...I'll call the faces in the tumultuous crowd that assemble in student federations and such "Mike" and "Ellen." They're the ones who shout, as Ellen was heard shouting: "Ann Coulter should go back where she came from."Quite the toxic little Shangri-La they've got going there at the U of Houle: the Provost says, "Jump!," and the Mikes and Ellens say, "How high?" Just the sort of institute that would confer an honourary degree on the likes of Susan G. Cole, a chick who provides "the noise" in the world outside this mini Soviet-style republic.
"But she was invited by Campus Conservatives ..."
"We don't want her here."
Mike and Ellen are the idealistic, demonstrating, book-burning, sometimes violent spear-carriers of social trends and ideas that shape all periods, occasionally for the better, usually for the worse. Many are educated beyond their intellectual means; all concern themselves with matters beyond their maturity. They're the collateral damage of higher education.
Houle's letter to Coulter leaked. It reached Mike, Ellen and fellow Red Guard-types, inciting them to form an unlawful assembly to deprive Canadians who came to hear Coulter of their right to listen to her. Mike, one of the organizers, was quoted saying that "what Ann Coulter is practising is not free speech, it's hate speech."
Here's the circular sophistry of two-tiered freedom: Approved speech = free speech; censored speech = hate speech. This is what corrupts minds, and I don't mean students. I mean professors, provosts and presidents. The operating fallacies come from them. Mike and Ellen provide only the noise, the echo and the muscle...
Update: Margaret Wente weighs in:
...History has taken quite a turn. In ancient times (Berkeley in the ‘60s), student protesters took to the streets to demand free speech on campus. Now they demand to suppress it.
This view – that unpopular opinions should not be expressed in public because they are dangerous – is shared by an alarming number of adults, especially those who toil in the field of human rights. On a CBC radio phone-in show the other day, a highly agitated man who identified himself as a human-rights lawyer argued that Ms. Coulter should be banned from speaking because she is a human-rights abuser. Another caller, who proudly identified herself as a former human-rights investigator, said, “If any Canadian spoke like Ann Coulter, he'd be jailed.” In her view, Ms. Coulter has “infringed on our right to be safe, secure and not discriminated against. Canadian universities should grow a backbone and get rid of this menace.”They are? Could have fooled me.
In fact, Canadian human-rights commissions have been trying to get rid of the menace of free speech for quite a while. (I'm glad to say they're losing.)...