just dull black boxes, replicas of which soon sprang up like Golden Arches across the financial districts of the world. A thing in the hands of a talented practitioner can be impressive and even beautiful. In the hands of mediocrity it becomes just mediocre. The message being no better than the messenger. What Coulter and Rush began has been followed by a never ending stream of cheap knock offs. Shrieking idiots who think the trick is just to shout louder than the other guy. 

Posted by Richard Anderson on March 24, 2010 | Permalink


Yeah, that nice polite stuff really works. I mean, nice an polite got Coulter speaking at that University right? I think I will take the shrieking idiots over the condescension and smugness and pot fueled paranoia I regularly find here.

Posted by: Kevin Lafayette | 2010-03-24 8:14:11 AM

"Principled" Opposition to describe Ann Coulter? That's the best joke I have heard all week. Yesterday I was extremely proud to be a Canadian. Send that racist scum back to where she came from. Oh and Ezra gleefully supporting her, that's an even better laugh, considering her extremely racist and anti-semetic comments on Judaism. These people are so confused in their reactionary rhetoric, they don't even know who they are supporting!

Posted by: Jeff Oneil | 2010-03-24 10:53:44 AM

I note there are already a couple of comments from the supporters of mob-rule. These people cannot behave in the normal manner; that is to present and to justify their views with facts, evidence and reason. There is also the choice of simply not attending if one finds the speaker too "upsetting". That is not however how they operate, for if they disagree with the speaker or topic they want to ensure that no one can attend.

As nothing remains static they should give some serious thought (assuming they are capable) to the possibility of the time coming when the shoe may be on the other foot and they and their views are treated in the same way.

It is also interesting how those who tend to scream racist are the real racists. As for her being anti-Semitic, that is pure rubbish. That she as a Christian once expressed the view that she would like to see the Jews convert to Christianity was simply that: her view nothing more. I disagree with her opinion, but I defend her right to express it.

Posted by: Alain | 2010-03-24 11:14:42 AM

This writer, Publius, is a bootlicking submissive to Uncle Sam. I haven't seen such self-loathing in a Canadian since.... Stephen Harper. This defense of Coulter and her obscene incantations is pathetic and follows no reason or logic.

It does however, confirm what I've been thinking about Coulter getting the red carpet treatment and squired around by Conservative Party election war room chief Ezra Levant, is that Coulter is the pin-up for what a good Conservative Party talking head sounds like.

And that is pretty fucked-up batshit crazy white man/woman's jingoism combined with a toxic dose of manifest destiny and murderous imperialism with macabre sense of humour and wit.

Posted by: Marc Scott Emery | 2010-03-24 11:34:08 AM

Every time I begin to feel a little patriotic, something like this happens and once again creates the feeling of shame that I am Canadian.

Just once I'd love to hear someone - just one person will do - from the pseudo-intellectual left in this country be honest and admit that what they support is not 'free' speech, but 'their' speech.

We could use a few Ann Coulters up here.

Posted by: Leigh Patrick Sullivan | 2010-03-24 11:47:20 AM

"This writer, Publius, is a bootlicking submissive to Uncle Sam"

I consider that a compliment from an anarchist.

Posted by: Publius | 2010-03-24 11:54:09 AM

The Human Rights Commission(s) has been revising the concept of free speech since its inception. Result: Canadians can't agree on what it is. From what I've read in the past few days there is a faction that prefers government approved speech only, classifying the rest as hate. Pity.

Posted by: rosemarie59 | 2010-03-24 1:11:52 PM

LOL, so true. Lefties really do faint at the sight of common sense thinkers.

This episode has also demonstrated again that physical violence, if and when it occurs in Canada, originates from the left, not the right.

Posted by: Werner Patels @ Calgary Gazette | 2010-03-24 1:14:09 PM

What's the difference between Ms. Coulter and Emery? Her presence provoked a debate over freedom. His situation does not.

Posted by: Zebulon Pike | 2010-03-24 1:29:58 PM

My suspicions of Emery have been confirmed by Emery himself. He is not a model or representative of freedom, unless one's understanding is the same as his: freedom for me and for no one else.

Posted by: Alain | 2010-03-24 2:35:12 PM

I hate to point out the obvious. But here goes. You guys that back Coulter up are in many ways the same as those that don't. Right, Left, Upside down, whatever, all whine when things don't go their way. Coulter is a moron, right up there with Palin. She didn't have to cancel. That was just a showboat move. Generates press. Now she can come to Alberta and whip up the cons here against the libs there, further creating the divide between people. Its just a game way to many people play. I wouldn't cross the street to spit on her, she is nothing to me. But you guys go ahead and put her up on that pedestal, and believe everything she says. Thats freedom.

Posted by: Steve Bottrell | 2010-03-24 3:42:43 PM

Wrong Steve Bottrell! It is not about supporting Coulter or not supporting her. It is about supporting freedom of speech or denying freedom of speech. Why is it so difficult to understand the difference? You either are for freedom of speech or you are against it, so where do you stand?

Posted by: Alain | 2010-03-24 4:03:08 PM

I absolutely support her right to speak. Just like I support my right to point out she is an idiot. My point on this post was that it is all just a play. She still pocketed her $10,000 for her appearance. Didn't have to say a word. Where do I sign up?

Posted by: Steve Bottrell | 2010-03-24 5:14:22 PM

I first learned about this controversy while reading the Globe and Mail . Frankly I was shocked by the level of hatred and invective being spewed about Ms. Coulter . Even more shocking was that a University Official used the veiled threat of legal prosecution to bully and intimidate Ms Coulter. This raised my curiosity since I am not Canadian. What laws could she break merely by speaking? What word could she say that would engender criminal prosecution either under the Charter or under the laws of Ontario? I asked the question repeatedly on the G&M website . However the Coulter haters were either too blinded by their own rage to provide an answer or there are no such laws. Evidently, the letter to her was penned by a know-nothing , lawyer wannabe , twerp, who thinks he can blindly throw out threats. As a practicing attorney , it really pisses me off when idiots use the law to intimidate others and I am glad that someone called him on it.

As for my question , i will ask it again here? Any laws that Ms Coulter could have violated or am I right that the letter was an empty threat issued by an empty suit? Of course I am assuming that Ms Coulter would not have advocated violence which might be prosecuted.

Posted by: ejhickey | 2010-03-24 8:17:37 PM


Unfortunately, there are laws in Canada that Coulter could have ran afoul of.

First, there are prohibitions in the criminal code, Sections 318-320.

Indictable offense = Canadian-speak for felony.

Section 318:
"Every one who advocates or promotes genocide is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years."

Section 319 (the one that would most likely be used against Coulter):

"Every one who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, wilfully promotes hatred against and identifiable group is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years."

Section 320:
"A judge who is satisfied by information on oath that there are reasonable grounds for believing that any publication, copies of which are kept for sale or distribution in premises, within the jurisdiction of the court, is hate propaganda, shall issue a warrant under his hand authorizing seizure of the copies."

Thus, in Canada, I suppose a judge could order the seizure of Ann Coulter's books (if they really are as bad as some say they are, which I am not convinced of.)

Finally, there is an entirely different mess in the Canadian Human Rights Act, as administered by our draconian system of commissions and tribunals. Oh, and provincial equivalents.

Section 13(1) and Section 14 of the CHRA could be used to silence Ann Coulter. I think Section 13(1) would only apply, though, if someone posted her speech on the Internet or broadcast it in some other way.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2010-03-24 8:38:27 PM

Sorry, not just Canadian-speak for felony. I can hear the hoof beats of the professional lawyer at my back already. :-)

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2010-03-24 8:43:06 PM

Ezra really walks the walk, doesn't he? Coulter has said a few things that were a bit disparaging to Jews, and his reaction is, he'd expect nothing less, from a Christian. He really does support free speech, to the point of risking personal loss.

Several people he supports, including Stephen Boissoint, would not walk across the street to help Ezra, but he still soldiers on. When it comes to free speech, Ezra gets it.

I don't like Coulter, because I've heard her make extremely tasteless comments about families of fallen soldiers. She is not a good representative of conservative values. She does, however, speak the truth about many issues. She can be funny, but I'm put off by her demeanor. There seems to be a sexual identity issue, that's gnawing away at her. I wouldn't go and listen to her.

I drove past a demonstration in Calgary, on Sunday. It was a group of 'anti-racists', whatever that means. They were wearing masks, and at first glance, I thought it was a gang rumble. They were a lot like the trouble makers in Ottawa, spoiled white kids, with no clue what happens outside their sphere. I'm not sure who they're trying to impress, but they have no effect on the nouveau racists in our multi-cultural wasteland.

Posted by: dp | 2010-03-24 9:10:19 PM


You really are a stupid p****.

Murderous imperialism? You mean overthrowing two brutal tyrannies and then (the horror!) allowing free elections. Several of them.

Many of us here support your battle against the unjust American drug laws. It's a shame that you don't support the liberty of Iraqis and Afghanis to lead their lives free of oppression.

Posted by: Craig | 2010-03-24 9:17:02 PM

Yesterday I was extremely proud to be a Canadian. Send that racist scum back to where she came from.

If you said this about anyone but an American, you’d be branded a racist yourself. The fact is you are anyway, and this statement proves it.

Oh and Ezra gleefully supporting her, that's an even better laugh, considering her extremely racist and anti-semetic comments on Judaism...

Anti-semitic, you idiot. I know I may not know who I am or am not supporting, but at least I am educated enough to be able to spell the big words I bandy about to wow the opposition.

Yes, Ann Coulter is intolerant. Yes, she’s past her best-before date. But so are Canadians who define themselves based on who they’re not.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-03-24 9:17:23 PM

This writer, Publius, is a bootlicking submissive to Uncle Sam.

Making the rounds tonight, eh, Marc? Is no one safe from your pen tonight? That’s OK. I could use the workout.

I haven't seen such self-loathing in a Canadian since.... Stephen Harper.

And how, exactly, does this “self-loathing” manifest itself? Is it because he defines himself based on who he is, rather than on who he isn’t, in the time-honoured Canadian tradition?

This defense of Coulter and her obscene incantations is pathetic and follows no reason or logic.


It does however, confirm what I've been thinking about Coulter getting the red carpet treatment and squired around by Conservative Party election war room chief Ezra Levant, is that Coulter is the pin-up for what a good Conservative Party talking head sounds like.

No doubt Richard Warman is more your idea of a properly tolerant, freedom-loving Canadian.

And that is pretty fucked-up batshit crazy white man/woman's jingoism combined with a toxic dose of manifest destiny and murderous imperialism with macabre sense of humour and wit.

At least she has a sense of humour, Marc. Something else she has that you never will. Especially lately.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-03-24 9:27:23 PM

I consider that a compliment from an anarchist.

He’s not an anarchist, Publius; he pretty much torpedoed the bejeezus out of that possibility when he described the rules and requirements a person has to meet before he or she can speak at a university, any university, or any public place whatsoever. Remember, he ran for public office. It’s not government he opposes; it’s the fact that he isn’t it.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-03-24 9:30:38 PM

Mr. Watson - Thanks for the response. it was was a lot better than I was getting from the hate spewers at the Globe and Mail comments section. Of course the authors of either of the two G&M articles I read should have provided the same kind of legal background. My first impression of the laws you quote is that they are entirely subjective. They remind me of the laws against pornography and obscenity that used to be in force in the US. Justice Potter Stewart said of obscenity "I know it when I see it". This sound like the same type of legal BS. the basic problem with these laws are that they assume that mere words can injure people and that the words have magic powers that can make people commit violent acts. Now I have to have to cut this short. the dog is whining and must be walked. He has his own form of intimidation if I don't obey. Good night and thanks again

Posted by: ejhickey | 2010-03-24 9:37:38 PM


I believe he's described himself as an anarchist in the past. That doesn't mean he is not also a hypocrite.

Posted by: Publius | 2010-03-24 9:42:54 PM

He’s described himself as lots of things, Publius. Shameless media whores with messianic complexes (and to be fair, it would be remiss not to count Ann Coulter among them) have a habit of doing that. Unlike the genuine article, however, Emery has cast out no demons, and in fact seems powerless to banish even the ones within himself. He’s got a monkey on his back that’s more like King Kong.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-03-24 9:55:27 PM


No problem! Please feel free to come back any time.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2010-03-24 10:26:48 PM

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