Letters to the
Editor, National Post, February 25, 2006, p.A21, by J. Furedy, A.
Irvine, and S. Lupker
Saturday, February 25, 2006
speech at risk, professors warn
1) As an academic -- and one, who as a child,
was fortunate enough to have his parents take him from a "fear" to a
"free" society -- I suggest that the principle of freedom of speech
must be treasured over all other principles, especially in
universities, whose fundamental function is the search for truth
through the conflict of ideas. It is precisely those opinions that are
deeply offensive that any university administrator must protect, unless
the aim is to establish the institution that is not a real place of
higher learning, but a sort of adult daycare centre where comfort is
the criterion of what can be thought and said.
Some individual faculty or
students may not understand that this freedom not to be punished for
offensive opinions is the hallmark of the university in a free society,
but high-level administrators, be they presidents of the university or
of the student union, have a special responsibility not to abuse
academic freedom, because, just like dictators in fear societies, they
have the power to inflict such abuse.
Professor Emeritus, University of Toronto, Sydney, Australia
2) So Wade
MacLauchlan, the president of the University of Prince Edward Island,
believes that censoring student newspapers is the best way to prevent
potential violence and help his university strive towards "an engaged
and positive learning environment."
really is the threat of potential violence, it might be slightly more
expensive to post the occasional guard outside the Cadre's editorial office than
to confiscate student newspapers, but if UPEI can afford to hire campus
security guards to ticket illegally parked cars, it can also afford to
protect something much more essential to the mandate of the university:
Professor, University of British Columbia; director, Society of
Academic Freedom and Scholarship.
3) I found it
difficult to believe that the president of a Canadian university would
come out so strongly against freedom of the press -- or as Wade
MacLauchlan refers to it, "reckless free speech." What I found most
offensive, however, was the way he tried to defend himself by using the
statement of a P.E.I. Muslim woman that the hurt caused by the cartoons
was "as if I had been raped out on the street while the people
surrounding me watched."
that the woman in question said this in all sincerity even though,
according to press reports, she has never seen the cartoons. For
someone like Mr. MacLauchlan, however, to endorse the claim that 12
cartoons are equivalent to a public rape is unconscionable.
Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Western Ontario,
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