Michele Di Franco — the VP Finance of a University of Ottawa campus group called “uOttawa Students for Free Speech” — has launched a $150,000 lawsuit against a political opponent, Michael Bueckert, after being criticized by Bueckert as sympathetic to the alt-right.
Di Franco is a strong supporter of Doug Ford and bragged on Twitter about being part of one of the few student groups consulted by Ford on his cuts to OSAP.
Di Franco also appears to be a supporter of Donald Trump, tweeting in 2018 that he likes Trump even more than Ford.
Di Franco is now suing a critic of himself and Doug Ford. His target is a Carleton University PhD student, Michael Bueckert, who claimed that Di Franco has expressed views sympathetic to the alt-right.
Di Franco’s suit claims this criticism is libelous. In a response to Di Franco, Bueckert’s attorneys outlined a number of representations made by Di Franco which appear to suggest otherwise, including those reproduced verbatim here:
- The intro to his Facebook page that states that he is “Milo [Yiannopoulos] on Facebook: James Damore in real life.”
- A tweet alleging that communists get “George Soros money” (antisemitic trope and conspiracy theory consistent with the alt-right’s preoccupation with Soros)
- A tweet celebrating George Zimmerman’s verdict of not guilty; (a common themeamongst proponents and members of the alt-right and generally consistent with the alt-right’s antipathy towards the Black Lives Matter movement)
- A tweet expressing disagreement with reparations for black Americans and attributing support for reparations to “leftists” (bizarre preoccupation with reparations that is consistent with alt-right ideology)
- A tweet promoting “cultural appropriation month” (self-explanatory)
- A tweet endorsing a defence of Lauren Southern, who handed out flyers in London containing the statement “Allah is a gay god”. The tweet defended her stating that she is not “alt-right,” just “right” and asserted that “The west is the best.”
- Tweets illustrating a preoccupation with ‘illegal’ immigration in a manner consistent with alt-right political ideology
- A tweet purportedly defending free speech and endorsing Gavin McInnes’s notion of the“war on fun” – ‘fun’ referring to McInnes’s and others’ discriminatory vitriol, and the ‘war’ referring to the protests against him and other alt-right commentators
- Tweets illustrating a general preoccupation with ‘free speech’, but only as it relates to the right of far right and alt-right pundits to express their discriminatory and other right-wing views. These representations do not illustrate a general commitment to free speech per se, and they are consistent with the alt-right’s preoccupation with ‘free speech’ as a means to defend their dissemination of discriminatory views.
So is Di Franco engaged in a legitimate libel suit against someone who has mis-represented his views? Or is he attempting to shut down the free speech of his political opponents and critics, a broader trend and tactic of the far-right?
Given the evidence assembled by Bueckert’s legal team, well — we’ll leave it to you to decide.
Michael Bueckert is crowdfunding for legal fees to defend against this anti-free speech lawsuit. Please consider chipping in if you can to protect free speech from the far-right.