Monthly Archives: June 2012

Oh Montréal

Last week Jerry and I were in Montreal for about 5 days — I was there for a conference, but we were also able to take in the city in-between sessions. I LOVE THIS CITY. I’m already homesick for it, and we haven’t been back in Saskatoon for a week yet.

We were able to catch a quick Casseroles one night, but unfortunately the big student protest was on the day we left for Saskatoon, so we were only there with them in spirit.

When can we go back?

What he said:

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in the old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

- from “Ulysses”
Lord Alfred Tennyson

An update on my (unwittingly hilarious) harasser

If you’re quick, you can catch this person’s latest missive against me on this Facebook group, posted under the pseudonym of ‘Adnan Azam.’ Interestingly, despite being specifically addressed, I am blocked from seeing the post and being able to respond to its absurd accusations. And, as with the email linked below, I think the audience are feeling the opposite effect from what this person wanted to achieve. As my dad would say, this person is ‘shooting himself in the foot’ – there’s public humiliation going on here, and it’s not about me. There are clearly some deep-seated issues at work.

This latest attack just goes to show (again) how cowardly this particular person is – thankfully, the Internets are pretty easy to trace these days, especially when you know the right people. It looks like another visit to the police station is in order.

A friend of mine on Twitter the other day quoted some wise words from Tina Fey: ‘conversing with trolls is a one-way ticket to crazy town’. I couldn’t agree more, especially regarding the latest troll in my life.

You know you’re doing something right when …

you anger someone enough that this person sends the following email to hundreds (thousands?) of faculty and staff at the University you’re a part of:

From: John Brown <>
Date: Sunday, June 17, 2012 2:48 AM
To: John Brown <>
Subject: Fwd: U of S Lecturer Rebekah Bennetch Is Misrepresenting Herself by Claiming to be Professor of Professional Communication and Is Making Ignorant Statements to the Media

This complaint against Rebekah Bennetch was sent to faculty and staff in arts and science, faculty and staff in engineering, faculty and staff in the vice presidents’ offices, and staff in the president’s office.  No need to tell Rebekah Bennetch.


I’m a former student instructed by Rebekah Bennetch.  I saw that she has been misrepresenting herself in the media and with the public by claiming to be a “professor of professional communication” at University of Saskatchewan.  I felt morally obligated to bring her misrepresentations to the attention of the University of Saskatchewan, so U of S can take appropriate action against her for her misrepresentations with the media and the public.  This is my one and only email to you about this matter.

Rebekah Bennetch has called herself a “professor of professional communication” on her Twitter account:

I am attaching a copy of this Web page called “Twitter – grrrlmeetsworld RT @ckomnews LISTEN John.mht” in case Rebekah Bennetch deletes this evidence against her after the university administration talks to her.  I am also attaching a screen capture of this Web page as ““Twitter – grrrlmeetsworld RT @ckomnews LISTEN John.jpg” in case she deletes it after the university administration talks to her.

On this interview page, you will see that Rebekah Bennetch had herself listed as a “professor of professional communication”:

I am attaching a copy of this Web page called “John Gormley Live – Rebekah Bennetch, Professor of Professional Communication, University of Saskatchewan – Do you think prayers should be allowed at public events  News Talk 650 CKOM.mht.”

If you look at June 11, 2012 for the show notes below, you will see that Rebekah Bennetch had herself listed as a “professor of professional communication”:

I am attaching a copy of this Web page called “Show Notes  News Talk 650 CKOM.mht.”

If these were mistakes by News Talk 650 CKOM as Rebekah Bennetch might claim, why hasn’t she corrected them?

Instead Rebekah Bennetch has linked to these sites and called herself a “professor of professional communication” too on her Twitter account:

I am attaching copy of this Web page called “Twitter – grrrlmeetsworld RT @ckomnews LISTEN John.mht” in case Rebekah Bennetch deletes this evidence against her.

It isn’t just News Talk 650 CKOM that Rebekah Bennetch told she’s a “professor of professional communication” at University of Saskatchewan.  She told this to Sun News Network too, as can be seen here:

I am attaching a copy of this Web page as “Sun News  Prayer doesn’t belong at municipal events CCLA.mht.”

In the final article, Rebekah Bennetch also displays her extreme ignorance by thinking that making a complaint to a human rights commission is called “legislating.”  As anyone with any basic knowledge at all knows, this is not legislating.  As a staff member of University of Saskatchewan, she makes the university look bad for saying such an extremely ignorant thing.  This isn’t just a slip of the tongue.  She can’t accidentally say “legislating” unless she really believes that making a complaint to a human rights commission is legislating.

And it certainly isn’t a slip of the tongue for Rebekah Bennetch to repeatedly call herself a “professor of professional communication” at University of Saskatchewan to two different media outlets and on her own Twitter account.

I am also attaching a temporary page that News Talk 980 CJME had up in which Rebekah Bennetch also had herself listed as a “professor or professional communication.”  This file is called “John Gormley Live  News Talk 980 CJME.mht.”

In the radio interview, Rebekah Bennetch claims to support the position of the complainant, but says she is against going to a human rights commission.  However, she can come up with no other way to pursue the complaint and no reason not to take it to the human rights commission.  Ha ha ha.  She sounded extremely confused and extremely inarticulate.  She made a fool of herself and the university on provincial radio.

Rebekah Bennetch is a lecturer without a Ph.D. and with a single published research paper according to her biography on the U of S Web site.  Ha ha ha.  Obviously she cannot be a professor.  She is a writing lecturer.  She isn’t claiming to be an assistant professor.  She isn’t even claiming to be an associate professor.  She is claiming to be a professor.  This is absolutely disgraceful and an extremely serious misrepresentation of her professional qualifications.

I heard that Rebekah Bennetch took four years to do her master’s degree and is a prolific blogger.  Can’t University of Saskatchewan find someone with a decent research publication record to be a lecturer there instead of a blogger?

As a former student at U of S, I hate to see an individual like Rebekah Bennetch make the university look bad by severely misrepresenting her professional qualifications and by making extremely ignorant statements to the media like filing a complaint to the human rights commission is legislating.  Because she does not have tenure, I strongly believe that Rebekah Bennetch should be fired from her job.

Best regards,

John Brown

lol — I can see the headlines now: “Rebekah Bennetch FIRED for typos!”  “Rebekah Bennetch FIRED for (mostly) agreeing with someone, but not completely, and then daring to speak her opinion publicly!” (that’s a long headline — though it’s hard to sum up inanity)

I’ve always wanted to make a name for myself in the University — I suppose this will help give me a start.  Hopefully it’ll bring more people awareness to the interview, and the fact that not every one agrees with this particular Human Rights complaint.


p.s. I’ve never taught a John Brown. :)

EDIT: How could I have posted this email without its accompanying video?

on worry

Happy Father’s Day! I’m lucky to have had a great dad. I’m also even more fortunate to be married to a man who’s the best dad to my little girl.

Here’s a letter F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote to his little girl –  it includes advice relevant for us all:

Things to worry about:

Worry about courage
Worry about Cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship
Worry about…

Things not to worry about:

Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions

Things to think about:

What am I really aiming at?
How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:

(a) Scholarship
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?

I don’t usually do these, but…


grrrl meets conservative media

So I had an interesting day today.

Today I had a conversation with our local talk-radio star, John Gormley.  John and I are on pretty much different sides of the aisle on many (most?) political and social issues, but today we had a moment of commonality.  Beyond our shared affection for True Blood (!!),  we both aren’t in favor of a recent complaint filed with the province’s Human Rights Commission.

Some background: In April of this year, there was a prayer offered at a City of Saskatoon Volunteer Appreciation Dinner.  One of the volunteers being honored found the dinner grace to be inappropriate in the context, and complained. The complaint eventually escalated to now being a case before the Human Rights Commission. [Star-Phoenix article here]

Now when this story first came out, I was really glad the issue was being highlighted and discussed. I also don’t think public prayers are appropriate, because not only will it bother non-believers in the audience, but chances are the prayer will alienate another belief system.  And, thanks to Thomas Jefferson, I’m a big fan of separating church and state.

But that said, I can also understand why a prayer may have been given in the context of the volunteer appreciation dinner.  For many believers, it’s just second-nature to offer a grace before eating, and they may not have thought of the implications of their actions on audience members who don’t share their faith. (this doesn’t excuse what happened, but it may explain why it did)

I don’t think that this dinner prayer was meant to subvert nonbelievers or nonChristians in a way that violated their human rights, per se.  But I do think that we, as a society, need to talk about what’s appropriate in public contexts (and clearly this prayer wasn’t appropriate) — and then we can hold our leaders accountable for following through on what is best for ALL of us.  But, again, I think taking this complaint to the HRC is a few steps further than what I would have done.

SO — to hear more about where I’m coming from, check out today’s interview on John Gormley Live here.

When it’s all said and done, I’m happy with how it all turned out.  I feel like I was able to respectfully disagree with the complainant, while also highlighting how diverse the atheist/secular/humanist/nonbelieving community can be when it comes to various issues. I was also able to talk a bit about a case I think would be worthwhile taking to the HRC, plus there were 2 plugs for the different groups I help facilitate (including one plug made by the man, Gormley, himself!).

About 10 minutes after I did the interview, I got an email from a reporter from the national news station Sun News who was requesting me to do an on-camera interview!  Crazy.  So not only did I have a chance to speak my piece on local talk radio, but sometime tomorrow I’ll have a bit on a national news channel. (if anyone out there can PVR my interview, I’d be much appreciated — hopefully it’ll appear on the website)

All in all, it was a busy day — but a good day.  It was a chance for me to share my opinion and hopefully educate others on the diversity of the atheist movement.

The current signature line of my email account pretty much sums up why I decided to speak out on this issue when it could have been just as easy to walk away from it.  My signature quote is from Emile Zola, and it reads: “If you ask me what I came into this world to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.”

Today was one of those days I lived out loud. And I liked it.