Valerie Smith (social activist)

Valerie Smith is a Canadian social activist who lobbies against violent pornography, violent rap music, and other allegedly misogynist content in Canadian media. She is best known for trying to prevent Eminem from entering Canada for a concert in October 2000 because of his misogynist lyrics.[1][2][3] She has also lobbied to have the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) use existing legislation that she believed should censor Howard Stern.[4][5] She is the author of the Action Agenda: A Strategic Blueprint for Reducing Exposure to Media Violence in Canada, a report funded and published by the Ontario Office for Victims of Crime, an agency of the Ministry of the Attorney General. Smith operates the Free Radical web site to provide information on violent media and strategies to combat it.


Smith successfully lobbied Bell Mobility to get them to cease selling "Pimptones", skits of "pimps, players, and hos" retailed for $2.50 to replace standard ringtones.[6] After two complaints, Bell Mobility stopped offering the tones.[7]

In 2005, Smith filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission against Canadian music retailer HMV, criticizing the company for selling what Smith called "hate rap".[8][9] Smith alleged that HMV was selling music that contained lyrics that were misogynistic.[10] The Ontario Human Rights Tribunal recommended that Smith's case not be heard at a formal trial as the allegations were found not contrary to the Ontario Human Rights Code.[11]

Later in 2005, Smith attempted to prevent the 50 Cent biopic, Get Rich or Die Tryin', from receiving tax breaks for filming in Toronto. Smith argued that the film glorified gun violence and that it was unfair to use the money of tax payers, some of whom lived with gang violence, to fund a film that could incite violent behaviour.[12]

Criticism of EminemEdit

In 2000, Smith wrote to the Hate Crimes Unit in Toronto claiming that Eminem "promotes hatred and advocates violence against women in his lyrics".[13] Smith particularly took issue with the song "Kill You".[14] The complaint was subsequently referred to the Attorney General of Ontario, Jim Flaherty, to see if the lyrics directly promoted violence in a way that contradicted Canada's criminal code.[13] The Attorney General's office moved forward with motions to bar Eminem from performing his Toronto concert.[15]

Smith and Flaherty's criticisms did not keep Eminem from performing in October 2000 as the Toronto police did not find that the singer's lyrics met criteria warranting legal action.[16][14] At the concert, Eminem dedicated his song "The Way I Am" to Smith, saying "I dedicate this next song to that bitch Valerie Smith." though this remark did not bother Smith.[17] After opening the concert with "Kill You", Eminem said to the crowd, "Bet you didn't think I was going to do that one, did you?".[17]


  1. ^ "Eminem's Lyrics Spark Criminal Complaint". MTV News. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  2. ^ "Eminem performs at Skydome". 26 October 2000. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  3. ^ "Eminem vs. Canada". ABC News. Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  4. ^ "CANOE - JAM! Television: Stern back on Canadian airwaves". Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  5. ^ "Activist fears Stern fans". Retrieved 20 December 2014.
  6. ^ Moyo, Sigcino (November 3, 2005). "Hiphop goes on trial". Now Toronto. Retrieved July 10, 2020. Smith succeeded in pressuring Bell Mobility to cease offering $2.50 downloads of “Pimptones” – pre-recorded skits of pimps, players and hos at their vernacular finest to be used instead of a standard rings or music.
  7. ^ Haynes, Monica (June 10, 2006). "From entertainment to clothes, pimp is in". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  8. ^ Moyo, Sigcino (November 3, 2005). "Hiphop goes on trial". Now Toronto. Retrieved July 10, 2020. But Strickland’s less pumped when the subject shifts to why I’m really calling, a complaint filed with the Ontario Human Rights Commission against HMV by women’s rights activist Valerie Smith over what she calls the peddling of “hate rap.”
  9. ^ "Mrs. Smith Be Illin'". The National Post. October 14, 2005. Retrieved July 10, 2020 – via Ms. Smith has launched a human rights complaint against HMV for distributing "hate rap".
  10. ^ Moyo, Sigcino (November 3, 2005). "Hiphop goes on trial". Now Toronto. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  11. ^ Moyo, Sigcino (November 30, 2006). "No Rap Slap". Now Toronto. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  12. ^ "Toronto woman campaigns against 50 Cent biopic". CBC. November 8, 2005. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  13. ^ a b "'ANGER' IS AN ENERGY FOR FRED DURST AND EMINEM | NME". October 24, 2000. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  14. ^ a b Macatee, Rebecca (October 17, 2018). "How Eminem Is Still the Most Private and Polarizing Rapper of All Time". E! Online. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  15. ^ Grossberg, Josh (October 26, 2000). "Canada to Eminem: Keep Out!". E! Online. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  16. ^ Krotoszynski, Ronald J., Jr. (2006). The First Amendment in Cross-cultural Perspective A Comparative Legal Analysis of the Freedom of Speech. New York Univ Press. p. 87. ISBN 978-0-8147-4825-1. OCLC 276816710 – via Google Books.
  17. ^ a b Hiatt, Brian (October 27, 2000). "Eminem Strikes Back At Canadian Critics". MTV News. Retrieved July 10, 2020.

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