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Ann Coulter Gets a Preemptive Lesson in Canadian 'Freedom of Speech'

Love her or hate her, you can't deny that Ann Coulter, cable news show darling and Weekly Hot Conservative for September 12, 2009, has a talent for getting attention.

Some of that attention this week has come from north of the border. In advance of a mini-Canadian tour of speaking engagements, Coulter received an e-mail from the provost of the University of Ottawa. Francois Houle said he was pleased as punch to have Coulter come and speak today at the invitation of the school's campus conservative organization, as long as she didn't say anything that might be construed as "promoting hatred against any identifiable group."

Uh, Monsieur Houle, have you met Ann Coulter? Houle did his Canadian best to be polite, and couch the e-mail as a friendly reminder that things up in Mountieland are just a bit different than they are down here:

I would, however, like to inform you, or perhaps remind you, that our domestic laws, both provincial and federal, delineate freedom of expression (or "free speech") in a manner that is somewhat different than the approach taken in the United States. I therefore encourage you to educate yourself, if need be, as to what is acceptable in Canada and to do so before your planned visit here.

Annnnnd, if you aren't careful, your words "could in fact lead to criminal charges," eh.

The e-mail is reprinted in its entirety in the National Post. Professor William A. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection called the e-mail "a paradigm of intolerance of opposing conservative viewpoints under the guise of promoting freedom of expression." The Student Federation at U Ottawa actually passed a resolution expressing their disapproval of Coulter's appearance, beginning with a "Whereas" clause for the ages: "Whereas Ann Coulter is a hateful woman ..."

Coulter, at first, displayed a sense of humor about the whole thing, saying she was hoping for a fruit basket, rather than threats of prosecution. But in her speech last night at the University of Western Ontario, she decided to change course, declaring her intent to file a grievance with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, on the ground that Houle's e-mail to her was, itself, "a hate crime."

Coulter has had some choice words to say about Canada in the past, including that the country is "lucky we allow them to exist on the same continent." So perhaps Houle's warning was just a bit of sour grapes.

It seems Coulter made it through Monday's appearance without being cuffed and thrown onto the back of a horse for the trip to jail, but it will be interesting to see how the rest of the trip turns out. If nothing else, I look forward to Coulter's cover version of the Ice-T classic "Freedom of Speech (Just Watch What You Say)."

Posted by Eric Lipman on March 23, 2010 at 09:44 AM | Permalink | Comments (2)

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