Armchair Mayor column for Saturday, March 27, 2010
What do Yves Engler, Kim Robinson, Ann Coulter and Clifford Olson have in common?
The answer is, they’ve all been in the news lately for things they’ve been saying. But let’s discard Olson — he’s a despicable man who wants Old Age Security, and I for one am not interested in listening to him.
The other three, though, are worth knowing about. And let’s add the name of Guy Earle to get us back to a round number; all have been talking and making others unhappy.
Engler, for example, was brought in by the local chapter of the Council of Canadians last night to talk about his book Canada and Israel – Building Apartheid.
Former Kamloops wunderkind Emile Scheffel, who surely will grow up to be prime minister some day, is currently a student at Carleton University in Ottawa. Scheffel doesn’t think much of Engler, and said so in a letter to the editor, calling him “one of Canada’s most prominent and vicious attackers of Israel.”
That prompted a phone call to this desk from Gary Engler, Yves Engler’s father, in Vancouver. “What kind of journalistic standards are you practicing?” he asked rhetorically.
Engler Sr. said his son’s book doesn’t attack Israel, only Canada’s foreign policy with respect to Israel.
Fair enough, though one summary of his book describes it as “a devastating account of Canadian complicity in 20th and 21st century colonialism, dispossession and war crimes,” so I’m thinking that’s not exactly complimentary of Israel. And, he’s accepted at least one speaking engagement for Israeli Apartheid Week, condemned by some as anti-semetic.
Should people listen to Yves Engler?
Ann Coulter has had a busy week in Canada. She is “a darling of the U.S. right-wing who uses incendiary language to sell millions of books as well as her syndicated column,” according to the Toronto Star.
Monday, she told a 17-year-old Muslim student at the University of Western Ontario to “take a camel” instead of the flying carpet she previously suggested Muslims use instead of airlines.
Tuesday, her speech at the University of Ottawa was cancelled when 2,000 students rallied and had campus security worried for her safety.
A speech Thursday night at the University of Calgary went ahead despite a student protest. At that one, she proposed that B.C. and Alberta join the U.S.
Coulter quotes are becoming famous. Comments such as “I love to engage in repartee with people who are stupider than I am,” and “I know Jesus Christ died for my sins, and that’s all I really need to know,” have made her a reporter’s best friend.
Should she be banned from speaking to our youth?
Kim Robinson was not a happy camper last week after he read an editorial in The Daily News blasting some media for treating him as some sort of expert on the Allan Schoenborn case.
Robinson is the man who was characterized as accomplishing what RCMP couldn’t when Schoeborn headed for the hills after murdering his three children in Merritt.
The editorial took exception to the media painting Robinson as the captor of Schoenborn and a man whose opinions we should be interested in.
Robinson called to insist he did nothing to perpetuate the image of himself as a hero, though he says he actually was the guy who captured Schoenborn if you look at the facts.
“I did capture him,” he told me. “I did what was in my mind was needed to be done.”
The details around Schoenborn’s arrest aren’t something we have room for here, but Robinson makes the point that the two had quite a conversation before police showed up and he knows something about whether the killer knew right from wrong. “I had 20 minutes that no one else had,” he said, adding, “That’s a travesty of justice that nobody’s gonna pay.”
Schoenborn, of course, was found not criminally responsible, which is what bugs Robinson.
Should anyone care what Kim Robinson has to say?
Who, you ask, is Guy Earle? He’s a standup comic who’s in a legal battle with one Lorna Pardy, who alleges he made “discriminatory” remarks about her sexual preference almost three years ago during a comedy show. She wants $20,000 from him. A B.C. Human Rights Tribunal hearing starts Monday in Vancouver.
Should Guy Earle have to pay for what he said?
Where do a former student banned from his university’s campus, a rightwing “chippy trash talker” from across the line, a Merritt “local character,” and a comedian who puts down hecklers by insulting them fit in with today’s Canada, a place in which we profess to protect democratic rights of free speech?
If we shut them down, or even ignore them, is Canada a better place? Or do we simply end up debating freedom of speech, again and again, instead of discussing whether or not what they have to say is worth hearing?
Copyright 2010 The Kamloops Daily News