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Your bloody free speech zone

Bill Dembski asked me to post something on this at Uncommon Descent a while back, but hassles prevented me from getting to it until now:

From Canadian civil rights lawyer Ezra Levant, author of Shakedown:

“That’s your bloody free speech zone”

By Ezra Levant on April 8, 2009 9:40 PM

A reader sent me this letter to the editor that appeared in the Southern Utah University newspaper. Here’s the link; allow me to reprint it in its entirety:

In light of SUU officials plan to designate “Free Speech Zones” on campus, I thought I’d offer my assistance. Grab a map. OK, ready?

All right, you see that big area between Canada and Mexico, surrounded by lots of blue ink on the East and West? You see it?

There’s your bloody Free Speech Zone.

Jeffrey Wilbur
Senior communication major from Bountiful

Something tells me that Young Jeffrey is the type of guy who, if he were a Canadian, would attract human rights commission busybodies like flies. And he wouldn’t bow down to them for a minute, either.

I look forward to the day — not long from now, I hope — when such a clarion call would resonate in Canada in the same way. It ought to — free speech is as much our legacy as it is America’s. We just need to remind ourselves that, despite thirty years of being told we’re actually a censored people, we remain a free people.

Yes, we do.

From Denyse: Lo, I tell you a great mystery! There is a giant hockey heaven – far bigger than anything you could ever imagine or believe – north of the United States. In Hockey Heaven, many of us have recently started shoving “human rights” nannies hard into the boards. You’ve no idea how quickly that reduces their numbers.

As we say here: Fine, whatever. See you on the ice tomorrow.

Or, if you need me to put it in a more elegant way: Here we discuss ideas, and maybe reject them as out of bounds, but we don’t declare them illegal, unless they involve seriously advocating a crime.

Or at least, we didn’t used to. And we are in the process of ridding public life of the people who have started social engineering our society so that all sorts of ideas that do not involve advocating a crime are forbidden … .

Or, even more elegant still (you people really must have the most elite tray of tea sandwiches, must you? Very well, … Waiter!, the top tier tray, please. No canned tunafish. All fresh salmon!!):

“I am a Canadian,
free to speak without fear,
free to worship in my own way,
free to stand for what I think right,
free to oppose what I believe wrong,
or free to choose those
who shall govern my country.
This heritage of freedom
I pledge to uphold
for myself and all mankind.”

From the Canadian Bill of Rights,
July 1, 1960.

By the way, I remember when this statement was routinely posted in church halls and union halls across my country. Then it started to mysteriously disappear. And it sure won’t be my fault if it doesn’t start appearing again!

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28 Responses to Your bloody free speech zone

  1. Denyse,

    I don’t know if you saw my cynical comment in DonaldM’s thread concerning “The Texas Freedom Network” and its attempt to suppress freedom. There seems to be a trend in the politically-correct community to name their organizations in such a way that the real purpose is antithetical and diametrically opposed to the purpose implied by the name. The National Center for Science Education cares nothing about science education (if it did, it would be promoting real science like mathematics, computation, chemistry, physics, and engineering); it cares about the antithesis: the indoctrination of young students in the religion of secular humanism and its creation myth, and the suppression of reason and analysis of the evidence if this could possibly raise suspicions that there might be something wrong with the theory and the way it is presented. This is precisely what science is not about.

    From what I have observed, the “Human Rights” Commissions in Canada are primarily motivated by the desire to suppress the most basic of human rights, especially the right to disagree without retribution.

    This nefarious movement has totally taken over American universities, in which tolerance, diversity, and free speech are extolled as the highest virtues, but in which the exact opposite is demonstrated in practice.

  2. Thanks, Gil.

    Many of us are very concerned indeed about the effect of this new movement on universities.

    Admittedly, my own university education was about 45 years ago,

    BUT it never occurred to any of our teachers (most of whom must now be dead) that we needed protection from bad ideas.

    Quite the contrary. The reason they bothered to educate those they considered worthy of a university education was that we would know how to DEFEAT bad ideas, whenever they reared their ugly heads.

    That was the point of the trouble they went to.

    If the government simply declares the government-regulated, alleged “bad idea” illegal and destroys the person who utters it … who knows?

    Is it really a bad idea? Maybe it is just an inconvenient one?

    That’s hardly the same thing as an idea that is rejected by civilized people, is it?

    What if the rejected idea is just an equation that might help determine that someone fiddled his tax documents?

    The potential for corruption sems to me to be enormous.

    Thanks for working to help put a stop to this.

  3. I find the premise underlying this thread very curious. I have been at Cornell University for forth years; ten of those as a student, and then 30 as a teacher. At no time during that entire period have I ever witnessed anything like “censorship” of any kind. On the contrary, Cornell is a veritable hotbed of opposing opinions and world views, as just a cursory glance at the diversity and breadth of campus and student organizations indicates.

    The same thing is true for courses at Cornell. Citing the example I know best, it has always been my practice to invite creationists and ID supporters to be full participants in my evolution courses, as has my friend and colleague Will Provine. We both believe that, when both sides have had a chance to make their best, most complete arguments, our students will have both the freedom and the information to come to their own conclusions about the merits of the various positions presented to them.

    So, exactly where does one find the kind of suppression of freedom of speech and thought that is supposedly so characteristic of our universities today?

  4. Let me be even more specific: I invite Gil Dodgen (or anyone else reading this thread) to provide documentary evidence of the following statement as it applies to Cornell University (consistently ranked as one of the top ten universities in the United States, if not the world):

    “This nefarious movement has totally taken over American universities, in which tolerance, diversity, and free speech are extolled as the highest virtues, but in which the exact opposite is demonstrated in practice.”

    And no arguments by assertion, please. I want evidence: links to news stories, reports, studies, etc. that clearly and unambiguously support Dodgen’s assertion in the quote, above.

    Dodgen has very clearly stated that American universities have been totally taken over by nefarious forces that have completely undermined the traditional academic virtues of tolerance, diversity, and free speech. It should therefore be ridiculously easy to find evidence supporting Dodgen’s very clear and unambiguous statement.

  5. Perhaps Allen has been napping. How about the way Tom Tancredo was “greeted” by student protesters just a few days ago? It was yet another demonstration of the left’s idea of free speech in the academy, viz., feel free to say whatever you want as long as it is in sync with our liberal worldview.

  6. 6

    riddick, let’s review what happened. Tancredo was invited to UNC by a student group, which presumably used student fees for at least part of the $3000 it paid him (plus expenses). A group of students disrupted the event: very poor behavior indeed. The University has apologized. What in that narrative suggests that Allen has been “napping”?

  7. Allen MacNeill: Of course you never saw anything like that!

    A person only ever sees that stuff if he actually disagrees with the Establishment.

    Also: And just for the record: I’ve been assaulted by a number of “difficult persons” on campuses.

    I fought back, so they never did me serious damage.

    (I grew up in a totally backward environment where I was taught that (1) there is a God;

    and that

    (2) protection of self, family, friends, employees, bystanders and any domestic animals that can be rescued is a good and just action – which ought to be undertaken by anyone who wishes to receive the praise of the just, and be accounted righteous among the nations – and possibly hopes to rise to life at the resurrection of the just.

    But victimhood is not good.

    I don’t think the basic idea I grew up with is best explained by our selfish genes. I have never discovered evidence for the existence of any selfish genes, and the point of view I learned just enabled a civilization that we highly value here to continue.)

    You get a cheque every month and you can proclaim whatever view you like. Life is not like that for people like me.

    By the way, Gil Dodgen is NOT by any means the only person complaining about the problem of lack of intellectual freedom on campuses.

    Try looking up “academic freedom” on the Internet. I will post on this again soon. Sadly, I may have all too good a reason.

  8. David and Allen, here’s a place to start: http://www.frontpagemag.com/
    Looks like you both have a lot of catching up to do.

  9. http://www.amazon.com/One-Part.....038;sr=1-1

    See this interview at the link below. Prager H2: David Horowitz, best-selling author, founder of the Freedom Center and publisher of Front Page Magazine. His new book is One-Party Classroom: How Radical Professors at America’s Top Colleges Indoctrinate Students and Undermine Our Democracy.

    http://dennisprager.townhall.c.....038;page=2

  10. Here is a Wall Street Journal article from Saturday by David Horowitz on this topic

    http://online.wsj.com/article/.....30489.html

    I haven’t read much from Horowitz recently but he is apparently on a campus crusade across the country for free speech at colleges and as the incident described in the article, this crusade was met with attempted suppression.

  11. In the statement from the Canadian Bill of Rights, some appear to have seen this line, instead of the pledge at the end:

    “Free to trade all of these rights for a mess of pottage, and free to stand idly by, preoccupied with things of no lasting import, while others do the same.”

  12. As I read it, both Tom Tancredo and those protesting against his visit were exercising their right of free speech. That right does not include acts of violence or the threat thereof. There are already laws against such behavior and anyone breaking those laws should be prosecuted.

    What those protesters did may have been boorish, even illegal, but it does not amount to an organized campaign to suppress differing viewpoints. If I were at university, I might protest against the visit of a known Nazi or Nazi sympathizer but that would not extend to using violence to keep him or her from speaking and I believe the same would be true of everyone here and most in academia.

    ID proponents often complain of a campaign to stop them presenting their case yet, as has been noted, they can and do publish books, magazine and newspaper articles, run websites and appear on radio and TV shows, all discussing their views quite openly.

    What they have not been able to do yet is persuade the scientific community that they have a credible case. This is not because they have been ignored. The works of Dembski and Behe, for example, have been studied and discussed at considerable length but the general opinion seems to be that they are flawed and, hence, as they stand, unpersuasive. That does not preclude them or any other ID supporters from carrying out further research and presenting fresh arguments and evidence.

    The right to free speech means that you are entitled to express your views openly provided you act within laws that exist to protect the rights of others. That does not include the right to force your way into my home and make me listen to what you have to say and demand that I accept it.

    In academia, there is at least an ethical duty to give a fair hearing and due consideration to all proposals. But there is no requirement that they be accepted into the body of established theory if, having been considered, they are found to be unpersuasive.

  13. Allen, David, it isn’t necessary to provide evidence. All you need to do is read the speech codes at places like the University of Michigan, Penn State, California, Connecticut, North Carolina, and other places. Also, conservative speakers are often not invited and when they do get invited mindless protests groups, egged on by their professors, shout them down and throw pies at them. This is news to you?

    In point of fact, most college campuses are bastions of “political correctness.” Where were you when Lawrence Summers, former President of Harvard, was run out of town on a rail for suggesting that men may be better at math at the extreme end of the statistical continuum? Where were you last week, when Brown University abandoned Columbus Day as a tribute to the evil American settlers?

    At the University of Michigan, they don’t just punish offenders, they monitor everyone, and I mean everyone. It defines as punishable “any behavior, verbal or physical, that stigmatizes or victimizes an individual on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sex, sexual orientation, creed, national origin, ancestry, age, marital status, handicap, or Vietnam-era veteran status.” Debates on these topics are to be restricted in fear that someone might be stigmatized by the discussion.”

    So, all I can say is that you should not assess political correctness based on your own experience and reports from your isolated corners of the world, and make no mistake, they are isolated. I trust that you don’t act that way, and, it may well be that your colleagues are equally open-minded. I don’t’ know. What I do know is that if you want to know what is going on, you really do have to investigate the matter on a broad scale. The world is a lot bigger than your classrooms.

  14. 15

    Stanley Fish on speech codes, in a column about the movie Gil linked to:

    Then there’s the matter of speech codes. This is a fake issue. Every speech code that has been tested in the courts has been struck down, often on the very grounds — you can’t criminalize offensiveness — invoked by Maloney. Even though there are such codes on the books of some universities, enforcing them will never hold up. Students don’t have to worry about speech codes. The universities that have them do, a point made by “Indoctrinate U” when Maloney tells the story of how Cal Poly was taken to the cleaners (no, not his cleaners) when it tried to discipline a student for putting up a poster with the word “plantation” in it.

  15. David, once again, you miss the point. We are talking about the instincts and sensibilities of the tyrants who establish the speech code, not how successful its victims may be in winning back in court a right that should never have been taken away in the first place. According to Allen and you, those darling university professors and administrators wouldn’t dream of suppressing speech, but we know for a fact that they try to do just that and often succeed.

  16. StephenB:

    At the University of Michigan, they don’t just punish offenders, they monitor everyone, and I mean everyone. It defines as punishable “any behavior, verbal or physical, that stigmatizes or victimizes an individual on the basis of… religion…”

    However, note that conservative Christians can be stigmatized and vilified not only with impunity, but with approval and encouragement. “Tolerance” in the artificial bubble of academia is demonstrated to be putting up only with people who agree with the dogmas of the elitist and intolerant culture of the academy.

  17. Seversky:

    The works of Dembski and Behe, for example, have been studied and discussed at considerable length but the general opinion seems to be that they are flawed and, hence, as they stand, unpersuasive.

    The “general opinion” might not be as general as you think, because anyone who dissents from it is likely to lose his career. What is really unpersuasive is that random accidents filtered by natural selection can produce highly sophisticated information-processing machinery and the information it processes, along with error detection and repair, and an entire suite of computationally intensive algorithms.

    I’ve read the most sophisticated attempts to refute Behe, and they all come across as desperate attempts to defend the indefensible.

    The Darwinian mechanism should have been abandoned immediately when it was discovered that the DNA molecule was not fundamentally based on chemistry, but on an information-encoding system. Darwinism will not survive the information age. It is a quirky and naive notion from an age gone by, that has been defended only because it provided a long-awaited creation myth for the philosophical angst of the 19th century and its inherent nihilism.

  18. 19

    Speaking of speech codes, two of my recent comments have been deleted by the administrators for unstated reasons.

  19. 20
    AmerikanInKananaskis

    EvilSnack@12 said:

    In the statement from the Canadian Bill of Rights, some appear to have seen this line, instead of the pledge at the end…

    Unfortunately, O’Leary’s “pledge” is not actually IN the Canadian Bill of Rights (which went into effect on Aug. 10, not Jul. 1). Come on, I’m only an American who lives in Canada, and I have more of an idea what Canadian laws say that actual Canadians do?

    It was a PARAPHRASING of the upcoming B.O.R. by Diefenbaker for a Canada Day celebration. And as far as I’m concerned, it’s apocryphal. I’ve never seen any real evidence that he actually said it.

  20. 21

    David,

    Because they were rude, that’s why they were deleted.

  21. 22

    GilDodgen,

    “What is really unpersuasive is that random accidents filtered by natural selection can produce highly sophisticated information-processing machinery and the information it processes, along with error detection and repair, and an entire suite of computationally intensive algorithms.”

    That’s a fact……talk about being unpersuasive…..my goodness. The folks trying to prop up that very unpersuasive story are the one’s dictating to us what constitutes persuasiveness? Please.

  22. 23

    Well, that’s one kind of speech code. It would be interesting to see the effect of all such “rude” comments deleted, no matter the author’s perspective.

    I’m with Denyse:

    “Here we discuss ideas, and maybe reject them as out of bounds, but we don’t declare them illegal, unless they involve seriously advocating a crime.”

  23. 24

    David,

    Feel free to discuss ideas, just not other people as cranks.

  24. 25

    Severky @ 13,

    You give a heck of an indoctrination speech. Your view presupposes that men never fail. Imagine that.

    It also brings up the question of what happens if they do.

    Perhaps your faith rests with something that exists in speeches, but not on the ground.

    Anyway, it doesn’t pay to argue that there isn’t an insipid problem. It’s already been recorded in peer-reviewed scientific literature. That stuff is on the up and up, no?

  25. —Gil: “However, note that conservative Christians can be stigmatized and vilified not only with impunity, but with approval and encouragement. “

    Yes, indeed. “Tolerance” is the code word for double standard. At the state university my area, one school play was titled, “Jesus has two mommies.” Somehow, the speech code doesn’t protect Christians or their right not to be offended.

  26. 27

    Let me get this right – is David Kellogg on this thread complaining (still) that UD has a moderation policy? Is this the same David that was trying to taunt Jerry into going over to his normal hangout, Wesley Elsberry’s blog, and reading what they are saying about him over there?

    Well let’s see what they have to say when they are free from the threat of moderation:

    (I can post this because I know that Denyse O’Leary knows very well how they act amongst themselves, and I know she has the skin to handle it) So gather around onlookers, let’s all have a vile laugh at O’Leary’s expense.

    Ceiling Cat says: “Has O’Leary ever actually denied being a drug addicted child molester who gets sexual pleasure from wearing dirty underwear? And has she ever actually denied being the master planner of 9/11 and doing all of Bush’s torturing? After all, we know she’s a foreigner. That’s all the information we really need, along with her non-denial of the same.

    Roll the presses! “Foreign morphodyke with dirty undies shoots up crack while molesting children and torturing decent people for Jesus.”

    Now let’s be sure, this is a typical response that happens virtually every day on the anti-ID science blogs. There won’t be even a single word that this comment is over the line. What is most likely is that it will be batted up into the air so that several others can play into it. And what is it they say about ID – “Its all science so far!”

    This is why UD has a moderation policy. Who could blame them?

  27. 28

    I don’t blame UD for having a moderation policy, but I do wish it would be consistent.

    “Rudeness” is not a stated reason for deletion in anything I’ve seen. It’s also very elastic. If all rude comments were deleted, your own contributions would be somewhat fewer.

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