Yesterday Canadians were introduced to a relatively new phenomenon. One that is well known to anyone in the resource extraction industries or with right-of-center views but is much less well known elsewhere: the concept of crybullying and the existence of crybullies. You might not have ever heard the term so let’s start with a definition. A “crybully” has been defined as:
Someone who uses the perceived righteousness of a social justice cause as a pretext to abuse others, and then plays the victim when confronted about that abuse.
We have all seen it but most have not known what to call it. For a classic example of crybullying (or crymobs in this case) watch this video where a reporter simply trying to take pictures of a demonstration in a public space is physically assaulted by protesters. The photographer, who is standing still, is repeatedly bumped by these protesters who then turn around and demand that he be arrested for assaulting them. These activists have a simple approach as Daniel Greenfield (who has written a lot on the topic) points out:
If you don’t fight back, the crybully bullies you. If you fight back, the crybully cries and demands a safe space because you made him feel unsafe.
As for yesterday’s event, the Canadian House of Commons was preparing for an important vote, but prior to the vote the members were milling about on the floor after a break. The House was being called to order and the Honourable Members were moving to their seats. At this point two members of the NDP caucus apparently decided that it would be funny to physically block the path of a senior member of the Conservative party: MP Gord Brown. The best video of the exchange is available here. As MP Brown tries to get to his seat, the NDP member in grey repeatedly moves to block MP Brown and the female MP in grey (MP Ruth Ellen Brosseau) joins him in doing so. MP Brown repeatedly tries to get by and is repeatedly blocked. At one point MP Ellen Brosseau is seen laughing about the activity to a fellow MP in red. Prime Minister Trudeau, clearly tiring of the antics, decides to intervene and in doing so brushes MP Ellen Brosseau.
Now remember here, MP Ellen Brosseau is a former bartender at a campus pub. I’m not sure about today, but in my days as a bartender getting a tray of drinks across a bar often involved a lot of pushing and physical contact. Unfortunately, while MP Ellen Brosseau can apparently handle a room full of drunken revelers she apparently cannot bear the trauma of brief physical contact with the Prime Minister. So instead of shrugging it off, she immediately recoils back like she has been hit by a charging bull. Her reaction is reminiscent of a classic by Christian Renaldo or one of his fellows trying to draw a yellow card in a soccer match. Like Renaldo she couldn’t leave it there and felt the need to take the act to the next level. She later spoke in the House and reported that she was so traumatized that “she had to leave”. Apparently she left the Chamber to sit outside where I’m guessing they probably sprayed her with the magic spray the trainers use on the sidelines of soccer games that allows the “injured” players to heal miraculously in time for the next whistle.
Now any teacher knows exactly what happened there. The two NDP MPs were bullying Mr. Brown. They repeatedly blocked his way and then laughed as they were doing it. MP Brown didn’t know what to do as almost any response would get him in trouble. Should he push them aside and get called out for being violent or should he simply wait it out? Being a good Canadian he simply stands there and takes the abuse from his fellow members. The hall monitor (Mr. Trudeau) finally intervenes and the bullies immediately claim victim-hood and demand that the hall monitor be punished. Happily in schools they know how to handle these sorts of things but apparently not in the House of Commons.
Now if this was a one-time affair it would be nothing to talk about, but in our modern era the crybullies are gradually winning the battles and gaining in strength and the reason is simple. Being a crybully gets results. In the House case MP Ellen Brosseau got an apology out of the Prime Minister. On the street the crybullies are winning as well and they are winning because the government and the media have encouraged their behaviours.
When the protesters broke a court order on Burnaby Mountain were they thrown in jail and sent before a judge? No most were simply escorted down to the bottom of the mountain and were not charged. Only the repeat offenders were actually arrested and even then they acted outraged. I think the funniest thing I read during the protest was this:
Wiping away tears, protester Emily Cook said a friend, whom she did not identify, was arrested outside of the injunction zone just as he was telling an officer he didn’t want to be arrested.
“They did not give him the option. They gave him no warning he would be arrested. They put him in zap straps,” she said.
Here was a person breaking the law and he felt he shouldn’t be arrested because “he didn’t want to be arrested”.
In his book “Uncivil Obedience: The Tactics and Tales of a Democratic Agitator” noted former civil rights activist A. Alan Borovoy made an important point. There are two ways to protest: you can protest within the confines of the law (uncivil obedience) or you can choose to break the law (civil disobedience). If you choose the latter then you must be willing to accept the consequences of your actions. What a lot of the current generation of protesters seem not to recognize is that there is no “right” to commit civil disobedience. I listen with decreasing interest to protesters who argue about their “rights” since most appear to have no clue what a “right” actually means under the law/constitution. Most activists these days appear to believe that they should be allowed to block roads and break the law with impunity.
The real problem with activists these days is that the government has trained them to believe that they can use the tactics of civil disobedience but that will not suffer the consequences of their actions. The government has enabled the protesters. In the case of Burnaby Mountain the police actually were asking the protesters which ones wanted to be arrested instead of simply arresting the lot.
The whole civil disobedience approach hearkens back to the days of the Clayoquot protests when the protesters blocked the logging roads. As I have written previously, the major difference between the civil disobedience of 1993 and that of 2016 is in the consequences of the protesters’ actions. One feature of the protests in 1993 that has apparently been forgotten by our current generation of activists, was that back then the protesters did not simply get to walk away after being picked up by the police. These protesters were arrested, charged, and had to face the consequences of their actions in a court of law. As described in the Wikipedia article on the subject “of the 932 people arrested, 860 were prosecuted in eight trials with all those prosecuted for criminal intent found guilty”. As recounted, many of protesters ended up spending a reasonable amount of time in jail. Can you imagine a modern environmentalist discovering that their actions would get them sent to jail? Moreover, this was not a Conservative or Liberal government that had them arrested and charged, the government of the day was NDP. Their allies put them in jail. You see the government of the day recognized that their role was to ensure that the law was obeyed.
The media, meanwhile, is also to blame for encouraging this type of behaviour. Credulous reporters breathlessly recount all the horrors rained down on these crybullies. Activists storm a building and demand the right to scream with loudspeakers at the people inside and the online report includes complaints that the security team was being “disproportionately violent”. These activists force their way into a building and then the media reports that “no one was expecting such a rough reception”. I’m guessing that if I forced my way into the Vancouver Observer’s offices and started yelling into a megaphone into the editor’s face her response would be less than cordial.
To conclude this piece I will quote Daniel Greenfield again. Now to be clear here, I normally disagree with almost everything the man has to say but on this topic he is bang on:
Crybullies are everything they claim to abhor. They are narcissists who complain about selfishness. Completely incapable of human empathy, they whine that no one cares about their feelings. They are prone to cowardly acts of violence, but demand safe spaces. They are bullies who say they’re bullied.
As Canadians we have to nip this new form of protest in the bud. Instead of painting MP Ellen Brosseau as the victim we should make it clear that she was the bully and MP Brown was the victim. We have to point out the truth of the matter and call out the crybullies for what they are. Reporters need to report what is actually happening and not simply repeat the crying of the crybullies. We need to hear who was the actual aggressor even if (especially if?) that ruins the easy narrative. Put simply the media and our government need to stop being the crybullies’ patsies and enablers. Canada works because we have one law for everyone, but that is changing because our current governments lack the courage of the NDP governments of the 1990’s to simply enforce the law evenly and fairly for all.