When the POLICE choose who gets to speak – and who does not…

Lat night, Ann Coulter’s speech event thingy at the University of  Ottawa was canceled  at the last moment….  Here is the letter I sent my City representatives, asking for some answers…and actions:

Dear sirs!

I am writing to you, Mr. O’Brien, as my Mayor.

I am writing to you, Mr. Hunter, as my elected representative at the City of Ottawa.

And, I am writing to you, Mr. El-Chantiry, as the Chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board.

If you have not had the opportunity to hear about this already, last night, the City of Ottawa has abdicated its duties, responsibilities and obligations to provide ‘core services’ in a very public manner, which is likely to draw a very large amount of international criticism to our beautiful city. And – rightly so!

Let me cut through the niceties and get to the core of the issue:

Last night, 23rd of March, 2010, an American media pundit – Ann Coulter – was scheduled to speak at the University of Ottawa.

First, let me stress that I am not a fan of Ann Coulter: rather, I am rather vocal in my criticism of her.

Still, that does not excuse what happened….

Sponsored by International Free Press, Ms. Coulter had been booked to speak at the University of Ottawa last night. Even prior to her entry into Canada, M F. Houle – a provost at the University of Ottawa – had sent Ms. Coulter, a letter warning her ahead of time to self-censor her expression, else she will face prosecution. While this letter has received international condemnation (and, Ms. Coulter is apparently considering legal action of her own against M Houle due to this letter), this condemnation of Ms. Coulter for a presumed pre-crime is nowhere as explosive as what had happened last night.

According to Macleans, the ‘police’ had – at the last moment – refused to provide an adequate security response to this event and, as Ms. Coulter is reported to have said, ‘pulled the plug’ on the event! Yes – the University of Ottawa was the primary organizer, and had the primary responsibility. Still, Macleans is reporting that it was the Ottawa Police – not campus security – who canceled the event, claiming they could not provide sufficient security.

Since when is it the role of the police to decide who is – and who is not – permitted to speak at a previously booked, properly vetted event? And – let’s be clear on this: had the Ottawa Police been capable of supplying sufficient security, the event organizers would not have felt ‘threatened’…

The job of the police is to provide security: the event was well publicized in advance and any failure to staff it sufficiently enough, to not be able to provide adequate security – especially following the publicity from Ms. Coulter’s Monday night’s appearance at UWO, is an admission on the part of the Ottawa Police Services that either they failed to plan – or they planned to fail!

Either way, the result is unacceptable (to say the least)! When the police are the ones permitted to decide (through failure to adequately prepare ahead of time, fear of public reaction, or for any other reason) who may or may not be permitted to exercise our Constitutional freedoms, to dictate the tone of public debate – well, the implications are unspeakable!

I am an immigrant, who came to Canada seeking a better life of freedom and opportunity. Opportunity for myself, and, now – my children. I was forced to flee an oppressive police state, where peoples’ rights and freedoms could only be exercised when and where ‘permitted’ by an oppressive, totalitarian regime. And, I came to Canada because this WAS a great place!

Now – seeing police shut down events at the last minute because they chose not to provide adequate protection for a legal event where they presumed ‘unpopular speech’ would occur – well, it brings back nightmares! Very bad nightmares!

Nightmares of a place where only those whose words were approved ahead of time were permitted to speak.

Nightmares of a place where the police could choose what people had rights – and what people did not.

Nightmares of a place where only one point of view was permitted to be uttered in public: one which the police approved of – whether their reasons for approval were ideology or convenience!

Now – Ottawa has become such a place… Shame on all of us for permitting things to come to this!

As I said earlier, I am no fan of Ms. Coulter. Frankly, I find her to be an offensive git. And, I am a member of one of those ‘unpopular minorities’ this silly person really does not like – a lot – and is quite vocal about it…

But, that really is not the point.

A person’s a person, no matter how silly….and if THAT person’s civil rights can be stripped away at the whim of the police, so can mine – and yours!

This is a serious blight on the reputation of our city – as well as a serious threat to all our civil liberties. I would like to know what each one of you, gentlemen, will personally do to both find out where the failure occurred (and ensure the individuals responsible do not remain in the City’s employ) and what you yourself will do to ensure no such abrogation of civil rights and liberties can ever again occur in our fair City of Ottawa – ‘University campuses’ or otherwise!

Sincerely yours,

Xanthippa

H/T : BlazingCatFur

8 Responses to “When the POLICE choose who gets to speak – and who does not…”

  1. Don Sharpe Says:

    Great letter Xan, you hit the nail right on the head. We just had a ‘racism rally’ here in Calgary Mar 21, and the police showed an appropriate response to ensure there was no violence. Dozens of cops on bikes and in riot gear deployed to ensure the lefties could scream about what is becoming an almost non-existant problem.
    It’s criminal that the Ottawa police didn’t do their sworn duty, and when the police are the criminals, there isn’t much hope left.

    Xanthippa says: Thank you!

    The A. Coulter vs F. Houle thing was all Ottawa media had been talking about…you’d think the police would anticipate a large crowd and staff it accordingly… It’s just their job!!!

  2. Free Ann Coulter! « Free Canuckistan! Says:

    […] XANTHIPPA IS HOPPING: “When the POLICE choose who gets to speak – and who does not!” […]

  3. CodeSlinger Says:

    Xanthippa:

    The erosion of our freedom of speech is only one aspect of this situation. And of course I’m with you one hundred percent on that issue. Like you, I don’t agree with everything Ann Coulter says, but the way she was treated in Canada — particularly in Ottawa — was beneath contempt. It doesn’t matter whether one agrees with her or not. Her right to say what she thinks is inseparable from everyone else’s right to say what they think.

    But there is a deeper problem here, which is brought to light by your letter and even more so by Don Sharpe’s comment. What is deeply disturbing is that both of you seem to think that the solution to the statist evil of restricting free speech rests on accepting an even greater statist evil: the police state.

    Much of your letter is predicated on your statement that “the job of the police is to provide security …” And Mr. Sharpe goes even further. My jaw dropped when I read

    “… the police showed an appropriate response to ensure there was no violence. Dozens of cops on bikes and in riot gear …”

    This is appropriate??? Perhaps in a totalitarian police state. But not in a free country!

    We, the people of Canada, have been tricked into accepting the dangerously false idea that it is the role of the police to keep us safe.

    The only proper role of the police is to bring criminals to justice. And nothing more. The police have no proper role in any aspect of public or private life until after a crime has been committed.

    As soon as we allowed the role of police to expand beyond that strictly limited and clearly defined role, we took the first step down the slippery slope that lead to the present restrictions on free speech and the infringement of all of our other inalienable rights by an ever more rapacious and invasive state that intrudes into of every aspect of our lives and seeks to control everything we do and say and think — all in the name of keeping us safe.

    Remain in your cells, for your own safety.

    Xanthippa says:
    Of course, you are right!

    In the big picture…

    Work with what you have first.

  4. CodeSlinger Says:

    Xanthippa:

    Actually, I think an excellent strategic opportunity was missed in this situation.

    Bars have bouncers to deal with people who get rowdy. Why shouldn’t the International Free Press Society?

    The police admit they cannot provide security.

    Then how dare they deny our right to provide our own security?

    That’s what the response should have been. But instead, we clamour for more police, better prepared and better equipped. Thereby, we tacitly accept the egregiously false proposition that the inability of the police to guarantee safety is a valid reason to prevent people from exercising their rights.

    The state argues that it is not legitimate for citizens to defend themselves, because they should count on the police to do that. So, when the police admit that they cannot do that, the state’s argument is shown to be false.

    This situation should have been used as a clear example of how giving up our right to self defence and handing it over to the state must inevitably lead to the infringement of all of our rights. Like free speech, in this case.

    But a situation which manifestly demolishes the argument for a police state was instead allowed to appear to strengthen it.

    This is how we snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    Xanthippa says:

    Weeeeell, we might have a slightly different take on this!

    OK – I’ve been meaning to expand on this, as I have a reply to my email from the head of the Police Services Board, and I was going to write up and post both at once….just that ‘other life’ stuff keeps stealing time away from my blogging!!!

    Just a shortened version, then…

    The role of ‘the State’ has some very core functions. The primary role of the police is to stop those who have broken laws. Are you with me so far?

    The role of a private security – like the bouncers in a bar you referenced – is to maintain order and ‘house rules’ on private property. However, they do not have any jurisdiction over those who have broken the laws (which apply on private as well as public property).

    The crowd which gathered to protest Ann Coulter’s appearance did not have a permit for a lawful demonstration. (OK – here is a completely different debate about this whole permit thing, but, that is tangential and notthe point here. The point here is that right now, we have a rule that to demonstrate, one must obtain a permit from the City – and these people did not.)

    Therefore, these people HAD indeed broken the laws – and it was the responsibility of the police to handle the situation: specifically, to remove the law-breakers from the scene.

    That is how we have ‘written the laws’ righ now. We can argue till we are blue in the face about the ‘righness or wrongness’ of these laws. But, as of now, these are the laws.

    To protest, you first need a pemit issued by the City.

    The protesters did not have a permit – yet were protesting.

    Therefore, the protesters were breaking the law.

    Therefore, it was the responsibility of the police to stop them from breaking the law.

    That is the point of ‘police’…

  5. CodeSlinger Says:

    Xanthippa:

    You’ve completely sidestepped the issue.

    It doesn’t matter whether the police would have been justified in dispersing the protestors.

    The police claimed they were unable guarantee everyone’s safety, and they used this claim as a false justification to stop Ann Coulter’s appearance.

    Don’t you see the fallacy in that? And the danger?

    It isn’t the job of the police to guarantee anyone’s safety. Ever.

    So their inability to do so is no justification to stop anyone from doing anything. Ever.

    Each time we let the state get away with that kind of false justification, we meekly take one more step into bondage.

  6. CodeSlinger Says:

    Xanthippa:

    Okay, now that I’ve put the main issue back on track, I can’t resist taking your bait on the two side issues you raised.

    First, if a crowd wants to gather to protest Ann Coulter’s appearance, I say let them. If they breach the peace in an attempt to physically interfere with her appearance, then her supporters — or anyone else — are legally justified in taking whatever action is required to restore the peace. And this is just as true on public property as it is on private property. That’s the law in Canada.

    Second, on the issue of obtaining a permit to protest, I must side with the protesters. Let’s be real here: those who may only protest with permission may not really protest at all. Therefore a law requiring a permit to protest is an unjust law, and it is the moral duty of every person to disobey unjust laws. Otherwise we executed law abiding Germans at Nuremberg out of sheer revenge and without colour of right.

    Xanthippa says:

    Arrrgggghhh!!!!

    You are getting WAY too far ahead of my argument!!!!!

    Please – I beg you – slow down!!!!

    I am going EXACTLY where YOU are!!! I am just taking a different route…and, I have been trying hard to finish up the IPCC-references-review-thingie (deadline looming, and all) which has left me without the time to address this effectively!

    And – while you are right on one level – I maintain there are other issues to cover. OK – you NEED me to explain myself so you can either support or utterly destroy me. I get it. Just, please, give me a few days to finish the ‘fiddly bits’ with the IPCC thingie – and I will totally explain!!!

    I do NOT promise not to exasperate you – but I DO promise not to disappoint you!
    (As a matter of fact, I rather suspect I WILL exasperate you – I just hope it will not be beyond your endurance point!)

    There are several issues here: the breech of law, and the law itself.

    I deplore the law. I do not agree with it nor do I support it. BUT – it IS the law: as long as we have legal means to try and change the law, it is not justifiable to break such a law (of course, I differentiate between ‘breaking’ the law and ‘defying’ it: but I have addressed that many times before!).

    So, as the events have already occurred, it is essential to apply the laws (and by-laws) which existed at the time the events took place – right or wrong…..and, lay blame where the breakdown in the whole ‘rules’ thingie happened – whether we like the rules or not!

    As a matter of fact….I truly do believe that ‘bad’ laws MUST be enforced to their fullest so that all the populace has the opportunity to see exactly what is wrong with the laws!!! If they are not ‘applied fully and universally’, not enough people will understand just what is wrong with that law and will not seek legal means of creating sufficient pressure to have the law changed/abolished…

    I hope this is enough for now…I AM thinking of the most awesomest response ever: I just need to get this IPCC thingie (plus life, and all that) done so I can write it up!

  7. CodeSlinger Says:

    Xanthippa:

    It’s okay. Relax. Take your time.

    It will be interesting, when you get around to it, to see how you finesse your definitions to make a difference between “breaking” the law and “defying” the law…

    Meanwhile, let me summarize my position:

    The cancellation of Ann Coulter’s appearance in Ottawa is important because it shows what happens whenever the state is allowed to overstep its only legitimate purpose, which is to defend everyone’s equal rights equally.

    Any law which purports to expand the role of the state beyond that limit is an unjust law. In particular, any law by which the state aims to restrict the citizens’ right to defend their own rights, or claims that right exclusively for itself, is an especially unjust law.

    And I’m with St. Augustine: an unjust law is no law at all.

    Any action by the state, which is predicated on any such unjust non-law, is nothing but blatant despotism. Thus the Ottawa police are to be criticized, but not for incompetence or lack of preparation, because this would only lend undeserved legitimacy to unjust non-laws.

    The correct reason to criticize the Ottawa police is for their tyrannical disrespect for the rights of the citizens they are sworn to serve.

    When the police say, “stop what you’re doing because we can’t protect you,” the only correct response is:

    Of course you can’t, but that’s no excuse for infringing our rights, so just stay out of our way while we take care of ourselves.

    Any other response implicitly allows the state to act as if it owns us.

  8. Is Guy Earle the ‘next George Carlin’? « Xanthippa's Chamberpot Says:

    […] own attempt to state this, phrased as a letter (and sent, among others, to the Chair of the Ottawa Police Services Board – the civilian body […]


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