Monday, 3 April 2017

To the management of the Plaza Theatre in Calgary


UPDATE: Success! The screening is back on. The Plaza changed its mind. Yay!



https://www.facebook.com/theplazacalgary/posts/10154221115476854


To the management of the Plaza Theatre,

My name is Karen Straughan. I’m a men’s advocate located in Edmonton, and am featured in the movie The Red Pill, which was to be screened at your theatre tomorrow evening. I am told that you’ve changed your mind, in part because of feedback such as this comment written by Felicity Hart on Facebook.


To The Plaza theatre;

As a fan and long time patron, I am concerned at the upcoming rental of your theatre to Father’s Rights Alberta for the screening of The Red Pill. The film claims to be supporting mens rights but is in fact created and promoted by Mens Rights Activist groups, which actively seek to get rid of equal rights for women and minorities, and are considered a hate group by the southern poverty law centre; an organization which tracks hate groups such as soldiers of odin, the kkk and nazi and fascist organizations in North America.

It is deeply concerning that your venue would care more about revenue than the safety of those attending your theatre, and of women in general in Calgary. Not only can I and my friends and family not in good conscience ever attend a venue which supports hate speech, but I know I and other women cannot feel safe in a venue that plays host to men who actively advocate for rape, brutalization, and violence against women (examples of this behaviour can be found on the southern poverty law centre website, or by googling mra abuse, or Paul Elam, who is the main subject of the film you are screening).

While I understand the group is obscure and the theatre may not have known, they are a hate group, and I doubt the theatre would host the KKK or a holocaust denier group.
I encourage you to cancel the screening instead of supporting hate and abuse against women, and look forward to being able to safely attend the theatre in the future if this is the case.

-Thank-you!

I’m writing to you to ask you to reconsider cancelling the screening. I am unsure whether people like Ms. Hart are intentionally lying, or simply repeating falsehoods they’ve read on blogs and elsewhere with the sincere belief that they are true. I must inform you that whatever the case, a great deal of what Ms. Hart says in her comment is simply untrue.

The Southern Poverty Law Center did indeed publish some articles pointing out examples of “misogynistic” content on several websites in what they described as the “manosphere”. However, they were forced to post a clarification after feminists and others took these articles as an official listing of these websites as “hate sites”, and the broader men’s rights community as a “hate group”. They have repeatedly indicated that 1) they made no such claim that these groups are hate groups, nor have they made any such claim in the interim; 2) that websites such as A Voice for Men, despite some objectionable content, highlight very serious issues of injustice and discrimination faced by men and boys. 

“It should be mentioned that the SPLC did not label MRAs as members of a hate movement; nor did our article claim that the grievances they air on their websites – false rape accusations, ruinous divorce settlements and the like – are all without merit. But we did call out specific examples of misogyny and the threat, overt or implicit, of violence.”

https://www.splcenter.org/hatewatch/2012/05/15/intelligence-report-article-provokes-fury-among-mens-rights-activists

I have been involved in this movement since 2010, and have spoken at and attended many events hosted by various organizations and groups within the movement. Without exception, the individuals at these events are warm, kind, decent people with genuine concern for fairness and justice. 

During my tenure as a leading voice in the movement, I have seen the movement slandered in social media, on blogs and in the mainstream media, via false associations with mass murderers like Elliot Rodger or white nationalist groups. 

Rodger was described as being influenced by the men’s rights movement by a single, pseudonymous blogger/journalist at The Daily Kos, despite there being no evidence he was even aware of the movement. The rest of the mainstream media took the claim at face value and ran with it. Pretty soon, the claims being made all over social media were that Rodger was an active MRA. While this may be a case of the media being careless with fact-checking, the next example cannot be described as such. 

http://m.dailykos.com/story/2014/05/24/1301671/-Elliot-Roger-Gunman-in-California-Mass-Shooting-was-influenced-by-the-Men-s-Rights-Movement

ABC’s 20/20, in advance of a planned in-depth expose on Paul Elam, published a “teaser article” in which a viciously misogynistic comment glorifying violence was quoted and described as “commonplace” on Elam’s website. The only problem is that the only place on Elam’s website where that comment existed at the time the article was written was in a post where Elam used it as an example of the types of comments that would not be tolerated, wherein he warned readers that any such talk on his site would get the culprit permanently banned. ABC was forced to print a clarification regarding the quoted comment. 

Please note, the only place the authors of the teaser article could have gotten that quote was from an article by Paul Elam describing it and similar comments as completely unacceptable and a bannable offence. That’s not a journalist too busy to fact-check. That’s a journalist engaging in obvious dishonesty. 


When Wild Rose on Campus attempted to hold a screening of The Red Pill in Calgary not long ago, the screening was cancelled amid a media furore over the phrase “feminism is cancer”. A Women’s Studies professor at UofC, Rebecca Sullivan, was invited onto a CBC Calgary news program to “inform” the public about what MRAs are really all about.


Some interesting quotes from her interview:

“[Describing MRAs] ‘If only we could just have sex with whoever and whatever we want, whenever we want, then maybe we wouldn't have to rape you’… They are banking on decent Canadians not understanding what they are saying and we need to understand what is being said.”

I certainly know that when I am arguing in favor of legally protecting boys from genital cutting the way we protect girls, or that we need to deal with the decline in educational attainment for boys, what I really mean is that I want any man who walks by to have the right to have sex with me, right then and there in the dairy section of my local Safeway if he wants to. I know when I’m arguing for shared custody following divorce, or for preserving due process in criminal courts, what I’m really saying is that any and all men deserve the right to sex with my daughter when she’s walking home from the bus stop. 

Professor Sullivan’s claims were so patently ridiculous, it would be jaw-dropping to me if I wasn’t so accustomed to it. And the fact that the interviewer never once challenged Sullivan on any of her outlandish and, frankly, slanderous assertions would have completely annihilated my trust in the mainstream media if I had a single shred of it left. That this woman is considered an “expert” on gender issues, employed by a university to teach this drivel to students is, in all honesty, horrifying to me.

I am a mother of three children, two of them grown and one in his teens. I would never support a movement interested in oppressing or marginalizing my daughter, let alone act as a leader within such a movement. I would never support a movement advocating to take away my own rights. 

You are in a difficult position here, I realize. The men’s rights movement is controversial, and this particular film is controversial because of that. 

But if you are going to cancel a screening of a movie that received three awards, including Best in Festival, at the Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema, a film produced and directed by a feminist woman, I want you to know exactly what you are basing your decision on: lies, ignorance and blatant fear mongering. 

Oh, and just for your information, here is the director/producer discussing the film. Just so you know exactly who has these boycotters in a state of terror:


http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/red-pill-director-cassie-jaye-1.4034578

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Update: Rumors of the Badgers' Defeat Have Been Wildly Exaggerated

First, the good news:

The Motion for Summary Dismissal brought by Calgary Expo and The Mary Sue was dismissed by a judge on Friday morning (January 13). This was the case for all four causes of action: injurious falsehood and incitement to breach of contract against The Mary Sue, and injurious falsehood and breach of contract against Calgary Expo.

This case will be going forward, under all four causes of action.

The bad news:

It took a essentially full day in court to hear arguments for and against a Summary Judgment to dismiss the case, which left insufficient time in the schedule to actually hold the trial.

The judge, after having read the Statement of claim, and reviewed the various affidavits (2 submitted by defence to support their Motion, 1 submitted by Alison in response), and having glanced over the Exhibits provided by all parties, understood this would be a complex case to hear in full. As such, he deemed it appropriate to set aside three full days for the trial itself (the trial that SHOULD have happened on the trial dates January 12 and 13). The first opening for a three-day trial is November 28, 29 and 30.

We certainly could have started the trial on the 13th, if we'd chosen to. If we had, we'd be stuck with this judge, and the next two consecutive days he had free were in December. It would have been worth it, for sure, if we were able to have the witnesses we'd flown in from Illinois, Ohio, California and the UK testify that day. However, because Alison is the plaintiff and has the right to be in the courtroom during all testimony, it's highly problematic to have her listen to her witnesses give evidence prior to giving her own.

Alison must be the first to take the stand if we want her testimony to be seen as untainted. Direct and cross examination (then redirect and response) of Alison may take a full day, perhaps longer. And possibly splitting up her testimony between January 13th and December 12th wasn't going to do us any good. At best it's a neutral, at worst, it will weaken the impact of her evidence. However things fell out, the trial wasn't going to be finished on January 13th.

So we opted to adjourn proceedings until November 28th, at which point the case will be heard by a different judge, on three consecutive days.

A new date of August 1 (if I recall correctly) has been set as a final deadline for exchange of documents (such as submitting affidavits, entering evidentiary exhibits, etc). We expect counsel for Calgary Expo and The Mary Sue will attempt to dig through every word any of us has published online to potentially use as evidence that we are, indeed, space lepers who deserved to be expelled from the Expo.

They also attempted to prejudice the court by requesting a publication ban on the contact information of the defendants and their witnesses by citing a risk of harassment of said individuals by HBB and fellow space lepers #GamerGate and AVoiceforMen.

Our legal dynamo, Harry Kopyto, objected to any such ban, arguing that people's names, addresses and phone numbers are a matter of public record and publication bans should be ordered with extreme caution. The judge agreed with Harry, telling defence counsel that they had not demonstrated any such risk exists. To my mind, this is significant, since the Mary Sue had alleged harassment by Alison at the panel discussion in their article and their affidavit, the affidavit filed in support of Calgary Expo repeated that allegation, and #GamerGate was described in both defence affidavits as being "notorious for harassing". Essentially, the judge said, "well, you keep telling me about all this harassment, but you haven't actually demonstrated it, yo. If and when you can show me some evidence of harassment of your clients and their agents, come talk to me and I'll change my mind."

For our part at HBB, we're not interested in disseminating anyone's contact information, nor in having it dug up and disseminated by someone else, nor in contacting any of the parties involved, nor in having any of our supporters do so.

As we did at Calgary Expo, we will continue to embrace an ethic of civility and non-aggression, and we hope to lead by our example. We did not harass anyone, and we will not engage in any behavior that could be regarded as harassment. We do not condone harassment, and will continue to promote calm and reasoned debate, polite disagreement, respecting the rights of others, and following the rules of a civilized society.

We are the people who politely state our case and allow others to approach us and engage in a discourse, not the ones who barge into other people's events, screaming profanities while they're trying to give a speech or pulling fire alarms to shut it down. This is who we are, and who we will continue to be.

I'm certain HBB will be giving more detailed updates on everything that happened the last few days, once we've all had a chance to collect our thoughts.

Thank you again to everyone who supported our fundraisers, and I only wish I could reveal a verdict. But again, while this court session was a victory for us, the final verdict will have to wait until November.