Friday, November 21, 2008

The Free Speech Screamers and Queen's University

I suppose it started with this story in the ever more right-wing Globe and Mail.

Which turned out to be not true.

But by that time the so-called Free Speech Screamers were in a screeching foaming FRENZY. As Dr Dawg notes it was practically raining spittle.

But then what do you expect from a group that includes Kathy Shittle, Free Duminion, Lezra of Paypal, and the greatest collection of flying fascist monkeys, racists, and homophobes this country has ever seen? The Christianists and Palinists of Canada.

Not much.

Then I noticed that the right wing rag had struck again...this time with an absurd editorial.

And that in the comments only one person..... out of more than thirty ....pointed out that the Queen's initiative just might be intended to TEACH students tolerance, and protect vulnerable MINORITIES from being insulted and degraded.

First of all, the role of the 'student facilitators' is not to "stamp out the expression of incorrect thought" but to bring attention to the use of racist, homophobic and intolerant offensive remarks in public. This is a far cry from stamping out "expressions of incorrect thought." People are entitled to say what they want in private, but in public, they need to learn to respect other individuals right to not hear intolerant remarks.

Someone has to teach these kids who utter offensive, intolerant comments that their behaviour is inappropriate. Obviously their parents, their high schools and their athletic activities failed to teach these kids to be more mature and more tolerant, so its up to the university to do it.

And I wondered why more people just don't GET IT.

Even if they were planning to use hall monitors so WHAT? Teaching students tolerance and respect in a society as diverse as ours is probably one of the most important things you can teach them.

And Gay and Muslim kids have the right to go to school and not be forced to listen to offensive or intolerant remarks.

It's one thing to encounter them on the internet. And I think Section 13 should be examined and maybe improved to try to avoid unnecessary claims. But it's another thing to encounter this in person. Not just because it's unpleasant and humiliating. But also because when that foul shite is normalized into our day to day discourse, and aimed at groups of people who are already marginalized and hated, it can hurt or KILL.

One day it's the faggots or the dykes.

The next day it's the beaners.

Their freedom to hate. Our right to live our lives free from the threat of being insulted, attacked or killed for who we are. Our freedom is life itself. Their freedom is FASCISM.

How hard is it to understand that? How hard is it to understand that a society that doesn't fight hatred and intolerance will turn into a jungle. Foul and savage enough to consume us ALL.

Some people .....including some who should know better...are trying to take this country to a VERY bad place.

Words have consequences.

Hate KILLS...


Anonymous said...

What would be the downstream effect if we got rid of talk radio and the opinionists disguised as writers.

People like Michael Coren and Charles Adler, for example.

And if we got the religious people to start practicing what they preach instead of spouting hatred, we'd be streets ahead in the game, wouldn't we?

So, where do we start?

This whole Queen's episode is amazing since it demonstrates someone's belief that students are ignorant. That rather undercuts students, doesn't it? What happened to being put right by your peer group like your roomies or dormies? Queen's has gone nanny-state on the issue.

When will people grow up? Perhaps when the education system gets better and families spend more time together as they did back in my youth.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Queen's grad (Arts '90) myself, and that's where I met my best friend (Con-Ed '90)--who just so happens to be a gay guy. Needless to say, I got really clear, REALLY FAST on the issue of homophobia there, too. That's not to say, of course, that the place was heaven for progressives and gays. It wasn't--as a studious feminist in a notoriously sexist party school, I definitely felt a sense of oppression. Any nail that sticks out is gonna get hammered on. But it was especially hard for my friend's hubby, who was in Applied Science ('89), and those engineers were notoriously homophobic. Maybe because that particular school was all-male for longer than any other; things like that tend to make 'em insular, defensive, and very protective of their right to be immature--er, 'scuse me, free-speechy and all.

Some guys got all defensive, too, when a bunch of us at the Women's Centre objected to their anti-anti-date-rape "jokes"--they covered Brockington Hall with slogans like "No means she's a dyke", "No means more beer", "No means kick her in the teeth", etc. They claimed feminists had no sense of humor, that their free speech rights were being trampled, blah blah blah. Queen's may have outlawed frats a couple of years before I enrolled there, but it was a real blow to see the frat-boy mentality still alive and well.

Still is, unfortunately.

Simon said...

Hi Torontonian...I like the first part, but I wonder about the second. Of course I don't like the idea of monitors listening in on private conversations. But on the other hand I don't think it should be up to the victims to challenge the bigots. In a school setting I believe that should be the teacher's job. Of course peer groups are important, and as you say tolerance and respect begin at home. But the fact that Queen's is taking this kind of action makes me think that there must be some problem at the school that demands that something be done about it...

Simon said...

Hi Bina...thanks for your comment.
I also noticed a lot of frat boy stuff when I was at McGill. And my position is that in the 21st Century the time for sexism, racism and homophobia is OVER. And we can't do ENOUGH to fight those things wherever they rear their ugly head.
The nasty right-wingers are always mocking what they call the nanny state. But without codes of conduct and human decency we'd all be living in a jungle...and those bullies would be after EVERYBODY.
So I think the fact that Queen's is trying to make the university environment better for all students is something that should be applauded...

Anonymous said...

Simon, I'm totally with ya. Zero tolerance for all that hateful bullshit. There's a right-wing bunch bidding for a Taliban-style takeover and people are saying "oh, be nice to them, don't infringe on their free speech rights"? To hell with it. As the old saying goes, the right to swing a fist ends where the next person's nose begins. Free speech absolutism is absolute bullshit, and absolute bullshit stinks absolutely.

They're entitled to think whatever they like--so who ever said they weren't, and how would we police them even if such a ridiculous thing were true?--but if what they're thinking is nasty, it is perfectly reasonable to come right out and say that they're expected to keep it to themselves and NOT ACT ON IT. (You know, just like they say to do with homosexual and/or interracial feelings of love? That blade cuts both ways, baby!)

'Sides, has it ever occurred to anyone how ironic it is for nice people to tolerate intolerance from nasty people? At this rate, "First they came for the communists" will happen all over again. Only this time, the "communists" will be gay. Or Muslim. Or maybe both! But whoever the "communists" turn out to be, it will be the blind eye turned by everyone else that's to blame for the situation escalating to that level.

"Oh, it's just boys being boys"--BULLSHIT!!! Especially when the "boys" are over 18, in higher education, and legally able to drive, vote, and maybe even drink. At that point, one is entitled to expect them to stop being boys, and start being MEN. And if they can't, then perhaps they should start at least learning the difference between a right and a privilege. Their "free speech" is only a privilege, but other people's freedom from their irrational bigotry and abuse is a RIGHT.

Anonymous said...

BTW, apropos the "starts at home" thing: Intolerance and disrespect are also learned from one's parents (in fact, that's the #1 place in which bigotry starts). Saying it should be left up to families is an abdication of social responsibility--either we tackle this all together, or we don't tackle it at all.

In case anyone thinks I don't know whereof I speak, I do. I grew up in a household with not one but two highly homophobic (and in the case of my grandpa, SEXIST) patriarchs. Thank Goddess my dad's homophobia didn't "take" with me! I keep asking him what the hell the "gar'damn faggots" ever did to him personally to make him so venomous towards them, and I have yet to get a straight answer. (Pardon the pun!)

Jennifer Smith said...

I can't help but wonder if the pumping of this story has anything to do with the Conservatives voting to try to get rid of Section 13 as part of their party policy.

Because this is what they do - they create an imaginary problem in the public's mind (thought police, 13 year-old murderers getting house arrest, OMG our public healthcare system is collapsing!). Then they use that as an excuse to push through some draconian legislation or remove human rights protections or whatever other bitter pill they want you to swallow, and voila! Down it goes, no fuss, no bother.

The Globe & Mail is just softening the ground for them.

Anonymous said...

It's sad that in the past couple of decades freedom of speech has been more associated with the right than the left. The left (or certain elements of it anyway), like naive children, are content to give up their right to speak their mind to Big Brother and Big Mommy, assuming that such will always know best. Yes, speech monitors might shut up some bigoted jerks. But there is sometimes a fine line between hate speech and blunt speech or irony. We're all too familiar with cases in which satirical or sarcastic comments about racism has been mistaken for racism itself by zealots. Do you really want some self-righteous, self-important hall monitor deciding which is which? Free speech and free exchange of ideas means inevitably accepting some offensive speech, which is a lesser evil than stamping out all speech that might be potentially offensive.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anonymous, since you're so free-speechy and all (I assume you're from the right, given how you baselessly slam the left with one well-worn right-wing strawman argument after another), why don't you put your name to your words, so we at least know who we're calling out for bullshit? Calling bullshit by its right name is free speech too, but I'm sure you don't like to hear it called that, especially when you've just uttered a pile of it. You'd rather just drop in, drop dung, and drop out...unknown, faceless, a non-entity. That's a sad comment on the courage of your convictions right there. What good is your free speech if you don't feel brave enough (or like bothering enough) to put your name to it? Maybe it's because you didn't put that much effort into thinking it out in the first place?

Notice, too that I haven't given up an iota of my freedom to anyone, hall monitor or mommy or whomever, to say that and give you due offence. Or to use my name in saying it. Know why? Because I'm not a cowardly little kid who needs a wall of anonymity to hide behind while making the same old half-baked argument that everyone on the left has been hearing from the right, and rolling their eyes over, for at least two decades now. Repetition does not make it true, but it sure makes it more believable--to the uneducated. Which is what this thread is ACTUALLY about--you know, EDUCATION? That thing schools are for?

I'm sorry...your point was WHAT, again? LOL. Next time, show some gumption and put your name to it. And please, come up with something that didn't come ready-made from some flibbertigibbertarian sausage factory. I know the Internet has the reputation of being a big, faceless copying machine, but it's REAL free speech to insist on NOT using it as such. Just jabbering some crazy-ass shit isn't free speech. Learn the difference, and you might just become truly free.

Anonymous said...

The antidote to bigotry is more free speech - not less. Queen's is misguided: using a hammer to swat a fly. Where is the due process at Queen's? Who gets to decide what is "hate speech"?

Gay rights, women's rights, etc. used to be offensive ideas (still are in many places). Nothing on the Queen's Free Speech Wall crossed the line of calling on people to violate someones rights.

So what, exactly, is Queen's being so self righteous about? They won't say. Lame and arbitrary it seems to me.

Liberal minded people (I include myself) should be very skeptical about arbitrary limits to free speech!