Helping victims of ideological mobs

This fund has been initiated by Jonathan Kay, and seeded with his own $2,500 donation. All donations (including his) will be held, in trust, by the Toronto-based Levitt LLP law firm and its Financial Administrator. Upon the dissolution of the fund, any unspent funds will be returned, on a pro rata basis, to donors. Interested parties may learn more about the fund by contacting us through Twitter .  

A number of Canadian academics, artists, authors, journalists and politicians recently have been targeted by ideologically-motivated mob attacks on social media. In some cases, these attacks have led to the threat of job loss—and have continued even after the mobbing target has been largely cleared of significant wrongdoing by a neutral fact-finder. These same mobs also have focused their attacks on third parties who have urged due process for the accused.

Because of the increasingly precarious nature of work in creative industries and academia, those who stand accused of offensive words or actions often have scant means or institutional support to assist in their self-defence. To the extent these individuals have access to legal representation, it may be provided by third parties—such as a union—that exhibit divided loyalties. Even some NGOs that traditionally have stood in support of free speech and academic freedom have fallen mute, intimidated by the barrage of online criticism they will endure if they champion the civil liberties of mobbed individuals. As a result, there is an emerging sense on campuses, and within some businesses, that Canadians with controversial opinions or reputations may be terminated, bullied or libeled without legal consequence. 

This is something I learned first-hand in the Spring of 2017. Thanks to some good luck, I was able to fight back successfully. But others have been less fortunate, which is why I have created a fund to defray the legal costs of those who have been attacked by ideologically motivated mobs.  

Legal advice will be provided to fund beneficiaries by Howard Levitt, a well-known Toronto-based authority in labour-and-employment-related matters. Mr. Levitt also has experience in areas of law—such as libel and breach of contract—that sometimes arise in labour disputes. It is foreseen that Howard will provide fund beneficiaries with advice or representation, as circumstances may warrant. In other cases, he will direct beneficiaries to other legal resources that he believes are more suitable. As beneficiary candidates present themselves, Mr. Levitt will help ovsersee a small committee to assist in funding decisions. (I will not be on it.) 

In all cases, the purpose will be to help encourage all parties to pursue a just resolution of any underlying dispute. Where circumstances warrant, journalistic avenues may be pursued so as to highlight elements of these cases that raise concerns in regard to the treatment of unpopular individuals or opinions by schools, business entities and other institutions.     

The purpose of the fund is not to advance an ideological agenda, except insofar as the protection of due process, freedom of speech, and freedom of intellectual inquiry may be taken to represent matters of ideological preference. 

It is not intended that the fund will be used to protect any and all parties who are fired, disciplined or censured on the basis of their expressed viewpoints—as some forms of speech truly do go beyond the boundaries of legally acceptable discourse. Mr. Levitt will exercise discretion in directing the fund's resources, but will do so without any defined ideological or partisan litmus test in mind.       

Jonathan Kay

Donations

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  • Elizabeth Morris 
    • $250 
    • 21 mos
  • Clive Seligman 
    • $125 
    • 24 mos
  • John Mueller 
    • $100 
    • 24 mos
  • Elizabeth Morris 
    • $150 
    • 26 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $100 
    • 26 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Jonathan Kay 
Organizer
Toronto, ON
Karen Suskin 
Beneficiary
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