Leftist Lawfare: Silencing Dissent
"If it takes force to impose your ideas on your fellow man, there is something wrong with your ideas. If you are willing to use force to impose your ideas on your fellow man, there is something wrong with you." - Mark Fournier, co-founder of Freedominion
Canadian conservatism was at a low point. Stockwell Day had just lost the federal election in the previous year, and the Democratic Representative Caucus was launching a mini-coup d’etat against his leadership. The Progressive Conservative Party was led by a ‘not-so-conservative’ Joe Clark, who was soon to leave the party in a state of bankruptcy. The Liberal Party was never more full of hubris and contempt for conservatives. After three majority wins they expected to govern forever. Paul Martin was destined to win the biggest majority in the history of Canada. Quebec was governed by the socialist PQ and all the provinces in western Canada were NDP with the exception of Alberta. This was the same year that Stephen Harper and friends wrote the infamous firewall letter and published it as a manifesto bordering on Alberta separatism. Policies across the board were veering to the left. Taxes were too high, the eco-cult was firing up the socialist global warming schemes, same-sex marriage was in the works and our ill-prepared soldiers were being sent to Afghanistan wearing the wrong coloured uniforms.
The year was 2001 and the website Freedominion was launched.
In the early days of Freedominion, people of all conservative stripes were attracted to the site. The forum was a way of connecting conservatives coast-to-coast in a grassroots way that rarely happened in real life. Debates raged and new topics were constantly posted. The site was based around a U.S. predecessor called Free Republic and the ‘anything goes’ atmosphere was a refreshing, honest and bold addition to the political dialogue in Canada.
“The internet will continue to play an increasing role in the interactive citizen government e-relationship. Free Dominion is one of the many steps in that direction.” - Stephen Harper
With growth came attention. Thousands of grassroots conservatives being drawn to a website was what made it ripe for association. Important people recognized the site as ‘the place to be’. Critics also began to notice that it was a hub for anything non-leftist. This was during a time in Canada’s not so recent past, in which anything remotely conservative was appalling to a large segment of society that was thoroughly indoctrinated into leftist ideology. The founder’s of Freedominion added a massive collective voice to Canada’s political culture and the mainstream began to notice.
"I was deeply disturbed by these comments, which in no way reflect my views or those of the Conservative Party.” - CPC MP, Peter Goldring, on Gordon Stamp’s Freedominion posts.
In 2005, Campaign Manager Gordon Stamp made a bunch of positive comments about Alberta separation on Freedominion. Leftists sussed out his online identity and turned it into a media frenzy. This was the first big scandal involving Freedominion and marked the beginning of the end for mainstream “official” associations with the site.
Like a punk band rising to mainstream success and then blowing it when the opportunity arrived, Freedominion went back to the independent route and kept in place both the grassroots credibility and free association in the process. Political conservatism was on the ascendency in the mainstream and the only thing holding it back was the fringe element that scared middle-of-the-road people from embracing conservatism on a large scale. The nature of Freedominion required it to be open to the fringe element as a matter of principle, so it’s place as an outlet for real and raw dialogue was maintained.
Then in 2008...the ‘Maximum Disruption’ campaign began.
What was ‘Maximum Disruption’? Here’s a rundown…
A cabal of leftists began using the courts to do the dirty work of censoring conservatives. They would lurk online and look for anything that could be considered “hate speech”. Libel, defamation, threats...whatever. If they couldn’t find something adequate, they’d troll until they could get something. They’d record it and then sue over it. The idea was to cause their opponents to get bogged down with legal red tape, thus undermining the ability to run their websites and spread their ideas. Also? Make money.
3 reasons this matters
#1. Free speech
Living in a free country requires people having the freedom to publicly state their opinion. Freedominion allowed an outlet for people to publicly state an opinion. It was a fantastic online soap box upon which anyone could stand and state what they thought.
Canada is poorer for having censored this site.
#2. Beware the new Leftist tactics
Leftists were quick to point out that Freedominon wasn’t “censored”, the owners simply lost a defamation lawsuit. You can have freedom of speech, but there are natural restrictions on that speech. You can’t yell "FIRE!" in a crowded theatre just for fun, after all.
There may be some truth to this, but there are two troubling points.
1.) The outcome was engineered on purpose. Leftists couldn’t shut the site down any other way except by using lawfare.
2.) The owners of Freedominion were sued in part because of comments from site users which appeared on their site. This extends responsibility beyond the personal and into the collective.
3.) The Law is broken. The Conservative’s finally repealed section 13 of the HRC in 2013. It’s a good first step, but free speech in our country needs stronger absolutes.
#3. The online world matters
Mainstream media often turns its nose up at the blogosphere. By ridiculing or ignoring the online world, traditional outlets are simply defending their territory and their pay cheques. The online world, however, is where real action is taking place. The attacks against conservatives throughout the internet and the consequential shrug of the shoulders by the mainstream lets us know that the pioneers for everything moving forward are now online. This is where idea-making is headed. This is where grassroots action is growing. This is where conservatism is making headway into the culture.
“Without general elections, without freedom of the press, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, without the free battle of opinions, life in every public institution withers away, becomes a caricature of itself, and bureaucracy rises as the only deciding factor.” - Rosa Luxemburg
The above quote is by Marxist Rosa Luxemburg and we’re publishing it in an article on a Libertarian/Conservative website. Why? Because free speech is beyond politics and ideology. It’s more like air.
When Freedominion arrived on the Canadian scene it was a breath of fresh air. People from across the country were able to connect and discuss and debate in a way that had never happened before. The loss of this resource is going to be a deficit for grassroots conservatism, but it’s not the end of the debate.
The owners have set up a fundraiser for an appeal, so feel free to help out.