Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Speak Up

Francois Houle has got to go.

He is the "vice-president academic and provost" for the University of Ottawa.

Quite a mouthful.

Failing utterly to understand, among other things, his role in a democratic Western society, Houle took it upon himself to send a friendly warning letter to someone who was about to be a guest speaker at his institution.

The speaker was a right-wing American shrieker cum clown cum entertainer cum 'journalist' whose name is Ann Coulter.

That's of the Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh Coulters.

So what?

We don't have to like or agree with or approve of every dog and pony show that comes our way.

But in a community that claims to pride ourselves on the protections of free speech, we honor that fading idea in action.

Coulter wants to speak, let her.

You want to disagree, carry on.

That's what we call democracy.

What we don't do - what people in places of power in swarms that call themselves "institutions of higher learning" - is send warning letters to such speakers about what they may or may not say.

It was my great displeasure to watch an infamous holocaust denier spew his lethal garbage all over the daily TV program of which I was the host (Oddly enough, also in Ottawa).

I then looked at the camera and voiced my disgust and dismay and sadness that this man must be heard.

Management was not happy with me, but that's their problem, isn't it?

Ann Coulter had to cancel her speech because the authorities feared violence.

Houle has disgraced his position, his University and our country.

Time to open that hot dog stand on the Kona Coast.


Norman Farrell said...

Did you read the letter by Francois Houle?

He is correct. We do have different laws and court precedents in Canada. Houle didn't tell here what she could say or could not say, he simply said it is different here than the USA and she should inform herself.

"I would, however, like to inform you, or perhaps remind you, 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. I therefore encourage you to educate yourself, if need be, as to what is acceptable in Canada and to do so before your planned visit here."

Sort of like a parent telling a child what should be obvious: "Don't play with flame, it is hot."

Norman Farrell said...

She is truly an odious person who enjoys her own theatricality and, with others like her, we have the ignorant tea-bag bigots and the Republican Party likely to resume congressional control in an America where media people believe that untruthfulness is merely strategic positioning.

I think she is dangerous and hateful. Nevertheless, I don't believe she should be stopped from speaking nor should the Zundels or anyone else. Yes, Houle stupidly played into Ezra Levant's hand and should have stayed quiet. However, Houle's letter doesn't prevent her from saying anything.

I do find it interesting that Amy Goodman, a reasonable progressive media voice, was detained and ordered out of Canada on a deadline by Canada Border Services. Does the Harper Government find right wing ideologues more acceptable?

Norman Farrell said...

It seems the right wing flakes got what they wanted and departed on their own accord. No doubt, they will tell a different story.

Leah said...

You nailed it Norman!