As many of you should be aware, Carleton University’s been in the news again. And not for the right reasons. Again.
To wit, a seventh-year student tore down a “Free Speech Wall” because it offended him.
Well, I’m an opinionated SOB, so I wrote a column about it. However, the column never ran in my paper.
So, I have decided to post it here. Enjoy.
Well, it seems to me that universities attract all the crazies. Or at least that’s what my alma mater, Carleton University, tends to do fairly regularly.
But maybe I’m simply being too harsh. I mean, we have been subjected to some bad news over the years, including sex assaults, a suicide in my fourth year and repeatedly being the brunt of national jokes. “Last Chance U” anyone?
OK. But what is going on there now that’s raising my hackles?
Oh, just the usual attacks on the idea of free speech.
To wit, early last week the Carleton chapter of Students for Liberty put up a “Free Speech Wall” with the goal being to give students a place to write whatever message they wanted, to be read by whoever passed by the wall.
And, as could have been expected, one student who found the idea of allowing free and unfettered speech, apparently, not to his liking, tore down that wall.
Seventh-year human rights student Arun Smith tore down the wall, ostensibly because he felt it was an attack on himself and the LGBTQ community.
To quote his public explanation: “Further, to organize for this “wall” to be erected during our Pride Week, where our communities are supposed to be able to seek liberation and celebrate our diversity, is offensive, ill-considered, and dangerous.”
I find his assertion hard to believe. I cannot imagine that Students for Liberty would have erected the wall intending it to be used for anti-LGBTQ propaganda.
Nor does it make sense to see it as anything other than a coincidence that the wall went up during Pride Week at Carleton.
Now, I do respect that Smith perhaps felt the wall was offensive to him. I clearly can’t get inside other people’s heads and know what they are thinking. I can only take him at his word.
Yet, I do find it very interesting that his way of protesting against what he deems offensive is to trample on the free speech of others. Or, more to the point, to commit vandalism.
Now, at this point I must make clear that I feel nothing should be off limits. Anti-LGBTQ, anti-Israel, anti-abortion — all those topics deserve to be discussed.
How else can we, as a society, work things out if all we do is try to sanitize the world? If you don’t like what someone has to say, you should go up and debate them. You don’t try to censor them.
And if you don’t like being challenged, then maybe it’s time to reevaluate your beliefs.
Because, when it comes down to it, being offended just means you expect people to cater to your opinions and make sure your sensibilities aren’t hurt.
And that’s really all I have to say on the matter.