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Tom Flanagan on child pornography, the backlash and the worst week of his life

What have you learned? Where do you go from here? Tom Flanagan takes questions from Anne Kingston


 

Tom Flanagan is a long-time Conservative political strategist and University of Calgary political science professor. Last week, he created an uproar with comments he made at the University of Lethbridge about child pornography. In their wake, he was fired from his positions as a Wildrose party strategist and a CBC panellist and the university announced his retirement. He spoke with Maclean’s in Toronto.

Q: If anyone understands how incendiary the subject of child pornography can be, you do. You managed Stephen Harper’s 2004 election campaign when it issued the press release,“Paul Martin supports child pornography?” Did warning bells ring when it came up in a forum about the Indian Act?

A: Not really. I was in academic mode. I’d been invited to speak on a university campus. Everything is up for debate; any question can be posed. It never occurred to me someone was taping it.

Q: Your remark,“I do have some grave doubts about putting people in jail because of their taste in pictures,” echoed comments you made in 2009 at the University of Manitoba. But is reducing child porn to “taste in pictures”—like preferring Monet over Manet—accurate when referring to images depicting sexual violation?

A: It’s the kind of thing you say in the classroom to frame an issue for discussion. When I talk about social assistance, I say, “Why do we have social assistance? Why don’t we let the poor starve in the street?” Take that out of context: “Flanagan says, ‘Let people starve in the street.’ ” It’s rhetorical. Pornographic images are pictures. You start from there and say: why are these images so particularly bad?

Q: What is your understanding of what these “pictures” are?

A: Well, there’s a range, from cartoons, movies, video. The nature of the pictures has changed but they are still fundamentally pictorial representation. The question is: what is so bad about these? And I think a number of things are very bad about them, but I never got a chance to provide the answer.

Q: You question whether a link exists between consuming porn and the victimization required to produce it. But doesn’t “looking at pictures” drive demand that causes children to be sexually abused?

A: Oh, I think it does drive demand, in the same way the desire to smoke marijuana drives demand to produce it and sell it. So the question is: what can we as a society do, using governmental instruments to reduce demand? We’ve chosen to use the Criminal Code since 1993 but that still leaves a further question: what do we do by way of penalties under the Criminal Code? Most crimes are not punished by imprisonment in Canada; that’s reserved for the most severe or repeat offences. So is imprisonment the right punishment for someone who is a voyeur or passive consumer? Yes, he’s contributing to the evil by creating the market. But he’s not a molester. I think imprisonment is the right punishment for buying and selling, and certainly for child sexual abuse. But I think there’s a question if it’s proper punishment for possession and viewing, if those are the only offences.

Q: You defined watching child porn as “a real issue of personal liberty” and questioned imprisoning people for doing something that does not “harm another person.” But doesn’t the fact it stokes demand harm children?

A: Yes, but there’s a distinction between direct harm and indirect harm. Normally, the Criminal Code punishes direct harm. I was posing a question. And that was the wrong way to go about it in that forum. But in the classroom, I would pose the question the same way again. I’d say, “What’s the harm?” And the student would say, “You’re building a market for it.” And I’d say, “Yeah, that’s a harm,” and dialectically, we’d go somewhere together.

Q: You’re concerned about the personal liberty of the viewer. What about the children?

A: Well, in Canada, everyone starts with liberty unless it’s taken away. Freedom of expression is protected by the Charter [of Rights and Freedoms] except with restraints that are justified in a free and democratic society. I agree freedom to view child pornography should be restrained. We’ve made it a crime to do it; I’m not challenging that. I didn’t say child pornography should be decriminalized. I said: should we send people to prison? Is that the punishment for the person who is a voyeur and nothing more?

Q: Writing in the National Post, you referred to “child pornography voyeurs” as “people who are not abusers of children but who watch child pornography,” drawing a line between production and consumption. Yet we know there’s overlap. In 2004, Michael Briere, who killed 10-year-old Holly Jones, admitted his fantasies were fuelled by Internet child porn. Theoretically, the line might seem firm but socially, we know it isn’t.

A: I didn’t claim there is a firm line. I am saying there are some people who are only voyeurs. And if they’re discovered, what do we do with them? And I think perhaps a combination of therapy and counselling will be more effective. We do know they’re not going to get that in prison. I’m not denying there’s a problem. I’m saying: what’s the best mode? I’m getting a lot of email from lawyers and social work professors who say, “You’re right on. This is a very severe penalty in the context of Canadian corrections.” Do we need such a severe penalty? Or do we need a therapeutic response? I don’t know. All I did was ask a question about a taboo subject. I don’t want to put people in jail. Some people have to be there for the protection of society. But in general, I don’t think we should. If that makes me a bad Conservative, so be it.

Q: You also volunteered you’d been put on the mailing list of the North American Man Boy Love Association (NAMBLA), an organization perceived as a front for sexual exploitation of children. How did that happen?

A: More than 20 years ago, when I was working for Preston Manning and the Reform party, I was given the job of hunting for racists who might have infiltrated the party. As part of my work, I subscribed to the Heritage Front newsletter to know what these people were doing. It went out of business and they must have sold their mailing list; I suddenly started to get neo-Nazi mailings and the periodical from [NAMBLA].

Q: What was your reaction?

A: I threw it out. I was horrified.

Q: Did you try to get off the list?

A: No, I didn’t think it would work; I didn’t want to be in contact with them. I threw it in the garbage until it stopped. I shouldn’t have brought it up. I’ve talked about it in class because it’s a funny story.

Q: Why is it funny?

A: You start out looking for racists and you end up on the mailing list of a pedophile organization. It’s bizarre.

Q: The backlash to your remarks was immediate. The PMO called them “repugnant.” Alberta Premier Alison Redford said she was “absolutely disgusted” and “it’s a perfect example of people that take ideological arguments too far.” In such abstraction, is there a risk of losing humanity?

A: Of course you can take an argument too far. There are always competing considerations. All I was doing was raising a question. I don’t have any cause here—this is not my area of research. I never went out to speak on this.

Q: The CBC fired you as a commentator and the Wildrose party dumped you as a strategist. Did anyone give you the opportunity to respond?

A: No. It’s like Kafka’s novel, The Metamorphosis. A man wakes up one morning and he’s turned into a cockroach. When I left Lethbridge the next morning, I was a normal human being. By the time I got to Calgary by noon, I was a cockroach; I was a national pariah. Nobody had gotten in touch to ask me what had happened. I did get a call on my car phone from people in the Wildrose party saying they were severing their relationship.

Q: What was your reaction?

A: Disbelief.

Q: The University of Calgary also announced your retirement in June. Is that voluntary?

A: They’ve corrected their statement, but somehow created the impression I’m being pushed out. On Jan. 3, I wrote to the president and expressed intention to retire in the summer. I’m 69 years old; I’ve been teaching 45 years. The university didn’t consult me about the statement. I’m going to be having a chat with the faculty association. The statement was injurious to my reputation. But I’m not harsh on the university. I’ve been controversial in the past and the university has been good to me. This statement was not.

Q: You’ve raised a subject that warrants discussion: how best to deal with people caught with child pornography. Do you think this will cause academic chill?

A: I’m already getting emails from professors saying, “I talk about subjects like this in the classroom; I’m going to have to be more defensive in the future.” I wasn’t teaching a class. This could also happen in the classroom; students could bring in a camera with a prepared question, get a professor to make a statement and put it on YouTube. Everyone teaching in Canada should think of the implications of this.

I think and hope this will turn into a major topic. People have to think about the sanctity of the classroom in the age of social media and what degree of support they’ll get from universities when universities come under pressure in the court of public opinion. It’s one thing to talk about academic freedom; it’s kind of self-serving. In order to teach well, you have to be able to challenge students—to put things in a provocative way. You can’t have someone looking over your shoulder, making sure you use the right words. Students are going to be the losers.

Q: But what is your responsibility? You said it was entrapment. Do you think your answer provided the fuel?

A: It did in that situation. I take responsibility for handling it in a way that was not appropriate. I don’t apologize for raising the question.

Q: To what extent does the schadenfreude stem from your other political views?

A: There’s some of that. I get emails saying, “Die motherf–king asshole.” But I’m getting just as many from people who say, “I’m not a Conservative and never thought I’d be writing you, of all people—you’re an asshole and you always have been and always will be—but on this issue, you’re not being well treated.” And I think it’s great it’s making people think across the spectrum.

Q: What have you learned?

A: I’ve learned people you thought were your friends maybe aren’t.

Q: Where do you go from here?

A: I’m going ahead with my retirement but I’m not going to disappear. I won’t be in any political party. I was getting tired of the low level of thought and the talking points and negative ads. It’s stultifying. I’m not going to miss that. I don’t fit in politics. I’m politically incorrect wherever I go. Universities are the best asylums for someone like me. Maybe I’ll go back and concentrate on pure research. Maybe it will lead to another controversial book.

Q: Is this a subject you might pursue?

A: I’ve thought there is a book here about correctional policies and the notion of moral panics.

Q: Do you see moral panic happening here?

A: I do. My situation is just a small part of a bigger moral panic about child porn. We’ve had this crackdown on child porn as an aftershock of exposure to child abuse. At the same time that we’re getting tough on child pornography, we’ve had this massive sexualization of childhood—images of children portrayed as sexual beings for commercial purposes. It’s horrible. What’s happening is a divided consciousness; on one side, society wants to be more punitive; on the other, [it’s] becoming much more open to treating small children as sexual entities. I think they’re related somehow. Maybe the sexualization of childhood we see drives people to be so ultra-protective. That’s something I’d like to explore.

Q: Do you see irony in the backlash to your statement being in the same week of the Supreme Court’s controversial ruling on hate speech?

A: They’re all, broadly speaking, never-ending battles about the limits of free expression. I think the real irony is that this child porn thing tripped me up when it’s also what helped defeat the Conservative party in 2004 when our war-room staff asked the question about Paul Martin. But Paul Martin got the benefit of the doubt; I didn’t. But Paul Martin had a whole party of people to defend him.

Q: Do you feel alone?

A: Very much, except for my friends. I was accused, judged and condemned in 2½ hours. You’re an individual and political leaders call for you to be fired, which is another angle worth exploring: the power of political leaders turned against private citizens.

Q: But you’re a political architect. You understand how this power matrix operates. This couldn’t have come as a total shock.

A: I’ve seen it before. Maybe I brought it on myself. On one of my last appearances on CBC, I said I was the Trotsky of the conservative revolution and I lived in fear of the ice pick to my head. Maybe this is the ice pick.


 

Tom Flanagan on child pornography, the backlash and the worst week of his life

  1. And the victimhood claims continue, as predicted. The MSM cannot sit by and watch one of their heroes exposed as a vile creature without claiming some form of victimhood or subterfuge.

    • Who’s claiming victim-hood? Who predicted it? Who’s a hero of the MSM? Flanagan? Hardly. Exposed as a vile creature? Spare us the wretched perversion of too-flippantly stated bits of rhetoric.

      In short, what the hell are you going on about?

      • a) Friends of Flanagan
        b) I did, last week, when the CBC and others began distancing themselves from Flanagan
        c) Flanagan
        d) Yes
        e) Indeedly
        f) Yes, his views on Native Peoples have been vile from day 1. Last week we learned that he doesn’t think too deeply about the victims or consequences of child porn, either.
        In short, what the hell are you asking about?

        • Sorry, are you using MSM to mean mainstream media?

          • …Briguy and every other internet user who refers to the media. Did you honestly not know that THAT’S the abbreviation used?

          • Of course I recognized the abbreviation. But that would imply that Briguy was suggesting that a former conservative strategist was one of the MSMs heroes. And nobody is that stupid, are they? Flanagan shows up on the CBC, or did, but certainly doesn’t represent the views of the corporation. The National Post (which Briguy has elsewhere delicately dubbed the Nazional Pest) editorial board is generally sympathetic to his views. And I’m sure the Toronto Star despises him. Most of the time, even before this stupid kerfuffle, he gets tagged with the epithet ‘controversial’. Hardly a ‘hero’ to the people who bring us our news.

          • Really? Because the Calgary Herald fawns over him, the CBC has always treated him with undo respect, and he represents the views of the far more conservative press galleries of CTV, Global, the Grope and Flail, and the Pest. Remember that every print outlet in this country, aside from the Star, endorsed his team for the past election.

  2. the guys a perv. nuff said.

    • It’s pretty clear he isn’t. He just made some points which don’t make sense when you consider their consequences.

      • So why is he on NAMBLA’s mailing list?

          • If at any time in your household you feel threatened, please call 911. There are people there to protect you.

          • Yes, the ugliness on view in this thread is frightening.

          • didn’t work when I needed police here in Alberta – the town Flanagan lives in

      • This is about as “to your face” as you’ll get.

      • How about asking your dad why the hell he’s on NAMBLA’s mailing list, why he can’t handle being asked about his positions in a public place WHEN HE’S A UNIVERSITY PROFESSOR, and how being videotaped in public — a common and reasonable occurance — is “ambushing”?

        I have the moral integrity to question my parents if and when they say things that appalling. Why don’t you?

        • Exactly – he is a university prof but not a good enough teacher to be able to discuss the topic without showing any bias. He showed bias.

          • university profs aren’t expected to teach without showing any bias. intelligent profs are able to use their biases to promote more lively discussion and debate. Profs do it so that the kids will get offended and respond with the opposite bias. Then they have a proper dialectical debate that ends with both people having a good understanding of the other persons position, as well as a better understanding than they had before of their own position.

            This is why university is so cool. This is also why I can tell you’ve never been to one, or payed any attention in class if you have.

            Your comments are so ignorant it’s actually hilarious.

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          • I wrote a paper one time that was literally the antithesis of my profs dissertation. I got an A on that paper and an A in the class.

            They don’t want you to agree with them, they want you to learn how to think and argue rationally. Taking a liberal arts degree isn’t really a way of studying ‘history’, or ‘political science’. It’s a way of learning how to think properly, using logical arguments and evidence to support your claims, within reason.

            If you can argue your view in a way that makes sense, your prof will give you a good grade, whether or not they agree with your view.

            The only reason the best new innovations come from outside universities is because people outside universities don’t have midterms and finals to slow them down :P

          • I was thinking of going back to school taking sociology. I first wanted to discuss my views with prof’s to see if there would be a chance of me graduating because I definitely disagree with today’s thinking. I would fail no doubt about it.

            While living in a shelter I crossed paths with the best sociology professor from the university of Calgary. he was the best, I would have loved to take his class. but he had to leave due to stress and mental health issues along with 20 some other staffers. Apparently the people he works with are pretty abusive. If you have aggressive, abusive professors you can’t think at your fullest potential. If I’m in a highly stressed environment I get as dumb as a rock.

            I’ve raised 4 kids. Schools all diagnosed them as learning disabled yet at home they are genius’s. At age 19 without high school the university of Waterloo thought my son was a graduate of every engineering department. I teach my kids to be unlimited thinkers, think outside the box, question what you believe to be true because what you believe is impossible is in fact possible. School is filled with this thinking “it’s impossible”, “can’t be done”. if they didn’t have this thinking then they would have made improvements to justice, economics, medical. Now we are about to feel the depression of our own making due to our levels of stupidity lol

        • You obviously didn’t read the article as the NAMBLA mailing list question was explained and in the past but your laziness did not stop you from wasting people’s time with a question already answered.

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        • You are an idiot!

      • This comment was deleted.

        • Luckily, Canada does not belong to you despite your proprietary attitude because wherever you are must be an ugly place, judging by your comments.

  3. God help me but I think I see his point.

    The other reactions here merely reinforce that point in my opinion.

    • Pretty belated point. He’s just had time to think about it and he’s trying to do damage control.

    • It’s called spin, Phil. Don’t fall for it. The video speaks for itself.

      • you’re spinning out of control poljunkie. I’m getting dizzy watching

  4. The reminder of his role in the “Paul Martin supports child pornography” is a good one. My opinion has switched from “I could see why an organization like a political party or public broadcaster might take the action it did” to “haha sucker, serves you right.”

    • It is an astonishingly apt irony – even karma of sorts – when you let it sink in. But i give credit to TF for at least acknowledging it himself right now. I find that now the man is out there in the cold, abandoned by his so called political friends, i can see him as a human being. Once that happens i find little or no pleasure in mocking his pain.

      • This comment was deleted.

        • Oh wow! Really?

        • From your comment I am going to assume and condemn you as a sadist. You get off from other people’s pain. So I condemn you as a morally repugnant disgusting individual who watches snuff films. I suggest that your computer be seized and searched by the RCMP. When evidence of viewing snuff films is found, you are to be arrested for murder. You are obviously sadistic. From your “endless pleasure” comment, I also unreasonably condemn you as an animal abuser. Because I condemn you for being an animal abuser, I am going to assume that you and everyone in your life drowns puppies. Unfortunately since you are no one in academic and political circles, this condemnation remains in this comment thread. But how does it feel to be outed as a sadist?

    • Exactly. You want to play rough during a campaign by trying to associate a political opponent with child pornography, then you should shut up and accept this backlash now.
      I’m a political conservative, but I’m also a social liberal who fully supports freedom of speech and thought as long as they are tempered by responsibility.

  5. smart guy with time to compose himself, but we all saw the tape….guilty

    • There’s so much irony in that statement, given you’ve probably read this interview. I doubt if any of it is likely to occur to you though.

    • A weak character who is just superficial and slick enough to make it to the top of politics in Alberta. Thank god he’s gone.

  6. All I know is, the federal conservatives sure do like to talk about child pornography and pedophiles. And Anne Kingston: credit where credit is due for this terrific interview — you asked great questions.

  7. Normally i would have some difficulty in generating any sympathy for Flanagan. But he’s got a very good point here re: academic freedom and what looks like a targeted gotcha style take out of the man. I’ve long despised him for his provocative views on Aboriginal Canadians…essentially doing all within his power to both deny and denigrate their historical rights in this country. Frankly i’ve come to the conclusion that the man was a racist in this regard. Now i wonder if he wasn’t just using the academic provocative pointed stick there too? If that’s the case,he was empathy deficient in the very least. He’s hurt a lot of FNs people who are not schooled in that particular academic technique. For that he should apologize – unless he believes all that bunkum he peddles about them just being the first in the door and not privileged over any other late comer. In that case i guess he is a Conservative asshole who’s entittled to his opinions.

    The temptation to engage in schadenfreude is enormous; but the two are only perhaps tenuously linked. He deserves more than what his so called political friends and institutions like the CBC have dished out. As a liberal i’m particularly disappointed in the reaction of the CBC – but not entirely surpised. It is hardly a bastion of brave journalism. Covering its ass like so many others here. You have my reluctant sympathy Tom Flanagan.

    • I’ve always felt that people should apologize whenever they make arguments using words that might be unfamiliar to others or with more than three syllables. I understand them, or course, but there are people who’s literacy just isn’t that good. (In comment sections, for instance.) So you can see how they’d be offended when they don’t understand things, and for that, the argument maker should apologize.

      That’s not enough of course. We’ll never achieve true social justice until every last perpetrator of ungoodthink is forced to engage in ongoing public apology and self-denunciation, but it would be a good start.

      • Satire, right? Please.

        • I don’t think my comment meets the minimum literary qualifications for satire, but sarcasm, certainly.

          • Of course, now I should probably apologize to those not schooled in that particular technique….

    • He’s had his day in the sun, it’s time he was gone. He’s done a lot of harm.

    • He was being held to account for statements he had previously put on record. As a political veteran, he should have expected that.

      • But he was in an academic setting. And who was trying to hold him to account? He says that question came out of nowhere, or was planted. Remember i don’t like the guy – his politics anyway. I’ve no particular interest in defending him. But he has a point about academic freedom. I don’t at all like the mob/group think like mentality of the people who went after him. Which seems to have come from both sides of the political spectrum.

        • kcm2 and what of the other times he was the question and said the exact same thing? This is Tom Flanagan we are talking about. Are you suggesting that you believe he wouldn’t have made that comment in a non-academic setting? I’ve seen him in the Globe and Mail quote Machiavelli about raping women. Don’t fall for it. He was being paid top dollars for his ability to spin.

          • I can only judge him on what i know, which isn’t very much. He’s certainly said some things that has pissed me off. Maybe i don’t know the worst, i don’t know?

        • Speaking in an academic setting does not excuse morally repugnant statements. It would have been better had he addressed the issue at its source; i.e. the production of child pornography. He was in a position to call for more concerted efforts to root out these abusers, rather than stating that watching it was a victimless crime.

    • Tom has been backtracking like mad but he is lying. There was a big camera there, the shoulder kind. The first thing he has said in every apology was that he was trapped. He wasn’t trapped. He is arguing that people who “only” consume child porn but don’t pay for it or distribute it shouldn’t spend any time in jail. He says “therapy and counseling” as though they are two different things. He has no clue what he is talking about. Yes, they should receive treatment but they can get it in jail. One of the functions of the prison system is punishment. Consequences for grown-ups.

      • You better be prepared to build lots more prisons then, cuz there are literally millions of people out there consuming this crap. I don’t know the answer either, but i suspect just piling them into prisons will solve little. The kind of public shaming and shunning, loss of job and public credibility, TF has perhaps deservedly gotten would be enough to make me not want to touch the stuff.

  8. Congratulations on your continuing efforts to rehabilitate Tom Flanagan. His assertion that he didn’t know he was being recorded is – of course – contradicted by the many cameras clearly visible at the lecture. Everything else he’s got to say is colored by that original, untrue statement: we’re well rid of him.

  9. may be if he had actually found some it would be believeable…tremember Carny Norland claimed to be uncover spying on white sepremists after he shot an unarmed native man in front of two cops in Prince Albert Sk.?

  10. Dear Tom Flanagan, Sorry to hear that you are having a rough time and the backlash is shocking to you. However, now you have direct experience of what Indigenous people in the country feel every time you have opened your mouth to speak about us or put pen to paper to write about us. Your words have harmed us over and over and contributed to the racism that we experience daily. Now you know what oppression and discrimination actually feel like. It’s crappy, isn’t it?

    • I don’t think he would understand the feeling, he’d need 100 years worth of these types of bad weeks to fully get the true feeling

    • If First Nations people spent a tenth of the energy they spend on hating Tom Flanagan on scrutinizing their own leadership, they would be closer to the source of their troubles. There are too many chiefs (over 600 with some tribes only a handful of members) disproportionately rewarding themselves and friends and family in the old fashioned tribal way at the expense of other tribe members and all tax paying Canadian citizens. Where is the high dudgeon over this injustice? TF and other analysts are not responsible for the dire state of natives on some reserves. The answers to the very real problems of First Nations can also be found among a sadly smaller group of Native leaders who treat all their members fairly and are energetically driving toward economic independence. They have their eye on a healthier future, not bewailing a tragic past for which no living non-Native is responsible but expected to bear guilt and pay and pay with no end in sight. Since Natives do not carry forward responsibility for the sins of their fathers, why the double standard for non-Natives? And why when taking tax monies of people who have done you no wrong is there such an allergy to accountability for the funds? Where are the billions being directed by Native leadership since proper housing and clean water are not being achieved?

  11. Absolute nonsense. The tape is clear. When he said that child porn does not harm others, it wasn’t a question. It was a statement which he’s made before. Not to mention the fact that we are talking about a man who has made equally outrageous comments when he wasn’t in “academic mode.” What’s his excuse for calling for the assassination of Julian Assange? I know spin when I see it. Nice try, Flanagan. It might work on others but not on me.

  12. Tom Flanagan is a bigot and racist and has proven that through his books about the Indian Act and Indians. Now he also reveals the fact that he thinks child porn is a victimless crime. I can’t believe he had so much power in Canadian politics but he has/had his sycophants.

    • You obviously know nothing about him. You also did not read the article. Say he is a bigot and racist to my face. And my sister’s. Again you know nothing about him.

      • You go to an audience of First Nations people, and you tell them that they’re wrong. To their faces.

          • Rebecca, I understand your desire to defend your father. Who wouldn’t its your Dad. Unfortunately, your allegiance is misguided.

            As stated by Stephen Bryce, there are numerous public documents that any of us can request that will clearly show a pattern of bigotry, racism and elitism by him. If you are too blinded by your family ties to see the truth then I feel bad for you.

            You should be ashamed and dishonored by your father and all the harm and negativity he has fostered.

            I am puzzled that you keep asking people to make their comments to your face…Why is that?

            I assume you are knowledgeable enough to know that online articles can be read around the world so how could you ever expect them to make their comments in person…its just ridiculous.

            What you are really doing is lashing out at people that are attacking your Dad whether their statements about him are true.

            If we are ever to grow as humans we must strive for humility to see our wrong doings and faults acknowledge we are in error and work to correct and improve ourselves.

            I hope you are smart enough to not follow in your fathers beliefs.

          • I have no problem with people disagreeing with him. I have a problem with the personal insults thrown at him from behind anonymous usernames.

          • do you not think your father throws insults towards native people? do you not think your father just insulted every victim of abuse? live by the sword, die by the sword of your own creation

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          • Disgusting yourself.its on record – get the Indian out of the child.
            That’s simply an idiotic lie. Easily disproven a dozen times over. Do you dismiss the holocaust as cavalierly ?

          • You’d better figure out the difference between “personal insults”, which there are none here – and open discussion of the facts. We are Canadians, we are free to discuss public life whether you’d like to suppress us or not.

          • but your discussion of public life includes a whole bunch personal insults? you are confused…

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          • Obviously plagiarized from Hitchens – nice turn of phrase, no argument

          • how do you think FN people feel? your father has spent his life destroying them – millions globally have been insulted by your father – what gives him that right while nobody else can play by his rules?

          • His whole approach, what he’s been trying to do to FN, and how he’s apparently succeeded in undermining them.

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          • Clearly you know zip about FNs. as individuals , as Human beings, to make such a moronic sweeping Statement. Maybe you should take a good long look in the mirror yourself buddy!

          • Just another backwater racist.

      • Um, have you actually SEEN what he’s said in public about Indians? He justifies conquering them, in the article traced like so:

        Flanagan, Thomas (2000 month=June). First Nations? Second Thoughts (1 ed.). Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press. pp. 304.

        Frankly, if you don’t know about public statements made BY YOUR OWN FATHER, then don’t you bloody dare get on a high horse about us knowing nothing — and make threats at your own risk.

        • I think it’s a case of like father like daughter- she learn’t from the master

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        • Hey, I’m gonna share your comments here if you don’t mind, as you epitomize the precepts of your political persuasion.
          I definitely think others may enjoy reading your unique take. Do you have a blog?

      • This comment was deleted.

        • TF may be one. But you’re just confirming he has company out there.

      • maybe it’s you who doesn’t know your own father

  13. I thought his tone was sarcastic when he said “looking at pictures”, which lent the feeling that he thought it was harmless. I found it shocking, his attitude was really cavalier. I don’t think he’s a pervert himself, but he is excusing pedophiles, and since he is not a child, nor is he someone who is vulnerable to attack like that – he has no bloody business saying whether it’s okay to look at those photos. See also the excellent article in the Montreal Gazette on why he is so wrong. Not only was he flaunting this – but he was doing it in front of vulnerable First Nations people, who not only have suffered this kind of abuse, but are way over-represented in our prison system, thanks to his policies.

    I will never forgive him for his campaign of racism against our First Nations people, I wondered why it seemed to be ramping up starting at least ten years ago – awareness of who was behind it, all in the interest of getting oil barons’ hands on Reserve land — and he can just go chew on his inappropriately-worn buffalo hide over that one. Karma has been served.

  14. Now he knows how Helen Thomas felt.

  15. I guess this shows what you say has consequences, in many ways, we see exposed those who ripped TF down & TF for ripping others down. Did he not ask for the assassination of an individual on national T.V.? I think there are other lectures who might have had more people defend them, because though they also use this style of teaching, they do not also use their talents in other positions to defame others. I think this also say’s a lot about “political” friends, at times they eat their own, nobody is immune to that, no matter what position or office they hold. Some parties are worse than others for it, we know that. I would guess the real friends of TF are mostly standing by him, ..as his daughter is. That is how it should be. The question is what did TF learn, and yes, as Tom has said what does this tell us about our country? If how this topic was handled has made it easier for some to excuse their use of child porn, then the real victims would be the children. I personally am not aware of his writing on FN issues, from the sounds of it, I wouldn’t like the read anyway. Yes, I have compassion for TF & for his daughter here on this site defending her dad. I also have compassion for the many faceless victims of a person who used his talents, in a job of influence to also hurt others .. ( I have also said things in my life that I wish I could take back. ) This was a good interview by Anne Kingston.

  16. I can’t believe that I fell into this insane game of round robin! Everyone is entitled to their beliefs and thoughts. I have no problem with people disagreeing with me, my father, or anyone! It’s Canada! I do have a problem with insulting remarks made behind anonymous usernames. That was my challenge to you. Kudos to those not hiding- regardless of your opinion.

    • This comment was deleted.

      • Hey enough with the abuse, you are an idiot!

        • This comment was deleted.

          • you’re abusive
            and stupid
            you’re probably wearing your shoes on the wrong feet right now

            and I bet you just checked too

            dumb ass

          • only a dumb ass would call another abusive while not recognizing just calling another a dumb ass is abusive. not exactly a smart thing to do making you look like the stupid one not me – but thanks for trying – please give it another try, maybe you’ll get it right some day

        • He’s right. You might not like the way it’s said, but basically Flanagan has said that it’s okay for someone to have pictures of ANY CHILD, and in other people’s view – that would include his own children – being sexually assaulted. Apparently to Ms Rebecca Flanagan, he’s only speaking of “certain” children. Would those be throwaway children? You know – like First Nations children? Or children of the poor? Where do you draw the line? Child porn is a danger to ALL children, and an offence to all sane adults.

          • I’m a she lol but thank you for seeing my point of view – what is good for his daughters should be good for all daughters – children – people

          • you’re an idiot
            such a big idiot
            he never said it was ‘okay’ you idiot
            he still wants it to be illegal to possess or view the photos, you fucking idiot

            he just said that sending someone to prison might not be the best course of action for breaking that law, which is a question that is absolutely valid and deserves some intelligent discussion

            idiot

          • the question begs to be asking – why does Flanagan pose alternatives for only the worst social crime possible and not all other crimes? If health care treatment is an option, why not use that option for all other crimes? And why did he leave out the fact that we have no health care treatment that works? if treatment actually worked, why doesn’t it work for victims of crime?

            I do agree we need to rethink justice but along with that we need to rethink health care – both are dysfunctional

          • he probably would propose alternative treatments for lots of other crimes!! but that wasn’t the question he was asked.

            The guy doesn’t like sending people to prison, period. It’s not that he wants to protect pedophiles, he wants to protect everyone from allowing themselves to fall into a police state! which is exactly what will happen to all of us if we don’t condemn people for freaking out about every tiny little comment a guy makes off hand.

          • I’d question his belief that he doesn’t like sending people to prison when he wanted Julian Assange to be assassinated. All problems are nothing more then a lack of information – get enough information and problems get solved. wikileaks is just trying to get information out – the more information we can get the more we can solve global problems.

            now we are all biased, wikileaks will hold a biased as Flanagan has his biases – if freedom of speech is allowed, freedom of information must also be allowed. we shouldn’t have public figures, prof’s making statements to assassinate another at the same time say he doesn’t like people going to prison while Bradley Manning is in prison for very moral reasons.

            you have to admit, outrage is bring out the debate that needs to take place. We all just need to calm down and have a logical debate.

      • endinghomelessness: He never said that pictures of my being raped and tortured is the lowest level of harm anyone could do to me. He never said child pornography is the lowest level of harm that could be done to anyone. Now I am logging off as it was stupid to try to communicate with anonymous commentators and those who didn’t read the interview.

        • yes I believe that is in fact what you are defending – your father is saying just that. How different he would see the point of view changed if it were his own daughter. Stupid of you to try to communicate with REAL people on an internet forum? does Stupid run in the family? of course you can have a conversation, you just can’t run away when your point of view is proven to be flawed. You can’t handle the debate as your father clearly can’t handle the debate he started. Run away only says you can’t defend yourself or your father because there is no defense

          • The Montreal Gazette editor said it best “Why Tom Flanagan is Wrong”.

          • Have you ever heard of a fallacy? Did anybody ever teach you how to argue in a constructive, logical way? Those were both rhetorical questions – but I’m sure you knew that already given your surprising familiarity with rhetorical devices. You claim to have ‘proven’ her arguments false, but you haven’t proven a single thing? (other than the fact that you are a completely certifiable candidate for euthanasia) You claim to desire communication with ‘REAL’ people on an internet forum (haha), but your username is not a name, and your photo is a shitty drawing? (ignoring the fact that everyone on the internet is a fat man in their basement)

            I’m not going to make the same mistake that poor Rebecca has made here in trying to communicate with you reasonably, but I will tell you this: 80% of the long-term homeless people in Calgary suffer from mental illness, and the other 20% are either incredibly incompetant, or incredibly unlucky. Pretending that the 3rd category represents the majority of the whole will never bring anybody closer to living in a world without homelessness, and pretending that you don’t belong the both of the first two categories is shameful to yourself and offensive to everyone else.

            Go get a real job. Stop trolling this poor girl who’s just trying to defend her father from ignorant sphincters like you with entitlement complexes and to much free time.

            signed – a kid who has never met Tom or Rebecca, and doesn’t necessarily agree with their views, but would literally fight to the death to defend their right to express them, especially if the guy I got to kill was this fucking idiot named endinghomelessness

          • if you want to give your statements some value you might want to increase your level of intelligence. You don’t want to make the same mistake as poor Rebecca in trying to communicate reasonably – so how does your unreasonable manor of communication work for you? Or is this your concept of being reasonable where you don’t want to do something but do it anyways?

            If 80% of long term homeless people suffer from mental illness and all mental illness’s are created by causes – environment – that suggests the environments within Alberta are causing health issues. We live in systems and all systems are dysfunctional. These dysfunctional systems affect society – causing homelessness and mental illness. You might want to research holodynamics which for more then 20 years has cured every level of mental illness without pills. it’s success is based on cure root causes to cure dis-ease.

            This concept also suggests improvements on our flawed systems – justice and prison causes more harm on society then good – it would be a tool that supports Flanagan’s view however he’d have to include all crimes and not just the one’s he is favoring. Should he open that pandoraze box – he is up against the pharmaceutical industry.

            There are levels of stupidity – the idiot who can’t recognize a bigger picture, the moron who recognizes a bigger picture but knows they don’t have the answers, and the imbecile who recognizes a bigger picture and thinks he/she has the answer. You comment makes you look like the imbecile.

          • I like your last paragraph a lot. I probably did make myself seem like the imbecile, but the fake username I have chosen and the fact that I am replying to you makes me seem like something even worse than your definition of idiot! My intention was to portray myself as your definition of moron, which I probably failed at. Afterall, Socrates is my #1 idol and he taught me that I don’t know a damn thing.

            All I’m saying is that you and all the other commenters in here who are hating on Dr. Flanagan need to realize he was simply trying to give an educated response to a question that he was not prepared for; and that the degree to which he has been crucified for doing that is completely unacceptable in a society where free speech is supposed to be valued and protected.

            I gave you an upvote there btw :)

          • Thank you :) just as we both aren’t enemies all those who are flaming Flanagan are not his enemies. If you can see the bigger picture of what is going on – he is starting a global debate that needs to happen. What is happening to him today is what he has done to Canadian Natives for generations – it’s tough being crucified. We are like oysters – each one of us – even Flanagan have a perfect pearl inside us but to develop that we need the irritation. Flanagan is the irritation for Canadian Natives and they will grow and become the perfect pearls they were meant to be through the experience. Now the tables are turned and Flanagan is just experiencing all the irritation that will bring out the pearl in him – lets hope it doesn’t take him hundreds of years to get there.

            respect to you
            Judy

    • Dean Del Mastro, Conservative Minister – has the same problem with people using pseudonyms. That’s the whine of the dictator as far as I’m concerned.

    • What is the obsession with conservatives and pen names? I ask on behalf of Mark Twain, not myself.

  17. For all of his “political science” mastery, he sure blew it big time.

    • That’s inarguable but which of us hasn’t let our mouth run unchecked by our brain at least once in a way that we would not want recorded and played in an endless loop? Let that person cast the first stone. Serial murderers get less public abuse than Flanagan has.

      • yet Canadian natives have endured so much more then what Flanagan is getting – this is only one week – how many years have the endured?

  18. repost from comment board —-> Mr. Harris, I am a
    computer forensic examiner that works for the Internet Crimes Against Children
    Task Force in the USA. Having been chronically exposed to child exploitation
    material for years during the performance of my job duties, I can only gather
    from Mr. Flanagan’s statements that either, a) he is severely ignorant of what
    “child pornography” really is (not generally cutsie naked kids, but
    instead graphic depictions of the true rape and assault of children as young as
    infants in diapers)

    or, b) he is making a very poor attempt (as pedophiles often
    do) of masking his own predilections. In either case, his statements were
    disgusting, though my gut instinct (which is very finely tuned these days)
    tells me the professor has dabbled in this type of material way more than he is
    stating, and has the warped sense of a true pedophile who does not classify the
    memorialization of sexual abuse as a big deal. His statements, I venture, had
    nothing to do with politics, but an ill attempt to justify his own
    “tastes.” It’s too bad that search warrants can’t be based on pure
    observational experience, because Mr. Flanagan would not only lose his jobs,
    but his personal freedoms as well. Thank you very much for the article.

    http://www.ipolitics.ca/2013/02/28/where-does-tom-flanagan-think-child-porn-comes-from/

  19. repost from comment board —-> Mr. Harris, I am a
    computer forensic examiner that works for the Internet Crimes Against Children
    Task Force in the USA. Having been chronically exposed to child exploitation
    material for years during the performance of my job duties, I can only gather
    from Mr. Flanagan’s statements that either, a) he is severely ignorant of what
    “child pornography” really is (not generally cutsie naked kids, but
    instead graphic depictions of the true rape and assault of children as young as
    infants in diapers)

    or, b) he is making a very poor attempt (as pedophiles often
    do) of masking his own predilections. In either case, his statements were
    disgusting, though my gut instinct (which is very finely tuned these days)
    tells me the professor has dabbled in this type of material way more than he is
    stating, and has the warped sense of a true pedophile who does not classify the
    memorialization of sexual abuse as a big deal. His statements, I venture, had
    nothing to do with politics, but an ill attempt to justify his own
    “tastes.” It’s too bad that search warrants can’t be based on pure
    observational experience, because Mr. Flanagan would not only lose his jobs,
    but his personal freedoms as well. Thank you very much for the article.

    • I agree. Flanagan needs help. It is sad his daughter has been subjected to this but why she chose to defend him here mystifies me.

  20. This piece of pfuckin filth still doesn’t get it. The freak is utterly lacking in self-awareness.

    But thank you to the interviewer for bringing up the filth’s involvement in the attack on Paul Martin. How utterly sweet that this squirming, $hit-coated maggot went down regarding the same sick subject he tried to smear others with.

    They’ll mention this story the day you kick the bucket, filth…

  21. This piece of pfuckin filth still doesn’t get it. The freak is utterly lacking in self-awareness.

    But thank you to the interviewer for bringing up the filth’s involvement in the attack on Paul Martin. How utterly sweet that this squirming, $hit-coated maggot went down regarding the same sick subject he tried to smear others with.

    They’ll mention this story the day you kick the bucket, filth…

  22. i’ve met tom only once – some years ago — but have followed his public career —
    as a socialist i often disagree with many of his basic positions but have always
    found him reasonable and clearly spoken — never devious — i am sorry that he mispoke
    or was trapped on this matter — i hope Tom takes up serious studies of the issues raised by this incident — and maintains his public profile — we all need to hear from thoughtful people
    such as Tom Flanagan — jack murray

  23. I believe that Mr. Tom Flanagan has been treated in a very inhuman way. From the Prime Minister to the CBC, they have all acted very unprofessional. We are no longer lead by politicians who have good advisors. On this issue and many others like the present crime prevention laws etc. our present government is in knee jerk reaction. This will prove to be their own down fall as history will prove it. “As you do unto other so it shall be done on to you.” Prime Minister Harper and CBC, the other provincial governments and Universities, I believe you owe Mr Flanagan an apology. Something tells me that Mr Flanagan is going to have the last word on this issue. Courage Mr Flanagan……. The truth will set you free.

  24. I gotta laugh – if Tom Flanagan believes he was trapped, do all Tom’s fan’s and supporters not recognize he is guiding them down into the trap with him? To support Tom Flanagan is to basically admit you don’t care about the torturing of kids, you side with those who get their rocks off by looking at the worst crime possible. Tom is only the bait to catch our social criminals – well done Tom, you’re the worm that catches the fish.

    • You just said it yourself!!!!! God you are actually painfully stupid. It literally causes me pain thinking about how stupid you are. This is a quote from you, in case you can’t figure that out because you’re so stupid:

      “those who get their rocks off by [LOOKING] at the worst crime”

      you just said it. All they do is LOOK at the worst crime. I agree with you that the worst crime is the act of forcing those poor kids to do all that filthy stuff, but you seemingly draw no distinction between the people who FORCE THE KIDS TO DO IT, and the fat neckbeard basement dwellers who JUST LOOK AT IT in their basements, without ever getting close to a real life child.

      And don’t get my words twisted either you idiot. I’m not saying that the people who just look at it are good people, I agree with you that they are breaking the law too. I just think that the people who FORCE THE KIDS to do it, are considerably more messed up than the people who download it and look at it cause they’re pervs.

      Example: When you took all those lines of coke than one night when you were 20, you were in possession of cocaine. On that same night, Pablo Escobar was producing and trafficing more cocaine than you have ever imagined in your wildest dreams. Pablo Escobar only had a market for his cocaine because of idiots like you who broke the law, that is a fact you idiot cocaine lover. But!!!! If you got caught with your $60 sack of shitty cut coke, you would not be sentenced to the same punishment as Mr. Escobar!! That is because you committed different, yet undeniably interdependent crimes. If you want to live in a world where you get shot to death on a rooftop in a crazy hollywood chase scene everytime you decide to go skiing, be my guest and keep talking. Otherwise, you better check yourself, and see if you really believe in the rhetoric you’re spreading.

      • I realize you are challenged so I’ll try to explain it a bit clearer for you – I said the worst crime possible is the viewing of these acts – without the consumer there would be no market. the worst crime causes another outrageous crime.

        give it another try, I’m sure your efforts will be your own education.

  25. That’s embarrassing. I broke the golden rule by commenting before watching the link. It sure looked like TF was making an explicit link between ridiculous kind of absolutist rhetoric that libertarians routinely peddle, rather than as he claims in this interview merely playing devils advocate. I still don’t like they way so many so called friends piled on before giving him a chance to defend himself – but it does appear from the video he was defending the indefensible and now he’s doing damage control.

    Anyone get the logical link between the indian act and TF’s previous child porn statement, that the INM guy put to TF? The sound wasn’t that great. Was it a legit question or was it entrapment of sorts? TF should have known better to answer if he was aware the camera was rolling, given the general air of hostiliity in the room anyway. He has himself crossed the line from academic license to public advocacy for neo con causes many times – it has caught up with him finally.

    Now that i know he was taken out by INM i’m inclined to agree with most of the commenters …you play with the bull, you get the horn some day Tom. Looks like you got gored finally.

  26. instant karma got ya Tom!!!

  27. Flanagan really hates that he’s a victim of his own methods. Karma is sweet.

  28. Tom Flanagan is the quintessential individual that illustrates the profound empty space in the education of Canadians in general: he gives us the impression he may not even know how to spell the word ETHICS. He has the chips on his shoulder as an academic, worse he thinks academics should just debate ideas for the sake of it, without any ethical context, without any ethical dimension. He triggers in us and reminds us the misplaced thought of our prison system that criminals when given free University education will be rehabilitated. He is the quintessential person who illustrates to us that high education without ethics is just garbage. Think of it, even criminals who are doing time, are sickened by pedophiles. Flanagan prefers to debate and question the abhorrent abuse of children at the same level as marihuana. We feel nauseatic

  29. Sometimes smart people (i.e. Flanagan) say dumb things. Doesn’t justify crucifixion. Read his work. Look at his results. He is one of the most effective political operators in Canada, whether we agree with his opinions or not.

    • yes his results have been pretty effective in harmful to millions of people

  30. Well, Mr. Tailfeathers hates Mr. Flanagan`s guts, decided to go for a professional assasination, set a trap, and succeeded. Was it fair? Or ethical? Let people decide.

    • One more issue – what will be the concequences – not just for him, but for the Academia in general.The overall damage in quality of lectures and following discussions? Was it worth? I doubt it.

  31. Can’t wait for the day that McLeans gives as much coverage to one First Nations person as they’ve given to TF in this article. Oh wait. I’ll probably never live long enough to see that.

  32. It seems clear to me that this was a setup to “get” Tom Flanagan for his critical comments on FN. it seems reasonable to me to at least question whether automatic prison sentences are the best approach to consumers of child pornography.

  33. Tom Flannigan’s stand on incarcerating viewers of child porn makes perfect sense; what would they learn in jail, besides how to become life-long criminals? A convicted viewer of child-porn would already be punished by the adverse pulicity and needs to be treated, not incarcerated.

    • if that is true for child porn criminals then it’s true for all criminals – why the support for only people who love watching kids torture? Why only those who are the driving force of the most sickest crime? Most victims of sexual abuse end up on drugs and often end up in jail – why do we not have compassion for victims of abuse?

  34. This Nadine Lumley is a Class Act. A real lady. She’s just contributing to the stereotype with her foul language. Seems that she did not understand that you were making fun of her, FancyLad. She’s so dim she was probably flattered.

  35. Looks as though Nadine’s foul comments have been removed. Good job.

  36. He is right. Prison is not the right punishment for purchasers of kiddie porn. Castration is.

  37. my observation- huge efforts now going towards National Post advertisers questioning if they support viewing child porn not be criminalized. Advertisers are leaving National Post. Freedom of speech lives and is strong but consumers freedom to purchase says we don’t have to buy what you are selling.

  38. I do hope this is the ice pick.

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