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.