Rebuttal to UToronto Student Newspaper's Defense of Suppressing Free Speech
Less than a month after anarchists, communists, and a bevy of other perpetually useless members of society shut down a speech at the University of Toronto, the school’s student newspaper, The Varsity, published a column titled “Bigotry bears no right to a platform”.
The author, Adina Heisler, a second-year gender studies major, writes,
Speakers at the event included [Jordan] Peterson, Psychology Professor who has been called transphobic by some students on campus following his Professor against political correctness YouTube lecture series…
Remember. The first rule of writing an editorial that justifies – better yet encourages – forcefully shutting down public speakers with whom you disagree politically, is to avoid fairly characterizing your opponent at all costs. Don’t bother watching Jordan Peterson’s videos, providing their links, and highlighting the exact quotes which suggest he’s a bigot, unworthy of speaking at the university that employs him. Just go ahead and write it. Be sure to back up this already-robust accusation with “has been called”.
According to protester and community activist Qaiser Ali, the protesters objected to "the fact that the university has both allowed and sanctioned an alt-right, neo-fascist hate conference starring Ezra Levant."
Qaiser Ali – as reported by The Varsity – was one of the protesters who helped shut the event down, screaming “F-Trump, and F-white supremacy”. The only person Heisler’s interviewed in her entire editorial on why it’s ok to forcefully shut down a speech at a public university is one of the people who actually shut down a speech at a public university.
Heisler claims that she contacted Ezra Levant for comment on the article to no avail. However, I spoke to Ezra myself. He told me that nobody by the name Adina Heisler from The Varsity reached out to him.
Going forward, the author paints a truly Orwellian portrait, writing,
The protesters are correct in saying that the speakers should not have been permitted to have this platform in the first place…
…whether or not a speaker should be allowed to have space on campus cannot necessarily be boiled down to a left-versus-right issue. There are a number of reasons why we might object to having certain types of events on campus.
For example, it was completely unacceptable when Ken O’Keefe, a conspiracy theorist and Holocaust denier, was given a space to speak on campus in June 2016, because he was propagating blatantly false anti-Semitic views.
That last part is actually correct. Ken O’Keefe is a Marxist Holocaust denier who was invited to speak at the university. His speech, however, was somehow not interrupted by the same people who felt Ezra Levant was about to pull out a sword and sacrifice a transgender Syrian refugee he had locked up in a cage somewhere.
What Heisler does is hold up Ken O’Keefe as the standard for a demonstrable dumpster-fire of a speech. (He literally accused the Jews of staging 9/11.) But going further, Heisler blurs the boundaries around O’Keefe and goes on to paint everyone who’s views she finds unpalatable as a Ken O’Keefe.
… [Ezra] Levant has made racist comments towards Romani people and is the author of a series of articles for The Rebel that suggest Europe is being “overrun” by Muslims. Southern has used homophobic slurs on Twitter and retweeted an anti-Semitic tweet that implied someone who found a swastika on their door drew it themselves.
This is highly problematic, and an excellent example of just how dangerous laws restricting speech can be. Jumping from the open Holocaust denier to a conservative commentator, Heisler mendaciously portrays them as moral equivalents.
Rebel Media (a site which I have written for) reports on crimes tied to Syrian refugees which largely go uncovered by the Canadian press.
As one example, here's a recent story on Rebel Media, One of Trudeau’s Syrian refugees charged with sexual assault at West Edmonton Mall pool. In contrast, Canada’s government-funded broadcaster, the CBC, tweeted about this same incident: “When a refugee faces criminal charges, should the public be told?”
Point being, the notion that Ezra Levant is a racist has no basis in reality.
This is exactly how you write a column for a left-wing outlet. Don’t bother yourself with researching what you’re writing about. In fact, avoid it. Facts tend to distort leftist narratives anyway. Arrive at a conclusion and then contrive whatever facts are needed to fill the gaps.
Heisler helpfully provides an example of doing exactly this:
“Both SSFS and Generation Screwed claim they are not associated with fascism or racism and their goals are the promotion of freedom of speech and fiscal responsibility, respectively. These claims are hard to take seriously when they welcome speakers like Levant, who is known for racially-charged rhetoric.”
Let me get this straight. An unsourced claim that Ezra Levant traffics in “racially-charged rhetoric”, means that Students in Support of Free Speech – a group who’s sole purpose is free speech advocacy – and Generation Screwed – a self-described fiscal responsibility organization – are de facto fascist racists. Wow!
In what has to be my favorite part of the whole column, Heisler writes,
SSFS has also failed to comment on other important issues related to censorship in North America, including ... the silencing of Elizabeth Warren by Republicans when she attempted to read a letter written by Coretta King during the recent Sessions Debate.
A (Canadian!) group titled “Students in Support of Free Speech” is somehow expected to publicly comment on the vagaries of the United Sates Senate rules (which Elizabeth Warren knowingly broke)? What does this have to do with ANYTHING?
Heisler ends her piece (finally), writing,
What freedom of speech does not entail is speaking without having to face consequences or being permitted a platform wherever you want. All groups on campus, regardless of political alignment, should be permitted to hold uninterrupted events. But speakers who promote racism, Islamophobia, or any other kind of bigotry should never be given a space here.
The problem here is, statements like “promoting racism” and “Islamophobia” are vaguely defined terms, which as Heisler SUPERBLY demonstrates in this column, can be mixed, matched and modified to slap on anyone whose views you find objectionable.
Moreover, the freedom to deliver a public speech (about fiscal responsibility, in this case) without the need for armed security showing up in spades, is the hallmark of a free society. The left’s unyielding objection to this concept glaringly highlights their authoritarian tendencies.
My working theory on how we arrived at this mess is, while running to their “sources-of-oppression-you-didn’t-even-know-about-yet” lecture, a college campus leftist must have, at some point, bumped into an English professor. Accidentally swapping their “seventh-century-feminist-finger-painting” textbook for a copy of George Orwell’s 1984 they cried, “WOAH, SOMEONE ACTUALLY WROTE AN INSTRUCTION MANUAL”.