January 23, 2013

Carleton U.: where the stupid goes in before the student goes out

Oh, not again.

I have lost count of the number of times this has happened, but yet one more time, Last Chance U. has beclowned itself thanks to the authoritarian moonbattery of its student leadership.

Arun Smith isn't a member of the Carleton University Students' Association, but he could have been. Last year, the "seventh-year human rights student" ran for election to a councillor's seat from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS). In his candidacy video, he promised to create "inclusive, open spaces that are safe spaces, where every voice is empowered and every student's voice is heard."

Fast-forward to Monday, when the Carleton Students for Liberty erected a "free speech wall"—basically a freestanding plywood wall covered with paper—in the Unicentre to promote the free competetition of ideas.

Some time between November and Monday, Arun Smith must have had a change of heart about inclusiveness and hearing every student's voice, because he took it upon himself to destroy the wall, then boast about it in a ponderous manifesto on Facebook with the byline "Arun Séamus Surinder Smith." I'm guessing either that his parents didn't contemplate the implications of his given names' initials, or that they can see the future.


Smith writes,

This evening, acting alone, and in an act of forceful resistance, I removed the Carleton Students for Liberty's "free speech wall" from the Unicentre Galleria. I take full and sole responsibility for this action, I understand that there will likely be consequences, and I am prepared for the imposition of those consequences, however unjust they might be. . . .

That's a great start—if the manifesto were being read out on a poor-quality video tape, to be found in his apartment after the bombing of a large public building. This hyperbolic drama queenery runs throughout the entire screed.

. . . I consider this action both a moral imperative, and one entirely in line with the mandates of the positions that students on this campus have chosen for me to hold.

Smith signs his open letter as follows: "Challenge Homophobia and Transphobia Campaign Coordinator - Carleton University / Human Rights Representative - Carleton Academic Student Government / Activist/Organizer." It's impossible for me to tell whether these "positions" are elected by the student body or self-appointed, or in fact what the hell they are supposed to mean. Judging from the "Challenge Homophobia and Transphobia Campaign" page on Facebook, however, I'm inclined to think it's a campaign of one.

Here, I wonder if we get to the real heart of the matter:

Further, to organize for this "wall" to be erected during our Pride Week, where our communities are supposed to be able to seek liberation and celebrate our diversity, is offensive, ill-considered, and dangerous.

Screech! How dare the Students for Liberty one-up the gays on their special day, demands Arun "Bridezilla" Smith. Apparently, when Pride Week is on, everyone else's opinions must be kept to oneself.

The theme of this year's Pride Week is UNAPOLOGETIC, inviting us to refuse to apologize for who we are, and the erecting of this "wall" is but another in a series of acts of violence against we who are forced every day to try and justify who we are, to try and justify our humanity and our being deserving of respect, dignity, and consideration.

The only "act of violence" that has been perpetrated, so far, is the destruction of a free speech wall by one A. S. S. Smith. You don't have to be apologetic for who you are, Arun, but you should apologize for the destruction of someone else's property that you took it upon yourself to vandalize. Consider it a "moral imperative."

We are supposed to be creating safe(r) spaces for ourselves, and for other students, but there can be no safe(r) spaces where there is potential for triggering, the invalidation or questioning of the identities of others, and/or the expression of hatred.

A "safe space" is another one of those happy-sappy progressive buzzwords. It has its origin in the feminist and gay-rights movements. A safe space is one where people of a minority group or a particular viewpoint may be free to express themselves without risk of marginalization from outsiders. Fair enough. In practice, though, people like Arun Smith want "safe spaces" to be bubble zones in which no dissenting opinions are to be allowed, and it appears that while Pride Week is on, Smith wants the bubble to extend throughout the entire campus. The same argument was made by CUSA back in 2006, when the discrimination policy was amended to deny recognition to pro-life clubs, after the campus feministas complained that an opinion dissenting from theirs was expressed in a public debate on abortion. "Safe Space" is an Orwellian euphemism for ideological conformity.

According to yesterday's article by Jonathan Kay in the National Post, here's the extent of the "expression of hatred" that was borne on the wall:

In truth, the wall’s only overt references to sexual orientation were pro-gay, such as "QUEERS ARE AWESOME," "Gay is OK" and "I [Heart] Queers."

The only comment that verged into anti-gay territory was a scrawl reading "traditional marriage is awesome."

According to Mr. CoKehyeng [of Carleton Students for Liberty], the four-word phrase prompted a visit from Ryan Flannagan, the university’s director of student affairs.

"He saw that it wasn't inciting hate speech at all, so he let that one slide," said Mr. CoKehyeng.

[Full Story]

Of course not. Even a university bureaucrat can see that Traditional marriage is awesome isn't hate speech, it's awesome speech. I'm all for heterosexuality, myself. Celebrate diversity!

Anyway, in contrast to Arun Smith's public temper tantrum, Carleton Students for Liberty's response was more measured and direct: they put up Free Speech Wall 2.0. Up yours, fascism.

Footnote

I should add that I have several friends who are graduates of Carleton in a variety of faculties, including journalism, history, engineering, and political science. I'm sure they find this kind of nonsense as embarrassing as I do.