On free speech and endorsements

Last week’s letter on Roosh V raised questions about The Medium’s views

Freedom of speech has been a difficult topic for me personally to wrap my head around. On the one hand, I’ve generally been opposed to statements that, even if not qualified as hate speech, strictly speaking, promote ignorance and lead to harm.

I’m often reminded of last year’s attacks on Charlie Hebdo and how that created a major discussion about freedom of speech and what, if any, should be its limitations. And while my views on the subject remain anything but simple, I do recognize that forcible censorship of individuals by third parties does at times provoke even worse reactions than what was initially censored.

Furthermore, censoring a person from saying something doesn’t mean that the person will stop holding those views. And in fact, as has often been the case in history, banning or burning specific works doesn’t mean people will stop reading them—in fact, it might just make people more curious about what they say.

So, it was fascinating for me to read last week’s letter on Roosh V and whether or not he should be given the right to propagate his views. I was pleased to see people engage in debate with the writer in their comments on our website. After all, at its heart, last week’s letter was about whether or not someone whose views meet with wide disapproval should still be permitted to continue to share those views. So I’m glad to see that several people who disagreed with the letter took the opportunity to share their own views on the topic rather than try to censor the writer.

And yet, there were some who questioned our choice to publish the letter. One person, for example, commented on the poor choice of The Medium to “endorse” the letter in Roosh’s defence. To clarify, publication in The Medium does not equate to endorsement. Indeed, we have a disclaimer in our opinion section that says, “Opinions expressed in the pages of The Medium are exclusively of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Medium.” We have published and continue to publish opinions that we personally do not agree with—the point of having an opinion section is to engage in thoughtful debate about topics, not promote a specific ideology.

Don’t get me wrong: we do have policies for what we will and will not publish. For letters, it’s that we don’t publish ones “that incite hatred or violence and letters that are racist, homophobic, sexist, or libelous”. And for anyone who’s still in doubt, there is indeed a distinction between arguing in favour of a person’s right to speak and indulging in hate speech oneself. In other words, the letter itself was not a form of hate speech.

But if you have any qualms about last week’s letter or about Roosh V or any other subject, you are more than welcome to write us a letter in response. We almost always publish letters, as long as we have space and it adheres to the policy mentioned above. I should add that another part of that policy is that we don’t publish anonymous letters; so, if you have an opinion, you have to have the courage to put your name on it.

After all, if one person’s views are really wrong, why don’t we just respond and prove it?


1 comment

  1. “Inside many liberals is a totalitarian screaming to get out.” (David Horowitz)

    Well, liberal fascists are certainly running amok at Canadian universities. Here are only some of the stories which have developed in recent years, where the self-appointed totalitarian vigilantes are very ‘vigilant’, so ideas which threaten their ideologies are being blocked from being voiced. All but one of these stories are from universities. The last one is from ‘education’ generally, where the vigilantes want to ban ‘racist’ T-shirts.

    There is a lot of material here for readers to examine liberal fascists and their relatives, the political correctionists, the Femi-Nazis and, a group whose stories are not included, the eco-fascists. A spotlight should be turned on all these nice people from Canada. And so, enjoy the following litany:

    * Right-wing antagonist Ann Coulter cancelled a University of Ottawa address last night after organizers decided it wasn’t safe to speak.

    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/ann-coulters-speech-in-ottawa-cancelled/article4352616/ Mar. 23, 2010)

    * Christie Blatchford’s scheduled speech at the University of Waterloo was cancelled Friday after three students occupied the stage and refused to leave.

    http://www.macleans.ca/education/university/shouting-racist-in-a-crowded-university/ (Nov. 14, 2010)

    * I was also expecting the fire alarm to go off—and it did—five minutes after Janice Fiamengo’s lecture started in the nearly full George Ignatieff Theatre at the University of Toronto on Thursday evening.

    http://www.macleans.ca/education/uniandcollege/a-mens-rights-advocate-spoke-at-the-university-of-toronto/ (March 8, 2013)

    * It’s happening again. Yet another Canadian university is making life extremely difficult for a group that brings awareness of men’s issues to institutions of higher learning.

    http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/barbara-kay-ryerson-drags-mens-issues-group-through-the-wringer (February 4, 2014)

    * Hundreds of students packed into Ellis Hall auditorium Thursday night to listen to and debate Janice Fiamengo’s controversial men’s issues talk. …The talk, organized by the Men’s Issues Awareness Society (MIAS), has been a cause for outcry … Last week, the group Opposition to the Misrepresentation of Men’s Issues and Feminism at Queen’s University attempted to have MIAS de-ratified as an AMS club.

    http://www.queensjournal.ca/story/2014-03-28/news/mens-issues-awareness-event-sparks-controversy/ (March 28, 2014)

    * There’s been a lot of talk about “rape culture” on university campuses lately, but a group of protesters recently booed and silenced an “anti-feminist” University of Ottawa professor who wanted to talk about the issue. http://www.metronews.ca/news/ottawa/2014/04/10/protesters-shut-down-u-of-o-professors-mens-rights-talk.html (April 10, 2014)

    * Chaytors said she was also concerned the [ Pro Life] exhibit was going to coincide with the university’s Pride week parade so she and others are planning a peaceful protest.She said they planned to block the images for those walking in the pride parade. http://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/pro-life-display-planned-for-university-of-alberta-creating-dissent-among-students-1.2258621 (Feb. 28, 2015)

    * The Ryerson Students’ Union (RSU) has shut out a pro-life group on campus.

    The RSU Board of Directors unanimously voted to deny Students For Life at Ryerson (SFLR) club status at a meeting on Feb. 23.

    http://theeyeopener.com/2015/02/rsu-denies-pro-life-group-club-status/ (Feb. 25, 2015)

    * UTMSU has reportedly been served with a lawsuit in a case filed by a pro-life student group at UTM who claims that the union denied them club status and funding due to their views on abortion.

    http://archive.themedium.ca/news/pro-life-group-files-suit-against-utmsu-update (Jan. 25, 2016)

    *As intolerance to unpopular opinions has grown on Canadian campuses, university administrations have been forced into innovative strategies to keep the peace while avoiding accusations of stifling free speech.

    http://news.nationalpost.com/full-comment/robyn-urback-at-the-university-of-alberta-it-is-literally-too-expensive-to-try-to-share-a-controversial-opinion (Feb. 25, 2016)

    * Ontario students should be banned from wearing clothing with offensive logos — such as the Cleveland Indians or Chicago Blackhawks — says a group of school board equity officials who are now lobbying the provincial government and directors of education to change dress codes.

    http://www.thestar.com/yourtoronto/education/2016/02/24/ban-kids-from-wearing-clothing-with-offensive-team-logos-group-urges.html (February 24, 2016)

    And we will let Thomas Sowell summarize for us:

    “The charge is often made against the [liberal] intelligentsia and other members of the anointed that their theories and the policies based on them lack common sense. But the very commonness of common sense makes it unlikely to have any appeal to the [liberal] anointed. How can they be wiser and nobler than everyone else while agreeing with everyone else?”

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