Diagolon, Hate, Terror, Protest and Free Speech

Should people be allowed to say anything in a free country?

No. We have laws of libel and slander. There are restrictions surrounding contempt of court. Hate speech.

And in this publication and many others, we have to weigh what constitutes bad taste.

As a journalist, your agent sides with as much free speech as possible within the limits of the law. And there are even times when journalists must protect their sources which can come into conflict with the law. You must be very sure you are right if you’re flying in the face of a bad law or fighting for the greater good above that law.

The law has a way about dealing with people who break it. Best you be right.

I know about as much about media law as anyone in the country having founded and taught a course in the field at Algonquin College. I spent seven years at the Winnipeg Free Press trying to keep us out of jail. The worst that happened during my watch was a statement of claim that was taken to examination for discovery. I spent my time in that meeting with my head buried in the story reading and re-reading it. The piece was as clean as wind-driven snow. Then the claim was dropped and thousands of dollars in lawyer fees later, the offended party felt he’d made his point. He didn’t like the piece. OK, got the message.

Your agent is less familiar with what constitutes hate speech, it having become an issue after my reign at the Free Press.

But the Crown should know. The Ottawa Police Service said it was “monitoring” the situation. Did they have officers there? Did they consult with the Crown? Or does that mean they didn’t do anything and, by saying little (not enough), hoping this all goes away and the police can dodge the controversy? Or were they just lazy?

Hard to know but you can be assured the OPS response was carefully written. The shorter, the less chance of controversy.

I don’t know if Stewart Green in the X comment below is correct. I don’t know if this issue should have appeared on the councillor’s radar.

A couple of words cause pause on the Diagolon poster. “Terror” raises a flag. So too “bigotry”.

Hard to know if that constitutes hate. It doesn’t appear Diagolon used terror in its Richmond operation. And were they bigots? Was this an intellectual discussion of the problems of terror and bigotry or perpetrating it? We should encourage the discussion of those two issues but probably not support them. And is that discussion in the way Diagolon broached it illegal or free speech?

Lots of questions and not a lot of answers.

Nevertheless, the police should be more fulsome in their written response (what’s new) and the Carp Agricultural Society should exercise more discretion concerning to whom they rent their hall. The society likely has got that message now.

Ken Gray






For You:

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3 Responses

  1. Peter Karwacki says:

    The poster does not appear to be in violation, imo.

    Is it in bad taste? I think so.

    Should it have been disallowed? I do not think so.

    What about the event itself in CARP? Freedom of assembly, protest, is essential to a democracy.

    What can be done?

  2. Anderson Davies says:

    I was expecting this article and the slant it would take… shrugs.

  3. Ken Gray says:


    I don’t understand what you mean.



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