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article imageOp-Ed: Flanagan's 'fatwa' on Wikileaks founder deserves prosecution

By Michael Werbowski     Dec 5, 2010 in Crime
Calgary - Remarks by Prof. Tom Flanagan (University of Calgary) calling for the "assassination" of Wikileaks's Julian Assange, are reprehensible, way beyond the pale, but also possibly illegal. The authorities must look into the matter promptly.
Most professors live quietly in their "ivory towers" and give lectures, write books, or go to conferences. At least the ones I know do and once studied under. They rarely expound for lynchings to take place on the international scene, or for a posse to hunt down an individual, or more repugnant, out-rightly call for his or her assassination.
I am referring to the lunatic like remarks made on national broadcaster, the CBC, by Prof. Tom Flanagan, a former top advisor-mentor, to the current prime minister (with friends like these who needs enemies?..) The professor made this off-kilter statement this week about the founder of Wikileaks : "I think Assange should be assassinated, actually," then added, with the most bizarre sense of humour, I have ever heard, "I think Obama should put out a contract and maybe use a drone or something." Are you in stitches yet?
According to the law books (and I am not a legal expert), advocating a "hit" or calling for the murder or "assassination" of anyone in Canada, and apparently abroad as well, is a very serious offence indeed; and thus nothing to laugh at, deride, trivialise, or casually shrug off. It is presumably a punishable misdeed according to the Canadian criminal code.
Now, to be fair to the good professor, he came belatedly to his senses (perhaps after a call from the PMO) and retracted by saying later, "I never seriously intended to advocate or propose the assassination of Mr. Assange." So that's that, right? No, apparently not, as a prominent Vancouver based, human rights lawyer, Gail Davidson, has filed an official police complaint, this weekend, against Prof. Flanagan. Whether this legal step will lead to charges, prosecution and eventually jail time for the Conservative party ideologue is unclear.
But this we know: a man in his influential position, and of supposedly high intellect and stature, should not be in the business of issuing a "hit" or a "fatwa" against foreign nationals, especially when they have not been found guilty of any offence, as in Mr. Assange's case. Perhaps the professor sees it differently, if so, then he might consider joining the mob, or move to Tehran.
Furthermore, if Flanagan is as contrite as he claims to be in the wake of this international incident, then why doesn't he make a public apology to Mr. Assange? Yet, none has yet been forthcoming.
The nutty professor?
Should the professor wish to discredit himself in public (as he so successfully did) and call his sanity into question as well, with his remarks, that's fine by me. But there is a limit (just as their is supposedly to secrecy) to what can be said and about whom in public . Joseph Stalin openly called for the killing of, and dispatched a death squad to deal with his arch-rival (exiled in Mexico) Leon Trotsky. But these were the darkest days of Soviet totalitarian terror. Are we re-living history? Prof. Flanagan, for his part, has made similar statements against an individual who is not only exercising his rights to freedom of the press and expression, but who hails from not an enemy state, but is a close alley of Canada. Every state where there is still a rule of law, has anti-hate legalisation on the books. Surely, advocating religiously, ideologically, or politically, motivated murder should fall under the purview of such statutes.
Is Flanagan Canada's Pat Roberston?
In the U.S another wacko Pat Roberston, the media mogul, television evangelist, ex-Baptist minister and business man , advocated the overthrow of Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez. " I think we really , ought to go ahead and do it..." he said on the air. Rev. Roberston, called for the U.S government to, "take him [Hugo Chavez] out." Now whether you are a big fan of Pres. Chavez , or one of his major detractors, what bloody chaos does it bring to the international system, when a public figure such as Roberston or a lesser known one like, Calgary based Flanagan, calls on a government (or their leaders) to assassinate other heads of state, or liquidate prominent individuals such as Wikileak's Assange?
The deranged utterances of Prof. Flanagan should not and cannot go unpunished. He must face exemplary consequences for his so called "faux pas". The authorities should take the appropriate actions, and have him dealt with in the courts , so that those ruffians who advocate murder and violence (another form of terrorism) whether on the Internet or in the case of Flanagan in the television media, are held accountable, for their outlandish pronouncements (no matter how jocular they may have been meant, or said to be). Which ever way, you slice and dice it, this is unmitigated hate-mongering with criminal intent. The professor should have known better. Case closed.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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