John Baglow vs Connie Fournier, Mark Fournier and Roger Smith: the ‘FULL TRIAL’, day 4 part 2

Day 1 part 1 and part 2 are here.  (all previous caveats still apply, though I have temporarily borrowed  slightly better tech.)

Day 2 is here.

Day 3 is here.

Day 4 part 1 is here.

Alternate account is here:  day 1, day 2day 3day 4.

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.

Win-win!!!

Right?

Wrong!!!

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.

It was a bit after this when BlazingCatFur (BCF) was mentioned, and in that context the term SLAPP suit was raised.

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!

 

 

John Baglow vs Connie Fournier, Mark Fournier and Roger Smith: the ‘FULL TRIAL’, day 4 part 1

Day 1 part 1 and part 2 are here.  (all previous caveats still apply, though I have temporarily borrowed a slightly better tech.)

Day 2 is here.

Day 3 is here.

Alternate account is here:  day 1, day 2day 3day 4.

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.

But…

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Baglow vs Connie Fournier, Mark Fournier and Roger Smith: the ‘FULL TRIAL’, day 2

EDIT:  Dr. Baglow has been kind enough to inform me that I made a mistake in my reporting of when he joined the NDP.  Indeed, he was inspired by Bob Rae’s victory in Ontario and joined then – but later, he was so disgusted by the political policies that he tore his membership card up.  That is an important distinction, as it completely negates any accusation that Bob Rae’s wife’s religion/nationality had been any kind of a factor in his decision to leave the NDP under Bob Rae’s leadership.

First and foremost, please, see the write up of ‘John Baglow vs Connie Fournier, Mark Fournier and Roger Smith: the ‘FULL TRIAL’, day 1, part 1′ for the details and the warnings.  Short form:  using a borrowed tablet to blog till my laptop is fixed, can’t even highlight, so cant’ put in links and such, but, will come back and do so once I’m ‘back in business’.  So, this will be brief and, temporarily, not linked to supporting materials.  My apologies.  Also, these are my observations and opinions and as I am not legally trained and not a human behaviour professional, all of this content ought to be treated as very highly imperfect opinions and nothing more.

Also, if anyone can add to this account and/or correct any of the many errors I am bound to make, please do so!

Day two of this ‘FULL TRIAL’ was held at the Elgin St. Court House in Ottawa on Tuesday, 25th of March.

It started punctually, but, going on the experience from Monday, I thought I had a bit of leeway and did not enter the courtroom until a few minutes past.  By this point, Dr. Baglow was testifying about having received his doctorate, chuckling about how he spent more years in school than he expected – but I did not catch what that doctorate was about.

He went on about his CV, his jobs, his political affiliations over the years, and so and so.  It was very interesting – and quite a lot of content, as he was asked to quote something from page 6 of it.

For example, Dr. Baglow testified that he considered himself ‘more or less’ a ‘man of the left’ and was a member of the New Democratic Party (NDP) while a student at McGill. Then, he was fascinated by the Communist party (though he never actually joined), but the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia cooled him somewhat (my words, not his) and he returned to the NDP.  He had stayed with the NDP for much of the time since:  except, of course, for when Bob Rae had run it:  he had torn up his membership card then), but returned thereafter.

Aside:  this is very, very interesting….one of the things Connie Fournier said in her opening statement was that a B’nai B’rith member had (rightly or wrongly) accused Dr. Baglow of anti-Semitism…and Bob Rae has, throughout his career, claimed that he had been persecuted by ‘some segments of the population’ because he is married to a Jew.  I’m sure it is a coincidence, as Dr. Baglow asserts contempt for anti-Semites – and Bob Rae’s politics are enough to turn anyone off, regardless of whom he may or may not be married to.  And while I can see how this co-incidence could, potentially, be abused, as my son is fond of saying, co-incidence is not evidence of causality.  And, in all my (admittedly limited) interactions with Dr. Baglow, I have never detected any anti-Semitism (as almost all Europeans, I am part Jewish myself, so I’m touchy on this).

Another, completely irrelevant, aside:  seeing the tanks roll down our street in ’68 when, as a toddler, I climbed up a sofa and a dresser to look out the window, is one of my earliest childhood memories…

Dr. Baglow was as well groomed as ever, wearing a dark suit/shirt, testified he became a civil servant and then joined PSAC (a public service union) and, eventually, became an executive VP thereof.  In this capacity, he had lobbied for all them policies that I consider to be evil – like, for example, the universal child care thingy.

Indulgently personal aside: I grew up in the Socialist Worker’s Paradise and, as such, was institutionalized (during the daytime) from toddlerhood till gradeschool, in a ‘universal daycare/kindergarten’ system.  I am a survivor of this evil and I fully understand its workings and impact, from the inside.   As such, I swore that I’d rather sell myself on the streets than permit such an evil to ever touch MY children!!!

So, when Dr. Baglow willingly testified that  he had fought FOR such evil institutionalization of innocent children (and seemed proud of promoting what, in my never-humble-opinion, is ‘government enforced child abuse’), I kind of lost my composure for a bit and had a hard time hearing the next bit of testimony.  My apologies.

This is about where the ‘interesting’ bits ended – at least, in my never-humble-opinion.  All the next whole bunch of testimony was about what is the ‘blogosphere’, how to spell the word (neither the judge, nor the person transcribing the trial seemed to know the spelling), and so on and so on and so on.  The only ‘colourful’ bits I gleaned fro this are that Dr. Baglow’s lawyer is a frequent commenter on ‘Dawg’s Blag’, even though he and Dr. Baglow have wildly (and chucklingly so) divergent political opinions.

Perhaos one thing I ought to note is that after Dr. Dawg’s lawyer explained one of the finer points of the blogosphere culture,  he mentioned Omar Khadr.  And, since he ‘got into the mode’ of explaining ‘everything’ to the judge, he tried to explain to her who Omar  Khadr was….Amused, the judge replied that though she might not be up on the latest internet jargon, she’s not an idiot….my wording, not hers, intended to capture her body language, not words.  (Note:  later, the judge demonstrated she knew exactly what a ‘hyperlink’ is, and thus may be tiny bit less of a luddite than she postures as….  To me, this is a very positive thing, indicating she ‘gets’ what she knows and does not know, both, and is not afraid to ask questions!

Actually, I had been quite impressed by Madam Justice Polowin, J.:  she takes copious notes (Dr. Baglow even slowed his lawyer down a bit by gestures to ensure she gets all the note-taking in).  My own experience is that if I hear something, I may forget it on perhaps even not ‘process’ it correctly…but if I write it down as part of ‘taking notes’ – I can usually recall it very accurately, without needing to refer to the notes themselves.  Having observed Madam Justice Polowin, J., I am wondering if her note-taking serves a similar function because if she writes it down, she seems able to quote it without difficulty…

As best as I can determine, the rest of the morning’s testimony had been taken up by defining terms like ‘thread’ and technical details about who has editorial control over posts and comments and site meters and such…

Of interest to other bloggers may be some little tidbits, otherwise unimportant….

  • Dr. Baglow testified that though his readership fluctuates, it averages about a thousand unique readers per day
  • he currently has 3 co-bloggers who can post, but not have moderating control
  • he described a very different ‘startup’ and ‘functions’ experience from mine – but that is to be expected as I have used different platforms than he has
  • he deferred to his tech guy, Mr Bows (sp?) for all tech details, said not knowledgable himself
  • he uses SiteMeter
  • he does not permit racist, anti-Semitic or any kind of hate speech comments on his blog
  • he did 2 takedowns/apologies (with qualifications, making it seem like Ezra Levant’s claim against him was both a persecution for an innocent and understandable misunderstanding of legalese as well as an ‘over-reach’…and the other was a simple misunderstanding of the facts, rather than a misstatement)

‘The term ‘trolling’ got discussed a lot and had been, in my never-humble-opinion, woefully poorly defined and misrepresented to the court – though, it seemed to me, this was not done as a deception but as a deep and true misunderstanding of the very philosophical basis of the concept of ‘trolling’ and the positive, beneficial and, frankly, necessary (for freedom of thought), function of an ‘internet troll’.

At a point just shy of 11:25 am, Madam Justice said she had received a request from her court staff that they would like a little recess -  and we were adjourned for 15 mniutes.

Oh, how things can change!!!

As we all filed back into courtroom 21, Dr. Baglow’s lawyer became concerned over the redness in the face of Dr. Baglow, who suffers from high blood pressure.  While Dr. Baglow protested and insisted some of this redness was due to a sunburn he had just suffered on his holidays to Cuba*, his lawyer was not taking any chances.  All the lawyers and self-reps met in the judges’ chambers while the court clerk took Dr. Baglow’s pulse, declared it way too high, and called the judge with her finding.

On this note, the hearing was adjourned on medical grounds for a bunch of hours….and, no knowing for how long it would go on for following such  a long break, and considering the start of a migraine in me…well, to make a short story even shorter, I went home to try to recover.  My understanding is that tomorrow morning will be taken up with more background testimony and we’ll not get to any of the juicy/substantial stuff until tomorrow pm…

 

 

 

 

John Baglow vs Connie Fournier, Mark Fournier and Roger Smith: the ‘FULL TRIAL’, day 1, part 1

Today, Monday, March 24th, 2014, was the first day in the ‘FULL TRIAL’.

First, a few caveats:

*       My computer has died and I am sending it in for service:  this means I have borrowed equipment (my long suffering hubby’s tablet) and this is NOT the ‘ideal’ blogging medium under any plausible definition… so, instead of highlighting or bolding, I will have to capitalize for emphasis.  I am not shouting, just emphasizing  - my apologies.

*       Due to this really, really slow machine with none of ‘my stuff’ on it (and my limited access to it, as I get to ‘share’), I don’t have the quotes/links to previous/cited cases and so on.  I could get them, if I had the time online, but, currently, I do not.  I may – time and technology permitting – re-visit this post and insert quotes and/or links at a later date when time and internet access are more under my control.

*        Due to me being me – and a certified Aspie to boot – my observations are very, very limited.  They are limited both by my lack of legal training (my area of education is Physics, not Law) and my linguistics (while I may have beecome fluent in 5 languages by the age of 13, I have never mastered ‘legaleese’).  I cannot highlight it this mchine, so I cannot link:  please check out ‘Asperger’s on Wikipedia to understand my limitations in abilities to ‘get’ some of the nuances of what went on:  however, if you are ble to correct me or explain any of my observations more accurately than I, please, I TRULY BEG YOU:  COMMENT!!!  Help others get a better, more accurate picture of what is going on,  I would much rather be corrected than go on in ignorance at any time, on any topic, so, please help me and anyone else reading this get a more insightful picture of the situation, if you possibly can.

TLDR: this will be  a condensed, highly personal and highly imperfect account of my admittedly falliable observaions of this first day of the FULL TRIAL of this particular defamation case.  If you can correct me and/or are willing to add to it, please, do!  As I have borrowed and klunky tech, I cannot highlight or link or spellcheck – sorry…

Background:

Connie and Mark Fournier are the operators of Free Dominion, oldest and longest running political forum in Canada until it was sued into silence by Richard Warman.

Roger Smith, aka Peter O’Donnel (and not just online), is a member and frequent content supplier on Free Dominion and elsewhere on the blogosphere.

John Baglow, aka ‘Dr. Dawg’, aka ‘Ms. Mew’, is a guy who is a retired civil servant and unionist, a self-proclaimed leftist activist, an avid blogger, a Richard Warman groupie (imnho), and a guy with a pechant for black riding boots with the most adorable little silver trimmings.

Please note:  all my own dealings with either John Baglow or ‘Dr. Dawg’ have been very amicable and positive.  I have, in the past, asked him to get me in touch with another progressive blogger I have crossed swords with amicably in the past (I may hold many of the so called ‘progressive views’, but disagree with most of the so called ‘progressive metods’ of achieving them) and he had done so very quickly and courteously.  I was seeking some help/publicity for some Tibetan refugees to Canada and Mr. Baglow has provided it and been very nice to me throughout – and, by extension, to them.

I have found him to be pleasant and charming when ever I have interacted with him.  In fact, I find him quite charismatic.

And, I find it admirble that he has brought a young man I presume to be his step-son to the courthouse to observe civic cases:  it is imperative that we get the next genetration interested in our civics, and I give praise to all who do.  Kudos to him for that!!!

Yes, I bash when bashing is due, but I also give credit when that is due, too…so, please, don’t sue me!!!

This particuar ‘flame war’ started on the blog of Jay Curry and bled over to a number of online spots, including Free Dominion, where the 7-word phrase this courtcase is about was posted by Roger Smith.  I am afraid to report what those 7 offending words were, because from the Richard Warman legal precedent, if I, as a private person, publish the ‘public’ documents of what had been filed at court, I, too, might become liable for ‘re-publishing’ those ‘defamatory’ words.

Yes, it is a matter of ‘public record’.

And, yes, it is ‘factual reporting’ of a ‘public document’….or what was said on public record in a court of law and thus apart of ‘public record’…

BUT!!!

Afte the latest Warman vs. Free Dominion and John does decision, that is no defense:  if the factual record is, at some later point in time, found to be defamatory, the factually reporting on it on the internet is considered to be ‘re-publishing the defmatory statements’ and it would open me to liability.  So, my reporting of tody’s events will necessarily be highly constrained.

The subject of the ‘flame war’ was Omar Khadr, his inaccurate (as per UN’s definition) characterization by ‘Dr. Dawg’ as a ‘child soldier’ and the implications of willfully promulgating this demonstrably inaccurate legal description.  Peter O’Donnel’s opinions complied with the UN’s legal definition (thus leaving Omar Khadr outside of the protections UN grants to ‘child soldiers’) while Dr. Dawg attempted to draw the moral high ground by inaccurately describing the Taliban terorist as a ‘child soldier (in the legal, not colloquial, definition) and then demanded the legal protections for Omar Khadr that are only available to UN-defined ‘child soldiers’….a demostrable and rather glaring hypocrisy which ‘Peter O’Donnel’ pounced and opined upon.

In many online spots.

On Free dominion, he opined so in 7 words which I dare not repeat.

These 7 words that ‘Peter O’Donnel’ posted – and which, he asserts, are his honestly held opinon, shared by some 8 million Canadians (according to his opening statement), are the ‘basis’ of this lawsuit.

It was originally dismissed as a frivolous and a vexatious lawsuit. (And, I reported on it – oh, how I wish I could link!!!  The more I use it, the more I loathe this borrowe tech!!!)

Then, it was appealed – and several judges agreed that internet ‘flame wars’ were ‘legally uncharterred terrtory’ and that some ‘precednt-setting rulings’ need to be made here.  Just so us iternet folks would know where the actual boundaries lie…you know, so we could stay within the lines, the lines are your friends…..(OK, old commercial – but applicable!)

Thus, we have a ‘FULL TRIAL’

TLDR:  trial, ruling against Baglow (frivolous), but no legal rules for ‘internet flam war’ so FULL TRIAL to set ‘legal precedent’.  Baglow:  cute guy, charismatic and nice, wrong side of argument here.

OH, MY – OVER A K OF WORDS AND I HAVE NOT STARTED ON TODAY’S EVENTS YET…..deepest apologies, just trying to get the parameters in before I start today’s observations, as I honestly cannot afford to get sued…

FACTS:

These are the facts as posted outside the courtroom #24 at the Elgin St. Courthouse on the 24th of March, 2014:

Justice:          Polowin, J.

Plaintiff:        Baglow, John

Lawyer:          Burnet, Peter Francis

Defendant:     Smith, Roger

Unrepresented

                 Fournier, Connie

Lawyer:             Kulaszka, Barbara

                 Fournier, Mark

Lawyer:            Kulaszka, Barbara

Mr. John Baglow turned up as well groomed as ever:  a dark suit, a blue-collar shirt and them cute riding boots with the adorable silver trimmings he has become so well known for.  He knows what he looks good in and uses it well!

Connie Fournier wore a classy, slim-line dark skirt with a gray pattern, a pretty blouse with a multi-red abstract pattern and a red blazer that accented the blouse perfectly – with an understated, classy gold/gold-tone diamond/rhinestone necklace (sorry – I am not knowledge-able enough to tell the two apart…it was ‘understated’ and ‘classy’ at the same time and I wish I could pull a similar look off….Connie looked smart and classy and – well, we have words for women like that!!!).

Roger Smith wore a blue blazer and khakis – understated, yet elegant.  With his silver-kissed hair, he was easily the most attractive person in the courtroom.

The charismatic Mark Fournier wore a tweed jacket and slacks and, despite his bigger-than-life persona, tried his best to stay in the background.

In addition to the people listed above, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association were interveners in this case – as friends of the court – on the side of the defendants.  The lawyer sent to represent them was a young man named Steven Frankel – and while he had a wedding ring on the ring finger of his left hand, he looked younger than either of my sons.  OK – I officially feel old now….but, when he spoke, he sounded really, really smart!

And, of course, the judge…

Madam Justice Polowin, J., presided over the case.

She looked sharp, with her pale hair cut short-ish, slicked back at the temples and wonderfully fluffy on top, she wore understated light stud earrings (pearls?) and her judge’s robes flowed playfully about her slight frame.  She self-admitted to being a luddite (knowing how to send and receive emails – but nothing else on the internet) and asked for every bit to be explained, internet technology and jargon and culture included.

I see now that it is way late, and I plan to be back in court to observe tomorrow – so I must suspend my narrative here.  Let me just state that, at the end of the day, Madam Justice Polowin stated (at the end of the day) that even though the trial had been scheduled for Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday, she sees no way they’ll get through it all (while doing a proper and thorough job of examining the underlying issues, as the appellate court had directed) by the end of this week and so participants ought to alter their travel plans accordingly…

MORE LATER!!!!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Freedom of Speech: still under fire

As Ezra Levant reminds us, freedom of speech is under fire all over the world.  He recently raised the case in Spain, where an ex-Muslim is being threatened with deportation to Pakistan, where he will most certainly face death for blasphemy.

But, it is not only something that happens in the illiberal European Union:  freedom of speech is under fire, right here, in Canada’s capital:

Next week, the 24th, 25th and 26th of March, 2014, Mark and Connie Fournier of the formerly ‘Free Dominion’ (currently ‘Censored-Out-Of-Existence Dominion’), will be back in court, fighting to protect our freedom of speech on the internet.

It is, indeed, the continuation of the ‘Dr. Dawg case’ which had been summarily dismissed in a ruling where the judge was incredulous that Dr. Dawg was willing to admit – in court – to having conducted himself as foolishly as he had.  At least, that is my highly imperfect understanding of that ruling.

Aside:

While I have observed the various legal opponents of the Fourniers’ in court, and have found many of them to lack charisma, I cannot say this of Dr. Dawg.  He may be dead wrong on this issue (in my never-humble-opinion), but, he is a charming guy with a disarming smile.  And, he is always meticulously turned out:  not stuffy, but striking and he takes great pride in his always polished and tidy riding boots. (The ones with the adorable silver trimmings – I’ll be sure to let you know if he wears them in court next week….and they are ‘riding boots’, not ‘cowboy boots’, as I have erroneously reported in the past.  I know, because Dr. Dawg was kind enough to send me the link to them, so that I would make the necessary correction – which, of course, I am more than happy to make.  So, to be sure – they are ‘riding boots’, not ‘cowboy boots’ – and they always look polished and well groomed!)

And, sometimes, Dr. Dawg wears hats – I am very partial to hats!  Did I mention the most awesome steampunk hat my son got over the March break?  Hats get the thumbs-up from me!

Plus, Dr. Dawg had brought a young man (whom I presume to be his step-son) to court to observe some of the non-Dr. Dawg related cases:  this, I truly respect because as a parent myself, I really appreciate the importance of teaching civics lessons to our young people.  So, kudos to him for that – even if I disagree with this particular case of his or his politics in general.  After all, it is our duty to teach our young ones to respect the process – and think for themselves:  the rest is up to them!

But, enough of my ranting…refocusing:

Even though the ruling was for the Fourniers and Peter O’Donnel, a frequent poster at Free Dominion, the court of appeals overturned the summary dismissal.  I am sure there were very sound legal reasons for this, but, to my untrained mind and ‘farmer’s wisdom’ (the best, yet clumsy, translation of my dad’s favourite expression – implying ‘layman’s comprehension’ as my father was not a farmer and not even a gardener (this early pioneer in AI’s outdoor activities during my formative years being exclusively limited to tennis and windsurfing), and thus his comprehension of the ways of farmers and acquisition of any actual ‘farmer’s wisdom’ was quite literally non-existent – I’ve never even seen him mow a lawn…not even once!), it sounded like a bunch of hypothetical judges thought:  “Wow, one of them new-fangled ‘internet cases’ – here’s our one and perhaps only chance to make a ruling that will go into the textbooks – so, let’s prolong it as long as possible, because, after all, we are getting paid to do this:  the poor schmucks in front of us have to pick up the bill!”

OK, perhaps I am overly cynical, but that is what it sounds like to me and my legally untrained mind…

But, regardless of the reasons, the Fourniers will be in an Ottawa court room (Elgin St. Court house, for those wishing to pop by and support either side, or just curious about the ways of our justice system) and, health permitting, I will be there to report on it, to the best of my highly limited abilities!

P.S.  Omar Khadr is not, according to the United Nations own definition, a ‘Child Soldier’ - and anyone who claims otherwise is a snotling fondler and a silly-bunny to boot!!!

An Email form Connie Fournier of Free Dominion

Here is the email:

Thanks to YOU, Free Dominion is Appealing!
Hi, FD Friends!

Once again I’m emailing you with a Free Dominion legal update because you have helped us in the past, and/or you are on our list of friends who are interested in keeping up with our cases. (Please let me know if you no longer want to get these status reports.)
Thanks to all of you for your support, prayers and encouragement!  

 

Even though Free Dominion is still closed to the public due to the Court Order obtained by Richard Warman, we have some GOOD NEWS! 

 

We WON the copyright case against Richard Warman and the National Post that was scheduled to be heard in the Federal Court of Appeal on February 19th!  Just days before the trial was to begin, both Warman and the National Post dropped out of the case. 
Now Warman and the National Post must pay our costs!

On March 24th we will be in Ottawa for the long-awaited Baglow trial.  It will last for three days and it will be at the Courthouse at 161 Elgin St.

Drop by if you can!

Our fundraiser is doing well…we have raised nearly 50% of our goal…so we have filed our Appeal of the John Doe decision that forced us to close the site.

Mark Steyn very kindly donated some of his books and shirts for us to offer as perks on our fundraiser!  Click on the link below if you want to do some shopping! :-)

We have one week to go, so please share our fundraiser info with your friends!

Please note that the fundraiser is in US funds, so take that into account if you decide to donate.

If you feel more inclined, you can also help out using an Interac Email Money Transfer to connie@freedominion.ca.

And our mailing address is:

Connie Fournier
2000 Unity Rd
Elginburg, ON  K0H 1M0

Thank you so much to all of you for being there for us!  We said we were going to continue on fighting for your freedom, and we are marching on!

We hope that some day we have the opportunity to thank each and every one of you in person!

Fondest Regards,
Connie and Mark

Free Dominion ‘copyright’ case finally won – for good!!!

This is most excellent news!!!

As I reported earlier, when the court ruling for the Fourniers and Free Dominion came down, the ruling had indeed been in their favour.  However, Richard Warman had appealed and so, having won, their federal case dragged on…

Today, the appeal had been dropped.  From Free Dominion:

‘Today we received notices of discontinance from the National Post and from RWarman in the copyright case that was set to be heard in the Federal Court of Appeal this coming Wednesday!

We were self-represented in this this case and we won in the lower court but R ichard W arman decided to appeal and the National Post lawyered up and joined in against us.

We fought hard and were so blessed to get two great interveners. The CIPPIC, who also intervened in the privacy motion in the John Doe case, and the CCIA (and American advocacy group that represents Google, eBay, Facebook and many other heavy-hitters).

On the eve of the trial, after all was prepared to go ahead, our opponents just dropped out with no explanation.

We are now entitled to costs on this case, and it is OVER! Great case law has been established, and we have one less lawsuit to think about.

Just a few more weeks and we hope to cross the Baglow one off the list, too!

Onward and upward! 8) 

Connie and Mark’

One down, so many more to go…  So, while celebrating, why not pop by their legal fund fundraiser and give them some help with the rest of the battles they are fighting on all of our behalfs!

 

P.S. – I wonder if the EU ruling earlier today had anything to do with the dropping of the appeal…

EU court rules linking does not infringe copyright

While most of us would, I hope, consider this common sense, it is nonetheless nice to have the EU courts confirm it.

This is important because the EU has some of the strongest copyright protection laws, which give authors a great deal of control over their published work.

‘The court had to consider whether by providing links Retriever Sverige had taken part in an “act of communication to the public”. Under EU copyright law, authors have the exclusive right to authorise or prohibit any communication to the public of their works.

The court ruled that the law had not been broken because the articles in question were on Goteborgs-Posten’s website and therefore already “freely available”.

In a statement it said: “The owner of a website may, without the authorisation of the copyright holders, redirect internet users, via hyperlinks, to protected works available on a freely accessible basis on another site.” ‘

 

A link that would take you behind a pay-wall, that is a different thing…

However, this ruling parallels the victory Connie and Mark Fournier of  the now censored Free Dominion had won in Canada’s federal court over Richard Warman, who claimed they had infringed his copyright by linking to an image on his own website.  In this particular case, the judge ruled that Warman had complete editorial control over his image and that linking to it, even should a thumbnail be displayed, did not constitute re-publishing it without permission.

Fundraising for Free Dominon

When members of the media are afraid to criticize a member of their country’s Military, who they honestly believe had abused his position of authority for personal gain/power, we have a problem.

Yet, that is exactly the situation we find ourselves in, in Canada, in 2014.

More and more voices in the media are being silenced through lifetime gag orders against them, brought about through the actions of a specific Agent of the State (and member of the Military, none-the-less)!

This has created such an unprecedented chill on speech that news reporters – even when addressing the public – refer to him as ‘He Who Must Not be Named’!

Help one of his latest victims, Mark and Connie Fournier, by popping over to Indiegogo and listening to their story, spreading it through the internet and, if you have the means, perhaps dropping a few pennies to their legal fund.

P.S.  This is an interesting twist on the story:  the guy doing the silencing had, in the past, been a candidate for election as a member of a political party deeply philosophically opposed to the party one of his targets had been a candidate for…  Do we really want to have the courts be the ones settling philosophical differences between various political parties and their candidates/supporters?  In my never-humble-opinion, this is one very slippery slope…

TorrentFreak: “Which VPN Services Take Your Anonymity Seriously? 2013 Edition”

With the Federal court in Toronto awarding $10.5 million dollars in statutory and punitive damages for running a website which merely linked to Simpsons and Family Guy episodes, one might wish to know how best to protect their identity in the interwebitudes…and with some VPNs touting their security while handing over users info to the US government, it’s hard to know where to turn.

Helpfully, TorrentFreak has reviewed the different VPN services to see which one take your anonymity most seriously:

‘More than a year ago TorrentFreak took a look at a selection of the web’s VPN services to see which ones really take privacy seriously. During the months that followed we received dozens of emails begging us to carry out an update and today here it is. The first installment in our list of VPN services that due to their setup cannot link user activity to external IP addresses and activities.’

Read the full article here.

 

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