UPDATE: JE SUIS ERIC!
In case you have not been following his case, Eric Brazeau is most definitely Canada’s Political Prisoner.
OK, so he may not be a very likeable guy – I’ve heard from people who are frustrated with him but support his cause as well as from people from the freedom of speech movement who cannot stand him. Having never met the guy, I am unable to pass my own judgment.
And this is the crux of the matter ‘BUT!!!’.
Regardless of anything else, it would be irresponsible to not bring the facts of the matter to public knowledge.
Eric Brazeau had a politically incorrect conversation while using Toronto’s public transit.
Eric Brazeau was very, very careful to restrict his commentary to a codified, dogmatic doctrine – without any allusions to peoples or cultures.
As a direct result of this conversation (and, I have seen a private video of it, so even though I am not permitted to publish it, I can honestly report to you, my dear reader, that this conversation was limited to factually accurate criticism of a doctrine without any allusions or references to people, individuals or practitioners of any doctrine), Eric Brazeau was arrested and jailed without any possibility of bail.
Eric Brazeau charges criminal charges as a result of this private conservation because it is charged that the conversation ‘offended’ some people who eavesdropped on it.
The judge said that the possibility that Mr. Brazeau might have another politically incorrect conversation while on bail was sufficient reason to keep him in jail to await his trial without any possibility of bail.
By now, he has spent more time in jail awaiting trial than the longest possible sentence he could receive for the charges he is facing!!!
If being held in jail for longer than the maximum potential sentence – and for speech, not deeds – is anything other than the very definition of being a ‘political prisoner’ (and I say this as the daughter of a former dissident in a communist country – not some naive idealist), then the term ‘political prisoner’ has been rendered meaningless!!!
OK – disclosure: this really, really gets under my skin!
Many of the ‘free speechers’ will not stand up for this guy, because he is not likeable.
The last time I looked, being an asshole did not mean you did not have human rights – or that setting a precedent of our society being OK with stripping a jerk of his human rights because we don’t like him is OK….because when people who don’t like you come to power, the legal precedent of it being OK to treat YOU as less than human will have been set…
So, I planned to be there tomorrow morning, in the Toronto courtroom, to witness Canada’s baby-step towards tyranny. By the way, his case number is 4815998145000366701, in case you can follow it or go to 2201 Finch Av W in Toronto this Monday, 5th of January, 2015 and report on it (if you can and do go, I will be very happy to publish your report on the case – just contact me with your account!).
I had planned for months to attend – I planned to travel to Toronto the day before and attend this trial and then, on Wednesday, the ‘Concerned Citizen’s appeal’ in the Presto scandal case. But…
…you may have noticed, my dear reader, that I have been unusually ‘quiet’ lately… I’ve been a little under the weather and am simply not fit to travel and so, unhappily, I will miss both court dates. You cannot imagine how angry and sad this makes me, but, as the saying goes: the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak…
So, if you can make it there, do let me know and I will do my best to spread the word!
EDIT: P.S. There are two trials scheduled for 10 am in courtroom #211 at the Finch Street Court location in Toronto – so, there is no way to tell whether Mr. Brazeau’s trial will be first or second…but, scheduling two trials for one day….having witnessed quite a few civil cases (but no criminal ones), I find it difficult to believe two trials which could strip people of their civil liberties could possibly be sufficiently heard by one judge in one day…
Did you know Canada has an honest-to-goodness political prisoner?
His name is Eric Brazeau. He is being held at a maximum security jail – Millhaven…for having had a politically incorrect conversation.
Recently, I have received a fundraising request fro the Conservative Party of Canada – and this is how I have replied:
Director, Fundraising and Membership Services
Conservative Party of Canada
Dear Mr. Girard,
This is a report on an ongoing trial: the rest of this account can be found here (and at the top bar of this blog).
On September 22nd, the judge warned everyone in the courtroom that come hell or high water (and, I am paraphrasing here), this trial was going to finish tomorro – that is, today. In order to make sure that this indeed comes about, she would recall everybody into Courtroom #20 of the Elgin Street Courthouse in Ottawa, Ontario, at 9am instead of the usual 10am – adding a one-hour ‘buffer’ to their time.
Aware of this, I arrived at the Courthouse nice and early – about 25 minutes after 8. I strolled slowly through the parking garage, stopping to chat with one of the attendants whom I got to know well enough to say ‘hi’ to over the duration of these proceedings. Then I had a tea and went to the ladies room before – with plenty of time left – strolling up to the 2nd floor and to the appointed courtroom.
Surprisingly, I did not see any of the actors in our little drama – and I began to get an uneasy feeling. Did I get the time wrong?
I checked my notes and the wall clock and, sure enough, I still had 12 minutes before the proceedings started.
Ah – there was a paper sticky-taped onto the door – perhaps the press finally figured out the importance of this case to their own ability to report the news and enough of the showed up to have to move things to a larger courtroom!!!!
Here was some incoherent message about teenagers and dating…. But, the look at that sheet of paper gave me a glimpse through the double doors’ windows…and it looked like the trial was already ongoing!!!
Not wanting to make a lot of noise inside the courtroom upon my arrival, I took my notepads and scribble-tools (today I was using a blue Zebra pen, fine point – they write quite quietly and have a good feeling in the hand, heavy but not too much so…) OK, I got my implements to hand and intramurated velocitously. (Yes, I am a huge fan of Black Adder – and if has, at times, affected my vocabulary….though, the character I most closely identify with is Baldrick.)
OK – in I sneak and sit down as quietly as possible.
Everybody is in and things are in full swing!
Barbara Kulaszka is standing up and speaking.
To her left, Connie Fournier sits calmly, wearing a dark purple pantsuit and a cream blouse, which I will later notice has a delicate black embroidery and is accented by a single strand of knotted pearls, long enough to reach beneath the blouse’s collar. The overall look is pleasing, but, from behind, the bob in which her hair is cut is just the wrong length, making her neck appear shorter than in had in her previous outfits. However, this optical illusion is dispelled when Connie glances back and gives me a warm smile.
To the right of Ms. Kulaszka sits Roger Smith, aka Peter O’Donnel, in his blue blazer and another pair of tan slacks. His shirt will later be revealed to be almost a twin of his earlier one – black and charcoal stripes, but instead of a blue pinstripe, this one has a gray one.
Next is Mr. Steven Frankel, the brilliant young lawyer representing the CCLA.
To his right, Mr. Burnet, the Plaintiff’s lawyer, had his gaze firmly fixed on the judge and was listening intently to Ms. Kulaszka’s every word. He had better, too – at the end of the day, he’d have a chance for a brief rebuttal to all the defendants’ closing arguments, so listening intently was very critical.
On the far right, as usual, was Dr. Baglow…I bet he does not hear that phrase very often!!! Sitting far back from the table, his legs elegantly crossed in front of him, he had a calm and almost serene demeanour. In his signature black suit and, as he once wrote, ‘the most comfortable walking boots on Earth’, I glimpsed a navy cuff of a shirt, if I am not mistaken…though, I must admit, I was so busy trying to catch up with what was being said that I did not take the time to note this down. My apologies.
Later, during a break, Dr. Baglow helped me out: he said he noticed I was wondering about the pin in his lapel. It was indeed some sort of an abstract maple leaf: a pin denoting 30 years in the Public Service. During another break, he let me know that the reason why he only wore his gun-metal-rimmed glasses at some times was because they were reading glasses and he only needed them at some times.
This made me a little envious: I also have glasses, but mine (purple-rimmed) are progressive trifocals….yet, I still vacillate between wearing them or not. When I wear them, I can actually see what is going on: the major things, like people’s expressions and demeanour (I may not be able to decipher it, but I can at least describe it) – and the minor things, like, say, what I am writing down. However, I cannot shake the feeling that, when I am not wearing my glasses, I get a much better feel for everything….that I can better absorb the atmosphere and emotions and all that. So, I am constantly putting my glasses on, taking them off, putting them on, taking them off….sitting on them….sorry, I am rambling….
As I started taking notes, Barbara Kulaszka (BK) was just speaking about Dr. Baglow having been at the forefront of the Omar Khadr re-patriation movement.
If you read my blog regularly, my dear reader, you will know my views on the huge miscarriage of justice that is the Omar Khadr case. Perhaps it is my Aspieness, but, I am a big one for the adherence to the rule of law. Yes – sure, I hate some laws and believe that we MUST change them – but, until such a time that we DO change them, we are obligated to follow them.
And, according to the Geneva Convention, there was only one legal manner to deal with Omar Khadr: two bullets to the back of the head.
Anything less is a failure to adhere to the International Law and endangers civilian populations at the hands on non-uniformed combatants. The Americans ought to be prosecuted for War Crimes for having permitted Omar Khadr to live and even rendering him medical aid!!! Such a travesty!
At an earlier time, I actually had a conversation with Dr. Baglow about Omar Khadr and I mentioned that the two of us would probably agree that, in his case, the International Laws were not followed. Indeed, I raised the subject specifically because I expected him to elaborate, so that I would have the opportunity to point out just how deeply misguided – if not downright evil for endangering civilian populations everywhere – his position on Khadr was.
Unfortunately, Dr. Baglow just sighed deeply and looked so very, very sad that I did not have the heart to continue the conversation…and thus did not have an opportunity to enlighten him on the error of his thinking.
OK – back to the important stuff!!!
BK was explaining how Dr. Baglow was at the forefront of calling for the repatriation of the War Criminal Omar Khadr.
Next, she defined what the word ‘supporter’ means: one who supports.
For example, a ‘supporter’ of the Maple Leafs’ is NOT somebody who plays hockey with them, who is a member of the team. Rather, it may be somebody who buys their merchandise or watches their games or just says things that are nice about them. Even, perhaps, just expresses sympathy with them when they are loosing…
Similarly, saying somebody is a ‘Taliban supporter’ – it does not mean he is one of the Taliban!
Rather, it means somebody who may say things that express empathy with the Taliban….
OK – I am having a hard time wording the next bit: most likely because BK is much nicer a person than I am, much kinder and gentler…and I am ‘choking’ on typing the words she actually said, as they show way more of an empathy for Omar Khard than I am deeply convinced he deserves… But, she was speaking for the defendants, not me, so I must choke down my opinion and report to you, my dear reader, her words…
BK said that ‘expressing support for ‘the human rights’ (as if a non-uniformed combatant had any, under international law) of Omar Khadr’ could be interpreted as expressing empathy for the Taliban’ – and, by definition, that would be included in ‘being a supporter of the Taliban’.
Indeed, argued BK, the plaintiff himself used the very same logic when he said that the CCLA supported father Boissoin (a Catholic priest who was given a lifetime ban by a Human RIights Tribunal on speaking about the Catholic Church’s position of homosexuality), saying that the CCLA ‘gave aid and comfort to hate speecher’ and that they were ‘hate-speech facilitators’…that the CCLA ‘stands with haters’ and ‘aids in homophobia’.
BK asserted that ‘giving aid and comfort’ is, indeed, the very definition of ‘supporter’!
At this point, Madame Justice (her black judicial robe, white collar and red shash accentuated only by perl stud earrings and simple, elegant rings on the ring finger of each hand) nodded her head in assent and reasoned agreement.
In addition, BK carried her momentum forward, this was the medium of a Message Board – not a scholarly dissertation…which, through medium alone, classified this as a ‘comment’…
The Judge wondered about this being ‘fair comment’ if fully 41% of Canadians shared Dr. Baglow’s view. If I were the lawyer, I would have quickly pointed out that the fact that this automatically meant that 59% of Canadian did NOT share Dr. Baglows view – making this a very fair comment indeed. But, I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one on the internet…
Instead BK took a much better tack, pointing not to peasant logic, like I would have, but to actual law: she presumed Mr. Frankel would speak to this later (to which he nodded – earning one of Madame Justices’ broad smiles), but, the legal test (as per the WIC radio case ) was whether ‘anyone can honestly hold that opinion’. Not the majority, not 41%, but ‘anyone’. (And, I am heavily paraphrasing – I am simply not able to take notes fast enough! You, my dear reader, ought to fire me and get a faster writer to report on this!!!)
As in, of ‘anyone’ can honestly hold and express this belief – that is the test.
This, the Judge agreed with.
Which is where things took a turn into territory rather unknown to your reporter – but one that seemed very familiar to both madame Justice Polowin and Ms. Kulaszka: the Vietnam War issue… They had a fun back-and-forth about someone named ‘Jane Fonda’ and a nickname of ‘Hanoi Jane’ – but, not knowing the context, this did not make much sense to me. But, the two of the seemed happy, joking, agreeing – on the same ‘note’, if you get my drift. ‘Ancient argument’, ‘based on fact’ – these were the terms ‘flying about’.
In his turn, Dr. Bagglow seemed so bored, he was in danger of falling asleep…
Which is where the topic of ‘Taliban Jack’ got re-introduced (it had been discussed ‘many’ times before to illustrate how hyperbole and nicknames and memes work).
From here, the proceedings took a turn into legaleese: another field I am blissfully ignorant of. All I can do is report the words…and badly, at that, as I am not fast enough to get them all down…my deepest apologies, my dear reader!
Madame Justice Polowin wanted to know how does this get ‘around’ the ‘Grant’ test.
BK disagreed – the ‘test’ here was not ‘Grant’ but ‘WIC‘. People listening to a ‘shock jock’ would know a well-followed controversy, the facts of the case were known to the audience in that case as in this one. Roger Smith was talking about ‘Dr. Dawg’ – a pseudonym.
If people did not know who ‘Dr. Dawg’ was – then, saying something about a ‘pseudonym’ was clearly not defamatory.
If people DID know who ‘Dr. Dawg’ was – then they would have been following the controversy and been aware of the background facts…and thus would have been able to understand the sense in which the words were uttered – making them, yet again, not defamatory!!!
What needs to be weighed here is the state of mind of Dr. Baglow during this whole exchange: from the very beginning, his aim was to find a pretext to sue her client.
The judge did not, to my untrained eye/ear, appear particularly empathetic to this line of reasoning…as expressed by the succinct: “So?!!?”
Which I took to imply that the plaintiff’s state of mind had no relevance on whether or not he was defamed…by the defendants…
BK handled this rather well.
As Dr. Baglow sighed deeply and examined his manicured hands, BK explained tat re-posting the disputed words AGAIN using his sock-puppet persona ‘MsMew’ ensured that even if the original words were taken down by Roger Smith, they would remain on the site – along with the malicious identification of Dr. Dawg as Dr. Baglow. This demonstrated malice – but not on the part of her client, but on the part of Dr. Baglow…
Indeed, BK continued, given the definition of the word ‘supporter’, her client did not think the impugned words were ‘defamatory’ in any way, shape or form (yes, I am paraphrasing).
Dr. Baglow, on the other hand, had demonstrated malice with his ‘sock-puppetry’ – and, as Dr. Dawg and MsMew, it was he who was bullying her client.
As for ‘malice’, the ‘WIC’ case demonstrated that even though the ‘shock-jock’ ‘hated’ Ms. Simpson’, that was irrelevant in the legal ‘finding of malice': rather, paragraphs 67 to 85 (of the ruling in the WIC case, I can only presume) show that since the dominant motive was that the ‘shock jock’ ‘believed’ what he said, the fact that he also hated her did not matter.
OK – I freely admit, there was a bit here that went 100% ‘over my head': something about ‘Ross vs. New Bruns’ or something somewhat similar….predominant motive, tab 12 paragraph 106…I have no clue what this was about…
Yet, this concluded this bit and, in the next installment, I shall report on Roger Smith’s closing arguments!
This is a continuation of a prolonged court, the earlier bits of which are here: Day 1 part 1 and part 2 , Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4 part 1 and part 2 of this trial were covered in March, 2014 (write-ups by me at links). Day 5 is more or less covered by days 6 and 7.… Day 6 is here. Day 7 part 1 is here – sorry about having had to chop this up into short little bits, it seems my original write up was too long for WordPress to format correctly… part 2 is here.
Dr. Baglow’s impression of my coverage of the court hearings, as per Twitter, is here.
September 15th, 2014 account is here. Roger Smith presented his side of the story (defense) and was cross examined.
September 16th, 2014, was the second day of the trial phase where the defense gets to present their case. Today was the day that, as Minister Jason Kenney referred to her, ‘the famous Connie Fournier’ took her place on the stand.
I got to the courthouse nice and early. There was quite a commotion in front of the Courthouse – but for all the wrong reasons… Instead of focusing on this historic case, which will affect every single Canadian’s internet presence, the media was all in a tizzy because of some doofus senator…
Having made my way past the hoards of reporters and cameras positioned in front of the courthouse (as all cameras are banned not just in the courtrooms, but everywhere within the courthouse) and waited with baited breath, in front of Courtroom #20 at the Elgin Street Courthouse in Ottawa.
I was rather taken aback by the unusually large group of people also waiting in front of Courtroom #20… I was sure Madam Justice Polowin would try to stay in the same courtroom, but these people looked unrelated to this case. At 9 am, they all filed into the courtroom – much to my bewilderment (yes it does not take much to bewilder me….).
It turns out that Madame Justice Polowin also had this child custody case that needed to be heard and she had scheduled it before the Baglow vs. Freedom of Speech case I was there to cover… You have to admire a judge that will juggle multiple cases at once: it may not look so on the surface, but, in order to ‘do justice’ to a case (if you will excuse the turn of phrase), a judge has to read TONS of paper (almost literally!)….and to be up to speed on multiple cases at once would require such a sharp focus that I must admit I am awed by judges who make it look effortless.
(And – make no mistake – Madam Justice Polowin takes copious notes, more so than any other judge I have seen, and she is totally on top of ‘stuff’!!!)
By 10 am, the earlier case people had filed out of the courtroom and we all filed in – with the judge still sitting at the top of the room. And she looked ready for the day!!!
Dr. Baglow had exchanged his blue shirt for a cream one – otherwise, he either has multiples of the same dashing black suit or he wore the same one as yesterday. He also wore his signature black riding boots with the adorable silver trimmings – and, for the record, they were spotless and shining!
The ever-charismatic Mark Fournier, who had worn a cream shirt with yesterday, had exchanged it for a blue one – but much darker one than Dr. Baglow had worn yesterday. Ok, ok, I am a sucker for patterns…but it did not look like the two had swapped shirts!
Roger Smith had exchanged his shirt for a green one, otherwise he looked the same as his dashing, distinguished and elegant self as yesterday…
The lawyers looked their ‘selves’ – in their lawyer robes and black shoes to match…difficult to write up their fashion sense since they have to wear these traditional outfits which make them look the same day after day….
Now let me get to the star of the day – and I do mean star!!!
Connie Fournier wore a very flattering dress: power red, textured knit, with cap sleeves…fitted through her bust through to her narrow waist (accentuated by a thin, shiny black belt) and with a playful ‘twirl’ bit at the bottom, which was just below her knees. Her outfit was perfected by her perfect black pumps – not too high, but high enough….the heel being not too thick, neither a ‘slutty thin’… She looked perfect – a force of nature!!!
(OK – I wex a bit poetic here….but, if Connie had had a professional ‘dresser’ or ‘stylist’, they could not have done a better job of turning her out for court today!)
[IF I were to characterize the defense team, Connie Fournier would be Roger Daltrey, Roger Smith would be Pete Townshend, Mark Fournier would be Keith Moon and Barbara Kulaszka would be John Entwistle…just saying...]
As well-dressed as she was for the court, Connie Fournier’s mind was in even better a shape or state of readiness… But, that is Connie!!! No matter what situation life hurls her into, she is there, ready, brilliant – and smiling to boot! There are very few people on this Earth whom I admire as much as I admire Connie Fournier!
The day started out with Connie Fournier on the witness stand, testifying to her own defense.
I was there for much – but not all – of Connie’s testimony – and I had to leave before the cross examination started: my apologies to you, my readers, but I am not a lawyer or paid to report on things, and my other-life-pressures have put a limit on the time I can spend in the courtroom… I just wish there were other people, better versed in legal matters, who could/would report on this momentous case….but, alas, there seems to be a dearth of them, so you, my dear readers, are stuck with my limited and incomplete observations. My apologies go to you!
Connie had testified to many of the things we had heard in the courtroom before – but presenting them from her unique and informed point of view.
For example, it seemed funny to me just how Dr. Baglow seemed to shrink in his seat as she testified about the many and various instances where Dr. Baglow, using his Dr. Dawg personna, smeared Connie Fournier as a ‘white supremacist’ and a Nazi sympathizer – all the while as Connie Fournier’s metis husband was sitting in the spectator section of the courtroom…because, them ‘far right’ ‘white-supremacists’ and ‘Neo-Nazis’ go out of their way to marry people with a Native-Canadian background!!!
(Ok, I may be a ‘danged’ immigrant myself, but, through my hubby, my children share in the Ojibwe bloodline, so I am particularly sensitive to this issue….)
Let me just stress that I am convinced Ms. Fournier is neither a ‘white supremacist’, nor a ‘Neo-Nazi': not ‘just’ because she is married to a man who is a metis, but also because her father is an evangelical minister and she takes her Christian roots very seriously – including the ‘love thy neighbour’ and ‘all human lives are sacred’ bits. I’m just waiting for the so-called ‘progressives’ to try to pain Mark Fournier as ‘a white metis’….
…more coming soon…
September 18th, 2014 – the day of the expert testimony Part 1 is here.
Oh, my, where to start!
Something that seems so self evident to me appears to be beyond even consideration by the majority of people in today’s society….to the point that people who hold the same convictions as I are presumed not to exist any longer.
That is sad, very sad…
So, please, do let me present to you my reasoning for why ‘Freedom of Speech’ ought to be unfettered and absolute.
If you indulge me, I would like to present several completely different lines of reasoning – all from ‘first principles’, all logical, and all leading to the inevitable conclusion that speech MUST indeed be absolutely unfettered.
First line of reasoning: from the principle of self-ownership.
Each and every person owns his or her self.
Body, mind and soul.
This is the core principle on which our civilization is built – to reject this core principle is to reject our society, our form of civilization. And, since this argument is being made for conduct within this civilization, it is ‘core’ – a fundamental and irrevocable ‘starting point’ for our logical journey.
It is immoral and wrong for one person to own another, which is why we have abolished slavery.
With the principle of self ownership comes the responsibility for absolute accountability for one’s actions.
What this means is that an individual is 100% responsible for one’s own actions.
Regardless of what an individual is exposed to, he or she is absolutely responsible for their conduct as a response to it.
This means that no matter how much somebody else may incite you or lies to you, you and you alone are responsible for acting – or not – on that incitement or on those lies.
Yet, our current laws are written so as to put partial blame for ‘incitement’ or ‘lie’ on the speaker, rather than on the ‘actor’. This is extremely dangerous because it fails to build into our citizens an appropriate sense of self-responsibility, it infantilizes our citizenry – and we must fight against this most vigorously.
For an infantilized citizen is no longer capable of being self-responsible and rejects the self accountability and independence of self-ownership…
In other words, failing to be accountable for one’s actions without blaming others for ‘incitement’ or ‘lies’ (or, indeed, ‘hate speech’) surrenders one’s mind and soul to another: in violation of the principle of self-ownership.
Which will necessarily mean the end of our civilization, since our civilization, as stated at the beginning of this argument, is founded on self-ownership.
I have presented this argument first because it is the most ‘theoretical’ and principle based, in my never-humble-opinion. I would welcome you, my dear reader, to try to find flaws in the logic of this reasoning and present them to me for discussion because I really cannot see how this particular line of reasoning could be faulted.
Many of you might accept this particular argument ‘in theory’ – something that might be wonderful to implement in a utopian society, but impossible to implement in a real-life society of blood-sweat-and-tears humanity. That is indeed a fair objection, to which my only retort would be that this is what we ought to be aiming, that this ideal ought to be what we strive for – and not start out from the very beginning by lowering the standards to such an extreme low that the very existence of those of us who hold this principled point of view is doubted or denied.
This I lament as even many ‘free speechers’ start out the debate by saying ‘nobody thinks freedom of speech ought to be absolute, so let’s start talking about where to draw the lines’…
Freedom of speech MUST be absolute and any and all ‘lines’ limiting it MUST BE ERASED!!! Anything less is an existential threat to our very civilization and the abdication of the principle of self-ownership!!!
* * *
There are less theoretical and more practical reasons – yet all principled – for why freedom of speech ought to be absolute. I shall attempt to present just a few of them (as an exhaustive listing would take a lifetime to compile!) over the next few weeks and hopefully we can engage in a vigorous discussion.
For now, I’d like to start here, from the core principle of self ownership.
FIRE is indeed a force for good!