Alan Harrison, Provost of U of C, avoided the fate of Francois Houle (Has he come out of hiding yet by the way, anyone know? Anyone?) by issuing a statement of his own. “If we try to suppress people’s views simply because we don’t agree with them we’re doing two things, we’re acting contrary to what the university stands for, and also frankly, we’re providing increased publicity for the person who’s spreading those views. That’s not our purpose. Our purpose is to give her the same respect that everybody else deserves.”
Beautifully put. All any Ann Coulter supporter, or just interested person, could want. Quite true too, the increased publicity bit anyway.
But now dark rumours are beginning to swirl around the U of C campus. Was it all a bit of grandstanding? Are they really, deep down, worse censors than even U of O? Have they, gasp, fallen into the mysterious and deadly web of Ontario intolerance and liberalism? Are they a bunch of pious self-righteous hypocrites?
The University of Calgary says,
"On Thursday, Campus Pro-life, the University of Calgary’s pro-life club, set up a pro-life display on campus - the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP).
Last year, the university charged the pro-life students with trespassing for erecting the same display, which has been displayed on campus peacefully and without incident twice per year since 2006. The crown prosecutors withdrew the charges prior to trial, however.
But in an e-mail sent to the students' lawyer Thursday, the university against stated that it “requires that Campus Pro-Life turn the Genocide Awareness Project signs inward so that the University community does not have to view them," and threatened the students with sanctions for non-academic misconduct.
The pro-life students say that at Thursday’s event campus security initially appeared as if they would not intervene, simply standing on site as the group's exhibit went ahead without incident. However, in mid-afternoon that changed when U of C security went around the exhibit handing out notices to pro-life students, indicating that if they refused to turn their signs inwards, they could be subject to a fine up to $2,000 ($5,000 for further trespass), arrest, civil action, or non-academic misconduct" LifeSiteNews
This is not an issue about Freedom of Speech; the paramount issues for the University are the needs to uphold its legal right to manage activities on campus, and to ensure the safety and security for the thousands of students, staff, faculty and community members on campus each day.(The highly annoying and disingenuous "safety and security" bit aside) Perhaps so, the university does have a right to manage what appears on its private property. I moderate comments on my blog after all, post something using half a dozen swear words and I can promise you it will never see the light of day. However regardless of whether they have a legal right to manage what is shown on their property and how it is shown, it doesn't manifest a great willingness to, how should I put it, tolerate other points of view because “If we try to suppress people’s views simply because we don’t agree with them we’re doing two things,we’re acting contrary to what the university stands for, and also frankly, we’re providing increased publicity for the person who’s spreading those views. That’s not our purpose. Our purpose is to give (them) the same respect that everybody else deserves.”
So out of curiosity, has the university ever allowed graphic anti-war protests on campus? Have they ever allowed graphic pictures of torture or other genocides? Did those people deserve respect? What is their policy on graphic or disturbing images on campus? If they have a blanket ban on any image that anyone might find offensive then fine. That is the rule they have put in place to preserve public decency and to keep everything neutral, bland, and safe. You may disagree with that policy, and that is something the media, students, parents, public, and donors can discuss.
But if they do allow other potentially disturbing images on campus but are trying to get rid of pro-life images then we have a problem. Not a legal problem, they have the right to regulate their own campus, but a cultural and moral one. And they should get the same shaming that U of O got. Double, because they are lying hypocrites. Triple, come to think of it, because they were self-righteous lying hypocrites.
This is a secular university, they pride themselves on allowing all sides. Student protests are, as far as I can tell, part of what being at university is about. Let the protesters protest Ann Coulter, I support their right to do so. Let them have Israeli Apartheid Week as long as they don't break the law. I support their right to disagree about whether Israel is a good guy or a bad guy. And let the pro-life people present their point of view. If the pro-aborts want to put up a display next door showing pictures of dead abortion doctors or women who died in childbirth, go ahead. I won't like it, but I don't have to. Let's not censor one side of the debate.
Personally, to forestall any accusations that we are just as big hypocrites because we supported Macleans defiance of Elmassry, who wanted them to publish the other side, I would support Elmassry's legal right to campaign against Macleans, try to sway public opinion so that Macleans would be forced by subscribers to publish the counter-view, and protest all they liked about the issue. They shouldn't have gone to the government to solve their problem and honestly unless there is some law I don't know about I don't think these students should try to get the government to force U of C to keep the signs up either.
But after all, what are we talking about? Disturbing images of lynching and the holocaust? Welcome to an eighth grade history textbook. Disturbing images of violence and genocide around the world? Front page on the coffee table newspaper. Disturbing images of abortion? BANNED, BANNED, DOUBLE BANNED YOU NASTIES.
Ann Coulter got respect (sort of) but she isn't a pro-life student. She has money, lawyers, and a media just waiting to lap up any further news stories about out of control students. As they say, you have to be famous like Levant, Steyn, or Coulter to beat the censorship rap.
It's just not cricket.