Tom Flanagan apology for child porn remarks raises more questions

| March 1, 2013 | 1 Comment

Tom Flanagan admits to being on “registry” of North American Man/Boy Love Association

tom flanagan

Apology of Tom Flanagan for child pornography remarks only raises more questions.

Tom Flanagan has apologized for comments that appear to support child pornography as just a different “taste in pictures.” Case closed? Hardly, as even more questions pop up after the most spectacular career flameout in Canadian political history.

Tom Flanagan – godfather of conservative politics in Canada, former advisor to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, manager of the 2011 Wildrose Party campaign, prominent member of the right-wing ‘Calgary School’ and nationally recognized media pundit – immolated his entire career in the space of one day.

For the one or two Beacon readers who may have missed this sordid tale yesterday, Flanagan was speaking about aboriginal issues Wednesday evening at the University of Lethbridge.

Here’s what he said that resulted in the his employer, the University of Calgary, Wildrose leader Danielle Smith, the Prime Minister’s Office, the CBC and former Reform Leader Preston Maning disassociating themselves with him:

“I certainly have no sympathy for child molesters, but I do have some grave doubts about putting people in jail because of their taste in pictures. I don’t look at those pictures, but if a person, ah, looks…

“It is a real issue of personal liberty and to what extent we put people in jail for doing something in which they do not harm another person.”

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And here’s the apology he issued on the Inside Politics Blog on the CBC website Thursday afternoon:

“I absolutely condemn the sexual abuse of children, including the use of children to produce pornography. These are crimes and should be punished under the law. Last night, in an academic setting, I raised a theoretical question about how far criminalization should extend toward the consumption of pornography.

“My words were badly chosen, and in the resulting uproar I was not able to express my abhorrence of child pornography and the sexual abuse of children.

“I apologize unreservedly to all who were offended by my statement, and most especially to victims of sexual abuse and their families.”

What are we to make of Flanagan’s apology?

For starters, his comments hardly qualify as a “theoretical question” in an academic setting. “…I do have some grave doubts about putting people in jail because of their taste in pictures” is not a question. It’s an opinion. My reading of the remark is that Flanagan was clearly registering his opposition to jailing consumers of child pornography.

Suggesting he was an Oxford don sitting by the fireplace placidly smoking his pipe while eager graduate students debated his “theoretical question” is misleading at best.

The hall was filled with aboriginal people who had come to hear him speak and, as they have made clear in subsequent media reports, to register their objections to his views on changing First Nations property rights.

Which leads to the next question: Why even talk about child pornography that night?

The video included in the Beacon News story shows the First Nations fellow on his feet asking a rambling series of quasi-questions that concluded with a comparison between Tom Flanagan and Youtube sensation the Ikea Monkey (to raucous laughter and applause).

An old pro like Flanagan could easily have ducked the kiddie porn comment. It wasn’t even a question, more like a throw-away line, as if the questioner didn’t really expect a response, but it was a good opportunity to take a cheap shot at a political opponent and he couldn’t pass it up.

But Tom Flanagan ignored the legitimate questions and chose to address kiddie porn, instead.

Why? Because he’s mused publicly before that child porn isn’t all that bad without repercussions?  Did the old political warrior get sloppy and let his guard down?

Interesting questions and no hint of an explanation in the apology, which felt like it was scripted by an Ottawa spin meister.

Then there’s a comment of Flanagan’s that hasn’t received as much public attention.

He admitted in Wednesday’s comments to being put on the registry of the North American Man/Boy Love Association, a pernicious American organization that advocates for legal consensual sexual relationships between adult men and minor boys. NAMBLA is nothing more than a group of pedophiles trying to justify their perversion.

In the video, Tom Flanagan says he received NAMBLA mailouts for several years.

What sensible person who finds himself on a the mailing list of a notorious pedophile and child pornography organization wouldn’t take himself off such a registry just as soon as humanly possible? Wouldn’t Flanagan have worried that a colleague or friend or family member might inadvertently see the “mailouts” and arrive at unsavoury conclusions?

Why admit even the faintest association with NAMBLA in a public venue, especially when you’re under no particular pressure to do so?

Let me hasten to say that none of the questions I’ve asked in this column prove that Flanagan committed a criminal offence. Or even an immoral act, for that matter. The good (ex) professor says that he doesn’t look at kiddie porn and in the absence of evidence to the contrary we have to take him at his word.

But he opened the door to questions about his behaviour and his opinion of the viewing of kiddie porn with his comments Wednesday.

And as the godfather of the Canadian conservative movement, which preaches the virtues of religion and moral behaviour, Canadians are entitled to ask questions of him and expect answers.

Thus far, Flanagan’s answers have only raised more questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Category: Opinion

Comments (1)

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  1. Justin Flontek says:

    tom flanagan is a sick man and needs to be investigated!

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