Monday, November 10, 2014

Freedom to be an ass

Julien Blanc is big news this week.  He is a pickup artist who holds seminars, writes books, and does online coaching to teach men how to pick up women.  He is a raging misogynist asshole who advocates aggressive pickup techniques, both social and physical.  The guy is scum.  This week there is a campaign going to try to get him banned from Canada to make sure he can't give some planned seminars here.  While I think Blanc is an awful human being and I am damn sure he has done a bunch of terrible things I am not comfortable with this campaign.

The trouble with the government stepping in to revoke someone's access to the country like this is that they will inevitably use that power wrongly in future.  Free speech doesn't mean that only the people who you agree with can speak - it means that everyone can.  In particular the government isn't stepping in on the basis of something he said or even something he did but rather they are basing this action on something they think he might say.  Imagine that a speaker was coming to town to give a speech on a subject near and dear to your heart and the government banned them because they might say something the government disagreed with.  In my case I imagine a speaker coming to talk about polyamory at a conference getting denied entry to Canada because the government disapproves of nonmonogamy.  (Which they do, in a big way.)

Now there are plenty of actions against Blanc that get my heartfelt approval.  Picketing the hotel where his seminar will take place?  Great.  Writing angry emails to any organization working with his event?  Super.  Screaming on your blog about what a shitcanoe Blanc is and how you will boycott every business that works with him and unfriend everyone who gives him cash?  I approve!  But I am deeply hesitant to get behind government officials stepping in to decide who gets to come to Canada based on what they may or may not say when they get here.  People and businesses can feel free to take action because they aren't backed by the power of guns in the way the government is.

If Blanc does show up and say things that fall afoul of our hate crime laws or our laws against encouraging criminal behaviour then by all means arrest his ass and park him in a cell.  I will be cheering from the sidelines if that happens, mark my words.  Even so, I don't like the idea of officials banning him based on a social media campaign and his reputation.  A ban on the basis of a criminal record, proven in court, okay, but this isn't the case here.  I liken this to capital punishment.  Sometimes we all know a murderer is guilty and feel like they should die, but the cost of letting the government execute people is that innocents will sometimes die and that is too high a price.


  1. For the record, Julien Blanc doesnt just advocate "aggressive" behaviours. He advocates outright abuse and sexual assault (which is illegal).

  2. He had his visa revoked in Australia recently when protests were organised across social media and the government was made known.