Day 5 will be written up later, as writing it up may affect the trial…
Following up on Dr. Baglow’s ‘uncivil’ language regarding Kate McMillan, Mr. Frankel brought up Dr. Baglow’s testimony that he believes in being ‘uncivil towards the uncivil’. In my never-humble-opinion, this was a low point for Dr. Baglow….being shown to have been ‘uncivil’ to Kate McMillan even after she had been so ‘civil’ to him!
It was at this point that the judge noted that the level of sarcasm on the blog posts she had read was incredibly high…and she questioned Dr. Baglow if all the blogs were like this. He explained that no, not all were – for example, some of the anthropological blogs he frequents, even though they address controversial topics, they maintain an academic level of discourse.
Then we got into the Godwin’s Law…the discussion was predictable, as was the redirect regarding it.
Following that bit, Mr. Frankel went on to demonstrate that Dr. Baglow did not object to much more reputation-damaging statements than the impugned words, such as being called ‘a shill for Hezbollah’ and ‘traitor’. Dr. Baglow’s response to all this was ‘context’…as in, had it been in ‘different context’, he would have taken legal action against them, too.
Next Mr. Frankel concentrated on the difference between Dr. Baglow’s blog posts and his editorial pieces for the National Post (having convinced an editor by the name of Kelly McParland (sp?) that having a leftist’s POV would enrich the publication).
It seemed quite clear to me what he Mr. Frankel was doing (if, indeed, he was doing what I think he was doing): he was demonstrating that the submission process to a newspaper – even an editorial – is much different than a blog post or comment for a blog post.
It also seemed to me that Dr. Baglow also saw where this was going and was doing his best to avoid going there…like saying that ‘he knew how an op-ed ought to differ from a blog post so there was no need for anyone else to make changes to it’ and so on.
Yet, Mr. Frankel got Dr. Baglow to admit that the comments to his blog were not read by him until after they had been posted – in other words, he had no ‘editorial control’ over the comments posted on his site – while the op-ed pieces he submitted to National Post were not only groomed by himself to adhere to a different standard than a blog post would, but that they had to be vetted by the editor prior to publication.
To me – this is the key difference between the blogosphere/discussion forums and actual online publications: the ‘newspapers’, even in their online versions, have editorial control of what they publish because they read and OK everything PRIOR to publication, while blog comments and discussion forum posts/comments are NOT read/vetted by the administration prior to publication. Indeed, in the case of a discussion forum with some 10,000 users (like, say, Free Dominion), vetting all posts/comments by the administrators would not only be physically impossible, but leaving everything in a vetting cue would prevent the ‘online conversations’ which define the very nature of debate on discussion forums.
Therefore, it is (and I am extrapolating where I think this argument was going) it is ridiculous to hold people who have not seen a comment/post to the same standard of responsibility for it as those who have read and vetted it.
The next bit of time was taken up with discussing one of Dr. Baglow’s least favourite politicians… Vic Toews.
Frankly, I did not really grasp the significance of all this – except to unmask the visceral hate Dr. Baglow has the capacity for. I really did not understand how this bit impacted on the matter in hand…except that Dr. Baglow’s hate-on for this politician resulted in him posting some nasty stuff about him – stuff one might argue was more slanderous than ‘the impugned words’…. As in, it demonstrated Dr. Baglow had both written and published more ‘libel-worthy’ things about Vic Toews than had ever been posted anywhere about him self.
Dr. Baglow’s not entirely convincing response was that had he been called on it, he would have cowered in a corner and backed down with a generous apology. (I am paraphrasing somewhat…but I found the answer to be less than convincing because Dr. Baglow would not look up while he spoke until almost the end and then hurriedly added that, of course, he would only do it for statements he thought were truly potentially defamatory – and that then he’d re-phrase them but, of course, he would not take down and apologize for frivolous claims…)
I know I am going over this in a LOT of detail – but, I do think that the CCLA’s participation as ‘a friend of the court’ in this matter is very, very important. The outcome of this case will, after all, determine the freedoms all of us enjoy (or not) on the internet!!!
The next bit struck a little bit close to home for the CCLA: supporting freedom of speech was being criticized as ‘enabling’ hate speech….
Yet, Mr. Frankel was able to turn it inside out and, after he got Dr. Baglow to admit that supporting free speech – even for neo-Nazis (as per some people’s definitions) could be perceived (and was repeatedly labelled as such by his ideological comrades, as well as Dr. Baglow himself) as ‘support for neo-Nazis’ (or other such ‘hate’ groups), then support for Omar Khadr and his ilk could, reasonably, be seen as ‘supporting’ – or, at least ‘giving aid and support/comfort’ to the Islamists/Taliban that Omar Khadr was working with. What’s good for the goose…
It was very well done and it revealed clearly demonstrated the ‘if one, then the other’ bit here. I fully expect it to come out in Mr. Frankel’s closing argument.
I suspect this highlights the ‘important’ bits of Mr. Frankel’s cross examination. I know, my write-up is verbose, but it took surprisingly little time – just over an hour!
The court took a little (less than an hour) break at this point. And, so shall I – leaving the rest for another post!