Sorry to have been so quiet over the last couple of days.
My ‘little baby’ was moving from his co-op intern job back to school, about 10 hours’ or so drive apart – and I just happened to be the driver.
So, over the last 3 days or so, I have been, driving, moving, driving, moving and…driving.
When I got home early this morning, I went into a deep, well-earned sleep!
While I was asleep, this afternoon, I received an email from the government department in charge of putting on the events in Parliament Hill, giving me the permit yo hold a “Free Speech Wall’ event on September 13th, 2015 from 1-3pm.
Now, I did start the proceedings to get this event approved back in June. I was asked to wait 3 months. Since, the last time, the ‘approval process’ – 10 days or less according to the Gov of Canada website – was so short, I started the negotiations in June 2015, and, as per request, waited till after the whirlwind of ‘Canada Day’ (plus the time the bureaucrat I truly and honestly believe was doing everything possible in his power to make this happen ‘was back in town’ to ‘rush this through personally’), I submitted my official request for permit in early/mid July.
Plenty of time -right?!?!?!
During all of this, I was very clear that I would need two to three weeks between the permission is granted till the time of the event (I selected the 13th of September – the first Sunday following Labour day and thus satisfying the ‘3 month period’ that was requested of me by ‘the powers that be’) to be able to publicize it properly and get proper citizen involvement in this event.
I had requested permission for a ‘Free Speech Wall’. Along the models that have been springing up on all the College and University campuses in North America, as per theFIRE.org.
And, while I was sleeping, recovering from that whole cross-country moving event of my ‘baby’, I had, indeed, been granted the permission to hold this event.
11 days before the event date.
7 business days prior to the event date. (To get printing and all publicity done – since investing the money prior to any permit being granted seemed rather questionable, at best. Fool me once, shame on you – fool me twice, shame on me!!!)
Which, if I may be perfectly honest, is not exactly ‘within 10 business days’, or anywhere close, of my application….nor does it leave me enough time to properly publicize this event!!!
I cannot help the feeling that this, indeed, is what the ‘powers that be’ had aimed for: despite the best efforts of well-meaning bureaucrats, the permission came at such late a date that, regardless of my efforts, it will prove the event to be a failure since nobody will show up. Because to pull a major event like this, with just 11 days notice, is just a teeny bit difficult.
Less than 2-3 weeks will not give enough time for either ‘my Toronto, nor ‘my Montreal’ people enough time to organize buses to bring people to the event. This eliminates 70 to 80% of the people who were planning to come to my event!
Plus, the RCMP folks (who really, really did not want to be recorded in what they said) told me I was not permitted to promote this as the follow-up or alternative to the Draw Muhammed event – I had to stay within the ‘free speech’ framework when publicizing it or they would, and I quote, ‘pull the plug’.
At this point, I explained to them (again) about my repeatedly injured shoulders and requested they cuff my hands in front, not behind me, since I have insufficient shoulder mobility for that and I would not wish it to be misunderstood as an attempt to resist arrest…
What do you say, my dear readers: will you come to participate?
Or, should I call the RCMP on their attempt to sabotage this event by not giving me enough notice to do proper publicity?
Please, DO let me know – I will count on your numbers should you say you will come!!!
This is getting truly insane:
I’m very keen on this:
For the background on this case, please see here.
For the full ruling, see here.
Prior to the closing arguments, I begged John Baglow to, please, stop this lawsuit, even at such a late date. I promised I’d help him fundraise to cover his costs if he, even at this point, called the whole thing off.
Because I firmly believed that any ruling on this case would necessarily be a loss for freedom of speech and a disaster for all of us who socialize on the interwebitudes!
And I was right!
Yes, Connie and Mark Fournier, as well as Peter O’Donnel, have won because even though Madam Justice Polowin found the comments to be defamatory, she also found them to be fair comment and dismissed the case.
So, yes, the Fourniers and POD have won.
But it is a bittersweet victory for them and a decided loss for freedom of speech in the internet.
Let me explain why…
First, let’s name the elephant in the room: the process is the punishment.
Baglow has dragged the defendants through the court system for years and cost them tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of dollars in court costs and lost time/productivity. Yet, in her wisdom, Madam Justice Polowin did not order Baglow to pay the Fournier’s court costs.
Not having any training in legal matters, I find this mindblowing.
If the words were deemed to be ‘fair comment’, as Madam Justice Polowin had ruled, why should the Fourniers and POD have had to pay tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, travel and accommodations in order to defend themselves against what she has ruled is a baseless accusation?
And why should they have to pay half the costs of a court expert in internet communication: an ‘expert’ who is so very up on internet communication and customs that he testified that he’s never ever heard of Godwin’s Law?!?!?
An internet communication expert who’s never heard of Godwin’s Law?
Come on, this is a joke!!!
Even my mother-in-law, who needs help logging on to Facebook, has enough internet savvy to know Godwin’s Law, aka reducto ad Hitlerum…
But, that is besides the point: the bitter lump of coal (actually, coal is not that bitter, but you know what I mean…) here is that while the defendants may have been found innocent, but they still get punished by not having their costs covered and having to pay for an ‘expert’ which would not have been necessary had the judge had even high-school level knowledge of the online world around her.
Second, I most vociferously disagree with some of her rulings on a the various issues raised in the case, because they will, in a very real sense, cause a serious chill in online communications. It will probably take me multiple readings to fully analyse the significant damage this ruling poses to freedom of speech, but, one of her rulings practically jumps out at me.
This is the ruling that providers of an online discussion space are considered to be the publishers of what other people post to these fora, whether this is moderated or not.
This spells a disaster for every blogger that permits comments and makes the running of un-pre-moderated discussion fora a very serious liability danger: most will probably be limited to permitting only politically correct speech and no discussion of controversial topics whatsoever.
In reality, Madame Justice Polowin ruling means that, for example, WordPress or Blogger, by providing a platform for publication with the aim for people to come there and exchange ideas, that this makes WordPress or Twitter etc. the publishers of that communication and just as liable for the words published on their platform by third parties as if they themselves had written it.
Just think about the impact this ruling will have…
Sorry, I’ve got to leave this here for now….you see, dear reader, I suddenly have this terrible pounding headache….