January 22nd marked the end of a nightmare for Gregory Alan Elliott when Judge Brent Knazan ruled he was not guilty of criminal harassment over Twitter. Elliott was arrested after a prolonged two-way disagreement with three politically connected social justice warriors. This is the second known harassment case over Twitter, the first involved threats made to Conservative MP Michelle Rempel.
Elliott’s ordeal is a tragic example how the impact of being accused of a crime is punishment in and of itself. The arrest cost Elliott his job, his life savings, and over three years living in limbo and banned from the Internet. The maximum penalty he faced was six months in jail but he’d probably had got less time if any. A careless mistake in the court’s final ruling falsely accused Elliott of making an ugly homophobic tweet- the error was reported in newspapers on three continents.
Most of the stories published in mainstream and online media had some sort of balance. Left-leaning journalists were more likely to report on the homophobic tweet (few have made corrections), right-leaning journalists were more likely to focus on freedom of speech issues. That said, three of the stories about Elliott’s acquittal were blatantly manipulative- and they all had one thing in common, they were written by friends of the complainants.
This series will be published in three parts:
Part 1: Today we’ll dig into a story from the Globe and Mail that’s emotionally manipulative, suffers from half truths, and neglects to disclose an important fact about the writer.
Part 2: In the next installment we’ll talk about Desmond Cole, the rabid anti-police activist who claims to have been stopped and “carded” by the cops an even 50 times. But, considering I’ve uncovered Cole’s third major lie in two weeks, can anything he says ever be trusted?
Part 3: In Part 3 we’ll examine a radical feminist who tells outright lies on an Ottawa radio station.
Manipulativeness & Murky Disclosure At The Globe And Mail:
Emma Woolley is a York University student studying for her Bachelor of Social Work degree and a contributor to The Globe and Mail. Her January 25 article The Twitter trial: Vile harassment online is consequence-free is one of the three most misleading articles published after Gregory Alan Elliott’s acquittal.
Woolley’s article kicks off making an overconfident claim that Elliott’s is the first case of criminal harassment over twitter. Turns out it isn’t, news came out a few days after the article that Conservative MP Michelle Rempel received death threats over twitter from a Toronto man last year. He was convicted of the same crime Elliott as charged with- except that Elliott never made any threats.
It’s curious that Rempel’s incident wasn’t covered by the media, yet Elliott’s case was widely covered- some passing judgment long before the trial began. This is probably because Rempel took the ethical path of staying quiet after the arrest- while Elliott’s formerly alleged victim Stephanie Guthrie was eagerly accepting interviews with her allies in the media. Woolley disclosed she knows the complainants in Elliott’s case- but left some very important information our of her disclosure.
The writer describes herself as a feminist who was attracted to follow the case because she’s been subjected to death threats- Guthrie tweeted a false claim that Elliott sent her one. She also claims to have been subjected to “near-constant vitriolic responses” to her opinions. I can sympathise having faced years of the same, but as will be clear by the end of this article, she’s not helping the situation by cheerleading for people for people who start online swarming attacks.
Woolley feels that this case has been “repeatedly misrepresented” and has responded by misrepresenting the case as being one sided. She combed through the final ruling and pulled out the judges criticism for Elliott’s politically incorrect tweets: “sexist,” vulgar,” and “obscene”. But she completely ignores how the complainants sent vicious tweets smearing Elliott as a pedophile. She also omits to mention the judge’s use of the word “violence” in regards to Stephanie Guthrie’s behavior when she launched the swarming attack, we’ll dive deeper into that shortly.
While many saw Elliott’s arrest as an assault on free speech Woolley doesn’t believe that, says it’s “an argument often steeped in anti-feminist rhetoric.” In Woolley’s circles calling something anti-feminist is the equivalent of saying it’s racist or homophobic- an easy way to brush off and discredit criticism. In the real world, feminist social justice warriors spend an awful lot of time trying to shut people down. It’s such a common occurrence with Toronto’s feminist SJWs that they’ve given our city a bad reputation.
When the Canadian Association For Equality’s (CAFE) held a meeting at the University of Toronto in November 2012, feminist protesters came specifically with the intention of shutting them down. They so badly wanted to stop a man named Warren Farrell from speaking that they started a mini riot. The used their bodies to block entry to the building, got physical with the cops, and yelled out all sorts of nasty things to the people who came to attend.
When CAFE held another meeting at the University of Toronto in April 2013 the school asked almost insisted they pay money for extra security. I was there that day covering the event, it didn’t take long after the meeting started for one of the feminist protesters to pull the fire alarm and forced the evacuation of the building. In June 2014, Guthrie herself helped lead efforts to shut down one of CAFE’s meetings before it even got started.
Woolley Wants You To Shut Up, Now Shut Up!
Twitter was designed as mass communications tool intended to broadcast messages to the world- a good analogy would be a radio station or CB radio, only with extra features that allow you to alert a specific user when you transmit a message. There’s a blocking feature that allows a user to squelch out messages from unwanted users, but there’s no restriction on having multiple accounts so the person being blocked can still read the user’s message. Most Twitter applications allow the user to simultaneously connect to more than one account.
One of the most outrageous things Guthrie said while testifying at Elliott’s trial is that she felt that she had the right to demand that Elliott doesn’t read her tweets and doesn’t refer to them in his own tweets. To put this in context, her self-entitled request is as unreasonable as a radio personality demanding that an individual doesn’t listen to their show and doesn’t talk about what they hear if they did.
The judged ruled that it is indeed unreasonable to demand that someone doesn’t read or write about your tweets. It’s common sense, if you want your conversations to be private, don’t hold them on a mass communications broadcast tool. Woolley’s response to the judge’s ruling on this issue seem’s incredibly naïve for an experienced Twitter user who writes technology articles for the Globe- almost hard to believe. Perhaps it’s an attempt to help Guthrie save face and take a shot at Elliott’s reputation?
She explains that for a blocked user to read messages from the person who blocked them they’d have to log out of their own account, “a level of motivation I’d call creepy,” she stated. It doesn’t require logging out of one’s account, the user could have used software that allows multiple accounts or another browser. Woolley says that this behavior (reading messages sent over a system designed to broadcast messages to the world) “indicates a frightening sense of entitlement”.
Brilliant spin, Woolley might be wasting her time in social work the PR firms would love her. You can’t tell people not to listen when you yell out words into a megaphone, and you can’t demand they don’t repeat or criticise what you said. Guthrie’s believe she has this power shows a both a frightening sense of entitlement and a serious lack of common sense.
Demonstrating a similar deficit of common sense, the writer argues against the judge’s decision- stating that it’s reasonable to be fearful that a person can be watching what you post in public parts of the Internet. “It isn’t until someone blatantly threatens you with violence that you can truly turn to the law,” she says. Well yes, though a subtle threat might also do the trick, but it would be a scary world if we prosecuted reverse thought crimes where another person’s paranoid delusions were enough to send you to jail.
Alluding to how Guthrie uses Twitter for her work, Woolley complains that the people whose economic livelihoods are dependent on broadcasting over the Internet face an “impossible decision”. “This means constantly hiding and regulating in order to speak our truths,” she says with a frightening sense of entitlement. What she forgets is that the vast majority of Canadians have to regulate what they say in public or at work- people regularly get fired for saying stupid or embarrassing things.
People who choose to work in a profession that puts them out in front of the public have to both deal with the fact that anyone who wishes to can see and comment on what they say. Everyone but Donald Trump has to regulate what they say and do in public- Guthrie and Woolley included. Public work isn’t a place for delicate flowers- there’s no way to turn the public parts of the Internet into a safe space.
The Secret To My Success (And who paid the price for it…)
Stephanie Guthrie wants to have her cake and have it too. On the one hand, she feels that she has special privileges because her work is on the Internet. But equally, if most Canadians acted like Guthrie does in her workspace they’d be looking for new work pretty soon after they started.
Guthrie has spent a lot of time building herself a presence on Twitter and uses the same handle @amirightfolks for both personal and professional reasons. Her Twitter account was launched in 2010 and has an impressive 8,400 followers, but when she and Elliott first met online in 2012 she had less than 1,000. So, what’s her secret, how did she grow her volume of followers so quickly?
The answer takes us back to the incident where the friction began between Guthrie and Elliott. In July 2012, Guthrie heard about a video game that simulated punching a controversial feminist activist named Anita Sarkeesian. It was a simple game, press a button and a bruise would appear on Sarkeesian’s face, press again and there’ll another. Some saw the game as violent and cruel, others felt it was the equivalent of a voodoo doll or sticking a rival’s picture on a dart board.
Guthrie freaked out about the game, fell into a common trap we see in the feminist community, and labeled it misogynistic. We later learned this was wrong, the young man who created it had previously created a facepunch game about a man. Declaring herself judge, jury, and executioner Guthrie took it upon herself to identify who made the game and to hunt him down. It wasn’t very difficult, Bendilin Spurr took no effort to hide himself- he putting his real name on the website where it was distributed.
In a move that made Guthrie a hero in social justice circles, she typed Spurr’s name into Twitter’s search box and found his account. On finding it, she made a tweet that would go down in Internet history:
“So I found the Twitter account of that fuck listed as creator of the ‘punch a woman in the face’ game. Should I sic the internet on him?”
Spurr is a young man who lives in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario- his Twitter account had a handful of followers compared to Guthrie’s hundreds. Guthrie decided he needed to face “real life consequences” for his (agreeably tasteless) expression of free speech. So she began a campaign to make him “unemployable” contacting the local newspaper and other local Twitter accounts to spread the word about her displeasure with Spurr’s game.
Next she tweeted to Spurr:
“Do you punch women in the face IRL [in real life] or just on the Internet?”
Elliott was upset watching Guthrie working at full steam trying to destroy the life of a person she’d never met. She had hundreds of Twitter followers, he had less than a handful- the power imbalance was enormous in Twitter terms. Elliott questioned Guthrie’s behavior in another tweet that’s not part of Internet history- only, it wasn’t tragic or misguided- he was standing up for the little guy telling Guthrie that her behavior “was every bit as vicious as the facepunch game.
Guthrie’s Twitter account blew up with new followers- quickly growing to over 4,000. She was later asked to do a TedX talk about her adventure. Like most Twitter users, each new event or incident resulted in more publicity and more Twitter users. Things didn’t work out as well for Bendilin Spurr, he’s unemployed and having a difficult time finding a job.
When the Judge made his final ruling in Elliott’s case he took some time to comment on Guthrie’s behavior. Outside of his criticism after mistakenly accusing Elliott of making a homophobic tweet- his harshest words were in reference to Guthrie’s call to “sic the Internet” on Spurr:
“She also used the word “sic” in her tweet asking whether to engage the internet public about the creator of the game. This metaphor has no meaning apart from a violent one, like freeing a dog to bite.”
Guthrie’s attack on Ben Spurr was the very definition of what some call cyber-violence and what others call plain old cyber-bullying- the balance of power between the two was vast. Spurr’s game had barely any attention before Guthrie decided to go vigilante on him, when she was finished he was known worldwide.
When Elliott’s lawyer questioned Guthrie if she had any concerns that Spurr might get hurt by the actions of the mob she sicced on him, she made it clear that he got what was coming to him. It was creepy looking at her as she sat in the witness box explaining this, it wasn’t the look of a victim- but a predator.
Emma Woolley Isn’t Just A Journalist, She’s Part Of The Story
Emma Woolley was being honest when she said she “knows the complainants”. But there’s more to the story than that – she’s more than just a friend and a rival – she’s got skin in the game, and was directly connected to the trial.
Wooley and Guthrie have worked together organizing the Take Back The Block Party, a rally “to reclaim our neighborhoods after the recent increase of reported sexual assaults in Toronto.” The event featured city councilors Kristyn Wong-Tam & Adam Vaughan, and NDP MP Olivia Chow. Guthrie’s friends and fellow complainants Paisley Rae and Heather Riley were there. Elliott’s tweets to the #TBTB hashtag were included in evidence in his trial.
Search through the tweets entered into evidence in Elliott’s trial and you’ll see that 40 of them include Woolley’s Twitter handle @emmamwoolley. Curiously, she’s wiped out her account, deleting her entire history of tweets- what’s she trying to hide?. But, reading through the Tweets where she’s mentioned, you’ll see that she was directly involved in the back-and-forth when Guthrie launched her vigilante attack against Mr. Spurr.
On November 22, 2012, Woolley went out for an evening with Stephanie Guthrie and their friend Rachel MacKenzie. It was the day after Elliott was arrested, Guthrie and her friends must have felt proud of themselves that evening. As Elliott’s lawyer explained in his final submission, Guthrie tweeted out a picture of the three women “standing in fighting positions” along with text reading “Come at us Bros”.
When Elliott’s lawyer examined her on the stand he asked her if the photograph represents what happens when someone “messes with Steph Guthrie”, her first answer was ” how dare I feel good that I wasn’t been stalked anymore by somebody. How dare I”. She tried to weasel her way out right after that, but new evidence has been discovered confirming that’s exactly what the picture was about.
One of their friends whose blog identifies her as a social media specialist named “Shan” made a gleeful posting after Elliott’s arrest that should raise a lot of eyebrows:
“Twitter is our space and as long as we stand up for ourselves, stand up for what we believe in and remain strong we will take the control away from people like this.”
Jason Carlin, a friend who was seen in the courtroom during the trial sent a tweet to Rachel Mackenzie, Stephanie Guthrie, and Emma Woolley cheering on the success of “Team #Unfuckwithable” and suggesting that the photograph of “Come at us Bro(s)” should be put on a mug.
It appears that the Globe and Mail allowed Team #Unfuckwithable take yet one last shot in the real-life facepunch game of Gregory Alan Elliott’s three-year ordeal. But it wasn’t only a shot at Elliott, it was a shot at the newspaper’s credibility. I learned to read newspapers using the Globe back when I was a child, the paper had a special place in my heart because of that- I feel betrayed.
Stay Tuned For More
Part 2 is now complete, follow this link for the story of Desmond Cole playing dirty…