Monday, March 24, 2014

What Kind of Free Speech Do We Need?

John Gormley, a CJME talkshow host, lawyer, author and former Progressive Conservative MP, wrote on March 21, 2014 on the Leader Post: Sometimes in life, we are not aware of the significance of a certain event because we're too immersed in the moment to know what's happening. Such was the case this earlier week at the University of Regina as his speech was interrupted by a former interim First Nations chief and two followers because he was said to speak with a "forked tongue and hide behind the radio". No conversation gets advanced when one side wants to yell slogans and not interact, and he noticed Regina left-wing activist John Klein leering and giggling as he gleefully video records the encounter.

Having never experienced either First Nations' shoe throwing - generally thought a Middle Eastern insult - or the use of aboriginal drums to stifle conversation, it should be remembered that these are not indigenous traditions and never were. Every elder he's ever spent time with has reinforced and lived the message that aboriginal tradition is based on respect and bringing people into the centre. A senior faculty member at UofR responded: "The intent was to disrupt and prevent free speech on a university campus." He could only recall one similar incident which happened 40 years ago.

Then there is the question: what kind of free speech do we need? Do we need a speech like the one from the chief? No, free speech means speech made in respect of others including the speaker, the audience and the hosting party. Free speech also means speech in a peaceful way with no menacing or coercion. At the forum at the Central Library held the other day on the Canadian books banned, several experts talked about some influential banned books. The Ziggy Piggy and the Three Little Pigs is banned because it advocates the life of the middle class; the Adventures of Huckberry Finn is banned because it has coarse language towards the black people; another book by the Nobel Prize winner Alice Monroe is banned because it instils admiration of young girls for the middle aged men. Well, the question is, are those books written in respect of the others? Are they connected with robbery? If not, what is the problem? Surely, there should be a limit for the children below 18 years old as they still need guidance from schools and parents. Besides that, should we ban all those books mentioned above?

No comments:

Post a Comment