Sun Media Needs To Leave “Criminal” and “Illegal” Convictions to a Judge
Over the span of the last year – since John Law published a supposed “op-ed” “Protestors Push Their Luck” – there have been five instances where the Niagara Falls Review has claimed that I have either engaged in or orchestrated “illegal” or “criminal” activity.
Every single one of those instances has been met with a demand for a retraction. Some were edited, some were pulled down entirely, and some still can be found on their site. However, at no point has the Niagara Falls Review ever acknowledged those changes by running corrections.
The two articles released this week around negotiations for the rights to the documentary film “Blackfish” are just the latest example. Fair comment was not provided for either – one included John Law reaching out for comments twelve days prior to the article with no mention of a story being written and no option to respond to the claims being alleged by the films Canadian distributors KinoSmith. The second article, which has since been pulled down, I was provided with an email and thirty minutes to respond before the article was released.
Both articles contain information which is blatantly incorrect or misleading – at no time did myself or Marineland Animal Defense refuse to acknowledge the screening rights of distributors and at no point did we ever refuse to pay the screening rate set by KinoSmith ($300). It was KinoSmith who changed their mind and refused to accept payment. A full record of communication between KinoSmith, Dogwoof and M.A.D. can be found on the Marineland Animal Defense website and illustrates this point.
As to what copy we were intending to screen, that is pure speculation on the part of KinoSmith. Our email communication shows we had no intention of screening an “illegal” copy. The story itself was a blatant press ploy by KinoSmith who used those negotiations and this story as leverage for another story about a film screening which already had coverage in local press. John Law printing the claim of “illegal” activity in the headline, as if it was fact, was just icing on the cake.
The effect of this year long action by the Review can be found in the comments section to the articles they release. By now there is a large section of their readership that believes that I am a “criminal” or that I have engaged in “illegal” activity – spitting on and insulting children, illegally screening a documentary, “orchestrating” mass civil disobedience, engaging in arson, being the “ringleader” to a “tamer” version of black block anarchists, etc. The glaring problem is that I have never been charged for any of these supposed crimes – let alone been convicted.
I am fully aware that the advocacy that I engage in and the tactics used are sometimes not popular. A fundamental decision by any advocate has to be made as to, when they diverge, whether they will chose tactics that are popular or ones that are effective. I also personally do not take offense that the center right media monopoly in the region has taken me up as their punching bag over the last year. That, in and of itself, is some measure of relevance. We will continue to trade hostilities, I accept and welcome this.
What I cannot let pass is this repeated and escalating process of the Review (Sun Media) passing sentence. If and when I am convicted of a criminal offense, by all means, run my name and face on the front cover with huge text “CRIMINAL.” Until that day comes though, the Review needs to leave that decision up to a Judge.