At first, I was dubious when I saw this story from the Toronto Star. But then everything fell into place.
Readings have traditionally been decorous events. Now they may call for security guards.
On Sunday at the Indigo Books store in Kitchener, a discussion of a novel by Howard Rotberg was stopped after two men identifying themselves as an Iraqi Kurd and Palestinian started shouting abuse at the first-time author.
“I was talking about my book, which is called The Second Catastrophe, and they started to make anti-Israel and anti-American speeches,” Rotberg recalled yesterday. “We hadn’t gotten to the question period yet. They just took over and I was unable to continue. Then I heard the Kurdish man refer to me as a `f—ing Jew.
“I shouted back that I would not be called a f—ing Jew during my lecture. You bet I was upset. My aunt and grandparents died in Auschwitz.”
It seems that objecting to being insulted makes a situation that is “inappropriate” on both sides. Hmmmm. Like the “cycle of violence” in the Middle East?
Police arrived but declined to charge the hecklers. Indigo spokesperson Sorya Gaulin said that while an author who’ll draw a big crowd warrants security guards, “You wouldn’t expect this behaviour at a discussion of a novel. The author’s behaviour was inappropriate “” we were seeing (that) on both sides.”
And it turns out that Irshad Manji got similar treatment.
It was not the first disruptive heckler at the Kitchener store. Sheila Kay, deputy director of publicity at Random House Canada, says her company presented The Trouble With Islam by Irshad Manji there in December. “A young man in army fatigues and a sign on his chest saying ‘Free Kurdistan’ interjected that this was just a big publisher making money on a topic they knew nothing about.”