Friday, August 26, 2011

David Menzies Shows How Fast Racist Lies Travel The World

Racist code words and lies, Menzies is an excellent
example of "objective journalism."
I was sent an article this morning from August 5, written by a freelance journalist named David Menzies, detailing his "shocking" experience of not only being assaulted by some hijab wearing Muslim women but then, to add insult to injury, the police wouldn't even charge them with assault.

According to Menzies he was paying a little visit to Dundas Square one Saturday and decided to take some pictures of the locale - he lives in Richmond Hill. Suddenly some hijab wearing women - some in "full burqas" rushed up to him insisting that he not take their picture. He told them that he was in a public square in a democracy, he could take pictures of whomever he wanted. That's when she punched him in the face and tried to steal his camera! But then those damn police, made soft from drinking too deeply the ideology of multiculturalism, listened to both sides of the story - and even excoriated him for his picture taking - before refusing to lay charges. Can you believe it?

That's the story, more or less, as it's being carried on news sites around the world - and far-right websites, like "Gates of Vienna" (popular with the guy who killed 70-odd kids in Norway earlier this month). And it's the story that was carried in the Toronto Sun - written by Menzies himself.

Now, call me a conspiracy theorist but I immediately smelled bullshit. There were too many of the typical code words, plus the sneering tone whenever the question of Muslims came into the discussion. So, I decided to look a little deeper into this Menzies dude, about whom I'd never heard previously. And what do you know, sure enough he's a right wing nutter who makes his living writing for every right wing rag in the country - the National Post, the Sun, and a now defunct publication called The Western Standard. The Western Standard - still available online - was started by Ezra Levant, one of the founders of The Reform Party and the Canadian Alliance (I actually debated him on-air once on the Judy Rebick/Clare Hoy show Face-Off). Levant is a vile, far right individual whose most recent claim to fame was to coin the phrase "ethical oil" as the particular spin he would use to promote the deeply unethical Alberta Tar Sands.

The Western Standard was not only a big promoter of "western separation" and "western alienation" - those bugaboos of every right wing blowhard west of the Alberta border. It also made its name as the only English language publication to reproduce the deeply offensive "Muhammad cartoons" originating from Denmark, which insulted the founder of the Muslim religion. Now, you may think that this is an issue of "freedom of speech" - I say that it's incitement and that it would never be tolerated were the shoe on the Christian foot. Imagine, after the scandal about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, if newspapers had printed cartoons of Jesus sodomizing young boys. Do you think that would be a fair response? Do you think that it would ever happen? Unlikely. And the broader point is Menzies association with far-right publications and Islamophobia.

Menzies is also a regular guest on the Michael Coren show on the Crossroads Television System, which is a Christian TV station, based out of Hamilton. Coren, also a columnist in The Western Standard, is renowned for his ultra-conservative views on women, gays & lesbians and, you guessed it, Muslims. Menzies also appears regularly on the John Oakley show - Oakley is another opponent of same sex marriage and uses his radio show as a platform for Rob Ford's lies and rants.

Menzies whose temper has apparently almost gotten him in trouble with the cops more than once is also has a minor obsession with debunking the climate change myth. He made a name for himself by not merely refusing to turn off his lights for Earth Hour but renting Hollywood lights for his front yard. As he describes it, climate change is a communist conspiracy (not that far from the opinion of Stephen Harper, actually):

Menzies, a regular contributor to the John Oakley and Charles Adler shows on AM 640 and on Michael Coren's TV show, relishes sticking it to the global-warming-gurus who he believes have been blowing environmental Armageddon smoke for years.

"All it is, is income and wealth distribution propagated by former Communists and socialists looking for something to do," he said of the movement.

"What's it called this week? Climate change? Next it will be global icing."

All of which is to say that his narrative – and his enthusiasm to spread this story far and wide – is deeply suspect. Just look at the kind of giveaway stuff in the story – complaints about Toronto being too "culturally sensitive", the Muslim women are "hysterical", the men are a "mob", "was I in Toronto or Riyadh", some of them were (shock!) speaking Arabic. And, the kicker: "The fact that we have Islamists living amongst us who despise western values isn't news..." Oh, western values like same sex marriage and the right to abortion, David?

Menzies claims that he just "happened" to snap a photo, he didn't even notice that there were women wearing hijabs nearby. Oh no, those crazy Muslims see a camera – and if you go to Dundas Square on a Saturday there are hundreds of people with cameras – and they go completely bonkers! You see, they don't have cameras in the Middle East. Oh, wait, what about all those pictures and videos coming out of Syria and Egypt, et al to document the human rights abuses of their governments?

Or maybe this renowned Muslim hating dirtbag was snapping photos of these women to demonstrate the decline of our civilization for allowing them to exist and they objected. But Menzies thinks he can do whatever he wants: "This is a democracy and I can take pictures of whomever I please." Actually, no you can't. People have a right to privacy and to not have their picture taken. It seems highly likely that he made some more racist comments, increasing the tension in the situation and the woman made a grab for his camera. Even the cops obviously thought he was a crank with one of them "miffed that I was (legally) taking photos in the first place" and, having spoken to the woman, refused to press charges. The only thing notable about this non-event is that it not only made a major newspaper in Toronto but that it has now gone around the world in seven league boots. So much for the "culturally sensitive" bologna. I would only add that it is particularly odious that Menzies engaged in this kind of Muslim-baiting in the days following the massacre in Norway that was driven by a hatred of Muslims.

Postscript: Unfortunately for the "western values-hating" Muslims our much-vaunted freedom of the press doesn't include providing them with access to a half-page column in the Toronto Sun to give their side of the story.


Flaco said...

There is a Muslim sect whose belief it is that having their picture taken takes away part of their "soul". I've spent many years working in the Middle East and learned this during the second year of my posting in Iran. I was actually spit on by a man who was in the frame of my camera while I was taking a shot of some scenery. Since it is their country I respected the belief and NEVER took another shot with anyone in it.
But I now live back home in Canada and nobody will ever tell me what I can or can't take a picture of. This is not an Islamic republic and some people living here need to be reminded of this. I may not agree with everything Menzies has to say but you sir need to see more of the world and learn something about the cultures and societies of some places other than Canada. Right now you seem like the diametrically opposite of Menzies. As in just another crackpot.

Aaron Aarons said...

This story by this Menzies character is not, apparently, backed up by anyone else. He could have made it up out of whole cloth -- enough cloth, perhaps, to make a "full burqa". In that case, there would not be any Muslims "to give their side of the story". Or he might have taken some real incident and  embellished it to support his racist agenda. In any case, his story has no evidentiary value, but anti-Muslim bigots will still take it as evidence to support their bigotry.

Jymn Parrett said...

The pro-Menzies camp promised a video but none has come forth. Because there actually is no video or the video doesn't back up Menzies' claims?

bammo said...

Apparently this "reporter" also has a history of accosting visible
minorities. Earlier this year he was harassing a TTC driver who merely
had to make an emergency washroom stop on a route without any place to
stop.  Here is that link:

meltr said...

"People have a right to privacy and to not have their picture taken."

Sorry RBH but there is no expectation of privacy in a public place and generally everything is fair game legally:

However your points about this scumbag are well made and certainly in the name of basic decency, humanity etc. if someone asks you not to deliberately take their picture you should accede to their wishes. Those qualities are obviously absent in this jerk off who got what he wanted ie. a chance to get publicity for his racist views.

Shawn Whitney said...

Flaco you're an idiot and a racist and you know nothing about where I've been and what I've studied. If you harass someone, taking their photo because you're a prick obsessed with Muslim influence and their clothing choices then you should be charged with harassment.
Secondly, there isn't a "Muslim sect" that opposes photography. Some Bedouins don't like to be photographed - "Bedouin" isn't a sect. Thirdly, in the Islamic Republic of Iran, lots of people have cameras and take photos. The ban on creating images has to do with creating images of Muhammad and worshipping images.

Shawn Whitney said...

accosting them and harassing them with a camera. What a prick.

Shawn Whitney said...

You're right viz privacy law but there is a case for a harassment claim if someone is stalking you with a camera. 

and, yeah, Menzies seems to be a professional prick. But, then, he hangs out with Ezra Levant and Michael Coren. They're a trinity of pricks.

Fayhill said...

My question is what are they doing in Canada?Wearing full burquas and worried about cameras .I lived in Saudi Arabia and I think that is where they belong.

Shawn Whitney said...

There's a certain delicious irony in the fact that you are so un-self-conscious about telling people you think are foreigners to go back home to the country where you lived... as a foreigner.

But then racists aren't known to be the sharpest pencils in the drawer.

Fayhill said...

Hi Shawn,I did come home as soon as I could get out of my contract.I was not comfortable in that environment and had no objection to the way these people lived but realized it was not for me.Why is it one cannot express an opinion without being called racist.By the way I am quite sharp.Fay Hill

Shawn Whitney said...

You are a racist because:
1) you use descriptors like "these people"
2) You assume that because they are Muslim and wear the hijab that they weren't born here.
3) you think that people who aren't like you should return to "their country".

For the record, my strong suspicion is that I don't live like you, hold any beliefs that bear a passing resemblance to yours and probably don't even eat the same kind of food as you. So, which one of us is going to have to leave?

Vancoovur said...

No one should hit anyone because he/she inadvertently took a picture. Period. Enough of the religious diatribe...the bottom line is that you can't hit someone for taking your picture in this country. Period.

Peter said...

Shawn, you can't defeat someone's argument by calling them a racist. It's a handy tool for silencing guilt-ridden liberals, but it is not valid logic. Try addressing the facts and the arguments being made.

What part of "she hit him" do you not understand? The reason people immigrate to Canada (as I and my parents did) is to get away from tyrannical governments in countries run by self-righteous zealots like you. What makes Canada one of the best places in the world is that we have the rule of law and everyone is supposed to be treated equally under the law. When that is threatened, as it clearly was in this case, we risk losing the fundamental basis for civilized life based on the values of the Enlightenment.

He was taking photos. That is legal.

She hit him. That is not legal.

He is the victim. She is the criminal.

Shawn Whitney said...

Peter I'm afraid that your attempt at logic is fairly pathetic. First off, it is perfectly legitimate to call Menzies a racist - he's a journalist and his work and associations are in the public sphere. So also is his penchant to take harassing photos of people - as linked above.  There is, after all, a reason why the cops didn't arrest the woman - Menzies is an idiot and it was obvious to everyone. What's more, he's not a reliable witness to this event and he has provided no evidence to back up his claim. The whole thing is juvenile and tendentious.

Speaking of which, your attempt to do the usual right wing pout of being oppressed by political correctness may wash with your right wing buddies but it carries about as much weight here as a fly turd. It really is a sign of someone unable to grow up and take responsibility for their actions and their impact on people around them. Why, the very idea is personal responsibility is like... a tyrannical government. Yeah, and that's more "logically valid" than calling Menzies a racist.

And finally, your code words about "The Enlightenment" and "civilized life" are such an obvious trope in the boringly predictable attacks on Islam that all one can really do is laugh. If David Menzies were "treated equally" then the woman he defames in his article would be given the opportunity to rebut in a major newspaper instead of just the evidence-less, decontextualized rant of a man whose past temper tantrums and idiocy over the years have demonstrated that he isn't to be taken seriously. Except, perhaps, as a poster boy for morons.

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