Si­lenc­ing Ban­non would sap democ­racy

Sentinel-Review (Woodstock) - - OPINION -

What was all the fuss about? Con­ser­va­tive com­men­ta­tor David Frum and for­mer White House strate­gist Steve Ban­non squared off in a highly pub­li­cized de­bate Fri­day to dis­cuss cur­rent af­fairs. And then every­one went home.

Well, not every­one. Toronto po­lice ar­rested 12 peo­ple who are now fac­ing var­i­ous charges, in­clud­ing tres­pass­ing, dis­or­derly con­duct and as­sault of a po­lice of­fi­cer.

There is a cer­tain com­mu­nity out there that has de­vel­oped a prob­lem with the ba­sic con­cept of free speech and free­dom of ex­pres­sion.

Hun­dreds of peo­ple showed up in front of Roy Thom­son Hall in Toronto on Fri­day to protest the event and Ban­non specif­i­cally. They went so far as to ha­rass the tick­ethold­ers lined up to en­ter the hall.

They con­tend the for­mer cam­paign man­ager for U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump is a white su­prem­a­cist with views so hate­ful and of­fen­sive he shouldn’t be al­lowed to air them in pub­lic.

Ban­non him­self con­tends he is not a white su­prem­a­cist but an eco­nomic na­tion­al­ist. That said, we’re not go­ing to make his case for him.

This isn’t just about Ban­non and his views. We be­lieve mem­bers of the pub­lic are wise enough to make up their own minds when con­fronted with con­tro­ver­sial and of­fen­sive views.

Pure hate speech is dif­fer­ent, and cer­tainly the devil is in the def­i­ni­tion.

Ban­non made his ar­gu­ments Fri­day, Frum of­fered a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive and any­one who came and lis­tened would have reached their own con­clu­sions.

The mob that showed up on Fri­day op­posed both free speech and the peo­ple’s right to hear what Ban­non and Frum had to say.

Frum, a for­mer Post­media colum­nist, of­fered an ar­tic­u­late re­jec­tion of Ban­non’s view of the world.

The mob, mean­while, re­lied on tantrums and vi­o­lence to deny the right of any­one with whom they dis­agree to ex­press their views. We’d like to say those anti-demo­cratic views of the pro­test­ers come just from a fringe mi­nor­ity. But sadly that’s not the case. Prior to the event, NDP MP Char­lie An­gus called for it to be can­celled. After the event, Toronto city coun­cil­lor Joe Cressy posted to so­cial me­dia that the event was “an in­cred­i­bly ir­re­spon­si­ble move. An apol­ogy is in or­der.”

Democ­racy is best served by con­fronting con­tro­ver­sial per­spec­tives.

Not by sti­fling free speech with which you dis­agree.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.