Doug Christie gets polished up by the Vancouver Sun

I met Doug Christie in 1984 and it wasn’t in the best of circumstances.  I was at a small meeting of a human rights group that was freaked out – as anyone should be – by the rise of neo Nazi and other associated hate groups in the early to mid eighties right here in BC.

The group needed a spy to attend an event sponsored by a bunch of these neo Nazi groups where Jim Keegstra was set to speak about free speech.  I volunteered.

Free speech was a bit of a misnomer.  What Keegstra actually was there to speak about was the cabal of left wingers, teachers, unions, women’s groups and others who were trying to stop him from drumming up hatred against Jews, “Pakis”, “East Indians, the Chinese and anyone else who had the effrontery to not be white.

Back then, at the end of the Reagan depression, there was a heated debate about multi-culturalism. People like Keegstra and his lawyer Doug Christie campaigned against such ‘bizarre’ notions as the right of a Sikh to wear a turban while policing. And they got a lot of attention from the MSM.  For a while, Doug Collins, another one of Christie’s extremist clients who loved to write about the decline of “white” was even a columnist for the Sun.

Most of all Keegstra was known for his anti-Semitic screeds, which he wrote while teaching his social studies students that Jews were “treacherous”, “sadistic”, “money-loving” “child-killers”.  He also taught them that the holocaust was a lie.

Christie accompanied Keegstra as he came into the hall with a group of neo Nazi thugs. I remember Christie as a nasty looking man, dark and a bit removed from the proceedings until he introduced Keegstra as a stirling defender of free speech.  It was a fiery introduction.

Keegstra’s speech on the other hand was flat and whiny.  As were his rag tag followers.  They weren’t scary.   They were a just a bunch of limp men with bags of self published books full of foolish theories that explained why they, the losers at life, were not to blame.

I couldn’t get out of there soon enough.

I haven’t thought about that experience for a long while and then just a few weeks ago I walked past Christies’s boarded up office a block away from the courthouse in Victoria.  Christie was dying and had closed up his practice I learned.

Today Christie’s obit appeared in the Vancouver Sun.  “Free speech advocate dies at age 66,” was the headline and it says more about the Sun than it does about Christie.

Christie was a defender of Nazis.  He believed what they believed.  And he used free speech because it was the only defense available for saying what he believed.

I believe in free speech too, but I believe the only way to defend it is to be clear about where someone stands and what he or she is really about.

Doug Christie was about racism.  He was about anti-Semitism.  He was about hate.  That’s what he should be known for.  Letting him hide behind the cloak of free speech even in death, as the Sun did today, is wrong.

 

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14 Responses to Doug Christie gets polished up by the Vancouver Sun

  1. OldIslander says:

    I always suspected that Christie defended his various hate-clients because he sympathized with them. Over the years, I don’t recall reading any solid proof of that. The late Gary Bannerman was closest — he hit the nail on the head, when he said that Christie must be viewed as a monster, given his association with so many of them. Christie sued Bannerman for that comment, and lost.

  2. None of the Above says:

    Well said. Sounds like the man was a racist and a bigot, plain and simple.

  3. Beverley says:

    Heard the news of Doug Christie’s death and the designated free speech label and was taken aback. He defended and vocally supported at every opportunity that person who used his classroom in such awful ways.

    I remember frothing over the case and the interviews that spewed over the radio and tv from lawyer and client. Wow, defending someone teaching young people such racist drivel was actually defending free speech? If I recall, both students and parents were appalled at the arrogance of Mr. Keegstra and his message of hate.

    Free speech advocate? I don’t think so!

  4. Scotty on Denman says:

    Christie’s spurious defence of free speech was supremely white: he never championed non-white racists.

  5. CS says:

    Polished is an understatement!
    A man who defended a mass-murderer like Mr Seifert (who ended up in jail in Italy for WW2 era crimes) and wanted to create a racist separatist state in western Canada (http://www.westcan.org/) was not just ‘controversial’ or ‘free speech activist’.
    He was a bigot, a traitor and fanatic……. just because he is dead does not mean we shoudl white-wash history.

  6. Pingback: Polished up by the Vancouver Sun | On First Nation Issues, Jobs, Events, And Environmental Issues On The West Coast And World Events.

  7. simo says:

    Thanks for the reality check.
    Many years ago I was watching news coverage of an Ernst Zundel trial. Outside were elderly protesters many of them holocaust survivors. A reporter caught Ernst telling an old man with a placard; “we gonna get you next time”. So Ernst was inside saying the holocaust didn’t happen but outside saying it should happen, it will happen. Doug Christy was without a doubt, a shameless fellow traveller.

  8. Carl Rosenberg says:

    I was glad to see this, because while I wouldn’t wish Christie’s painful and premature death on anyone, I was also baffled by the sanitized treatment accorded his career in the mainstream media reports I’ve read so far.

    To say that even racists and fascists of whatever description (David Duke, Louis Farrakhan, Meir Kahane, etc.) should have freedom of speech is a tenable position. But to defend Christie as a mere defender of freedom of speech is pretty weak. The long list of racists and neo-Nazis whom he defended looks like a deeper association than an assortment of individuals whose free speech he just happened to be defending.

    He told reporters in 1985, around the time of the Zundel trial, “I’ve come to have some grave doubts about the exterminationist side”–implicitly endorsing the Holocaust-denial views of his client. He later attacked federal Citizenship Minister Elinor Caplan for her “Jewish animosity” toward one of his clients (Nazi war criminal Michael Seifert).

    A mere free-speech civil libertarian? Don’t think so.

  9. Sandy says:

    But it is fine for lawyers to defend rapists, paedophiles and murderers – hmm.

  10. Norm Farrell says:

    Highly respected journalist Tom Hawthorne provides an honest picture of Christie. “Doug Christie is dead. Good riddance…”

    The Unauthorized Obituary of Doug Christie

  11. Andres says:

    Sandy,

    If a lawyer is specifically defending rapists, paedophiles and murderers on the grounds that their actions are not crimes, and makes public comments endorsing the position that such actions aren’t crimes, and builds his entire career on high-profile cases fighting state intervention against these crimes, then yeah, that lawyer is scum just like Christie was. What you present, however, is a false equivalency.

  12. e.a.f. says:

    Lawyers are there to defend the rights of other. We have seen some of B.C.’s best lawyers represent some of our worst citizens. They did it because that was their job, not because they liked them. Doug Christie, well I never put him in that category. He is dead. He is gone. I won’t miss him.

  13. Setar says:

    Um. Online edition appears to have been sanitized, is there a scan?

    (I’m careful about these things. FREEZE PEACH advocates like Christie’s ilk love to be litigious.)

  14. Bill Stevens says:

    I remember Doug Christie from our schooldays in Charleswood, on the western outskirts of Winnipeg. He was no stranger to conflict even at the age of 10 and it appears that it was a part of his life right to the end. Whether he agreed with those he defended or not, I hope their opportunities to promote hatred are diminished.

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