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Opinion - page 116

Opinions from our editorial board and contributors.

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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: The weekly letter about Brendan’s column

Re: "Right Minded: An offensive motion" by Brendan Steven (09.02.10) Columnist Brendan Steven makes an argument that the upcoming (as of this letter) General Assembly motion on discriminatory groups constitutes a vote on freedom of speech. However, his analysis is significantly misguided.
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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Bianca Van Babbles

Re: "Pop Rhetoric: Fist-pumping IQs away" by Bianca Van Bavel (02.02.10) Dear Bianca Van Bavel, I'm writing in response to your article on Jersey Shore, MTV's newest reality show. You seem to be upset that, as "young impressionable intellectuals," we (speaking on behalf of non-closet Shore fans) have decided to spend some of our free time being entertained.
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COMMENTARY: What do you want from your GA?

There are few parts of the legislative process as controversial as the "rider." Riders are unrelated provisos typically attached to bills that are politically impossible to veto or postpone, usually in order to pass unpopular legislation that would not get approval by itself.
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COMMENTARY: Opt-out misinformation

Re: "Opting out of QPIRG" by Brendan Steven (26.01.10) In his article "Opting out of QPIRG," Brendan Steven claims that "controversial groups" should go directly to students for their funding, instead of receiving it through the McGill chapter of the Quebec Public Interest Research Group.
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OFF THE BOARD: Class you can watch in bed?

PSYCH 213: Cognition is like most 200-level psychology courses: it's straightforward, chock-full of interesting studies that explain human behaviour, and it's in Leacock 132. But unlike most large science classes, it's not recorded. Among the many redundant questions posted on WebCT, there have been well over 100 requests to record Cognition lectures - in addition to dozens of emails and in-class appeals about the same subject.
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COMMENTARY: Why Gaza remembrance week misses the point

From February 1-7, the McGill chapter of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights staged Gaza Remembrance Week to mark the one-year anniversary of the bloody conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Earlier in January, SPHR organized a "Public Commemoration of the Gaza Massacre" in downtown Montreal.
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FRESH HELL: I never knew’d

Although I've played team sports since I was old enough to don a pinny, I'm usually quite awkward in locker rooms. Part of it has to do with my upbringing. My family was never a particularly naked one - we didn't do a lot of topless sunbathing in the backyard or play nude family Monopoly - so nakedness has always startled me.
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RIGHT MINDED: An offensive motion

SSMU further resolves to condemn any group, student association, or organization whose goals and methods compromise the safety and health of any person or engage in acts of discrimination such as, but not limited to, pro-life groups; SSMU will not grant full or interim club status to any such group.

SSMU further resolves to condemn any group, student association, or organization whose goals and methods compromise the safety and health of any person or engage in acts of discrimination such as, but not limited to, pro-life groups; SSMU will not grant full or interim club status to any such group." - Motion Re: Discriminatory Groups.

Tomorrow, at the Students' Society Winter General Assembly, students will have an opportunity to vote on freedom of speech. Very rarely in our lives do we get such an opportunity, as most of us are fortunate to come from liberal democratic countries - where our right to stand up and speak our minds is held dear.

But on Wednesday, a motion will be presented at the GA entitled "Discriminatory Groups" that threatens those very rights. This motion makes some wild claims. It claims that denying a woman access to abortions is "an act of discrimination." On the grounds that pro-life groups are therefore "discriminatory," it seeks to alter SSMU's equity policy to include a clause that would prevent SSMU from granting full or interim club status to any pro-life group. The motion also claims that Choose Life utilized coercive tactics at the now-infamous "Echoes of the Holocaust" event.

This entire motion offends me.

The claim that pro-life groups are fundamentally discriminatory is absurd. It has no rational justification. I make this statement as a person who is fundamentally pro-choice. But that doesn't prevent me from understanding the sincere arguments of the pro-life side of the debate. How is the belief that a fetus is a child discriminatory? Whether life begins at conception is both a scientific and a spiritual question, not a question of sexism.

Furthermore, the notion that Choose Life utilized "coercive" tactics at its "Echoes of the Holocaust" event is obscene. The event was open to anyone who wanted to attend. If you felt insulted by the notion of an academic comparison of genocide to abortion, then you didn't have to go. "Echoes of the Holocaust" was not the first time a group has invoked the Nazi genocide: People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals launched a "Holocaust on your Plate" campaign in 2003, in which they compared factory farms to concentration camps. While I disagree with their message with every fibre of my being, it's PETA's right to make the comparison, just as it was Jose Ruba's right to do so at "Echoes of the Holocaust." No one hired a political correctness police force to shout him down. No one has the right to shut him up.

In fact, the only people "coercing" anyone at that presentation were the protesters who interrupted Ruba by singing and yelling for two hours, silencing debate and denying their fellow students a forum for their opinions.

Canada has a wonderful legal document called the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. That document ensures four fundamental freedoms - the four most significant freedoms a human being can exercise.

The first is freedom of conscience and religion. Those against abortion are free to hold that moral belief, as they are free to practice any faith that opposes abortion.

The second is freedom of thought, belief, opinion, and expression. Those opposed to abortion have the right to think that abortions are wrong, and they have the right to tell people that they think so.

The third is freedom of peaceful assembly, and the fourth is freedom of association. Those against abortion have the right to create an organization based on that belief, and no one has the right to stop them.

With the stroke of a pen this resolution promises to suffocate the fundamental freedoms of any pro-life student who comes to this school. Think I'm being a hack for quoting the constitution? This seems like one of the rare occasions where it is incredibly appropriate.

I strongly encourage anyone who loves their fundamental freedoms to come to the GA and vote no to this resolution. It offends the very rights its authors are trying to protect.


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