Ann Coulter and Freedom of Speech by Jason Setnyk – Cornwall Ontario – April 1 – 2010

Ann Coulter and Freedom of Speech by Jason Setnyk

Cornwall ON – Right-wing Fox News pundit Ann Coulter visited Canada in March of 2010 on a spoken word tour visiting some Canadian Universities.

According to news reports at Western University Coulter expressed her views that Muslims should not be allowed to ride airplanes, and she told one Muslim student to ride a camel.

In the United States freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment, but even in America, there are limits to free speech including defamation, obscenity, and incitement to crime.

Here in Canada, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects free speech, but our charter has a reasonable limits clause. For example we have hate laws in Canada, and one University of Ottawa official politely emailed Coulter about these laws, so she would not violate these laws.

Some people believe there should be no limits to free speech, but even Fox News who has a host who tells people to shut-up all the time, does not drop the f-bomb on air.

In Canada and in the United States, anyone can express an opinion on a soapbox, or write an editorial. Some would be so brash as to say that the protesters at Ottawa University were hindering Ann Coulter’s freedom of speech. In Canada and in the United States, the First Amendment and Charter of Freedoms, protects citizens freedom of speech from its own government.

If the police stopped the protesters, they would have been hindering the protesters freedom of speech. People are allowed to disagree, and people are aloud to protest, that is key to our freedoms. Some might disagree with limits to our freedom of speech, and they have the freedom to disagree and debate this, for example limits on hate speech.

But at the end of the day Ann Coulter’s freedom of speech was in no way hindered by our government. If a protester committed a crime, like pulling a fire alarm, that is an issue of mischief for the police to investigate. At the end of the day, Ann Coulter has more media air time than 99.9% of us, to express her extreme views on society, economics, and politics all the time. She is in a privileged position to have her speech heard by millions every day, because despite the fact that she offers little to an intellectual debate, she is entertaining, and she gives Fox good ratings.

So don’t feel bad for Ann Coulter, and don’t deny Canadians their right to protest, because that would truly be a violation of our charter.

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  1. Well said! *applauds*

  2. Guess I am one of the brash people you talk about. At least people are talking.
    I choose which entertainers to see or not see, have no trouble with changing channels if I do not like what is on, not all do though.

    The governement did not hinder, you are right, the school administrator ( Mr. Houle) did when sending a letter to her. In the end, these protesters helped her sell more books. I am looking forward to how this all plays out.

  3. FINALLY!!!! Someone with some common sense about this whole “Crazy Ann” stuff. I cannot believe the main stream media who were calling the student protesters “thugs and hooligans” because they exercised their freedom of speech by protesting. I can’t believe the teachers union who “demanded” the U of O official apologize for what he did …. which was in his perfect right to do. We have hate laws in this country for a reason and I am personally glad we do. I cannot believe the so called intellectuals who reacted to the U of O situation they did. Think most of them need to go back to school and learn the laws of the land. Give me a break!! Great article Jason!!!!

  4. At least someone from a small town got the balls to say it the way it is. Bravo man

  5. As I understand it, Coulters organization decided to pull the plug on event. The hall was half full, and endless publicity could and would be had by pretending to be victims of the protesters. The Ottawa police issued a statement the following day saying that at no time were they concerned about anyones safety.

  6. Amazing article Jason, I definitely agree with you. And I think it’s terrible that people like her do what they do. It was a cry for attention. Fox is one of the worst for distortion of events. I refuse to watch Fox news. But it also goes to show you how truly different Canadians are from Americans.

  7. You obviously aren’t one of her fans Jason, as you seem to think Ann gets WAY too much media coverage already. Well people like you are the ones who just keep on giving…
    Perhaps you forgot Jason, that posters promoting the Ann Coulter event were prohibited by the student council from being posted, yet posters promoting the anti-Ann Coulter rally were allowed to be plastered all over the campus – how’s that for free speech?
    These protesters were all riled up, yelling at those who had come to see her speak, knocking over a registration table, pulling the fire alarm… It was the police who suggested to Ann Coulter’s people that the event be either moved or cancelled for the night as they told her they could not guarantee her safety.
    At some point, these protesters right to speak crossed the line of allowing another person their right to free speech, and that is NOT the Canadian way, as the overwhelming majority of the press across the country rightly pointed out. When police are saying they can’t guarantee a person’s safety, this is more than just a few people politely expressing their own free speech – that’s hate, and it’s wrong.

  8. It also shows how different the East is from the West, Camille; she had a couple of shows in Alberta that went off withiut a hitch.

  9. Sign of the times, everybody: headlining the negative and the trivial. Think a moment: What does free speech do for AC? And what do AC’s speeches contribute to our collective wellbeing? What’s happened to the wisdom our parents used to pass on, “If you’ve got nothing good to say, don’t say it”? A lesson BTW that seems to have bypassed the Harper gang. Net result: destructive behaviour and the trivialization of everything.

  10. It’s left leaning wing nuts like Jason Setnyk that give people like Ann Coulter the stage she so earnesly stives for – there are two things destroying Canada today – left wing media nuts and the Canadian judicial system – thousands of people died, including two from my family, so we could enjoy freedom of expression which appears to be ok for Setnyk but not so for Coulter –

  11. Dear Joe Gunn, I seriously doubt thousands of people died so you could flame someone over the Internet. I think I understand why you may dislike our judicial system. As set out by Lord Atkin in Sim v. Stretch [1936] 2 All ER 1237, at 1240, a defamatory statement is one which tends to lower a person, “in the estimation of right-thinking members of society.” Tort law protects one’s interest in preserving his/her reputation. In Canada, the law of defamation permits actions for Libel and Slander against those who seek to damage another’s reputation. You don’t have a good argument, so you use an ad hominem instead, bravo Joe!

  12. It is interesting how so many “boomers” seem to believe that their fathers and uncles fought in WWII so that they can now freely heap abuse on people from different cultures or religions. I assume Joe Gunn isn’t a Jew. Joe maybe should be reminded that Hitler lost that war.

  13. Note to Admin. Never allow a comment to be posted that will piss off a sponsor.

  14. Author

    Furtz the beautiful thing about true free speech is that it’s not always pretty. It’s not always something we agree with, and sometimes it doesn’t even have to make sense. Here on The Cornwall Free News I read a lot of crap I normally wouldn’t have any interest in. Heck sometimes I’m the writer of said crap! 🙂

    I enjoy the different way that some people communicate. People who grew up in different times; perhaps times that weren’t as politically correct as we sadly seem to have to be now, communicate differently. I think sometimes people read meanings into that. Also, scribblin a post never really has tone in it right? Sometimes we have to give people some wiggle room when deciding how to respond to what they say.

    I’m not defending anyone or attacking anyone. I just think that we have a pretty good forum for discussion going on here, and I think it’s important that everyone, even if they don’t agree with a poster, remember that if a post has been approved then its author deserves a certain amount of civility.

    To me being a good host is very important. I want people to be able to feel comfortable when they stand on our soapbox. Yes, we may throw some veggies at them, but to all, please don’t aim for the head…..

  15. Author

    I really try not too as we need all the sponsors we can get. It’s very interesting to see the dynamics of new media vs old as they evolve. I personally like Joe. Many times’s he asked why he sponsors a Lefty Pinko paper as he’s called us, and I’ve shared that we have an open door. Our MP and his local Conservative friends refuse to participate. Some of the conversations Joe and I have had politically would make for some great episodes on

    As a matter of fact I was at a Children’s debate yesterday with our mayor, MPP, and MP. I asked the three for a pic together. Mr Kilger and Brownell flashed their pearlies for me as the professional gentleman they are, and the MP twice ducked his head spoiling the shot.

    He also still refuses to answer any questions from of our paper, and recently cost us a new staff member who would have been our first Conservative voice on The Cornwall Free News. I have repeatedly offered our floor for balance sake to several Conservative politician’s in the area. There’s a conspiracy of non-participation which seems very silly to me. I find that very sad and very undemocratic.

    There are over 15 and sometimes 20 thousand readers of our newspaper each month; mostly from across Canada. Ottawa is our number one market. Why any party, never mind the one with our MP on it would refuse to speak to us is just plain silly and amateur.

    As I’ve been taught politicians, like media folk, should have very tough skin. Not feathers.

  16. Admin. I totally agree with your take on free speech, and the noble ideal behind it. But I really do believe that along with free speech comes a responsibility to respect others. I’m no historian, but I understand that the Nazi movement and the subsequent Holocaust started with speeches inciting hatred toward the Jews. It’s not a case of “political correctness”. I think it’s more a matter of common decency, and a lesson we should have learned from Hitler.

  17. Author

    Furtz as a student of that Era I can tell you it had nothing to do with free speech. It had to do with people making choices, and a lot of really bad choices were made by good and bad people at the wrong times that led to WWII.

    One could say many came from WWI, but if you smoke a big honking illegal substance, and play an old beach boys album backwards you can trace some of the elements back thousands if not millions of years before.

    It comes down to people not standing up when bad things happen. Today it can be the funny looking person you don’t know, tomorrow simply someone you don’t like, and then one day it’s you! We as individuals need to speak up with one voice sometimes and just say no. They did it at times like the French Revolution.

    I prefer Evolution to Revolution always personally.

  18. “common decency” “not standing up when bad things happen” “Evolution [rather than] Revolution”–great points, Furtz and admin. Did you by chance hear Mary Hines’s guest, Richard Holloway, on “Tapestry” CBC Radio 2 this afternoon? Former Bishop of Edinburgh, super-intelligent and articulate, clear-eyed about the church’s failings, all with a wonderful down-to-earth sense of humour. He was on to talk about his book Between the Monster and the Saint (Canongate Press), and what he was saying jibes so well with your points. A shot of sanity and a must-read for us in today’s frenetic “market culture” (Holloway’s phrase).

  19. I don’t get what’s wrong with yelling and shouting at someone on stage in particular a political stage. Golly gosh if they can’t stand up to that. I also wouldn’t want people to think I’m so simple minded that the reading of a incendiary book or listening to a hostile speech will convert me to a new way of thinking. Don’t insult our capacity for critical thinking too much. I like being a grown up.

  20. Admin, Are you saying that the slaughtering of the Jews began before the public was whipped up by speeches by Hitler and his followers?
    Never liked the Beach Boys.
    Evolution is too friggin’ slow for me.

  21. I say let people have all the free speech they want, at the same time, they can expect to hear my free response.. lol.. 😉

  22. Author

    Furtz people have been killed for political reasons since the first rocks were thrown.

  23. Author

    Hi PJR, I don’t get to listen to much of anything anymore sadly as time is a premium. Hopefully one day in the next few years our humble media company will be successful enough for me to have more employees and put in less than 100 hours per week 🙂

  24. Hey PJR, I did hear that discussion with Richard Holloway. Sure got my attention. The man is brilliant. Gonna order his book today.

  25. As this lass is a huge promoter of free speech with out boundaries, would it be inappropriate to comment on how nice her breasts are? I use the breast term out of respect, personally I would prefer something a lil more direct

    Jamie or admin

    Careful with the Nazi stuff, we are all subject to a slighted point of view. Why else would questioning it be anti-Semitic

  26. Although I am not a fan of the area’s MP, I would assume that he stays away from speaking to Cornwallfreenews because the site and site’s owner himself make no qualms about the fact that they are not journalists. With that said, I could easily see why any MP would decline to address any and all publications/organizations that don’t make every effort to study and execute the art of objectivity.

    I personally would enjoy seeing Mr. Lauzon comment on this site, but until Cornwallfreenews can ensure that it will take an objective approach that follows journalistic ethics, I don’t blame him for not wanting to be quoted.

  27. Author

    Hi SLC Student,

    To clarify our MP has refused to speak to legitimate journalists simply because they work for our paper. We even hired a Conservative journalist who he also refused to speak to simply because of our paper. Recently this brave defender of Democracy, our MP, Mr. Lauzon was at an event we were covering and I asked he, the mayor, and our MPP for a quick photo. Our Mayor and Mr. Brownell quickly and professionally smiled while our MP tucked his head down ( I have the photos and they’re kinda funny; am saving them for the election) To make sure I made the request twice with the same action.

    I don’t think we at the Cornwall Free News truly are any more or less biased than any other media operation. In fact we have given all politicians and viewpoints in the area an open invitation to use our soapbox which is much kinder than any of the other media in Cornwall.

    If you’re a good student then you probably have noted by now that we have had highly reputable people on our site from all the parties. A Conservative minister even had no problems being interviewed on our site.

    We are accredited as a news site as well. I’m thinking that if you practice some of your journalistic skills and do some research you’d see we are the exact opposite of your supposition.

    But thank you for reading and posting and welcome to The Cornwall Free News. You can mail your CV to

  28. Author


  29. I would like to hear SLC’s opinion about a site like or Alex Jones or something like I think being a journalist is something that is demonstrated as much as it is accredited by a body. A person may build a fantastic house without trade certificates. Some guy can break a great story. The alphabet is a great equalizer.

  30. I meant no disrespect toward the integrity of the site, nor am I making any suppositions about it. I just remember hearing with my own ears from the site’s owner that he did not claim to be a journalist. Furthermore, I agree that the site has some very good writers. I do read it after all. I was simply playing the devil’s advocate as to why Mr. Lauzon may not want to be quoted on this site. Some people, from what I have witnessed, have the opinion that this site is not a real news site, and I just mean to say that if Mr. Lauzon has been exposed to that opinion, then I would understand from his point of view why he would choose to refrain from appearing on the site.

    To adress another point admin made, I don’t believe that you can successfully argue that offering a soapbox to diverse opinions (even though I support public discourse) necessarily signifies objectivity. The role of journalism is to analyse each and every soapbox while offering the facts from both. I personally believe that one should not be claiming the title of Journalist if they are going to be inserting prefixes such as liberal or conservative in front of it.

    I am not here to defend any other media or news organization, only the jounalistic ideals that I believe need to be upheld in order to keep the public responsibly informed.

    Kudos to you for starting this site and allowing public discourse. I know that it is a lot of work to get something like this off the ground and maintained. I just hope that the site’s mandate involves striving for objectivity when presenting news stories.

    In response to Pal of God:

    I agree. Good journalism often goes unaccredited. Cell phone cameras and the internet have proven this.
    I will check out those sites and get back to you with my opinion, I’d like to look them over a bit more before commenting.

  31. Author

    Hi SLC student,

    Objectivity is an art, not a science. I interviewed Dan Leger, a well respected long term professional Newspaper journalist and talked about Political Polarity on the Internet and Online Anonymity. We talked for almost an hour on our radio station.

    I think frankly at this point I now qualify as a journalist. I’ve written over 1600 pieces for our paper in a little over a year; some of them definitely of journalistic standard quality.

    As for our MP I can tell you that other politicians shake their head at his antics, but our MP isn’t an educated person and probably doesn’t understand his own position. An example. I have a friend that was on “Bush” duty once. His job was if necessary to take a bullet for the President of the United States of America. I asked him how he resolved that seeing as he definitely was not one of the presidents biggest fans.

    He explained to me that it was “the office of the president” and not the man he was sworn to protect.

    Mr. Lauzon has allegedly done and said some horrific things to myself and my family, but I actually made an appointment a few months ago; went alone into his office with his assistant and himself and suggested that we both do our jobs professionally from this point on. I went into his den, his turf, and extended an olive branch.

    Last Saturday at an even for children I asked our Mayor, MP, and MPP for a quick photo and Mr. Lauzon, like a child himself, dropped his head twice ruining two photos. We have a lot of Conservatives that read our paper and listen to our station now and our MP refuses to speak to us. Does that make sense? Is he that thin skinned? I recently had a Conservative MP, Gary Goodyear, on and you can see how professionally he was treated.

    Again, there’s a reason we have high schools, colleges, and university; and that’s so that people learn. Maybe our MP can take a course or two on how to deal with the media one day?

    But that’s a tangent.

    We in “the new media” are not “the old media”. We aren’t TMZ, but we are here to Entertain and Inform as opposed to being “Watch Dogs” although we have no problem occasionally doing so as you probably saw with the Caf Technology story where we were the only media in Cornwall to come to the defense of the group of local merchants.

    If you’re in the SLC Journalism program then by now you probably know how slim the opportunities are in your field and probably why. As I shared when speaking to the 2nd year class people’s expectations and understanding need to evolve if they truly want to make a living in journalism in this century.

    The example I used in the class was in the old days a TV station would send out a reporter, sound guy, camera, and sometimes even an assistant or two. Today “A” Channel sends someone out with a shoulder cam and says go get er! There is room for old school journalists, but the space for them is diminishing with the ad dollars outlets can afford.

    We try to adhere to an open policy that is open to all members of the public as opposed to a local media outlet that allegedly insulted a provincial minister this week, which as a member of Team Cornwall I find appalling if true. I think if this incident happened the media manager should consider making a public apology to the minister and to the city. Frankly if true I think someone should be fired for this.

    I know that regardless of my own political belief that unless pre-negotiated prior when I have a guest on my show we display the utmost of hospitality. In other words I don’t Mike Wallace them unless I warn them it’s coming. Btw, I met Mr. Wallace once and he was an interesting and most gracious person.

    So where is your CV as we’re always looking for interns here; especially old school journalists….. 🙂

  32. I don’t want to pick a fight here, but let’s not confuse what you do with journalism. Posting 1,600 times (with practically zero research, using occasional links to actual reporting) does not a journalist make. More like a professional blogger.

    I do find your site useful, entertaining, and sometimes educational. But it is not journalism.

  33. Author

    lol, no fight here Rodney. We are what we are. We do actually write pieces of journalism. In 2010 I think you’ll see more traditional journalism emanating from our pages.

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