Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Carleton University and Free Speech

The Carleton University Students Association just voted by a large margin to withhold their support from any campus group that supports the criminalization of abortion. This means pro-life groups would not be able to use any facilities owned by the student association, receive the types of funding that is routinely given to other campus clubs and organizations, use student owned bulletin boards to advertise meetings, etc. The President of CUSA did say that religious groups who are not specifically organized for the purposes of spreading a pro-life message would not be affected.

Perhaps my biggest concern about this is the fuzzy thinking displayed by these leaders in student politics. I won't assume sinister motives behind their actions, statements and methods; from listening to the President of CUSA on CFRA 580 a couple of days ago it would seem that they just don't know any better.

First of all, the President of CUSA stated that student associations regularly get involved in issues important to students. Apparently he is unable to distinguish between student issues and issues of importance to students. Student issues include quality of education, tuition fees, professional standards for professors and similar issues. However issues of importance to students is a much wider topic, because students live in the same world as the rest of us. This would include global warming, same sex marriage, abortion and rapid transit. For these broader issues it is not the place of student associations to act, because there are already political parties at the municipal, provincial and federal level to address them.

Second, the President of CUSA said students feel strongly about this issue. I should hope so, because it is important. But is it so important that the right to free speech needs to be abolished? Evidently CUSA doesn't understand that in a democracy the majority get their way, but a majority also has the moral responsibility to allow free speech. Just remember that what goes around comes around. The day could come when a majority of the students support some sort of restrictions on abortion. At that point the precedent will have been set and using the same standard, the pro-life groups will be justified in silencing the pro-choice crowd.

Third, on CFRA, the President of CUSA asked the reporter if he would feel comfortable having his money go towards supporting those who are guilty of hate crimes (the implication being CUSA is justified in not allowing student fee money go to pro-life groups). Wow. This one boggles the imagination. First of all, there are students at Carleton University who do not support abortion. So why should their student fees go to pro-choice groups? But looking at the bigger picture, hate crimes are covered under the federal and provincial human rights codes. No, we would not want our money going to support groups that are guilty of breaking human rights codes. But abortion is not a human right. It is not covered by the human rights code (it probably will be some day, but thankfully we're not there yet).

If these student leaders were a bit older, I might assume sinister motives behind their actions, statements and methods. After all, left-leaning politicians intentionally use the same illogical types of statements to influence a fuzzy thinking electorate. The average voter is not trained to recognize logical fallacies, rhetorical tricks and poor arguments. As a result, popular opinion is easy to sway. If these student leaders were a bit older, a bit more jaded, and a bit more experienced an manipulating the masses, I would assume sinister motives. But in the end, I think this crop of student leaders just isn't thinking clearly.


Anonymous jgriffin said...

What ever made you think that free speech is still allowed in this country? I agree that you will never be sent to jail for it. You will simply be ostracized, excluded and shunned into submission. Anything other than speaking left leaning PC these days is a career limiting move.

3:12 p.m.  

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