Don't hate me for defending the hateful - Macleans.ca

Don’t hate me for defending the hateful

Numerous blogs have not only condemned Hossain but have called him such charming names as “camel humper” — and now the students’ government wants him kicked out of the University of Toronto

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University campuses have a way of exploding into irrationality. Whether it is kicking anti-abortionists off school grounds because they are no better than “Nazis,” railing at tuition increases, or slurring students who vote Conservative, you can bet on knee-jerk emotional reactions to just about any issue.

The latest comes in response to University of Toronto-Mississauga (UTM) student Salman Hossain who the National Post revealed two weeks ago to be under investigation by the RCMP for internet postings that appear to advocate the killing of Canadian soldiers on Canadian soil. Such actions, Hossain argues, are “legitimate” and “well-deserved,” because of Canada`s role in Afghanistan. His detractors have been apoplectic. Numerous blogs have not only condemned Hossain but have called him such charming names as “camel humper,” while others have called for his deportation. Well then, perhaps we should boot out everyone who doesn’t embrace the legitimacy of the Afghan war!

Okay, Okay, before I go any further convention requires that I make some sort of statement like, I don’t actually agree with Hossain, he is indeed hateful, or something like that. So here goes: I assure you that I wish to grant no comfort to Hossain. There! is that satisfactory? Am I in the clear for having my own patriotism questioned?

Moving on then.

A Facebook group (with over 600 members) has been set up by University of Toronto Mississauga students titled “Expel or Suspend Salman Hossain.” And, yesterday the Post reported that Walied Khogali the president of the student government wants the university to look into disciplinary action against the Bangladeshi-Canadian.

However, there are few things that would be more inappropriate for a university administration to do, than to discipline a student for commenting on a website that is affiliated in no way with the university. Can it be proven that Hossain was using university computers to post his comments? Does it matter? Should we be spying on casual conversations in the hallway? Should we be disciplining students who want a Leninist revolution that would assuredly involve the killing of Canadian soldiers on home soil? Free thought be damned!

That a student government would even consider this an option is appalling and nonsensical. Across the country residents fed up with boozy students interrupting their sleep and urinating in the streets have begged universities to enforce codes of conduct off campus. Until now student governments have condemned such calls. And, more importantly, university administrators have for the most part (admirably) resisted the urge to overstep their authority into areas that are rightfully the responsibility of the police. Hossain’s case should be no different, and Khogali should seriously consider the ramifications of what he is advocating.

What’s more, if Hossain is found to have committed no crime, and based on what has been made public it is not clear that he has, then so be it.