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Decision 2014: COPE Sanctions Cyberbullying and Hate Speech

Sarah Beuhler, COPE Membership Engagement staff personSarah Beuhler, Coalition of Progressive Electors Membership Engagement Co-ordinator

In today's VanRamblings column, I had originally intended to address Vision Vancouver's decision to drop Trish Kelly from their Park Board slate — but with your kind indulgence I will take leave of writing on that subject matter, and instead address the relatively small, yet virulently vocal, coterie of social media 'haters', who this week have waged a remorseless, verging on barbaric, campaign of harassment directed towards me, that previous to this week, I had only a bare academic understanding of, having read about the events that led to the suicides of Rehtaeh Parsons & Amanda Todd.

On Saturday afternoon, July 19th, Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE) Membership Engagement staffperson, Sarah Beuhler, published the following Facebook post, a relatively innocuous, but well-written, 'attack' on me, one of the lighter condemnations to which I have been subjected.

Sarah Beuhler posts on Facebook

Now, I think Sarah's post above represents fair comment — which is not to say that I am not somewhat taken aback by her dismissive "salacious jerk of a white male amateur political blogger" comment, but as I say, she writes well, and even though I am not the angry old white man that Gregor Robertson identified as his NPA opposition earlier in the year — I am old, I am white, I'll give Sarah that — I am nonetheless somewhat taken aback.

I am particularly flummoxed because for some 40+ years I have remained a member in good standing of the Coalition of Progressive Electors. Now, I understand that with the so-called Left Front in charge of COPE, and COPE having virtually expelled David Chudnovsky some months back, not to mention alienating Stuart Parker — each of whom are, heaven forbid, that most dastardly of creatures, a white man — that my membership in Vancouver's 2nd oldest civic party may very well be in jeopardy. I hope not.

Sarah continued to take me out to the woodshed, and give me what for ...

Ray, for Christ's sake, will you back off the martyr's pose. I do not know you "so well" nor am I questioning your bloody humanity ... your intentions are meaningless in this regard, I could only speculate about why you feel the need to play the role you've appointed for yourself in municipal politics. If you are also hoping to be treated as some kind of hero for the crap you post, you must be very disappointed. At this point your blog comes across as attention seeking and from the brain of a disturbed person ... I suggest you ask yourself if the world needs another straight white man blogging in such a hideous manner about the minutiae of municipal politics.

Oh, God — I am so grateful that Frances Bula and Emily Jackson are reporting on the civic political scene. Perhaps The Courier's Mike Howell and The Sun's Jeff Lee should step aside, as well. After all, they're white men, what could either have to say that would be of any possible interest?

And, too, I suppose there was no value in my posting the video, and the audio of the morning press briefing, of Non-Partisan Association mayoral candidate Kirk LaPointe's announcement that he was entering the 2014 Vancouver electoral race. And, clearly it was pointless to post Vision Vancouver's response to Mr. LaPointe entering the race for elected office — who could possibly be interested in that? Salacious material, indeed.

And who in their right mind could give a tinker's damn about the drama that's been going on at the Riley Park Hillcrest community centre association? And one has to imagine, as well, that there's not a single soul in the city of Vancouver who has ever given a passing thought to our city's poor park maintenance, and what that means for the livability of our city — well, not anybody in the Left Front, that's for damn sure. Maybe the rest of us, a handful of Vancouver voters — who knows? I suppose, though, as Sarah writes, all those columns constitute only the inconsequential blathering of the "salacious jerk of a white male amateur political blogger."

For those who are interested, I responded to Sarah in the following form ...

Of course, you're entitled to your opinion — but I think it is small-minded, and ill befits a person of character, as I have believed you to be. Earlier this afternoon, I wrote the following to a friend about you ... "I have had a fun, supportive and pretty darn terrific relationship with Sarah in recent weeks. We have spoken at various events — I am, and have been, explicitly supportive of her, we DM one another regularly on Facebook, and I have felt for some time now that it is Sarah who will keep COPE ED Sean Antrim in line during the course of the upcoming fall election campaign. Sarah is great, possesses an incredibly infectious sense of humour, and is more full of life than anyone I know in COPE. I would reasonably have expected that Sarah - being fair-minded - would have contacted me before setting about to publically call me a "salacious jerk", call me "a white amateur political blogger", after which, invoking the left's "right" to censorship of all which they don't approve, set about to recommend that I "shut down (my) bullshit" blog ... what is wrong with these people? Do they not know that words have consequences — does Sarah not know that she is explicitly calling for censorship of ideas ... what a rocky, unforgiving and dangerous road to go down.

To which Sarah responded: "Censorship? hahahaha. Yeah, okay Ray."

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Upon sharing Sarah's correspondence, an associate replied as follows ...

Who are these uncouth, insensitive people? I think what you are thinking about and writing about is relevant. Don't get into a discussion with these type of folks. Address the matter shortly and to the point, then forget them.

Another friend simply said, "Raymond, don't take this stuff seriously."

Vision Vancouver Council candidate Niki Sharma gives advice

Yes, that is current Vision Vancouver Park Board Commissioner, now a Vision Council candidate, Niki Sharma, offering advice. Here's my reply ...

Ray Tomlin responds to Niki Sharma, on Twitter

Reasoned, responsible, serene — okay, okay, my reply wasn't any of those things. Still, I stand behind the sentiments expressed. Sometime soon, I'll address the "dumped @trishkelly" comment, at length, ad nauseum, on the subject that just doesn't want to seem to die (hint: I'm calling for the re-instatement of Trish Kelly to the Vision Vancouver Park Board slate).

Now, I could continue to write about the near constant, belligerent, abusive, inhumane, belittling, holier-than-thou schoolyard bullies, who from what I can tell are devoid of empathy or even the slightest degree of humanity, the cynical, destructive, & despicable creatures who have waged an unrelenting campaign of hate directed towards me this past week — but why bother?

In point of fact, those who daily write or call me, who stop me on the street, or greet me in a coffee shop, all of my closest associates — ranging across the political spectrum (you know, people of conscience, people possessed of wit) — and even, honest-to-God journalists in this town with whom I speak on a regular basis, remain encouraging and appreciative.

As the urban maxim goes, "Haters gonna hate." VanRamblings is not going anywhere, not now, not soon. I'll be here reporting out on civic issues through until election day, November 15th, and beyond. The 2014 Vancouver municipal election is, perhaps, the most crucial election in Vancouver's 128-year history — the more voices in the fray, the better.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at July 20, 2014 12:31 PM in VanRamblings


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