A petition demanding the firing of Acadia University psychology professor Rick Mehta is yet another example of political correctness running amok on campus. Amongst other things, Professor Mehta ran afoul of the speech police by criticizing a psychology thesis (“coming to terms with ... sexual identity through interpretive dance”) and chiding Opposition Leader Andrew Sheer, who disrespected freedom of expression by expelling from caucus a senator who suggested that some First Nations children benefited from residential schools.
First, Professor Mehta, in his interview with The Rebel’s Sheila Gunn Reid, uses such terms as “confirmation bias” and “narcissism” to describe the thesis in question, but constructively suggests it might be improved if the author indicates how the ideas expressed might benefit others who share the author’s experiences.
Second, nobody credible denies that some students were abused in some residential schools. But it is unfair to perceive this through a group identity lens where individual schools and individual staff who are innocent are nevertheless tarnished with the same broad brush as offenders. Also, a claim that some benefited is highly plausible, given the number of schools and the thousands of children who attended them. Indeed, this claim is strengthened if we believe no less a luminary than writer and classical pianist Tomson Highway (certainly not one to deny that some abuse occurred in some schools!), who describes his time at a residential school as “nine of the happiest years of my life.” And Professor Mehta, in the Gunn Reid interview, alludes to students who reported “great experiences”. He also correctly points out that many of these schools rescued children from poverty. To this, it is worth noting that poverty on reserves is, in part, attributed to documented corruption (a la Chief Theresa Spence and Attawapiskat), which our chattering class Laurentian media and Liberal (also liberal) elites seemingly deem “in poor taste” to discuss.
Of course, aggrieved parties must always be free to explain why a thesis is of high intellectual standard and why residential schools were bad. They are also free to critique Professor Mehta’s comments. They may write articles for publication or submit letters to the editor, post YouTube videos, or whatever. But, alas, all of this requires work and it is so much easier to just demand that “offending” parties be fired and/or otherwise bullied, terrorized, humiliated, shunned, or impugned.
Methinks it is time to give totalitarian political correctness short shrift and restore freedom of speech to its rightful place in a free and democratic society. The politically correct must remain free to express opinions, but not silence those with disparate views.