This work brings with it opportunities for humility aplenty. That is what happens when you deal with a population of disaffected people, and especially when that disaffection is the subject of great social denial.
Such was the case not so long ago when I opened an envelope that I found in the AVFM PO Box. It contained a note, and three single American Dollars. It was a donation to AVFM, and on the piece of paper was scrawled, get this, an apology for not having given more. The donor explained that after paying child-support, a percentage of arrears and “trying” to buy enough food, he had little that he could give. He said he would try to give more if his life ever got better.
I will spare you the details of my reaction except to say that I am glad I was sitting in my car alone and not still inside the postal store when I read it. Even as I sit here and think about it again, I am thankful to be alone.
It is situations like this that I can and must remember when I consider the current situation regarding the upcoming lecture of Karen Straughan at Ryerson University, sponsored by CAFE — and the protection racket scam that Ryerson University is now allowing to taint the event. For some details on what is happening I refer you to the statement made by CAFE earlier today that is now posted on this website.
For a more blunt observation, let me try to encapsulate what is actually happening here. It appears that the Ryerson Student Union, the very same group of fascist thugs that preemptively declared that any attempt to speak to men’s issues at that school was to be summarily judged as a misogynistic attempt to undermine women’s progress, has alarmed the school administration of potential security problems (that the fascist thugs themselves will create) in order to force the school to hire additional security for the Straughan lecture — thus charging CAFE an additional $1,600.00 in “security” fees.
The intent here is obvious. Bleed CAFE of their ability to host lectures by threatening to act out violently, forcing CAFE to pay in order to exercise “freedom” of expression.
They did it at the University of Toronto. They are doing it at Ryerson. And part of the unholy arrangement is that CAFE is now forced into a smaller lecture hall that only seats 100 people. That too, as far as I know, was a university administration call, the rationale being that when fire alarms are pulled they will only disrupt the event, and not students in other classes.
One way of looking at this is that it is not such a big deal. $1,600.00 is a serious bit of money, but not world shaking. Well, not world shaking unless you are a refugee from family court struggling to get food on the table; that struggle having a positive side only in that it serves as slight distraction from the heart-crushing absence of your children.
And that, folks, represents a fair amount of people that finance us, CAFE, and every other men’s rights initiative going. We have a handful of donors who can afford to make substantial offerings, the kind that make or break efforts like these. No less important are the donors that leave you wiping tears off your face when you get their donation.
There has been spirited debate within the very vocal group of AVFM editors, contributors and supporters in our inner circle about what is happening in Toronto. While opinions are diverse, there seems to be universal agreement on some basic principles.
One, setting the standard that men’s advocacy groups are willing pay off university administrations who are either ignorant of the issues or who willfully collude in the ongoing extortion of money for “free speech,” is dangerous and unwise. It is a standard that does not just affect CAFE, and those who contribute to their good work. AVFM also has efforts to establish men’s issues groups in colleges as evidenced by KSUM at Kennesaw State University. We do not plan on stopping there. Also, the National Coalition for Men (NCFM) has a group at Montana State University with plans to expand to other schools.
Training the feminist academic establishment to know they can harm us financially with illegal, disruptive behavior is a mistake that will cause detriment to every current effort afoot to further this badly needed advocacy.
Accepting the underhanded tactics of feminists as a routine “cost of doing business” which is transferred directly onto the backs of the disenfranchised men we are supposedly seeking to serve is not an option.
In this particular circumstance, however, we have the unique situation of having Karen Straughan, one of the most important and articulate anti-feminists speakers known, scheduled in just days to speak at one of the most virulently hateful and anti-male institutions of higher education known – Ryerson University.
Also mitigating this scenario is CAFE, which has included in its statement language that indicates it is not staying on the path of paying for the right to speak.
To be more specific:
It involves finding ways to meet our commitment to host events for the sake of those students who will benefit, while using the opportunity to put on a positive show in order to build a good relationship with University administrations. And when necessary, it also means taking whatever action is required to guarantee our fundamental rights and freedoms under the law.
I have reasons to believe, which I am not at liberty to go into at this time, that this statement is an indication that CAFE does not plan to continue on a path of approaching schools with their hat in hand, obsequiously pleading for the right to be heard, and willing to pay money, some of it given by people who scarcely have it, in order to enjoy the same freedom of expression afforded to every other Canadian citizen.
In fact, at this time I believe so much that this to be the case that I have donated $250.00 to CAFE in order to help them with this effort. If you can afford it, I ask you to consider supporting them as well.
But I do so acutely aware of where this money comes from and the sacrifice it represents. I will not be a party to keeping organizations flush, using the money of those who are not, for the sake of saving them from a principled and unambiguous fight for their rights.
I believe in the work of CAFE. And I believe that they are on the correct path, but the time is also here for all of us to recognize and remember that we are fighting for the underdog, not the other way around.
*Important update*: Ryerson University’s President Sheldon Levy has announced that Ryerson will not charge the security fee but will absorb the cost of extra security, to protect free expression principles on his university. Well done President Levy. This is a strong rebuke to the fascist forces that so scurrilously tried to sabotage the event. –DE