So­cial pros­e­cu­tion

The Globe and Mail Metro (Ontario Edition) - - Opinion -

Re Let Speech Be Free, And Kids Will Learn (edi­to­rial, Nov. 14): I think I un­der­stand. Free­dom of speech is alive and well on Cana­dian cam­puses, as long as it doesn’t of­fend non­white in­di­vid­u­als, peo­ple with strong opin­ions on the left side of the bell curve, and any­one with an ori­en­ta­tion other than het­ero­sex­ual. Any­one with strong ideas about re­li­gions other than their own must self­cen­sor for fear of so­cial pros­e­cu­tion.

Those cam­puses with spe­cial com­mit­tees, which have con­structed elab­o­rate rules about these mat­ters, must vet stu­dents, pro­fes­sors and guests for of­fen­sive views. Hate laws en­shrined in the Crim­i­nal Code of Canada are not enough for uni­ver­si­ties over-reg­u­lat­ing in the name of po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness. Ideas which are con­sid­ered ab­hor­rent to some are not to be ex­pressed, as the path to a real ed­u­ca­tion rests in ho­mo­gene­ity. – Marty Cut­ler, Toronto As an aca­demic, I have been read­ing the opin­ion pieces on free speech in uni­ver­si­ties with great in­ter­est. I agree com­pletely with the need to en­sure aca­demic free­dom.

For those of us op­er­at­ing within academia, it is also worth re­mem­ber­ing that this free­dom of in­quiry and ex­pres­sion is re­ally a gift from our so­ci­ety, not a ba­sic right. As aca­demics we also carry a re­spon­si­bil­ity to be care­ful in how we present and dis­sem­i­nate our ideas, par­tic­u­larly when deal­ing with is­sues with the po­ten­tial to be harm­ful to some. This side of the is­sue can and should be added to the dis­cus­sion, though not as op­po­si­tion to free speech.

– Chris Roney, King’s Univer­sity Col­lege, Lon­don, Ont. I fully sup­port let­ter writer Charles Sager’s sug­ges­tion that con­tro­ver­sial speak­ers on cam­pus should be asked to de­fend their views in a for­mal de­bate for­mat against qual­i­fied ad­ver­saries (Con­tor­tion-Free Free­doms, Nov. 11). Such a struc­ture might elim­i­nate some of the ob­nox­ious name-call­ing and ob­struc­tion­ist an­tics that nor­mally ac­com­pany these events, if they are al­lowed to hap­pen at all.

Un­for­tu­nately, this would likely be op­posed by both stu­dents and aca­demics, whose “pro­gres­sivist” ethos has mor­phed into a smug, in­tol­er­ant the­ol­ogy that is un­able to coun­te­nance di­ver­gent thoughts or ideas. Sadly, the very in­sti­tu­tions that should be de­fend­ing free ex­pres­sion have be­come in­su­lar fortresses of con­form­ity and group­think.

– Herb Schultz, Ed­mon­ton

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