Ottawa, 21 April 2021
Ms. Helen Kennedy
120 Carlton Street,
Toronto, ON M5A 4K2
Dear Ms. Kennedy:
It has come to my attention that Egale has published, without attribution, a chart prepared by Dr. Tom Hooper documenting the extent of bathhouse raids in Canada between 1968 and 2004. The historical information that was researched, interpreted and illustrated by Dr. Hooper appeared on Egale’s Facebook page and in Egale’s Twitter feed prior to being removed.
Reproducing information without attribution represents a violation of copyright; legal actions are currently under consideration by Dr. Hooper’s lawyers with our support. I write now, however, about the broader implications of misrepresenting scholarly work.
Suggesting that the past is simply available for the asking undervalues the substantial research and analysis that is necessary to uncover what actually happened. It undervalues the information that is being made available. It says, in effect, “everyone already knows this, but we’ll say it again anyway.” To refuse to acknowledge the author of the Bathhouse Raids chart not only does him a disservice, but fails to underline the degree to which this past has remained hidden. This is not “common knowledge,” as easily identified as the date of the last election or the signing of the Magna Carta, but rather rigorously researched material. Surely, acknowledging the significance of this material is as much in Egale’s interest as in Dr. Hooper’s.
Moreover, the failure to attribute the information accurately leaves Egale open to suggestions that it fabricates information. Because I know the chart was copyrighted by Dr. Hooper, I know the figures were not invented, but no one who reads Egale’s social media feed will have the same luxury of appreciating the material’s origins.
No one benefits by publishing unattributed material – not the author, who has had his material taken, not Egale, which loses the capacity to prove the extent of the rights abuse in the past, not the public, where the narrative of “fake news” can only be defeated through transparency.
Removing the information is one solution; acknowledging its author would more helpfully address not only Dr. Hooper’s concerns, but also the interests of Egale and the broader public. I urge you to consider the latter approach.
Canadian Historical Association
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