Canadian Politician Hangs Out With Racists; Issues Legal Threats To People Calling Him A Racist
from the man-lies-with-dogs,-complains-about-being-called-'flea-bitten' dept
A Canadian politician is getting upset — litigiously upset — that people are characterizing him by the company he keeps. Parliament member Kerry Diotte’s legal rep (Arthur Hamilton of Cassel Brock Lawyers) has sent takedown demands to a handful of Twitter users for calling him a racist.
Bashir Mohamed was one such user. His tweet called Diotte a racist for “openly associating” with “white supremacists like Faith Goldy.” Goldy was, until recently, a correspondent for the Breitbart-esque Rebel Media. Rebel Media is run by another pal of Diotte’s, Ezra Levant, who has shown support for white nationalist groups like the one that headed up the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally that ended with a car being driven into the crowd by someone with white nationalist views.
If anyone wants to questions Goldy’s white nationalist association — and by extension, Diotte’s tacit approval of her ideals — here’s Goldy in her own words and actions.
In the opening moments of her video, Goldy denied the suggestion that just because she sympathizes with some of what the Charlottesville organizers have said, she is a white supremacist, a racist, or a neo-Nazi. At the same time, however, Goldy conceded she “does not bathe in the guilt of white tears” and that she is an opponent of “state multiculturalism” and “cultural Marxism,” all terms that fall easily into the lexicon of white nationalism. And she made an appearance in a podcast broadcast by the Daily Stormer, a notorious and unabashed neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and white supremacist website.
Why would a politician want to associate themselves with an extremist? Maybe it’s because Diotte doesn’t necessarily find these views extreme.
[C]onservative politicians — Mr. Diotte included — have been perfectly content to embrace extremely dubious allies like Ezra Levant’s alt-right outfit The Rebel, climate denialists like the Friends of Science, and anti-LGBTQ activists like Parents for Choice in Education. Even Brian Jean’s new campaign manager, Hamish Marshall, is a co-founder of The Rebel.
Why all this background? Because it sets the stage for Mohamed’s tweet… and the ridiculousness of Diotte’s takedown demand. This is what Diotte’s lawyer baselessly asserts in his legal threat [PDF], referring to Mohamed’s “Diotte is a racist” statement:
You know such statements to be inflammatory and untrue. You are also fully aware of the danger of releasing such libelous and slanderous statements on a medium such as Twitter, given the ability of your statements to be replicated and rebroadcast by others.
The statement may be “inflammatory,” but there’s no indication Mohamed believes it to be untrue. And that’s the key here: this isn’t a blatant false statement made with knowledge that it isn’t true. It’s a statement of opinion based on Diotte’s actions and the people he chooses to associate with. If you hang out with and support people others believe are racists, they’re going to believe you’re a racist too. That’s how association works. And it’s a really dumb thing to predicate a lawsuit on, especially when you might be asked to demonstrate how hanging out with white nationalists indicates a lack of bigotry on your part.
No one likes to be called a racist. Not even most racists. The Huffington Post reports Diotte is sending out legal threats to other Twitter users who’ve recently called him a racist, using the same boilerplate.
At least three other people, also in their early 20s, received a similar letter from Diotte’s lawyer. Haiqa Cheema, 22, has left up her tweet about Diotte from Oct. 24. She and two others declined to comment when reached by HuffPost.
Canada’s defamation laws are friendlier to plaintiffs than ours, but this is still a long shot. The response letter [PDF] from Mohamed makes it clear this isn’t defamation, but rather protected speech.
Mr. Diotte is a Member of Parliament, a public figure, who in the past has posed with Ms. Faith Goldy (“Goldy”), a renowned White nationalist and racist, in photos that he himself has posted on social media. Mr. Diotte has praised the work of Ms. Goldy publicly. Mr. Diotte also has a history of liking tweets made by well known racist twitter accounts. Mr. Diotte has failed to denounce these White nationalists and racists even after people have called on him to do so. Mr. Diotte has failed to distance himself from the dangerous ideologies these individuals hold and espouse.
Considering the circumstances, Mr. Mohamed’s tweets represent fair comment, and touches on matters in the public interest: a Member of Parliament expressing support for a well known White nationalist and racist, has for the past number of years been at the source of inflammatory statements regarding the place and status of minorities in Canada.
The only thing Kerry Diotte is guaranteed to obtain from these legal threats is more people seeing assertions he’s a racist, and digging into his professional and personal relationships for evidence supporting this claim. Diotte isn’t looking for a courtroom victory. He’s just looking to shut up as many critics as possible, as quickly as possible. And it hasn’t been a complete failure. Some tweets have come down and some Twitter users are refusing to discuss this publicly. But others are fighting back, and that’s only going to make Diotte look vindictive as well as bigoted.