Who Let the Monsters Out?

To paraphrase Mayor Nenshi, we must never forget how easy it is for a narcissist with a microphone to open the closet door and let the monsters out.

Donald Trump, a woefully inexperienced blowhard, defeated Hillary Clinton by legitimizing attacks against women, minorities and immigrants.


Donald Trump President-Elect

Jason Kenney, unlike Trump, isn’t openly hostile to his socially progressive competitors.  Instead he allowed misogynist homophobes to hound PC leadership candidate Sandra Jansen out of the PC leadership race.

This was slick.  Not only did they succeed, they justified their success by creating the narrative that Jansen’s withdrawal from the race is proof she’s not a worthy candidate for leadership.  This is also known as blaming the victim.        

Jansen’s withdrawal from the race elicited some bizarre reactions.

“If you can’t take the heat stay out of the kitchen” 

Some pundits argue that Jansen didn’t have the guts to be a political leader.  This is ridiculous.

She’s been an MLA since 2012 and is the most progressive PC in the Legislature.  She supported legislation to allow students to request gay-straight alliances in schools even when it meant voting against her own party.

She’s a tireless champion for the LBGTQ community and women’s issues despite relentless online intimidation and bullying.

This online and face to face harassment reached fever pitch when she entered the PC leadership race and continues full tilt even after she dropped out.

Lesson:  female politicians who support progressive causes will be punished for challenging white male privilege.

“Boo hoo, I get nasty emails too”  

Old white guys writing for the tabloid press seem to think the snotty comments they receive after publishing a controversial column are the same as the filth flooding Jansen’s social media feed where every second word is c**t.

They forget that Jansen is an easy target.  She’s a highly recognizable public figure and a single mom.  These guys are practically anonymous.

Lesson: old white guys who aren’t politicians think they’re better qualified to advise female politicians on how to deal with hate mail than the female politicians who receive it, because…well, just because.

“Politics is a nasty business, get used to it” 

True, politics is a nasty business but it’s even nastier if you’re female.

Consider for a moment Stephen Kahn.  In the leadership debate Kahn said the PCs and Wildrose vote together 95% of the time, but it’s the 5% difference that’s significant because it reflects the PC’s socially progressive beliefs:  it doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from or who you love.

Notwithstanding Kahn’s support for ethnic diversity and LBGTQ rights, and his tweets about a woman’s right to choose and Caitlyn Jenner being Barbara Walters’ most fascinating person of 2015 Kahn’s social media feed did not erupt in a socially regressive maelstrom.

Lesson: conservatives are kinder to progressive men than progressive women who dare to seek positions of power.

“When they go low, we go high”

As Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama recently discovered “when they go low, we go high” doesn’t solve anything because they simply go lower.

Marie Henein, the woman who defended Jian Ghomeshi on rape charges, says if we go high when they go low we’re going to get hurt or lose.  Instead, we need to go wherever they go, high or low, because suffering fools quietly means they can become president, or prime minister….or premier.

Let’s go to where Jason Kenney went when he learned Jansen was leaving the PC leadership race.


Jason Kenney PC Leadership Candidate

Kenney said he was “sad” Jansen (and Donna Kennedy-Glans) withdrew from the race…then in the very next breath he expressed the “hope” that the requirement of a $50,000 deposit and 500 nomination signatures didn’t stop people from entering the race.

Kenney’s “hope” is an innuendo suggesting Jansen and Kennedy-Glans bailed because they didn’t have the financial resources or the support to continue.  Jansen and Kennedy-Glans denied Kenney’s allegation but the insinuation stuck.

Let’s go to where Kenney went when discussing the allegation of bullying and intimidation.

He said if one of his supporters bullied or intimidated a female candidate they should apologize.  This is nowhere near good enough.

Kenney is responsible for the tone of his campaign.  His campaign team selects the people who volunteer on his behalf.  They represent him.  Whatever they do, they do it in his name.

As such Kenney must do more than say if someone somewhere did something they (not he) should apologize.

He needs to make it crystal clear that he will not tolerate any form of intimidation, harassment, bullying or abuse from his team and anyone engaged in such behavior will be tossed off the campaign.  Then he’s got to do it and tell us he’s done it.

Until he meets this threshold we’ll “go as low” as Jason Kenney goes and if we have to push the monsters of misogyny, racism and homophobia back in the closet, we’ll do it.

Because our Alberta is not Jason Kenney’s Alberta and it never will be.

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28 Responses to Who Let the Monsters Out?

  1. Geoff says:

    Well said, but you left out Derek Filde-rants chastising of the wimpy politically correct culture after Sandra bowed out.

    • Good point Geoff. In my experience when someone says “I know this isn’t politically correct, but…” they’re about to say something blatantly racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, etc. The flood of public support for Sandra Jansen is a signal that we’re all fed up with old white guys telling us we’re part of what Fildebrand called the “hypersensitive, politically-correct, victim-as-virtue culture” He calls it a “culture of wimps”. He’s wrong. It’s a culture of people who are not going to take it anymore.

  2. Jane Walker says:

    Tricky times, Susan!! I don’t think we want to legitimize the mean-spirited bullying that we are seeing from that demographic. It didn’t work for Michelle and Hillary because the media were so out of touch with the reality of the situation. No one took this bully seriously but rather chose to see him as a buffoon. I don’t know the answer but I do want us to be careful to avoid that gutter where people are reaching up to the bottom!

    There will be places for Sandra and Donna to stand and be counted as the exceptional human beings they are in our Alberta society. Public service must offer an example to our youth and new Canadians as to who we are. We are not bullies, I hope!

    • I agree with you Jane, we can’t try to out-bully the bullies but I think Marie Henein made a good point when she said “going high when they go low means you speak only to people who were listening in the first place.”

      Henein agrees with you (and me) that the media played a big role in Hillary’s defeat by treating Trump as a legitimate candidate, an equal as it were. The media should have provided in-depth coverage of all the people he cheated and the sex assault cases still pending. This is justifiable on the grounds that it goes to character, integrity and trustworthiness. Simply referring to the fact he’s gone bankrupt many times doesn’t mean much. Running a series of news stories on each and every tradesman he drove out of business would have been more effective.

  3. Carlos Beca says:

    Jason Kenney would never do what you suggested simply because he is a bully. He believes in the survival of the fittest and of course he considers himself to be the one that deserves to have it all. That is his politics. I just wished I had the luck to be in Sandra Jansen’s position because I would be honored to take him down for good. I respect people but I do not have a place in my life for people like this idiot.

    • You’re right Carlos, Kenney won’t take responsibility for his team because it serves his purpose to have them out there bullying and harassing other candidates. Some Kenney supporters say it’s unfair to compare Kenney to Trump because Kenney worked hard for immigrants. But it appears that Kenney’s outreach efforts were politically motivated. Harper made Kenney start an immigrant outreach program in order to increase support for the Conservatives when party support had stalled. Kenney thought it would be a waste of time but did what his boss told him to do. I’m not saying Kenney didn’t accomplish anything for the immigrant community but let’s not forget Kenney made drastic cuts to healthcare for refugees and was the original sponsor of the niqab ban.

  4. Einar Davison says:

    Thank you again Susan! It is a shame that both of these fine women –Sandra Janzen and Donna Kennedy-Glans could not run without being harrassed and threatened to the point where they felt they needed to leave this race. From your recent post, it isn’t just the police or armed forces where this happens, but everywhere in society and it is up to us to stop it cold where we find it. We need to shame those who do it, hold those accountable who give it support or brush it off as “whining” (Derek Fildebrandt) and ensure that all who would like to run for public office are treated with the respect and dignity for standing for what they believe in. I believe most Albertans are better than this, however as the saying goes “all it takes for democracy to fail is for good people to do nothing” I have paraphrased it a bit, but the meaning is the same. I agree with you, we need to use their tools against them, but where they use lies and deceit, we need to fight them with facts and truth. However if they have their tools (like the Ezra Levant and the Rebel) then we need to have our own tools to balance their lies with truth.

    • Thanks Einar. Your quote is perfect. Too many people in the US failed to take Trump’s hate mongering seriously and the impossible happened. Trump’s in office, he’s busy filling key positions with his lunatic friends and it’s too late to say oops, that was a mistake. The American public will get a chance to fix this somewhat with the 2018 midterm elections (all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 seats in the Senate are up for grabs) but Albertans won’t get a shot at a do-over until 2023 if they let Kenney et al win in 2019. Scary!

  5. I like how you intertwined the Trump and Kenny narratives. It is breathtakingly arrogant to presume that Kenny could use Trump’s tactics to reproduce a “Trump-state” here. But I wonder what we are missing about the American experience, or more, what the media were missing as they enthusiastically covered Trump’s provocations and Clinton’s obvious strengths. I have more concern with how the media covered, and is further distrusted in the process. As always, I have this to say: https://moreenigma.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/mistrust-and-the-media-part-2/
    When the time comes again, may we demonstrate by vote that “our Alberta is not Jason Kenny’s Alberta.” Thanks.

    • Rusty, seems to me Kenney has already embarked on Trump-like tactics in his quest for the premier’s office. He and his surrogates (Derek Fildebrand comes to mind) are amping up the need for a strong leader to pull Alberta out of the mess created by the politically correct wimps. This message resonates with a lot of people.
      Your point about the media is well taken. I’m astounded at the speed with which some of the media is normalizing Trump, I hope they realize that a day ago he tweeted that the New York Times was losing subscribers because they botched the election coverage. The NYT tweeted right back that this was not true. This from the President-Elect. What a mess.

      • I would prefer to do our “soul-searching” before we see a Kenny-pocolypse here. Those of us who assumed Clinton was the better candidate on the face of all the rational facts – didn’t read a public that had enough of a perceived political elite and the politically correct. It will not do us well to dismiss those in Alberta on whom “the message resonates”; I would rather try to understand the foundational reason that there is as much unrest now as there was to successfully oust the 44 year PC dynasty. Mere name-calling “the fine people of Alberta” will not get the progress we desire, and no amount of media missing the point will help. As you say, the media “normalizing Trump” is as disturbing as the media under-reporting why so many distrusted Clinton. As it relates to Kenny, I am troubled that the “news” I am getting about his tactics is not from the media, but from people who attempted to go to their convention. Even your post does not reference “media” – I assume you have other sources to inform you. Already, the media are shown to be MIA.
        In saying this, I am not suggesting a media conspiracy; I am saying that the media has been long compromised by chasing ratings by engaging more in entertainment than journalism. It is a perfect storm of a weakened “fifth estate” and a strengthened “first estate.”
        Keep up the commentary. Thanks.

  6. ronmac says:

    One silver lining is that chief ideological enforcer David Frum won’t be conducting a purge of wayward Trump supporters. What did he have in mind? Re-educatioon camps? Siberian-style gulags?


  7. well, on the bright side this party may never be significant again in Alberta politics. On the other side, we don’t need to vote for monkeys or the monkey party.

  8. David Grant says:

    I think it is pretty terrible that Ms. Jansen experienced the kind of bullying that has reported in this blog and it other places. I think it is terrible that the election has normalized the bullying of Donald of Orange. He is a terrible human being and yet many people didn’t care and voted for him anyway. Whatever flaws Hillary Clinton has, she hasn’t done anything that Trump has done. Having said that, I think it is time for the Clintons and their wretched corporate friendly policies of the DLC to go away, and for the Democratic Party to focus on policies that will help working people actually be able to make a living. If they don’t then there will a lot of Trumps and others who will exploit their concerns. This applies to Canada and the rest of the world as there are lots of wonderful people like Le Pen in France and other far-right groups that could obtain power.

    • David you make a very good point about the Clintons. I read an article about a comment she made about the second FBI investigation into her emails creating a hurdle that the campaign really couldn’t overcome. I agree that it was wrong for the FBI to publicize the second investigation when it had so little to go on, but the other hand, the FBI wouldn’t have launched any investigations had Clinton not used her own private server (even for innocuous emails) in the first place.
      It’s all a mess and it’s going to get messier.

  9. Claudette Whiting says:

    Sadly, your piece nails it Brilliant analysis of bullying these brave candidates who aim for a more equitable society.

  10. DHT says:

    Susan, I want to look at this, not as anything other than an objective analysis of a threat response – In this case, your argument of there being a threat that some, but not all, feel over the choice made by a few million people to the south of us.

    #1 – “Donald Trump, a woefully inexperienced blowhard, defeated Hillary Clinton by legitimizing attacks against women, minorities and immigrants.”

    Yes, Trump is that thing +. No, he has not “legitimized” attacks on those “identifiables” any more than I think you want to legitimize the idea that Old White Guys as a group (of which I am counted) possess THE privilege or are necessarily looking for a fight. This illogical position, where qualification (“Attacker!”) is conflated with quantification (over generalize to an identified population, thus creating a sea of false positives) may stir up emotions, but undermines the logical (and evidence-based) authority you are trying to generate.

    That said, the authority and legitimacy of the American electoral process can be debated without demonizing over fifty million people who voted for change…I sense another “basket of deplorables” statement brewing, and we now know how well that was received.

    #2 – “They forget that Jansen is an easy target. She’s a highly recognizable public figure and a single mom. These guys are practically anonymous.”

    They – the Old white guys writing for the tabloid press and who are bullies – write about this because it is so easy, and it is so unforgettable for the audience who they write for. So the Metaphorical and Physical targets for those who like to victimize and bully, are ‘perfectly aligned’ on the backs of the two candidates you mentioned in your piece. Writing about it – as intended harassment – is something every talker should have to take accountability for. You do it, I do it, and the anonymous haters in the comments section don’t. But this is not exclusively a problem for female politicians – despite your attempts to use Stephan Kahn’s social media feed as a parallel. This “overt threat using passive channels” strategy is something Bannon-Breitbart-The Rebel have been using effectively (something I’ve commented on in the past in your “replies section”) to influence ANYONE who has felt the sting of reputational loss. But you could also find examples of “denial of plausibility” (Note: not plausible deniability) on the other end of the political spectrum as well (“Trigger warnings”. Really?). “Select your false – torqued up – accusation, and lead with it” isn’t something I thought I’d find in the Soapbox. That said, you are a blogger, not a Postmedia writer and I still like to read your opinions.

    #3 – “He needs to make it crystal clear that he will not tolerate any form of intimidation, harassment, bullying or abuse from his team and anyone engaged in such behaviour will be tossed off the campaign. Then he’s got to do it and tell us he’s done it.
    Until he meets this threshold we’ll “go as low” as Jason Kenney goes and if we have to push the monsters of misogyny, racism and homophobia back in the closet, we’ll do it.”

    Well that is certainly one strategic response. To your first point, basic civility and countenance of others is something leaders must model in a democracy (last I looked, we are still a democracy living hemisphere), should they hope to draw enough support from the electorate. The leader also has an obligation to consequence those who marginalize the importance of basic care for others. In both cases, it would appear that the charges against Mr. Kenny’s team require more evidence to meet a legal definition of harassment, which, based on a workplace standards definition, is an easily identified threshold. Even though I can speculate that Mr. Kenny’s definition of “consequence” won’t meet your (or my) expectations, I’m reticent to say that you, or anyone else “going as low” as this “uniter” (again…Really?), will pay off in anything other than, allowing him to play the victim card.

    I’m not sure if you have seen the recent movie release – “Denial”. It is an excellent narrative about being methodical rather than vindictive. Having personally been one within a group subjected to persecution, I question whether this electoral outcome should be framed as monsters vs. the rest of us, or, “winning…next time”. For the sake of winning on a local level, you need the Old White guys like me who just want to get along. Many of us can be persuaded, but not through the use of hyperbole. Just a thought 🙂

    • DHT, thank you for your thought provoking comments. This blog was an attempt to raise a red flag about something that happened during the PC leadership race–Sandra Jansen was attacked in the vilest misogynist language. The people who perpetrated the attack have been identified by Jansen and others as Jason Kenney supporters. These attacks are an extension of the misogynist homophobic attacks Jansen has experienced on social media. The attacks caused her to withdraw from the leadership race and that’s a bad situation for a number of reasons.
      I raised the Trump example because I agree with Nenshi: racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, etc (the “monsters”) lurk just beneath the surface and we’ve learned from Trump’s successful bid for the White House that a skillful huckster can channel them to serve his purpose.
      Re: #1: Trump’s rhetoric opened the closet door, once he was elected the monsters flooded out. This part of the blog focused on white privilege, something found in both white men and white women. See for example the story about the West Virginia mayor (female) who called Michelle Obama an ape in high heels.
      Re: #2: This part of the blog focused on old white guys who don’t understand that their life experience is not the same as the life experience of females, minorities, or the LBGTQ community. The tabloid writer in my example wrote a scathing story about Jansen and Kennedy-Glans withdrawing from the race. He said they didn’t have the stomach for politics. He based his conclusion on the fact that he too receives “crude” comments but there’s no comparison between the comments he gets and the vile threats they get because for one thing the insults directed at old white guys don’t include sexual violence.
      Re: #3: So that’s a good question. What does “go low” really mean? I certainly didn’t mean that Jansen supporters should scribble expletives on Kenney’s nomination forms or send him tweets laced with profanity, but we need to go to wherever he’s gone and call him out when he’s stepped over the line. That’s why I said his reference to the need for 500 signatures and $50,000 in order to run for PC leader was utterly inappropriate, especially when he was purporting to be sorry they were leaving the race. He implied they didn’t have the support they needed to continue in the race, so his so-called statement of regret they were leaving turned into another shot at how inept and ill-prepared they were.
      You asked whether the actions of Kenney’s team would meet the legal definition of harassment, they would in a work environment. Shawn Simoes was fired from his job at Hydro One for his sexist heckling of a CityNews reporter. The big difference between Hydro One and the Kenney campaign is Hydro One did not want to be associated with someone like Simoes, I don’t think Kenney cares.
      I wholeheartedly agree with your comment that leaders must model basic civility and countenance of others in a democracy if they hope to draw enough support from the electorate, however the fact that Trump won demonstrates that this isn’t the case. I fear that unless we make it clear that we won’t tolerate that kind of behavior we’ll see a repeat of the same thing in Alberta in 2019.
      PS I like Old White Guys like you…sometimes I crank up the volume a bit to get your attention. 🙂

      • DHT says:

        And this is where it gets interesting…when the “give and take” requires further clarification. If the suggestion of methodical processing is put forward, one could, in response, re-state their original argument. Some women bristle at this tactic, and have given that ‘patronizing approach’ the less than complimentary term: “Man-splaining”. This goes to the assumption that what was raised as evidence the first time, was not heard or seen the first time, which, the cut & paste aspects of my response, should have demonstrated simply is not true…(read and clearly understood).

        I’ll leave that there for now, as I do want to point out the gist of what I think is your ‘raising the alarm’ over the political tactics used to influence voters. Stepping back from all this, there are a number of ways one can choose to respond. Pointing out the “Phobic” nature of some people as Mr. Nenshi has done, is what I would describe as the “spotlight” method. I recognize that ‘acknowledgement of’ can be confused with ‘legitimacy’, and so clarifying that those two things are NOT the same, might require some confirmation. Unfortunately – and I tried to highlight this in my response – the spotlight can be shone on everything from stage performers to cockroaches, and everything in between. It is up to the person/people seeing the object (now well lit) to interpret. This is where the more thoughtful among us have to filter the writer’s filters and recognize that bias never completely disappears, and, that facts are often selected out from, to support the premise put forward. I was simply suggesting there are more facts that need to be debated before a clearer picture emerges of what is actually happening around us – not just politically – at the moment.

        Which brings me to my point of clarification: By methodical I should have used the term – calculating. By calculating I mean: knowing people who are generally too emotionally fearful or too emotionally safe, will tend to make thinking mistakes. Sometimes this is described as hubris, sometimes as a phobia, but it doesn’t have to be that extreme to have a thinker over-generalize and start making predictions that turn out to be wrong. My sense of the current political state is that the spotlighting method may not be as effective in current times as having a much better, more informed sense, of who the over-generalizers are, because they feel safe in making overt their fears and confidences. This “give ‘em enough rope” approach is especially effective with radicalism…radicals will…they simply can’t help themselves.

        Again, that movie I suggested might fill in some gaps. I also recommend the following: http://www.cracked.com/blog/dont-panic/ WARNING: salty language alert – that said, this old white guy reads lots of different opinions to not only stay informed, but to manage the volume buttons – we choose to work the sound board rather than have a dial that goes to eleven – and yes I recommend “Spinal Tap” as well. Take care.

  11. Einar Davison says:

    I guess over this last week I have seen a lot of comments about harrassment and abuse being “part of the game”. Well the game needs to change and the people who promote the status quo in the game need to be held to account. You know when I was younger I think people used to disagree about policy and initiatives and not call people derogatory names. I remember “fuddle duddle” being a breach of manners and now that would be seen as tame. Sandra Janzen has crossed the floor and there are some who are baying for her to resign and force a byelection. However I will ask many of those who are doing the baying, and who are supporting the unite the right. If indeed Jason Kenney is successful and does unite the right, will it be okay if all those members of the WRP and PC abandon the party they were elected too? How is that different? I guess the Presbyterian in me remembers my sunday school teaching “let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. Or how about “don’t judge because you will certainly be judged too”. The social conservative right and the Christian right always seem to forget this. We should be different in Alberta, I know I long for the day when all Albertans regardless of who they are will enjoy the same rights, respect and yes responsibilities. Where we won’t need to be offended by a person or a group being singled out for abuse, because it won’t happen without public outrage. I believe Albertans are better than this and we won’t let the few keep us from achieving this. In the meantime let us hold them accountable, but with integrity and not smears or slurs. Otherwise we will be no better than them!

    • Carlos Beca says:

      Einar I could not agree more with you but I just want to remind you that because we have been honest and not use smears and slurs we are loosing the war big time. Sometimes in life there are situations when one has to go down to their level in order to be effective. Courts and the law do not help us at all in this respect so what to do with a person like Jason Kenney who does not have any problem being a total jerk with even a person like Sandra Janzen? He may not be directly involved but that is part of their strategy. He is the one behind the aggression. I am really not sure we will be able to withstand this total madness without some muscle. With Donald Trump in power this is only going to get worse. Look at how Leitch has just gone wild with his win. She is in the same club and she feels empowered. Unfortunately I do not think we have shortage of fans just like in the US.
      Politics needs a serious reform and I will say again that it is the political class that is causing this crisis. They prefer the status quo even in Alberta where the NDP with a great chance of a democratic renewal is doing nothing at all.
      Too bad – I have way more hope with Bernie Sanders than any politician in Canada.

      • GoinFawr says:

        Bernie seems great; any thoughts on why he appears to have not interest whatsoever in bringing Ralph Nader on board?

      • Carlos Beca says:

        Good question GoinFawr. Why did he not leave the democratic party and join Jill Stein in the Green party?
        I have no idea.
        Why have another question that has been bothering me even more. Why did Elizabeth Warren join forces with Hillary Clinton rather than Bernie Sanders?

      • carlosbeca says:

        Not sure if I woke up with less brain cells but the third sentence was supposed to start

        I have another question …………..

        I am sorry about that

  12. Carlos Beca says:

    Despite the political temperature rise especially last year, the party continues and in my opinion has to be overthrown. The mew monarchy will not leave without being kicked out because our representatives either belong to them or have no courage to do anything about it.


    One day soon history will repeat again. It reminds me of a phrase I read in the book ‘ The Return of History’ by Jennifer Welsh

    ‘History repeats itself because no one was listening the first time’

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