The Chronicle-Herald – November 16, 2010
Where’s the respect for free speech at universities?
By Paul Schneidereit
I don’t know which is sadder: intolerant young people, including students, for shutting down speeches they don’t agree with, or universities for letting misguided activists get away with acting like fascists. As could easily have been predicted, the more these groups of self-righteous thought police get what they want without significant repercussions, the more their censorial efforts will target even people not seen as especially “controversial” by most folks.
For example, look at what happened at the University of Waterloo on Friday. Christie Blatchford, the Globe and Mail columnist and author of several books known for her piercing writing, was prevented from giving a speech on her new book – Helpless: Caledonia’s Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, and How the Law Failed All of Us – by five young protesters who commandeered the stage. Apparently, according to them, Blatchford’s book – which deals with the ongoing occupation of a subdivision development in Ontario by the Six Nations of the Grand River reserve in a dispute over title to the land – makes her a racist. “We don’t want people who are really, really racist teaching,” said Tallula Marigold, the group’s spokeswoman. “And we don’t want that person to have a public forum because it makes it dangerous for others in the public forum.”
Boiled down, here’s Marigold’s message: WE decide who is racist. WE decide if they can speak in a “public forum.” And WE decide if it’s dangerous for others to hear them.
Clearly, the concept of freedom of speech seems to be completely alien to Tallula and her fellow young censors.