Ou gurl, I thought to myself, this is going to be spicy.
Listeners tuned into Axe Radio, via their very convenient and user-friendly app available on Android and Apple devises (wink wink, – download download – nudge nudge), as usual for some easy listening, great shows, and fire mixtapes. On Friday evening the audience was treated to some relatively diverse content provided by Nolan Strong’s Axe Radio show.
Here is a little tasting menu of the October 20th show:
- The wage gap is “the biggest lie you will ever be told in your life”
- “women can’t be sexist”
- Hillary Clinton is the most “poisonous person to the feminist cause” and proceeded to call CNN the “Clinton News Network” (which is actually pretty funny)
- Canada as a nation couldn’t possibly be sexist because we have already had a female Prime Minister and Rona Ambrose was the leader of the Conservative party so hallelujah!!!! Canada has been saved! Saved! On and on and on and on he went about how feminism should fall under the #whitegirlproblems/get-over-it category of life
The radio show started a word of mouth movement asking if you had “heard what Nolan Strong said on Axe Radio?” quite quickly on campus. It acted as a sort of litmus test for gauging people’s thoughts on feminism. Many individuals felt extremely offended, that he was outrageous, and his argument had no merit. Others felt relieved that someone who represents the essences of their views has finally voiced their opinion and just felt as though his delivery was just harsh. As someone who is usually quite outgoing, possibly to a fault, I decided the most logical course of action would be (obviously) to contact an almost stranger and impose my opinion on them to find out what the course of action following the show should be.
Strong was interested in the idea of us having a dialogue as he thought it would be intriguing to have a conversation with a feminist. We both agreed that we could bring our own research and would not blind side each other – I wouldn’t label him a woman hater and he wouldn’t assume that I am a man hater. He allowed a piece being written on his work yet he showed concern over the reaction he may garner and how it would affect him personally. This is a common worry of any public display of opinion and is a completely reasonable concern. I argue that this instance demonstrates the reservations many right leaning groups may feel on campus.
Full disclosure, as I am sure you could collect from my general tone, that you have gathered that I was not absolutely thrilled with what Strong was proposing (on feminism) by any means. Yet, I was interested in why he felt the way he did on air. Finally, here was an instance of an individual on campus voicing his concern which conflicts with my own convictions. Freedom of speech is a topic that is supported whole heartedly on campus in theory – until conflict comes into fruition – then remaining calm and respectful is harder than it seems.
After contact with Strong I was left with the feeling that he might cancel our meeting. After a few messages, he admitted that he couldn’t do the meeting because he “got shit on all weekend by ppl” and got sent some “fucked up messages” and would have rather let this episode take its course with time and blow over (Nolan Strong, interviewed via messenger, Oct 22, 2017). I admitted that this was too bad that he was not interested anymore due to the backlash that he got from students and asked again for an interview on his view on feminism. But, it was understood that I had hit a wall.
Then, I received the plot twist message.
“Kk between you and I,” he started to disclose that he was going to tell everyone “the truth” on his next show. The “truth” being that he and his usual co-host had watched a video on leftist groups protesting a presentation or lecture that did not pertain to their cause. Although everyone has a right to peaceful protest, Strong felt a sense of frustration rooted in the fact that these right groups’ voices were being stifled, to him they were being marginalized. Therefore, he decided that he would go on air and exclaim views which were not his actual views on feminism. Strong stated, “the whole point of that radio show [provided recording of show] was to basically see if free speech really meant free speech or was just a cover to seem inclusive” (interviewed via messenger, Oct 22, 2017). He asked that I wait to publish anything, as he wanted to reveal this himself on his next show. It was a social experiment; he “has a younger sister why on earth would I be against equal rights?”. So, believe it or not from what you may have heard: Nolan Strong does in fact have at least some semblance of a soul.
Response he desired and response he received. Axe Radio issued an apology, he received multiple personal messages from individuals calling him “a pig” and for him to “go fuck himself”, and received an email from a member of the ASU. This reaction, I believe, was more aggressive than Strong was accounting for. He even began to worry that this was going to negatively affect his personal life and feared that he would have to undergo some sort of disciplinary action from the Athletics department as he is a varsity athlete. He deleted the email from the ASU because he feared the repercussions he may face. Should an individual fear speaking his mind to this degree? Should a student at an institution, especially one that facilitates free thought such as a university, fear having opportunities taken away from them? A few words can run many yards, and this goes to show the fear and sacrifices many undergo to put their unpopular words in a public setting.
Although it was very sensitive for Axe Radio to provide such an apology, it is an example of the hoovering imminent fear which is present at all times. The fear of being wrong. The fear that they appear to be insensitive or non-inclusive. The fear of being on the wrong side of history. It is spooky-leftist hell: being arrested by the thought police in a public forum. I personally got shivers down my back and broke out in a cold sweat as an arts student just thinking about it.
Though Strong’s words were not labeled as hate speech, it was implied. This implication is one of high cost in Canada with hate speech being a part of the Criminal Code. Yet, they were not based in reality as there was no hatred displayed in his radio show. The views which Nolan Strong represented on his show are not uncommon. His delivery may have been harsh and purposely exaggerated but there are sentiments which he was representing that are felt by individuals in Canada. It challenges popular thought and begs listeners to pry their head out of the hole which their head usually resides in when it hears an opinion which it does not agree with. Without the challenge of popular belief, without critical thinking, progression is not possible.
Whether you believe that these are his personal convictions or not, and you truly think that he was not putting on an act, his actions warranted a reaction. Sometimes it is not the content of a matter of discussion which holds importance but entertaining the act of discussion on differing sides of the spectrum itself which holds validity.
What do you think? Comment below or write for the Ath.