Case in point, the National Post had a story yesterday about the York University Student Union's effort to essentially ban pro-life (in their words "anti-choice") clubs from campus.
In response to a series of controversies over abortion debates on Canadian campuses, the student government of York University in Toronto has tabled an outright ban on student clubs that are opposed to abortion.
Gilary Massa, vice-president external of the York Federation of Students, said student clubs will be free to discuss abortion in student space, as long as they do it "within a pro-choice realm," and that all clubs will be investigated to ensure compliance.So in response to a controversial debate, they wish to stop the debate by banishing the side deemed inappropriate. Aren't Universities supposed to be forums for free discussion? Well, according to Ms. Massa, it isn't about freedom of speech.
"You have to recognize that a woman has a choice over her own body," Ms. Massa said. "We think that these pro-life, these anti-choice groups, they're sexist in nature ... The way that they speak about women who decide to have abortions is demoralizing. They call them murderers, all of them do ... Is this an issue of free speech? No, this is an issue of women's rights."
This isn't framed by the left as a free speech issue, its "women's rights". Referring to abortion as murder is "demoralizing" to women. Demoralizing? At least they accuse Mark Steyn of inciting hatred. Where exactly is the statute against demoralization? Is the right not to be demoralized now sacrosanct to feminists? What about the demoralizing effect the HRC will have on Mr. Steyn when it bans his writings from the Dominion? Or is it only leftist advocacy groups that should be free from feeling bad? When a cartoonist draws a picture of George W. Bush wearing a swastika, its free speech. When Steyn accurately quotes a Scandinavian imam, or a pro-life apologist calls abortion murder, its inciting hatred and has to be stopped before any number of so called "oppressed" groups becomes even more oppressed (or apparently, demoralized).
To their credit (and my surprise) the schools administration "condemned the decision as contrary to its academic mission". Let me be clear, I'm not trying to paint all leftist students and Canadians with the same brush. There are many liberal Canadians who recognize this for what it is: "Michael Payton, a York student who argued the pro-choice side" points out that "'When the YFS (York Federation of Students) says they believe in free speech, they believe in free speech for them, for the positions they hold, not for freedom of speech for positions they disagree with.'" But these attacks on free speech are appearing more and more in Canada and the West in general. Conservative positions aren't just being looked down upon, but outright banned - in the case of the HRC's under penalty of law. The consequences of this will be enormous, for Liberals and Conservatives. Governments with this power always abuse it. Barbara Hall and the HRC's are actually decrying the lack of HRC cases. How can they reshape society if people don't complain?
What's worse, there's an effort to take the YFS's tyranny national:
"Efforts to formalize the York ban on anti-abortion groups began in earnest last weekend, when the YFS brought a successful motion to the annual meeting in Ottawa of the Canadian Federation of Students, a national umbrella group of student unions.
'Be it resolved that member locals [of the CFS] that refuse to allow anti-choice organizations access to their resources and space be supported. And further, be it resolved that a pro-choice organization kit be created that may include materials such as a fact sheet, buttons, contact information for local pro-choice organizations and research on anti-choice organizations and the conservative think-tanks that fund them," the motion reads.'"I have no problem with full disclosure of who is behind any organization, but notice that there is no mention of pointing out who is funding pro-abortion groups. Student governments of public universities have no business quashing a student group or club because of their political beliefs. I myself am a conservative who believes abortion to be reprehensible. However, I don't believe pro-abortion groups should be banned from campus. Universities should encourage debate, not conformity. All groups should be tolerated unless they actively advocate violence. (And not the imagined violence Mark Steyn is accused of promoting)
I know Universities have been actively leftist for a long time, and non orthodox view points have been frowned upon if not suppressed. When I was at school, a staff member of the "official" student newspaper tried to convince a business advertising in a new, independent conservative student newspaper to stop by basically comparing it to Völkischer Beobachter. Student's were also discouraged from handing out free issues at University events. But this is chillingly blatant. If students feel they can openly advocate the suppression of free speech and free assembly, what does it say about trends in Canadian society, or Western society for that matter? The last time we had such an exhaustion with Enlightenment principles, Fascism and Communism seemed fresh and attractive. I pray we're not going down that road again.
Update: Apparently Ms. Massa is a pro-abortion muslim student. Its nice to see there might actually be free thinking (if misguided) muslims in Canada, I just hope she doesn't find out the hard way what the penalty for abortion is under sharia. Its not smart to be a moderate muslim and be against freedom of speech. Otherwise in the end you'll probably be stoned.