to the Editor, National Post, February 24, 2006, p.A17, by W. Bruno, J.
Edwards, D. Kimura, R. Awrey, and P. Featherstone
Letters to the Editor
Friday, February 24, 2006
Campuses must uphold free speech
Re: Campus Cartoon Debate Underway,
Letter, Feb. 23.
President H. Wade MacLauchlan of the University of Prince Edward Island
makes egregious mistakes in his letter responding to the Society for
Academic Freedom and Scholarship (SAFS) and raises doubts about the
integrity of his campus. In effect,
he admits to not knowing what debate is, or how to defend it. He makes
preposterous analogies and parrots
silly hyperbole from an unnamed "P.E.I Muslim woman." His use of smear
language ("I expect SAFS would do this, would do that...") is dishonest
discourse. How would Dr. MacLauchlan respond to a militant who
threatened or blackmailed his campus?
I suspect he'd rush to cave in.
Walter Bruno, Calgary.
Recent actions by administration officials at the University of P.E.I.
should disturb us all.
Their assault on free expression is a disturbing development for any
university. President MacLauchlan needs
to reconsider his decision, restore the confiscated papers to the
Cadre, issue an apology for the
administration's actions and reassert publicly his and his university's
support for free speech.
The intrepid actions of the Cadre should be a model to all of
Western media. The actions of its editor and staff stand in contrast to
so many newspaper people, who for decades have loudly proclaimed their
and others' inherent rights to free speech but who now act in cowardly
ways in the face of real threats to those rights.
Sensible and open-minded people
reject the blatant lie that the reason many in the media and elsewhere
refuse to reprint the Danish cartoons is a matter of "sensitivity." They see that
lie for what it is and reject
it, because they know that the real reason is fear.
UPEI's administration has the
opportunity to make their university an example to other universities
in Canada and all of North America. They should restore the Cadre's copies
of its paper and, in so doing, help
promote both free speech and courage among their fellow Canadians.
3) President MacLauchlan
responded to the SAFS letter by citing the
almost 50 deaths worldwide allegedly related to the circulation of the
Danish cartoons -- as if this
expected and defensible
consequence of political commentary! Far more offensive cartoons are
published in our newspapers
some of them with religious themes
(e.g., references to the Pope). Arab papers frequently depict Jews and
Israelis in horrific and
ways. It seems it is only when Muslims
are portrayed in unflattering terms that we must be sensitive. Could
this be because they are so
with death threats? The suggestion
that it is SAFS that is promoting shouting and disorder is disingenuous
We in Canada expect people who take
offence to express their objections
in any number of non-violent ways. Since when, in the politically
correct world in which Mr.
MacLauchlan seems mired, is killing people
deemed a pardonable response? Yet by preventing the circulation of
copies of the student
tacitly approves violence as a means
of influencing the press.
I would respond to the P.E.I. Muslim
woman's reaction that the "hurt" is
tantamount to her being raped in the street while people watched, by
saying, "Get a grip. This is a
cartoon!" Giving credence to such an
overblown claim is a complete abandonment of common sense. It appears
that in his eyes any imagined
at any utterance, no matter how
puerile, automatically trumps freedom of speech.
Mr. MacLauchlan had a great
opportunity to demonstrate that freedom of
the press and thus of speech is an important value at UPEI. Instead, he
has done a grave disservice to
university and to public discourse
PhD, FRSC, LLD (Hon), Burnaby, B.C.
4) After reading and
Dr. MacLauchlan's letter in the National
Post, I first thought it was a joke -- the outline for a Monty Python
script. Then it struck me that
serious. I can only conclude that
Dr. MacLauchlan is a moral coward. God help the students at UPEI under
his so-called leadership.
Read, don't burn, books
Re: Campus Cartoon Debate Underway,
Letter, Feb. 23.
Dr. Wade MacLauchlan's placing of
blame for the recent destruction of
Danish and Norwegian embassies on 12 satirical cartoons is simplistic.
If Dr. MacLauchlan were to read books
in the University of Prince Edward
Island's libraries instead of burning newspapers in the university's
quadrangles, he would see a
in the recent destruction.
The bombings in Madrid and London,
the riots in France and the sacking
of North Europe's embassies follow geographically the humiliation of
past Muslim aggression: Spain
1243, and England, France, Denmark and
Norway during the Crusades. If this pattern is followed, then P.E.I.
less to fear than Austria,
defeated Muslim forces in 1529, and
Poland, which did the same in 1683.
Universities are a key reason why
Christendom prospered while Islam grew
only in poverty and ignorance. I hope that in future UPEI will choose
the traditions of Europe over
Or perhaps he should remove Austrian
and Polish histories from his
libraries' shelves, lest he offend more sensibilities.