The chaos that erupted after two protesters who say they were "Afghan women" chose to shout their opposition to Canada's involvement in Afghanistan at Sunday's Remembrance Day ceremony in downtown Toronto.
It was spitting in the faces of Canada's 158 Afghanistan war dead and the thousands who fell in wars before them.
And done on the very day families were tearfully remembering them. It was also grossly disrespectful to a group of veterans — aged 80 to 90 — from both World War II and the Korean War.
It was disgusting.
But freedom can be as ugly in what it must tolerate as this protest on Remembrance Day at Old City Hall was crass. Interesting that much of this disrespect came from, seemingly, some of the very people who should have been at this ceremony saying thank you. Instead they attempted to ruin it.
"I cannot, and will not, be silent in a ceremony used to glorify Canada's mission in Afghanistan, where many of my fellow Afghans were detained, tortured and killed because of the Canadian military," explained Suraia Sahar in an e-mail to Newstalk 1010 reporter Siobhan Morris, as well as Showgram host Jim Richards and producers Jessie Lorraine and Jordan Whelan.
Sahar wrote she and friend Laila were protesting because "there is no honour" in Remembrance Day. "As an Afghan Canadian my anger can be justified," she wrote. "But I faced enough verbal abuse by racist, angry old white people telling me to go back to my country, and that the Canadian military should kill more Afghans."
We have free speech here. But we also have innocent until proven guilty. Should the police officer so concerned about a citizen filming their protest, have also checked to see if there were Taliban sympathizers at this protest? The deadly Taliban, after all, is our enemy and responsible for many deaths.
One thing for sure is the Taliban would not have tolerated the same kind of shouting from these women at one of their important traditional ceremonies. But freedom of speech allows Suraia and Laila the freedom to be at this ceremony and entitles them to say whatever they want — with or without class, respect, accuracy or manners.
The war dead gave them that right — and the right of many women in Afghanistan to attend school and have a chance at a free life.
A second part of this story is the freedom to cover such a protest. Newstalk 1010's Morris did a great job of capturing the commotion — as did citizen journalist Derek Soberal, a throwback character from the G20 and Occupy Toronto.
"I was just down there to pay my respects when I saw this dispute developing," he said.
He took out his cellphone and captured the women yelling, as well as an arrest of an individual. He says he was threatened to be arrested by a police officer who Soberal claims demanded he send him the video. Post G20 — where accredited journalists, photographers and cameramen were arrested, detained, punched, had guns pointed at them and threatened — there needs to be some clarification on what are the exact rules.
What law is it that states shooting or videoing in public is a crime? Are police, without a warrant, able to retrieve someone's camera? Are they able to erase images from someone¹s camera? There doesn't seem to be a censorship law but still there are many stories like Soberal's, and like the one in the YMCA arrest captured on phones currently before the courts, where people claim they have had their cameras confiscated and had images deleted.
"I have had two cameras broken by police," said Soberal.
Just a reminder to those who need to be reminded, it's not a police state but one that celebrates the freedom of speech and the press that has been won thanks to the sacrifice by thousands of Canadians lying in graves around the world.
If these women supporting the Taliban's position are entitled to spoil a service for those who choose to remember them, a citizen capturing them do that is okay too.
We can't do anything to stop people from desecrating the graves of our fallen other than to remember them and hang on to what it is they died for.