Misandry—the hatred of men—has been a staple of my polemical writing for more than fifteen years. I felt a special obligation to hammer away at gender myths such as intimate partner violence (women are about as likely as men to initiate violence against their partners as men), false sexual allegations (a disturbing percentage of such allegations) and demonstrable bias against fathers in family court, because male journalists who dared to write sympathetically about men and/or critically about women put their careers in jeopardy (no exaggeration), and most had learned to keep shtumm in this domain.
That situation has been changing slowly but steadily. Some men have decided they aren’t going to spend their lives in rhetorical purdah on the subject of their own cultural dhimmitude, and have been stepping up to the plate, whatever the personal cost. The university campus is home to the feminist commissariat—and it’s a brave man who dares to stick his head above that formidable parapet. Because the cost of doing so can be high.
Marcus Knight—a student with autism, cerebral palsy, and learning disabilities—has prevailed in his lawsuit against Saddleback College, according to exclusive documents obtained this Sunday by TPM.
After being accused of sexual misconduct, Knight filed the lawsuit to clear his name.
Knight first came to national attention in 2018 after his attempts to make friends landed him in his college’s office for sexual misconduct (also known as a Title IX office). As a young man with autism, making friends has always been difficult for him, he told me.
One female student reported him because she was uncomfortable with Knight asking for fist-bumps, one of the “safe ways” he was taught to make friends, his mother said. Another student claimed Knight was looking at her weird and following her around campus.
And yet another woman complained that Knight had “over 300 photos” of her. (This was likely due to Knight’s cerebral palsy, which resulted in a motor tic as Knight attempted to press the “selfie” button on his phone with the woman, which was set to “burst mode”).
None of the three women who complained about Knight filed an official Title IX report.
Yet, despite this, and the fact that none of the women testified against Knight, the school’s Title IX Officer Juan Avalos still slapped Knight’s transcript with two Title IX infractions, possibly more.
The young women who reported Knight, Melissa Gold and Noemi Bueno Rojo did not respond to multiple media inquiries. Hannah Udall (now Torok), who also reported Knight for misconduct, initially said she would be happy to be interviewed but later declined.
In the initial suit against Saddleback College, Knight’s lawyer Mark Hathaway argued that Title IX officer Dr. Juan Avalos made unlawful errors during the investigation (such as not giving Knight an opportunity to defend himself).
One complainant, Melissa Gold, even declined to testify, saying she could care less.
“I have nothing to report. I don’t want to go over this any further. It’s done and I don’t go there (Saddleback College) anymore. This is irrelevant to my life now. I don’t care what happens officially at this point,” she told Dr. Avalos.
Later, Knight gathered 15 character witnesses to bring to his trial on campus. But Gold declined to testify and failed to show up. The hearing was called off. But somehow, Knight, then aged 19, still got slapped with two Title IX (sexual misconduct) sanctions.
These sanctions can be life-altering.
“We’re very scared. What happens when Marcus tries to transfer to a four-year university? Will the accusations follow him? I am terrified for his future,” Aurora Knight emailed me the night before the trial.
But last week, Knight went to court. The trial was short and Knight’s mother admits that she “didn’t really understand what was going on.” But shortly after, Aurora Knight messaged me: “We won!”
“The Court… hereby concludes that the findings and sanctions issued by Respondents [Saddleback College and Juan Avalos] against [Marcus Knight] should be set aside,” the court ruled.
“He is smiling! After court Mark [Hathaway] took a selfie with Marcus. Then we told Marcus he could do a selfie too … he was afraid to do so. But we told him that it was ok, and he finally did! He wants a fist bump and selfie party!”
“We fight for colleges and universities to treat everyone fairly so students do not lose access to education,” Mark Hathaway told TPM on Sunday.
“Saddleback College and Dr. Avalos are required to comply with the judgment and correct their records or be held in contempt and fined or jailed. We fight for colleges to treat everyone fairly so students do not lose access to education,” Hathaway added.
According to Aurora Knight, Saddleback has 30 days to remove the Title IX sanctions from her son’s record, she was told. How this all happened? She doesn’t know. “He was a great kid in high-school. No problems. Marcus just wants to be like everyone else.”
After her son was accused, Ms. Knight set up a GoFundMe to help pay for Marcus’s legal fees. Since then, more than 300 people have donated roughly $14,000, only eight thousand shy of her goal.
“We just want to put this past us,” said Aurora Knight.
TPM reached out to Leticia Clark, District Director of Public Affairs, to ask a number of questions following these developments. Clark said she was unable to answer a number of my questions on the record because the case is still considered “pending litigation.”
This is an ongoing story. TPM is tracking developments as they happen.
Toni Airaksinen is a columnist for PJ Media, The Post Millennial, and a digital media strategist for kosher restaurants and small businesses. She graduated from Barnard College in 2018, and has also published in USA TODAY College and Quillette. Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen.
Jessica Yaniv, a transwoman who rose to infamy after she took a number of immigrant, racialized at-home salon workers to the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal (BCHRT) for declining to provide services to her male genitalia, applied for her appeal to be heard by a new Tribunal member. She claimed bias against Devyn Cousineau, according to the 5-page document released today by the BCHRT. The appeal was declined.
Cousineau, who has a background in anti-poverty and human rights law and holds a law degree from the University of Victoria, stated she did not feel Yaniv’s claims that she had been biased in her decision were accurate. According to the document, Yaniv requested the appeal decision be made by a different member on the basis that Cousineau had been pressured and “harassed by members of the public via Twitter” to rule in favour of the salon workers.
“It is my ethical and legal obligation as a member of this Tribunal to decide cases based on the evidence before me and not based on public sentiment,” Couseineau wrote in response to the assertion.
In a recent comment given to The Post Millennial, Yaniv stated that the Tribunal ruling had been a “total misunderstanding” full of “inaccurate information.” In the BCHRT appeal document, nine areas of complaint are listed where Yaniv asserts the Tribunal was “wrong”.
These areas, including that Yaniv targeted certain ethnic groups, declined her services because of her scrotum, and that she manufactured the conditions of her complaints–deliberately attempting to provoke situations where she could claim she was being discriminated against–were listed by the BCHRT as findings of fact.
Findings of Fact
Yaniv allegedly also claimed the appeal was necessary as the decision negated to consider transgender women who required hair removal for “surgery.” Cousineau writes that this “was not an issue raised at any time in [Yaniv’s] complaints.”
One of the most striking points of the document was Yaniv’s claim to be unable to pay the improper conduct costs awarded by the BCHRT to the salon workers. These awards were $2,000 each to three of the four women represented by the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms.
Citing “anti-trans harassment and attacks” Yaniv sought a reduction of costs. This was also declined by the BCHRT, with Cousineau concluding that if Yaniv wants to challenge the final decision, she must do so in court.
The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF), on whose board I sit, offers pro bono legal services to individuals or groups whose Charter rights the JCCF agrees have been breached. They have announced that they are filing a court application on behalf of the Alberta March for Life (AMLA) and its vice-chair, Jerry Pasternak, “against the City of Edmonton for its decision to cancel a scheduled lighting of the 60,000 LED-lit High Level Bridge in colours chosen by AMLA.”
First, some background on the lighting-up history of the High Level Bridge and the reasoning behind this application.
Edmonton conceived its “Light the Bridge” program with the objective of helping to “recognize major events and cultural celebrations.” Its stated aim is “to reflect the diversity of people who call Edmonton home and our connection to the global community.” The bridge has been lit, in a variety of colours, for such causes/events as Melanoma Awareness, Disability Employment Awareness Month, Rosh Hashana, the Edmonton Oilers Home Opener and Wrongful Conviction Day.
The stated criteria include: events of national or international significance; local events that positively impact community spirit; national or international issues that build community “such as Treaty 6 Recognition Day or End Bullying Pink Shirt Day or World Cancer Day.” The city “reserves the right to deny requests that do not merit public support or are mainly personal, private, political, polarizing or commercial in nature.” (emphasis mine)
This is the second time Edmonton has cancelled a pro-life group’s scheduled bridge-lighting on the grounds that it was “polarizing,” as per its criteria caveats. In May 2017 AMLA received permission to celebrate a March for Life via the bridge, lit up in pink and blue, but was cancelled. The JCCF observes that the city does not offer any precise definition of what “polarizing” means, and furthermore:
“The City of Edmonton is home to a diverse population with a wide variety of views, values and beliefs including, unsurprisingly, persons who express pro-life views. As a government that is constitutionally obligated to be neutral regarding the expression of its citizens, it is not the proper role of the city to elevate and promote the favoured ideological causes of some citizens to the exclusion of the lawful views of others,” stated Justice Centre staff lawyer James Kitchen in a JCCF press release.
In the lawsuit, the JCCF will argue that Edmonton is offering state property to the public to utilize for expression, and can therefore only limit expression in a justified manner. Obviously hate speech, or overt racism or obscenity would run counter to the values and purposes underlying freedom of speech. But, they argue, expression of a pro-life opinion is none of these things, nor can it be considered any more “political” or “polarizing” than other causes for which the bridge has been lit.
According to the JCCF, the arbitrary decision is procedurally deficient in that neither notice of cancellation nor opportunity to respond was provided. The lawsuit requests that the City only light the bridge “without political or ideological favouritism” or in “neutral colours” (perhaps blue and gold, the province’s colours), as well as a declaration that the cancellation was unjust.
Edmonton naturally set out with the best of intentions in planning the Lights program. However, when they wrote the words “personal, private, political, polarizing,” did their committee members actually have a discussion about what the words meant, or wonder if their own assumptions about “political” and “polarizing” were the gold standard of settled opinion? Did they ask themselves whether polarizing meant the same thing as, say, “opposition” of opinion?
Perhaps they had in mind anything that might give offence to certain groups. One might easily deduce this since in our current era pro-life groups are often held up to ridicule and contempt without consequence, because pro-abortion is treated by most politicians and virtually all members of our cultural elite as the default opinion of all civilized and enlightened people.
And yet the offence is purely ideological. Those who do believe in the sanctity of human life from conception are not promoting violence, or actively preventing anyone from having an abortion. They seek to persuade fellow citizens to their belief, but the freedom to attempt to persuade others is the basis of democracy. The judgment that it is “polarizing” has not come down from some objective, disinterested court. It is a subjective judgment that has come down from activists and ideologues whose opinions our progressive elites defer to. How is it the city’s business to privilege one ideology over another?
One could argue that the city has grounds for rejecting the light display because of its “community-building” criterion. It is true that any and all pro-life displays cause social tension. But one could say the same for Pride, which in recent years has become extremely politicized, and which contains indecent presentation and performance that offend many people, especially parents of young children. But since LGBT feelings are routinely privileged in our institutions of education and governance over the feelings of those who find elements of the Pride brand off-putting, the city apparently does not find Pride polarizing at all, only “community-building.”
Likewise, the bridge is open to a request for the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes movement, which raises consciousness for violence against women, an important cause to be sure. But would it be open to, say, Male Victims of Intimate Partner Violence Awareness Week? The statistics on male victimhood within relationships are (I know, hard to believe, but true) almost equal to female victimhood, but I am guessing that any attempt to use the Bridge to raise awareness of that fact would be considered “polarizing.”
It may be that pro-life displays are not community-building, but that is not their fault. Pro-lifers are always willing to engage in civil dialogue with pro-abortionists, and civil engagement is the most fundamental community-building exercise (remember Norman Rockwell’s famous painting?). But those who consider pro-abortion the only admissible position in public life do not usually willingly engage with pro-lifers. Yet in the present cultural climate, their intransigence, their insistence that there can be only one correct opinion on this subject is not considered polarizing, while the opinion that the subject should be up for debate is considered polarizing, a faulty and undemocratic assumption that the City of Edmonton has demonstrated in their cancellation.
If the city cannot exercise ideological neutrality in its assignment of the Lights, then it should get out of the ideas and “rights” business altogether. Governments, after all, have no obligation to promote “causes” at all. Edmonton could reserve the Lights for a narrow swath of indisputably community-building communication, such as support for the city’s sports teams, physical-disease awareness weeks/months, national holidays and other apple-pie messaging.
But if they wish to go beyond those parameters and offer a podium for philosophical positions or ideals, then they have an obligation to treat groups that dissent from popular opinions with the same respect and rights to that tax-funded space as those with popular opinions.
As Canadian judges struggle with the new so-called “Ghomeshi Rules” in accusations of sexual assault, many innocent men may go to prison.
Former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi was acquitted of sexual assault in a sensational, high profile trial back in 2016. Each of the complainants were deemed by Judge Horkins in that case to have “breached her oath to tell the truth” and even the media, who were mostly salivating for a conviction, had to admit that Ghomeshi should not have been convicted.
Nevertheless, protests were held and demands were made from the public to improve conviction rates in sexual assault trials.
These new rules of evidence in sexual assault cases were introduced by Jody Wilson-Raybould, during her stint as Justin Trudeau’s Minister of Justice, and passed unanimously by parliament, becoming law in December, 2018. Though no reasonable person has questioned Jian Ghomeshi’s acquittal after the evidence came out in trial, we are being asked to approve changes that would prevent a similar outcome.
A recent decision in Saskatchewan threw out a portion of the new legislation that demands an accused person reveal all non-sexual evidence to a witness prior to their testimony in court. In that decision, Judge Henning ruled that revealing defence evidence and strategy to complainants prior to their witness testimony would negate the value of cross-examination.
This case was different from a recent ruling in Ontario that declared the new rules constitutional. In the Ontario case, the evidence being examined was sexual in nature and more in line with the rules of evidence prior to Bill C-51 passing. The Saskatchewan case specifically addressed the new regulation in 278.92(1) which presumes any evidence “relating to a complainant” is not admissible unless first approved by a hearing.
This is overly broad and requires judges to vet every communication of any nature, sexual or otherwise, before the defence can use the communications in court.
There is no public interest in helping liars lie better in court.
While there is a legitimate concern regarding people who must testify in public courts about intimate experiences, so that real victims of sexual assault can more easily obtain justice, we cannot reverse the onus of proof in criminal courts by allowing for convictions based on nothing other than testimony from a complainant whilst also preventing that complainant from being effectively challenged in court.
In his verdict, Saskatchewan’s Judge Henning states “The prior processes have not compromised the integrity of the trial process and have still provided powerful protections to a complainant in the trial of a sexual assault complaint.” The ruling, which is a provincial court decision and thus not binding, rejected the disclosure of non-sexual evidence in advance largely relying on the reasons why witnesses are always excluded from court until they’ve completed their testimony.
The defence has referred […] to the long-standing practice of excluding witnesses from proceedings until after their testimony is given to prevent modification of evidence-based upon what they might hear from other witnesses. That this practice is desirable for the purpose of maintaining the integrity of the trial process in the search for truth has been axiomatic up to the present time.
Basically, the new legislation is a form of virtue signalling which asks our judges to engage in inappropriate and dangerous social activism.
The public has been misled regarding what these new rules of evidence require. Most people think that the criminal code simply bolsters the rejection of “prior sexual history” being misused in court to imply a woman is more likely to have consented or less worthy of belief because of previous sexual encounters: otherwise referred to as “the twin myths.” That is not the case.
The legislation now requires that a defendant turn over every text message, email, or other non-sexual evidence prior to trial so that a complainant can’t be surprised by cross-examination on any communications she may have forgotten about – or hoped the defendant didn’t still have in his possession.
No one testifying in a criminal trial expects a picnic.
These new rules are reactionary, simply seeking more convictions at the expense of fair hearings, and they don’t do a single thing to take away from the embarrassment that a complainant may experience. Now that complainants can attend advance evidence hearings and have legal counsel to block the evidence, it means that they will personally hear every bit of evidence the accused wants to bring to trial – even if the judge decides it is not admissible. Prior to these new rules, the complainant would be spared this encounter.
It concerns me that people claiming to advocate for victims of sexual assault are losing sight of what we should assume is their real goal: helping actual victims. We can’t assess court outcomes and determine who the real victims are by undermining fair trials and there is a real risk that complainants will find the new process more difficult than it was in the past.
The rush to implement new rules that seek to “improve” conviction rates has turned our courts into a circus. In one decision last May, Ontario’s Judge Kane had to declare that not only was the application for evidence approval issued under the wrong section of the criminal code, the judge didn’t know what the details of the accusation were, nor the details of the evidence being vetted, nor the relevance, nor whether the accused was even going to try to use the evidence in court.
Crown prosecutors have denied that these new rules, which are throwing our courts into chaos, are connected to the acquittal of Jian Ghomeshi. They deny it because everyone knows that Jian Ghomeshi was properly acquitted and it would be disgraceful to admit that they seek to alter rules of evidence which allowed an innocent man to prove his case.
And yet now, by virtue of one man being found not guilty in a court of law, many other innocent men may go to prison as a result.