Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sad, not Just Silly

If there is any person I would accept judgments from on how it was decided Ann Coulter, a fine stand-up comedian, did not get to do her shtick in Ottawa last night, it's Dan Gardner, a very sensible guy. So I take somewhat seriously his speculation, despite the fact that many reports claim the Ottawa police punted.
But what does this say about this silly litle country?
So who made the final decision to pull the plug? I don't know. But my best guess is it was the bodyguard, and he didn't do it because he wants to sell books. He did it because there was reason to believe he couldn't have ensured Coulter's safety if she had been brought into that bedlam. And if he had asked my opinion at the time, I would have agreed. Others were concerned, too, it seems: When I left, I counted half a dozen cop cars.
Well we know who the brownjackets are now!
His conclusion is disappointingly feeble, not like the Dan I normally like to read:
Of course what people really want to talk about is who's to blame? Is it the lefty protesters who stomped all over free speech with their hobnail boots? Or have Coulter and Ezra Levant pulled off a devilishly clever PR stunt?
I stand to be corrected -- there's lots that's unclear -- but based on the facts as I know them now I find both these answers unsatisfactory. I think there was an enormous amount of disorganization and confusion. And there was real uncertainty about the intentions of the protesters or how they would react if, for example, they spotted Coulter. All these things weighed upon the final decision and responsibility must be apportioned accordingly. I realize that doesn't make for a satisfyingly clear and concise story but it not only accords with the evidence it is in line with how things typically unfold in situations like these.
Of course, it's also typical that people create narratives that explain what happened in a way that bolsters their ideological or partisan interests. That's already happening in this case. All I can say is that, having been in the thick of it all, I find those stories utterly unconvincing.
He leaves out, sadly, provocation from the University administration itself, and a general lack of commitment in the whole country to free speech.


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