Wednesday, March 24, 2010

University of Ottawa is in Damage Control Mode

Or so it would seem from the tone of this press release today from the University of Ottawa quoting President Alan Rock as reported in The National Post. My comments are in [square brackets and bold]

The University of Ottawa released a statement this afternoon defending itself against widespread criticism after right-winger Ann Coulter's speech was cancelled Tuesday night.

"The University of Ottawa has always promoted and defended freedom of expression. For that reason, we did not at any time oppose Ann Coulter’s appearance," the statement says. "Whether it is Ann Coulter or any other speaker, diverse views have always been and continue to be welcome on our campus." [They deserve the roasting they are getting.]

And from University President Allan Rock, himself a former federal justice minister:

“Freedom of expression is a core value that the University of Ottawa has always promoted. We have a long history of hosting contentious and controversial speakers on our campus. Last night was no exception, as people gathered here to listen to and debate Ann Coulter’s opinions. [He sounds embarrassed. That is something, I suppose.]

"I encourage our students, faculty and other members of our community to maintain our University as an open forum for diverse opinions. Ours is a safe and democratic environment for the expression of views, and we will keep it that way.” [What, is he denying what happened last night? How about "turn our university into an open forum . . . and "make it that way" since it clearly is not that way now.]

The statement lays blame for the cancellation of Ms. Coulter's event squarely on the doorstep of the event's organizers, the International Free Press Society Canada and the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute: "Last night, the organizers themselves decided at 7:50 p.m. to cancel the event and so informed the University’s Protection Services staff on site." [Right. First the VP Academic encourages the hoodlums and then they blame the victim. Honestly, this sounds like Hitler blaming the Jews for the anti-semitic feeling in Germany. Remember, this is not an isolated event. Canadian campuses have been banning pro-life groups and fighting against the expression of conservative views across the country. This is part of a bigger pattern.]

Some may disagree with the university's characterization of its position on free speech, given the fact the university's Vice-President Academic and Provost, Francois Houle, sent Ms. Coulter a letter warning her to watch her mouth. Will this statement silence the critics? [Hopefully, not. But an interesting choice of words: it is always about "silencing the critics" one way or another so I find this question to be well-worded.]

Meanwhile, B'nai Brith Canada is also weighing on the debacle. “The free speech double standard that we are witnessing on Canadian campuses has to stop,” said Frank Dimant, the group's executive vice president. “It seems to be the case that when a speaker tries to come on campus with views that campus left-wing radicals and anti-Israel agitators disagree with, our university administrators are cowed into either canceling the event altogether or placing insurmountable obstacles in the way of the organizers." [Right on. The Jews are figuring out that liberal fascists are not their friends and that conservatives are the ones opposing anti-semitism. And besides, they support free speech as a principle, which is something the liberal campus radicals and their administrative enablers simply wouldn't understand.]


One last comment: do people really think that the rightness or wrongness of Ann Coulter's opinions are the issue here? Do they really think that only people who think like them have a right to free speech? Do they really imagine that they are in sync with "Canadian values" when they engage in mob action to shout down speakers? Are they aware that some good people died to secure these basic democratic rights that they are now trashing? If universities cannot do a better job of educating students in Basic Democracy 101, they deserve to lose all government funding.

1 comment:

Peter W. Dunn said...

Yes. Stop public funding of universities and give everyone a tax cut. Then private individuals can support the kind of education that they like and free speech can be restored.