As you can see from my letter last night, Vancouver adult educator Sasha Wiley-Shaw (the ‘schoolteacher’ label she’s been using to the press is a put-on) is back in the news again. After digging into the story of her latest antics, it’s a bit like history repeating itself- parts of this story mirror what happened at Simon Fraser University when a man tried to start-up a men’s centre. The title for my story was Why ‘Safe Space’ Politics Should Scare You.
Canada’s old-left have a religious fervour over the concept of ‘men’s rights’, and Sasha Wiley-Shaw is one of the warriors against it. She appears to come from a school of thought that people with ‘privilege’ should not be allowed to have advocacy groups. At least, that is how she behaved when she and her gang of activists decided to start damaging a man’s posters as he placed them on the side of a construction site. The image at the top of this article is supposedly what was being posted.
During the incident, Wiley-Shaw was videotaped saying to the man,
“I’d prefer that you didn’t talk to me, because you hate women. Thank you.”
The person who she said that to was offended. He said that he had permission from the construction site to put-up the posters. I don’t know anything about his politics- but, if his actions were actually hate-speech, it wasn’t Wiley-Shaw’s place to be enforcing the law. She should have called the police.
But, she didn’t. Instead, she and her friends pulled-out box-cutters in front of the man putting up the posters. They started yelling insults at him, and destroying his posters. According to the video, he called the police and Sasha and crowd left the scene when the cops arrived. This has yet to have been confirmed or denied by Wiley-Shaw.
The video that was created was, in some ways, rather inappropriate. It had an animated image of a sex toy for example. That’s a shame, because it clouded-up the real issue behind the film- there are people out there calling themselves ‘activists’ who are actively trying to create incidents that get them lots of attention.
If you doubt these people were seeking attention, then think about the incidents of the past. They held press conferences during the Vancouver Casseroles fiascos- speaking to about a dozen cameras, making false claims of broken/cracked bones. Lauren Gill repeated these statements on the Bill Good show on CKNW- we’re still waiting for the medical reports she promised when she was called on her mistruths. They were on TV, newspapers and all over the internet with their stories.
So, let’s be clear- they conducted themselves poorly, and self-promoted what they did. There is no expectation of privacy when one stands in-front of the media and makes-up stories they can’t back with evidence. The moment you call the media to a press conference, you have put yourself up for public scrutiny.
The public didn’t respond very well to this incident. Ethan Barron of the Vancouver Province wrote an overly sympathetic story about the police incident at the Casseroles– one he was soon ridiculed for as soon as the full story came out. A more realistic story came out in the Vancouver Sun the next day. In the end, more Vancouverites thought the activists acted out-of-line than those who didn’t.
There’s a potential connection between the box cutter incident and Harsha Walia’s Occupy Condos demonstration last year- or, at least another parallel. Naomi Klein and Velcrow Ripper were there, and a Marc Williams (a local property developer) had put-up special posters for the event:
Who’s the developer who gave the man permission to put-up posters? Did he actually have permission? And, if so, wasn’t it strange he asked for permission in the first place? All I can say about this is that my Spidey senses are tingling on this one…
Regardless, when a group of people surround a man carrying box cutters and start threatening him and destroying the signs he’s putting up, that’s not what most people consider to be activism. A more accurate description for what happened that day would be gang activity. It’s reminiscent of what happened in the past, during dark times of humanity- brown shirts tearing down posters they don’t appreciate.
There’s a simple word for this behaviour- it’s called bullying…
The video that was created about Wiley-Shaw was unfortunate. It contained questionable content, and was unnecessarily harsh about her personal challenges. I don’t agree with the approach taken by the person who made the video- but, that doesn’t give Wiley-Shaw a get out of jail free pass for her behaviour. She and her friends bullied individuals, baited the police, and lied to the media.
If this story is to have a focus of attention- it should be about who’s behind all of these fake incidents? What are the connections to Vancouver property development? Why do Sasha and her friends refuse to take any responsibility for their actions and instead try to deflect it on others? Tim Lewis and David Eby backed the false claims at the Casseroles- why haven’t they stepped in to help fix the problem- what kind of incompetent leadership is that?
The election is coming soon to BC folks- it’s time like this when we need to pay extra-special attention to our leader’s and they’re party’s integrity. Incidents like this say a lot about that- are they enablers, or do they help solve the problems they helped cause…