CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

The War Against Free Speech

Mar 28, 2010

This site has documented numerous examples of the secular left squelching freedom of speech for anyone it deems to be politically incorrect. Indeed, whole books have been written on how the censorship and suppression of freedom occurs routinely in the Western world, especially in our universities.

The intriguing thing of course is that those who are doing all the heavy-handed Gestapo tactics are the ones who mouth off so much about tolerance, acceptance and inclusiveness. But we all know that all this talk is just that – so much talk. They do not have the slightest tolerance for anyone who dares to disagree with their radical agenda.

Anyone who dares to hold a contrary view is deemed to be subhuman, and must be censored at all costs. Indeed, they have forfeited their right to freedom of speech according to the secular left, and must be prevented from having a public hearing.

I recall seeing at a Melbourne university a few years ago a large poster which stated, ‘Prevent Hanson from speaking’. It referred to a speech which Pauline Hanson was meant to deliver there. Academia of course was once known as a place of free inquiry and open expression.

Today the academy is all about the stifling promotion of Political Correctness and the censorship of alternative viewpoints. There are countless examples of this that one can point to. One quite recent example has to do with American conservative Ann Coulter.

She was supposed to give a talk at the University of Ottawa. However it never happened. You see, all the ones who shout about tolerance the loudest showed their true colours. Their real tolerance came to the fore, and she was not able to give her lecture.

One media report says this about the incident: “A spokesman for the organizers said Coulter was advised against appearing after about 2,000 ‘threatening’ students crowded the entrance to Marion Hall, posing a security threat.”

As one conservative spokesperson said, “It would be physically dangerous for Ann Coulter to proceed with this event. This is an embarrassing day for the University of Ottawa and their student body . . . who chose to silence her through threats and intimidation.”

The report continues, “A protest organizer, international studies student Mike Fancie, said he was pleased they were able to stop Coulter from speaking. ‘What Ann Coulter is practicing is not free speech, it’s hate speech,’ he said. ‘She’s targeted the Jews, she’s targeted the Muslims, she’s targeted Canadians, homosexuals, women, almost everybody you could imagine’.”

Well there you have it. If you want to silence the opposition from speaking, simply label their ideas “hate speech” and that’s the end of it. Have concerns about the radical homosexual agenda? Well, that’s hate speech. Think that militant Islam might be a cause of concern? That’s hate speech as well.

The irony of all this is that while the University of Ottawa is quite happy to prevent someone like Coulter from speaking, they are quite happy to embrace enemies of free speech like Fidel Castro. As Humberto Fontova explains, they seem to have quite different ideas about freedom over there:

“In his cautionary letter to Ann Coulter before her recently scheduled speech at the University of Ottawa, the institutions’ provost, Francois Houle, explained that: ‘Our domestic laws, both provincial and federal, delineate freedom of expression (or ‘free speech’) in a manner that is somewhat different than the approach taken in the United States’.”

Ann Coulter offers some commentary on this sad debacle: “Since arriving in Canada I’ve been accused of thought crimes, threatened with criminal prosecution for speeches I hadn’t yet given, and denounced on the floor of the Parliament (which was nice because that one was on my ‘bucket list’). Posters advertising my speech have been officially banned, while posters denouncing me are plastered all over the University of Ottawa campus. Elected officials have been prohibited from attending my speeches. Also, the local clothing stores are fresh out of brown shirts. Welcome to Canada!”

She mentions that provost Houle sent her a letter “in advance of my visit in order to recommend that I familiarize myself with Canada’s criminal laws regarding hate speech. This marks the first time I’ve ever gotten hate mail for something I might do in the future.”

She continues, “What other speakers get a warning not to promote hatred? Did Francois A. Houle send a similarly worded letter to Israel-hater Omar Barghouti before he spoke last year at U of Ottawa? … How about Angela Davis, Communist Party member and former Black Panther who spoke at the University of Zero just last month? Or do only conservatives get letters admonishing them to be civil? Or – my suspicion – is it only conservative women who fuel Francois’ rage?

“I’m sure Canada’s Human Rights Commission will get to the bottom of Francois’ strange warning to me, inasmuch as I will be filing a complaint with that august body, so I expect they will be reviewing every letter the university has sent to other speakers prior to their speeches to see if any of them were threatened with criminal prosecution.”

Indeed, lefties can come and go quite freely on campuses around the West. “By contrast, conservative speakers are regularly subjected to violent attacks on college campuses. Bill Kristol, Pat Buchanan, David Horowitz and I have all been the targets of infamous campus attacks. That’s why the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute (a sponsor of my Canada speeches) and the Young America’s Foundation (a sponsor of many of my college speeches) don’t send conservatives to college campuses without a bodyguard.”

She describes how free speech operates in Canada: “The police called off my speech when the auditorium was surrounded by thousands of rioting liberals – screaming, blocking the entrance, throwing tables, demanding that my books be burned, and finally setting off the fire alarm. Sadly, I missed the book burning because I never made it to the building.”

Coulter concludes: “If a university official’s letter accusing a speaker of having a proclivity to commit speech crimes before she’s given the speech – which then leads to Facebook postings demanding that Ann Coulter be hurt, a massive riot and a police-ordered cancellation of the speech – is not hate speech, then there is no such thing as hate speech. Either Francois goes to jail or the Human Rights Commission is a hoax and a fraud.”

I recently shared a platform with Australian writer Hal Colebatch at an overseas conference. He was speaking of the steady decline of the West, especially as witnessed in the UK. He catalogued one PC atrocity after another. Yet one questioner in the audience asked why all this was such a big deal.

Colebatch offered this trenchant reply: “It’s either civilisation or barbarism”. Quite so. What was played out at the University of Ottawa and hundreds of similar places is nothing but the descent into barbarism. Enraged mobs threatening speakers and stifling free speech is indeed the end of civilisation.

It is also the end of freedom and the end of democracy. But the radicals of the secular left do not seem to mind. It seems they prefer coercive police states to genuine debate and a genuine exchange of ideas. That is their idea of tolerance and open-mindedness.

www.aolnews.com/politics/article/ann-coulters-speech-canceled-after-threats-at-university-of-ottawa/19412237?icid=main|aim|dl1|link5|http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aolnews.com%2Fpolitics%2Farticle%2Fann-coulters-speech-canceled-after-threats-at-university-of-ottawa%2F19412237
townhall.com/columnists/HumbertoFontova/2010/03/26/university_of_ottawa_scolds_ann_coulter,_embraces_fidel_castro
townhall.com/columnists/AnnCoulter/2010/03/24/oh,_canada!

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11 Responses to The War Against Free Speech

  • Thanks Bill, I think you raise a very important set of issues, particularly relating to the ‘tolerance’ of the university.
    I am undertaking a (supposed) course in ethics as part of my present studies, and it is basically an exercise in spoonfeeding (i’ve been gagging a lot, can’t seem to get it down…).
    The place that touts itself as the centre of objective and free analysis/thinking is fiercly opposed to all non-humanistic thought, and it is reflected in the units. Lecturers appear to be thoroughly indoctrinated, and are very good at making the average student believe themselves to be ‘thinking’ just because they can basically repeat and sympathetically comment on what’s being presented. Unfortunately, most students are batting for the same side too.
    You can tell there are problems when you’ve been set an essay with two pages worth of instructions! (not to mention a word limit that allows just enough space to say what they want to hear without risking an actual opinion being presented…)
    Very disappointing. Credit to self-conscious Christian academics, it would be an incredibly difficult place to defend the faith in.
    Isaac Overton

  • Well you have to be fair to the leftists Bill. You seem to expect them to be able to compete on a level playing field of ideas. Isn’t it a bit unreasonable to expect people to be able to compete on a level playing field when they are hampered by ideas that the village idiot can see through?
    Jason Rennie

  • Thanks Isaac

    Yes it is very difficult indeed for conservative/Christian lecturers as well as conservative/Christian students in these hotbeds of the secular left. They need lots of support and prayer cover as they seek to be salt and light in such very dark places.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Thanks Jason

    Yes I know the secular left has got things tough, so I guess we should allow them the advantage of having near complete hegemony in our schools.

    Bill Muehlenberg, CultureWatch

  • Bill, they can have hegemony, but not over my children!
    John Angelico

  • ‘Prevent Hanson from speaking’. – this takes me back, Bill! The one I saw (have I mentioned it on this site?) said “Preserve Academic Freedom: Don’t let Eysenck Speak” – this was scrawled on the University of Birmingham (England)’s library wall in 1973, when the “right wing” psychologist H. J. Eysenck was asked to come to talk. Eysenck is said to have photographed it for use on a future book cover. the University then covered the wall in ivy.

    Actually, I don’t think the people you refer to, Bill, bother with talk of “tolerance”, these days; nor are they at all “embarrassed” by their fascism.

    John Thomas, UK

  • I believe that as every day passes we getting closer to anarchy – indeed I believe we have passed the point of no return.

    http://www.christianstogether.net/Articles/191402/Christians_Together_in/Christian_Life/Current_News/American_evangelist_jailed.aspx

    This is the successful, cohesivie society that the Labour party have produced after 12 years in power.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/crime/7532897/Victoria-station-stabbing-12-schoolchildren-charged-with-murder-in-legal-first.html

    Bill put this up in 2007:
    “Lord Macaulay (1800-1859), the English writer and historian, made a similar observation about the fate of democracies. He said that the average age of the world’s greatest democratic nations has been 200 years. Each has been through the following sequence:
    From bondage to spiritual faith.
    From faith to great courage.
    From courage to liberty.
    From liberty to abundance.
    From abundance to complacency.
    From complacency to selfishness.
    From selfishness to apathy.
    From apathy to dependency.
    And from dependency back again into bondage.
    (A letter from Lord Macaulay to an American friend, May 23, 1857)”

    The UK has an election in about six weeks time. The country is full of apathy, especially amongst the young. It is very likely that the Labour Party will get in again.

    David Skinner, UK

  • Whether one agrees with his views or not, there is a talk show host called Michael Savage who in May last year was put on a banned list from traveling to Britain and wrote about this in a book, putting him in the same league as murderers and terrorists. This apparently was one of the many things that led to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith (who put him on the list) of the Gordan Brown government to resign.

    Michael Savage was to be a part the Cambridge Union Debate via teleconfrance but was cancelled at the last minute, for whatever reasons

    http://nyunews.com/opinion/2009/nov/02/nelson/
    http://www.webcommentary.com/php/ShowArticle.php?id=durhama&date=100119

    In Savage’s words on page xv of his book Banned in Britain (self published) ‘The first ammendment to the US Consititution was not written to protect polite speech. It was written to protect offensive speech. Vigourous loud debate is the hallmark of a free society, not the pitiful morgue of politeness.’

    Carl Strehlow

  • Thanks Bill for keeping us updated, As a Canadian I am appalled at how we stand for freedom, yet do not know what it really is, or we once did, but we are drifting further and further away from our biblical roots. God keep our land Glorious and Free…. True, North, Strong and Free, Oh Canada we stand on guard for thee, obviously we aren’t listening even to our anthem that only God can keep our land Glorious and Free… Also as a student going into University I know some of the things I face in the country I live in littered with tolerance and liberalism…

    Like I said time and time again in my life, Canada, Canadians I pray you wouldn’t forget where your freedom was granted, who gave it to you, and that we need to stand up to keep it.

    Sara Freeman

  • Bill,
    Thanks for your expose of the Left’s tyranny over free speech in Canada. I fully agree with your analysis. Tellingly, no mention was ever made of any of Ann Coulter’s books in the newspapers or TV reports here. No news report even commented on her ideas – as though the conservative perspective should not be allowed to exist. Rather, she was “demonized” over a few curt remarks she made to some Muslim students at a previous rally.

    This is why Summit Ministries exists – to train our Christian students to THINK BIBLICALLY, before they get to university….because they sure will not learn a Biblical perspective while there.

    Dr Darrell Furgason, Canada

  • Yeah the closed-mindedness of the left is one of the things that really turned me off of it. I eventually came to the conclusion that the left really aren’t all that progressive at all. On the otherhand I was surprised how calm and rational more conservative thinkers often are in contrast. I mean compare the gentle and wise reasoning of Thomas Sowell to the simplistic ranting you often get from leftists.

    We saw some of the fascist elements of left-wing ‘tolerance’ in Adelaide recently leading up to the state election. There was a candidate that had a pro-life party and two thirds of his election posters were either vandalised or torn down. He got death threats and everything and was fearful for his family’s safety.

    Even with my Christian friends it is difficult for me to raise certain challenges to their thinking without arousing anger and outrage. Whether it be climate change scepticism or trying to explain why freemarket capitalism might not be such a bad idea, the intolerance to these ideas can be overwhelming. One friend basically told me that climate change sceptics are dangerous, guilty of condoning genocide and should be prevented from promoting their views. For arguing in favor of freedom and limited government I have been accused of siding with the rich oppressors against God and the poor. How do you try and persuade through rational economics with someone who thinks capitalism is worse than communism? I think I am slowly starting to get through a little bit through persistence and prayer.

    But the thing is a lot of young people today think they are freethinkers when infact they are not really that at all. They are just buying whatever political correctness sells them. I am sick of irrational anti-Americanism, I mean I don’t have starry eyes about America but people not being able to see the difference between communist brutalities and the inevitable imperfection and inequality in America? People think their challenging the system, no they are just lapping up what their univeristy lecturers, peers and popular culture want them to think and believe. So, reason and free thought, I believe is more the domain of those who are willing to challenge political correctness.

    Conor Ryan

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