If you’re going to try to silence anyone over a little light political commentary, don’t pick Margaret Atwood, because, as the National Post just learned, she will call you on it. Margaret Atwood is one of Canada’s most respected writers, critics and activists, and she is anything but afraid to stand up for her freedom of speech.
Last week, National Post published a column written by Atwood that lampooned Conservative attack ads against Liberal leader Justin Trudeau for his “nice hair ” — and then promptly pulled it from its site just hours later. Atwood noticed the pull and responded to the Post on it, tweeting a cached version of the article and questioning whether she had just been censored.
— Margaret E. Atwood (@MargaretAtwood) August 21, 2015
The result of Atwood’s tweet to her more than 850,000 followers was threefold: Her post was put back up on the publication’s website (who cited “fact-checking” as an explanation for the error), the hashtag “#hairgate” trended nationally, and National Post was taught a publicly embarrassing lesson about censorship in Canadian media.
I can see where the Post may have been coming from; it’s election time in Canada, and Atwood’s commentary on the attack ads is sharp and subtly striking. It may have upset some important readers.
However, once you’ve published something from a prolific public figure (Atwood has been active in Canadian literary and media scenes for more than 50 years), you had better be prepared to stand by it. With a long, iconic career under her belt — and a real point (it is indeed odd for official political attack ads to be so hair focused, especially when the attacker has a taxpayer-paid personal grooming assistant on staff) — Atwood is clearly not afraid of ruffling any hairs.