On the Greg Felton Speech at the Vancouver Public Library

Posted: 2/26/2008 12:50:00 AM
Author: Robert Jago
Source: http://www.rjjago.wordpress.com/2008/02/26/on-the-greg-felton-speech-at-the-vancouver-public-library/

On the Greg Felton Speech at the Vancouver Public Library
by Robert Jago
February 26, 2008 News

I got thrown out. I got thrown out of the Library - a first for me. I’ll come back to that in a minute.

Here’s the background: fervent anti-”Zionist” (wink wink, nudge nudge) Greg Felton gave a speech tonight at the invitation of the Vancouver Public Library. I’ve written about that here.

My plan before the speech was to crash the party with cameras. I arrived to find that cameras were banned. I spoke to a large woman, a library staffer, who told me that this was standard procedure. I saw Irshad Manji in the very same room so I know that’s a lie. When I confronted her with this she told me that it was done at the author’s request.

So that’s how it started. There were a lot of security and they were needed. There were about 70 people present for the talk - in a room that holds nearly 200. 50 - 60% were against Felton, and 40-50% were supporters. There was a clear socioeconomic breakdown in the room that matched the breakdown of supporters and opponents.

The City Librarian, Paul Whitney, gave a brief introduction talking about the controversy and identifying the opponents of the talk as Jewish. He said that the majority of the letters he received opposing the talk came from Jews - which raises the questions: how did he sort these letters? Why did he sort those letters this way?

Felton came on and gave the bigoted anti-Israel boiler plate. The man squirmed and shook the podium as he spoke in a voice that didn’t rise much above ‘halting’ except when he spoke the word ‘Zionist’. People from the audience laughed and shouted at him during most of his speech. I chimed in from time to time.

During the speech Felton said something which I think qualifies as hate speech. he said:

The USA and Canada are under Zionist occupation (aka Z.O.G.)
This occupation aids and abets murder and torture overseas
Dual citizens support this occupation
“dual citizenship raises issues of loyalty and treason”
The latter is the identifiable group - dual citizens. The former are why his statement is a real threat and real hate speech. I don’t intend to file a claim against him as I don’t believe in the system - but I do expect the Library to be accountable for giving him space to break the law. I will be writing them tomorrow to demand answers and to find out what action they are taking to prevent this from happening again.

At the end of the talk, he broke for questions. My question was this:

Me: “Mr. Felton, I don’t really care about Z.O.G. so I won’t need you. But Mr. Whitney, I do need you. You’re a public servant. I live in this city, I’m a tax-payer and I pay a very small portion of your salary so I think I deserve an answer to this - Mr. Whitney, what have you accomplished here?”

Felton: “An open debate…”

Me: “I wasn’t talking to you.”

Whitney: “Yes, ‘an open debate’. ..”

I thought it lovely that Whitney chose to quote Felton in defence of his own actions.

After the questions everything totally broke down as Felton tried to sell his book - something Whitney promised would not happen. Half the crowd shouted at each other over that, the other half argued with a screaming bearded guy at the back of the room.

During the ruckus I tried taking some pictures, but the camera wouldn’t work. I did get a picture when I got out of the lecture hall - a picture of a sign saying ‘no pictures’. Which is when I exchanged words with a security guard and got thrown out.

Felton on the other hand remained inside selling his book, flanked by Library security and Paul Whitney.