Thursday, April 16, 2009

London Ontario stands up

Ezra Levant, Kathie Shaidle and Salim Mansur spoke before a full house of about 600 people on the topic of HRC's in London, Ontario April 13.

Rory Leishman, another newspaper columnist, said this was the largest political gathering outside of an election ever held in London: way to go Londoners!

For more see:

Oddly enough, the local newspaper, the London Free Press, failed to send a reporter (although invited to do so by both institutes that sponsored the event) and maintained a studied silence afterward. Yet the editor of the Free Press chose to publish a smear aimed at Kathie Shaidle several weeks prior to the event, and had this to say on his personal blog:

Posted: 2009-03-15 18:20:04Last updated: 2009-03-15 18:20:04

PAUL BERTON: We're getting it from both sides (as usual) for a story we published Wednesday.

The story was by Randy Richmond and headlined, "Controversial right-wing blogger invited to speak at London event," with the subhead, "HUMAN RIGHTS: Some members of the city's Jewish community have brought in speakers critical of anti-hate laws."

Some say we shouldn't be giving people like Kathy Shaidle any publicity. Others say the story was a smear job.

We quoted Warren Kinsella, author of Web of Hate: Inside Canada's Far Right Network, as saying,"Any group that associates with or defends her is diminished by her."

I wasn't here last week, but the suggestion for the story came from a reader, who rightly (I think) decided this was something Londoners should know about -- i.e., that this kind of person was invited to speak within our midst.

She (and others) will be speaking about the Canadian Human Rights Commission, Canada's anti-hate laws, and freedom of expression.

It's a favourite topic in the blogosphere (as you know), and a useful debate for the community.

The question today is whether the story was part of a "smear campaign," as some have suggested, or whether we should have done it at all, as others have charged.

As we've managed to annoy both groups, I can only assume (again) that we're doing our jobs well, that it was not a smear job, and that it was warranted. (And the fact Mark Steyn has apparently decided to blog about Randy Richmond can only be good for I'd link to it but I'm sure most of you are well aware of where to find him.)

For our part, it would be unthinkable for us not to do the story just because we might find Shaidle's views unpleasant (to say the least). The more people who know about events like this, whether to support it or take steps to fight it, the better. If you don't believe that, you don't believe in democracy.

To do anything but tell readers what is going on in this region, good or bad, is not responsible from a journalistic standpoint, from a business standpoint, never mind our duty to society.

So what does silence mean?

You might want to inquire, so send Paul a line here:

or here:

Paul Berton
The London Free Press
National Comment Editor
Sun Media


Zip said...

Thucydides, glad to hear it went so well for you.

Well done!

Thucydides said...

Without people passing the word by whatever means necessary, this would never have been as great a success as it was.

Many thanks to the Friends of Canadian Coalition for Democracies and others who worked in the background to make this happen.