Wednesday, January 19, 2011

On Cancelling Iranium

On reading this, consider this:
I'm not accusing anyone. I'd just point out that stunts are not unheard of. Watch this story as it evolves.

Update: several of Mr. Litwick's claims are already being contested:

"We received a series of threats and complaints from the public, varying members of the public, significant enough to warrant cancelling the event," Portelance said.

Portelance said the decision was made to ensure the safety of the public and staff and to ensure the protection of the archives themselves.

Fred Litwin, who organized the screening through the Free Thinking Film Society of Ottawa, said library officials talked as late as Monday about pulling the film, but early Tuesday gave him the OK to screen it.

Portelance disputed this claim, however, and said the library never requested the film organizers find another venue.

Litwin said Tuesday at the scene that he was told the screening had been cancelled because there had been protesters inside and outside the building, though he said he didn't see any himself.



You know, on this last point, Litwin has said not only did the Archives want to boot out the film on Monday, but that only an intervention from Heritage Minister James Moore part saved the day. So a word from Moore, who is abroad in the twitterverse this morning, could confirm this instantly.

Update: Fred's been complaining in the comments that I am accusing him of staging this whole episode as a stunt. Well, that had occurred to me, but it seems clear a couple of days in that the threats made about the film were real enough and that its almost inconceivable that Fred or anyone else would go that far just to scare up attention. Fred's also right that the twitter message above refers to events in November. So: sorry for that, Fred.

However, as you can also see from the comments, Fred's account of what occurred previous to Tuesday are a total mess, and still worth setting straight if that is still possible at this late date.

27 comments:

Just the facts, please said...

Alan Neal spoke with Litwin on CBC's All in a Day radio program late yesterday afternoon, and it was a very curious interview.

Litwin made a number of surprising and unsupported claims re Moore, the Iranian Embassy, etc., whereupon Neal tried to pin him down and get clarification about what Moore's role was, what he said and did, etc.

Litwin was sufficiently evasive that it aroused similar suspicions to those you note.

Don't know if it's possible to get the interview, but it may be worth listening to.

Dr.Dawg said...

I think we have every right to be sceptical of Fred's spin. But, on the other hand, we don't have to take his word for the fact that the National Library shut down the screening because of "threats" and after a request from the Iranian Embassy.

This sets the current incident apart, at least in my view, from the London (Steyn) and U. of O. (Coulter) incidents, when we had to depend for the most part on claims by the organizers.

On the face of it, the cancellation was breathtakingly silly. Iranium isn't a hate film, just a dumb one, and it's not as though Ottawa is crawling with pro-Ahmadinejad Iranians.

The National Library has security, and it has screened controversial ones before. Many years ago a pro-Palestinian film starring Vanessa Redgrave was screened despite threats--the place was packed.

There is really very little excuse for this. But it's funny that the same folks whining about this now were crowing about shutting down Imam Delic at DND just a few short months ago.

GayandRight said...

How on earth do you guys make this stuff up??

PR stunt?

Unsupported claims???

First off, my tweet from last November was regarding my film festival. Afterall, I had Elizabeth May debating Ezra Levant and had no coverage on the CBC. I was after any tips or leads possible.

Secondly, I might be smart, but I am not that smart to pull off a PR stunt that gets the kind of stuff we've seen this week.

What surprising and unsupported claims have I made? Do let me know...because I have told it like it has happened. No need for ANY spin this week - the events speak for themselves.

And, none of you guys have emailed me with one question on anything.

Fred Litwin
fred.litwin@gmail.com

bigcitylib said...

Fair enough. Here's a question.

Gal from the archives (Portelance) says they never asked you to move venues previous to the cancellation. If true, that means there would be no need for an intervention on Moore's part. So, is she speaking falsely? I'd also note that Moore nor Kenney say anything on twitter before the actual cancellation, and none of them have actually said straight out that they moved to prevent the first cancellation. What kind of contact did you have with their office? Can you prove you actually spoke to them prior to the cancellation?

GayandRight said...

I can't say if Portelance is speaking falsely, she might not know all the facts.

Here are the facts. I was called at 2 PM on Monday, January 17th by the Archives informing me that the event was cancelled and that they would help move the event to a new location.

I called the Minister of National Heritage's office to complain, and I also e-mailed through the official website. I did not get in touch with Jason kenney's office since Immigration is not involved with the Archives.

Eventually, the Archives offered to pay for the event at the Museum of Nature, but I declined - given that it was way too late to inform all of our supporters.

At some point, someone in James Moore's office contacted someone at the Archives. Who was contacted or what was said is not something I am privy to.

At 6:30 PM on Monday, I was informed the event was back on.

Those are the facts. My cell phone logs are all the proof I need.

Fred Litwin

mystereeoso said...

so what's all this Tuesday stuff you told Tayleigh Armstrong


http://centretownnewsonline.ca/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2066&Itemid=126

"Fred Litwin, president of the Free Thinking Film Society, says he received a call around 4 p.m. Tuesday saying the screening had been cancelled because of threats of protest from the public.

When he arrived on the scene around 5:15 p.m., Litwin says he saw no protestors but noted that the building was being closed and that employees were sent home."

mystereeoso said...

Sorry for the sloppy linkage BCL -

Fred, if it was all settled on Monday - what happened on Tuesday?

GayandRight said...

What happened on Tueday? Well, you just quoted from an article about Tuesday.

mystereeoso said...

So,but what prevailed on Tuesday - Embassy protocol? I take it you guys were the only org booked at LAC at that time no? Protesters? How come no one is divulging the nature of the "threats"

mystereeoso said...

Also, if your festival tarts on the 12th of the month it's a good idea to get your PR in order before the 7th

mystereeoso said...

that would be starts not tarts

GayandRight said...

I have no idea what you are asking....are you asking about my festival last november...or are you asking me something about Iranium.

I do not represent the archives. I cannot answer for them. I can only answer for the free thinking film society.

fred

mystereeoso said...

I'm asking what changed the game between Monday and Tuesday. If Heritage contacted LAC and all systems were go by Monday evening ...why didn't your film air as scheduled? And I'm asking why the nature of the threats has not been aired more clearly in the press. What did the Iranian Embassy letter say? Where did the threats come from?

As an aside I was also suggesting PR for a huge festival is best done
early.

GayandRight said...

I don't know why you are asking me these questions.

bigcitylib said...

G&R, thanks for your response. A follow-up:

"At some point, someone in James Moore's office contacted someone at the Archives. Who was contacted or what was said is not something I am privy to."

You were informed by who that this had occured? Someone in Moore's office? No names are required.

"At 6:30 PM on Monday, I was informed the event was back on."

By somebody in Moore's office? Or what? I find it odd that the PR person would make a statement without hashing out all the facts in advance.

Also, a bonus question: when did the archives start discussing hosting the event at a later date?

GayandRight said...

I have had very little dealings with Minister Moore's office. I made my initial complaint on Monday...just by calling up the general office number.

I was informed at 6:30 PM on monday that the event was back on by the archives...not the Minister's office.

I only learnt that the event would be re-scheduled at the archives through a press release they issued.

I am now in contact with them to re-schedule and I hope to announce a new date tomorrow.

Would you apologize for your ridiculous accusations that this was all a PR stunt?

bigcitylib said...

"Would you apologize for your ridiculous accusations that this was all a PR stunt?"

Well, if you read carefully you will note that I never made that accusation. I just made note of a pattern among people promoting right wing speakers/causes etc. Ie that they typically bullshit. Perhaps you seem to transcend the stereotype, maybe.

In any case:

"I was informed at 6:30 PM on monday that the event was back on by the archives...not the Minister's office."

So you are INFERRING the Minister stepped in? And you are also implying indirectly that Portelance doesn't know her job? Because any PR person who doesn't get their messaging right, doesn't proof their story against the kind of questions we are raising, can't be any good. Thats not just an opinion, either. If Portelance is as far wrong as you suggest that she is incompetent. I will email her tommorow.

GayandRight said...

You made the inference that this was a PR stunt. It's pretty clear.

You should apologize for that.

I am not inferring anything about anybody. I am just trying to report the facts. Someone from the Minister's office called someone at the archives on monday afternoon. It might have well been an effort to find an 'adult' to oversee what was happening. I don't know.

As for Portelance, I have already said that perhaps she did not have all the facts. Perhaps some people did not tell her what happened. I don't know

What I do know is the event was cancelled on the monday, I can assure you.

mystereeoso said...

Fred at 4:52PM:"At 6:30 PM on Monday, I was informed the event was back on."

Fred at 9:54PM:"What I do know is the event was cancelled on the monday, I can assure you."


wv ismak

bigcitylib said...

Fred, note update.

GayandRight said...

Mysterioso...seems confused and he post this:

Fred at 4:52PM:"At 6:30 PM on Monday, I was informed the event was back on."

Fred at 9:54PM:"What I do know is the event was cancelled on the monday, I can assure you.

He thinks he has found an inconsistency. Oh, the horrors.

But, there is no inconsistency at all.

Short timeline for the confused:

2:00 PM Monday: Archives cancells Iranium because of complaints.

6:30 PM Monday: Film back on.

4:00 PM Tuesdy: Iranium cancelled again because of protests or threats of protest.

Just the facts, please said...

Fred Litwin: “What I do know is the event was cancelled on the monday, I can assure you”.

A discrepancy, then, with this CBC report:

CBC: Library and Archives spokesperson Pauline Portelance said the Embassy asked the library not to show the film on the weekend, but that request was denied. Portelance said the screening was only cancelled once, on Tuesday, following a "series of threats."

…Portelance said the building's closure and cancellation of the screening was done in order to ensure the safety of the public and staff and to ensure the protection of the archives.

…Fred Litwin, who organized the screening through the Free Thinking Film Society of Ottawa, said library officials had talked about pulling the film as late as Monday but early Tuesday gave him the OK to screen it.

But Portelance disputed the claim, saying the library never requested that the screening organizers find another venue.

http://www.cbc.ca/arts/story/2011/01/19/ottawa-iranium-cancellation.html#ixzz1BgBztOwx

GayandRight said...

I have already dealt with that.

Perhaps Portelance did not know all the facts. I don't know. I cannot speak for her.

All I can report is what happened.

mystereeoso said...

Here's another inconsistency:


Fred in the comments here: "Eventually, the Archives offered to pay for the event at the Museum of Nature, but I declined"

Fred in the Ottawa Citizen:Library and Archives then offered, Litwin says, to move the film to the Museum of Nature, “but for a substantial fee.”

GayandRight said...

Is this the best you can do? Is this the big inconsistency that proves....what???

Once again..here are the fact. They offered to move the film to the Museum of nature...if I paid a fee of $1360. I asked if they would pick it up. I then polled my Board of Directors and we agreed it was too late to move the film.

They then called and said that indeed they would pick up the costs...and I then informed them that we didn't want to move it.

I am not sure why you are spending so much of your time...on what is essentially nothing.

Better if you were more concerned about freedom of speech.

bigcitylib said...

I must say, Fred, that the story does seem to be tilting in your favour. Unfortunately, righties bullshit so hard about the violation of their speech rights that when it actually happens, its difficult to believe.

mystereeoso said...

I note your board of directors is not listed on your website.