Freedom of Speech Expiring in Canada

(See here) an article that appears at WorldNetDaily that reports on the squelching of freedom of speech at a Canadian institution of higher learning. Please note that the Professor is not being sanctioned for communicating a threat, but only for 1) publicizing on his website a couple letters he wrote to his former Anglican bishop and 2) stating in a private Email his opinion that homosexuality is unnatural.

Certainly any effort by the professor to threaten violence or to discriminate against any of his students because they are gay or who happen to hold a pro-homosexual viewpoint would be worthy of action by his employer. However he is being fined for only holding an opinion and communicating that opinion without communicating any threats. What is going to happen next up there in Canada? Will we see the introduction of some version of the thought police?

I would imagine the university administration feels they are defending "tolerance". However the reality of the situation is that they are proving just how intolerant they are. The administration should be more "tolerant" of those who disagree with them, at least as long as those in disagreement only involve themselves in public discourse.

I sure am glad I do not live in Canada. What our northern neighbors need is a Canadian version of the American Civil Liberties Union.


Blogger Michael said...

Sorry, but I see nothing that is wrong. A public institution like a university would almost certainly have an anti-discrimination policy, of which one part is that it protects people from discrimination due to their sexual orientation. All employees of the university would have to agree with this policy as part of the contract of their employment.

If the professor doesn't like it, then he can either resign (thus ending his contractual obligation) or keep his opinions to himself within the scope of his employment. He was fined not for his views on his website, but rather his statement in his letter to the student.

Substitute the "homosexual" context here with the emancipation of women. If the professor had strong views against women in the workplace and a woman complained against it, would it have been reasonable for the professor to claim "freedom of speech"?

You are barking up the wrong tree.

Michael Tam

7/29/2006 02:39:00 AM  
Blogger Little David said...

Well I guess America just has a more expansive definition of "Freedom of Speech" then does either Canada or apparently Australia.

For example, here in America the KKK and their extremist views are almost universally condemned. However the KKK retains the right to give voice to their viewpoint, as long as when they march they do so openly (and do not wear hoods while they march). The American Civil Liberties Union has even stepped in to protect their rights to demonstrate.

Where the line is drawn is when this freedom of expression crosses the line into discriminatory action. They can voice their opinions all they want, in an effort to convince others they are correct. (When this freedom of expression becomes a call to action towards illegal activity then this crosses the line.)

And yes, even if the professor had strong views against women in the workplace, here in America it would be reasonable for him to claim freedom of speech as long as he limited himself to speech and did not stray into discriminatory action.

I guess former members of the British Commonwealth only support freedom of speech to the point that the speech agrees with the majority viewpoint.

Since you tried to "turn the tables" on me with the women's emancipation let me counter with this. Here in America, the strong majority view is that marriage should be defined as being between one man and one woman. It is even the subject of many laws and amendments to individual state's constitutions. If the professor disagreed with this, and dared to very publicly argue that this was wrong, that homosexuals should be allowed to get married, should he be subjected to punishment? I say he shouldn't as long as he obeys the law. He can even try to argue for changing the law as long he obeys it until it is changed. Evidently this is not the way things work in Canada.

7/29/2006 07:09:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

As a generalisation, yes, former British colonies have different definitions of "freedom of speech".

Actually, the difference is not actually so great. I believe that your cherished tradition is only limited to freedom to criticise the government within public institutions. There is absolutely no guarantee of of "freedom of speech" in any private institution of private enterprise.

The actually difference is that many Commonwealth countries have explicit laws against discrimination that are in effect in both the public and private setting (especially in the employer-employee relationship) and have legislation for things like "inciting hate or racial intolerance", etc. Now whether this is good or bad is a matter of opinion.

Michael Tam

7/30/2006 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger Little David said...

Well, there is debate within America as to what the responsibilities of an employer are. I recall one instance where the debate was enjoined by this instance:

An individual with Democrat leanings snuck into a Republican campaign rally for Dubyah Bush during the most recent Presidential election cycle. The individual started to heckle Dubyah as he tried to address the gathering. As a result, his employer fired him for his "improper conduct". I do not recall if this campaign rally occured on the premises of the employer (such areas were favorite rally sites for the Dubyah campaign).

Anyway, the sides of the debate came down to this:

1: The action of the employer was discriminatory because the employer was strongly pro-Republican and was trying to punish the employee for exercising his right to Freedom of Speech.

2: The action of the employer was proper because the employees actions were disruptive and an embarassment to the employer. Further, the manner the employee used to exercise his "rights" was actually an attempt to restrict the Freedom of Speech rights of the President.

I recall the debate was dropped after a satifactory outcome was given to the employee. I am not 100% certain (my advancing age is already starting to affect my memory), but I think the employer reinstated the employee. I would imagine the employer was motivated by all the adverse publicity they were receiving.

7/30/2006 10:49:00 AM  

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