January 24, 2013

Where The Threat To Freedom Lies

No, not Canada -- from the Left, which decrees that even allowing for the possibility of dissent from their orthodoxies du jour is evil, oppressive and not to be tolerated.

A gay rights activist wrecked a newly-installed “Free Speech Wall” at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario less than a day after it was installed.

The symbolic wall was the brainchild of Ian CoKehyeng and Carleton Students for Liberty. Members of the club installed it on Monday to demonstrate the vigor of free speech on campus.

“What we wanted to promote was competition of ideas, rather than ‘if I disagree with you I’ve got to censor you,’” CoKehyeng, the club’s founder, told told the Toronto-based National Post.

But the competition of ideas that CoKehyeng wishes to encourage was apparently problematic for at least one member of the university community, who destroyed the wall as an affront to liberation.

By Tuesday morning, seventh-year student Arun Smith had demolished the wall, which was really little more than a makeshift white board equipped with colored markers in a high-visibility area on campus.

Smith called the wall an “act of violence” against the gay community, according to the Post. As for his own deed, he has hailed it as an act of “forceful resistance.”

In a thick, 594-word Facebook screed, Smith explained that he tore down the wall because it provided space “for the expression of hate.”

Mind you, there was not any ACTUAL hate speech (unless one considers "traditional marriage is awesome" to be oppressive heterosexism) and lots of speech in support of the pro-gay agenda that Smith claims to be an advocate for. Apparently the mere availability of a space where speech that Smith disagrees with could be expressed was offensive enough to require its destruction -- as Smith made clear on Facebook.

We are supposed to be creating safe(r) spaces for ourselves, and for other students, but there can be no safe(r) spaces where there is potential for triggering, the invalidation or questioning of the identities of others, and/or the expression of hatred. Prior to undertaking this action, I contacted Equity Services, who have decided to abandon a commitment to serving students; in fact, they referred me to CUSA, who abandoned a commitment to serving students themselves quite a while ago.

In other words, "liberation" requires the unapologetic suppression of any view contrary to those endorsed by the liberators and "serving students" means imposing the ideological mandates of the loudest of the vocal minorities in the community.

Sadly, there are those who endorsed Smith's screed on Facebook -- ironically engaging in the very sort of "invalidation or questioning of the identities of others, and/or the expression of hatred" towards those who might disagree with Smith and his militant homosexualist agenda. Apparently the mandate that nobody be allowed to invalidate or question the identities of others only goes so far -- call it the Dan Savage brand of tolerance.

Let me close with two points here. First, I'm carrying the banner of individual liberty, including the right to publicly express views that others (even the majority) may disagree with, as an essential element of a free society -- not necessarily the views themselves. Furthermore, I'm also pointing out the utter hypocrisy of those who would silence dissenting speech (or make speech dissenting from their orthodoxy impossible) -- because you and I both know that if this free speech wall had been attacked and destroyed by one or more militant followers of Christ because it made available a space for pro-gay speech (and the wall contained a whole host of unabashedly pro-gay speech) we all would have heard from Smith that the creation and preservation of spaces for free speech is essential for the liberation of LGBT people.

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