As promised, let’s start with the ‘Fern Hill’ bit: though, I am warning you, I might get a bit philosophical…
In her opening statement, Connie Fournier said her testimony would demonstrate a multi-year cyber-bullying campaign of herself by Dr. Baglow and that this lawsuit is just another means through which he is victimizing her. It was alleged that, among other things, Dr. Baglow attempted to isolate Connie by bullying and targeting people who supported her and even attempted to sabotage a fundraiser for their legal costs. In order to have Dr. Baglow’s side of the story (as Connie’s testimony is still in the future), Mr. Burnet had to ask Dr. Baglow a lot of questions about this and thus bring his side of the story forward.
So, this is what is happening here. I’ll explain this the best that I can – though, again, I cannot stress strongly enough that it is extremely difficult to follow what is happening in court because everyone has exhibits and is reading all kinds of materials which are being discussed, but the spectators have no access to these materials and only hear the references to them, what their importance is or is not according to all the different people. So, I’ve tried to piece this together as best as I could…
Fern Hill is a blogger – and a decidedly progressive one. Unlike Connie Fournier, Fern Hill is 100% pro choice and, from what I’ve gathered, she is very proudly far left of centre. She has several co-bloggers, including a female blogger named DammitJanet. And, as a fellow ideological leftist, she and Dr. Baglow were on very friendly terms.
Yet, when Dr. Baglow filed this particular lawsuit against the Fourniers, in my never-humble-opinion, Fern Hill saw the existential danger to the whole blogosphere that this lawsuit poses: should Dr. Baglow be victorious, it will not be a ruling against the Fourniers and Roger Smith: it will be a ruling against the blogosphere, as it exists today. If one can be fined tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs and penalties for a honestly believed-in comment that 5 or 6 people saw (before the Streissand effect applied), then one could not possibly post one’s own honestly believed-in opinions on any kind of an open forum.
Fern Hill was a friend of Dr. Baglow – but hoped the defendants (whom she disagreed with, but whose silencing she saw as being potentially capable of silencing herself) would prevail in this particular case. This put her in a very uncomfortable position: side with her friend and loose her rights, or side with her rights and anger her friend!
Fern Hill arrived at what she thought was a win-win solution: she would work hard to raise funds for BOTH sides!
This way, she would support her friend, Dr.Baglow, in his fight and thus show her loyalty. At the same time, she would raise the same amount of money for the defendants, as they were also fighting for her own right to speak freely.
Both sides get some help – all benefit, her conscience is clear.
And it was during this portion of the testimony that Dr. Baglow was not his polished, professional self but let some of his raw emotion show. He was truly and honestly hurt by Fern Hill’s suggestion that she support both her friend and her rights (as she saw it)! In my never-humble-opinion, Dr. Baglow truly and honestly did not get Fern Hill’s dilemma, nor her reasoning for the proposed solution. To him, this was a black-and-white issue: either you support your ideogical allies, or you are a traitor to the cause worthy of the worst possible abuse.
This brings in the philosophy bit….
In my never-humble-opinion, this is a key, fundamental, un-negotiable divide between collectivists and individualists…and why the two cannot begin to see eye to eye.
Individualists realize just how important to humankind the approval of their peers is, how necessary it is for one to have the acceptance/approval of the social group one exists in in order to thrive, physically and mentally. It is precisely because they understand this basic human need ‘to be accepted’ that individuals who stand up to the group and/or specific elements of the group (which may be influential and/or powerful) and stand up for what they believe is right and wrong.
In other words, risking social rejection in order to stand on principle is, to the individualist, the highest form of morality, worthy of the greatest praise and admiration.
Conversely, compromising one’s ideals in order to conform to the group is, among individualists, considered to be the height of hypocrisy and the most contemptible, hypocritical behaviour ever.
Now, let us consider the collectivist point of view:
To the collectivist, the group IS the embodiment of the ‘self’.
Thus, setting personal principles aside and supporting ‘the group goal’ (even if parts of it, or the means of achieving it proposed, are against one’s personal principles of ‘right and wrong’) is seen as the most admirable, praise-worthy quality of self-lessness and altruistic dedication to ‘the cause’.
Standing up against ‘the group’ (or, by default, the loudest and thus most influential elements within the group) in order to preserve one’s principles of right and wrong is seen as the cardinal sin of ‘arrogance’ and ‘self-gratification’ by the collectivists.
With such a different conception of what constitutes morality – standing on principle against the group vs. giving up principles to the will of the group – is it any surprise that a collectivist would not only fail to see how standing on one’s principles would not be praiseworthy, but how he could perceive a person trying to protect themselves from the actions of ‘a member of the group’ would be seen as ‘betrayal’.
And this is what I think Fern Hill’s problem was.
Dr. Baglow testified that he felt betayed by his friend and ideological ally, he saw her action as aiding and abetting of Nazi enablers (because, even though the Fourniers are not themselves Nazis, by fighting for freedom of speech for everyone, even the distasteful elements in society, he sees their actions as enabling Nazis to spread hate speech). I hope I have understood this accurately – if I have made errors, please, let me know.
Because Dr. Baglow felt so betrayed by Fern Hill’s support for both sides, he posted and Tweeted some nasty things, designed to express the depth of hurt and anger that he felt. And, as a true collectivist who presumes guilt by association, he smeared anyone who stood up for Fern Hill (I believe it was in this context that some misogynistic abuse was hurled at DammiJanet, Fern Hill’s co-blogger and a fellow progressive). He demanded that Fern Hill pick sides – and clearly indicated which side he thought she ought to pick.
In my never-humble-opinion, this admission proves the charge that he interfered with Connie’s fundraising efforts as well as her accusations that he tried to bully people who stood up for her cause, isolating her from supporters. But, my understanding is necessarily imperfect as I have no legal training, and it is difficult to predict what kind of impression this made on the judge.
Are you familiar with the expression: “Looking down one’s nose at something/someone”?
I am not a very good observer of facial expressions or body language, so I don’t really recall ever having quite understood what people mean by this phrase. Until Dr. Baglow’s cross examination, that is.
At times, he would remove his glasses, tilt his head back and glare contemptuously at Barbara Kulaszka (who was the first to start the cross examination) and the rest of the defendants and, in the most derisive, patronizing tone, he’d utter phrases like “extreme free speech types”… I found this very uncomfortable, because this did not seem like the very charming, courteous man whom I’ve had the pleasure to chat with.
Plus – compared to me, the Fourniers are very much ‘centrists’ when it comes to ‘free speech’ ideas. Myself, I am an anti-slavery fundamentalist, and, thus, through logical evaluation, I must take the position of a free speech absolutist. If I own my self, then I am 100% responsible for my actions, regardless of who does and says what. This also means that if you own your self, then I am not responsible for your actions or how you react to my words. Thus, falsely yelling FIRE in a crowded theatre must not be prohibited because if I were to be responsible for how other people react to my words, then such a responsibility implies at least part ownership. After all, how can I be responsible for you if I have no coercive power over you? And if I have coercive power over you, then you do not truly own your self….or so the reasoning goes. Others have said all this much more eloquently many, many times before.
Anyhow, the cross examination was very exciting.
Barbara Kulaszka, the lawyer for Mark Fournier, had gotten Dr. Baglow to agree to some of the basic facts about the Khadr case – in particular, that Omar Khadr had been picked up in a raid on the Taliban. In other words, we were again covering the whole Al Qaeda vs Taliban thing.
Then we got into the ‘Taliban Jack’ nickname for Jack Layton because of his perceived support of the Taliban and why that was not defamatory.
The next bit covered had, I suspect, something to do with ‘context’.
Throughout is testimony, Dr. Baglow had testified that he did not remove words even more insulting and offensive that he was called, on his own blog and under his control, because of the context…either they were clearly miss-use of the words or they were a simple vulgarity or if was so obvious from the context that they were just silly that it was not worth his time to bother with them. This, however, was different, because there was insufficient context around the comment to make it clear it was not literally true.
Barbara Kulaszka skillfully walked Dr. Baglow through many instances on his blog where he relies on ‘general information’ for context and does not supply it – nor does he repair broken links that provide context on older posts, thus committing the same error of publishing strong statements of views without the necessary context. I think she demonstrated this clearly, as it was at this point in the cross examination that Dr. Baglow began fidgeting in his seat.
There was a lot of back and forth, asking about the blogosphere, other fora and blogs and bloggers – and commenters. One name kept popping up quite a lot: ‘MarkyMark’. Dr. Baglow testified that they had met through the blogosphere and became friends and that MarkyMark even stayed in his house!
When asked about blogs on the political right, he named many. When asked about blogs on the political left, he hmmmd and eventually came up with a few rather unknown ones while not naming any of the ‘biggies’ (that even I know about – and I know very little about the ‘progressive’ bit of the blogosphere, for obvious reasons). I was quite surprised at this and wondered about it.
He testified, with a straight face, that when he told people that if they were looking for Nazis (people who said they had guns and were looking to kill Nazis, no less), they should go see Connie Fournier, he did not intend for them to take their guns and threaten Connie but that he honestly believed ‘she could facilitate contact’ with them. It continued much in this way for quite some time, suggesting Connie should be imitated with a staged Gestapo accent, and so on. This is obviously just teasing and not abusive in the least, as per Dr. Baglow.
About his online implying that Connie had maliciously sent him an email with an electronic virus, Dr. Baglow forced out a chuckle and said that right after he had read his email, his computer crashed, so he joked about it.
Dr. Baglow mocked the Fourniers from the stand for winning the George Orwell Free Speech Award, sneering that was not an honourable award to win.
For those who do not know, a SLAPP suit is a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation and a favourite tool of the totalitarians to suppress free speech by suing people into oblivion. If you did not know what this term was, you are not alone – the judge did not know either and commented on what an interesting concept this was.
It was at this point that I got a bad toothache and I did not take as good notes afterwards. My apologies – I’ll have to be a little bit brief.
The most important thing that came out during next little bit of talking about BCF and his blog was something Dr. Baglow had written. It seems that something negative was said about BCF on another, most likely Dr. Dawg’s, and BCF copy/pasted it when rebutting it or somehow responding to it, so that the offensive term appeared again, this time as part of BCF’s comment.
Dr. Dawg had then written something to the effect that by showing the text and responding to it, BCF had, in fact, re-published it.
This is important because the words that are the subject of this lawsuit were similarly copied and re-published by the plaintiff. So, getting him on record that repeating and responding constitutes republishing may become an important part of the case.
There was also quite a bit of stuff about Dr. Baglow saying rather unpleasant things about a lot of people, some in anger, some in frustration – it is what it is – as well as about the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, who also happens to be intervening in this court case as a friend of the court.
Oh yes – and Mr. Burnet, Dr. Balow’s lawyer, had, at one point, jumped to his feet and outed himself as PeterOne or Peter1 or some name that sounds like this and admitted taking part in some of these online verbal skirmishes.
At one point, Dr. Baglow testified that ‘there is a lot of political motivation behind it’ – and by ‘it’ I understood he meant this lawsuit (I tried to insert other things, but this was the only one that made sense in this context), which would have proven what Roger smith had said in his opening statement: this is a political disagreement and does not belong in a court of law because it is inappropriate for the courts to be deciding which political opinions are legal to hold and which are not.
And this ends my account of day 4 – report on day 5 coming soon!
Disclosure: It may be important to note my past experience with PSAC, that very powerful and ruthless public sector union, of which Dr. Baglow testified he had been the Executive Vice President of.
When, decades ago, I was a wee little teenager, shortly after we came to Canada, my mom got a job where she was forced to become a member of PSAC. Back then, there was a lot of tension created by this most militant union. Once, just before a strike, my mom naively said she opposed the strike – within earshot of a union thug. We started getting phone calls at all times of day and night. My mom got threats that were not even thinly veiled. Once, a caller told her where I went to school, the times I walk there and back and the exact route I walk…
My mother was so frightened that she took a leave of absence until after the strike….and this event had, for ever, opened my eyes to the way labour unions in Canada function and ‘get things done’.
Thursday, day 4 of the trial, started with a bit of excitement.
Being a ‘morning person’ (that is, I hardly ever go to sleep until after I’ve said ‘hello’ to the morning), I find it difficult to actually be places at an uncivilized hour, like, say, 9:30 am. So, I missed the original action, but it had caused such a buzz and so much comment, I was soon filled-in on the situation. Like I reported earlier, witnesses were not allowed to hear each other’s testimony, nor was anyone allowed to tell them about it. Thus, as I left the court yesterday, Dr. Baglow was pacing expectantly outside of the courtroom, not being allowed to know what Mr. Bow’s testimony and cross examination brought out.
While surfing the net in the evening, Dr. Baglow accidentally encountered a blog which reported on day 3 in court – and thus Mr. Bow’s testimony!!!
How very, very unfortunate that out of the hundreds of thousands, nay, millions of blogs in the blogosphere, Dr. Baglow accidentally landed on the one and only blog in the world where the forbidden information was published…
Of course, being a moral and upright ex-union boss, as soon as he realized what he was reading, Dr. Baglow logged off right away.
There were only 2 observers in the courtroom who were blogging about the case, and I didn’t write up day 3 until yesterday, so we can narrow down pretty easily which was the blog in question. However, the court clerk and stenographer did not know that and the court clerk was sending daggers out of her eyes in my direction all morning.
I think the court clerk must have a very difficult and frustrating job. While I have never heard any of the other court clerks in the cases I have observed so far complain about their job, this one was more articulate. She kept explaining to anyone within earshot just how much more difficult they were making her job. And everything in the courtroom seemed designed to annoy her – from the way the chairs were arranged to the fact that some people left the courtroom through the left side of the door instead of using the right side only. Poor woman – so much responsibility and so many unnecessary obstacles were being hurled into her path.
And now this!
“Now I have to worry about being on some BLOG!!!’ she lamented at one point, as she shot me a particularly venomous look.
It must be a difficult job, indeed!
But, back to the substance of the trial. I am not quoting directly, but rather expressing my imperfect understanding of the testimony and cross examination. Timelines may be jumbled and at some points, I may put specific bits of testimony and cross examination together, to maintain the narrative.
As I came in, the blogger Jay Currie was under discussion. (Note – the linkie is to his new blog, which I quite like. The discussion here is about his old blog, which Dr. Baglow says was quite good, but I myself hardly ever went there as I simply did not like the format and feel of it.)
Jay Currie’s old blog was a bit of a cross-roads where a lot of unlike-minded people went to for ‘verbal fencing’ – not because they actually expected to convince anyone of the rightness of their point, but simply to bicker. Personally, I detest bickering, so I hardly ever went there and never took part in the pointless bickering. This was not the case for Dr. Dawg (Dr. Baglow’s online persona), nor for Peter O’Donnel, the other persona of Roger Smith.
At some point in time, Dr. Dawg had a private email conversation with Jay Currie, which he had subsequently learned was shared with Mark Fournier’s lawyer, Barbara Kulaszka. Dr. Baglow was deeply hurt and very disappointed by this breech of trust and invasion of privacy. Poor Dr.Baglow…
It is my guess that the emails referred to here were the ones which definitely established the identity of Ms. Mew as a handle of Dr. Baglow. Dr. Baglow insisted that everyone knew he was Ms. Mew as the nickname was an obvious play on ‘Dr. Dawg’. However, I suspect ‘everyone knew’ would not be a good enough identification for the courts….and nor would using Ms. Mew’s IP address, as numerous courts have ruled that an IP address cannot be used to identify a person.
Anyhow, at this particular time, Dr. Baglow testified, the online sparring in the comments between himself and Jay Currie had gone on for quite some time. Dr. Baglow was upset to find out that the offensive materials (those 7 little words, and, in my never-humble-opinion, had the article used been ‘a’ instead of ‘the’, we could not be here, in court – so, listen to all us Grammar-nazis out there, it may help you avoid a lawsuit!) would not be taken down and he was very, very hurt and angry.
The discussion now moved to something that had been written, but I could not see as the exhibits are not available to the spectators, but it was understood by the Fourniers as a threat to use the courts to bankrupt them – and thus was said to have demonstrated malice on the part of Dr. Baglow. If I am not mistaken, it was something like that when this was all done, he, Dr. Baglow, would get Roger Smith’s harpsichord and play it in Mark and Connie’s house, which he will have won in the lawsuit. Or something like that. The Fourniers and Roger Smith took this to be a threat of lawfare – where the process is as much of a punishment as any potential outcome (and something which spreads ‘libel chill’ throughout the blogosphere) but Dr. Baglow testified that this was just a bit of ‘bravado’ and ‘nothing to pay serious attention to’.
As a matter of fact, there were quite a lot of instances where Dr. Baglow was ‘displaying bravado’ or just writing words in frustration at having such an injustice committed against his person, and any words uttered in such a state of mind, no matter how derogatory or sexually degrading (those would be the ones directed at Connie Fournier, the lone female participant in this farce of a trial – and the one for whom Dr. Dawg’s vilest of insults were reserved), were not any evidence of malice or bad will, but just a symptom of frustration. Had the Fourniers been good little unwashed plebs, and done everything the intellectual Dr. Baglow demanded, they would not have brought such malicious invective on themselves!!! At times, I think Dr. Baglow felt quite hurt that the Fourniers, Connie in particular, had forced him to use such uncivilized language…
Please note, I am paraphrasing and getting the ‘gist’ of the testimony as I understood it, not quoting Dr. Baglow directly….and I am using the word ‘malicious’ in the colloquial, not the legal sense of the word as I have no legal training. And I am applying the word ‘malicious’ t the words used, not to D. Baglow. Just thought I ought to clarify that here, so nobody would be misled.
Aside: the kind of language that Dr. Baglow used was truly, truly ‘past colourful’. For example, he called a male blogger (not involved in this lawsuit) a ‘flaming …..’ where ‘…..’ is a word for female genitalia. Now, I don’t care how punny anyone thinks this may or may not be, but, using bits of female anatomy as an insult to hurl at another man: if THAT is not anti-woman hate-speech, I don’t know what is!!!
Dr. Baglow testified most vehemently that he does not approve of, indulge in or permit (on his blog) ‘Hate Speech’ of any kind. Whenever someone used the phrase ‘right to freedom of speech’, he made sure to insert the word ‘alleged’ before the word ‘right’ – with great emphasis.
His lawyer, Mr. Burnet, kept ‘fumbling’ the documents and getting the exhibits ‘mixed up’. And, at times, he kept ramming the left arm of his glasses into his left ear…. How exciting to witness such skillful courtroom theater!!!!
Another ‘current’ through this testimony was about likening Connie Fournier to Nazis. Perhaps not in name, but in imagery.
Dr. Baglow testified that he did not say Ms. Fournier was a Nazi, nor does he think that she is. But there were so many statements brought up during the testimony and the cross examination where Dr. Baglow used Nazi imagery that his professions seemed weak at best.
Then there was some testimony I could not follow, but it sounded as if Dr. Baglow were defending himself from accusations of having written that Judge Annis (the one that ruled that the ‘disputed words’ were not capable of being defamatory) – among other judges – was ‘in the pocket of the conservatives’… Please, do take care that I am stating, flat out, that I did not understand heads or tails of this bit of testimony – just that this is what it sounded like was happening. Mr. Baglow, while admitting to writing the words, denied most vehemently that this was their implication.
Then Dr. Baglow referred to 2 different studies – again, I had no reference, this was all in the documents I had no access to – that ‘proved’ one or another of his statements/positions. But, the judge stared at Dr. Baglow and verbally spanked him by pointing out that she read those two things and they were nothing like ‘scholarly studies’ but just the ravings of some inconsequential journalists. (Again, I am conveying my impressions of what happened, not the actual words uttered.)
Mr. Burnet asked Dr. Baglow if it is true that he wrote about a judge that he is guilty of statutory rape for having had sex with his baby sitter. Now, again, I did not have the documents in front of me, so my understanding is highly imperfect and I would love to be corrected, so that the record will be accurate. But, it seems that event though the babysitter was over the age of 16 (not statutory rape), the judge – as an employer of the baby sitter – was ‘an authority figure’ which Dr. Dawg thinks ‘bumps up’ the statutory rape thingy to 18, not 16. And, Dr. Baglow would appear to have been highly critical of this and he appears to have blogged his criticism. But, writing that ‘a man in position of authority’ was having sex with someone under the age of 18, as he asserted the judge had indeed done, this apparently did not imply, in any way, shape or form, that he was accusing that judge of statutory rape. And while I can respect his opinion and his original blogging thereof, I must admit I was disappointed in how he tried to walk this bit back…
The post by Dr. Dawg called ‘Off with his head’ – and referring to Prime Minister Harper – was also brought up, both during the testimony and the subsequent cross examination. While Dr. Baglow insisted this reference was satire, the fact that there actually was a real-life plot to behead our Prime Minister makes this assertion sound hollow, at best…rather, it would seem to (in my never-humble-opinion) a very thinly veiled sympathy and/or support for militant Islamist terrorists. OK, it was never openly stated in the testimony, but, it hung in the air like a miasma which all parties present pretend is not really there…silent, but palpable!!!
Then the issue of Fern Hill came up….
….I just realized I’m at over 2k words and we have not yet hit lunch!!!
Let me break here and start part 2 from the ‘Fern Hill’ bit.
All the caveats from part 1 (more or less forming most of part 1) apply. Please read them….DLDR: borrowed clunky tech and limited internet time, cannot highlight (thus link etc.) – will update once my computer is fixed. Also, these are all jut my highly imperfect personal observations and opinions and ought not be treated as anything more than that.
An account of Day 1 can be found at The FreedomSite Blog.
I have been struggling with how to write up this part, because things got quite sensational at some points and I am quite terrified that if I repeat what I believe to have heard in court, I will open myself up to being sued because as I understand the current state of Canada defamation laws, truth is not a defense there, either, as a person is presumed to be guilty and malicious and if the words are ‘spoken maliciously’ then their truthfulness is irrelevant.
In my online persona, I have chosen to emulate Xanthippe, the wife of Socrates and THE proverbial nag: I am good at nagging, so I thought I’d go with it. But, as Xanthippa, I try my best to channel Xanthippe with all her vitriol and sharp tongue – that’s part of the fun of creating an online persona: it is not you you, but that persona you, so you can say what the you you might, but in a different way, more in line with the persona you are attempting to channel. (Remember, if it were not for anonymous speech, the Federalist Papers could never have been published and the USA would still be a Crown possession.)
Something that Xanthippa says with the persona-appropriate vitriol which defines her and signifies no more than a reflection of her nature could, quite easily, be misinterpreted as ‘malicious’ when all I am doing is role-playing…presenting my opinion, but with a satirical twist. And satire does not come across too easily in the courtroom!
Aside: there will be more personas I am developing in a different, non-written online project, but more about that later. (But, if anyone has an old but nice wig they’d be willing to donate to that effort, I would be eternally grateful.)
Back to the trial: first on the order were some legal tidying-up thingies and once these were out of the way, Madam Justice Polowin esplained that she is a bit of a luddite and barely knows how to use email…and has never ever read a blog. A ‘clean slate’ she called herself. I am not convinced this is the best background for this case, as it may get very technical, but (and I am jumping ahead in time somewhat) she took copious notes of everything and whenever she needed to understand a point, she not only asked for a clarification, she actually repeated her understanding of the point and asked for confirmation that it is accurate. That, in my never-humble-opinion, is a good thing.
Another point of interest was that motion was introduced that any potential witnesses are to be excluded from the courtroom until after their testimony and cross examination, so as not to be influenced by what they hear and see before they testify. All parties agreed and a nice-dressed gentleman (Mr. Bow, Dr. Baglow’s IT guy) got up and left the courtroom.
Now the opening statements.
Mr. Burnet, Dr. Baglow’s lawyer, went first. He seems like a competent lawyer and he assumed that reasonable, avuncular style that must be effective because it is affected by so many lawyers (good and bad). Personally, I find that particular form of arguing patronizing and irritating at best because the Aspie in me considers it to be a form of manipulation. And we, Aspies, are very allergic to being manipulated: we see such manipulation as using a subtle form of shaming in order to disguise the lack of convincing evidence. This opinion of mine was only strengthened by Mr. Burnet’s nervous habit of scratching the inside of his left ear with the arm of his glasses.
But, that is my perception of his mannerisms and not a reflection on Mr. Burnet’s case because a lot of lawyers affect that style – and a lot of lawyers will try to act as if they have a weak case in order for their opponents to underestimate it and not prepare adequately. And I am sufficiently poor judge of human body language that I would never venture to guess if he was really nervous or pretending to be nervous as part of his courtroom strategy.
If I understood Mr. Burnet’s opening statement accurately, it boils down to a few major points (and I am paraphrasing, at times quite heavily, as my notes are incomplete and I cannot but channel Xanthippe – so, any vitriol you detect below is ‘satire’ and, at times, dark sarcasm, and not malice whatsoever in any way, shape or form):
Aside: up to this point, Mr. Burnet had very considerately explained all the technical terms and jargon patiently answered the many detailed questions the judge had asked. He kind of got into the habit of talking for a bit, then looking up and asking if any explanations were needed. So far, so good. Now, Mr. Burnet delved into how Mr. Smith and his client had gotten into a heated debate about Mr. Baglow’s glaringly hypocritical position* on the re-patriation of Omar Kadr…and he looked up to the judge and asked if she had heard of Omar Khadr. Madam Justice Polowin smiled amusedly and said that even though she may be a luddite, she does read the papers…
It is not exhaustive nor, obviously, word for word, but I hope this captures the spirit of the opening statement by the plaintiff’s lawyer.
Next up was Barbara Kulaszka, the lawyer representing Mark Fournier.
Honest declaration of bias: I have met Ms. Kulaszka and observed her in the courtroom. In person, I think she is brilliant and very, very nice. I have read some of her writings and been deeply impressed by them – insightful, well researched, documented, eloquently phrased and any other praise you wish to heap upon her head. I have, however, been less impressed by her past verbal performance in the courtrooms: that Barbara Kulaszka, however, did not show up today!
I saw passion and fire – and it was excellent! Not just in her opening statement (sorry, jumping ahead again), but she was up on her feet, objecting, arguing passionately and eloquently. In other words, I liked what I saw!
I may not have captured everything, but here are some of the highlights of her opening statement (again, as with the rest of all my writing, paraphrasing, satire, sarcasm, hyperbole and all that, are in play)
There may have been more, but this is what I ‘caught’.
Next came Connie Fournier’s opening statement.
I will not report on what it contained because I am not as brave as Connie and I am afraid that if I told the truth of what was said in public court, I would get sued and loose the family home and my ability to provide a home for my children. Let it suffice to say it included allegations of statements made by Dr. Baglow regarding justice Annis as well as several other, un-named judges which made the judge’s jaw to, quite literally, drop.
Next came Roger Smith’s opening statement.
He was extremely eloquent and, in my never-humble-opinion, totally brilliant.
First, he explained that while his legal name is Roger Smith, his birth name is Roger O’Donnell and he is widely known under that identity in professional circles, specifically in the weather forecasting circles and in Ireland.
Next he explained (to a ‘knowing’ and ‘understanding’ head-nodding of the judge) that by defining his client as ‘proudly left wing’ and the Free Dominion forum as ‘extremist right wing’, the plaintiff (through his judge) had made this a case that is NOT about defamation, but about one’s position on the political spectrum…and, in his opinion, the court of law is NOT the appropriate place to rule on which political opinions are permissible and which ones are not.
By the plaintiff’s lawyer’s opening statement alone, this case is not about defamation of an individual but about which political opinions are legally permissible and which political opinions are against the law…
He was, by far, the most eloquent of the bunch - so much so that I stopped taking notes and listened to him (regardless of the judge’s annoying interruptions) with ever growing respect and admiration (and I do NOT say this lightly!!!).
Next, the judge asked the CCLA lawyer, who did not have the ‘right’ to make an opening statement, to briefly sketch what the CCLA position is, which is what he did, in 5 points: all of which boiled down to ‘we want the law to evolve with freedom of speech in mind and something as ludicrous as this case ought to be tossed out of court…
Actually, it was quite brilliant: the young man (oh, I feel so old) argued their position logically and eloquently and really, really well, bringing in some of the phrases Dr. Baglow’s lawyer used and demonstrating just how ridiculous and absurd those arguments were, without needing to resort to any manipulative means or methods.
I think I love the CCLA!
OK – this is MY highly personal and admittedly prejudiced perception of what went on in court – please, do not treat is as anything more than my highly imperfect and admittedly ignorant opinion of the proceedings.
* * *
* I consider this position to be highly hypocritical because I cannot believe that an intelligent man, with a doctorate to boot, could possibly honestly think that using a colloquial definition of some words which are identical to a ‘legal jargon’ label with a very, very narrow and specific legal meaning, applying them in the colloquial sense to a person who glaringly does not qualify for the legal definition of that term, and then, wrapping himself in the tattered cloak of self righteousness, demanding the legal protections for that person for which he would only qualify had he satisfied the ‘legal definition’…and branding anyone who fails to buy in to his glaringly flawed argument as evil and unfeeling and somehow less than human. Sorry, the man I see in front of me seems much too intelligent not to grasp exactly what the difference between the colloquial and legal definition is, and how Omar Khadr does not qualify for the UN legal definition of ‘child soldier’. Sure, some of the ‘unwashed & uneducted masses’ could have fallen prey to such glaringly obvious propaganda, but not an intellectual with a doctorate!!! In the absence of stupidity/ignorance, the only other possible explanation, in my never-humble-opinion, is hypocrisy…for partisan political ends.
Here is a list of 40 words (along with their definitions) that every free-speech lover ought to say out loud, at least once, while we still can:
Akhirat: The Islamic concept of the ‘afterlife’.
Al Qran: Literally ‘the recitation’, it is the central book of Islamic teachings. Muslims believe that these ‘revelations’ were made to their prophet Mohammed by the arch-angel Gabriel regarding the will of the Islamic god named Allah and are the literal word of God. These ‘recitations’ were not written down during the lifetime of Mohammed but only collected when it became apparent that Mohammed’s closest companions were dying out and so it became important for Muslims to preserve his teachings in a written form. It was compiled by the Caliph Abu Bakr, who ordered the Muslims who remembered Mohammad’s recitations to have them written down and sent to him. These he then organized into chapters which make up the Koran/Qu’ran/AlQran by the length of the chapters. This means that the sequence in which these chapters were dictated has not been preserved, which creates the problem regarding the Islamic principle of ‘abrogation’ which states that if two verses of the Koran/Qu’ran/AlQran are in conflict, the one that was revealed to Mohammad later is the valid one, as it abrogates the earlier revelation.
Allah: ‘The God’ in Arabic. At one point, Mohammed taught that Allah had three divine daughters, but later altered that teaching, making Islam monotheistic.
As Sunnah: Literally translates as ‘common practice’, in the Islamic context, it means the ‘righteous path’ of following proper Islamic customs.
Auliya: friend, helper, protector, patron or patron saint.
Azan/Adhan: Islamic call to prayer
Baitullah: Literally ‘house of god’ and may refer either to any mosque or to the main mosque in Mecca which houses the Kaaba, the box which houses a black meteorite, which the Muslims worship, and to which they are supposed to make a pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime (haj). Prior to Islam, Mohammed’s grandfather made his living from people making a pilgrimage to the Kaaba.
Dakwah/Dawah/Da’wah: Literally means ‘issuing a summons’ or ‘inviting’, in Islamic context, it means proselytizing Islam. It is unlawful for a Muslim to kill a non-Muslim without having first invited them to join Islam. Some Islamic leaders have criticized Osama bin Laden for the 9/11 attacks because he had failed to issue a Dawah to all the American citizens 1 year before the terrorist attack. Numerous Islamic scholars have since corrected this oversight and issued a Dawah to all Westerners. If we fail to heed this call to convert to Islam, killing us is not considered to be ‘murder’ under Islamic law (Sharia).
Fatwa: a legal judgment pronounced by an Islamic scholar. These legal judgments make up Islamic jurisprudence and ought to be followed by pious Muslims. There have been some interesting fatwas issued over the time. For example, the Penang Mufti Hassan Ahmad had issued a fatwa that prohibits non-Muslims from ever using (speech, writing, publishing or in electronic form) the very 40 words being defined in this humble post. This is legally binding in Malaysia. However, if someone reading these words in Malaysia realizes they were published by a non-Muslim, they may make a legal complaint, a warrant may be issued and Interpol will act upon it to deliver the culprits to the land where the warrant was issued. So, enjoy while you still may! Another recently issued fatwa prohibits women from sitting in chairs, because if they moved just the wrong way, they may become sexually aroused.
Firman Allah: As I could not find this exact phrase translated into English, the closes I can make it out to be is ‘that which Allah has made permitted’. Granted, I did just a quick Google search, as I’m trying to define quite a few terms here, but this seems to fit in with Islamic sayings rather well and captures the spirit of the phrase. Corrections would be appreciated.
Hadith: literally ‘tradition’, this refers to the habits and sayings of the Islamic prophet Mohammed.
Haji: Someone who had completed the haj and traveled to Mecca to see the Kaaba. As non-Muslims are not permitted to enter Mecca, only a Muslim may be a Haji/Hajji/Hadji. A Muslim who has completed the haj may add this honorific to his name.
Hajjah: Not sure of this one, but I suspect it means a female Hajji.
Ibadah: Literally ‘obedience with submission’, the term is derived from practice of slavery. In the Islamic context, it means worship of Allah.
Illahi: I suspect this is an alternate spelling of ‘Elahi‘, meaning ‘my god’ or ‘my awesome one’.
Imam: An Islamic leadership position, usually denoting an Islamic cleric.
Iman: Iman is a really, really hot model. However, I doubt that is whom the good Mufti meant in his fatwa. Rather, I suspect he was referring to the Muslim believer’s faith in the metaphysical aspects of Islamic teachings.
Kaabah: literally ‘the cube’, in Islamic context, it is a black cube that Muslims have been praying to since a little over 200 years past Mohammed’s death. All modern mosques face the Kaabah, which is located in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. (For the first few centuries following the death of Mohammed, all mosques faced the ancient city of Petra, as archaeological findings have demonstrated.)
Karamah: a divine miracle (and not a conjuring trick type magic, that the other religions have)
Khutbah: public preaching, refers to the sermons delivered during formal prayers.
Masjid: a mosque, defined by Mohammed as a place of worship as well as a community centre, barracks for soldiers and materiel storage depot.
Mubaligh: a missionary (just follow the link and click on English for translation), one who is practicing dawah.
Mufti: an Islamic scholar from the Sunni branch of Islam
Musolla/Mushola: Islamic prayer room
Nabi: Prophets of Islam. Most, but not all, Muslims believe that Mohammed was the last prophet.
Qadhi: I suspect this term denotes Sharia courts.
Qiblat: The direction in which Muslims should pray. According to tradition, Mohammed is first ordered Muslims to pray in the direction of Jerusalem and to have later changed this to be towards Mecca and the Kaaba. However, the earliest mosques (from the first 200+ years following the death of Muhammad) are pointing to Petra, not Mecca, indicting that the Kibla may have changed more than once.
Rasul: prophet or apostle
Sheikh: an honorific that means ‘elder’ and denotes the front man of a tribe.
Soleh: This word is not Arabic in origin, but Indonesian and means ‘religious’. Thus, according to this fatwa, if you are not a Muslim you may not call yourself ‘religious’.
Surau: another word for ‘mosque’
Syahadah/Shahada: a ritual Islamic prayer which is also used as an affirmation that one is a Muslim. It translates into English roughly as: ‘There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet.’
Syariah: Malaysia is one of the countries with a secular legal system for non-Muslims and Sharia law for Muslims living in the country. Syariah is Malaysia’s Sharia adherent legal system which applies to its Muslim residents.
Tabligh: ‘propagation’ of Islam by ‘spreading awareness’ of the teachings of Mohammed.
Taqwa: While this definition varies somewhat between sects, the meaning ranges from ‘god-consciousness’ to piousness, love/fear of Allah, self restraint and so on.
Ulama/Ulema/Uluma: In the stricter sense of the word, it refers to the upper echelon of Islamic scholars trained in the whole field of Islamic law, but it is often applied to any senior Muslim cleric. Especially in rural areas, the cleric’s scholarship is not a significant issue.
Wahyu: This word is of Indonesian origin. From English-language version of this link: ‘In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing of some form of truth or knowledge through communication with a deity or other supernatural entity or entities.’
Wali: Guardian – with all that it implies: being responsible for someone, managing their material wealth as well as having the right to enter into legal agreements on their behalf. This is an important concept in Islam. A father is the wali to all his minor male children and all his female children until the daughters are married, at which point the guardianship of the woman in question is transferred to her father. If there is no father, then the closest male blood relative takes on the role of a wali for any minor males and any females. As the wali manages their wards property and is the only one permitted to enter into legal contracts on their behalf, it means that an Islamic marriage contract is between the groom and the bride’s wali, with the bride having no legal standing in the matter. Thus, a petition for divorce in a Sharia court may need to be filed by the wife’s male relatives, as she has no legal standing in the marriage contract. It also means that under Sharia, the highest legal status a woman can achieve is that of a minor.
Zakat Fitrah: At the end of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast from sun-up to sun-down, there is a celebratory feast. While ‘zakat’ means taxes (a portion of which must go towards jihad), zakat fitrah is the specific obligatory gift of food to the poor so that they may participate with other Muslims in the end-of-Ramadan feast.
Now that I have tried to define these words for your convenience, please, do speak them as often and as publicly as you can, before you loose the freedom to do so! There is already a fatwa that forbids us to speak these words, if we are non-Muslims. It is up to us, freedom-loving people, to make sure that this and/or any other fatwa never becomes applied as a law onto us.
Rights are like muscles and cognitive abilities: if you don’t exercise them, you loose them!!!
It is a source of deep frustration for me that so often, signs are interpreted wrongly by the neurotypicals – who read meanings into them that simply are not there! And, they get indignant when others, with better knowledge of either grammar or logic (or both), act in accordance with what the sign actually says instead of what they erroneously infer it says.
Let me give you an example: outside of one of the parking lots at my son’s high school, there is a sign:
In one way, this sign is pretty clear: it is a request that only staff members enter the area.
It is not a statement of a rule, nor an order, because it includes the word ‘PLEASE’ – this clearly indicates that this is a request, something that is being asked of me…and therefore within my power to either grant or reject.
Yet, when I drove into the parking lot not with the intent to park there, but simply to drop my son off at the door closest to his locker, two different school employees told him off for my perceived transgression.
The sign never stated that non-staff members are forbidden from even entering, not just parking in the area.
Of course, I am presuming that there ought to be a comma after ‘only’ and before ‘please’. As is, the sign is a sentence fragment which indicates that the staff is in the process of pleasing some exclusive element, but does not define whom the staff are in the process of pleasing, why, or how one can get on the list of those to be pleased by the staff….much less imply any rules about the area in question!
Now, if one were to interpret the sign as meaning ‘only staff members are allowed in the area’, why are students permitted to walk there? And, for that matter, if only staff are permitted there, why would the staff members presume that their vehicles are allowed there as well? It certainly does not state that vehicles owned by staff members are permitted to be driven/parked there.
Really, think about it: it says ‘staff’ – not ‘staff and their vehicles and students who are walking but not getting out of vehicles”.
I am not being silly here – this is something of a serious issue for us, Aspies.
We take a sign – or an instruction – at its literal meaning.
We do not see any ‘implied’ other meaning – yet, we are the ones who get yelled at or laughed at if we truly follow what the sign actually says. That only ads insult to injury…
Let me give you another example, from a math test:
“Write the 3 forms of a quadratic relation that you have learned in this course this far…”
It seems obvious that if you have learned any or all of these 3 forms of quadratic relations before you started this class, they are not eligible to be put down for the answer here. In other words, if you are good at math and already knew them, the only accurate and correct answer is to leave this blank or say ‘none’!
The corollary is that if you are still ignorant of these forms because you are bad at Math and have learned nothing in this class, your answer of leaving this blank or saying ‘nothing’ is also 100% correct: the question does not ask what was taught, or what material was covered, but what you had actually learned. If you had learned nothing, then your answer of ‘nothing’ would indeed be factually correct and deserving of full marks!
Yet, if you, as a student, try to point this out to a teacher, you will not be commended for your accurate interpretation of the question. You will be singled out, put down and even perhaps punished for some trumped up ‘disrespect’ charge…
To an Aspie, this is very, very confusing.
I know – I’ve been there…
Just to underline just how correct Pat Condell is in his assessment of ‘Progressives’ – one just recently published a study describing just how racist the Israeli Defense Forces were.
The hypothesis went something like this: IDF soldiers are racist against Palestinians and show their contempt by raping Palestinian women.
Then, there was much going about and collecting evidence to support this hypothesis: except there was one slight problem….the Pallywood propaganda about IDF soldiers frequently raping Palestinian women was eactly that – propaganda, with no factual basis.
But – the ‘study’ was underway? How is a ‘Progressive Intellectual’ to salvage this situation?
The answer is really quite clear, isn’t it: RACISM!!!!
That’s right – racism.
The IDF soldiers are SOOOOOOO ‘racist’, they consider Palestinian women SOOOOOO ‘below’ them, they won’t even stoop to raping them!!!
Yes, this lecture series is a little long – but very, very informative.
If you have read the Koran and the Hadith, and if you are familiar with Shariah, you will be impressed by the depth of Stephen Coughlin’s background knowledge – but there is still a lot of new material there for you because he draws the connections between the beliefs rooted (rightly or wrongly, but demonstrably held by the majority of pro-Sharia Muslims worldwide) in these and the decision-making and behaviour of Islamic political entities.
For example, he is one of the few people to have predicted the ‘Arab Spring’ months before it happened and accurately described it as a Muslim Brotherhood-driven action. He also accurately predicted other events many had considered ‘unpredictible’ – and in this lecture series, he walks us through the steps that made the events predictable.
If you are unfamiliar with the underlying doctrine, Stephen Coughlin provides an accurate grounding in their belief system and demonstrates its doctrinal roots. He also explains the very different concepts meant by Islamic political bodies when they use terms we consider familiar: words like ‘human rights’ (Sharia), ‘terrorism’ (killing of a Muslim without Sharia approval), and ‘freedom’ (freedom from ‘the laws of man’ in favour of the laws from Allah alone), ‘religion’ (Islam and Islam alone as Muhammad’s revelations abrogated all other religions) and more.
What is quite appalling, however, is his description of the depth of willful ignorance of all this by the politically correct decisionmakers who are directing the ‘war on terror’… His frustration is plainly visible and his Cassandra complex and the accompanying frustration are, at times, palpable.
Yet, it is precisely this willful ignorance among our decisionmakers and intellectual elites poses a clear and present danger to protecting our culture, our society and our very basic human rights.
Stephen Coughlin, Part 1: Lectures on National Security & Counterterror Analysis (Introduction)
Stephen Coughlin, Part 2: Understanding the War on Terror Through Islamic Law
Stephen Coughlin, Part 3: Abrogation & the ‘Milestones’ Process
Stephen Coughlin, Part 4: Muslim Brotherhood, Arab Spring & the ‘Milestones’ Process
Stephen Coughlin, Part 5: The Role of the OIC in Enforcing Islamic Law
I am the first person to admit that my brain is not ‘wired’ in the neuro-typical way.
The more l learn about other people, the more I realize just how atypical my thinking processes are.
Which is a bit of a self-conscious segway into my post…which is all abouot the excitement of finding a ‘lost’ song…
When I was ‘an itty-bitty-baby’, my parents used to listen to ‘their’ music: and, being political dissidents from the ‘other’ side of the ‘iron curtain’, this naturally included a few records they had managed to get in English.
(And, yes – growing up, I saw many performers who would do ‘yodling’ and ‘stepdancing’ together in one musical piece because they both typified ‘Western culture’ and were thus part of ‘the same culture’…ok, let me re-focus…)
In other words, the ‘classification norms’ I grew up with were ‘slightly’ different from the ‘North-American-perspective’!
But, that is not my point – at least, not now: now, my point is that my parents had acquired a few records in English, back when I was an itty-bitty-baby who did not speak a word of English – and they used to listen to them.
Before I had learned to speak any English whatsoever, that is.
And, I, too, would listen.
Over and over and over…
As a matter of fact, there were a few songs that I picked out that I liked and I would play them – even though I was forbidden to use the record-player by myself -1 song at a time, over and over and over…when my parents weren’t home!
I had no clue what the words said, but I memorized the sound of them and tried to reproduce it…and, I’m afraid, it was as dismal a lingustic failure as I was a musical one (as I am almot completely tonedeaf).
But, I did not give up!
I kept the memory of the sound of those songs deep in my brain…including the sond that the ‘foreign’ singing would encompass.
Fast forward a few decades: I now live in an English-speaking country and can, most of the time, pass for an Anglophone who might speak a littlepeculiarly…but an anglophone nonetheless.
The point is – I remembered the song and re-played it enough times from my memory – once I had learned English – to make ‘some’ sense of the sounds!
OK – except for a tiny little bit – I had made complete sense of these sounds!!!
And, being a new parent, I reverted to my parent’s patterns and tried to sing to my babies the lulabyes I had recalled from my own early childhood – including the ones that were in English!
I had separated the sounds into words, understood their meaning (in time), and filled-in-the-blanks as I needed to…and then sang them as a lullaby to both my ‘surviving’ sons…
A few weeks ago, I actually thought of searching for that song on YouTube…
OK, I should have thought of it before…it seems so obvious now – but I did not really trust my recollections…
…still, I found it!!!!
‘when those cotton balls
get rotten, you can’t pick
very much cotton….’
I freely admit I remembered the song lyrics as:
‘when them cotton fields
get ripened, you can see
very much cotton…’
But – that is the only divergence from the lyrics!!!
I mean – we are talking decades and re-playing the sounds in a language I did not know until years later!
That is pretty cool – is it not?