Globe and Mail columnist Christie Blatchford is making a second attempt to speak at the University of Waterloo after her first go was thwarted by a few protesters with bike locks around their necks.
Blatchford was scheduled to speak about her new book, Helpless: Caledonia’s Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, and How the Law Failed All of Us, when some individuals decided that her “racist propaganda” was not to be given a public forum. The group of five successfully prevented Blatchford from taking the stage.
After the country became privy to the news that bike locks were suddenly sophisticated tools of political negotiation, the university released a statement apologizing for its embarrassing inaction:
The university considers Friday’s events as an attack on its presence as a place where issues are explored, discussed and at times debated. The freedom to speak and to learn is fundamental to the institution.
Protester Dan Kellar nevertheless remained committed to his heroic efforts to silence debate on campus. “[It’s a] sad day when universities are used as a space to allow racists and nazi-apologizers to speak,” Kellar posted on his Twitter feed. “blatchford work is not academic”(sic).
Kellar, a maybe-PhD candidate at UW, appears to have failed to do some academic research of his own before unleashing his anti-Blatchford slander. In a reflective column about the charade, Blatchford responds to Kellar’s accusation that she is a “Nazi-apologist” for supposedly glorifying neo-Nazi Ernst Zundel by pointing out that she has mentioned Zundel’s name a mere five times in 35 years of daily journalism, and “mostly peripherally.” In the one piece she wrote about him, Blatchford simply defended his right to free speech. Maybe someone should send Kellar that column.
The other obvious qualm with Kellar’s position is that Blatchford’s hack-journalism, as he calls it, is inherently anti-native. Blatchford’s book, as anyone who has read just scantly beyond the title can attest, is sharply critical of the way the government has handled the Caledonia occupation. While she doesn’t come off as particularly sympathetic to the aboriginal position, her denunciation of government concessions is a far cry from being anti-native.
Still, even if Blatchford was a racist, ageist, neocolonial capitalist Nazi-sympathizer with misogynistic tendencies, Kellar and his clan shouldn’t be able to stop her from speaking simply by stomping their feet. Believe it or not, being a meanie is not illegal in this country! Nor is holding controversial opinions or expressing prejudice. You’re even allowed to be wrong! Fancy that, huh? These freedoms allow George Galloway, Ann Coulter, and Christie Blatchford to say what they want, even on university campuses, and even if we don’t like it. That is, as long as certain people leave the bike locks outside.