BY Jim Byset
IT WOULD be funny if it wasn’t true. It would be funny if so much wasn’t at stake. It would be funny if the Canadian justice system wasn’t mollycoddling and indulging the childish, whiny, bullying behaviour of feminists. However, unfortunately, it is true – the trial of Toronto artist and father-of-four Gregory Alan Elliott really is happening.
And it is a disgrace.
If you’re a Torontonian, it’s likely you’ve come across Gregory Alan Elliott’s work at some point. Elliot’s art is featured all over the city – from Kensington market to Bloor and Landsdowne. It’s also just as likely that you don’t know who the guy is – but he’s a prolific and talented street artist with a clear artistic philosophy of self-individuation, truth, and love. But what really sets Elliott apart is that unlike other graffiti artists – he actually signs his work – with his real name. ‘I wanted to challenge graffiti artists around the world; the concept was to tell them and challenge them by signing my full legal name all in caps. If you sign it you take responsibility for it.’
Taking responsibility is a concept that means a lot to the father-of-four.
Elliott is facing charges of criminal harassment for the supposed ‘crime’ of sending some tweets to Toronto feminists Stephanie Guthrie, Paisley Rae, and Heather Reilly. If found guilty, Elliott faces up to six months in prison – with the verdict having far-reaching implications for freedom of speech in Canada. This is the first trial of its kind in Canada and is a test case for setting precedent in this area. If Guthrie et al are successful then the interpretation of the criminal code is expanded to include online activity. This in-itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If people receive legitimate threats, and feel threatened as a result – it is a criminal act, regardless of the medium. The problem arises however, when one examines the facts of this case and the specific criminal code in question.
Canadian criminal code 264 defines criminal harassment. Its definition describes a number of potentially criminal behaviours, such as stalking, repeated communication, and threatening behaviour. In order for these behaviours to be considered criminal – they must cause the complainant to ‘reasonably, in all the circumstances, to fear for their safety or the safety of anyone known to them.’ In this particular case then, the prosecution faces two burdens of proof – the first that there was a form of behaviour that matches any one of the criteria laid out in the code, and that that behaviour was sufficient to cause the complainant to reasonably fear for their safety.
The Crown’s case, in both instances, is thinner than paper thin; indeed it is barely a wisp – and this is the reason why this case is so dangerous.
Should the Crown succeed in this reckless prosecution then not only is the interpretation of the criminal code expanded to include online harassment, but it is also expanded in terms of how personal safety is understood. It is important to note that not one of Elliott’s tweets or virtual communications is threatening – even by the most liberal interpretation of the word. Indeed, so unthreatening is Elliott that the officer in charge of the case, Toronto Police Detective Jeff Bangild, said in testimony last week that he found no tweets from Elliott that were threatening – none – among thousands. Just to be clear – this is from the officer in charge of the case.
If Banglid’s interpretation of the evidence is accurate then the prosecution’s case rests on selling the idea that this repeated communication, by itself, caused fear. This is almost impossible because the internet does not operate according to the rules of more traditional communication. It is extremely easy to block, or ignore people online. It is not like receiving multiple letters through the post or constant phone calls at three in the morning. It’s nothing like that. Consequently, the prosecution will have to demonstrate that Guthrie and her pals were genuinely frightened despite the fact that nothing Elliott did was actually threatening and that they could easily block him and ignore his tweets. They’re going to have a particularly difficult time with Guthrie given her constant boasting of having a folder on her computer full of death threats. Guthrie has made this claim on a number of occasions – one such occasion being the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) meeting held at the Onatrio Institute for Secondary Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto last year. Guthrie made the claim to a room full of freshman and feminist activists at a meeting whose purpose was to spread lies about the MHRM and to call for militant action against those that support men’s human rights. One has to wonder if death threats don’t frighten her – then why would the non-threatening, repeated communication from a man she dismisses as a ‘troll?’
It may surprise some to learn that Elliott and Guthrie were at one time friendly. Elliott was sympathetic to some of Guthrie’s causes and at one point offered his considerable talents as a graphic artist to help with one of her campaigns. Things changed though, when con artist Anita Sarkeesian was the target of an online game that encouraged players to virtually beat the crap out of her. Guthrie and her pals, unfazed by Sarkeesian’s shady past (and the anger within the gaming community at her questionable exploits,) doxxed the game’s developer Bendilin Spurr, and openly attempted to destroy his reputation, employment prospects, and even his romantic life in his hometown in Ontario. Elliott spoke out against Guthrie – labelling her behaviour as bullying and dangerous. What followed was a barrage of abuse between Guthrie, her feminist cohorts, and Elliott.
There was abuse on both sides but as the tweets make clear – Elliott was the victim of a concerted effort by Guthrie and her friends to bully the artist. Indeed, when one looks closely at the date stamps on the tweets – one can clearly see that Guthrie, Rae, and Reilly appear to adapt the same ‘communication strategy’ with Elliott on certain dates. For example, on September 9 2012, all three switch their message from open communication to attempting to create the appearance of actively ignoring Elliott. It is, however, extremely transparent from the tweets that this is a deliberate strategy – likely in anticipation of an action on their behalf (Elliott was arrested just two months later.) It is a pattern that marries well with defence attorney Chris Murphy’s assertion this week in court that Guthrie and her feminist stooges are guilty of deliberately manufacturing the entire debacle in an attempt to harass and discredit Elliott. Murphy alleged that in a meeting in Summer 2012 a group of feminists, including the three complainants got together to hatch a plan in which they would target Elliott’s followers and set up a parody account – both of which they did. (They created the parody twitter hashtag #GAEhole to refer to Elliot and openly called for people to shun him online.)
The internet has become an ideological battleground with feminists imposing their agenda on the unwilling and censoring dissent wherever it arises. Feminists, with Rebecca Watson as the figurehead, have ruined the atheist community. Feminists, with Anita Sarkeesian as the figurehead, have ruined the gaming community. Feminists, with Adria Richards as the figurehead, have ruined the coding community. Feminists, now with Stephanie Guthrie as the figurehead, are looking to do even more damage to the social media community. (Feminists have also ruined the wikipedia community and are currently trying to ruin the WordPress community.)
Their modus operandi is becoming increasingly transparent – group together, time an ‘action’ and hurl as much mud as possible. The truth doesn’t matter to them. The idea of personal responsibility, of doing what Gregory Alan Elliott is willing to do – to sign one’s name to one’s actions, does not matter to them. It is time for this cowardly, disgusting behaviour to be highlighted – and punished. It is hoped that the criminal court of Ontario finds Gregory Alan Elliott not guilty. It is overwhelmingly likely that they will, and it is further hoped that this will see an end to the public whining and private scheming of over-privileged feminists like Stephanie Guthrie, Heather Reilly, and Paisley Rae.