About Ann Coulter and the University of Ottawa

25 03 2010

The media is blowing this up right now and everyone is leaving out bit of information as per usual.

Let’s get some things straight:

Ann Coulter, Right-wing American Pundint, was invited by the Conservative students group at the University of Ottawa to speak publicly.

The Provost of the university sent Ann an email warning her about free speech laws in Canada, which differ from those in the U.S.

On the day of the speech, large crowds filled the lobby outside of the small room in which Ann was supposed to speak. The police said that they would not be able to ensure her safety because of the size of the crowds. The decision was left to Ann and her body guards whether or not to follow through with the talk.

The University of Ottawa did not cancel Ann’s speech.

Ann’s body guard cancelled the speech.

Was it right to shout down Ann and prevent her speech from happening? Not really, though, protesters have the same rights to yell what they want as Ann has to say what she wants.

Ann Coulter seems to me to be a highly paid actor. She says things that she knows will seriously upset people because it gets her attention and therefore, it gets her money. This aside though, she should still be allowed to speak. By disallowing this, protesters at the University of Ottawa have given themselves a bad name. We saw the same things happen to a number of protesters in Copenhagen in December. Lets not paint them all with the same brush though. Ann Coulter does not represent the majority of the right. Loud and rambuncious protestors do not represent the majority of the left.

Thanks to the Ottawa Citizen for writing an in depth article explaining this issue. http://www.ottawacitizen.com/news/Organizers+university+cancelled+Coulter/2721580/story.html

No thanks to the Toronto Star for skimming and skewing. http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/785037–coulter-s-right-to-free-speech-defended


We Could All Use a Second Look

25 08 2009
From: CTV, 2009

From: CTV, 2009

“I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way. “

– From the film Dead Poets Society

Two Activists Murdered in Chechnya

13 08 2009
Prayers Over Zarema's Body from: Dayton Daily News, 2009

Prayers Over Zarema's Body from: Dayton Daily News, 2009

The bodies of Zarema Sadulayeva and Alik Lechayevich Dzhabrailov were found in the trunk of their own car early today in Chechnya. It appears that human rights activists are in more danger than usual this summer in Chechnya – this following last months murder of Natalya Estemirova. One day ago, the two activists were abducted from their office in Chechnya. Zarema Sadulayeva was the head of Let’s Save the Generation, an organization that tasked itself with aiding children that had been affected by violence in Chechnya.

Witnesses reported men entering the offices claiming to be a part of security services. The men demanded that the head of the organization and her husband go with them. Minutes later, the men returned to claim Ailk’s telephone and his car, the same car in which their bodies were found this morning.

These two put the number of human rights defenders murdered up to six within the past twelve months in Chechnya.

Take Action

See RickB’s post for more details: http://tenpercent.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/murdered-left-in-the-boot-of-their-own-car/

Animal Rights Activists Cross the Line

6 08 2009
From: Indymedia UK, 2009
From: Indymedia UK, 2009

While I support some animal rights activists, at least one militant group has reemerged and crossed the line of  activism and moved into shameful desecration. Last week, the grave of the family of Novartis Chief Executive Daniel Vasella was vandalized. Spray paint was used to write ‘Drop HLS Now” on the grave of Vasella’s parents. Additionally, two wooden crosses were planted in the ground next to the tombstone – media sources say the the crosses bear the names of Vasella and his wife, however, this has not been confirmed. Additionally, the acronym SHAC – Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty – was painted and the urn containing Vasella’s mother’s ashes was stolen.

Some of the back story now: Novartis is a large pharmaceutical company that uses the Huntingdon Life Sciences company for animal testing of products before they are made available to the public. The SHAC group has a history of protesting Novartis and Huntingdon Life Sciences for their involvement with animal testing. SHAC has currently denied any responsibility for the blatant attack on Vasella and his family.

Whether or not animals are mistreated at Huntingdon is entirely beside the point here. Animal rights activists seem to make complete fools out of themselves from time to time. This is one of those times. In fact, this is quite beyond foolish. This is disgusting. You don’t deface someone’s grave for God’s sake, and you definitely don’t deface the grave of someone’s parents just because you don’t like what they are doing. And stealing the ashes of Vasella’s mother? I can’t even comment on that. It’s sick. It’s twisted. It’s disgusting. This action is totally counter-productive. These types of actions just make people angry. How do you ever intend to have people agree with your beliefs when they hate you out of principle because of all the stupid, foolish, or annoying things you’ve done.

I’m aware that I am ranting and possibly missing numerous parts of this story, but the point remains that vandalising the resting place of the dead is sub-human. Using Vasella’s dead parents as leverage for changing corporate policies is wrong. Absolutely, 100 percent wrong. I’m not blaming the SHAC, because for all we know it could have been anyone just trying to gain broader media exposure. We’ll have to wait for the arrest and the police report before placing any blame.

From: Cartoonstock, 2009

From: Cartoonstock, 2009

I am increasingly fed up with animal rights activists though. PETA trades sexism for animal rights with their ‘I’d rather go naked’ and ‘State of the Union: Undress’ campaigns; SHAC has smashed the windows of homeowners and spread rumours that a company manager was an alleged rapist; and the ALF (Animal Liberation Front) has planted homemade bombs on doorsteps and got itself listed as domestic terrorists in the United States. There have simply got to be better ways of dealing with these issues. Violence only leads to fear, not compassionate change.




Russian Activist, Natalia Estemirova, Found Murdered

15 07 2009
From: Yahoo News, 2009

From: Yahoo News, 2009

A prominent Russian human rights activist was found dead today in Ingushetia, a Russian Federation which shares borders with Georgia and Chechnya. Estemirova was forcefully kidnapped when leaving her home in Chechnya.  She was thrown into a white car (VAZ-2107) while yelling that she was being kidnapped this morning (about 8:30 local time, Wednesday July 15th, 2009). She was found about 9 hours later in a woodland near the city of Nazran with bullet wounds to the head and chest.

Natalia, 50 years old, worked for the Human Rights ativism group, Memorial. She is not the first of her kind to be murdered. Anna Politkovskaya was shot dead in 2006 and Stanislav Markelov was murdered in January 2009.

Amnesty International has this to say about her work:

Natalia Estemirova’s work was crucial in documenting human rights violations in the region, such as torture and other ill-treatment, unlawful killings and enforced disappearances, since the start of the second Chechnya war in 2000. She also devoted herself to providing assistance to displaced people and other socially disadvantaged groups. No one has claimed responsibility, but colleagues believe she was killed for her human rights activities.

Her work has been recognized both at home and internationally by numerous awards, including the Robert Schuman medal of the European Parliament (2005), the Right Livelihood Award of the Swedish Parliament (2004 – the so-called Alternative Nobel Peace Prize), and she was the first recipient of the Anna Politkovskaya Award (2007).

Most recently Natalia was investingating a number of house-burnings thought to have been the actions of government-backed militias. Corruption and human rights issues in and around Chechnya are rampant.

Article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8152351.stm

Amnesty International Article: http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGNAU2009071611434&lang=e&rss=recentnews