Free Speech, Politics, Top Stories

The Meaning of Freedom

“Lock them in and burn it down!” someone cried to scattered whoops of approval as protesters barricaded the doors with garbage bins. Someone else banged on the stained-glass window of the historic Grant Hall at Queen’s University until it broke. The building was completed in 1905. It used as a military hospital during the First World War and a meal hall for troops during the Second. “Shame On You!” the protesters chanted, and “No Freedom For Hate Speech!” and “Whose Campus? Our Campus!” and “Attending Is Complicity!” and the now-ubiquitous slogan “Fuck White Supremacy!”

The mob was protesting the appearance of University of Toronto psychology professor Jordan Peterson, who had been invited to deliver a lecture on compelled speech in Canada. It was the first talk in a series on individual liberty and its central role in liberal democracy and Western culture. Inside the hall, Peterson’s remarks were briefly interrupted by two protesters who mounted the stage and unfurled a banner that read “Freedom To Smash Bigotry.” They were booed and catcalled until they left, their fists in the air. Outside, they were greeted with cheers and applause.

22 years ago, at the age of 16, I joined the Canadian Armed Forces. I was discouraged at school, so I joined the reserves, and then the regular army as a tank driver, because all I ever wanted was to find a way to contribute to my country. While I was digging trenches and learning to survive the harsh conditions of war, my friends were at university learning how to be leaders.

Last week at Grant Hall, I sat and listened to Peterson while he spoke about the importance of free speech and the need for peaceful resolution to internal debates. He soldiered on, despite the pounding on the doors and window. The protester who broke the glass, it turned out, was not a student. She cut her hand and fled but was later arrested by police, who say she was carrying a garrotte.

As I left the lecture hall, protesters yelled “Shame!” They hurled profanities, gave me the finger, and I was punched.

In basic training, we were warned that some civilians may not like us because of our profession. Our instructors warned us that we would be called baby killers and other pejoratives. But we also learned that this was okay because we live in a country where you can address a member of the military, police, or government without fear of retribution. The military taught me that, although some civilians may voice disagreement, it was our duty to die in the service of freedom, no matter what that freedom may bring. It was the country we served, not a political movement. We fought for our friends, our neighbours, and our loved ones, and for our desire that Canada forever remain a free and prosperous nation. We fought for a place to call home.

But it wasn’t until 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan that I really understood why this country, its democracy, and commitment to liberty are so important. I witnessed first-hand countries where a public discussion of human rights would have been met with violence and death. With every bang on the glass, and at the moment I was hit, I was reminded of another time, when solving problems with violence was my job.

But it was in this singularly violent profession that I learned the most important lessons of my life. I learned that to be strong wasn’t good enough; you had to use your strength to help those who were unable to help themselves. I learned that it is better to build than to destroy, and violence, even amongst warriors, is always a last resort. I learned that Canada is a great nation because it fosters freedom and peace by encouraging all its citizens to be good to one another. It protects a person’s right to speak their mind, even if no one else agrees with them.

In the military, we armed ourselves to fight those who would laugh at the very notion of freedom. The army will always be there to defend the country from outside invaders. But the military cannot protect us from ourselves. We cannot rely on the army to fight our ideological battles. The soldier must sit on the sidelines and watch as citizens tear at each other, trying to outdo each successive protest by increasing the violent rhetoric and disruptive behavior.

In this realm, it is up to the scholars who understand the realities of totalitarian regimes and oppression, and who have studied war and death and their causes. They are the defenders of everything that is right and good about this great nation. Men and women like Jordan Peterson, Christina Hoff Sommers, Gad Saad, and Yaron Brook – thinkers who are doing everything they can to turn us away from the false promises of the West’s radical Left movements. It is also up to university leaders like those at Queen’s who did not cave to the illiberal views of those who tried to shut down the event.

At the moment, it often feels as if the academy is under siege from the ideological Left. University is an institution that I’ve always held in high regard, maybe even more than most because I knew it was something I could never do. Me, and people like me, will continue to sit on the sidelines, watching and nervously waiting to see what this new war on liberty will bring.

Featured Pic: Grant Hall at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.

 

Aaron Pope is a combat veteran who served in Afghanistan, and a graduate of Algonquin College’s journalism program. He lives in Ottawa. You can follow him on Twitter @AaronLPope

Filed under: Free Speech, Politics, Top Stories

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Aaron Pope is a combat veteran who served in Afghanistan, and a graduate of Algonquin College’s journalism program. He lives in Ottawa.

57 Comments

  1. Excellent article, Aaron. Thank you for taking the time to say something important about restraint, and the values of our society. You clearly understand the “free speech” thing; having had a chance to defend it in person. Those protesters should have been inside, paying attention. If they wanted to write a thoughtful rebuttal, fine. Not everyone agrees with Dr. Peterson.
    But in a free society soldiers are inside listening to a lecture, not outside stopping it.

    • Aaron Pope says

      Thank you for the kind words. It’s too bad the protesters didn’t put down their signs and join us inside. There were a few seats left open and they would have been invited to ask questions and challenge the speakers in a civil manner.

  2. bczz says

    Aaron Pope, could you please define what you mean by “Radical Left” and the “False Promises” you mention? I’m a computer geek, and have no use for philosophy, but I see MY country men suffering from lack of health care and social services and I want to change that. To some, that means I’m “Radical Left” (have been called as much). Also, I believe people should be treated with fairness no matter what the circumstances of their birth or the bodies they were born into. That makes me “Extremely Radical Left” in others view.

    Maybe I am just ignorant of current philosophy and modern thought, as are many of the folks I interact with, apparently, so I’m hoping you can enlighten me.

    • I can’t speak for Aaron, but I can tell you the way I interpreted “Radical left” and “false promises”. It’s a bit long, but not unreasonable. (I think.)
      In my opinion, the radical left are the people that see every structure and system of Western society as a tool in the hands of oppressors, wielded exclusively to gain and maintain power by the ruling class, which as it turns out is straight white gender normative men. This is why you hear a lot of talk about Marxism, post-modernism. The lingo has changed but the core philosophy is very similar the these old, demonstrably horrific precursors. The radical elements of the left are small in number, and yet influential, I think. Especially on university campuses. They are the shadowy forms literally beating on the windows of the building trying to silence a conversation about liberty. They’re the ones that subscribe completely to this idealogy or versions of it, although there are a lot more people, probably quite a lot in the general population, especially among the educated, who buy into it in part, and who have no good way of seeing or articulating the nuance that they feel must exist. They wrongly believe what they’re told by radicals because, well what do we know, and it doesn’t effect us much anyway, and it’s motivated mostly by compassion so what’s the harm, and that enraged chanting mob doesn’t look like a good enemy to have right now. The harm lies in the false promises that the radical left make, in the cloak of compassion that a few bad actors use to manipulate the situation, and in the denial of history, biology, reason, the enlightenment and the scientific method in general. However, the most dangerous promise they make is that if we stop discussing how they’re ideology may be lacking, we will start living in a much better, inclusive, and diverse world. This is the ultimate false promise that all the other dangerous promises rely on to succeed. If we stop discussing. If we give up our liberty to freedom of expression, and therefore everyone’s, we will start being more inclusive and diverse. No, wrong. Inclusion means that every individual has the right to express their thoughts and in turn listen to the thoughts of others. To be included and to have their opinion commented on no matter what it is. And without this inclusion of everybody’s voice, diversity on all of the important axis (culture, opinion, politics) is impossible. This is why the radical left finds itself on the wrong side of the free speech argument, when it has always been associated with the opposite. These are the people assaulting Aaron, and screaming obscenities to drown out speech, and we are the ones integrating their ideas into our laws. We are all the ones who will pay the price.

      • Chip says

        And when the policy’s they enforce through force fail, they will not take responsibility for the outcome. They will blame the power structures. Today it’s western culture and straight white men, if those fall then a new enemy can always be found. Socialism has a way of doing that. The people who want more government to fix all society’s ills may one day come to regret there calls for more laws as they may find themselves on the wrong side of it. These are the children of the classical liberals. So when mom and dad say you know maybe you could clean your room they don’t just tell them to fuck off. Now its lock them in and burn it down.

    • There is certainly no one who would call you an extremely radical left for promoting equality of opportunity. No reasonable person, as Peterson has said, would ever want to deny such a thing. On the other hand, if you’re aiming for the equality of outcome, then we have a significant problem at our hands, not to mention in the least because is impossible and has been tested countless times in many governments all over the world. The radical left are exactly the people Aaron is talking about — the protesters of Peterson’s lecture at Grant Hall. They hijacked the speech during its begin, hijacking the civility of the organizers and the crowd in order to present their moral superiority and disrupted the event, they banged on the windows and were screaming “Lock it in and burn it down” (or something to that effect). Aaron was punched as he was leaving the lecture.

      This is not some secret. Peterson has posted the full lecture on YouTube. Once you see it, you will know exactly who Peterson and Aaron are talking about when it comes to who is the radical left. As Peterson said as the radical leftists banged at the windows, “that’s the sound of the barbarians pounding at the gates”. Simply having ill-informed views on social welfare wouldn’t qualify anybody into the radical left.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwdYpMS8s28

    • To clarify, I don’t think that you wanting all your countrymen to have access to healthcare and social services, or to be treated fairly no matter what the circumstances of there birth, be them biological or social, make you radical left. Maybe in your country most people think differently, and so you are radically different, but that’s not a bad thing. You’re left leaning, sure. Maybe a lot more than other people, but that’s important to have in a society. Then we can have discussions on the benefits of our ideas, and work our way towards a better world for everyone. The importance of the discussion is what is essential to agree on.

      • Bob says

        In fact, most people want everyone to get the healthcare they need.

        The big question is how to pay for it in a way that avoids radical cost inflation. On the other hand, what is the best way to apportion the necessarily limited supply of various health services to avoid unnecessary suffering? How do we avoid radically growing government bureaucracy in the process?

        Similarly, most of us want equality under the law and equality of opportunity. How do we do that in the least intrusive way? How do we measure it? How do we encourage it without hurting the people we want to help? How do we avoid damaging the enterprises affected? Again, how do we avoid radically growing government bureaucracy in the process?

        How do we avoid building a Social Justice industry? People don’t break up the team just because they win. Consider the March of Dimes. They funded both the Salk and Sabin vaccines that eliminated polio in the USA and are on the way to eradicating it worldwide. The March of Dimes is still in business. They found a new open-ended mission. They aren’t nearly as efficient as they once were either.

    • Vincent says

      Cherishing health care, social services and fairness are not (extreme) radical Left concepts. Violent agitation against free speech is, in the contemporary West, largely inflicted by those whom identify as and are claimed by the (extreme) radical left.

      • Different T says

        Eric Berne fan?

        Did you see the comment from ga gamba? How about the (assumed) right-wing liberal Anj calling the left-wing liberals “cancer?” You (or he) may make the argument that he only means the SJWs or similar, except that he says “it” has been growing for so long.

        How do you interpret those?

    • Bennie Ramone says

      I’m not Aaron, but I will throw some of my thoughts out here and hope you respond. Maybe a productive dialogue may be started.

      The most common understanding of “Radical left” are people with Post Modern, Cultural Marxist, and Socialist/Communist ideological views who also, and this is the most important element in my opinion, refuse to communicate, deviate in opinion, and seek to violently oppose anyone who differs in viewpoint. That being said, without knowing specifically what you believe, I feel safe to assume that since you read this article with which you disagree and are seeking to communicate with it’s author in a seemingly constructive way you probably are not a radical. To your question on false promises I can not answer that as I am an American and do not know the author.

      Next I would like to argue that no matter what a person’s occupation we all have a need for at least basic understanding of philosophy, psychology, biology, and economics. We have a duty as a voting citizenry to elect people who are the most confident, principled, and educated on the subjects they are writing and passing laws on. The only way for us to see those people into office is for ourselves to be educated and not voting on emotion. I personally work with a crew running a flexographic press in a factory but I also read on my free time and delve into podcasts on those subjects above while I perform my job. I don’t think I can emphasize enough the importance of a citizenry to be educated on the subjects in which their elected officials plan to impart apon us. This is the most sure way of avoiding mob rule during emotional situations as well as the avoidance of tyranny.

      Finally, from the verbiage used to describe your concerns of health care and social services, I’m going to speculate that you are in favor. That is a traditionally left position, however it is not imediately extreme or radical. Classical liberals which tend to be center left to moderate left are in favor of social safety nets. People being treated fairly is also not imediately extreme, this would depend on what you mean by fair. Do you mean equality of opportunity? Anyone from left to right who seek to maintain the equality of opportunity are not radicals. However, if you believe that we need equality of outcome, which includes the social engineering of society by the government to parody group percentages in every aspect of life (i.e., discriminating against men and privileging woman in tech until there is 50/50) then you would be radical left. This social engineering is also what the radical right seeks, except that they wish to social engineer all minorities out and set up a “white” ethno-state.

      I hope that this at least helps and hasn’t been a long essay on things you already knew. I also hope that I didn’t grossly misjudge your views. I would love to hear back any questions, comments, or anything else you would like to discuss. My hope is we can get a productive dialogue going. I look forward to a response and wish you well.

      Bennie Ramone

    • Paolo says

      Alex went for the long reply here. But if it helps at all I’d say, in two lines: because you want more healthcare and social service you may align with social democratic ideas, those generally held by the center-left; your consideration of fairness makes you simply a citizen of liberal western democracy. You’re not a radical leftist.

    • bruno says

      Don’t ask Aaron (or anybody else) to do your job. It is your responsibility to read, educate and enlighten yourself.

    • ADM64 says

      Several posters have provided good explanations of what is meant by Radical Left, so I won’t repeat what was said. On a couple of other points, though, I’d say the following:

      There is value in understanding something of philosophy, if only because everyone has one whether they think in such terms of not. A philosophy is essentially an overall explanation of how the world works or is (metaphysics), the nature of knowledge (epistemology), the nature of individual morality and why it is important (ethics) and the nature of how communities should be organized (politics). It provides the “Why” for all policy debates and thus the basis for a discussion. Assertions do not. Religion is a form of philosophy and answers the same questions, but the distinction tends to be that philosophy is secular and religion is obviously not.

      Regarding “people being treated with fairness no matter what the circumstances of their birth or the bodies they were born into,” few would argue with this if by it you mean respect for their equal, inalienable individual rights and equal treatment before the law. “Fairness” though tends to be something of a weasel word with those on the Left (not pointing at you, just noting a fact) where it is intended as a substitute for justice (much in the same way that social justice is distinguished from impartial i.e. actual justice) that frequently requires unequal treatment before the law specifically considering things like the circumstances of one’s birth or the sex or race of the person in question. In fact, many on the left specifically attack concepts such as equal justice before the law, inalienable rights, and objectivity as “white” or “male” or otherwise illegitimate. The wrongness of such criticisms can be seen in the fact that to even attack those concepts on that basis requires using them (i.e. relying on the legitimacy of the concepts one is attacking), which is why many of us on the right see the academic left, post-modernism, intersectionality, and relativism as inherently incoherent and ultimately meaningless. I’m, therefore, curious as to what you mean by “fairness.”

      Regarding things like health care and social services, I would argue that no human being on this planet has a right to the labor, property, time or good opinion of another because, to assert otherwise, is to embrace the notion that some people should be slaves to others. It’s fine that you’d like to see your countrymen have things like healthcare and social services, but from perspective, unless you personally want to pay for someone else’s services, you should put aside your keyboard and become a doctor – and work for free – or a social worker. I am not cruel, but I am inherently unwilling to accept the notion that anyone has a right to something that must be provided by someone else’s labor. It is a practical impossibility – we could test this by all of us stopping work for a month and waiting for these things to appear – which is why many countries in the West are being bankrupted by their welfare states, and unjust/immoral as well, because the attempt to provide them invariably does not work, so people are forced to do what they think is good only to get the opposite.

    • I am not Mr. Aaron, but can provide you with some direction, based solely on the few words you wrote.
      Firstly, philosophy is love of wisdom. Only a very willfully ignorant and immoral person would have no use for wisdom. A person lacking a desire for wisdom should at least refrain from expressing opinions. Social justice is a huge topic. No one uninterested in wisdom should consider himself equipped to solve problems related to justice. Humanity has worked on this for ages. Lots to learn. Many well-intentioned people created a lot of mess rather than justice. We should be happy to learn from their mistakes.
      No interest in wisdom, and by extension – objective truth, might explain the very superficial way you look at lack of health care and social services. You see, it is wonderful to FEEL kind and loving toward the downtrodden. Throughout human history, many did more than make nice-sounding noise. Honest attempts at solving societal problems, such as promoting subsidiary rather than wasteful, huge state bureaucracies, are more than screaming and shouting: I want justice! Redistribution of wealth (not always unfairly acquired) doesn’t work. Look at Canada and say that it does, if you dare making a fool of yourself. Throwing more money at the problem will NOT solve inequality. Inequality is a fact of nature. Some of us are more talented, beautiful, intelligent, wealthy than others. (It is definitely not me, by the way.)
      The path to a more just society is through love of truth and wisdom, acceptance of reality, hard work on becoming virtuous, true desire to help others (not like brainwashed, angry, bloodthirsty Bolsheviks did, I hope you understand.)
      As a mother I can tell you with certainty that giving a child what he wants, when he misbehaves, is the worst thing a mother can do. Do you even agree with my claim that there is such a thing as misbehavior? Also, refusing to teach a child about objective facts, and leaving them all alone, without a point of reference, to tell ME, what he is (boy, girl, cat, something else) or what is good and what is bad action, constitutes negligence, refusal to provide necessities of life.

      One who refuses to teach (you might mistakenly say – indoctrinate) children what is true, what is good and what is evil, leaves them disadvantaged. But to be able to teach them well, we must be very serious about truth. It is not relative. For example, a world view based on desire for justice is better than one built on a desire to exploit others.

      Communication is the most basic need for peaceful co-existence in human societies. It is impossible without language. We NAME things in order to communicate, and agree on their meaning. We pass language on to our children. We teach them that language affects the way we perceive reality, but it is not oppression, it is education. A tree is not a car, and a boy is not a girl. A boy who likes to play with dolls is still a boy.

      This is chaotic, but – should you be open-minded – might serve as a start.

  3. Andrew_W says

    You use the word “illiberal” to describe these people who try to shut down other peoples right to free speech, it’s a word I would like to see it used more often to describe these people.

    The reality is that they were protesting against a myth they themselves have created to justify their thuggery, if people read the placards they wave and listen to their chanting, then listen to what Peterson actually says, they will discover that the message he is offering is not the message these thugs claim to believe he is presenting. Their illiberal leaders revel in creating and spreading misinformation and lies to build a tyrannical movement on, that isn’t a bad description of fascism.

  4. So now the military occupation of countries by Canada and the US is “freedom”. By the way, I know what not being able to speak or even walk down a road means. The US had sent in the marines and the CIA was breathing down my father’s neck. He was the union’s representative. Freedom indeed.

    • ga gamba says

      Depends on which countries and why. For example, the US and Canada along with many others invaded Kuwait to drive out the Iraqis and secure its freedom, and US still has bases in the country, though to call it an occupier would be quite a stretch of one’s imagination. Kuwait is far from a western-style democracy, but it has more freedom than when Saddam was standing on their throats. Ultimately it’s up the locals to determine the extent of the freedom they demand and acquire for themselves, and Kuwaitis surely have much more freedom than some in other of the region’s states. No outsider can impose a system unless it’s also embraced by a large segment of the population. At most it can kickstart it, but the path the country takes, be it rough or smooth, will be driven by locals.

      Since you failed to mention which country the Marines we sent to in your case it’s difficult to say more. If I were to guess I’d say Panama.

      • Dave Butler says

        Under Saddam Husein Iraq was a relatively prosperous and free country – just ask the Jews and Christians who used to live there, ask the women who participated in public life. Same with Libya. The US did it’s regime change horror and ISIS runs much of the countries, slave markets are common in Libya, and freedom and prosperity have gone. We tried the same BS in Syria until the Russians came in and changed the game. The US is not anyone’s friend in the world, we are the rogue state, get that through your head.

        • Steve says

          Prosperous and free. Except for the marsh Arabs in the south, the Kurds in the north, who were exposed to nerve agent by Saddams regime, and Shi’a fell at the hands of his secret police. Lovely chap.

          • Bill says

            Thanks for pointing that out Steve. To Dave Butler, the same logic could be said that under the Presidents prior to Lincoln that black Americans had a relatively prosperous and free life — just ask some black Americans in the 1850s who lived North of the Mason-Dixon line! They walked around freely and participated in public life. The Kurds and Shi’a would disagree with the assessment of Saddam the same way the millions of black Americans living on southern plantations would of my example.

        • “The US is not anyone’s friend in the world, we are the rogue state. . . ”

          Not a bit of it, Dave.

          Over the last 28 years, the US has been the best friend of all things neo-liberal and neo-conservative. The chief function of the US armed forces has been to minimize the transaction costs that would otherwise have to have been absorbed by the economic globalists.

          Think of them as the sepoys of the Davos glitterati.

          Truly, the EU’s foreign aid budget should include contributions to the US’s Veterans Administration costs.

    • Denise says

      The solution is that Liberals shouldn’t scream and cry at the Americans to intervene when Iraqi dictators gas entire Kurdish villages to death in a genocide.

      Liberals shouldn’t scream and cry when 12 year old Syrian boys are arrested and tortured to death for painting graffiti critical of their dictator on the side of a building.

      Liberals shouldn’t scream and cry “WHY are the Americans LETTING this happen to these poor people half way across the world? Shame on America/ the West for doing nothing to stop it!”.

      I am opposed to military intervention myself with the exception of close allies because it’s mostly futile but I am not the President of a country who the world’s liberals/media/politicians are screaming at to involve themselves in a foreign conflict over a corrupt and brutal dictatorship.

      Everyone feels for the innocent people who live their lives without freedom and those murdered by authoritarian regimes.

      There’s no magic. Liberals can’t demand involvement when they expect perfect results, especially when they expect it from others while exempting themselves.

      Liberals don’t seem to understand the nature of reality.

  5. ga gamba says

    Me, and people like me, will continue to sit on the sidelines, watching and nervously waiting to see what this new war on liberty will bring.

    Are you “on the sidelines”? Really?

    Let’s see, you somehow found Jordan Peterson, decided to attend one of his talks (at a uni which I presume you don’t attend), walked twice through the gauntlet, were abused and punched, and took the time to write an opinion piece in your own name published in an indy publication (an action that could lead to harassment or worse). No mate, you’re in the fray. Perhaps not on the frontline, though this is arguable, but certainly reinforcement.

    Welcome to the fight. It’s a noble and an honourable one.

  6. Alex says

    Since there’s a christian reference to the article, and a clear association to the role of the army, I can’t help but reminder his author that “You shall not kill”, was in fact “you shall not commit murder” (see here https://forward.com/articles/6091/on-language/). When the first christians translated the bible from Hebrew to Greek, and then Latin, something got lost in translation. A religious teaching became a political expedient.

    From a text that enshrined personal responsibility and ethics, i.e. a person has to make a moral choice, our rulers decided to break society in two groups. Those with the moral authority to kill, and those who couldn’t.

    This hiatus didn’t escape Saint Augustine, for whom the use of force in the context of self-defence was not only a moral act, but also a moral duty. If there are no Christians left, how could there be a Christian God, and in which case, was Jesus Christ just a fallacy?

    What the protestors do is exactly what the Christian Church has done for centuries. Pounding threats of impending doom that they only can see, where weak minded followers bow before those who will use every means necessary to meet a goal. Karl Marx picked up the slack exactly where the priest left it, so did the merchants, and the armies found their new masters. Religious populism, Left wing populism, mercantilism. We’ve been paying the price ever since.

    The woman with a garotte is no less immoral than the man who can not or will not defend himself. In fact, one can not exist without the other. Democracy has simply given them the opportunity to legally assume power. Mr Pope is reduced to an impotent bystander, waiting for orders.

    It’s not free speech that is at play here, not at all. Free speech is collateral damage. It is the perpetual struggle between the moral of the strong against the moral of the weak, the driving force between all human interactions since we were animals.

    Mr Pope ought to ask himself the following question: “What happens when the entire flock of weak minded individuals I’m supposed to protect, are turning against me?”. Universities are not going to help one bit, I can tell you that.

    The value of freedom isn’t defended by an army or a police state, it is a citizen raised to make the decision between self-defence and murder, and ideally, how to never get to that point.

  7. Anj says

    Excellent article Aaron & thank you for your service.
    But it’s certainly not just up to scholars but all of us to vigorously ‘spread the word’ who directly benefit from hard fought western freedoms by others. Starting with scholars, media, parents, neighbours, friends & so on. We all have a responsibility not to mention culpability for turning a blind eye to this societal cancer for so long. So buck up & speak out or you only have yourselves to blame.

  8. Dave Butler says

    These protesters always chant something along the lines of “Whose campus? Our campus!” Really? These protesters paid for the campus, the buildings, the salaries of the staff? Or was it the taxpayers and the alumni who contributed money who really own the campus. Arrest everyone of these children and kick them out of school, don’t let them return, problem solved.

    • Different T says

      It seems you’re attributing a coherence regarding the “campus” that doesn’t seem to exist. As in, do you deny that these protesters have their own authorities, “people who funded the school,” alumni, professors, etc. who are commanding them?

  9. Louis Belzil says

    The images of protesters blockading the doors and shouting “Lock them in and burn them down” is the single most disturbing news image from this country that I have seen in my entire life. It is shocking that the media has ignored this. It is shocking that young people have been fed such a malicious ideology. It is terrifying to realize that the same people might have, with minimal effort, turned a protest into a massacre.

    • Alex says

      “Democracy has two deadly enemies. The power of the few, and the power of the mob” ~ FDR
      Btw, why are we not having Presidents who speak English anymore?

  10. Well said. Good luck with your journalism. But just one gripe. I find sentiments such as ” all I ever wanted was to find a way to contribute to my country” highly implausible. You didn’t get a thrill from driving a tank? There wasn’t a lifestyle choice being made when you choose the army? Allow me to suggest that future articles be more circumspect in expressing such sentiments.

    • Aaron Pope says

      That is fair, perhaps time passing has altered my views somewhat. I was young when I first enlisted, and definitely looking for adventure and comradery. At the time I considered myself a patriot (I still do), and it was an honour to be allowed to serve, even though the full meaning and context of this action wouldn’t be made clear to me until years after my service was over.
      Make no mistake, the army is a thrilling place to work, and driving a tank is the most fun I’ve ever had with my clothes on, and the second funnest thing I’ve done with my clothes off, but under all that, we never forgot who we were, and why we were doing what we were doing.

    • Alex says

      Mr Pope is big enough to handle an answer, but what you said is deeply insulting. It is also a direct consequence of “You shall not commit murder” translated to “you shall not kill”.

      One group becomes the warrior class, but is never acknowledged full citizenry, suspected to be contract killers. The victim class, the nice souls with clean hands is all too happy to find them when necessary, and so relieved to have the infaillible argument that will exclude them from public life.

      This is such a bloody shame. The right to self defense, and not murder, is ontological to the state of citizen.

      The Swiss, the oldest democracy on earth, know how to handle automatic weapons, and how to follow rules. They are citizens.

    • Anj says

      “Implausible” really?
      “All I wanted to do was raise children, help sick people, build houses, play soccer, fall in love…..”
      “Life style choices” as you call them may come with some thrills but that doesn’t take away from the basic sentiment driving the choice. Or is this sceptical view only reserved for those who choose the armed forces?
      Says more about you……

      • Bill says

        And yet you put onto some other person, the contracted killer?, the job of protecting you and the children you raise, protecting the sick people, protecting those who build houses and play soccer and fall in love. My how highly moral you must be in comparison by holding others to the role that you find distasteful. Sounds like the caste system of India. I guess the soldiers and policemen and judges are all the outcasts.

        The notion that Utopia exists where if everyone just did the raise children, help the sick, etc that there would be no violence only exists in the fantasy books and movies. It isn’t even an artifact of the human condition — the “wild beasts” do the same attacking within their own species for any number of reasons like territory and mating rites or even resource guarding over a tennis ball or frisbee.

  11. Ber Berstein says

    Excellent article – and much needed. Thank you Aaron for once again being willing to step into the abyss for all of us. You are most certainly risking bringing the mob to your door for speaking freely of your own experience and its shameful that you, or anyone should have been treated as you were. When grown adults can block a door with garbage cans and scream “lock them in and burn it down” all reason has left the room and we are left with a violent mob who will clearly stop at nothing to cause harm to anyone they disagree with. Until reason returns we will not stop the ever increasing levels of violent actions of those who are wiling to suspend all of their own morals and sense of decency in exchange for dominance of thought. The road one has to travel to find themselves in a place where they have lost all sense of reason and are willing to accept violence of thought or action – or stand by speechless and allow it to exist is a dead end for everyone. If you were at the speech – if you were one of the people banging on the windows or shouting in madness at wisdom you have chosen to despise instead of try to understand – you need to regain control of yourself. To those who are encouraging others to violence you are doing more harm than you could ever know. You are bringing out violence in others you cannot possibly control. History has shown us time and time again the horrifying results of encouraging violence in others. I believe it has to be one of the worst things one human being can do to another – to discourage critical thinking and a free exchange of ideas and instead encourage a complete loss of control that turns a reasonable person into an intolerant violent screaming member of a mob willing to utter the words “lock them in and burn it down.” We are better than this – we need to be better than this.

  12. Babs says

    Years ago a son of mine was attending SUNY Binghamton. He called me up one day and said that an evangelical minister was going to speak on campus. His friends were organizing a protest and they were going to stand outside and scream and shout and shame those that attended the speech; what did I think?
    I told him to buy a small spiral notebook and a pen and attend the lecture. When the minister said something he objected to, jot it down. During the Q & A he should stand up and challenge the ideas…
    But, you see, that takes too much brain power.
    It is so much easier to bang on windows, chant and be violent than it is to actually confront and debate an issue. And what I have seen over the last several years is that those that are out there screaming and cursing can’t really articulate what they stand for or against.
    You know, the other thing that has struck me is how much free time these people have. We took full loads and worked part time. It seems like today’s student is putting it on the credit card so they can do this sh*t and still graduate (with a mountain of debt). If they put this crap on their resume I doubt many would hire them.

    • I don’t think this was about challenging ideas. It was more about the thrill of being spiteful and expressing moral outrage without being held accountable.

  13. Gordon Hardy says

    Aaron, after the two protestors jump off the stage, they spray the audience with what look like perfume bottles. Do you know what that was about?

    • Aaron Pope says

      I couldn’t comment on that, I was in the upper levels of the hall and didn’t have a good look at what the two protesters were up to. But I haven’t heard any complaints and no one seemed to have any sort of reaction like you would see if they had been spraying a harmful chemical around.

    • I do not know if this is accurate, but I read someone say that they were fart sprays. Unfortunately, YouTube doesn’t have smell-o-vision technology yet, so I can’t confirm it, but it seems about as plausible as any. Certainly the reactions of the crowd indicate that they weren’t pepper sprays or anything particularly dangerous.

  14. Pingback: The Meaning of Freedom – Now or Never

  15. Aldousk says

    Noisy kids screaming “No freedom for hate speech” are … well providing a good example of “hate speech”. It is not unreasonable to assume that some of them might be smart enough to grasp this simple point. But maybe the clever kids stayed in to do their homework and left their dumb pals to make idiots of themselves.

  16. Peter Printer says

    Its fun to read stories of opposing and acknowledgement of authors on issues in regard to speech and or freedom. so I drop a bomb onto this with a statement of always being right at all the time and no-one can or are allowed to sway me on any issue ever discussed. The supreme entities of any sphear and universe sent me a card with that statement. do not for your own sake start an argument, cuz you will looooose! take care!

  17. Ardy says

    It starts like this and ends up with someone locking the doors and setting the building alight.

    This is what our western tolerance will come to as our ideology is trashed. Violent actions and threats that do not provoke a reaction ensure it will fester.

    If you don’t stand against this with some action, then get out of the way and get prepared for a very strange world.

    There are many things that could be done by universities to stop this but they won’t as they are either scared or complicit.

  18. Amazing article, and I agree with everything except for one small point –

    “The soldier must sit on the sidelines and watch as citizens tear at each other, trying to outdo each successive protest by increasing the violent rhetoric and disruptive behavior.”

    I want to clarify, I do not disagree in the manner that I am saying that the warrior should be involved in any of the violent antics. Far from it!

    I disagree that the warrior should sit on the sidelines of the discussion. Yes, this is a battle of ideologies and not nations. A battle of ideas, and not muscles, but in my experience, the experienced warrior is just as capable of taking part in that idea as any intellectual, perhaps even more so, due to the unique perspective that we hold on the world from our own knowledge and experiences.

    Experienced warriors have insight on the human experience and the difference between the west and the rest of the world that the average citizen has no clue about, and I think its on us to share that experience to try and supply a perspective that is left out of most discourse these days.

    But regardless of that, Bravo good sir!

  19. Graham Strong says

    Very disappointing that this article got all the way to the last paragraph or so only to undermine its own argument. The author pitches himself as stoic, non-partisan, soldier selflessly defending the country. Quote: “It is the country we serve, not a political movement”. If so….did you have really have to ruin an otherwise reasonable article, by tipping your hat to (of all people) Yaron Brook?? That man is every bit as parochial & dangerous as the radical left. Its very sad to see a veteran so confused about the political landscape that is part of the country they fought for. Brook & Summers aren’t even Canadian, so their inclusion in an article made me suspicious that this author was not being sincere. Perhaps a list of thinkers with a counterpoint to the radical Left narrative is useful to readers. But to sign off with saccharine Hollywood-esque moralizing Quote: “Defenders of what is right & good” and holding up at least one deeply ideological Laissez-faire nuttter as your hero? My hope that this article had something to say was deflated and all i got was yet another virtue-signaling, rhetorical facebook post.

  20. Thank you for this excellent article, Aaron. I’m a psychiatrist who works with veterans so I have great respect for your military service. You have clearly found your calling as a journalist, however, so keep up the good work! I watched the Youtube video of Dr. Peterson’s talk. Fabulous. How anyone can call the man “hateful” in any way is beyond me. He seems to me to be the voice of classical liberalism in this country.

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