Free expression at universities gagged by anti-Trump backlash

James Turk, Ryerson’s Director of the Centre for Free Expression, on free speech in universities following Ryerson’s cancelling an event with right-wing speakers (Jordan Peterson, Faith Goldy):

That harmful legacy of university cowardice and complicity took years to overcome. We need to remember this past if we do not want to relive it, albeit in the name of new passions and different ideologies and concerns.

Instead, it appears as if we are starting down a dark road that threatens the raison d’être of the university and the fundamental rights to freedom of expression guaranteed by Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

If standing by its principles requires a university to make a greater investment in security personnel to protect freedom of expression, that must be seen as a proper cost of doing business.

If threats continue to blossom, then there needs to be discussions with governments to ensure universities have the additional financial resources to ensure free expression does not fall victim to intimidation.

Not only are censorship and suppression fatal to the purpose of the university, they undermine the foundation of democratic society.

When individual rights to freedom of expression are diminished or taken away for an allegedly good cause, they are necessarily invested in some higher authority that is given the right to determine what is acceptable.

The result is censorship from above — ultimately the state — with the likelihood that the champions of that censorship today are its vulnerable targets tomorrow.

Source: Free expression at universities gagged by anti-Trump backlash

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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