Anne Coulter not able to speak in Ottawa

Isobel - posted on 03/24/2010 ( 14 moms have responded )

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Coulter protesters attack free speech: Levant

24/03/2010 10:49:43 AM
CTV.ca News Staff
Free speech advocates say university administrators should be embarrassed that protesters forced right-wing firebrand Ann Coulter to cancel her appearance at the University of Ottawa, an event they claim is an attack on Canadian freedoms.

Coulter, a well-known U.S. media personality, was due to make an appearance at the university on Tuesday evening, as part of a three-city tour of Canadian campuses. But the event was called off after hundreds of screaming protesters showed up and organizers deemed it to be too dangerous to continue.


Conservative political activist Ezra Levant, who spoke on behalf of the organizers on Tuesday evening, said "it would be physically dangerous for Ann Coulter to proceed with this event."

Following the cancellation, Coulter told the Washington Times that the university was a "bush league" institution and suggested "their IQ points-to-teeth ratio must be about 1-to-1." She told the newspaper that "this has never happened before."

CTV's Daniele Hamamdjian said "a combination of overcapacity and utter disorganization" contributed to the collapse of the event.

Prior to the cancellation, Hamamdjian said only a small number of students were tasked with verifying the names of the people who had signed up to attend Coulter's talk.

"It was a disaster in terms of just organization, which is probably one of the reasons why it was cancelled," Hamamdjian told CTV News Channel from Ottawa on Wednesday morning.

Police eventually showed up to the scene and blocked the door to the building, but Hamamdjian said she doubted whether the combination of protesters and disorganization actually constituted "a physical risk to Ann Coulter."

The event fuelled news stories that ran across the country, all of which fed on the apparent uproar Coulter's visit caused on the Ottawa campus.

Levant denounces protesters' tactics

Earlier Wednesday, Levant spoke to CTV's Canada AM, denouncing the tactics used by the protesters the night before.

"Last night, I went on a Facebook page for some of the protesters and there were clear calls for violence. And not just in an abstract way, I mean there were instructions to bring vegetables and eggs to throw," Levant said during an interview from Ottawa on Wednesday morning.

While Levant acknowledged that he did not believe anyone would have been killed by the behaviours that some of the protesters were engaging in, he said they were designed to intimidate the speaker -- to the point where the police advised organizers to call the event off.

"Let me say this: Ann Coulter is a controversial person and her humour is not to everyone's taste and her politics are not to everyone's taste. So what?" he said.

"If you don't like her, ignore her or go and debate her. But for the student body of the University of Ottawa to intimidate the event into being shut down is un-Canadian.

"That's not how we do it in Canada. Our Charter of Rights (and Freedoms) protects freedom of speech and what we saw yesterday was censorship through the threat of intimidation, an embarrassing day for the University of Ottawa."

Political science student David Piccini said that while he doesn't necessarily defend Coulter's politics and views, he doesn't believe that student protesters should be deciding what other students should be able to hear.

"I believe that it is up to the students of the University of Ottawa -- and they are more than capable to have determined this and to have digested this information on their own and to have come to their own conclusion -- and it was not up to various fringe left groups on campus to prevent that from happening," he said Wednesday morning during a separate interview with Canada AM.

But many students weren't happy to see Coulter coming to their campus.

Seamus Wolfe, a member of the University of Ottawa Student Federation, said Coulter's speeches and remarks often cross over into hate, which he said cannot be justified under the auspices of free speech.

"I think that Ann Coulter is somebody who has consistently gone well into the territory of hate speech. She has constantly advocated for murder and violence of individuals and groups of people," Wolfe, said while appearing alongside Piccini on Canada AM.

"I don't think that a public institution like the University of Ottawa should be a soapbox for her hatred," he added, later in the interview.

Letter controversy

Levant also called out Francois Houle, the vice-president academic and University of Ottawa provost, for writing an "unprecedented" letter to Coulter prior to her appearance in the nation's capital, which implied that she could be subject to criminal prosecution.

"I think it was an outrageous letter," Levant said.

"First of all, there was a thinly-veiled threat of criminal charges to be brought against her. He specifically referred to our criminal code," he said.

Levant said he doubted that Houle sends the same types of letters to other controversial speakers.

He even suggested Houle's letter may be partly to blame for what transpired on Tuesday evening.

"Because the vice-president of the University of Ottawa basically sent the message to the community that this woman is anathema, that she's unwelcome and that she may, in fact, even be a criminal, that was like throwing kerosene into the fire. And that egged on the student rioters who shut this thing down," Levant said.

Coulter is due to visit Calgary on Thursday. She spoke at the University of Western Ontario in London, Ont., on Monday.

In a separate interview Levant also had with Canada AM on Wednesday morning, he predicted that Coulter will get a better welcoming in Calgary.

"Calgary is a very tolerant city and we believe in freedom and I'm certain that the event there will go off without a hitch," he said.

With files from The Canadian Press

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I'm a little embarrassed... While I hate Anne Coulter with all my heart and soul, I think it's entirely within her rights to speak. That being said, it's my understanding that she was simply issued a warning about Canada's laws on hate speach (which was probably a pretty good idea)...then the rest was caused by the public threatening to throw things at her.

If you don't like what she has to say, do what I do and put bananas in your ears...

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Jessica - posted on 03/25/2010

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I'm a great believer in Voltaire's famous maxim, 'Sir, I may not agree with what you say, but I shall defend to the death your right to be a complete asshole,'.

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Jenny - posted on 03/26/2010

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That comment is absurd. I take back my comments, let the tomatoes fly. Screw that bitch, free speech or not. She is NOT welcome in our country.

Amanda - posted on 03/26/2010

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The incident followed a Monday night lecture at the University of Western Ontario, where Coulter told a Muslim student to "take a camel" as an alternative to flying.



Coulter made the comment as she responded to a question from student Fatima Al-Dhaher, who asked about previous comments in which Coulter said Muslims shouldn't be allowed on airplanes and should take "flying carpets" instead. Al-Dhaher noted she did not own a flying carpet and asked what she should take as an alternative transportation.





I never heard of this woman until this protest, but good for these students not to allow someone so ignorant, and racist to speak. Freedom of speech does not give people the right to spread hate. Of course i believe all protests should be peaceful and get the point across a lot better, but Canadians are pretty passionate when it comes to hate speech.

Krista - posted on 03/26/2010

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I don't think Houle was out of line. Coulter is well known for inciting hatred against many identifiable groups, and he was basically advising her that in Canada, you could get in a lot of trouble for that. Any public speaker who visits a foreign country needs to research the laws and customs of the country to ensure that they won't land themselves in hot water. Houle probably figured that Coulter, with her previously stated contempt of Canada, would not have bothered to research our laws, and wanted to avoid the spectacle of her being arrested for hate speech.

And I agree with Jenny that the protesters had every right to protest against her appearance, but that threats of tomato-throwing crossed the line. If it had been a peaceful protest, it would have sent a more powerful message.

But, I'm really not too concerned about what Ann Coulter thinks of our country. The woman is a scourge, and frankly, I'm rather proud that we're telling her that she's not going to receive a warm welcome here.

Isobel - posted on 03/24/2010

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I guess my point in stating our hate laws is that I think if she had spoken without breaking those laws all of her fans would have been sorely disappointed!

?? - posted on 03/24/2010

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Oh shit... those horrible Canadians made her feel the same way her hatred makes people feel everyday... what a fucking shame. Poor lil bitty Ann. Get bent and stay out.

Jessica - posted on 03/24/2010

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I live in Calgary and have many friends at the Uni, now I don't know if it would go as far as it did in Ottawa, but she definatly NOT welcome in Calgary either...if people show up it won't be to cheer her on...

Sara - posted on 03/24/2010

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I know it's wrong, but my friends and I have been referring to Ann Coulter as Hitler's girlfriend for several years now...

Isobel - posted on 03/24/2010

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OK...it's wikipedia but whatever...In Canada, advocating genocide or inciting hatred[9] against any 'identifiable group' is an indictable offence under the Criminal Code of Canada with maximum terms of two to fourteen years. An 'identifiable group' is defined as 'any section of the public distinguished by colour, race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation.' It makes exceptions for cases of statements of truth, and subjects of public debate and religious doctrine. The landmark judicial decision on the constitutionality of this law was R. v. Keegstra (1990).

Rosie - posted on 03/24/2010

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as much as i think she shouldn't be allowed to talk anywhere, freedom of speech still wins. i kindof feel like jenny does. i feel her speech is pure hate, but as far as i'm aware of that's not illegal in canada. maybe it is? you all wouldn't let the westboro baptist church nutjubs up there, i feel her rhetoric is comparable to theirs.

Sara - posted on 03/24/2010

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I grow to like you Canadians more and more...

I agree, the twat has the right to speak...ugh...hurts.

Jenny - posted on 03/24/2010

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I don't know how I feel. I think it sends a message that hate speech is not tolerated in our country and I love that about us. I do agree she has the right to say what she likes but the protestors have the right to tell her she's a bigoted nutbar. I definately do not agree with threats and aggressive behaviour to get the point across though.

JL - posted on 03/24/2010

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I agree. While Ann Coulter makes me throw up and cry every time I hear her open her mouth I do stand firmly in favor of free speech even idiotic speech. She has every right to travel around as a guess speaker and spew her stupidity and if someone doesn't like what she has to say then don't listen to her, don't show up at her events, and if you want to protest her asinine thoughts then do so in a civil manner. Acting like a idiot to protest a idiot...hello don't people see the overt irony in that.

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