You can read an inconsequential news release from, by, and at RyeHigh about an hour-long interview Jesse had at that august institution. You can also watch the actual interview – if you upgrade your Adobe® Flash® player, which I don’t have in the first place.
But, in classic Toronto half-assed fashion, the video works on an iPad, so I watched it some six months after the fact.
“Yeah, I’ve corrected every error that’s been pointed out,” Jesse erroneously claims at 11:38. But pay more attention to the second-last question in the Q&A (1:01:00).
Q. Hi, I’m Colin. I work at TVO. And I just want to know, Jesse – you did a really tense interview with a fellow named Joe Clark a while ago. And I just want to know why you invited him on and what happened when the show ended? How did you guys, like, leave things?
JESSE: I had him on ’cause why not have him on, you know?
— Like, so, for those who don’t know, uh, Joe Clark is, uh – Joe Clark has been described by many as a troll. I don’t think he’s a troll. I think a troll will just sort of say – this is not the former PM, by the way; this is a former journalist Joe Clark. Um, a troll will just say anything to try and… a troll will change their story and they’re just trying to get a reaction. I think, you know, Joe’s a guy who, um, has a very unique particular sense of what’s right and wrong, and he’s very specific and he has a background in journalism and is very interested in language. And, uh, is from I think maybe, maybe some kind of a radical queer political kind of a background? That’s the sense that I got.
He’s got a l—he’s an interesting guy who has been fiercely critical of me throughout my career. And I thought I was special, but then I found out he’s been fiercely critical of like a dozen other journalists. He writes a lot of E-mails. He crosses the line, I think, in some of the things that he does. He makes me very uncomfortable. But he was engaging with my work. Um, and I felt weird about ignoring him. I felt I was the Globe and Mail ignoring me, or the CBC. I felt like, you know, every now and then he would say something that actually sounded like maybe there was a point to it. Um, you know, um, and I just felt like, you know, it’ll be interesting. Let’s – what’s the worst that can happen?
So I, you know, I—I—I—he kept saying “When am I going to be on your show? When am I going to be on your show?” And finally I said “You can be on my show.” And my wife said “No.”
CO-HOST: “Baaad idea, Jesse!”
JESSE: Yeah, um, because within his critique were all these weird allusions to, like, the way I dress or, like, my appearance. He’s always positive. He always seems to like the way I look and dress. That’s very nice. But it all made me really uncomfortable, and so, you know, I didn’t take the necessary precautions. I didn’t have anybody else in the office. But then like within ten minutes of meeting him –
CO-HOST: Do not do this, anyone who—
— I met him and within a minute I was like, “I don’t have anything to fear from this guy.” And, uh, we had a very, very tense and difficult conversation, as you said. Um, and some people said – like, I’ve never gotten any more reaction from listeners from anything I’ve done, including the Ghomeshi stuff. And people were split down the middle. “Do not ever have that guy on the show ever again. I couldn’t listen to more than five minutes of that. Like, I had to go and have a drink after I listened to that.”
And then everybody else said, like, “Thaaat… was… crazy.” Like, “Have him on from time to time, because that was the craziest thing I’ve ever heard.” People didn’t know if it was real. They thought it was, like, some some Jonathan Goldstein WireTap thing.
It was a nutty interview, and it ended, like, I had to – we recorded like an hour and a half. I had to be like, “Joe, I can’t talk to you anymore. I’ve got a lunch thing.” And he walked with me out of the studio to my lunch thing, and continued the conversation, and only when like I kind of proved there is, “I’m meeting someone for lunch – here he is.” And that’s how that ended, ummm.
I think I’m gonna have him on again. I mean, I – and I feel weird about it, because, I mean, he has – I get E-mails from people in the trans community and in the queer community who say that he has been abusive. And then I find myself in this weird position of, like, well, I don’t want to give a platform to any kind of a bigot, but I haven’t really seen conclusive proof that he’s crossed that line.
TRANNY 1 in audience: I can give it to you.
TRANNY 1: Yeah.
TRANNY 2 in audience: I can give it to you.
JESSE: OK. I—I feel weird also about being in the position, of like – I dunno, I’m of two minds about it. I also feel like you can cross a line from which, you know, I’m a pretty – I’m pretty wide-open when it comes to free speech. I think that – I’m—I’m—I’m—I think that we should have as wide as possible until people start getting like really threatened. Um, but I think we’re also free to ostracize people. And I think we’re free to not listen to people and not give them platforms….
But I would like to know who I’m dealing with when I’m dealing with Joe Clark. Thank you.
I refuse to debate my existence and beliefs. I will react to being maligned in absentia (to the great amusement of those in attendance). Transwomen are men, and CanadaLand Watch is suspended.
What a fool I was.