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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How left-wing thugs shut down Ann Coulter's speech

Via Blazingcatfur comes this interesting, uh, perspective on the Ann Coulter shutdown at the University of Ottawa (covered on the WS here):

Meet anewsocialcontract, left-wing agitator and child-censor.

His flickr page contains the first account I have come across from the other side, from those who wanted to stop the debate and silence Coulter. And, fortunately for us, he provides pictures and captions.

The left-wing plan of attack quickly becomes clear. First, the thugs tried to infiltrate the building through a back door. When that didn't work, they "decided to move our growing group back to the front and try to rush the front doors."

I claimed, both in my article and on various blogs, that there was a concerted effort on the part of the protesters to instigate a mob situation. We now have evidence that my suspicion was correct. Sorry about that, Dr. Dawg. As a newsocialcontract helpfully explains -- bless his heart -- "We rushed the doors and quickly overwhelmed security. :)."

Thus, once you look past anewsocialcontract's childish snark, the true story begins to emerge. While the organizers could have done a better job preparing, the mendacious behaviour of the left-wing thugs was a principal cause of the chaos that developed.

What was a semi-orderly lineup became a mob --
because of them.

The University of Ottawa owes not only Coulter, but
all civilized people an apology for brooding this nest of vipers.

In case the Flikr page goes dark, which it might, I have screen shots. A sample:


You can also see a bit of my netbook's setup. XMonad rocks.

Posted by Terrence Watson on March 24, 2010 | Permalink


Give campus security pepper spray. Better yet, give them shotguns.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-03-24 11:10:33 PM


I don't want them dead. Pepper sprayed, maybe.

To any of those about to accuse me of hypocrisy: that was a joke. After all, according to Jean Chretien:

"For me, pepper, I put it on my plate." Can't be that bad, right?

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2010-03-24 11:17:28 PM

@Shane, that's a silly idea. Security teams, if not actual police, can only do so much, and I wouldn't want to see protesting "thugs" escalating things between security "thugs". ("thug" is such a loaded word here, btw)

Posted by: Louis | 2010-03-24 11:20:32 PM


I agree. A loaded term. In this case, I picked it carefully. You'll notice it is not a term I used in my initial coverage of the event because I didn't know how much of the chaos had been produced by the protesters and how much was solely a function of bad planning.

Now we know: they at least had the intention of provoking chaos, in order to silence a perceived political opponent. That makes them thugs.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2010-03-24 11:24:20 PM

Oh please. Did anyone get hurt? Bust a nail? Scrape a shin maybe? This is way overblown. Wheres the dozen posts on the Tea-Baggers calling Democrats racist names, then having the Rebulicans come out and tell them what a great job they are doing, or smashing windows in their representatives offices, and all the rest of the nuttiness that these idiots do? How about a little fair journalism? There are looneys on both sides you know. I don't agree with what happened, but it is typically Canadian. A little squabble all blown out of proportion.
It wouldn't surprise me if Coulter paid them to do it. Its a great way to get some press.

Posted by: Steve Bottrell | 2010-03-24 11:27:21 PM


I've criticized the teabaggers quite a bit, though not so much on the WS. Agreed, there are bad folks on every part of the political spectrum.

But what's your point? That we shouldn't criticize the conduct of these guys because there are people just as bad on the other side? Come on.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2010-03-24 11:30:34 PM

Na, its not that Terrence, of course we should criticize them, all of them that think violence solves anything. Its just, come on, its been like 6 posts in a row :) Sure, shes a good lookin leggy blond, but you only have 1 picture :) Say, coincidentally, she sold out the show in Calgary. I have no fondness for divisive people. Its why I hate the left/right thing.

Posted by: Steve Bottrell | 2010-03-25 12:22:37 AM


Ok ok. We'll give it a rest soon. I do see your point :-)

The reason we only have that picture is because it was the best one I could find that wasn't copyrighted. I added the mob to it myself, obviously.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2010-03-25 12:26:26 AM

I would not cede to the anti-free speech fascists at the U of O the designation "left wing".

The may be many things, but of the left -- true socialism or liberalism or anarchism -- they are not.

They are, as is the intensifying tradition on Canadian university campuses, cowardly fascists.

What is fascinating is to witness socialist fascists attacking conservative fascists. Though the machinations of each bode ill for us all...

Posted by: JC | 2010-03-25 1:03:24 AM

And now for something completely different...

Here is a good laugh.
Some Breaking News: Some Bullshit Happened


Take your mind off this nonsense for a few minutes...

Posted by: Steve Bottrell | 2010-03-25 1:06:54 AM

To "instigate a mob situation"? What the hell is that? Nothing these guys did looks slightly dangerous or violent. Lets face it: the story here is that the organizers rented a room that was way too small and couldn't handle the crowd that showed up. Somehow, incompetence becomes free speech martyrdom.

And of course there's the issue that Coulter's security guard was hinting that the speech might get cancelled hours earlier. Presumably, he saw the screw-ups from the U-of-O Conservative Campus Club and figured the event was doomed. And that's the nice interpretation; the darker one is that this was all a setup job to generate controversy.

Posted by: bigcitylib | 2010-03-25 5:02:19 AM


I knew, or rather, suspected, that some protesters would try to grab credit--I debated being more explicit in my final paragraph, because my post was aimed at them as well.

The photo-essay is adolescent and vainglorious--"thousands of protesters" indeed. And "already there" before the author even showed up.

You talk about "they" as some kind of homogeneous group. But, if you read the whole thing, it becomes clear that the essayist is referring to a very small group-within-a-group--check out the photos. Nor does the essay reveal what the "plan"--if plan there really was--consisted of. Getting in free? And an "RCMP officer?" Please.

Sorry, not impressed. Doesn't refute a single point I made.

Posted by: Dr.Dawg | 2010-03-25 5:49:05 AM

Looking at the photographs mostly what one can see is too many people trying to get into a hall that is too small; certainly grounds for concern if you are a fire marshal, but hardly a riot. There's one photo of someone holding a megaphone - were they protesters planning to disrupt the meeting, or support people? We don't know. There's another photograph of some banners in the distance, but everybody around looks perfectly calm.

This is certainly not evidence of a bunch of "left-wing thugs" or "brooding vipers" shutting down a meeting. Look at the evidence before you employ such extreme adjectives.

Posted by: Dahdum | 2010-03-25 6:17:33 AM

But, if you read the whole thing, it becomes clear that the essayist is referring to a very small group-within-a-group--check out the photos.

Yes, that seems to happen at pretty much every Left-wing protest now, doesn't it? A "violent few" ruin it for the rest of them. Perhaps it's time these groups started policing themselves better, doing more to pull down the stampeders, because right or wrong, the entire polity's reputation is suffering as a result.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-03-25 6:24:41 AM

Actually, Louis, "thug" was your choice of words, not mine. And there is in fact plenty a small but fierce group can do, if they are willing, and have the backing, to be fierce when the need to be fierce is great. If the guy next to you gets a 12-gauge bean bag in the face, are you going to rush forth to stop the breach with your body, if your only weapon is a bullhorn or maybe an empty beer bottle? Especially when you know the guard can always load buckshot if you decide to get nasty?

And Terrence, I know you don't want them dead. I personally wouldn't cry for them. There is nothing dishonorable or disproportionate about putting down violent thugs. The reason flash mobs like this have become so prevalent is because they know there are unlikely to be consequences. People will essentially do what you let them get away with.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-03-25 6:34:29 AM


I suppose I'm referring to whatever "they" this guy is referring to. But his account his surprisingly consistent with the one I reconstructed from memory. To wit:

(a) There was a hardcore cabal of disrupters.
(b) They did infiltrate the lines, cutting in and causing order to break down.
(c) There was an attempt to rush the doors.
(d) All of this was intended to shut down a speech.

Because I only had suspicions at first, I avoided the term thug. No longer.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2010-03-25 7:25:25 AM

Shane: A "violent few" ruin it for the rest of them.

And yet not a single arrest, not a single weapon in evidence (despite Coulter's yammering about "thousands of liberals armed with sticks and rocks"), not one reported incident of physical violence.

The very first photo has a caption that states, in part, that "we" wanted to get there early to grab a seat. That doesn't sound very threatening to me. Then, after an announcement was made that no unregistered would-be attendees would be allowed in, there was some pushing and shoving. I suspect some of that was pro-Coulter folks also feeling disappointed. Again, though, no "thuggery" in evidence.

I take issue with (d), Terrence, if only because the intent is not immediately obvious. "We did it!" seems somewhat at variance with "We wanted to grab a seat." Vainglorious, adolescent boasting--and, incidentally, note the floating "we" that now includes the "thousands of protesters" who were, according to the photo-essayist, "already there" when he showed up.

You're speculating, in other words. Whatever was in the mind of the young man who put up the photo-essay, he hardly spoke for all the protesters there.

Posted by: Dr.Dawg | 2010-03-25 7:58:52 AM

We should stop this tyranny of abuse of free speech in Canada. The Canadian government must immediately eliminate the Human Rights organizations. In the process, they need to apologize to all who they have abused.

Lets start with a heartfelt apology to Ernst Zundel for his unrightful conviction of inciting hatred against Jews. This man was wrongfully convicted and needs to be exhonerated. In fact, the whole "politically correct" suppression of nazism needs to be addressed. Had the nazis not lost the war, they would now not be treated so poorly.

Logically, this is the argument you are making in defense of Ms. Coulter. Is that what you want? As John Stuart Mill so eloquently said "not all conservatives are stupid people, but most stupid people are conservatives."

Posted by: Dilbert Love | 2010-03-25 8:10:00 AM

Also, of course, there are the police versions of this which indicate that they weren't particularly worried about the possibility of violence. They don't look very "overwhelmed" in the pictures, either (nor does the mob look particularly angry).

Posted by: bigcitylib | 2010-03-25 8:23:32 AM

Poor security management, perhaps. Freedom of speech impediment? Arguably. But hate crime against white women? Really, Coulter?

Posted by: Tyler | 2010-03-25 8:51:22 AM

"Logically, this is the argument you are making in defense of Ms. Coulter. Is that what you want?"

Uh, no it's not. Nice try, though.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2010-03-25 8:52:20 AM

And yet not a single arrest, not a single weapon in evidence (despite Coulter's yammering about "thousands of liberals armed with sticks and rocks"), not one reported incident of physical violence.

Threats of violence are also considered violence, Dawg. And if you think the police arrest everyone at these protests they theoretically could arrest, or who even deserve to be arrested, you've got another think coming.

Moreover, I was speaking in generalities. From the Olympics protests in Vancouver to the anti-globalization protests in Seattle, the general body of protesters has protested (snicker) that they are being infiltrated by anarchists (some suspect plainclothes police posing as anarchists), a small but vicious minority who assault police, break windows, torch cars, and in general bring the disgust of the public down upon them and so, by association, upon the entire movement. You know all of this. You just wanted something to kick about. If no issue presents itself, you'll make one.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-03-25 9:08:26 AM

I was speaking in generalities.

Quite. And I was being specific.

If no issue presents itself, you'll make one.

Sounds like the non-issue of violence being trumpeted by the Coultercult.

Posted by: Dr.Dawg | 2010-03-25 9:25:03 AM

Steve: I'm not sure I see the criticism here. Not only is this a news worthy story, one of our writers *was there*. If we had a writer at a Tea Party rally, we would also post a lot on it.

You can't expect us to cover all events equally, since we don't exactly have a staff of writers that we can afford to fly all over the place.

Posted by: P.M. Jaworski | 2010-03-25 9:35:42 AM

Honestly how gullible are you?
Have fun reading this!

Posted by: Oliver | 2010-03-25 9:46:07 AM

Some one has to protect students from hearing a point of view other than the politically correct.There is always the possibility that their tiny perfect brains may not hold more than one idea and might possibly crystalize at the wrong time, thereby never accepting any other idea.

Posted by: jack stead | 2010-03-25 9:46:39 AM


I do actually recognize some of the people in the photos. The red-haired guy photographed trying to infiltrate the building from behind was someone I spoke with directly. I relayed that conversation in my article.

He's the one who switched around Coulter's "Not all Muslims are terrorists..." quotation. Definitely part of the hardcore cadre.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2010-03-25 9:52:49 AM


The question is this: were the 200 or so protesters organized, with a plan? If so, what was it? Or were all sorts of people pushing and shoving to get in including the fellow from the Red-Headed League?

You're not, with respect, making things any clearer in your responses.

Posted by: Dr.Dawg | 2010-03-25 10:18:06 AM

Have you ever noticed, Terrence, that every time this issue pops up, a significant portion of the Canadian media and the public engage in lively discussions, exercises that inevitably lead to a fairly extensive uncovering and documentation of evidence that reveals what the final truth may be, whether in the content of the speech, the intent of the speaker or the details of a real world event?

I can imagine that had something similar occurred in the US (and it's not like people's freedom of speech never gets abrogated down there, although we generally tend to hear only about the events in which someone is punched, shot or tased), each side or faction would have constructed their own wildly-contradictory versions of the story and that would have been the end of that.

Something to think about.

Posted by: Ti-Guy | 2010-03-25 10:44:26 AM

Quite. And I was being specific.

You never get tired of picking nits, do you, Dawg?

Sounds like the non-issue of violence being trumpeted by the Coultercult.

Protests always bring an elevated possibility of violence. The main reason I include lethal force in the list of options for dealing with them.

The question is this: were the 200 or so protesters organized, with a plan?

Anarchists generally operate without much of either. But if even only a handful of those protesters were organized, with a plan, Terrence's observations are valid. This is why protests, and especially flash mobs and rent-a-crowds, are uniquely vulnerable to being hijacked by extremists. There's no central authority, no clearly focused objective. Most people there do not even know each other. But it's not any the less a mob for all that.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-03-25 10:49:22 AM


Sorry, I`m at work, so my responses have to be brief and less considered than usual.

I don`t know if the 200 protesters were organized in the following sense: I don`t know if all 200 of them had a plan to disrupt the speech, and I`ve never claimed that they did.

But red-haired guy and at least a couple of other people in the photos seemed to have an organizing role -- or, at least, that`s the way they were acting. They were the most aggressive, and the first to infiltrate the line up.

It may be that they never planned to stop the speech, and merely wanted to attend. Especially at first. The way I read the narrative spelled out in the photos and captions is that they didn`t have any clear intentions at first, just a general desire for mischief and disruption.

After their efforts to enter the building from the back were undermined, their desire took the form of more concrete action, which included rushing the doors, breaking through the lines, and by-passing security.

If you ask me whether this was intended to shut down the speech, my inference takes the following form:

1. The rhetoric of the protesters (not just the hardcore cabal, but including them) focused on shutting down Coulter.

2. Attending the speech is not inconsistent with a desire to shut it down (in fact, it may perhaps be the most effective means of shutting it down.)

3. anewsocialcontract seems to think his actions and those of his comrades contributed to shutting it down.

4. Thus, whether or not they went in with that goal in mind (and Blazingcatfur has some circumstantial evidence pointing in that direction), they -- the hardcore -- were more than willing to take advantage of the opportunity that presented itself.

At this point, I don`t think my inference is unreasonable, although I`m willing to admit it is not the only conceivable interpretation of events.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2010-03-25 10:51:12 AM

A non-statement by a journalist employed by that least credible of media outlets, the CBC? I had fun reading it, all right, Oliver.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-03-25 10:51:44 AM


I`m not sure I`d praise Canada for the uniformity and convergence of its media narratives.

In the U.S., I`d watch Fox, and Glenn Beck would rant. Then I`d watch Rachel Maddow, and get her view. Then I`d read some blogs and newspapers, ranging from left to right, until my head started to hurt. Then I`d piece together my own picture based on my own experience and the contribution of all these sources.

Likely, what I came up with would differ to some extent from what everyone else arrived at. There would be diversity, not uniformity. Would that really be such a bad thing?

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2010-03-25 10:59:40 AM

"I`m not sure I`d praise Canada for the uniformity and convergence of its media narratives."

I didn't say that; that's what you heard. I specifically remarked "lead to a fairly extensive uncovering and documentation of evidence that reveals what the final truth MAY be."

You and I have different priorities, it seems. I'm far more in interested in evidence, documentation and the ultimate revelation of truth than in ideological correctness.

I'm particularly concerned by how untruths or wildly-contradictory versions of the same event can persist for a very long time and which become received wisdom for particular factions of society or, in the absence of any documented refutation, become received wisdom for a critical mass of the public.

Posted by: Ti-Guy | 2010-03-25 11:16:12 AM

I apologize for putting words in your mouth.

You may be right that we have different priorities, but I'm not sure the difference is as you say.

I believe in the permanence of reasonable disagreement. There is going to be intractable divergence in moral, religious, and philosophical views, partially because finding agreement seems to require common ground, which isn't always available.

I attack insular, self-assured conservatives, leftists, and libertarians because I believe they are, on occassion, too quick to ignore this fact.

Because I start from a position that accepts reasonable disagreement as inevitable, I'm skeptical that there can be any ultimate relevation of truth.

That doesn't mean we can't criticize people for bad faith or willful ignorance, but it does mean we need to be very careful that those we're disagreeing with really do suffer from one of those ailments.

The wild contradictions you allude to may yet be the product of bad faith or willful ignorance. No question. But I won't conclude that until the evidence is overwhelming, as I've been wrong in my assessment before.

With social conservatives, for example, I used to think it was bad faith, or something like that. Now I'm no longer sure. It may instead be a very deep, very real, very reasonable kind of disagreement, which I lack the resources to overcome. It was humbling to come to that realization, and it made me even more skeptical about the ultimate revelation of truth, and more accepting of the limits of our capacities as rational agents.

I do think that a free and open debate is necessary is the truth is going to come out at all. But my objection to censorship is not on those grounds, or not only on those grounds: I think censorship is disrespectful, in that it asserts what I think should only be asserted in the most exceptional circumstances: that everyone who has adopted a particular position, the one being censored, is unreasonable, and not worthy of participating in the debate.

Posted by: Terrence Watson | 2010-03-25 11:41:39 AM

I suggest that those interested in facts check the link on SDA or Blazingcatfur where there is proof of the planed violence to prevent the speech. The organising and advance planning clearly took place.

I also suggest that people gain a better understanding of the meaning of violence, since some assume it is limited to physical assault. These are usually the same people who are quick to claim that the interrogation of terrorists amounts to violence but claim violence was not an issue here.

Posted by: Alain | 2010-03-25 11:59:11 AM

Calling off your own event and then claiming you were muzzled is ridiculous. Quite frankly that's not how censorship works, that's self-censorship, and who then grandstands in the media when they censor themselves?

What a non-story.

Posted by: Scott | 2010-03-25 12:06:07 PM

I believe in the permanence of reasonable disagreement.

Even on matters of fact? Surely not.

Reasonable, even unreasonable, disagreements may be energising for individuals and groups of people when it comes to the articulation and exchange of views, but when they intrude in the domains of general, public knowledge and common sense, they become disastrous for democracies, which, it must be remembered, operate according to what majorities or pluralities believe.

Posted by: Ti-Guy | 2010-03-25 12:07:15 PM


Ann Coulter’s Safety
March 25, 2010

Despite having an entourage of security at her disposal, conservative commentator Ann Coulter was still worried enough about her safety to cancel her scheduled lecture at the University of Calgary. She was going to give a talk about media bias and free speech.

Personally, as far as her safety is concerned, I don’t think Coulter has a thing to worry about anywhere in Canada, with or without her team of body guards. She especially doesn’t need to worry in a conservative oil town like Calgary where I’m sure many would welcome her with open arms.

Apparently, Coulter doesn’t realize that in Canada, just like in the United States, good people abhor her and crazy people adore her. Sure, she might face some heckling from intelligent, thoughtful, peace protesting types, but, about the biggest threat she faces in Canada is having a snow boot thrown at her head.

I’m sure if she asked George W. Bush nicely, he would be more than happy to give her some pointers on what to do in the event of such an attack.


Incidentally, the shoe-thrower spent 9 months in jail for his actions.

He should have received a medal.

Posted by: Harryhammer | 2010-03-25 2:21:33 PM

If they were really "left wing thugs" there would be no violence. That is the right wings position. these are lefty posers.

Posted by: Tim | 2010-03-25 4:34:06 PM

Drowning out a Speaker you do not is not nonviolent, it suppresses free speech rights and damaged of the speaker all the people who came to hear them. These People were harmed. Who will compensate them for the damages? Someone paid to have Coulter come, who will pay them compensation for their losses? Those individuals and Institutes were robbed, and they have a right to be compensated.
The police should have arrested the thugs when they did not leave when asked to by the police.

Posted by: mark | 2010-03-25 4:35:56 PM

Whether or not anyone among the mob had a premeditated plan to shut Coulter down, they certainly acted in wreckless disregard for that eventuality. Pulling a fire alarm when a mob is present in a small, contained area entails real and substantial risk of harm. That's all that is required to found case of *criminal* trespass and mischief.

But the irony in the protestors' position should not go unremarked: They think that it is sufficient justification to shut down speech with the apparatus of a Human Rights bureacracy if it "might" conceivably lead to violence against an identifiable individual or group; yet wreckless disregard for rights and security of the persons who want to hear a speech is somehow defensible.

Explain that one away, Doggie.

Posted by: Grant Brown | 2010-03-25 4:40:56 PM

If they were really "left wing thugs" there would be no violence. That is the right wings position. these are lefty posers.

Excuse me, the Left is responsible for far more violence and intolerance than the Right. Who do you see manning the barricades? Lefties. Who do you see stampeding through the streets in ski masks? Lefties. Maybe that's because Right-wingers are more likely to be out of their teens and have a job.

I’m sure if she asked George W. Bush nicely, he would be more than happy to give her some pointers on what to do in the event of such an attack. Incidentally, the shoe-thrower spent 9 months in jail for his actions. He should have received a medal.

2004 is was six years ago. Get over it already. Your golden boy is in and very little important has changed. People of sense knew this would be the case, and the people are beginning to find it out.

Posted by: Shane Matthews | 2010-03-25 6:01:44 PM

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