University of Ottawa Vice Provost Francois Houle (artist’s rendering)
By now, some of you may have heard the latest sorry dispatch from up here in Canuckistan.
Ann Coulter is paying her first visit to my “country” this week, visiting three Canadian campuses. Last night, she was welcomed by this slightly sinister, typically passive aggressive email from University of Ottawa vice-president academic, provost, and known Frenchman Francois Houle (his real name), which read in part:
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.
Yes, you read that correctly: a man whose salary I’m obliged to pay via my extorted tax dollars just hinted, in the nicest possible way of course, that he’d try to have Coulter arrested if she said something he didn’t like.
As my husband quipped: “Maybe it sounded better in the original German…”
Alas, many other Canadians somehow failed to get that “respect and civility” memo (I guess Canada Post lost it…) and responded to the provost in their own “inappropriate” way. Take Mark Steyn, who knows all about those “hate speech” laws:
What a sad and embarrassing letter, even by the standards of the Canadian academy. Does M Houle write to all University of Ottawa speakers like this? Or does he reserve his telekinetic powers to detect “pre-crime” only for the ideologically suspect?
I’ve no idea what Ann Coulter’s reaction to this letter is, but I suspect it’s “Go ahead, Princess Fairy Pants, make my day.”
I’ve posted other respectful and civil emails to Mr. Houle at my blog (language warning), along with his complete contact information at U of O. I expect his fax machine ran out of paper around midnight last night. Ooopsie.
(And yes, the dude speaks English. They just pretend not to, believe me…)
Since the story hit the fan, Canadian students have duly roused themselves from their pothead slumber to fight the coming invasion of this dangerous female by doing brave stuff like… passing motions at meetings.
True story: The Ottawa University Federation of Students passed a motion last night which reads (and I am not making this up):
Whereas Ann Coulter is a hateful woman;
Whereas she has made hateful comments against GLBTQ, Islam, Judaism, and women;
Be it resolved that the [Student Federation of the University of Ottawa] express its disapproval of having Ann Coulter speak at the University of Ottawa.
Give then credit, though: unlike their London counterparts, the students above at least managed to spell Ann Coulter’s name right.
I have dared the anonymous cowards behind this shabby excuse for a website to come up to me tonight and “express their concerns” to my face. We’re in for a fabulous evening!