A Brief Update on Galloway v. A.B. and Ongoing Substack Coverage
This morning I awoke to a Twitter alert informing me that a twitter user had “liked” an April 2021 Tweet that I was “mentioned in” by the Canadian writer Natalee Caple in which Caple writes:
#MeToo ended because of the massive chill caused by the UBCA letter — my career was threatened and I had to fight for it — numerous people were threatened — you and all the famous names on that letter got to speak freely in the press and call us anything you wanted.
Caple’s tweet was sparked by the Carmen Aguirre article I published on this Substack in which Aguirre argues against the idea (as presented during the SLAPP hearing for Galloway v. A.B. by Joanna Birenbaum, counsel for A.B.) that false allegations should be protected speech in Canada in order to encourage women to report sexual assault. Aguirre also made the clear, if not plainly obvious point, that taking such a position is not only an act of injustice but an act of racism that would disproportionately harm men of color, as well as the mothers, sisters, cousins, and friends of the accused who would become collateral damage if our courts sanctioned false allegations of rape.
But there is a lot more going on in Caple’s tweet, specifically that 1) the UBC Accountable letter which defended Steven Galloway’s right to due process brought such a “massive chill” that it had in fact ended #MeToo, 2) that the authors of that letter were allowed to speak freely and in doing so were able to call Ms. Caple “anything” they liked, and 3) this all culminated in Caple fighting for her career.
Being reminded of this tweet was pertinent because I am currently finishing a follow-up to my first published piece on the case, “A Literary Inquisition.” Utilizing research from years of freedom of information requests and other research, this new long-form piece documents blacklists, de-platforming campaigns and even threats of violence against the signatories of the UBC Accountable letter whom Caple suggests have been free to say whatever we want.
I would document any threats to Caple’s career, but they don’t exist. Caple is not the only writer to claim their career has been threatened in some way. In their affidavits and court testimony, several of the defendants made similar claims. None were able to provide a concrete example of any threat, overt or not, and my extensive review of social media has failed to turn up a single credible instance of any sort of threat against a critic of UBC Accountable.
This is not to say that Caple and others are fabricating their fear for their careers, although I do believe that it would be more accurate to say that they are instead fighting for “reputation.”
The fact is that in Canada, speaking up for the basic principles of justice (if you are applying them to a politically inconvenient recipient) can cause someone to be cancelled and blacklisted, whereas speaking out against these basic principles of justice is not only permissible but sought out in Canadian media (if the person being denied rights is a politically acceptable target).
In a recent article about Galloway v. A.B. in the CBC, Jason Proctor cites Toronto lawyer Lillianne Cadieux-Shaw as stating that there is “a rise in the number of men — like Galloway — suing women who accuse them of sexual assault.” I followed up with Cadieux-Shaw to ask if this was based on Ontario numbers or national numbers and was told that there were no numbers at all, aside from one “quasi-empirical” and obviously biased paper by Mandi Gray, who is herself a defendant in Galloway v. A.B.. Ms. Gray was found by Madam Justice Adair to have engaged in “reckless and malicious” conduct towards Galloway but she regularly speaks as an expert on sexual violence including to young lawyers, and even held a fellowship at the Institute for Feminist Legal Studies at Osgoode Hall Law School.
So despite there being no data supporting Cadieux-Shaw’s assertion, the CBC printed it as if it were fact. The truth should matter, but when it comes to the ability to enter public discourse the truth does not seem to matter as much as presenting a politically acceptable view. For many people in the media, Caple and Cadieux-Shaw hold politically acceptable views. Even if their assertions have no basis in fact, they are clearly free to make them and even have them published by the CBC without even basic journalistic scrutiny.
What has challenged the reputation of individuals like Caple is the publication of the true details of the Galloway scandal, which are now exposing the unethical behaviour of those who cast judgement against Galloway before learning the true facts of the case. It has become clear that despite efforts to frame it as such, the culture war surrounding Galloway v. A.B. is not being waged by defenders of sexual assault survivors versus rape apologists exerting their power to enable professors to rape their students. Instead, one side is advocating for a uncritical belief in the veracity of all sexual assault allegations while the other believes that everyone involved is best served by fundamental principles of procedural fairness and natural justice.
To put it in terms that cut to the heart of what it means to be a writer: the truth matters.
The UBC Accountable letter was published on November 14th 2016. The MeToo movement as we know it began on October 15th 2017 when actor Alysa Milano tweeted, “If you've been sexually harassed or assaulted write 'me too' as a reply to this tweet.” To claim, as Caple does, that the UBC Accountable letter ended #MeToo nearly a full year before #MeToo started is of course untrue and borders on absurd.
If #MeToo had a definable end as a campaign to believe “all” allegations of sexual assault without adherence to the facts or any need for investigation, then it came in April of 2020 when Milano endorsed Joe Biden (and the ethical principles expressed in the UBC Accountable letter), when she said, “I just don’t feel comfortable throwing away a decent man that I’ve known for 15 years in this time of complete chaos without there being a thorough investigation.”
Perhaps Milano said it best when she elaborated for POLITICO, “I will continue to fight for the most vulnerable amongst us and for things I feel are right and just. There is no such thing as a perfect movement. Things will break. Things will get ugly. Mud will be slung. Regardless, movements evolve and grow hopefully out of a place of empathy and compassion. #MeToo should not be about believing women at the expense of a man’s innocence. The hashtag #BelieveWomen is about shifting the cultural norm away from our default being *not* to believe women. It means we should start by believing women and then investigate.”
For balance, let me also share actor Rose McGowan’s retort to Milano on Twitter which aligns strongly with much of the discourse Caple has herself added to the public conversation, “You are a fraud. This is about holding the media accountable. You go after Trump & Kavanaugh saying Believe Victims, you are a lie. You have always been a lie. The corrupt DNC is in on the smear job of Tara Reade, so are you. SHAME.”
Shifting back to Caple’s feeling that she is fighting to save some aspect of her career (or reputation) amid an attack on her character by people she believes want to do her harm, let me be a bit presumptuous and assume that since I have been publishing the true facts of the case that I’m someone Caple believes is out for her career, whatever that means. Not only is this not the case, I can offer Caple quick relief by pointing out that she is not being personally attacked by anyone; her beliefs are being attacked by the truth.
The truth only attacks that which denies it. So my advice is to stop denying the truth; accept that you got it wrong.
The ethical issue surrounding this scandal actually has little to do with Galloway (although his story and innocence are convenient for the purposes of illustrating an injustice). The so called “Literary Civil War” is being waged, in the simplest of terms, between those who think that process matters and that the facts the process has revealed about the case matter, and those who think that you can arrive at an iron-clad belief about a situation without requiring any sort of fact-finding process because what actually happened doesn’t matter.
This case is driven by hard truths. Relief, both professionally and personally, is as simple as a mea culpa or just an adoption of the basic principles of justice such as we saw from Milano in 2020. There is no limitation period on letting the truth change a mind. I personally look forward to the time when this mess is behind Ms. Caple because that will mean it is behind us all.
As for the specifics of Galloway v. A.B. and where the case goes from here? As predicted, Justice Adair’s decision has been appealed by the plaintiff and all eleven defendants who brought SLAPP motions, although the defendant Glynnis Kirchmier recently abandoned her appeal. Steven Galloway is appealing the dismissal of defendants Annabel Lyon and Alicia Elliott from the case.
At this point only Notices of Appeal have been filed by counsel. Factums (i.e. the full written argument and legal authorities) are still weeks away. I will report on those in depth once they are filed with the court.
The appeals will be heard by a panel of British Columbia Court of Appeal Justices. Depending on the decision there, the parties may be able to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada. Once all appeals are decided, Galloway v. A.B. will go trial and the entire truth will be aired in granular detail – hopefully sooner rather than later.
I would like to thank all paid subscribers. As you may have noticed all the content I’ve posted to date has been free to all readers. My number one priority is to get the facts of the case out. Paid subscriptions are an extremely generous way to show your support and I greatly appreciate everyone who has donated in this manner. In the way of thanks I can now tell you that any current or past paid subscribers who have paid $50+ will be receiving a signed first edition book about justice in the age of social media by yours truly.
I look forward to sharing the exciting details with you shortly.
If you are not currently a paid subscriber and want to sign up then I highly recommend the annual option. As much as I wish it otherwise, the nature of the case, coupled with the nature of the type of in-depth writing I want to do on this story (and forthcoming book), does not always lend itself to a traditional Substack timeline but I’m happy to have you along for the long game.
With that in mind I’ll have the follow up to “A Literary Inquisition” in your inboxes as soon as possible, and a full analysis of the filed factums will be here before you know it.
In the meantime if you haven’t yet read the updates on the SLAPP hearing then you can do so by clicking here. And for a backgrounder on some of the more troubling aspects of the case to date you can click here.