Why are you wearing a hat?
More than three years ago, a man who called himself Brian Tully took a photo of himself wearing a head-covering with the words, “I hate Trump.”
It went viral, and soon, he was a national sensation.
Tully, now 37, has made a name for himself as a fearless voice on the internet, with more than 4 million followers on Twitter and another 10 million on YouTube.
His tweets, like his name, were trending, and his followers grew.
On March 23, he made a surprise appearance on CBC Radio’s The House With The Best FM.
On the show, Tully spoke candidly about his journey, saying that he’d started wearing a mask, but he didn’t know if he was being targeted because he’s black.
“You’re going to get a backlash, right?” he said.
“Because people have been saying this and saying this all along, and I didn’t want to be a victim.”
Tully’s story was shared widely on social media, and some people began to question whether he had a right to wear a mask.
The question was asked on a website for the Canadian Association of University Teachers, where a video posted to YouTube by an administrator was shared more than 10,000 times.
It showed Tully speaking in front of a microphone with his head covered, while a crowd cheered.
Towlson, who oversees the website, was not amused.
“I was very disappointed that a member of the CBC staff would use the CBC platform to disseminate misinformation about a member’s personal beliefs,” she wrote.
“This is a very important part of the educational process, and the CBC has a duty to protect the rights of those whose beliefs may be challenged.”
The CBC later clarified that Tully was indeed a member, but that his comments were not about his beliefs.
It also noted that the website was not affiliated with the CBC.
But for the CBC, it wasn’t the first time the topic of masks had come up.
In October 2017, a video surfaced of a woman wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat, and she was called racist.
In November, Towlshon said that people who are upset about the incident are misinterpreting it.
“It’s not about what’s in my head,” she said.
And even when a person wears a mask or a hat, they are not necessarily wearing a racist statement, she said, adding that the CBC would always be a safe space for anyone who believes in freedom of expression.
“We don’t believe in being hateful or discriminatory,” she told The Canadian Press.
“And we’re not going to tolerate that.”
Towlsons response The CBC has not responded to multiple requests for comment.
The university says it takes this matter very seriously.
“The CBC is committed to the safe and respectful expression of its employees and guests and all our employees are held to the highest standards of respect,” a statement from the school reads.
“Any employee who is accused of violating this policy is encouraged to report it and we will take swift action to ensure they are held accountable.”
Towler said the incident is “deeply upsetting and offensive.”
“It makes me feel very uncomfortable,” she added.
“These are people who want to promote freedom of speech and are doing it in an aggressive way.”
In an email to CBC News, a spokesperson for the university said: “The University of Ottawa is committed in our policies and practices to promoting a culture of diversity and tolerance and we take this matter seriously.”
The Canadian Association for University Teachers says that it has seen no evidence of harassment or discrimination at the university.
But, the group’s president, Karen Gee, said that the incident has been a cause for concern.
“At this time, we have not received any information of harassment, and we believe that these allegations are completely unfounded,” Gee said in an email.
The group is currently seeking an investigation into the incident.
Towler also tweeted on March 25, 2017, about the controversy.
“Why is there so much hatred in the world today?
Because the hat is racist.
It is white supremacy,” he wrote.
The following day, the CBC issued a statement clarifying that Towlts comments were his opinion.
The statement reads: “In this video, the individual in question was discussing the need to wear an ‘I am a Canadian’ head covering to the CBC Radio host.
The individual in the video does not have a history of making comments or actions that have been deemed to be hateful or intolerant towards any group of people.
This individual did not express a view on racism or any other groups.”
A spokesperson for Towlsey said that while he was upset by the situation, he has not seen any evidence that he was personally targeted or harassed.
Towell said that he has been “treated fairly” by the university and has no plans to resign.
“That said, I’m not going anywhere,” he said in a phone interview. “So far