Stepping on free speech to keep out Coulter

University of Ottawa student union president wants to ban controversial writer and speaker from campus

“Fickle Students for Selective Free Speech?”

Yes, that’ll do nicely. After all, I think it’s about time we coin some sort of phrase to describe the exasperating irresolution of student leaders on the issue.

Free speech is good, right? Except when it comes certain stances on abortion, Israel/Palestine, and anything else that can otherwise make you uncomfortable or upset.

This week, it’s Ann Coulter, the notoriously controversial writer/speaker/columnist known for her right-wing opinions and provocative comments.  Coulter is scheduled to speak at the University of Western Ontario Today and University of Calgary Thursday, but it’s Tomorrow’s visit to the University of Ottawa that has spawned a “Ban Coulter from Campus” Facebook group and disdain from SFUO president Seamus Wolfe.

“The federation does not support Ann Coulter speaking on our campus,” Wolfe told the Ottawa Citizen. “We’re trying to work with the administration to see if we can ask her to do her speaking event somewhere else.”

That’s not all. According to the Ottawa Citizen article, Wolfe has prohibited posters advertising the event from going up in the University Centre building.

It seems obvious to me that these are counter-productive resistance tactics. Not liking Ann Coulter—that, I get. But trying to keep her off campus? I’ll need a little help with that one.

If anything, U of O students should consider themselves lucky; they have home court advantage, strength in numbers (or so it seems, at least, from Wolfe’s comments) and the opportunity to challenge Coulter directly during a scheduled Q&A after her speech.

Censorship is nothing but a soggy band-aid. Why cover up contentious ideology when you can potentially reason it down to irrelevance?

If you really think Coulter spews ridiculous, insulting dribble, let her hang herself with her own words. It will be a lot more effective than putting tape over her mouth and insisting that she would have been offensive.

In a 2005 editorial, Gilles Marchildon, executive director of Egale Canada, a national LGBT lobby group, summed up this view of censorship very succinctly. Referring to a homophobic letter printed in an Alberta newspaper by Pastor Stephen Boissoin in 2002, Marchildon writes:

While it is difficult to support Boissoin’s right to spew his misguided and vitriolic thoughts, support his right, we must.

If Boissoin was no longer able to share his views, then who might be next in also having their freedom of expression limited. Traditionally, the LGBT community’s freedom has been repressed by society and its laws.

Plus, it is far better that Boissoin expose his views than have them pushed underground. Under the glaring light of public scrutiny, his ideas will most likely wither and die.

Coulter’s views, too, should face the glaring light of public scrutiny. And our universities are just the places to house the debate. That is, unless our student nannies get in the way.




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Stepping on free speech to keep out Coulter

  1. Well said, Robyn.

    The University should be the place where we can give voice to opinions that may not be welcome in the broader public arena. If we accept the reverse (“you can speak, but not here,” says the wolf in Wolfe’s clothing), we strip away a valuable function for the university and push it toward irrelevance.

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  3. “SFUO president Seamus Wolfe”

    Should read “SFUO Shame Us Wolfe”

    There. FIFY.

  4. “The dubious decision to declare Galloway persona non grata seems to be politically motivated. Indeed, conservative free-speech advocates such as EZRA LEVANT have come out in support of the ban. Levant, you will recall, has little claim to fame other than his ongoing legal crusade for the right to publish bigoted material about Muslims”.
    _______________

    What free speech? This same little man supported a ban by this government which stifled Mr. Galloway’s ‘free speech’ in our country. We are a country of precedent law (except in Quebec) and the precedent was set by the Ezra Levant types in our government to NOT LET INTO OUR CIVILIZED COUNTRY a person of questionable intellegence whose SOLE PURPOSE is to incite HATRED.

    The whole point in life as was taught by our parents was to take the garbage OUT, not let it IN. Where is the common sense?

  5. Fred, perhaps if you spent time listening to all sides of a discussion you could learn and develop an informed position on your own. I don’t agree with Coulter on most things, but by being a louthmouth baby against anyone it shows immaturity and unwillingness to develop. Everyone has a point of view, and something to offer. The joy of learning is to interpret, study and grow, not to be a child who screams when they don’t like what they hear. Very sad.

  6. Galloway was warned that if he entered Canada he would likely be arrested under the law that forbids fundraising for terrorist organizations, in this particular case, for Hamas. Sorry. Rob is correct. You should spend some time listening to others. You might actually learn some things that exist outside your dark narrow little box. Better luck next time.

  7. I didn’t know she was coming, but now that I know I’m gonna make sure to make her visit a VERY unpleasant one.

  8. Students in Ottawa are fortunate to witness North America’s confirmed ambassador of true Conservative views and policy. Ezra proudly supports the direction held by our federal government. I personally commend the courage of Mr. Cannon’s commitment to transparent government. Canadians await our governments response with bated breath for the accountability part.

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  10. The hate in these comments and others is astounding. People proclaim freedom of life, liberty and speach on one hand, then on the other they scream for blood when someone (excercising the aformentioned rights) states an opinion contrary to theirs.

    Yes Coulter is extereme, but we have extremes on all sides and they are allowed their opinions. If we engage in intellegent debate, starting by acknoledging something we agree with in their point of view, we encourage learning. If we block them and stuff cotton in our ears, one day it will be to late.

  11. I was very surprised to learn that one of the sponsors of her rabble-rousing tour of Canada, along with Ezra Levant and that extreme right-wing Dutch fellow who just got elected, is Maclean magazine’s own Mark Steyn who usually is given a 2-page spread in each issue. Should this not have been disclosed by Macleans when writing articles on Coulter as there does appear to be a bit of a bias towards what she is trying to sell (hatred of all things Muslim). What with Mark Steyn both a Macleans writer and an organizer of this incendiary tour, there is an appearance of a conflict of interest.

  12. Her tour was organized by International Free Press Society, a group whose website sets up Islam as the preeminent threat to democracy in the Western world.

    “This jihad, like all jihads before it, will continue until a sharia-based caliphate rules the world, or until it is defeated,” the society’s policy statement says.

    The group also sells one of the infamous Danish Mohammad cartoons, signed by cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, for $250. They are currently sold out.

    Among the group’s board of advisers are Canadian conservative bloggers Ezra Levant and Kathy Shaidle, author MARK STEYN and far-right Dutch political leader Geert Wilders.

  13. Well, technically, only the state can infringe your freedom of expression.

    So her views *have* had the opportunity to face the glaring light of public scrutiny . . . except it appears that Canadians ain’t buying.

  14. It is always amazing how liberals, the left and communists spout off about being targeted for persecution and that their rights to free speech are being trampled, but history proves, time and time again, that it is in fact these pieces of garbage who seek to violate others rights and to keep others from practicing free speech. Evidence abounds in places such as Cuba, Venezuela, and even in the U.S. with our “open and transparent” Idiot in Chief Obama, who has more secrets and closed door sessions, and trample more laws and citizen’s rights then most, if not all. prior administrations….seems Shemus would have a home in this administration. What a putz!

  15. This woman has scrawled thousands of pages, appeared on every media outlet she can get herself into. But somehow Macleans thinks her free speech is being infringed upon? Give me a break. Free speech does not guarantee you broadcast rights. Ottawa U students have every right to say they don’t want her there, it’s not a public square.

    Neither the 1st Amendment or Article 2 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms give blanket protection for free speech. Both countries exclude protections for hate speech. Copyright infringement, and obscenity are two other types of speech that are not protected. You can’t spread lies either (slander). If her speech isn’t hate speech than what the hell is it?

  16. “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren’t punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That’s war. And this is war. ” – Ann Coulter

    “Not all Muslims may be terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims. ” – Ann Coulter

    “[Canadians] better hope the United States does not roll over one night and crush them. They are lucky we allow them to exist on the same continent. ” – Ann Coulter… See More

    “God gave us the earth. We have dominion over the plants, the animals, the trees. God said, ‘Earth is yours. Take it. Rape it. It’s yours.’ ” – Ann Coulter

    Discrediting evolutionary theory… LOL
    “I would like evolution to join the roster of other discredited religions, like the Cargo Cult of the South Pacific. Practitioners of Cargo Cult believed that manufactured products were created by ancestral spirits, and if they imitated what they had seen the white man do, they could cause airplanes to appear out of the sky, bringing valuable cargo like radios and TVs. So they constructed “airport towers” out of bamboo and “headphones” out of coconuts and waited for the airplanes to come with the cargo. It may sound silly, but in defense of the Cargo Cult, they did not wait as long for evidence supporting their theory as the Darwinists have waited for evidence supporting theirs. ” – Ann Coulter

    “They’re [Democrats] always accusing us of repressing their speech. I say let’s do it. Let’s repress them. Frankly, I’m not a big fan of the First Amendment. ” – Ann Coulter

    “# I’m pretty sure little François A-Houle does not need to travel with a bodyguard. I would like to know when this sort of violence, this sort of protest, has been inflicted upon a Muslim — who appear to be, from what I’ve read of the human rights complaints, the only protected group in Canada. I think I’ll give my speech tomorrow night in a burqa. That will protect me.” – Ann Coulter

    “And why is it “homophobic” for Senate Republicans to look askance at sex in public bathrooms? Is the Times claiming that sodomy in public bathrooms is the essence of being gay? I thought gays just wanted to get married to one another and settle down in the suburbs so they could visit each other in the hospital. ” – Ann Coulter

    “Bumper sticker idea for liberals: News magazines don’t kill people, Muslims do. ” – Ann Coulter

    “No, we just want Jews to be perfected, as they say. … That’s what Christianity is. We believe the Old Testament, but ours is more like Federal Express. You have to obey laws. …That is what Christians consider themselves: perfected Jews. We believe the Old Testament. As you know from the Old Testament, God was constantly getting fed up with humans for not being able to live up to all the laws. What Christians believe — this is just a statement of what the New Testament is — is that that’s why Christ came and died for our sins. Christians believe the Old Testament. You don’t believe our testament.” – Ann Coulter

    “I think [women] should be armed but should not vote…women have no capacity to understand how money is earned. They have a lot of ideas on how to spend it…it’s always more money on education, more money on child care, more money on day care. ” – Ann Coulter

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