Photo via @BenSimons28
Author Archives: Zoe Blunt
It’s a recurring debate. Should progressive groups be allowed to block people for ideological or other reasons? Aren’t we supposed to be inclusive and open to everyone? The old-boys club, ivory tower, gatekeeper mentality is what we’re fighting, right?
This question is often phrased as a demand by those insisting on inclusion.
Take the angry racist dudes who were asked to leave an Occupy camp in a public square. They were furious at being called out and retaliated with accusations that organizers were violating their rights and discriminating against them as white males. Are their complaints legit?
Or how about Len Barrie, developer of Bear Mountain resort and destroyer of SPAET’s caves? Long before he became the most-hated developer on Vancouver Island, he was kicked out of the Royal Colwood Golf Club for bad behaviour. Barrie’s subsequent lawsuit claimed as long as he pays his dues, he should have the benefits of the club. The club violated his rights, he said, and he demanded reinstatement and damages. Was he right?
The thing is, when trouble-makers insist on joining a group, the resulting conflicts can tear it apart. The anti-Occupy dudes harassed women, picked fights about “white rights,” and verbally abused those who disagreed with them. But the other campers got together and threw the angry dudes out.
Barrie behaved like an aggressive entitled asshole, and he got thrown out of his club, which is what he deserved.
We don’t just have the right, we have the responsibility to bar people who would disrupt and derail our work. The concept is a long-standing principle of natural justice, one that is upheld by the courts and by federal law.
Advocacy groups like social justice organizations are based on shared values of mutual aid and solidarity. Every day we make principled decisions about what events and groups to support or oppose. The same goes for political parties. The New Democrats are not obligated to accept Young Conservatives. Peace groups don’t have to allow military recruiters in the door. If it were otherwise, no one would get anything done – they would just be crashing each others’ parties.
Similarly, private clubs and informal networks are based on mutual respect and camaraderie, as well as shared goals and ideals.
Mind you, those who feel they’re being discriminated against have legal recourse, like filing a human-rights complaint. And here’s what they’ll learn: they don’t have the right to be part of a group they clash with. If the purpose of the group is to advocate for indigenous rights, for example, the members are obliged to put indigenous people first, even to the extent of excluding others.
If a charitable, philanthropic, educational, fraternal, religious or social organization or corporation that is not operated for profit has as a primary purpose the promotion of the interests and welfare of an identifiable group or class of persons characterized by a physical or mental disability or by a common race, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, political belief, colour, ancestry or place of origin, that organization or corporation must not be considered to be contravening this Code because it is granting a preference to members of the identifiable group or class of persons.
In the case of private or for-profit clubs, like Barrie’s, the law is equally clear. In his decision on Barrie v. Royal Colwood Golf Club (2001 BCSC 1181), Justice Edwards ruled:
[Quoting Lee v. Showmens Guild] “In the case of social clubs, the rules usually empower the committee to expel a member who, in their opinion, has been guilty of conduct detrimental to the club, and this is a matter of opinion and nothing else. The courts have no wish to sit on appeal from their decisions on such a matter any more than from the decisions of a family conference. They have nothing to do with social rights or social duties.”
In short, the courts are reluctant to reinstate a member of a social club when other members have decided that member has acted in a manner unbecoming a member, for the obvious reason that a club must be collegial.
In social clubs, goodwill among the members is important and the opportunity for cordial relations among members is a primary reason for these clubs’ existence.
Barrie lost his case because he lost the respect of his fellow club members. He behaved like a jerk, destroyed property, and lied about it. The judge noted that even if he ordered the club to take Barrie back, they would just kick him out again.
Of course, a group that exercises its right to make such decisions may be subject to harsh criticism. Whites-only groups – and there are many – are correctly labeled “white supremacist” for excluding people of colour. The angry dudes were less accurate in calling Occupiers “fascist” and “racist” when the campers refused to accommodate their white-supremacist agenda.
There’s an obvious difference between those two examples. White supremacists want to keep oppressed groups down. Occupy supports oppressed groups rising up. One seeks social justice, the other a return to greater structural inequality.
The bottom line: People who are united for a common goal, for camaraderie, or for the interests of a particular group, can’t be compelled to admit those who don’t fit their purpose. So if people don’t like you or don’t share your principles, you have no legal right to force them to accept you into their non-profit group or private club. You don’t have the right to crash their party. This concept applies across the board to everyone – all-black sororities, the Communist Party, men’s support groups, and radical feminist organizations. And it always has.
And the feeling is mutual!
This week, a neo-Nazi group, United Front Canada, is publicly calling for new members to start chapters in Victoria BC, as well as Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Winnipeg, and Toronto.
And I’m here to get in the way. So Anti White Watch, a white supremacist blog, labels me “leader of the anti white gang Anti Racist Action,” “dyke,” “tranny” and more hilarious insults. In other words, these are literally some of the worst people in the world.
The good news is the author advertises our Anti Racist Action group.
Nice photo! (I won’t be returning the favour and linking to their page though, because racist blogs have cyber-cooties.)
This is the first time in Victoria I’ve run across actual neo-Nazis, as opposed to run-of-the-mill white supremacists and racists. United Front’s platform is based on Hitler’s Third Reich, right down to the swastika-style cross. It’s a modern-day throwback to the National Socialist Party of 1930s Germany. So it’s a neo-Nazi fringe group. (I’m using the word “group” loosely. It’s a safe bet these two websites are run by one miserable white dude in a suburban basement.)
White supremacy is a broader and more pervasive philosophy. The Wiki says:
White supremacy is the belief of, and/or promotion of the belief, that white people are superior to people of other racial backgrounds and that therefore whites should politically dominate non-whites. The term is also used to describe a political ideology that perpetuates and maintains the social, political, historical and/or industrial dominance of whites. Different forms of white supremacy have different conceptions of who is considered white, and different white supremacist identify various groups as their primary enemy.
The term white supremacy is used in academic studies of racial power to denote a system of structural racism which privileges white people over others, regardless of the presence or absence of racial hatred. Legal scholar Frances Lee Ansley explains this definition as follows:
- By “white supremacy” I do not mean to allude only to the self-conscious racism of white supremacist hate groups. I refer instead to a political, economic and cultural system in which whites overwhelmingly control power and material resources, conscious and unconscious ideas of white superiority and entitlement are widespread, and relations of white dominance and non-white subordination are daily reenacted across a broad array of institutions and social settings.
The term expresses historic continuities between a pre-Civil Rights era of open white supremacism and the current racial power structure of the United States. It also expresses the visceral impact of structural racism through “provocative and brutal” language that characterizes racism as “nefarious, global, systemic, and constant.” Academic users of this term sometimes prefer it to racism because it allows for a disconnection between racist feelings and white racial advantage or privilege.
Manypolitics does a brilliant job of illustrating the distinctions with real-life examples in “An Open Letter to WAC Victoria and Others Who Equate Racism with Prejudice.”
And now, please enjoy some old-school anti-Nazi moves.
Earlier encounters with angry racists in Victoria:
- Turfing Out the Racists
- The Judge Should Arrest Me for Calling This Dude a Racist
- So I Decided to Sue This Local Wingnut
- Hate Mail from Haters – the confrontation that started it all.
When a Peace Valley volunteer broadcast a call for a counter-protest at Victoria’s Earth Day festival, I had to find out why. Here’s my report.
Victoria photographer Frances Litman had a vision: A weekend-long Earth Day festival. Not a protest, not a rally, she tells me – a “celebration” with happy people, environmental groups, vendors, and musicians coming together for the planet.
Litman set up a non-profit group, and in 2012 she and her crew hosted the first annual Creatively United for the Planet (CUP) festival in Oak Bay, a suburb of Victoria BC. The fest was a success, with only a small glitch – some events were scheduled for the same day and time as Victoria’s Earth Walk, then in its 31st year. But that was worked out; the schedules were re-jigged to minimize overlap and reduce wear and tear on eco-groups trying to divide their volunteer time between two venues.
In 2012, Earth Walk was suffering for lack of volunteers and running on a shoestring budget. Every year, on the Saturday before Earth Day, Earth Walk drew almost a thousand people (five thousand in its heyday) to celebrate with environmental groups, vendors and musicians. Like CUP, organizers wanted a festival, not a protest. And so it was for three decades.
This year, the Earth Walk volunteers have packed it in. They folded up their tent, and Earth Walk will join the better-organized and -funded CUP. No rally at the BC Legislature is planned. This time, the walk starts from Centennial Square at noon Saturday April 20 and ends at St. Ann’s Academy, where the CUP festival takes place.
CUP gets part of its funding from big-name sponsors like the Bank of Montreal and BC Hydro. The power company’s sponsorship sparked the second glitch.
The Peace Valley Environment Association has waged a long-running campaign against BC Hydro and its controller, the government of BC. So far, they’re winning – pickets and petitions have prevented the massive Site C Dam power project from breaking ground in the Peace region of northeast BC.
Earlier this year, CUP told PVEA it was not welcome at the festival. Litman says this was a misunderstanding. When a PVEA volunteer criticized the BC Hydro $2500 sponsorship, saying CUP “sold out,” Litman says she replied, “If you feel that way, then maybe you shouldn’t come.”
Andrea Morrison, coordinator of PVEA, disputes that account. She says BC Hydro was calling the shots. “They looked at the list [of CUP participating groups] and saw PVEA and said, ‘We would give you the money, if they’re not allowed to participate.'”
Litman says other groups advised her to “take the money and run.”
“We needed the money but I was torn about the source. We said to Hydro ‘Look, we don’t support what you’re doing [at Site C and elsewhere], we’re not happy.'” On the other hand, Litman likes the PowerSmart program, which she says “at least makes people think about the environment and sustainability.”
Either way, Morrison and Litman agree the issue is resolved, at the cost of a few ruffled feathers. PVEA will have a table, as it did last year. Litman emphasizes again that there will be “no rallies” and “no protests” at CUP. “This is a friendly event. We don’t want angry people. We’re celebrating. It’s through positivity that we’re making change.”
The CUP organizer says she was caught off guard by criticism over the way the issue was handled, and she has some choice words for other environmentalists. “What’s this – attacking people without going to the source?” she complained. “I thought the environmental movement was my community.”
“This festival is my vision,” Litman says. “If other people don’t like it, well, I’m sorry. You’re not doing the work.”
“We need people to show up and not be pointing fingers,” Litman says. “People don’t want to see in-fighting.”
That kerfuffle is settled, but more questions have been raised about lack of diversity. Specifically, a lack of indigenous people. There are no Turtle Island natives or even any mention of First Nations on the schedule.
Litman says she is arranging for a blessing from a local Elder. But some indigenous activists may not be satisfied with what they consider “token” representation in the midst of a burgeoning indigenous arts and culture scene on Vancouver Island.
Oddly, CUP is listed as an event on the Idle No More official events website. Litman can’t say how the event came to be there, but says she will ask one of the board members.
“While we support them [Idle No More] this festival is not the right time or place,” Litman says. She wants me to get the message out that “we welcome everyone in peace and this is not a protest.”
Mainstream environmental groups have plenty of baggage when it comes to disrespecting indigenous people and perpetuating neo-colonial attitudes. Earth Walk, for example, put little effort into partnering with indigenous people before 2012. Greenpeace has earned the enmity of indigenous groups it “sold out” with the Great Bear Rainforest compromise. There are dozens more examples.
Litman says if we want a vibrant environmental movement, we need to roll up our sleeves and make it happen. I agree. If we want a grassroots, independently-funded, fully inclusive movement, we will have to build it, together with our allies. It’s time to break our allegiance to the dominant corporate culture that’s brought the planet to the brink of catastrophe. It’s time to give back to the earth and support indigenous-led campaigns for environmental justice.
Creatively United for the Planet runs April 19-21 at St. Ann’s Academy. Festival admission is free. Ticketed events include speakers, films, and a fashion show. I’m told the festival organizers will be welcomed by Songhees elder Joan Morris and traditional songs and dances by the Esquimalt Dancers. The counter-protest is not expected to go forward.
The feminist guide to taking over the world and enslaving the males (UPDATED)
When women speak out on sexism and male violence, we deal with the consequences. Men retaliate by stalking, harassing, and threatening us for the crime of being feminist (or just female) in public. The most common accusation from “men’s-rights” reactionaries is that feminists have all the power in the world. We’re the real haters, and we’re stealing away men’s rights and freedoms and everything they enjoy.
We know men are inferior, suitable only for slave labour, cannon fodder, and forced breeding. Our worldwide feminist domination plan has five secret weapons to keep them in their place and slap them down when they get uppity.
Secret Weapon #1. Name the behaviour. Whether it’s misogyny, homophobia, racism, or ableism, calling it out will cause the target male’s brain to explode.
According to male supremacists, a woman who publicly criticizes them is committing a human rights violation equivalent to being castrated and curb-stomped by a platoon of hairy-legged lesbians. The mildest insults fester for months. (We know this because they never shut up about it.) This tactic works with total strangers on Twitter just as well as close relatives and significant others. Such is the power of feminist words!
Secret Weapon #2: Use the web to block those cocks. If they email you, activate the spam filter. If they post rude notes on your page, delete and block them. If they overrun your favourite sites, kill-file them. If they threaten you, report them. The beta-males will howl that such brutal censorship is the worst jackbooted fascism since Hitler. They are right, of course. But this way we don’t scuff the shine on our new jackboots.
Phone calls? Block ’em. Street harassment and stalking? Get your posse together. “Men’s-rights activists” (MRAs) are cowards and they won’t approach a group of women who are ready for them. The worst they’re likely to do is shout from a safe distance and flee. Later they will cry on Facebook about being “gang-stalked.” Enjoy the delicious irony and the sweet taste of their rage-tears.
Secret Weapon #3: Disengage. Withholding your support and approval is vicious and deliberate sabotage of the male ego. I have this straight from a former stalker, a non-profit director who believed I “owed” him my volunteer time after he hounded me out of his group and out of his life. When I informed his board of directors, the dude had a breakdown and resigned soon after. (Hey, I warned him.)
When angry dudes can’t engage with you, the impotent rage builds up until they melt down in a messy pile of burning hate, while you go clubbing with your gal pals or jet off to Europe for the Secret Worldwide Matriarchal Domination Society’s annual orgy.
Secret Weapon #4: Mock them. (This is the best part.)
Secret Weapon #5: Provoke them. For feminists, it’s simple to provoke sexist jerks. Just existing will usually do it. But if openly walking around being awesome doesn’t cause them to self-destruct and the above tactics don’t apply, try these:
– dressing sexy
– not dressing sexy
– being feminine
– being unfeminine
– being a slut
– being celibate
– being progressive
– being conservative
– having personal boundaries
– getting on TV or radio
– commenting online
Finally, ladies, remember: Organize. In your communities, with your neighbours, in your friendship networks. Don’t let them silence you. Don’t let them shame you. Push back. Operation Global Feminist Domination will topple the feeble patriarchal system that props up these impotent males!
UPDATE: We have a winner!
In case you thought I might be exaggerating about dudes who lose their shit when women speak out, let me present Libertarian dude Greg Hill, a “Young Entrepreneur” in Victoria, BC.
Hill is not opposed to free speech! HOWEVER, the affidavit he filed in BC Supreme Court says this very post you’re reading right now is a hate crime against him as a white dude. I’m not even making this up.
Behold Hill’s affidavit in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. (Click to view full-size.)
Earlier encounters with the angry dudes of Victoria, Canada
Originally published in the People’s Voice January 2013
VICTORIA BC – Anti-racist organizers report they have won several skirmishes with a "conspiracy cult" linked to US patriot and militia organizations. Anti-Racist Action says members of a group called We Are Change Victoria (WAC) began sparring with social justice activists and the People's Assembly (Occupy Victoria) over a year ago.
WAC is part of a North American network loosely connected to US radio host Alex Jones, the Libertarian Party, the militia movement and patriot groups, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group promotes conspiracy theories about 9/11, chemtrails, gun control, human rights law, climate-change denial, and Holocaust denial.
In Victoria, WAC members joined the Occupy movement soon after it began, but they split over angry disagreements about the camp's stance on social justice and indigenous rights. Later, WAC members disrupted meetings, denounced the movement, and launched an online harassment campaign targeting women and trans activists, and anyone they considered an organizer.
A year later, in October 2012, WAC “activist” Josh Steffler announced that Doug Christie, Canada's best-known white supremacist, would address their rally on the BC Legislature lawn. Anti-Racist Action called for a counter-protest and blew the whistle on the event. Ultimately, Christie didn't show and some of the other speakers stayed away as well. Fewer than a dozen people attended the rally.
It was not a proud day for WAC. As volunteers set up the sound system for the speakers, three angry "free speech advocates" crossed the Legislature lawn to confront the counter-protestors picketing on the sidewalk 150 meters away. The shouting match that ensued drew the attention of nearby police officers. The WACkos demanded the arrest of the counter-protestors, but instead the cops sent the wingnuts scurrying back to the stage with their tails between their legs. The counter-protestors spent the rest of the afternoon handing flyers to passers-by and explaining why they were protesting WAC's racism and sexism.
A month later, ARA confronted WAC at its hangout, a downtown diner where the group held well-advertised but poorly-attended weekly meetings. ARA called for a meetup at the same diner and dozens responded. They filled every table and the wingnuts were turfed out before they could get in the door.
Since then, WAC no longer advertises its events or meeting locations. Its only response to the controversy is a Youtube video. Speaking for the group, Steffler, a failed Esquimalt city council candidate, blames the conflict on "Bolsheviks" who are the "real racists."
More recently, members of WAC were harassing a Victoria environmental activist in an effort to suppress photos of the October confrontation and take down her websites. Now one WACko is embroiled in an ugly Supreme Court battle that he is bound to lose.
Anti-Racist Action has four points of unity:
1. We go where they go. Whenever fascists are organizing or active in public, we're there. We don't believe in ignoring them or staying away from them. Never let the Nazis have the street!
2. We don't rely on the cops or courts to do our work for us. This doesn't mean we never go to court, but the cops uphold white supremacy and the status quo. They attack us and everyone who resists oppression. We must rely on ourselves to protect ourselves and stop the fascists.
3. Non-sectarian defence of other anti-fascists. In ARA, we have a lot of different groups and individuals. We don't agree about everything and we have a right to differ openly. But in this movement an attack on one is an attack on us all. We stand behind each other.
4. We support abortion rights and reproductive freedom. ARA intends to do the hard work necessary to build a broad, strong movement against racism, sexism, anti-immigrant, anti-indigenous sovereignty, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, discrimination against the disabled, the oldest, the youngest, and the most oppressed people. We want a classless, free society. We intend to win!
Undercover surveillance in Vancouver from the 1980s to 2006
Three shiny SUVs with dark windows were lurking outside my apartment in a quiet Vancouver suburb. Inside the nearest, a clean-cut man wearing dark glasses was in the driver’s seat, staring at me. I turned to find a man in his early forties walking toward me on the sidewalk. Pasty face, navy blue suit, black shoes, Ray-Bans and a Tom Selleck moustache: all that was missing was the badge. The agent was carrying two cups of coffee from the McDonald’s two blocks away. Glancing up, he caught my eye. His mouth dropped open and he flinched, almost spilling the hot coffee. Then he lowered his eyes, clenched his jaw, and strode briskly past. I stared after him.
It was Tuesday, April 19th, 2005, and I made it to the bus stop on time, the agents following. I was convinced they were ready to bundle me into the back of one of the SUVs for a joyride to some unknown destination. I was thinking: “Shit! I’m going to jail! I’m going to miss work! Do I know any lawyers I can call?”
I should mention that I’m not involved with any underground groups. I’ve never been accused or questioned about any serious crime. I’m a non-profit director and I write about eco-defense and civil disobedience, among other things.
Innocent people are targeted by security agencies based solely on their political beliefs or association with other radicals. This report presents a snapshot of the tactics the police like to think of as “secret,” like spying on individuals and infiltrating groups. These tactics can be extremely dangerous and destructive, even for activists who have never committed a crime. By studying these incidents, we can start to dispel the mystery surrounding covert operations and see the big picture.
Maybe you know a
nutter freedom fighter battling the tyranny of fluoride, Agenda 21, and being called a “racist” “sexist” “idiot” all the time. Maybe that is you! Either way, good news: this handy legal guide is here to help.*
Did someone call you a name? Take a photo of you in public? Or even worse, publish it? Use this guide to get justice and/or revenge in civil court.
BEFORE THE CASE
1) Give your opponents fair warning about your complaint. Threaten them with lawsuits and arrest at every opportunity. That will establish your credibility as a
wingnut man to be feared. Send threatening messages and get all your friends to join in. Note: This doesn’t always work – sometimes people call your bluff.
2) Combine threats and demands. Demand your adversary “debate” you, for example, and threaten to “expose” them with thousands of posters naming them as criminals if they don’t. Judges call this “extortion” and it will look good on you in court, if it comes to that.
IF YOU’RE INVOLVED IN A CIVIL CASE
1) Remember the law is always evolving, so it can be whatever you make it. You can redefine words and legal concepts to reflect your libertarian values.
2) Lawyers will try to take all your money and your rights. Don’t bother consulting them. Your Freemen friends will give you plenty of tips.
3) The rules of the court are designed to confuse you and take away your freedom. Don’t bother reading them. You will automatically get points for doing it your own way, bringing a fresh perspective and figuring it out as you go along.
4) Remember the judge has great power in the courtroom. So you have to be very firm to get what you want. For example, you want someone arrested, but the police won’t take a report? Get the judge to arrest them instead. (Remind the judge that the police are biased in favour of women, people of colour, and Bolsheviks. Show him the proof on Infowars.com.)
Examples of pleadings include a notice of claim (to start a court case) or a counterclaim (to retaliate). Pleadings are supposed to be straightforward, but you can make them very very complicated if you want. That will impress the judge.
1) Don’t limit yourself to facts. Gossip, speculation, and innuendo will broaden the scope of your complaint. Put it all in your pleading as evidence.
2) Reporting about events you didn’t witness is called “hearsay” and it’s the best kind of evidence. Put it in your pleading.
3) Not sure what to accuse your enemy of? Use whatever sounds best to you. “Blasphemous Libel” is a good one. “Malicious Prosecution” is even better. Or make something up. You can always define your legal terms for the judge later.
FOR LIBEL CLAIMS
1) Get your hands dirty. Well before the case starts, you should be pummeling your adversaries in the court of public opinion. So if they call you out for being “racist” and you reply that they are the “real racists,” and then you call them “Bolsheviks” and “terrorists” and “mass murderers,” and then you make blogs and videos about it, and then you sue them for calling you “racist,” your position is unbeatable.
2) Republish the offending material. It’s best if you publish your enemy’s insults over and over, word for word, in their entirety. Make sure the whole world knows exactly how your feelings got hurt. When you get to court, explain to the judge that it’s only libel when someone else says it, and consent doesn’t matter.
3) Don’t worry about free speech, the Charter of Rights or the Constitution. Granted, this can be tricky for those who say they value free speech and personal liberty and so on. But remember, the Charter and the Constitution were designed to protect men of liberty and punish everyone else. So you can – and should – demand that the judge shut your enemies down and forbid them from speaking or writing about you again, ever, or else.
Go forth and conquer!
* Note: we are not here to help – we’re actually here to laugh at you.
Disclaimer: This guide is provided without warranty and does not constitute actual legal advice. Information contained here may not apply outside the Province of British Oolumbia, or inside of it, either.