From todays Post:
“Only hours after students installed a “Free Speech Wall” at Carleton University to prove that campus free speech was alive and well, it was torn down by an activist who claimed the wall was an “act of violence,” against the gay community.
“What we wanted to promote was competition of ideas, rather than ‘if I disagree with you I’ve got to censor you,’” said Ian CoKehyeng, founder of Carleton Students for Liberty, the creators of the wall.
Installed on Monday in the Unicentre Galleria, one of campus’ most high-traffic areas, the wall was really more of a 1.2 x 1.8 meter wooden plank wrapped in paper and equipped with felt markers.
In truth, the wall’s only overt references to sexual orientation were pro-gay, such as “QUEERS ARE AWESOME,” “Gay is OK” and “I [Heart] Queers.”
By Tuesday morning the wall was gone, destroyed in an act of “forceful resistance,” by seventh-year human rights student Arun Smith.”
So here we have a “human rights” student, who, purportedly in the name of “human rights”, thinks its acceptable to use violence to suppress the expression of others (including, it seems, others who agree with his substantive views on gay rights). Arun Smith justifies his actions on the basis that:
“the erecting of this “wall” is but another in a series of acts of violence against we who are forced every day to try and justify who we are, to try and justify our humanity and our being deserving of respect, dignity, and consideration.”
The obvious point is that the only “act of violence” perpetrated by anyone in this sad story was perpetrated by Arun Smith, and in doing so, he denied the “respect, dignity, and consideration” due to the Students for Liberty (and anyone else who wrote on the “wall”) by virtue of their status as fellow human beings. But in the bizarro world of the modern “human rights” activist, speech is violence, violence (even criminal violence) is justice, and diversity means that people with dissenting views should be silenced.
But the really sad part is that this seems to be part of an ongoing campaign by purported “human rights” activists against the concept of free speech. Arun Smith, in an embarrassing screed trying to justify his (possibly criminal) actions (republished here), dismisses free speech as a “meaningless platitude” and a “buzzword”. Um, no, Mr. Smith. Far from being a meaningless platitude, freedom of expression is a core human right, a right that makes other human rights possible (yes, even, and in particular, gay rights). Not for nothing is it enshrined at the heart of the fundamental human rights documents of the modern world (the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom, the US Bill of Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – surely Mr. Smith, who has spent seven (SEVEN!?!?!) years studying “human rights” at Carleton has heard of these documents, even if he clearly hasn’t read or appreciated them). It isn’t a coincidence that the countries with the strongest protections of freedom of expression are also the countries with the strongest protections for gays and lesbians (or other minorities) – the ability to speak freely protects the right to stand up for gay rights as much as it does the right to criticize them, and has been used successfully over the past few decades to advance those rights. That Smith (and others) doesn’t grasp this- seemingly obvious point – is a damning indictment of modern “human rights” activists (and doesn’t reflect too well on Carleton or it’s “human rights” program).
Finally, Mr. Smith should serve as a cautionary tale about the dangers of spending too many years (SEVEN!?!?!) in the ideological cocoon of second-rate academic programs (and for anyone who doubts the ideological nature, or intellectually second-rate status, of Carleton’s “Human Rights” program, I give you its course list – curiously missing from it are the broad-based courses on intellectual history (“Plato to Nato”), philosophy or economics which might give students a richer appreciation of the roots of human rights or of the world they’re critiquing). If you spend more than 5 years doing undergrad (hey, some people need a “victory lap”), you’re not learning anything more, you’re just engaging in an exercise in intellectual masturbation, reinforcing your existing worldview. Get your degree, get out, and start doing something useful with your life.