Commentary: To be heard, or not to be heard

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum….”  – Noam Chomsky

Universities have long been instrumental in promoting the potential of humans by being sanctuaries of free thought, free expression, and constant questioning of the world around us. It is unfortunate that, in this day and age, that institutions of higher education have largely lost this sense of importance in promoting freedom of expression and the importance of the individual. This phenomenon has largely been the doing of radical student unions and professors who seem to prefer silencing viewpoints that oppose their own. In Canada for instance, the Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms published its 2014 Campus Freedom Index, in which 33 of the 52 Canadian universities featured in the index were given a failing grade for their efforts to preserve freedom of expression on campus.

Not only have more than half of Canadian universities failed to protect the freedom that is most important to higher education, they have also applied their censorship and rejection of free speech in the most biased way possible. In 2012,  the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU) forced the club called the McGill Friends of Israel to change an event named “Israel-A-party,” while not censoring other clubs which accuse the Jewish state of instituting apartheid. The University of Toronto and Ryerson University’s respective student unions have banned the existence of men’s issues awareness clubs on their respective campuses, claiming the organizations were affiliated with A Voice for Men and the Canadian Association for Equality, which the student unions deemed to be “hate groups.” However, neither organization has been labelled as such by any other entities that are generally trusted make such a designation, such as the police or courts. The list of instances of student associations playing judge, jury, and executioner in cases like these goes on.   

Despite the majority of students holding neutral or moderate political views, campus discourse within many Canadian universities still suffers from a radical leftist atmosphere.

Radicalized students and student unions are shooting not only themselves and the students they are meant to represent in the foot, but higher education itself as well. When free and intelligent debate is censored on campus by a small but loud minority that want to limit discourse to their views, we are effectively limiting our own scope of perspectives. Student unions, as organizations committed to representing all members of their respective student bodies, have no right to impose biased or narrowed perspectives on any or all students. 

Unfortunately, despite the majority of students holding neutral or moderate political views, campus discourse within many Canadian universities still suffers from a radical leftist atmosphere. What is wrong with expressing solidarity with Israel as so many student groups do with Palestine? Why can men not organize a group to discuss issues that predominantly affect their gender? These expressions and others like them  have been relentlessly suppressed by numerous student unions. It is well past due time to end this Orwellian culture on campus.

It is fair to claim in response that free speech should be restricted by the rights and freedoms of others. However, the only such instances in which free speech should ever be limited is in the case of hate speech. Designating a statement or group as a “hate group” or “hate speech” should not be a power belonging to any arbitrary student or student organization. Student associations are not legally accredited to determine what does or does not construe hate speech, and their laws do not, or at least should not , overrule the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that all Canadians benefit from .

22 Comments

  1. I find it incredibly ironic that the author of this article perpetuates hate speech on a regular basis.

    • Daan is the kind of guy who is incredibly reasonable if you’re reasonable towards him, but quickly dismisses you if you start getting emotional rather than logical in an argument. He isn’t actually a hateful guy, but he gets fed up when people try to cast him in a certain light rather than use facts. He just gives you back what you give him.

      • from my experience debating with daan, he’s been the first to hurl insults and attack character rather than tackle the arguments. he disguises his opinions behind this facade of rationality but he’s clearly very emotionally driven.

        • I also have experience debating with Daan, both online and in real life. I hold very leftist views and have found him to be one of the best people to debate with if you’re being cool and logical, he’ll accept a rational argument and respect you for it. I would look back on the arguments you are referring to, I highly doubt he was the first to start the emotionality in any argument. I could see him escalating if you started it, but if you keep your cool so does he.

    • Bret Silverglate

      I mean, its not ironic. It would be ironic if Daan argued for censorship, then wrote an article that was anti-censorship. If nothing, the fact that forbidden speech does not exist for down is inline with his anti-censorship views.

  2. ”Oh my god are you retarded? (yes i used the word i don’t give a fuck) how is it contradictory to blame your disadvantages (and you’d still have plenty even if you were a white male) on skin color out of insecurity? People like you do it all the time”

  3. balanced perspective

    http://bullandbearmcgill.com/how-did-we-get-an-f-in-free-speech/

    An alternative perspective on the issue of freedom of speech vs. SSMU

    though freedom of speech is essential to our community, so is inclusivity, which does entail curtailing things like hate speech. In my opinion, neither are more important than the other. To paint one as more integral than the other in this community is to make an unfounded value judgement – there are people who value inclusivity over freedom of speech, just as daan seemingly values freedom of speech over inclusivity; and their voices matter.

  4. Daan disgracefully insults people on facebook who holds different opinions to him in the nastiest and most unacceptable manner rather than engaging them on a systematic basis. This does not occur when ‘people get emotional’, it occurs every single time he is presented with an argument. His opponents are intelligent and well read – a lot more than he is.

    This follows an annoying traditional found in the likes of Bill Murray and Gleck Beck who do not engage what their opponent say and resort to questioning them as individuals, rather. This allows uneducated borderline fascists to paint their views as common sense by denying the very pertinence of their opposition.

    If this is not suppression of discussion, then I don’t know what is. The article is well written but lacks massively in substantive examples, only reflecting what seems to be this man’s perpetual rage and frustration. Its authors Facebook comments are testament to the fact he has absolutely not notion of what is offensive and what is not – to this end he is a prime candidate for a bit of content-control

  5. Never mind what an asshole the author this article is purported to be. What should be at issue here is what he is saying, rather than his poor moral character.

    This article is tantamount to conspiracy theory right-wing scare mongering. There is a recurring trend of right wing people claiming that liberals are silencing them. Rather than engaging with what it is they say, we claim they aim to limit free speech and silence their arguments in the name of things that sound noble.

    Why is this? Daan is misinformed and completely overlooks the fact that in 2012 McGill passed rules that stopped left-wing as well as right-wing student groups from using the University’s name. In fact, left-wingers were hit hard, and ended up occupying McGill property (see article).

    The idea that left-wingers are silencing conservatives on Campus is a fabrication. It is also a very useful and catchy fabrication for people like Rozenbeck to make. Too bad they believe their own crap.

    http://www.mcgilldaily.com/2012/02/20-students-occupy-mendelsons-office/

  6. LOL @ how this die-hard supporter of Israel starts with a quote of Noam Chomsky, one of Israel’s harshest critics. Maybe you should do some fact checking instead of telling other McGill students to “go crawl into tunnels with the rest of Hamas”, Daan. Talk about hate speech.

    • how is that hate speech by definition? sure it’s an unpleasant statement but it does not incite or cause anyone to behave violently, nor is a statement such as this forbidden by law. Bill Maher called for killing every single member of ISIS on his show, that’s much closer to hate speech than Daan’s statement was, and that’s considered fine too. An insult? yes, and an unpleasant one at that, but if that constitutes hate speech then 3/4 of mcgill would be behind bars right now.

      • Because it was a racial attack against a middle eastern student, equating her with a terrorist.

        • I believe the student had on that same thread expressed sympathy with Hamas, a known terrorist organisation which prompted him (and several others) to become outraged.

  7. Wait, rereading this now…why has the author’s name been changed to Danius? Didn’t Daan Rozenbroek write the article?

  8. Cons r stupid

    You should take your religious, misogynistic views away from the LGBT-accepting gender-neutral environment that is McGill. Your war on Womyn and people identifying as Womyn is pathetic, as is your support for the tyrannical Israelis that are inflicting genocide on the poor Palestinians.

    It is completely right for the university to outlaw toxic elements like the right-wing conservatives that plague our world. Such ideas should not be allowed in today’s progressive society.

  9. DAAN ROZENBROEK!!!!

  10. John Wiggin

    Your article is poorly written and sweeping. This is another reflection of the poor quality of work that the Tribune has the reputation for. Also, I think it important to highlight that Daan is a radical in his own right & that all of his opinions should be taken with heaps of salt. To those reading the comments before the article: do not continue.

  11. Honest Man

    Funny, why are all the comments detailing DAAN ROZENBROEK’S racist, hostile comments now deleted, ironically after writing an article about free speech?

    • Hi Honest Man,

      We are currently working through a change in our commenting system and are having some issues migrating our old comments into the new comment system. We are currently working through the technical difficulties and they will be back up as soon as possible. If you have any questions/concerns you can send us an email at [email protected]

      Thanks,
      Mayaz Alam
      Editor-in-Chief

  12. Honest Woman

    I guess Daan is okay with having his actual, full name under the headline now.

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