When I read about the vocal protesters at the University of Ottawa who effectively scuttled conservative pundit Ann Coulter’s speech there Tuesday night, my first thought was that Coulter would find a way to capitalize on it, a media feeding-frenzy would follow and it would turn into a win-win for Coulter, who presumably was still paid her speaker’s fee.
The protests followed another incident on Monday night at the University of Western Ontario, when Coulter told a Muslim student to “take a camel” instead of using airplanes. Fatima Al-Dhaher, the student, asked about Coulter’s statement that Muslims should not be allowed to fly on airplanes and should take “flying carpets” instead. Al-Dhaher told Coulter that—unlike most Muslims—she did not, in fact, own a flying carpet and asked how she should travel. “Take a camel” came the retort. Ooh, snap.
News travels fast these days, and predictably the protesters were out in force—over 2,000 of them—to “greet” the conservative author. Not one to give credit where credit is due, Coulter apparently saw a warning e-mail she was sent by University of Ottawa Vice President and Provost Francois Houle on Friday, gently and professionally telling her to not to step over the line as the real problem.
Houle’s e-mail was obtained by the National Post newspaper. Here is an excerpt:
“I would, however, like to inform you, or perhaps remind you, that our domestic laws, both provincial and federal, delineate freedom of expression (or “free speech”) in a manner that is somewhat different than the approach taken in the United States. I therefore encourage you to educate yourself, if need be, as to what is acceptable in Canada and to do so before your planned visit here.
You will realize that Canadian law puts reasonable limits on the freedom of expression. For example, promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges. Outside of the criminal realm, Canadian defamation laws also limit freedom of expression and may differ somewhat from those to which you are accustomed. I therefore ask you, while you are a guest on our campus, to weigh your words with respect and civility in mind.”
Pretty hateful if you ask ... um ... Ann Coulter, I guess.
But it was the update to the matter Wednesday morning that was really head-twisting: The deliberately inflammatory right-wing pundit—yes, the same woman who told the Muslim student to “take a camel”—is actually planning to file a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission alleging hate speech in connection with the e-mail!
Ann Coulter a victim of hate speech? Let that sink in for a minute. A woman who has no qualms whatsoever about publicly insulting Jews, homosexuals, Muslims, African Americans, Democrats—and now Canadians—a victim of hate speech?
It’s just like these right-wingers to blame Canada, isn’t it? Coulter later told a television interviewer that the “camel” comment was just a joke.
Cross posting this from Brand X