Christian Conservative Christian "Independent"

I'm an evangelical Christian, member of the CPC, but presently & unjustly exiled to wander the political wilderness.
All opinions expressed here are solely my own.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ottawa Citizen: "The thuggery of student activists"

Great editorial over at the Ottawa Citizen, commenting on a major growing problem that few in the media dare to tackle... the thuggish tactics being employed more frequently, and more successfully, by the far left in Canada.

It's time for some tougher laws.
Mob rules at the U of O
The Ottawa Citizen - March 25, 2010

Ann Coulter's opinions can be obnoxious, offensive and just plain wrong. But she's spot-on about one thing: that the University of Ottawa has shown itself to be a "bush-league" school.

The thuggery of student activists is a growing problem at Canadian campuses, but the spectacle at the University of Ottawa was truly a colossal embarrassment, for both the university and the city. Ottawa is the capital of a G8 country, yet our premier research university is evidently so insecure and insular that a talk-TV pundit from the U.S. represented an intolerable intellectual threat.

We wish we could blame only the students for shaming the university. But the administration was complicit in the successful campaign to shut down Coulter's much publicized talk on campus.

It began when the university's vice-president academic and provost, François Houle, sent Coulter a bizarre e-mail, in which he made it perfectly clear that he detests her polemical style and that she should watch her back, lest she find herself facing "criminal" or "defamation" laws. He told Coulter -- in the most condescending of tones -- that the University of Ottawa has a tradition of "restraint, respect and consideration" and therefore that is why he feels it is necessary to invoke what "may, at first glance, seem like unnecessary restrictions to freedom of expression."

Can anyone imagine an academic leader from Princeton University writing to a TV personality and saying, essentially: "You know, our students are very sensitive, so please when you visit don't say anything that will make them uncomfortable"? Would the vice-president of Harvard do this? Of course not.

The principal effect of Houle's foolish letter was to empower, albeit unwittingly, the student mob who came out Tuesday night to chase Coulter from campus. After all, Houle in so many words called Coulter a hatemonger and made it plain that her kind was not welcome.

The humiliating episode is a giant gift for a publicity-hound like Coulter. In an interview with a U.S. newspaper that had got wind of the incident, Coulter noted that students at serious universities are too "intellectually proud" to shut down speakers they don't agree with. She visits liberal campuses all the time without fearing for her safety. But at the University of Ottawa, she quipped, "their IQ points-to-teeth ratio must be about 1-to-1."

That smarts, but the University of Ottawa deserves the rebuke.

The shutting down of Ann Coulter is only the latest example of totalitarianism on Canadian campuses. At Concordia University in Montreal, thugs famously prevented Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu from speaking. At many campuses, pro-life student groups are harassed and denied official club status. When pro-choice student leaders at Toronto's York University learned that other students had organized a debate over the ethics of abortion, they promptly cancelled it, even though the event had been booked and the flyers printed.

Notice that this ongoing, organized effort to eliminate speech deemed politically unacceptable comes exclusively from the campus left. No one hears of conservative student groups physically interfering with left-wing speakers. A lot of conservative-minded students (and others) were unhappy with the recent Israel Apartheid Week, for example, but no one threatened to assault the organizers or disrupt the event.

We have no love for a buffoonish provocateur like Ann Coulter. It says something about the maturity and calibre of some University of Ottawa students that Coulter is the dignified party in this dispute.

© Copyright (c) The Ottawa Citizen

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  • At Thu. Mar. 25, 04:12:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Rileysowner said…

    "It says something about the maturity and calibre of some University of Ottawa students that Coulter is the dignified party in this dispute." says it all.

  • At Thu. Mar. 25, 05:11:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Kit said…

    I will never pay for children to go to Ottawa U. It offers nothing in terms of a higher education and reflects nothing I value. I wonder how many others are making this same decision?

  • At Thu. Mar. 25, 05:23:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Jerry Prager said…

    Yes, because we know there is always salvation in tougher laws. She is anti-Semite preaching against Semitic Arabs. She uses Christianity to promote hatred. She should have been warned that we don't treat hate speech as lightly in Canada as they do in the land of the anti-Islamic Crusaders to the south of us. She has a spirit of condemnation and serves a principality of darkness. Though I don't expect you to discern it, you're working too hard at believing you're part of an elect that isn't deceiving itself, the court prophets saying what King Stephen wants to hear you say about what God wants.

  • At Thu. Mar. 25, 05:27:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Gerry said…

    in order to like the last sentence you have to accept the premise of the preceding sentence that Ann is "a buffoonish provocateur" otherwise the contrast has no punch. I am tired of the commentary which essentially trashes Ann all in the supposed support of her right to speak. That seems too much of a twofer for me - getting to trash an American conservative articulate woman and also supposedly supporting her right to be boorish, buffoonish, etc, etc.

  • At Thu. Mar. 25, 05:35:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Powell lucas said…

    Writing in defense of the free-loading terrorists and the weak-kneed administration at the UoO, Ms. Denise Cooke-Browne says it all. In Canada, if Ms. Coulter espoused the same views on a regular basis she would be jailed. If that isn't a sad commentary on our society I don't know what is. People like Ms. Cooke-Browne have become so radicalized that she doesn't even realize that the idea of jailing someone because they speak their mind is appalling. The social engineering types and their thought control minions are so inculcated with their garbage that they think nothing of bringing the power of the state to bear against a free thinking citizen.
    I've been around for 70 years and I never, in my wildest dreams, thought Canada would come to this. How sad.

  • At Thu. Mar. 25, 05:53:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger minnowisa said…

    Ah, but don't the students have just as much right to voice their protest as Ms. Coulter does to speak? The mistake made by the Provost of UWO has nothing to do with such opposition to Coulter.

  • At Fri. Mar. 26, 01:04:00 a.m. EDT, Blogger Anon1152 said…

    As always, I have several points to make. [I hope they are points. They may just be "things to say"].

    1. "Ottawa is the capital of a G8 country, yet our premier research university is evidently so insecure and insular that a talk-TV pundit from the U.S. represented an intolerable intellectual threat."

    I think that Toronto, and the University of Toronto, would disagree with the "Premier research university" label there. (Though I know that's what everyone would expect from Toronto...)

    2. "It began when the university's vice-president academic and provost, François Houle, sent Coulter a bizarre e-mail, in which he made it perfectly clear that he detests her polemical style and that she should watch her back, lest she find herself facing "criminal" or "defamation" laws."

    Using "criminal" or "defamation" laws is a nonviolent way of opposing someone. Polemic is not necessarily the issue. I love a good Polemic (or Apologia) as much as the next guy. But Coulter has unashamedly advocated violence against various groups of people. [I could give details, including references and links to her own websites and articles, but will restrain myself, unless you want me to be more specific].

    THAT [i.e., advocating violence] can be illegal, and it is certainly disturbing. To me at least. If that is what Houle is worried about, then surely he would be just as comfortable with using the law against other violators of the law (e.g., those who would incite a riot or assault anyone at an Ann Coulter speech). If it ever seems otherwise, then this incident is something to bring up in order to argue against him.

    I am not sure whether or not Coulter's more violent language can be justly suppressed. J.S. Mill has a great statement about this issue in one of his works [In "On Representative Government," I think]. He says that if you think that "the Corn merchants are thieves," you can write that in an newspaper, and perhaps you should; but if you are standing on a soapbox in front of a group of angry (possibly hungry) people, carrying torches and pitchforks, and behind you is a corn merchant's house, inhabited by the merchant and his family... and you're yelling "the corn merchant's are thieves!"... that's not acceptable. [I'm paraphrasing and perhaps embellishing, but could find the exact quote if anyone cares].

    Things are different today in terms of technology. So I'm not sure whether or not [some] of Coulter's speech should be suppressed. I lean towards not suppressing speech, even (or perhaps especially) in this case.

    I can't express how upset I am that there are people who disagree with Coulter who are there making the area unsafe, or who do not want to let her speak at all. Especially if they are part of a university community. It bothers me that I might agree with them on many issues. I certainly share a general antipathy towards Ann Coulter. But I have developed an antipathy for much of political theory of John Locke. I still have read him and teach his works to others. And I still read and think about his work regularly. Even though Locke pales in comparison to Hobbes.

    Considering the issue at a higher level of abstraction, something else bothers me: Coulter is no Locke or Hobbes. To be honest, I don't think she has much to say at all, and I don't think she is willing to truly listen to her opponents, however reasonable they may be. I even think one could repeat much of she says and substitute the word "Christians" for "Muslims" or "Liberals" for "Conservatives" without losing any coherence...

    Of all the things we could be debating, of all the things we could be up in arms about, why is it this? The fact that this can be considered (or has become) a "big deal" worries me.

  • At Fri. Mar. 26, 01:12:00 a.m. EDT, Blogger Anon1152 said…

    Sorry for saying so much here. But... Powell lucas: Who has been jailed here (in the last few years) because they have spoken their mind?

    I ask this b/c, I don't know. But was pretty sure that even those "human rights commissions" couldn't "jail" someone.

  • At Fri. Mar. 26, 07:25:00 a.m. EDT, Blogger Christian Conservative said…

    Hey Anon1152... You reading Locke vs. Hobbes? More of a Calvin & Hobbes kinda guy myself... ;-)

    Seriously though, I can't say I'm an Ann "supporter", just read her stuff for a laugh... on a rare occasion. However, this incident at UofO is merely a single symptom of a much larger problem in our society... the radical left-ivisation of our universities.

    People haven't been paying attention, and the radical left has taken over our schools. I'm not talking NDP, I wouldn't care if it was just them. But it's an INTOLERANT, VIOLENT and REPRESSIVE sect of leftism, one that preaches an ideology of HATE towards people who hold differing points of view. To me, THAT is unacceptable.

    This incident has only helped to expose this radical fringe. They're the types that are cool with breaking the law as they see fit to obtain their objectives. Recent example... tresspassing and pulling fire alarms. Oh, you didn't know that the illegally entered the building where Ann was in an effort to disrupt the event? Well, they did... and the succeeded. Thankfully, they documented their endeavours, and the University ought to ensure that charges are laid.

    I've posted all this in recent days because it's time to PUSH BACK, and ensure our Universities are what they're supposed to be... places of "higher learning", not bastions of "group think".

  • At Fri. Mar. 26, 04:54:00 p.m. EDT, Blogger Anon1152 said…

    Calvin and Hobbes? I should have suspected you'd be into Calvin--perhaps for religious reasons. Or perhaps not


    I don't think that "the left" has a monopoly on violence/repression/intolerance. Recall the assassination of Dr. Tiller a number of few months ago? That wasn't an isolated incident. He had been shot before. Surely the shootings and bombings--rather than the moral force of the better argument--are the reasons why his clinic was one of only three in the USA that performed late term abortions.

    Or do you recall an incident about a year ago when George Galloway was not allowed into Canada by the Conservative government?. I don't buy the argument that he was a security risk. He was allowed to visit the US. And he's a British Member of Parliament. If the US and UK can handle him, I'm sure that we can too.

    And of course the "healthcare 'debate'" in the USA right now has had its share of right wing intimidation tactics. I don't think that the people showing up at the town hall meetings etc with loaded guns were all "leftists".

    (I mention these as examples of "the right" using intimidation or coercion to stifle debate. I'm NOT arguing that the right is worse than the left, nor am I trying to cherry pick incidents so that we can develop competing "lists"...).


    I think that you exaggerate the influence of "the radical left" at Universities. Surely it is less "radical" and "leftist" than during the 1960s.

    I see far more debate within the University than elsewhere. There are panel discussions, conferences, and books published on a regular basis, and diverse/opposing views are represented. There wouldn't be much of a political science department if everyone agreed on everything.

    The unreasoned and unreasonable debate gets more attention, but the reasoned and reasonable debate is far more prevalent.

    As for the appearance that the University is a more left wing environment... that may have more to do with demographics. I'm thinking of that Winston Churchill quote: "Whoever is not a socialist at twenty has no heart; whoever is not a conservative at forty has no brain."

    Notwithstanding the "brain" comment, I think it's unreasonable to expect an ideological balance without the corresponding demographic balance.


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