Canada, Education, Free Speech

Denial and the Free Speech Crisis

In a recent article for Quillette, Dan Meegan, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Guelph, argues that the restriction of freedom of speech we hear about in the news is a rarity in Canada—and that it is certainly not an issue at the University of Guelph. Respectfully, Meegan is absolutely wrong on this latter point. In fact, freedom of speech has been repeatedly repressed at the University of Guelph, and this has been going on for at least a decade.

Meegan explains that in his nearly 20 years at the University of Guelph, he can’t recall even one time his students protested the expression of an offensive idea. Not even when he discusses research on gender differences in his evolutionary psychology unit. The only time a student objected to one of his reading materials, she talked to him about it politely. So, he argues, while there is much ado about freedom of speech, it’s not at issue in Guelph.

Nevertheless, as a former University of Guelph student, I’ve witnessed the suppression of free speech at the university. Not only that, but both students and the administration are complicit in the censorship. The fact that Meegan’s classes haven’t been disrupted by protestors is a very low bar for measuring the campus-wide status of freedom of speech. I took his classes; the ideas were very palatable. I remember being presented with studies showing that men scored slightly higher on certain mental tasks, while women scored slightly higher on others. All the while we were assured that these were only averages, and that, overall, men and women have the same average IQs. But, while I’m happy to hear that no one is trying to shut down Meegan’s classes, it remains the case that students and administration are shutting down other ideas.

This brings me to the censorship of Guelph’s pro-life club, Life Choice. Because Life Choice’s struggles with the university have been numerous and well documented, they’ll be the focus of this article. This focus is not representative of my views on the pro-life/pro-choice debate—my remarks are made in the spirit of the wisdom often misattributed to Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” My approval or disapproval of abortion is not relevant to this article. The only opinion that is relevant is that I believe both sides have a right to freely air their views.

In 2008, the Central Student Association (CSA) revoked Life Choice’s club status following their “Life Fair” event. The ban was handed down after the group allegedly distributed offensive materials, but it’s worth noting that the group wasn’t given due process under the CSA’s own policies. This incident was followed, in 2015, by the censorship of the group’s Cannon display.

For those unfamiliar with the University of Guelph, I’ll explain the long-standing tradition of the Cannon. The Cannon is an actual metal cannon that sits in the middle of campus—it’s a beloved institution and landmark. Painting the Cannon is a sort of sanctioned graffiti that every student does at least once in their time on campus. Students might paint the Cannon with their dorm or their sports team or to promote an event. The unwritten rules are passed down from student to student. You are only allowed to paint the Cannon after dark. If you leave the Cannon unattended after painting it, other students are allowed to paint over your message before sunrise. You can “guard” the Cannon at night to ensure other students don’t paint over it, but once the sun is up, it’s safe until dusk.

So in 2015, Life Choice painted the Cannon with a pro-life message and set up a display of pink and blue flags to represent the number of abortions that take place each year:

The next day, students defaced the message with spray paint. By mid-afternoon, the entire Cannon had been covered with sheets of paper emblazoned with pro-choice messages:

 

Outsiders might find the magnitude of this transgression hard to grasp—after all, it sounds like a public message board, with a constant rotation of messages. To put this incident in context, I spent 4 years on campus and, in that time, the Cannon was painted between 4 and 7 times per week. Over the course of my time at the university, I probably saw 350 Cannon displays of various kinds. No one ever touched the Cannon during daylight hours. I never saw the rules of Cannon painting broken. No department or club rivalry ever came between the Cannon and the conventions of our beloved tradition.

One student responded to the incident with an article in the student newspaper, in which the author argued that the display was an example of hate speech: “Hate speech happens when an opinion becomes an attack.” Another student posted the following comment to Facebook, along with a picture of the censored Cannon: “Yes you have a right to your opinion, but you do NOT have a right to express hate messages using student property.” Apparently, University of Guelph students think that a display of statistics is hate speech. The Ontarian author goes on to argue that: “The reason this display is more than just an exercise of freedom of speech, in my opinion, is because of their decision to make a visually striking display right in the middle of campus.” So, at least one student at the University of Guelph believed that freedom of speech is only acceptable if that speech isn’t visible.

In 2018, Life Choice had an event shut down before it could even begin. Campus Freedom Index explains the course of events:

On February 20, 2018, the registered student group Life Choice applied to hold a tabling event at the University. This event was to feature a “free speech board” and encourage passers-by to respond to the question “What do you think about sex-selective abortion?” by writing their thoughts on a sticky note and placing it on the board. Life Choice applied to also share resources and information with students who engaged with the display.

On February 28, 2018, Life Choice was notified by Student Risk Management that its application to hold the event had been rejected. Student Risk Management requested numerous changes be made to the event, and that Life Choice answer numerous questions including “how the information will be displayed” and “how will you handle if someone is triggered by these conversations”. Life Choice submitted their responses and further details about the event to Student Risk Management on March 1, 2018. Student Risk Management did not respond to this second application and the event was unable to proceed as planned.

It might be objected that the University of Guelph does not have an issue with freedom of speech as a whole—they’re just very pro-choice, and therefore uncommonly sensitive on this particular issue. But it is not possible to value freedom of speech and to also selectively deny it to certain disagreeable ideas. It is also important to be aware of the ways in which the group’s freedoms are deteriorating over time. In 2008, Life Choice held an event, and after the fact, they faced administrative backlash. In 2015, they created a display, which was vandalized the same day. Then, in 2018, they weren’t allowed to hold their event at all.

I wonder—and worry—about what other ideas are being censored. This pro-life group has been tenacious; despite being forced to wage a constant battle with the university for their right to free speech, they remain an active student group. My real concern is what other initiatives have been beaten down, without ever receiving any attention from the press. Besides Life Choice’s activities, I don’t remember any controversial events during my time at the university. Which clubs never got past the initial application? Which events were quietly cancelled after harassment from fellow students? Which ideas were never discussed as a result of administrative pressure?

This brings me to an analysis of the administration’s policy on freedom of speech. The opening line of the University’s Controversial Student Events Protocol assures the reader that the protocol is not meant to limit discussion on controversial topics, along with the usual commitment to inclusion and diversity. But let’s review the wording of the actual rules. Under section 1.0, Purpose & Jurisdiction, the protocol outlines the following (my emphasis):

The Protocol for Planning and Managing Controversial Events was established to provide a mechanism by which Student Affairs can make an assessment as to whether a student event could lead to an act of intolerance, a violation of human rights or present a significant risk to the health and safety of the campus community.

The document goes on to define an “act of intolerance as “any action that fosters or expresses hate or prejudice.” These points are important, because if Student Affairs’ assessment concludes that an event does indeed risk provoking an intolerant act, the event will not be allowed to take place. Therefore, closer scrutiny of the phrasing is necessary in order to truly understand what is deemed permissible by this seemingly innocuous terminology. Inserting the definition of “act of intolerance” results in the following (my emphasis):

The Protocol for Planning and Managing Controversial Events was established to provide a mechanism by which Student Affairs can make an assessment as to whether a student event could lead to any action that fosters or expresses hate or prejudice.

This nebulous phrase defines the standard according to which an event will either be approved or forbidden. Banning “an event that expresses hate or prejudice” would make sense, but that is not the standard. Nor is the standard “an event that will cause hateful actions.” Even if organizers have ruled out the possibility that the event could lead to such actions, the event still isn’t in the clear. According to the University’s protocol, an event can be banned if there’s a possibility of it leading to an action that fosters hatred or prejudice. In other words, the event organizer is now responsible for the potential for hatred two degrees away from the event itself.

Consider the example of an event promoting the feel-good message “You are perfect, no matter what.” This might lead annoyed Baby Boomers to post derisive comments on social media about Millennial narcissism and self-obsession, which would fall within the absurdly elastic parameters of the protocol’s ban on the fostering of hatred. Of course, I could be accused of reading too much into this, of over-analyzing accidental sentence structure that was never intended to be used for this level of control. But further analysis of the document only confirms my fears about the administration’s mentality toward controversial ideas.

Here’s a screenshot from the Reporting Section (emphasis mine):

If a student witnesses an event that they deem to be controversial, they’re instructed to call the police. Consider the standard for reporting: the instruction is not to call the police if the student witnesses violence. Nor are students asked to call the police if they suspect an event is about to get out of hand. Students are advised to call the police if they merely witness controversy. This entire section is written as though controversy were a crime. Section 4.2 reads like a tip line. No one writes the words “if you have reason to believe” in reference to something innocuous.

And what exactly can be expected to happen once the campus police arrive? Are they there to shut down the event, or to maintain the peace so that the event can continue without interference? While it doesn’t explicitly say in this section, all we need to do is reference the earlier section discussing the standards for event cancelation. Reading between the lines, it’s clear that such an event would be shut down. How can there be freedom of speech when any controversial event needs to be reported to the authorities? And who, besides the reporter in question, gets to decide what is and is not controversial?

The Implementation section worries me most (emphasis mine):

3.1 Planning a controversial event
Planning needs to include strategies for mitigating the possibility of physical, social and emotional risks, acts of intolerance or a violation of human rights. As such, event planners must:
⦁ Articulate the concrete steps that will be taken during the planning and throughout the event to ensure multiple viewpoints can be heard.

At a glance, this point might look innocuous, but in reality, this is a major issue for freedom of speech. Why? Bear in mind that these are the guidelines for controversial events, which might reasonably be understood to mean the expression of a minority opinion. In such cases, the majority of people will already be familiar with the other side of the argument, and most of them already agree with it. Forcing minority opinions to share time with majority opinions at their own events is a detrimental constraint on freedom of speech. Moreover, sharing time with people who oppose a view essentially guarantees that the event will be a debate. While debates can be valuable, this policy denies minority ideas the opportunity to be promoted uncontested in the same manner as the received wisdom.

What happens if the other viewpoints refuse to participate in the event? This brings us back to Life Choice. According to their 2012 press release, Life Choice scheduled a pro-life/pro-choice debate, but no pro-choice advocate was willing to engage:

With the debate scheduled for the end of the month, Guelph Life Choice contacted the Student Help and Advocacy Centre (SHAC) from the student union for help finding a pro-choice advocate. They declined, stating, “We do not believe that the sexual and reproductive rights of women is [sic] something that should be debated because we see ‘pro-choice’ as the only option. For us, reproductive rights are non-debatable.”

When I initially read this, I was dismayed by pro-choice advocates’ refusal to defend their own position. But then I realized—it’s a brilliant strategy. With the pro-life side already being censored so effectively, what benefit can the pro-choice side possibly gain from enabling a debate? Nothing. And this is how diversity of thought and opinion die. This is how the ideas and concepts that force us to grow get lost. This is how we end up with groupthink and an intellectual monoculture.

The fact that ideas are being censored isn’t even the worst part of the problem on Canadian campuses. As Meegan has inadvertently shown by writing his article, we’re now not even aware of the censorship. We’re in denial that there even is a problem. We have a senior professor at this university taking time out of his day to argue that new freedom of speech legislation is “probably unnecessary.”

Of course, I’m glad that Meegan’s lessons are still among the ideas considered tolerable by the students and administration. But if we don’t wake up, he won’t be teaching that way for long.

 

The author holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Guelph. ‘Rose Clark’ is a pseudonym.

73 Comments

  1. Excellent example using an emotional issue to illustrate how an active local majority bullies opposition into oblivion. (Or at least tries). Policy poorly written and administered suppressing intelligent debate at its worst.
    Thank you for providing this perspective.

    • PaulNu says

      Is it poorly written? Seems to me like it’s working exactly as they intended. I think I’d describe it as deviously written.

  2. TarsTarkas says

    Disagree. The policy was NOT poorly written. It was intentionally written vaguely to give the school administration cover to do whatever they want to whenever a snowflake starts squealing in protest at the sight of something that makes them uncomfortable.

    • Crassmas says

      “But it is not possible to value freedom of speech and to also selectively deny it to certain disagreeable ideas.”

      Author, you state this as axiomatic, but I think it’s exceedingly important to answer “WHY?” Authors on Quillette repeat this idea in various forms, but none go deeper. On what philosophical/ethical basis can you say this?

      Your interlocutors will just say, “Yes, we CAN value freedom of speech and selectively deny it to certain heinous ideas. All kinds of people have done it in the past, including government. We have done it, and we will do it again.” Then what do you respond?

      Some apophasis:

      “Hypocrisy” is not an argument.
      *Nor is “Because it’s unreasonable!” since that just gets you back to mutual accusations of hypocrisy and arguments over “reasonable.”
      *Nor is “Because it’s illogical!” We’re not Vulcans. All kinds of human institutions and behaviors we consider correct are illogical. Besides, “logic” is just a Greek dead white cis male excuse to oppress people of color and their feelings. Haven’t you heard?

      Sooner or later you are going to have to say where your pistis (Greek for “loyalty/belief”) lies. Do you know? The post-modern Left has made its pistis clear. They believe in power and materiality: “Might makes right, and we are getting the might so we can enforce right (equal material and worldly power outcomes) for all the disadvantaged, against those of you who use metaphysics, law, and reason to justify unequal outcomes and hurt people’s feelings.”

      If you disagree with their pistis, you cannot escape stating yours … unless your aim is merely to report “this stuff is happening….” Saying “We are the reasonable ones” is weak sauce, and nobody is eating it. If you don’t believe power/materiality and “might makes right” is the proper ultimate arbiter of human ethics and values, WHAT IS? Is there something outside of materiality for you? Is there a Power above power? Or do you just believe in a DIFFERENT materialistic power doctrine that the woke Left warriors? In which case, how is yours better than theirs in the end?

      Followers of the Jewish and Christian faiths have a clear pistis here. Abortion for them is a cloaked way to practice child sacrifice, an abomination of paganism and Baal worship they have opposed for thousands of years (see the story of Abraham and Issac). It’s idolatry and a subversion of YHWH’s other-worldly power.

      This doesn’t have to be your pistis, but I need to know where your feet are. If we don’t get this sorted, the “reasonable” scoffers like Meegan are going to wake up any day now to find that they must submit all their lessons to a committee composed of indigenous/black/trans/radical feminist/et al. censors who make sure all power structures are treated correctly in their courses, lest someone get oppressed upon by mistake and their feelings damaged beyond all repair.

      • curiositus says

        In my case, it’s a telos (or pistis, if you prefer) of truth and rationality. Suppression of ideas isn’t an effective strategy for reaching either one.

      • Stoic Realist says

        So let’s say I answer your why with the note that exceptions to free speech invariably lead to abuse and oppression. Where is my ‘pistis’? Is a supporting belief system required to argue that those exceptions invariably lead to abuse? That if they are applied they inevitably end up being used against the groups in question? Not to mention everyone else.

        History has already proven the exceptions to be destructive just as it has proven that open free speech, even where it is uncomfortable, advances freedom and equality. If free speech that made someone uncomfortable could have been suppressed then equal rights, suffrage, interracial marriage, immigration, and even justice from our police, government, and legal systems could never come about.

        That the groups who profited the most from free speech are now the ones most in favor of suppressing it is a sad testimony to how power both corrupts and engenders fear of freedom. Because once you have power there is nothing more terrible than the risk of independent thought.

        • Gentsu Gen says

          Those groups “profited from free speech” and pretended to advocate for it, but in reality they always just wanted the power for themselves. It was never about “free speech.”

      • Its easy to argue. Because who gets to define “heinous” – as you put it – is entirely subjective, subject to groupthink and ideological orthodoxy with a history of creating oppressive totalitarian tendencies. I’ve given you both a philosophical argument and one with historical empirical evidence. Filling your pistis with “Cause God says so!” is simply not persuasive enough for a large cohort of people on both the left, right, and center.

      • Crasmass – you raise some important issues. Seems to me we are at a time of intellectual climate change where some of the most element of issues are called into question. Many Quilette articles, such as this one, do a very good job at illuminating current absurdities and hypocrisies but, as you suggest, this is not the equivalent to understanding the nature of the deeper issues.

        All of the lunacy in Academia and in society in general is symptomatic of what Alan Bloom meant by “the closing of the American mind” – the great philosophic issues are not only not discussed, they are virtually forgotten to exist.

      • Jorge says

        @ Crassmas:

        “Author, you state this as axiomatic, but I think it’s exceedingly important to answer ‘WHY?’”

        If one holds that freedom of speech is a first order right—like the right to life—then no justification is required.

        Re: “Your interlocutors will just say, ‘Yes, we CAN value freedom of speech and selectively deny it to certain heinous ideas. All kinds of people have done it in the past, including government. We have done it, and we will do it again.’ Then what do you respond?”

        Of course, government can under certain circumstances suspend, abridge, or violate first order rights (for the right to life, in the American case, see the fifth amendment to the United States Constitution: “No person shall be … deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law”), but the burden of proof of necessity must *always* be on the government. The longer-lasting the suspension, the more encompassing the abridgement, and/or the more severe the violation of rights, the stronger the government’s case must be.

  3. Mike van Lammeren says

    I am an alumnus of the University of Guelph. The next time they ask me for money, I will tell them that they get no money from me until there is an un-harassed pro-life group on campus.

    • Angela says

      You should also ask that they commit in writing to the Chicago principles on freedom of speech. Ive done so with my alma mater and have been told the University is considering doing just that. The more former donors who ask for this the more likely it is to happen.

  4. ga gamba says

    Stuff’s been happening, Doc Meegan. I’m not claiming you’re afflicted by cranial rectosis, not until a full medical work up has been done. Still, a pity you hadn’t noticed these events. Or maybe you had noticed and nonetheless decided to concoct the malarkey you wrote here. “Nothing to see. Move along.” Rest easy, I’m not challenging your truth. I’m simply questioning your interpretation of your experience on campus. What excuse do you have for not even bothering to do a google search of campus happenings or failing to ask your more with it colleagues before writing your essay? I suppose you can reply “my essay was just about my classroom”, which is fine and dandy, but that’s a very, very limited point of view, eh? Then I wonder to what end was the essay’s purpose.

    A-hah, I think I’ve got it.

    I hope someone frees Meegan from his windowless classroom post haste. Appears he’s been sequestered there for more than a decade.

    • Tome708 says

      He knew what was happening. The troubling thing is he was ok with it. The censorship matched his sensibilities therefore; not censorship. I think many of the comments then suspected as such. Once again to be proven correct. Good job. To all those that went along with him, “suck on that”

    • WildCard says

      How very pedantic of you. Do you think this sorry display of disdain and self-righteousness will convince anyone to join your side?

      I’m all for free speech but your attitude is really not helping the cause, on the contrary. Think about what you’ve done, and why you’ve done it, gamba. Ask yourself the right questions, and maybe you will learn the right way to handle these kind of disagreements.

      • ga gamba says

        No, I’m just mocking Meegan. Deservedly. Why have I done it? Because I thought Meegan’s article was obscurantist claptrap. I said so in the comments section of his essay in fact, where I mentioned two of the three incidents cited by Ms Clark. And I was able to find these easy peasy without the advantage of having studied or worked at Guelph.

        As for “harming the cause” which you assert but don’t substantiate, I’m just a random rando on the Internet. How has “the cause” been harmed? “I was on the fence about this free speech stuff, but gambe was unpleasant to someone trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes, so speech needs to be stopped. We can’t have esteemed professors treated that way.”
        Uh-huh.

        What are the “right questions”? And the “right way”?

  5. SonOfMan says

    I’m quite sure that completely free speech has never truly been protected in our country or any country that ever existed. It’s just that the boundaries of what the culture considers taboo have moved around a bit. The fact that minorities are underrepresented and even repressed is certainly nothing new. It’s just that, now, certain groups unaccostomed to being in the minorty are beginning to find themselves in that position. Fear not, persecution is good for the soul.

    • Space Viking says

      It’s not even 7AM here and I think I’ve already read the silliest paragraph I will come across this entire day.

      • Lightning Rose says

        The day is young, Space Viking! What does all of this campus “activism” really hope to achieve? Do they really think anyone’s mind will be changed? This has become nothing more than a form of performance art, a railing against reality by people with too much time and money on their hands. Perhaps the school should assign more homework–or community service projects. All of this “student” angst/outrage is now beyond tedious. Get to f’n work and MAKE something useful of yourselves, already!

        • TarsTarkas says

          The activists don’t care whether anyone’s mind gets changed, they just want people with dissenting views to just STFU. And the school administration aids and abets them thinking that that will get them on the activists’ good side.

    • WildCard says

      “What is bad for me is good for my enemy.” Quite the hypocritical and dangerous philosophy.

    • Itsy of Parnasus says

      “I’m quite sure that completely free speech has never truly been protected in our country or any country that ever existed.”

      >>Seems true.

      “It’s just that the boundaries of what the culture considers taboo have moved around a bit. The fact that minorities are underrepresented and even repressed is certainly nothing new.”

      >>Also well put and accords with my experience of the world.

      “It’s just that, now, certain groups unaccostomed to being in the minorty are beginning to find themselves in that position.”

      >>THERE! Did you just light up a rather pungent cigarillo? Is it 4:20pm where you are writing?

      “Fear not, persecution is good for the soul.”

      >>Care to volunteer as the test case for this theory of yours?

      • SonOfMan says

        “Care to volunteer as the test case for this theory of yours?”

        Why do you think I’m here?

    • Angela says

      The United States has pretty close to completely free speech with the only real exceptions being defamation and incitement. Defamation is a civil matter not a criminal one, and defendants usually come out on top. Incitement is a criminal matter and is even more limited in scope. Youre completely free to say horrendous things like you hope everyone in x group is murdered and dismembered. It only becomes actually prosecutable when youre directly calling for someone to murder x person.

      So yeah there are limitations, but they’re not limitations that really lessen the spirit of freedom of speech. The spirit of freedom speech is allowing all ideas to be legally shared. Carving out some very limited exceptions doesnt change much.

      Now in western European countries the exemptions really do undermine the spirit of freedom of speech. People are actually prosecuted for stupid things they wrote on Twitter. Hell in the UK theyre trying to put a guy in prison for a year over an entirely satirical YouTube video of his pug doing a Nazi salute. That’s absolutely bonkers. Under UK speech laws almost all of the greatest American comedians could be prosecuted.

      • SonOfMan says

        “The United States has pretty close to completely free speech with the only real exceptions being defamation and incitement.”

        Defamation and incitement are the only exceptions governing authorities need to completely prevent free speech in a relatively homogeneous social context like a university campuss. In the same way, “terrorism” is a carte blanche term used to justify pre-emptive wars and trade sanctions on foreign populations which would otherwise be illegal.

        Who are you to define what the “spirit of freedom of speech” is or what the spirits of defamation and incitement are about? This is how the borders of what is considered taboo move around, none of these words have static, universally agreed upon definitions. Typically, those with the most money decide what they mean in the legal context. As you may know, money has now been equated with free-speech in America.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_United_v._FEC

        Land of the free…market.

  6. 2Beaucoup says

    Minorities are repressed, in Canada? Wow, hold the presses! Have you called CBC yet?

    • SonOfMan says

      I’m not the sort to get that upset about it. Social hierarchies are a fact of reality.

      • Scroto Baggins says

        “I’m not the sort to get that upset about it. Social hierarchies are a fact of reality.”

        This statement raises a fascinating question: What are the facts of unreality?

        Or maybe I need to stop reading so much Lewis Carroll.

        One of these is true. I’m sure of it.

        • SonOfMan says

          The facts of reality are those facts agreed upon by those of us in the real world.

          • SonOfMan says

            Which also just so happens to be where the great majority of rational people reside.

  7. E. Olson says

    The thing to do is use the rules and precedent to take down the other side. If the pro-choice club stages an event, call the police about the “controversy” and how it might trigger those that believe infanticide is morally wrong. If an affirmative action club stages an event, call the police about the “controversy” and how it might trigger those that believe in equal treatment for all. Use the rules to make sure those that try to limit speech they don’t like on campus also don’t get to say anything themselves.

  8. Folamh says

    Like so many terms the left get their hands on, “hate” (and all derivatives thereof) has been rendered effectively meaningless through overuse. It’s so surreal to me, how opinions like “I think there are certain detriments associated with unrestricted immigration” or “I think there are biological differences between male and female brains” are routinely tarred as “hateful” or “hate speech”, but one can publicly express sentiments like “All white people are evil”, “I hate all men” etc. without comment. Leftist opinions are never described as “hateful” even if they are literally nothing more than the expression of hatred for a particular person or group

      • TarsTarkas says

        And he who denies they are racist are in fact racist, at least unconsciously. Funny how leftists who deny they are racist are never considered racist.

      • @WildCard – And there it is… Seems so obvious now that you have said it

  9. SonOfMan says

    Clearly, its not hate speech alone that gets any attention. Its hate speech along with the perceived threat of violent reprisal against the existing dominance hierarchy. Majority groups are more likely to get away with violence than their minority counterparts and so they use this in their favour to bend the rules, either consciously or not.

    • WildCard says

      That doesn’t make it acceptable. And calling dissenting opinions “hate speech” is sickeningly manipulative.

      • SonOfMan says

        Since when has it’s acceptability had anything to do with it? Reality is what it is and free speech is manipulative by definition. That’s why people hate it so much.

        • WildCard says

          “Reality is what it is” is a meaningless statement and justifies nothing. Are you implying that because things are the way they are, no effort should be made to make them better?

          People don’t hate free speech. Bigots and tyrants do.

          • SonOfMan says

            “sickeningly manipulative” sounds an awful lot like an expression of hatred to me. But maybe those are just my tender leftist ears acting up again. How do you define hatred than, if not by such an overwhelmingly visceral revulsion to a person’s freely spoken words.

            I’m not trying to justify how things are. I’m just saying that, in the abstract, that’s how they’ve always been. Minorities have always been treated unfairly. Jesus said “the poor will always be with you” but, when he said this, he did not mean that their welfare should therefore be ignored. He was, apparently, a big advocate for the poor being treated with the same dignity and respect as the rich.

            My concern is that the cycle of injustice will not stop until people begin to understand that hypocricy and bias are not some new fangled phenomena just now cropping up with the millennials or imported by immigrants from exotic lands. They’ve been deeply imbedded in our society this entire time. Each of us has to look long and hard at how we are contributing to it first before we will ever be justified to point at someone else.

  10. Lightning Rose says

    People well-adjusted to Reality (including evolutionary gender tendencies and social hierarchies) GET AHEAD in the world. Maladjusted people either wind up heavily medicated and someone’s dysfunctional burden, or crash and burn and wind up in the newspaper. What I’d like to know is why they get so much INK? Every asshole on the planet doesn’t need a megaphone. Just sayin’!

    • SonOfMan says

      The concern, is that their number grows, and being in democracies and all, that could start to be a real problem if they ever get it in their heads to exercise their right to vote.

  11. Barney Doran says

    With regard to your quote misattributed to Voltaire (actually penned by Evelyn Beatrice Hall in her attribution to a sentiment probably held by Voltaire), can you imagine a professor in a ‘most selective’ American university even saying such a thing? That prof would probably get an ‘open letter’ on her ass so fast you would think she had questioned AOC’s sainthood.

  12. Richard says

    I think if you truly loved a person that you would really be bothered by the person committing child sacrifice. You shouldn’t want your wife, girlfriend, sister, or mother, etc committing child sacrifice.

    It should pain us to no end, and it does. I am 50 and an only child, my mother was a leftist and had many abortions, it saddened her, it saddens me. Would she have changed her mind looking back on it? I don’t know. I would have absolutely not wanted those abortions to happen though. Her life was full of, bad men, alcohol, drugs, misery and pain. I think the extra children she could have had would have been of benefit to her. I know..her choice…the pain is still real and lingers forever.

    I also thought this was well said (xxxxxxx’s are mine as it does not matter the argument) “it’s a brilliant strategy. With the xxxxxxx side already being censored so effectively, what benefit can the xxxxxxx side possibly gain from enabling a debate? Nothing. And this is how diversity of thought and opinion die. This is how the ideas and concepts that force us to grow get lost. This is how we end up with groupthink and an intellectual monoculture.”

    • curiositas says

      I have a sincere and constructively intended suggestion. If you believe abortion is murder, call it that — but calling it “child sacrifice” strongly implies a religiousity or ritualism that isn’t there, while also giving your point a vague air of hysteria and/or conspiracy theorism. Your case would be much stronger without it.

      • Tome708 says

        You are completely wrong. Abortion is a religious tenant. Leftism has become religious. It had its dogmas, it’s unique faith statements, and it especially defines its sins. Sin against it and you must be punished.
        Abortion as a dogma is equivalent to child sacrafice. To not sin against leftism you must hold that sacrafice sacred. It’s a sacrament.
        With the scientific advances any rational human being should be deeply concerned with this practice. But blind segments of society “celebrate abortion” or “shout out your abortion”. It’s ritualistic, rewarding adherents for their ultimate commitment of sacrificing their own child to the cause.
        I think describing it in these terms is much more accurate than “murder”. Human sacrafice was never considered “murder” by the adherents.

      • I think a pretty strong case could be made that abortion functions in our culture in many ways like child sacrifice did in, say, in ancient Carthage.

        Such a comparison, however, might be too upsetting for you curiositas…

    • Kelly says

      I think you’d be surprised, though the community here is definitely right wing the site itself has plenty of times gone against the right wing grain.

      • Speak for yourself… That the comments section has been dominated by one faction or another is a very disappointing development that will drive out natural and true diversity of opinion… I for one am not Right nor Left, just an individual with generally moderate positions…

    • Stoic Realist says

      Since you asked I think he has as a point buried somewhere in his painfully bloated, biased, fact challenged, tin foil hat nonsense. That requirement is stupid and violates free speech. That said I have a hard time managing sympathy for people who only care about free speech when it is their speech or speech that they agree with. Aka people like Glen Greenwald who is perfectly fine with speech policing when it is aimed at things he doesn’t like.

      I support anyone in a principled fight for free speech. I support no one who takes the cynical stance that my speech is free and your speech is hate speech. Sadly the latter now includes the likes of the ACLU.

      • Winston Smith says

        @johntshea That’s true. However, The Intercept don’t refer to their publication as the place “where free speech lives” (The into to the Quillette podcast says “Welcome to Quilllette where free speech lives”).

        My point is simply that if a publication is going to market itself as some sort of champion of free speech they should probably cover as many aspects of censorship as possible, not just those that occur on college campuses and come from the left.

        As a centrist, I appreciate the content here on Quillette. It helps balance out a diet high in progressive commentary. I just wish the contributors could bring their talents to bear on more topics besides butthurt complaints about the left.

    • I would probably be considered more “right” than “left” and I’m a Texan. I think laws that restrict free speech like the one referenced in the article you linked to are disgusting. I don’t know if that view is common among the Quillette community, but I hope so.

    • ga gamba says

      I appreciate whataboutery as much as the next fella, yet Winston fails to acknowledge Quillette does not have pool of reporters dispatched to cover the issues of our day. It relies almost entirely on submissions. If it’s not receiving quality pitches, then it’s neither a surprise nor a conspiracy why certain topics are given short shrift. Reading its About section I find this: “Send an idea for an article or a completed article draft to pitch@quillette.com.”

      Winston, have you pitched your article about BDS to Quillette? You may have to be persistent. “Due to the volume of submissions we receive, unfortunately, we cannot guarantee a reply to every email.”

      You assert: Quillette’s interest in free speech is limited to issues of censorship by the left.

      Does your assertion bear out? Are you a talented mind reader? Let’s see. Golly, Ms Clark’s article (this one you’re commenting on) is in response to the article by Professor Meegan denying there’s a speech problem on campus. I would characterise Meegan’s essay of the left.

      Further, when readers post comments about BDS are they deleted for being “off topic”? I don’t have the record of what, if anything, is removed from the site, but I know I’ve read many readers’ comments about BDS here. If Quillette were engaged in suppressing talk of BDS it’s failing to do effectively.

      • Winston Smith says

        @Ga Gamba I never said anything about a conspiracy nor did I suggest that Quillette is engaged in suppressing speech of any sort.

        • ga gamba says

          My guess is that nothing like the aforementioned story would ever appear on Quillete, because Quillette’s interest in free speech is limited to issues of censorship by the left.

          You’re right, Winton. You didn’t suggest. This sentence of yours more than suggests.

          You’re a genuine numbskull, Winston.

          • martti_s says

            As far as I understand the Quillette principles, you are free to write exactly the article that agrees with your wievs and if it is well researched, edited and contains no racial/ethnic slurs, it will be published. Then it will get the responses the Quillette gang will give it. You can mobilize your supporters (if you have any) to get your side of the argument enforced.

            Why is the idea of free speech so difficult to some?

    • Aerth says

      I see it as total BS. I understand that Jews suffered during WW II, but it does not mean they are above everyone else and deserve special treatment. Demand of anyone to sign such oath should never happen.

  13. Charlie says

    Universities concept of free speech is like Henry Ford’s view of choosing colour for the cars ” You can have any colour provided it’s black”.

  14. I wonder if anyone has painted “I am a phallic symbol” on the cannon. But now that women have dicks… which reminds me… they used to say that if men could get pregnant then abortion would be a sacrament. Is that what’s happening? Is it a sacrament?

  15. Excellent example of what not to do when defending free speech. Claim that there is a crisis and that free speech has been repeatedly repressed for over a decade. Provide just 3 data points, providing evidence in only one instance that free speech may have been censored. Say you are worried about all the acts of sensorship that you imagine might exist but likely don’t given your 3 data points over the period of 10 years and ask several questions to draw the reader into imagining several hypothetical problems based on their existing free speech bias.

    Finally the article massively over-analyses university protocol, keyboard warrior style, by extrapolating a probable outcome with no supporting evidence and no effort to find any if it even exists.

    Censorship is a very important topic to debate in a world of different cultures, values and beliefs. This piece has very little to add to that debate.

  16. In making compliance with a specified set of ideas a requirement for social interaction, progressive thought and the protection of their preferred ideas have created a religion that worships compliance. Bow down, or be ostracized, and then excommunicated. How incredibly medieval.

  17. martti_s says

    As much as I try, I cannot sympathize with the first world upper middle class kids.
    Sorry. Fight your fight and stop whining. You are walking free, you can walk out anytime you want. Nobody is calling for your execution, your families are not threatened. If Canada does not grant you human rights, you are free to leave and fly (tourist class) wherever in the world you feel you will live a better life. Everybody is welcoming your money and you. (in that order)
    Do you want somebody else to come and fight your fight for you?
    Beware, there is always a price to pay.

    First, clean your room, pull your shoulders back, never apologize and know what you are talking about. You might become a millionaire!

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