Photo: Alanna Rizza

The right to listen

In Editorial4 Comments

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By Jacob Dubé

I swear this is the first and last time you’ll hear me talk about free speech.

In what has become one of the worst buzzwords since “content creator,” debates around the concept of “free speech on campus” have been raging for years, mostly by people well aged-out of the academic system. These arguments claim that universities have become hostile to the propagation of ideas, especially the more right-leaning ones.

It’s reached the point where Ontario’s new premier Doug Ford has threatened to cut funding to universities that don’t follow the province’s new free speech policies, as well as punish students who don’t allow others to speak freely.

In our news section this week, experts at Ryerson are saying that they’re not worried about Ford’s funding threats, especially because they’re pretty certain the policy would be “difficult to implement.” But Ford’s use of the notwithstanding clause to force the gutting of Toronto’s city council means there’s a chance that these funding threats could be very real.

The problem is, the whole debate is hinged on bullshit.

Ryerson isn’t impeding anybody’s free speech. Their policies on anti-choice protesters show they’re tolerant of all viewpoints, barring hate speech. What these Free Speech Warriors are really fighting against is being talked back to.

Free speech means the government can’t arrest you for speaking your mind, it doesn’t mean the woman standing in line behind you at Metro has to gleefully listen to your theories about how the arts department is run by lizard people.

These advocates don’t like when someone calls them an asshole for saying the wage gap doesn’t exist. They don’t like when protesters gather at a Jordan Peterson talk and drown out the attendees. They don’t understand why nobody wants to debate them about non-binary pronouns. So they’d rather claim that they’re being denied their right to be heard, instead of thinking about why people don’t want to listen.

Let the people campaigning for more free speech on campus go back to the “marketplace of ideas” while the rest of us live in the real world.

Comments

  1. Fact check: To what Ryerson University policies on “anti-choicers” does the author refer?

    The University outsources club recognition to a discriminatory student union, shut down the one event booked on Ryerson property early because of disruption and harassment from pro-choice counterprotesters, and has no legal control over public property on Gould or Yonge or Church or Dundas, though officials have attempted to control pro-life expression on Gould through their booking process. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. I’m curious to which policies the author is referring. Citation needed.

    1. Hi Blaise,

      Thanks for commenting. We’re going to add a hyperlink to cite what I was referencing. Over the past few years I’ve been in several meetings with Ryerson administration where they’ve maintained that the university shouldn’t take a stance on this issue for the sake of discussion and free expression. Here’s the full story from a roundtable last year: https://theeyeopener.com/2017/01/rye-reproductive-justice-collective-meets-with-admin-rsu-and-cesar/

      1. “These advocates don’t like when someone calls them an asshole for saying the wage gap doesn’t exist. They don’t like when protesters gather at a Jordan Peterson talk and drown out the attendees. They don’t understand why nobody wants to debate them about non-binary pronouns. So they’d rather claim that they’re being denied their right to be heard, instead of thinking about why people don’t want to listen.”

        Yes, that’s right Mr Dube, they don’t like it when bullies show up and harass, intimidate and use violence against people for exercising their human and civil rights of speech. Thanks for making your illiberal and frankly totalitarian views very clear, and for making it clear as well why the Ont. govt. new measures protecting the human rights of speech from violation from bullies like you. Thanks for revealing that the reasons behind this – bless your lack of self-awareness- isn’t `bulshit.’ Thanks as well for linking to the very enlightening article in which you yourself (as you appear to be part of this Ryerson Reproductive Justice Collective) in which the specific goal of your group was to prevent a group that you disagree with *from demonstrating on a public street that doesn’t even belong to Ryerson University.* Thanks very much for your public cluelessness, keep up the work it will do us genuine liberals a favour. This probably won’t be published but maybe you’ll read it and maybe even get a clue.

        1. Hi RB,

          Thanks for commenting. I was at those meetings as a reporter, not as part of the group.

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