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Canadian MRA Dan Perrins launches hunger strike, demands the arrest of those who’ve “libelled” him UPDATED

Dan Perrins on Day 4 of his hunger strike
Dan Perrins on Day 4 of his hunger strike

UPDATE 5/16: Perrins has called off his hunger strike. Here’s his explanation

Dan Perrins, a famously confrontational Canadian Men’s Rights Activist and staunch supporter of A Voice for Men,  has launched a hunger strike outside the Queen’s Park Legislative Assembly in Toronto. As of this writing, he’s on his fifth day, taking in, he says, nothing but liquids.

What does he want? Surprisingly, that’s not an easy question to answer. Perrins’ demands are vague and grandiose — and probably impossible for the Ontario government to meet — and he has not set any specific conditions that would need to be met in order for him to end the hunger strike.

This seems, at the very least, reckless. A hunger strike is a very serious thing.

The idea of the hunger strike came to Perrins, as he explained in a video discussion with AVFM head man Paul Elam, while he was in the midst of a 75-mile walk across Ontario that was supposed to raise awareness about male suicide and mental health issues.

Not altogether happy with the diffident reception his walk had gotten from police and government officials in some of the cities he passed through, he decided to launch the hunger strike when he finished up his walk in Toronto. It was clearly not very carefully planned. Neither Perrins nor his supporters at AVFM seem to have consulted medical professionals and (at least at the time of Perrins’ last video update) no one from the group is there to monitor his well-being, which seems to me unconscionable.

And then there is the question of his demands, which even Perrins’ supporters at AVFM have had a hard time figuring out. In a post announcing the start of Perrins’ protest, AVFM’s Dean Esmay wrote that

Dan has already delivered his demands at the footsteps of the Queen’s Park Legislative Assembly, who at first refused to even accept his demands for review. After some discussion they reversed and accepted the documents.

But the document Perrins handed over — or at least the document that Esmay linked to — wasn’t a list of demands. It was a muddled manifesto titled “Men’s Rights March 2013 Internet Statement,” ending with a laundry list of goals for the Men’s Rights movement including “[d]evelopment and availability of a male fertility control device, drug or method that is safe, affordable, effective and reversible” and a call to “[f]oster the emergence of a new cultural narrative where all men and women are encouraged to live their lives as they see fit, without preferential treatment, while also being expected to bear the responsibility for their personal choices.”

Perrins then explained that these were not his demands at all. In a comment left under Esmay’s post, he wrote

dandemands

Yes, one of his demands is that those who’ve “libelled” MRAs like himself be arrested and brought before a criminal court.

The first demand is not only so vague as to be almost meaningless — what is “full funding,” how quickly would the government need to provide it?  But it also would require the government to do several impossible things.

Ontario’s premier Kathleen Wynne — as far as I can figure it, she’s the person Perrins expects to respond to his demands — cannot dramatically alter hundreds of millions of dollars of government spending with some dramatic proclamation in order to appease a man on a hunger strike. Or for any other reason; that’s not how government works.

Even if Wynne could suddenly produce “full funding for men’s DV shelters” out of a hat, where exactly would this money go? Domestic violence shelters don’t grow like flowers after you sprinkle the requisite amount of money on the ground. They have to be built, by devoted activists prepared to raise a lot of the money on their own, and prepared as well to deal with endless obstacles and opposition along the way.

The only reason we have DV shelters at all is because feminist activists built them, starting in a time when there was precisely zero government money to help them and a lot of public hostility towards even the idea of them.

Like a lot of Men’s Rights activists, Perrins seems to want a duplicate version of the network of DV shelters that feminist activists have worked for and fought for over the course of many decades to be simply bestowed upon MRAs by government fiat.

Instead of banding together in a serious attempt to build the DV shelters they think should be theirs by right, MRAs have largely devoted their energy to attacking DV shelters for women — including some that actually offer services and shelter (usually in the form of hotel vouchers) to men. Indeed, in his online discussions with Elam, Perrins seems as angry about the money women’s shelters are getting than he does about the lack of money going to non-existent men’s shelters, complaining several times about what he sees as excessive spending by shelters to provide beds for women.

Frankly, Perrins seems a good deal more invested in his second demand: that those who libel “non-feminists” be arrested and criminally charged.

This is not quite as bizarre a demand as it sounds: in addition to having extremely plaintiff-friendly civil libel laws, Canada also has criminal laws against “defamatory libel.” But, as Ontario’s Law Times reports, “[c]riminal charges for defamatory libel are rare in Canada.”

Further, according to one expert the Law Times spoke to,

[t]he line between what constitutes criminal libel and what constitutes the more commonly used civil libel is often blurred, and there’s doubt as to whether these criminal provisions are constitutional in the face of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms … .

Indeed, the Law Times notes, s. 301 of the Criminal Code — under which “anyone who publishes a defamatory libel is guilty of an indictable offence and can be imprisoned for up to two years” — has already been declared unconstitutional in four Canadian provinces, including Ontario, where Perrins is conducting his hunger strike.

Under section 300 of the Code, Canadians in these provinces can, at least theoretically, still be charged with criminal libel, but only if they know what they are publishing is false.

Perrins, for his part, claims he’s been libelled by Canada’s Sharp magazine, by GQ, and by other publications. He’s evidently angry at Sharp’s Alex Nino Gheciu for saying that

Perrins wrote a hateful missive against [a feminist activist], labelling her “Little Red Frothing Fornication Mouth” and posted her pictures and personal information online.

Well, Perrins did indeed write a hateful AVFM post attacking the activist in question, in which he called her “Little Red Frothing Fornication Mouth.” The post was accompanied by a drawing of the woman. But, as far as I know, Perrins did not himself post her personal information online, though it’s possible, I suppose, that the folks at Sharp know something I don’t.

Perrins seems angrier still at writer Jeff Sharlet, who, in his highly unflattering GQ account of AVFM’s summer 2014 conference, wrote that Perrins claimed to have taken the infamous red pill of Men’s Rightshood on

the day he ended up in jail, after he says he lodged a complaint against his ex, the beginning of a legal battle that led him to a hunger strike. “I should have killed the bitch five years ago,” he tells me. “I’d be out by now.” 

Unless Sharlet simply made up the quote, and GQ’s factcheckers let it stand, I’m not exactly sure how this would count as “defamatory libel.” It’s not libellous to quote what someone has said to you.

Sharlet lives in the United States, where Canadian law (as you might imagine) does not apply. But never mind; Perrins (and Elam) want there to be an arrest warrant waiting for him in case he ever crosses the border into Canada.

In one of his discussions with Elam, Perrins also goes on at length, and with considerable anger, about the alleged evils of the Southern Poverty Law Center; Elam reminds him that there isn’t much the Canadian government can do about the American organization either.

It’s not exactly clear to me what Perrins expects the Ontario government to do about any of this alleged libel. The Premier of Ontario cannot order the Canadian police to arrest all of those whom Perrins thinks have defamed him, nor would anyone with any sense want politicians to have this power.

It’s also not clear why Perrins doesn’t simply sue for libel in civil court instead of going on a hunger strike to compel the Ontario government to do things it cannot actually do.

In his discussions with Elam, Perrins talks a lot about how his life isn’t worth any more than that of the Canadian men who commit suicide every day; he also says that if he ends up in the hospital he wants a Do Not Resuscitate order enforced.

It’s hard not to worry that Perrins’ hunger strike — evidently launched without medical consultation and with vague and impossible demands that it’s not clear he’s even presented to government officials — is in fact a form of slow-motion suicide, a bid for Men’s Rights martyrdom.

Those who are encouraging him in this hunger strike are, I think, playing a very dangerous game.

EDIT: I added a reference to the specific section of the criminal code that is still considered constitutional in all Canadian provinces.

EDIT 2: A May 14 post by “Solaris” on AntiMisandry.com, a long-running message board that Perrins now runs, claims these are Perrins’ demands:

Dan has stated that he will end his hunger strike when assurances are made that men in Ontario will receive equal funding for domestic violence shelters as women, and when the Director for Public Prosecutions commits to launching appropriate criminal investigations under Section 300 of the Criminal Code against those libelling MRAs for their support of men’s rights.

Of course, even these slightly more specific demands would be impossible for the Ontario government to fulfill.

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Paradoxical Intention
7 years ago

Sheelzebub | May 13, 2015 at 2:04 pm
This man is obviously not well, and it’s disgusting that so-called Men’s Rights activists are exploiting him like this.

Also, if men are interested in creating shelters for men who are abused, why don’t they meet with the women who started shelters? The women who run them? There is no need to reinvent the wheel–if I felt that was an issue that had to be addressed, I’d talk to the people who already had shelters up and running. What went into creating them? What goes into keeping them afloat? Where do you get funding (it’s not always the government)? What unforeseen issues could possibly come up? What questions do I need to ask that I am not asking? What is it that I don’t know that I don’t know? Sometimes talks with people who are already doing this stuff can be quite illuminating. They’d also learn that no, it was never as simple as the government saying “Hey! Here are some shelters ladies! And have some money!”

But that would assume that these guys want to fix the problem they keep talking about instead of tearing down something that helps women.

Besides the “obviously not well” comment I’m kind of leery of (We’re not fond of ableism here, Sheelzebub), ALL OF THIS.

dhag85
7 years ago

Sorry for repeating myself but can we please ban Pelagic soon? He’s clearly just trolling for a “gotcha” moment, trying to get one feminist to agree with his straw-feminist statements in every thread. It’s getting really old.

deniseeliza
deniseeliza
7 years ago

I don’t have a problem with demanding male-controlled reversible birth control that’s not a condom. Of all the MRA complaints, this is one I can agree with. Condoms are not fun for a lot of people and people with penises have every right to want something they can control that doesn’t make sex feel less good.

I’d get mad at someone who told me I shouldn’t advocate for access to the pill, IUDs, etc because condoms (or “female” condoms, or diaphragms, etc) exist.

Banana Jackie Cake, the Best Jackie and Cake! Yum! (^v^)
Banana Jackie Cake, the Best Jackie and Cake! Yum! (^v^)
7 years ago

@dhag85

Gotta give ’em credit for dedication. /s

maistrechat
7 years ago

Does that mean that Toronto is going to have its own Farhad Khoiee-Abbasi?

Stop copying Chicago’s style, Canadians!

freemage
freemage
7 years ago

Pelagic: “Do unto others before they have a chance to do unto you” is a shitty, shitty way to fight for social justice. If you’re not trolling, knock it off. (If you are trolling, keep it up, and you’ll cross the line to get banned soon enough.)

freemage
freemage
7 years ago

deniseeliza: Oh, as a Proud Possessor of a Pale Penis of Privilege, yes, I’d love an alternative to condoms or vasectomies for men. Something Norplant-ish would be ideal, particularly for guys in a monogamous relationship. However, most of these guys who want them specifically want them because they think then they don’t have to wear condoms even when sleeping around with multiple partners. And they’ll use the argument that if they’re on the Manpill or whatever as a reason that they shouldn’t have to wear a condom, even in a one-night-stand scenario. I trust you see why that’s a horrible scenario.

AltoFronto
AltoFronto
7 years ago

Hmm. Soup is a liquid. I’m hoping for Perrins’ sake that he’ll use that fact as a way to cheat the hunger strike and consume enough calories to stay healthy.
But the thing about the DNR is pretty worrying. It could just be melodramatic, but his buddies really ought to be checking in with him.

Either way, the MRM in its current misogynistic shit-show form is nothing to martyr oneself over. I just hope Perrins realises that before he does himself any serious damage.
But it’s just like the MRAs to goad each other into self-destruction and then blame society for their vicious self-sabotage.

Moggie
Moggie
7 years ago

I don’t have a problem with demanding male-controlled reversible birth control that’s not a condom. Of all the MRA complaints, this is one I can agree with. Condoms are not fun for a lot of people and people with penises have every right to want something they can control that doesn’t make sex feel less good.

Is it really something to demand, though? That makes it sound like this device is just around the corner, and there’s a conspiracy to prevent its introduction. In reality, there are likely to be researchers working on this very thing, and the first company to succeed will make a fortune. It makes no sense to demand a scientific breakthrough.

Nequam
Nequam
7 years ago

Heaven help me, but I find myself incapable of caring if this man lives or dies. Capable of feeling bad for any family he has if he dies, but that’s all.

epitome of incomprehensibility

The Attawapiskat chief Theresa Spence went on a hunger strike two years ago that was fairly widely publicized. It was part of the larger Idle No More movement (Wikipedia summarizes some of it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idle_No_More) demanding aboriginal treaty rights that had been ignored by the federal government.

Now, why Dan Perrins thinks he has a similar cause is beyond me. If would be a good thing to have more well-run shelters in general, but how many people will take his libeling cause seriously, especially as he’s said such insulting things in the past? (I know – insults in general aren’t libel, but I think it’ll make people even less likely to take him seriously.)

Chief Spence ended her strike when Stephen Harper met with a number of First Nations delegates, though they didn’t resolve the majority of the issues she was concerned with.

And – besides the hunger strike thing, this is where the similarities end – I hope something happens soon so that he at least feels he’s reached a compromise and starts eating again. I don’t want anyone to starve themselves.

ktrantingredhead
7 years ago

Who wants to join me in setting up a buffet table right in front of him?

Spindrift
Spindrift
7 years ago

“I’m also pretty taken aback to hear that his fellow MRAs aren’t doing anything to monitor this either. Maybe they’re hoping that he’ll die and give them a martyr for their cause?”

Maybe they figure that because he has a penis (and hasn’t been identified as a mangina by fellow MRAs) he has superior dudelojik and knows exactly what he’s doing.

It’s probably the thing about hoping he’ll die though. They care about women suffering, not men’s lives.

Jenora Feuer
Jenora Feuer
7 years ago

Are there seriously zero actual activists or even a business person or someone who took an entrepreneurship class in high school in the entire MRM that could sit down and draw up a plan for a men’s DV shelter or some sort of DV help network?

Probably. The MRM as it exists publicly is pretty toxic once you get into it in any sort of detail, and most of the people who actually want to improve things have since dissociated themselves from it, lest they get tarred with the same brush.

Just one of the many ways in which the MRM is making things worse for men.

Lea
Lea
7 years ago

Pelagic,
I don’t need his empathy to have my own. While I do believe that being kind to the cruel is cruel to the kind, I’m not about to celebrate the slow death of a man manipulated by a cult. I have no idea what his mental state is. You’d think he’d notice than none of his fellow MRAs are joining him in living outdoors as starving. You’d think he’d notice that his demands are nonsensical. He doesn’t. Instead of helping that man to see his error or joining him in solidarity, MRAs are going to cheer him on from their keyboards. That’s cold.

He really believes those people care about him. He can’t see he is being used. He genuinely believes the erroneous and creepy things he says. I believe he is a danger to himself and others. I don’t think Elam actually believes half the shit he spews. He’s a bullshitter. I’m sure he genuinely hates women, but he knows when he’s making things up to squeeze more $ from his flock.

This is cruel and it’s sad. I think it’s funny when Elam cons MRAs out of their money, not their lives.

Lea
Lea
7 years ago

Jackie,
If he drinks more Slimfast than directed for too long his kidneys will shut down. He really should consult a physician.

Lea
Lea
7 years ago

If he passes out they’ll take him to the ER, put him on a banana bag (IV nutriment) and assess his mental health. People (who are not MRAs) won’t stand by and watch him die. They’ll come to his aid.

I wonder if this guy knows that US suffragettes who went on hunger strikes were force fed, which killed at least one woman? That won’t happen to him because the oppressive gynocracy does not exist. A little learning would go a long way for these people.

Robert
Robert
7 years ago

It’s been referred to before, but it still boggles me that these beezers believe that DV shelters for women were the result of women saying to the Powers that Be, “Give us stuff!”

I am not an expert, but there was a LOT more involved, and almost all of it was done by women.

Banana Jackie Cake, the Best Jackie and Cake! Yum! (^v^)
Banana Jackie Cake, the Best Jackie and Cake! Yum! (^v^)
7 years ago

@Lea

…Now you have me worried about his health, if he really is using Slimfast as a liquid diet. I mean, he’ll probably give up if he actually gets hungry but Slimfast can keep you full, so he’ll be really hurting his body without knowing.

WHY DO I JOKE ABOUT SERIOUS THINGS?

Lady Mondegreen
Lady Mondegreen
7 years ago

Yeah, this is awful. Those chucklefucks at AVfM are encouraging a man to seriously endanger his health. And from the looks of it, his health isn’t great to begin with.

Rosemary
Rosemary
7 years ago

The only DV advocate MRAs like to talk to is Erin Pizzey. If anyone knows more about her, and how she came to join the MRM, I would be very interested to hear it. They also love to talk about Earl Silverman, a Canadian MRA who committed suicide after the DV shelter for men and boys had to shut down due to financial problems. That was a rather sad story- at Silverman’s former website, his supporters posted the response from his local government, explaining why they were unable to help him financially. Their response ultimately came down to you are unwilling to work with us, so unfortunately we can’t help you. As anyone who has worked in non-profits knows, no one just hands you money, no matter how deserving your cause is.

Bryce
Bryce
7 years ago

Be nice if there were a way to support DV shelters for men without supporting the MRM in the process.

Jenny (@dontgiveah00t)

David and everyone here cares more about this man’s medical safety than his MRA pals seem to, sadly enough.

rugbyyogi
7 years ago

I know it’s intrusive, but I would like to see more effort put into countering abusive relationships – regardless of gender. My FIL has been abused, mostly verbally and emotionally but sometimes physically by my MIL for years. She once hit him badly when they were staying at my house. I was very pregnant, which is some excuse, but I basically didn’t know what to do. I told my spouse that this behaviour wasn’t ok and that I wasn’t gonna have that around my child. Alas, I wish I’d been more aware. My husband now models his mother’s behaviour (barring the physical abuse). Somehow more effort needs to go into breaking the family dynamics of these things.

I sort of wish we’d put this into economic terms. There’s no telling how much productivity is lost due to domestic violence.

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