Christie Blatchford: Ghastly Your Ward News paper goes beyond ‘mere offence’
There the publisher and editor-in-chief were Monday at their hate-crime trial behaving like a pair of hateful school boys, giggling at the dirty bits
As sure as Adam found Eve, James Sears and LeRoy St. Germaine have found their perfect criminal charge.
There they were Monday at their hate-crime trial behaving like a pair of hateful school boys, giggling at the dirty bits and in Sears’ case — because he wrote most of what is alleged to be hatred — smirking at his own cleverness.
As the witness read aloud the headlines or bons mots from the work Sears wrote and St. Germaine published — Sexual assault charges are but “speeding tickets on the seduction highway;” “if the dick fit, you must acquit;” “groping a juicy ass;” “the honour of marinating my souvlaki;” “Menstruation nation bows to the patriarchy” — the two all but collapsed with laughter.
At that latter, St. Germaine, the owner/publisher of Your Ward News, a remarkably ghastly rag, dimpled pinkly, while Sears, the lead writer and the editor-in-chief, chortled: Ain’t nothing like a menstruation joke, oh hardy har har.
Though it may appear akin to prosecuting two 13-year-olds, St. Germaine, who out of court wore a black do-rag over his shiny shaved head, is 77, while Sears, who has a long tangle of dark hair, is 55.
They are each charged with two counts of wilfully promoting hatred against two identifiable groups, Jews and women.
Because prosecutors are proceeding summarily, if convicted each could face a maximum sentence of a $5,000 fine or six weeks in jail. They appeared oblivious to the seriousness of the potential consequences for them.
Last week, Ontario Court Judge Richard Blouin heard from an expert witness in anti-Semitism; this week, it was Janine Benedet’s turn.
She is a legal scholar, formerly of Osgoode Hall in Toronto and now a full professor of law at the University of British Columbia, who was declared an expert in sexual violence against women and misogyny, which is the fancy name for hatred of women the way that anti-Semitism is the high-falutin’ one for Jew-hating.
Benedet was asked to review 22 editions of Your Ward News, which is delivered unsolicited to about 300,000 people in southwestern Ontario and is also available online, for evidence of misogyny.
She found present and pervasive the hallmarks of misogyny — rigid sex role division, with men deemed rightfully dominant; the innate inferiority of women, who are deemed base or unclean and reduced to their genitalia; a profound anti-feminist tone, wherein women are blamed for ruining society, and the notion that women are corrupt, liars and bringers of false complaints.
The time span of the editions she was asked to review range from March 2015 to the summer of 2018, and while she found examples throughout, Benedet said later editions were “replete with all the hallmarks of women-hating and hate propaganda against women.”
Ain’t nothing like a menstruation joke,
oh hardy har har
She testified she believes that the November 2016 election of U.S. President Donald Trump (who was, remember, elected shortly after his “grab them by the pussy” remark about women came to light) emboldened the like-minded.
The paper hailed his election as the “year of the cock, the re-establishment of strong polyamorous men”.
While there is about this trial a quality of the state using an elephant gun to shoot a flea — Your Ward News is hardly a mainstream publication with a vast reach and two big-time prosecutors, Robin Flumerfelt and Jamie Klukach, are handling the case, plus there were the two big-time expert witnesses — the paper is not just a vicious largely unseen blog emanating from someone’s basement.
When, as a result of complaints from a group in Toronto’s east end, a ward of which gives the paper its name, Canada Post stopped delivering it free of charge, Your Ward News began to be hand-delivered; its distribution didn’t shrink, but rather dispersed.
Police in eight Ontario jurisdictions, including Toronto, received 300 complaints about the paper. And though every edition is available online, the several hundred thousand people on whose doorsteps the print edition lands have no such choice.
As Benedet told prosecutor Klukach at one point, yes, the material is distasteful or offensive or cartoonish, but it’s not just those things. It should “not be discounted as mere offence.”
Misogyny can have real-life effects, she said. Remember, she said, the FHRITP phenomenon of a few years ago, whereby usually but not always inebriated and usually but not exclusively male eejits would interrupt reporters doing live hits with the cry of “F..k her right in the pussy”?
Aaaah, as James Sears might say and LeRoy St. Germaine might publish, those were the days.
The trial resumes Tuesday and lawyers are expected to make their submissions Friday.
Mea culpa: In an earlier column on this case, I said the late Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel was once prosecuted under the hate-crimes section of the Criminal Code. He wasn’t, but was charged under a more obscure section of the code, convicted, then acquitted upon appeal.