Re: Free Speech Matters, editorial, The National Post, 5 December 2015.
The choice of Jacques Frémont, president of the Quebec Human Rights Commission, to be the University of Ottawa’s president is an Orwellian nightmare. With his legislative initiative to expand the commission’s powers to allow it to sue “people who would write against … the Islamic religion” and to censor speech that promotes “fear of the other,” he represents the very antithesis of a university dedicated to the unfettered freedom of expression and research.
In 2002, the French author Michel Houellebecq was sued in Paris by four Muslim associations for insulting and defaming Muslims, but was acquitted. At the centre of the accusation was his assertion Islam is the “most damned stupid religion” and that after reading the Qur’an he “collapsed in disbelief.”
Even more important than professional qualifications is the candidate’s understanding of the purpose and mandate of universities. For far too many university administrators today, freedom of expression and research is merely a public relations slogan that deserves nothing more than lip service. Political correctness, multiculturalism and insincerely bent knees in front of Islam have taken their undeserved place in academia.
All candidates should be asked whether they agree with the Paris magistrates’ decision or whether they would rather ruin the writer with legal harassment and monetary penalties for inciting “hatred” and “fear of the other.” What can we do besides weep for the University of Ottawa?