Dalhousie University has found its name in the headlines a lot these past two months and now, through association, we are in it again.
This time it’s due to the actions of the Dawgfather, Jerry Reddick, a friendly campus face who stands in front of the student union selling his hotdogs to students, faculty and staff who are in need of a quick protein fix. The controversy comes from the most recent content of his four-year-old Twitter account.
We all know that Reddick is a devout Muslim. Reddick, like many other Muslims, was offended by the comics published by Charlie Hebdo, a French magazine. It seems that he was upset by how everyone was defending the freedom of expression of the artists, and so he chose to put the shoe on the other foot. The manner in which he did this, however, was insensitive, disgusting, and proved no point whatsoever. The worst part? I don’t think he understands how it was problematic. He simply thinks that he was making a point about free speech.
The tone of his comments about Jews and the Holocaust with the hash tag of #Hitler, shows his obliviousness to the whole situation, how he was only focused on how his religious beliefs were injured and insulted at the hands of writers and comics in France. He was so focused on his own injury and the inappropriate way in which his prophet was portrayed, that he was unable to see how his “points” about freedom of speech were really not points at all, but just an angry man failing miserably at pretending to be wise.
He brought up and belittled the incredibly hurtful memory of one of the darkest moments in human history — the slaughter of millions of innocent people, a horror to which many members of our community lost countless family members — and he tried to equate it with the unpleasantness of having one’s religion mocked.
He then tried to defend this behaviour as proving a point about how Canadians don’t actually believe in freedom of speech, as if the public anger over his comments was somehow remotely similar to the Charlie Hebdo massacre. He concluded with a multi-day barrage of Tweets that I assume were meant to defend his behaviour, arguing that Jewish people were responsible for historical crimes themselves, reinforcing his points by providing his followers with links to such reliable sources as David Duke, a “popular” anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist and former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Clan.
Members of the Jewish Community reported the Dawgfather to the RCMP and the police, and this led to an investigation by the Halifax Regional Police for hate speech.
Reddick even turned himself into the station willingly, standing by his remarks and arguing that he was just pushing the boundaries of free speech.
With anti-Semitism towards Jewish individuals so rampant and profound in France that French Jews are immigrating out of France in record numbers to Israel and Canada, Reddick’s attempt to “place the shoe on the other foot” was not only disgracefully dumb, but just down right disgusting. I do not wish to see him charged; if we issued fines for public acts of stupidity, I‘m sure the police department would be rolling out new Lamborghini patrol cars within the month. I just hope that he realizes his own ignorance and attempts to correct it somehow. In the mean time, I haven’t bought a Dawg from the Father since my first year of university, and I don’t think that will change any time soon.