Day 1’s events can be read here
If you want to skip through my rant, please, do scroll down to the un-indented section!
Before I get into today’s events, there are several things I’d like to get ‘out there’.
First and foremost, I am quite sad and a little upset that I appear to be the only person who is coming to watch the trial and is daily reporting on it. After all, I am an Aspie and, as such, have a non-typical way of perceiving the world around me.
People with Aspergers have, according to the latest research I am aware of, many more undifferentiated cells in our amygdalas (when compared with the neurotypical majority). As such, we tend to both perceive and process what goes on around us a little differently than most people do. At least two standard deviations from the mean differently….for most diagnostic norms.
So, I am fully aware that my perceptions and my parsing of what is happening in the courtroom is not how most people are likely to see it. And, without another report from a more neurotypical person to which I could link for ‘control’, I am afraid that, despite my best abilities, I may not be painting as accurate picture as I wish I could!
So, I beg you to to bear with me as I briefly describe my ‘Aspie lens’ so that you can strip it off my account!
Most of us Aspies are rather blind to appeals to our emotions rather than our rational thought. To the contrary, what other people perceive as display of emotion, we perceive as attempts at manipulation and are rather repelled by them. Also, we usually have a very rigid sense of ‘fair play’ and given the choice between ‘doing the right thing’ and ‘helping our friend’ – should those two be in conflict – we will pretty unanimously pick the ‘doing the right thing’.
Of course, what we consider ‘doing the right thing’ to be depends much on our upbringing and life experience.
I, myself, an am immigrant to Canada. I escaped from a totalitarian dictatorship, where I was the daughter of a known political dissident and, because of this, I had experienced some rather unpleasant things from early on in my childhood.
Having lived under an oppressive, totalitarian regime, I have become fully aware that ‘a state’ cannot just oppress because that is a political construct. Rather, it is always the ‘agents of the state’ – flesh and blood people – who carry out the actions of oppression against their fellow citizens on behalf of the state by enforcing the very laws which restrict human freedoms. And, these ‘agents of the state’ – more often than not – consider themselves to be upstanding citizens who are protecting society by upholding the laws of the land. But, I digress…
Thus, I am an anti-slavery fundamentalist and a free-speech absolutist. Yes, I truly think that even yelling ‘FIRE!’ in a crowded theater ought to be permitted speech, because the damage done by people being afraid to call out when they see some smoke, which later turns out to be a fast-spreading-fire, is potentially much, much greater than if they spoke freely and warned their fellow citizens of a potential danger!!!
Also, English is neither my first, second or third language, so, at times, I may be quite deaf to some linguistic nuances.
These are my biases and limitations – I state them here clearly and honestly. Please, when you read my report, keep them in mind and try to apply your own lens to neutralize them!!!
The next thing I’d like to raise is (sorry if I come across as whining – I don’t know how to state this without sounding so wussy) the state of my health.
I am not exactly well. At this point, I have outlived the MD’s ‘best predictions’ by several years already, so I count myself incredibly lucky for every day I am still here. But, I do have physical problems…and, being out of bed for this many hours, two days in a row, is a very, very serious strain on me.
As such, I have had to take my maximum prescribed pain meds. There is a saying ‘out there’ – thou shall not drink and blog! Well, I may not be ‘drinking’ my meds, but that is a bit of a technicality…
Yet, I do know that there are many of you who are eager to read what had gone on in the trial today!!!
And, regrettably, I am the only one who seems to be reporting on this…and thus I do feel a sense of obligation to report what I had observed in the trial…
Unfortunately, I was a little late in arriving at the court-house today: the jury trial had already been underway for a little over half an hour . Yet, from what I have understood later, from the comments of others, the very first thing the brilliant Mr. Katz did was to have Mr. Warman clarify the ‘potential misunderstanding’ that Mr. Warman’s testimony of the previous day may have created.
The jury ought to form their opinion on true facts, not accidental mistakes.
The whole day’s testimony before the jury was taken up by Mr. Warman being up on the stand. I have to say, that would be a physically stressful day! Yet, he bore it well and the only signs of fatigue I noticed was that, while he had been speaking so fast on day one that one of the jurors had to ask him so slow down, by the end of the day today, he spoke much slower than in the morning.
And, towards the day, as he spoke, he was making more grammatical errors in his sentences. Minor ones, like who/whom, and so on, but I am a bit of a grammar-nazi (I plead Aspie!), so each one struck me.
Otherwise, he appeared as fresh at 4 o’clock as he had when I walked into the room.
Again, just like yesterday, Mr. Katz talked Mr. Warman through the various threads on the Free Dominion website where Mr Warman explained the context, timing – in relation with communicating with the defendants, too – what he found defamatory and why. This had the jury flipping from tab to tab in these huge, thicks binders of evidence.
Alas, without one, I could not follow it as closely as the jury, so I’ll not even attempt to go into the details. Instead, I’ll report on the few instances where this ‘normal’ state of things was interrupted.
For example, when the court convened after lunch, before the jury had been brought in, with an indulgent smile on his face, Justice Robert Smith announced that he had a question from the jury!
He tore open the brown envelope in which it had been delivered and read it out. At the beginning of the trial, the jury had been instructed not to do independent research on any of the subjects of this trial because it must be judged on what is presented in the courtroom and not elsewhere. But, this question was not about Mr. Warman or Free Dominion or any of the John Does themselves…
Rather, the juror wanted to know if they could do independent research to learn what the libel laws in Canada actually are.
The judge said it seems like the jurors might seek to know the law in order to have context for the testimony before them. But, it would be difficult to do quickly – the full instruction to the jury is usually at the conclusion of the testimony and is long and complex, and could not really be done at this point. Perhaps he could give a general idea…
Barbara Kulaszka, the counsel for some of the defendants, thought it would be better for the jurors to listen to all the evidence without this framework, so they don’t accidentally shut information they mistakenly thought was irrelevant.
There was some back and forth between the Judge and the lawyers on this. Justice Smith ensured that he also asked Mr. Smith’s opinion (as Mr. Smith is representing himself), but Mr. Smith deferred to the judge’s opinion.
In the end, the judge did indeed give the jury a very general framework for what these laws are, but he was cautious to point out that, like in every profession, these terms are all technical terms that have very specific meanings in the legal context, meanings which may differ from the general usage of those terms.
So, he briefly outlined the law and the defenses, but told the jurors that he will not only explain it better later, he’ll give them all the definitions in writing so they will be able to refer to them in their deliberating.
But, I am out of temporal sequence here…
First the question came, the judge and counsel discussed it, and the jury was sent for. But, instead of the jury, another question came: now, one (or, perhaps more) juror wanted to know if they may visit the Free Dominion site itself. This, of course, was a simple ‘no’.
Thus, when the jury did come in and the judge was giving them answers, he answered question 2 first, then the more complex question 1.
One thing that struck me about Mr. Warman’s testimony was that, over and over, he insisted that any claims that he was damaging people’s lives with his actions, were false. To him (or, so I perceived), this was about personal accountability: these people were saying things that it was illegal to say and he was a fine and upstanding citizen who simply made sure the laws of the land were applied to them. It was the duty of righteous citizens, like himself, to protect the society at large from those citizens who speak things that are illegal to say.
I am, of course, describing here how I perceived Mr. Warman’s testimony – these are not his direct words, just my understanding of them.
Yet, this was a recurring reference that he kept making – he was just enforcing the laws!
Therefore, any reference associating him with an agent of a totalitarian state enforcing unjust laws on the citizens, like the Stasi, SS or Stalin’s goons, is completely unfounded.
At one point, he did mention that Section 13 (often referred to in the media as ‘the censorship provision’) of the Human Rights code may have been ‘gotten rid of’ (here, I did not perfectly follow the details, just the bigger meaning, but I think it was gotten rid of because so many people thought it to be unconstitutional), that it is still the law of our land until next summer. So, it was perfectly proper for him to lay ‘Section 13’ complaints against people who said illegal things and it is not he, but the people who said the illegal things that is the cause of their suffering.
There was one point in particular that stands out in my mind.
He was speaking about some woman (I did not catch the name – my apologies) who said illegal things and whom he had brought a ‘Section 13’ complaint against, but who later claimed that Mr. Warman had ruined her life. I don’t even know whom he had been referring to, much less what it was she had said that brought this upon her, but it was clearly illegal and Mr. Warman testified that she was no misguided young girl but a full-out baddie who claimed that these illegal-to-say things (I don’t want to repeat the things and accidentally re-publish them, because, from what was said in the trial, this, too, might land me in trouble…thus the self-censorship)….lost my thread, sorry.
So, Mr. Warman testified that this woman said these ‘illegal-to-say-things’ were her deeply held beliefs and formed the core of her self-identity. So, the Tribunal did what it always does (I do believe the term ‘boilerplate’ was used) and issued a ‘cease and desist’ against her (sorry, lack of legal term understanding here, but I understand it to mean a lifetime gag order). So, if in the future, this bad woman were ever to say aloud or write the things she believes and which form the core of her identity, she would indeed be jailed.
What struck me was how cold and clinical he was as he said this, as if he did not realize the implications of what he was saying. He made it seem ‘matter-of-fact’ and ‘normal’.
At this point, my stomach clenched, my head began to spin…
There is more, but I am too upset to type now….perhaps I’ll update more when my hands stop shaking…
September 11, 2013 at 09:43
You are a wonderful writer. You are telling us all sorts of vivid impressions.
September 11, 2013 at 12:59
Thank you so much for your excellent observations. My hope is that the judge
is without bias, pro or con, and the facts are allowed to speak for themselves which is not always the case.
September 11, 2013 at 17:15
Thank you so much for telling us what is going on in this most important trial. It is not lost on me that you are the only one talking about it, which is imo a very sad day for Canada, that Canadians are afraid to speak about a public trial. In that regard we have already lost.
September 11, 2013 at 18:48
Your comments are lucid and give us a flavour of proceedingstht is invaluable. Great work.
September 11, 2013 at 19:36
There is no place in a free society for thought police who in and of themselves infringe on the right of the people to free expression. Who are these idiots who think that anyone with an opinion that does not agree with theirs should be attacked by an out of control inquisitional system?
September 11, 2013 at 22:37
One of them goes by “Warman”