Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Canadian University Silences Dissent in the Name of Tolerance

Political issues often drive passion, and passion may cause vulgarity, but such is par for the course in a free and democratic society. “To many, the immediate consequence of this freedom may often appear to be only verbal tumult, discord, and even offensive utterance,” Justice Harlan observed. “These are … in truth necessary side effects of the broader enduring values which the process of open debate permits us to achieve. That the air may at times seem filled with verbal cacophony is, in this sense not a sign of weakness but of strength.”+

But weakness was on display at Carleton University in Ottawa this week, when university administrators agreed to lay sanctions against students who wore shirts bearing the words “F–k Safe Space” to an off-campus party. Students have claimed the intent of the shirts was to voice opposition to policies that prohibit swearing and drinking on campus.+

It appears the designers were not aware (or were perhaps misinformed) that at Carleton, “Safe Space” refers to efforts by Carleton’s Equity Services division to “reduce the impact of homophobia and heterosexism on campus.” Regardless, these students’ intent was to voice their opposition towards policies to which they are subject — a right which is, on and off-campus, the most sacred and protected form of expression in Canada.+

The proper functioning of the university demands a free exchange of ideas. Shutting down dissent sends a message to current and future students that at Carleton, you should hold your tongue or be reprimanded.

What is worse is that these students were bullied and intimidated into apologizing for wearing the shirts, and bullied into agreeing to perform community service throughout the year to repair Carleton’s “sullied space” after such “unsafe” remarks.+

This capitulation is no surprise, considering that a failure to apologize would mean a permanently tarnished record, even to the point of expulsion. In 2010, Carleton University charged its own students with trespassing for trying to set up a controversial pro-life display in a high-traffic area of campus.

In light of this, and considering the amount of taxpayer dollars universities have at their disposal to fight lengthy court battles, I understand where these students are coming from.



Bird of Paradise said...

Deversity is a pluague upon america but this hapened up in Canaduuuhh even DUDLEY DoRIGHT WASNT THIS REDICULOUS

Anonymous said...

Typical left: I support your right to free speech as long as you say what I like.

Go Away Bird said...

My dad once wanted to move us all to Canada my mom did'nt want to live in canada just happy i'm still living in america while it lasts