Please click here for Part 1
If it wasn’t for the Toronto Star’s dodgy coverage of social justice warriors it’s likely I wouldn’t be writing this story. I’ve caught some world class lies and misinformation in the Star; they lied about Jane Fonda marching in a climate protest last summer, wrote a horribly misleading story about the government tracking protests in 2014, covered a “heroic” anti-police activist without mentioning his recent crimes, and defied an unrepentant organizer of the G20 violence as a jailhouse activist hero.
In 2012 I wrote a story criticising Star columnist Antonia Zerbisias for diefying another unrepentant G20 convict. I didn’t know her reputation back then, turns out she’s a vicious creep who likes to play dirty. Antonia responded by threatening to include me in a story about Internet stalkers that featured Elliott. A couple weeks later I had an unexpected meeting with Gregory Alan Elliott, he didn’t seem like the monster Zerbisias tried to frame him as. Antonia’s temper tantrum was my primary motivation for investigating Elliott’s case- I really must thank her one day.
Desmond Cole is an anti-police activist, and like Antonia, is a morally bereft character who also likes to play dirty. It was only a week ago when he told two lies on Newstalk 1010. Now, only a few days later, he’s written a sensational story that tells yet another lie- two weeks and three lies!
Last Week’s Newstalk 1010 Radio Show:
Desmond Cole did a segment about Elliott’s case on his Newstalk 1010 the day the judge’s final ruling. Cole interviewed a friend of the complainant’s named Anne Thériault- another world class creep who plays dirty.
Thériault went on the warpath last July after Christie Blatchford wrote an excellent story in the National Post about Elliott’s trial. Blatchford described Guthrie’s “shrill and uber-sensitive” behavior during her testimony. Guthrie was testy with the defense, pounded her fist on the table, and was continually rolling her eyes like a spoilt brat. Blatchford clearly explained to her readers that the battle between Guthrie and Elliott appeared to be based on a political disagreement more than anything else- she was absolutely correct.
Demonstrating her anger, Thériault responded by writing an article for Canadaland titled Christie Blatchford Is The Worst. Thériault’s story was as manipulative as one would expect from another one of the complainant’s besties. She kicked-off with a lie right at the beginning- falsely claiming that Elliott sent threatening tweets to Guthrie. I wrote to Canadaland and explained that this was inaccurate- arresting officer Jeff Bangild testified during the trial that Elliott hadn’t made any threats. Canadaland erased that statement but neglected to document that they made a correction.
Thériault put great effort into covering the accusations against Elliot but completely ignored the inconvenient truths about the complainant’s bad behavior. She omitted important information about their efforts to smear Elliott as a pedophile, about their campaign to tell the world he’s a “misogynist”.
She smeared Blatchford with some cheap shots. She claimed that Blatchford “frequently tries to peddle anti-feminist sentiments” (shock, horror!). She also claimed that Blatchford’s article provoked people to attack the complainants over the Internet (a deflection tactic we’ve seen a lot of since the trial).
Thériault told one other whopper in her Canadaland story:
“Because the verdict in this case is not expected until October 6th, neither Reilly nor Guthrie can speak out about what is happening. They cannot correct Blatchford’s misrepresentation of the case, they cannot refute any of the untrue assertions about them that are flying around twitter, they cannot make any kind of comment on what is being said about them. Blatchford knew this.”
But, outside of Thériault’s imagination, there was no requirement for Guthrie to stay silent. There were good reasons for her to do so, but she crossed the line speaking with the media only days after Elliott was charged. Canadaland actually published a story explaining the legality of speaking during a trial in another story published on their site the day of Elliott’s final ruling.
Thériault was quoted in the Huffington Post claiming that her Twitter feed was filled with “threats and dick pics” a few hours after Elliott was pronounced not guilty. But, curiously, when people asked her to back up her claim, she refused to share any examples of these tweets. Many people didn’t believe her, neither do I after her dodgy posting on Canadaland. Anne Thériault is the worst.
Understanding Thériault’s previous willingness to write bullshit and misinformation, it’s understandable why Elliott felt the need to call Newstalk 1010 and insist that they give a balanced interview thaty day. Demonstrating a poor sense of discretion, Cole responded by tweeting a message out to Elliott’s lawyer- it was retweeted by Guthrie’s former roommate Jonathan Goldsbie.
When Desmond Cole introduced Anne Thériault he was only a couple sentences into it before he told a whopper of a lie- claiming that Elliott was charged with “online sexual harassment”. Detective Jeff Bangild made it clear when he testified that there was no sexual element to Elliott’s tweets to the complainants. I tweeted to Cole that this was incorrect, he didn’t respond. Newstalk edited out the false claim the next day- and, like Canadaland, they neglected to make a note of the correction.
Thériault told the same one sided story during the interview, focussing on the complaints against Elliott and completely ignoring the vicious attacks against him by the complainants. It was depressing to hear one of the city’s top news stations broadcasting absolute bullshit. It was equally depressing hearing Cole follow-up with another lie the Toronto Police Service and their need to take security precautions in preparing for the Const James Forcillio’s verdict.
Thériault claimed in her Canadaland story that she attended most of Elliott’s trial- but something doesn’t compute. She retweeted a couple messages back in July by another of Guthrie’s friends. The tweets were outright lies. The first claimed that Elliott was taking Guthrie’s pictures and sending threatening tweets. The second claimed that Guthrie took Elliott to court and had already won the case. Both claims are completely inaccurate- truth isn’t important to Team Guthrie.
Desmond Cole Doubles-Down On His BS In the Toronto Star
Coming from a man who’s made a career out of trolling and hating the police, Cole’s Toronto Star headline Shunning hatred online won’t make it go away is dripping with irony. It’s a convoluted story that starts off discussing how newspapers are closing down their website’s comment sections, but was really just another hit piece against Elliott.
It’s a lot like Antonia Zerbisias’ original article smearing Elliott, or Lindy West’s dishonest gender baiting smear in Jezebel. All three pieces kick-off telling the stories of serious crimes- then, once the reader is sufficiently horrified, they move onto discussing Elliot’s trial. It says a lot about the Star’s lack of credibility that their editors would allow this deceptive practice to happen in two stories about thew same person.
Cole’s first example is the Province of Ontario’s “It’s Never OK” campaign against sexual violence. Next he moves on from rape to murder, telling the story of a 2005 killing of a woman in who worked in a hospital Windsor, Ontario. And just in case his readers weren’t horrified enough, Cole pulls the gender card explaining that women are particularly vulnerable to hate and online attacks “simply for being who they are”.
Once he’s set the reader up with every socially repugnant horror story possible, Cole moves in for the kill with yet another big lie- his third in the last two weeks:
“The judge ruled that Elliott’s behavior was not criminal, but acknowledged that some of his online communications with the women were “obscene and misogynistic.”
The judge ruled that at least two of Elliott’s tweets were obscene. One of them has been proven to be a tragic mistake, so only one remaining tweet was actually obscene. The judge also stated that the complainant’s and their friend’s tweets attacking Elliott with the hashtag “#GAEhole” were obscene- there were several of them. So when it comes to obscenities, Elliott wasn’t nearly as offensive as the complainants.
But the word “misogynistic” was never attributed to Elliott’s tweets. It appears in the final ruling, but only as an example of the insults that Guthrie and Reilly sent out with the intention of destroying Elliott’s reputation. So, once again, Desmond Cole lied about Gregory Alan Elliott in the mass media.
As if it wasn’t enough to smear Elliott with stories of rapists, murderers, racists, homophobes, and a false claim- Cole also attacked him using and anecdotal fallacy. Elliott had no control how people on the Internet reacted to the decision, but Cole attacked him for their behavior regardless- explaining how tweets to the complainants included words like “bitch,” “slut,” “bully,” “authoritarian”; and how some tweets included rape and death threats- or scalded them for identifying with feminism.
It’s unfortunate the Internet has so many juvenile idiots who attack using ugly words like “bitch” and “slut”. The former might be accurate (but it’s definitely impolite), but the latter has nothing to do with the case and doesn’t make any sense. As for “authoritarian” and “bully”, those two comments seem somewhat appropriate. Attacking them for identifying feminism is perfectly acceptable- that said, as someone who doesn’t see feminism as intrinsically evil, I’d personally scold them for degrading feminism with their crap behavior.
Following up with more anecdotal fallacy, Cole tells the story of Buzzfeed editor Lauren Strapagiel claim she was sent “hundreds” of “vile messages”. Strapagiel also told this story to Anna Maria Tremonti on CBC Radio- except, she didn’t quite tell the whole truth:
“My very first tweet was pointing out a couple of reporters were in the courthouse, saying follow them, they have live updates.”
“Then a subsequent tweet was about the fact that a lot of women I knew were going to be silenced, people were going to try and silence them on Twitter for speaking out about this case.”
The tweets sound innocent the way she described them to Tremonti. Had she explained that they were gendered and insulting- listeners would have understood that she was baiting. Reading through the responses she received, most were polite messages from people who disagreed with her- only a handful were “vile”.
And, of course, Strapagiel couldn’t resist the opportunity to claim that the insults are “the price you pay for being a woman on the internet”. There’s no evidence she was being criticized because of her gender- more likely because of her insulting & gendered tweet – and the responses came from both men and women.
Like so many of the people publishing misinformation about the trial, Desmond Cole is in deep with Team Guthrie. Paisley Rae, one or the original complainants, worked and collaborated Cole on projects including the Toronto Police Service’s PACER Report (about carding) and the Policing Literacy initiative. Rae also supported Cole’s 2014 run for city council in Ward 20.
Part 3: Next…
Click here for Part 3 where we’ll look into the new anti-trolling initiative by Hollaback called HeartMob- will they be “an army for good” or a tool used to harass?