Letter to the Editor

Re: Fighting the anti-free speech Frenzy (editorial, November 23, 2010)

November 23rd’s Editorial, “Fighting the anti-free speech frenzy,” is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the legal concept of freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is a negative freedom: the government (or university) cannot censor or forbid speech that it disagrees with (which is what happened in the case of George Galloway). However, protests by private citizens are not “censorship” and they certainly are not “anti-free speech frenzy.” Just because the government cannot forbid you from speaking does not mean that you can say whatever you want without suffering the consequences. Not all opinions have equal validity. For example, if a Holocaust denier came to speak at McGill, I think shutting down his talk would be a reasonable reaction for the simple reason that the McGill community doesn’t want Holocaust denial on campus (I hope).

Additionally, it seems somewhat absurd to complain about the abridgment of Christie Blatchford’s right to free speech. She has a column in a national newspaper, shutting down one of her talks is primarily a symbolic action. She still has all the free speech she needs.

– Jonathon Booth


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