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Opinion - page 117

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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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COMMENTARY: The GA for dummies

Tomorrow's Students' Society Winter General Assembly is an opportunity for McGill undergraduate students to decide what we believe in and what policies SSMU should abide by. The GA is a venue to propose positions, in the form of resolutions, for our community to debate and decide on together.
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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Foucalt you, Ricky. Re: "Piñata Diplmacy: James McGill - Turning in my grave" by Ricky Kreitner (22.09.09) What up, James McGill, Michel Foucault here (also conveniently undead for the time being). I am writing to clear up certain misconceptions you seem to have regarding my personal area of expertise: cultural studies.
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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Remembering nuances

Re: "Letter to the Editor: Gaza Remembrance Week" (26.1.10) Jamal Daoud rightly notes that the one year anniversary of the Israeli operation in Gaza has passed. I would like to see McGill remember this anniversary by remembering the purpose of this operation: to eliminate the terrorist threat stemming from within Israel's borders.
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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Byron can’t let go

Re: "A disingenuous debate" by Max Silverman (26.1.10) Max Silverman is woefully misinformed as to the terms of the debate over health care here in the United States - as are most Canadians. While it might feel good to sneer about the American system of government being beholden to "corporate interests" (especially in the wake of the Citizens United case), can we all adopt a little nuance here and recognize that corporations have a spectrum of competing interests, not all of which align in perfect lockstep unison? The truth about the health care debate is that the insurance companies and HMOs were relatively cooperative early in the debate over health care reform.
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THE SITUATION: Ready to make nice

I know a lot of things. Not that I'm trying to be immodest. I mean, I am immodest: I spend most of my Facebook hours stalking myself and am the star of most of my favourite conversations. But in this case, I'm really not being self-indulgent. After two and a half years of university education and campus media, not to mention a lifetime of reading the news, I know a ton of facts.
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BLACK & WHITE: Be honest, then be right

I woke up, uncertain and lost, to a staccato burst of screams. I lay in bed for a few more seconds, staring into the darkness, and my heartbeat picked up as the screams rose in pitch. I didn't want to move. I wanted to go back to sleep and pretend I hadn't heard anything.
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EDITORIAL: Cuts to Level II athletics are a sign of things to come

Next year's projected budget for McGill Athletics (see cover story), which includes a 67 per cent funding cut for Level II varsity sports, is a sign that the first round of funding cuts have begun at McGill, as the university attempts to reduce a projected $14-million deficit within the next year.
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PIÑATA DIPLOMACY: Middle-class guilt

Social organization, for all its clumsiness and evil, has accomplished far more and embodies more good than I do, for at least it sometimes gives justice. I am a mess, and talk about justice. I owe the powers that created me a human life. And where is it! Where is that human life which is my only excuse for surviving! - Saul Bellow, Herzog I live in the Global North.
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