Sunday, November 23, 2008

Universities and Freedom of Expression

Have the censorship-prone, politically-correct taken over our universities?

In February, the York University Federation of Students denied their fellow students space for a debate on abortion. The issue quickly became the right to express one's views. The students federation denied the pro-life students the enjoyment of that freedom.

The justification for censorship was that the subject matter might "upset, appall or traumatize sensitive" students. Surprised and intimidated by media coverage, the federation reversed itself. A friendly debate ensued, with no reports of anyone rendered upset, appalled or traumatized.

To its credit, the University of Waterloo held the same debate without incident.

About the same time, McMaster University administration cancelled a proposed Israeli Apartheid Week. Curiously enough, the same York Federation that initially banned a debate on abortion, objected to McMaster's suppression of free speech.

In 2007, pro-life students were denied official recognition by British Columbia's Capilano College, Kelowna College, and University of Victoria, as were similar groups at Newfoundland's Memorial University, Lakehead University, and Carlton University.

Carlton's student council dropped its support for the Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Fund when it learned that  cystic fibrosis was a white man's disease. It was therefore unworthy of support as not being sufficiently inclusive. Does that mean these students will never support the fight against sickle cell anemia which only afflicts black people? To their credit, the council reversed its position, but the concern over misguided political correctness continues.

Some students, and not a few interloping gay activists, at Ryerson University protested, less than peacefully, at the granting of an honorary degree to Margaret Somerville. The ethicist from McGill University is an advocate of the traditional family, something certain activists oppose.

In an edict smacking of vigilantism, officials at the University of Calgary will cancel your debate, talk, presentation, whatever, should they fear the slightest possibility of violence. That's tantamount to censorship by threat of violence. Does the university cancel raucous debate over student fee increases?

Queen's University joined this parade to oblivion by creating an "Intergroup Dialogue Program." This initiative pays students to roam the corridors of academe seeking out the private expression of opinions officialdom deems offensive, and substitute in their place the politically correct version.

The common media condemned this version of censorship, but not that related to abortion. Is this yet another example of selective reporting in order to impose on the general public another's view of the world?

What is it with certain young people, merely a few years out of high school, that they feel competent to judge opinions, withhold the right to express them, and replace them with their own? Let us hope we are not talking about future activist supreme court judges, or biased media editors, whom we already have in over-abundance.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Globe and Mail and democracy

What is it that The Globe and Mail does not understand about democracy?

The issue in certain states in the recent U.S. elections was whether or not marriage was exclusively something between a man and a woman. Voters in most states affirmed their belief that such is the case. California made this affirmation for the second time when a majority voted for Proposition 8.

In a Globe and Mail editorial one can charitably describe as sniveling and churlish, this newspaper decried an exercise in democracy as backward, the work of social-conservative Republicans, a message of exclusion, et cetera.

In a most egregious and unforgivable statement, the editorialist observed that the California proposition was supported by 70 per cent of black voters. In a 19th century mind-set, the editorial opined, "That is not surprising, given higher rates of religiosity." My dictionary defines "religiosity" as sanctimonious. In Globe parlance, it is code for uneducated, backward African Americans.

This type of narrow thinking has provoked outbursts of racism in California. Homosexuals attacked, insulted and swore at black people for the democratic expression of opinion homosexuals describe as hate. The world awaits the Globe's expression of disapproval of: church invasions and vandalism by gay protesters, a gay theatre owner in California black-balling a director who supported Proposition 8, people being thrown to the ground, urinated on, shouted at and swarmed. And disapproval of mailing packages of white powder. The Director of the Los Angeles Film Festival was forced to resign because he donated to the Proposition 8 campaign. All this because homosexuals disagree with traditional marriage. And when one defends marriage, it is called hate speech.

Had the vote gone the other way, the Globe would have chastised complainers for not understanding that the people have spoken. Democracy is good only if one agrees with its results.

In Canada, the dilution of traditional marriage was imposed on us by a mere handful of activist judges across the country, cheered on by the common media. In Ontario, three judges purported to speak for all of us. The daughter of one of them, Chief Justice Roy McMurtry, was living in a lesbian relationship at the time her father signed the judgement. The obvious appearance of bias did not register on McMurtry. He  refused to withdraw from the case. Two weeks later, the Chief Justice of Ontario attended a party where he danced with the litigants who earlier had appeared before him.

The next step in this tawdry process will be jurists declaring unconstitutional laws against polygamy.