The Supreme Court of Massachusetts has ruled that "upskirting" is legal - a timely reminder of the fine line between law and insanity.
~Speaking of which, today, yet again, I'll be in court for the fifth day of the Ezra Levant trial. In this strange and unnecessary rerun of the Canadian Islamic Congress' three "human rights" complaints from five years ago, as Christie Blatchford mentioned yesterday, the lawyers are lawyers, the parties are lawyers, and the witnesses are lawyers. And then it all went wrong...
Yesterday afternoon, in a bit of idle chit-chat with the lawyer-plaintiff's lawyer's co-lawyer, Angela Chaisson, I complained that the last three witnesses had all been lawyers - my old friend Julian Porter, QC; my not so old but reasonably genial accuser from the Maclean's case, Naseem Mithoowani; and the plaintiffs' counsel from the British Columbia trial, Faisal Joseph.
So I was somewhat lawyered out. Unfortunately, after three back-to-back lawyer-witnesses, the first non-lawyer to be heard in this trial turned out to be a total loon. Greg Felton was called by the defence to testify to a quotation by the plaintiff, Khurrum Awan, that appears in Mr Felton's column from The Canadian Arab News:
Despite accepting the all of the plaintiffs' arguments about the fallaciousness and defamatory nature of Steyn's piece, the tribunal managed to rule that the case did not meet the standard of defamation.
"The only explanation is that the tribunal rendered a political decision, not a legal one," said plaintiff Khurrum Awan. "It could just as easily have ruled in our favour. Nevertheless, we do not plan to appeal the decision because we attained our strategic objective—to increase the cost of publishing anti-Islamic material."
Awan said Maclean's spent $500,000 alone on the B.C. case, but that does not take into account the case in Ontario. The total legal cost to Maclean's is somewhere around $2 million.
This is a damaging quote for Mr Awan - because it supports Ezra's contention that he's a "lawfare" guy who uses the courts purely for "libel chill": It doesn't matter whether you win or lose, you still "attain your strategic objective". So Awan's position is that he never said it. The defence called Felton to the stand to prove that he did:
Ezra's lawyer examined Felton and it went reasonably well, Felton seemed sane during the exercise as he explained the history of the article and his association with Awan. Despite having misplaced the notes he made for the piece he came across as a reasonable human being.
Then he was cross-examined by Awan's counsel and Rocketship Batshit Crazy left the launch pad.
Indeed. Brian Shiller questioned Felton not on anything he said about Awan, but on everything else he said in that Canadian Arab News column, starting with its first topic:
For all of the hype about his representing "change," Barack Obama is proving to be just another Israeli satrap. His [sic] decision to surround himself with Clinton-era retreads like faux-Middle East negotiator Dennis Ross, Mossad mole Rahm Emanuel, warmongering whore Hillary Clinton proves that his fawning and grovelling before AIPAC was not an aberration.
"What," asked Mr Shiller, "is a satrap?"
From there we moved quickly on to the Kennedy assassination/coup d'état, and why 9/11 represents what Mr Felton calls "the highest stage of Zionism". As Christie Blatchford puts it:
He said he's quite sure no planes ever flew into the World Trade Center and that the buildings' collapse was due rather to the planting of mini hydrogen bombs in the towers, probably by, you guessed it, the Jews — and who also refers to Israel and the United States as "Isramerica" because in his view "Israel has so thoroughly bought off the Congress" the countries are essentially one.
After allowing Mr Felton to self-detonate his credibility with the multiple mini-hydrogen bombs of his own answers, the wily Shiller announced he'd completed his cross-examination and sat down.
As the blogger Blazing Cat Fur said, it's "oddly refreshing to hear Obama described as an Israeli Satrap, and Hillary Clinton labelled a 'Warmongering Whore' in an actual court of law". So a good time was had by all - for as long as it lasted.
But, for those of us who want Ezra to win, it was a dismal moment. Felton was so convinced of the truth of that Awan quotation that he was prepared to testify on behalf of a despised Jew. He was, to that extent, an honest loon. All Ezra's counsel, Iain MacKinnon, had to do was get the loony stuff in first - by treating Felton as a "hostile witness", not necessarily in the legal sense but in a more basic one. Yes, Felton's a nut, but he's a nut on the same side as Khurrum Awan: Like Khurrum, he supports "human rights" commissions; like Khurrum, he regards me as an "anti-Muslim" "defamer"; like Khurrum, he worked for Mohammed Elmasry, Mr Awan's Jew-hating boss and patron at the Canadian Islamic Congress. And Felton's 9/11 "trutherism" is no nuttier than that of Wahida Valiante, Elmasry's successor at the CIC.
Here's how the appropriately named Eye On A Crazy Planet sees it:
There is a factor that did not emerge in court that makes the entire Felton testimony, and Awan's counsel making the conspiracy zealot look like a fool, even more confusing.
The Canadian Islamic Congress, for which Awan served as national Youth President, regularly published antisemitic articles by Felton at the time Awan was with the organization. So in effect, Awan was establishing that he was a senior member of an organization promoting antisemitism and discreditable paranoid conspiracies. Among the things Felton claimed on the stand was that US President Obama is a tool of Zionists, that al Qaeda does not exist, and that Israel was responsible for 9-11 and the Kennedy assassination...
As an end result of Felton's trial appearance, it's hard to figure out which side he hurt more. Which side the scale on that matter tips will depend on whether or not the judge determines that just because Felton's crazy, it doesn't mean he's lying. There was a certain obsessive/compulsive characteristic to Felton's description of his approach to quoting subjects which made his statements about his recording of Awan's statement convincing.
That seems to me an overly-optimistic interpretation. The Felton articles published by CIC weren't brought up, and thus aren't evidence. With the stuff that actually is in evidence, Brian Shiller managed to hang Felton's nuttiness round Ezra's neck. That seems to me a very foreseeable mistake on defence counsel's part. Shiller saw his opportunity and took it.
Finally, here's the defendant himself, filing a TV report on his own trial:
~On last night's Hugh Hewitt Show, we discussed Thomas L Friedman's almost as eccentric view of Putin's Ukrainian incursion. I'll post a transcript as soon as we have one.