Editor's Notes, 26 March 2010 (from True North Perspective)

Journalism is a tricky business. For every private citizen suddenly thrust, unwilling, into the media spotlight, there are an easy dozen promoters of one cause or another forever working to get their names, their faces and (sometimes) even their ideas a few moments in the sun. And there are some whose cause is, quite simply, to sow hatred and fear, to gnaw away at the shredding pillars of democracy and compromise — all those small — and not so small — steps which have weakened the power of money in favour of the power of ideas and votes.

This past week, the notorious liar and so-called political pundit Ann Coulter cancelled an appearance at the University of Ottawa, scheduled for this past Tuesday night. A spokesman for the group which had invited Coulter to speak said "there were fears for Coulter's well-being" because 2,000 people had gathered outside to protest her appearance.

Typically, those "fears" were almost certainly lies. The following first appeared as the editorial in last week's edition of True North Perspective. Click below for more.

"As an online discussion grows longer,
the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1."
Mike Godwin, 1990

Ann Coulter: The woman who cried Wolf!

Silenced by left-wing "brown-shirts" or fascist provocateur sensing an opportunity?

Cartoon by John Sherffius, Comics.com, 25 March 2010.
Cartoon by John Sherffius, Comics.com, 25 March 2010.

Journalism is a tricky business. For every private citizen suddenly thrust, unwilling, into the media spotlight, there are an easy dozen promoters of one cause or another forever working to get their names, their faces and (sometimes) even their ideas a few moments in the sun.

This past week, the notorious liar and so-called political pundit Ann Coulter cancelled an appearance at the University of Ottawa, scheduled for this past Tuesday night. A spokesman for the group which had invited Coulter to speak said "there were fears for Coulter's well-being" because 2,000 people had gathered outside to protest her apperance.

Clearly, censorship had shut down a controversial voice! Surely True North Perspective should cover such a blow to freedom of speech and the democratic process!

Well, maybe not.

Coulter has never been known for worrying about the facts and there is no reason to believe her now — when was the last time a speaker at a Canadian university was harmed by protestors?

Nevertheless, in cancelling her speech, Coulter managed to get a great deal more attention than she would have had she gone through with it. Newspaper articles, blog posts and radio and television talking heads, all have debated the issues exactly as Coulter framed them.

Even (you may have noticed) True North Perspective is falling for it, if only to debunk the hysteria.

Coulter's opportunity arose when the University of Ottawa's "provost François Houle invited Coulter to 'educate yourself, if need be, as to what is acceptable in Canada.'"

Calgary protesters didn't stop her.
Ann Coulter, afraid of the crowd.
Ann Coulter,
afraid of the crowd?

This was a (presumably) well-intended but naive (at best) or frankly censorious (at worst) warning and cowardly one either way, a letter from an official at a university — a supposed bastion of ideas and debate! — that was just the fuel Coulter needed to illustrate her claims that right wing ideas are threatened by "political correctness" and other alleged "liberal" sins.

And when a couple of thousand people showed up to protest her appearance, Coulter saw her chance; a seasoned provocateur, she took it. And in so doing, Coulter revealed the real liberal sin.

That sin is one of moral blindness, of presuming that one's opponents are perhaps misguided but nevertheless sincerely interested in furthering the common good.

But the common good is not, and never has been, the concern of a fascist.

Yes, I said the real f-word, and I stand by it.

Though since the election of Barack Obama, True North Perspective has tried to take the high road, in the hopes that the movement exemplified by the likes of Karl Rove and Donald Rumsfeld would fade away into the background of a renewed civilized debate between traditional conservatives and liberals in the United States, that hasn't happened.

Instead, the party of Fox News has pounded the drums louder, brandished ever-more over threats and now promises to smash windows in the hope it will be "unnecessary" to use rifles in the future.

Unabashed lies, smashed windows and threats of more violence to come are the tools of fascists and it is time the rest of us, on the left and on the right, stop pretending the likes of Ann Coulter are anything other than fascists.

"Godwin's Law" is a useful tool but it is not an invariable measure. That a word can be used carelessly or with malice aforethought does not mean it is not, sometimes, the right word to use.

And so, True North Perspective will not offer an "unbiased" platform for the likes of Ann Coulter, Karl Rove, George W. Bush or Donald Rumsfeld. These people have no interest in what is true, but only in what will further their goals.

Ann Coulter has every right to speak, but we have every right to call her a liar and not a pundit.

Geoffrey Dow

Managing Editor
True North Perspective

26 March 2010
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