Thousands are rallying to try to keep controversial U.S. pickup artist and anti-feminist blogger Daryush Valizadeh, known online as Roosh V, from delivering a lecture in Toronto this weekend after the country was alerted to his presence by Roberts Creek mother of three Sara Parker-Touslon.
Parker-Toulson started an online petition at the end of July to deny Roosh V entry into Canada, after discovering he was planning to visit Montreal and Toronto in August on a world tour dubbed “The State of Man.”
She told Coast Reporter she didn’t know about Roosh V or his tour until someone online forwarded her a copy of one of his posts saying rape of women should be made legal on private property.
“When I read it I scrolled to the bottom and saw that he was doing a world tour. I clicked on that link and saw that he had two dates in Canada. I contacted a Facebook group called Exposing Men’s Rights Activism and I asked what to do. He said ‘write a petition,’” Parker-Toulson said.
“I was skeptical but I did it anyway and we started forwarding it and unbeknownst to me a lot of women in Quebec started immediately forwarding it and tweeting about it and Facebooking about it, and it started to get big. Within the first couple of days we had 5,000 signatures and then 10,000, 15,000. Today there’s over 41,000 signatures.”
The online petition didn’t stop Roosh V from gaining entry to Canada or from travelling to Montreal to deliver his lecture on Aug. 8; however, it did serve to alert many in Montreal.
Several bars printed posters saying Roosh V wasn’t welcome in their establishments and bouncers were on high alert. One woman threw her beer in his face at a bar and a crowd of people then chased Roosh V to his hotel saying he wasn’t welcome.
Parker Toulson said concern about that kind of reaction was exactly why she started the petition to deny Roosh V, which says the blogger is violating section 319 of the Canadian Criminal Code by holding lectures in which he makes public statements that incite hatred against an identifiable group, and that incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace.
“Hate evokes really visceral reactions in people, which is one of the ways it is so dangerous. He’s going to Mississauga; he’s already been confronted once. I wouldn’t be surprised if this escalates and people try to find him and get some kind of justice,” Parker-Toulson said.
While it’s unclear whether Roosh V successfully held his Montreal event, he has said online that he plans to keep his Aug. 15 lecture date in Toronto, which prompted Toronto Mayor John Tory to take action this week.
The mayor publicly called on those hosting the lecture to “do the right thing – cancel this show.” Tory also urged all venue locations in Toronto to deny Roosh V “the opportunity to use their space.” He added, “He and his views are not welcome in Toronto.”
Parker-Toulson is encouraged by Tory’s support and hopes others in Toronto will also take a stand to keep Roosh V from giving his lecture in the area.
She also planned to contact the Ontario premier and other political figures who have been supportive via Twitter to see if there’s anything they can do.
The self-described feminist said she has made many friends throughout Canada while working on the campaign to stop Roosh V from delivering his lectures, and while her original petition didn’t keep him out of Canada, it created awareness and moved people to act.
“People underestimate how many people support them. They look at an issue and they have a visceral reaction but they think ‘I can’t do anything. What can I do?’ The reality is you can do so much with the Internet from here, and anyone can. Whether you’re a mother of three or a full-time activist or whoever you are, this is all accessible to you,” Parker-Toulson said.
“After this dies down, I really want people on the Coast to realize, yes, they do have a voice.”
Coast Reporter contacted Roosh V for an interview this week, and while he originally said he would consider answering emailed questions, on Aug. 12 he said he was “too busy, unfortunately” to respond.