Category Archives: Free Speech

Dog Days of Summer

My friends back East are gently broiling in temperatures not seen since my 94 year old mother was a girl. No AC then, but no idiots or Liberals telling you that the heat was caused by CO2. Judging from the ever reliable Twitter just about no one is actually buying that nonsense.

Twitter is covering itself in glory on other fronts. Having banned Megan Murphy for daring to report on the chap who wants his testicles waxed and is taking any number of waxing providers to BC’s Human Rights Commission in a transparent shakedown, Twitter has now banned Lindsay Shepherd for discussing Yaniv’s junk. [I note for the record that Yaniv, in full drag, has one of the most punchable fat faces I have ever seen. And, as I am quite certain he is not in the least bit genuine, I am certainly not going to use his appropriated pronouns.] Sheperd’s banning and the lifting of a publication ban on Mr. Yaniv has led all sorts of significant platforms to investigate Mr. Yaniv and to discover that he might not be a super great guy. Apparently, he has a rather greater than normal interest in how very young girls handle menstruation. Nice work Twitter.

Then, in the last few days, Twitter has been playing silly buggers with the hashtag, “TrudeauMustGo”. It was trending, then it wasn’t, then some dimwitted Liberals and CTV decided that it was being promoted by “bots”, then it came back to trending and now, last time I looked, it’s gone.

And, just because it can, Twitter floated the idea that it might be a good idea, in Canada, to allow people to remove replies to their tweets. The replies would not be deleted. They would simply not be visible on the same page as the tweet itself. Twitter got ratioed hard on this looney idea. My own sense is that this came up because poor Cathy McKenna is butt hurt that her prodigious climate change bad, carbon tax good Twitter output attracts nothing but negative, fact-based, replies. As Climate Barbie has announced she has no time for political adversaries who deny climate change is real, eliminating replies to her fact-free tweets would free up a lot of staff time.

Possibly the best news Andrew Scheer has had in some time is that the “Brain of Justin” and Twitter hate monger, Gerry Butts is back (assuming he ever left) advising youngish Mr. Trudeau. The Libs had made a good deal of progress in burying the SNC Lavalin interference with justice scandal. Now Justin has brought back Butts who is on record as saying, and I will provide full context,

“When Butts and Telford suggested seeking legal advice to review the SNC-Lavalin decision, Prince told them it would inappropriately interfering in the decision. “Jess, there is no solution here that doesn’t involve some interference,” Butts told her, according to text message transcripts from Wilson-Raybould.” national post

If we had an independent media in Canada, that quote would be hung around Justin’s neck from now until a) the election, b) Butts leaves any position, formal or informal, of influence. Unfortunately, as Andrew Coyne (quite clever except about Trump when derangement makes an ugly appearance) points out, we no longer have an independent media. We have a media which is looking desperately to be bailed out by the Federal Government. And the legacy media is intent on excluding dreadful upstarts like Rebel Media or the Post Millennial so an “independent panel of experts” is setting the criteria for “what sorts of publications should be accredited as Qualified Canadian Journalism Organizations” and what, exactly, a journalist is. (Extra points if you are in JT’s Chief of Staff, Katie Telford’s Op-Ed go to Rolodex.)

$600 million for legacy media and $1.2 billion for the CBC and, I suspect, the Libs will think they have pretty much sewn up positive media coverage for Justin. If only. Here is a little experiment: take a stroll through a shopping district or mall (thank you air conditioning) and look at people having coffee. Are any of them reading newspapers. The old style, printed on paper, newspapers? If so, is that person over or under the age of, say, forty? Let me know if you spot one. Most of us get our news from the internet. We might read the National Post online, but we will also have the opportunity to read The Rebel, Post Millennial, Spencer Fernando, Blazing Catfur and CEO.CA and literally thousands of other outlets.

Legacy media may limp along for another few years but, to quote Coyne,

For an industry whose chief shortage is less cash than credibility, this is a dire turn. The mere prospect of government funding has already opened us to accusations, on any occasion we are less than critical of the government, of singing for our supper. And not entirely without cause: whatever our claim to impartiality in other matters, there is no doubting our views on the supper. national post

With the arrival of federal government subsidies the legacy media will become even more identified with the interests of the Liberal Party (if that is possible) and even less reliable. It’s ability to decide what is and is not news, already under attack will be destroyed. After all, when the “gatekeepers” are paid by the Federal Government it is reasonable to suppose that they take dictation from Katie Telford and the PMO. Not all the time and not all that directly, but Certified Canadian Journalists are bright enough to know who is buttering their toast.

So are we.

 

 

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The Things You Cannot Say…

Twitter kicked Meghan Murphy off the platform and she’s pissed.

“On November 15th, my account was locked again. This time, I was told I must delete a tweet from October, saying, “Women aren’t men,” and another, asking, “How are transwomen not men? What is the difference between a man and a transwoman?”

After dutifully deleting the tweets in question in order to gain access to my account again, I tweeted, angrily, “This is fucking bullshit, @twitter. I’m not allowed to say that men aren’t women or ask questions about the notion of transgenderism at all anymore? That a multi-billion dollar company is censoring basic facts and silencing people who ask questions about this dogma is insane.” This tweet went viral, racking up 20,000 likes before Twitter locked my account again on Monday morning, demanding I delete it. This time they offered no explanation at all — not even a vague accusation of “hateful conduct.” (feminist current)

Ms. Murphy touched the dreaded third rail. She suggested that women are women and if you are a man in a dress, well, you aren’t.

The SJWs at Twitter were having none of that and Ms. Murphy was kicked to the tall grass.

As she flew through the air it occurred to Ms. Murphy that, perhaps, this censorship was a bug, not a feature of left-wing identity politics.

“While the left continues to vilify me, and liberal and mainstream media continue to mostly ignore feminist analysis of gender identity, people like Dave Rubin and Ben Shapiro (and hundreds of right wingers and free speech advocates online), and right wing media outlets like the Daily Wire and The Blaze have either attempted to speak with me and understand my perspective, expressed support, or covered this undeniably ridiculous decision on the part of Twitter.” (feminist current)

When my pal Dr. Dawg, he of impecable lefty credentials, left Twitter voluntarily, he did so because of a similar crisis of identity politics. Either you are with us or you’re a fascist howled the Twitter brigades.

The SJW idea seems to be that self-identification trumps all and if you disagree, well, yer’a Nazi and you have no right to speak.

Saves a lot of thinking time.

Reasonable people can manage to hold somewhat contradictory ideas all at the same time. On the one hand a person self identifies as being of the opposite gender, on the other, that does not make him a woman or vice versa.

I might, simply to save on smokes, self identify as a First Nations person. It would be incredibly disrespectful but, on the SJW logic, my choice has to be respected in the face of all evidence to the contrary. My total lack of recognition by any First Nation should not matter.

It is possible, after a long journey and with a little luck, I might be “adopted” into a First Nations family and, with a ton of effort on my part, I might, maybe, be accepted as something of an adopted member of a particular First Nation. But I doubt it. Which is exactly right.

The complications of Canadian author Joseph Boyden’s claim of First Nation’s, what? Heritage? Ancestory? suggest that assertions of First Nations identity are, rightly, treated with a degree of scepticism by the First Nations themselves. (Great, long, article in the Globe and Mail on Boyden.)

Is it wrong to treat a man’s claim to womanhood or a woman’s claim to manhood with the same scepticism?

While it might be polite to respect a person’s choice in pronouns, it might be a slightly bigger deal to respect their choice in bathrooms and a very big deal indeed to accept their claims to the experience of growing up female or male. “I always knew I was a woman.” is not actually the same experience as “I grew up female.”

It is always fun to watch a lefty realize that conformity of opinion is a requirement, not an option, on the more radical fringes of the left. As Lindsay Shepherd discovered, even suggesting that people analyze “the other side” is enough to have you dragged in front of what amount to heresy tribunals. And the only people who supported her were us crazed, right wing, free speech advocates.

Ms. Murphy has, I suspect, made her career. Two weeks ago no one had heard of her or Feminist Current the webzine she edits, today she was invited onto the Dave Rubin Show and quasi-Con Ben Shapiro has a crush.

Most importantly, Ms. Murphy has, as the expression goes, spoken truth to power and been kicked in the teeth for her trouble. She seems very smart, a good writer and more than capable of connecting the proverbial dots.

 

 

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Voice Suppression

free speech, walled gardenOn this holiday Monday I was lolling around in bed flipping through websites on my phone.

Over at Drudge I came across the fact that Apple and Facebook had taken down pages and podcasts from Alex Jones on the basis that they constituted “hate speech”. Apple’s spokesperson said,

“Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users.”

Facebook was a bit more specific, the pages were removed “for glorifying violence, which violates our graphic violence policy, and using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants, which violates our hate speech policies.”

I have no interest in Alex Jones per se – my own sense has always been that he was crazy rather than dangerous – but I was interested in Apple and Facebook both denying him access to their platforms. Something which, as private companies, they are entitled to do.

I then had the interesting experience of watching the brownshirts of the liberal left engage in the silencing – in a very noisy way – of a young black woman.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

These children were not really protesting what Miss Owens was saying so much as her mere existence as a young, female, black, conservative.

The idea of silencing people you disagree with rather than actually engaging with them and debating the points they raise is gaining traction on the left because, in the face of Trump, they have really run out of arguments which hold any appeal for the broader public. Yelling, blowing whistles, banning and mobbing opponents are all tactics suggesting desperation.

And no one is more desperate than the dwindling, ragtag army of global warming/climate change believers. Concern about climate change is fading fast in the US (and, more slowly in the rest of the world) and those pesky, heretical, skeptics seem to have begun winning the policy debate. So, what to do?

Media Matters knows: “Zuckerberg has expressed concern about climate change, arguing last year that the U.S. should not pull out of the Paris climate agreement and noting that rising temperatures are melting the glaciers at Glacier National Park.

But he is not using the immense power of his platform to halt misinformation about climate change. To the contrary, Facebook is enabling and disseminating climate denial on multiple fronts. In addition to the problems outlined above, the platform helps bogus climate stories to spread — like a hugely popular climate-denial storyfrom YourNewsWire, a fake news site that Facebook refuses to ban even though fact-checkers have debunked its stories at least 80 times. And one of Facebook’s most high-profile scandals involved handing user data over to Cambridge Analytica, a shady political consultancy that has close ties to fossil fuel companies and climate deniers.”

For outfits like Media Matters yelling at Facebook to ban opinion they do not like is a very effective strategy. They are taking the street tactics of the little Antifa brownshirts and aiming to silence dissent. They are well aware that the climate scare message is floundering largely because alternative perspectives are being offered. Rather than trying to address those alternative perspectives, leaning on Facebook or Twitter or YouTube to have those perspectives silenced is an effective strategy.

It worked with Alex Jones so why won’t it work along other vectors of wrong think?

The power of entities like Facebook and Twitter and YouTube rests on their capacity to deliver audiences to content. Unfortunately, any number of content providers have succumbed to the temptation of larger audiences and have started publishing their content directly on these platforms. Which, of course, means accepting the Terms and Conditions these private companies impose. And if these Terms and Conditions are interpreted to exclude particular points of view, well, tough nuggies.

A more robust – and realistic – approach is to publish content on websites which you actually can control and relegate FB and Twitter to their proper place as publicity machines for your content. It is not, of course, a perfect solution – after all, ISPs and my pals at WordPress have their own Terms and Conditions – but it takes away a good deal of the power Facebook, in particular, has accumulated over public discourse.

I suspect, over time, FaceBook will go the way of MySpace and cease to have much of a role in the public square. Were it not for Trump, Twitter would already be on the downslope of public popularity. However, the promise of the internet in allowing dissident voices to be heard, can be destroyed if those voices voluntarily walk into the walled gardens of Facebook or Twitter or Apple. The good news is that there is nothing which compels anyone to stay inside Facebook’s walls.

Time to #Walkaway.

 

 

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#FREETOMMY

Everywhere I hear the sound of marching, charging feet, boy
‘Cause summer’s here and the time is right for fighting in the street, boy
Well what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock ‘n’ roll band
‘Cause in sleepy London town
There’s just no place for a street fighting man
No
Hey! Think the time is right for a palace revolution
‘Cause where I live the game to play is compromise solution
Well, then what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock ‘n’ roll band
‘Cause in sleepy London town
There’s just no place for a street fighting man
No
Hey! Said my name is called disturbance
I’ll shout and scream, I’ll kill the king, I’ll rail at all his servants
Well, what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock ‘n’ roll band
‘Cause in sleepy London town
There’s just no place for a street fighting man
No
Songwriters: Keith Richards / Mick Jagger
Street Fightin’ Man lyrics © Abkco Music, Inc

I am not a particular fan of Tommy Robinson. But his lightening arrest, trial and sentencing may serve the larger purpose of putting people in the streets in support of free speech.

5000 in London is not a lot. But it may be enough to bring the Football Lads Alliance (and here is the Vice article) into the street and then the outrage at Robinson’s railroading to prison will have some legs. As will the outrage at the publication ban which a) has cowed the British Press, b) created an international Streisand effect with everyone, including Donald Trump Jr, commenting, c) demonstrated just how lame Facebook and Twitter really are (#FreeTommy should be trending hard…instead it is nowhere).

To date, the regular Brits have pretty much shut up and hoped for the best. Jailing Robinson for essentially standing in front of a Courthouse and then putting up a suppression order to prevent any comment may be the step too far which brings those regular Brits into the streets.

 

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We Saw What You Did There

rebel media, ezra levant

As my readers know I have very little time for Ezra Levant and RebelMedia. However, the SJW bullies are now well offside.

From the remarkably self-rightous Independent:

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has bowed to pressure and cancelled a booking for a “neo-nazi” conference which was set to take place on one of its ships.

Rebel Media, a far-right group based in Canada, had planned to hold a week-long meeting on-board a NCL Caribbean Cruise. The trip was scheduled to leave in November from Miami and would take in Honduras, Belize, and Mexico. link

The quotes around “neo-nazi” don’t disguise the move. It is a move we are seeing a lot of recently.

Step 1: Ask if a person or organization was on the “right” side on something like Charlottesville. The right side here being unwavering support for the people who “opposed” the Nazis/KKKers/white supremacists who were, if you are woke, the only people who were demonstrating for the retention of the Robert E. Lee statue.

Step 2: If there is a hint, an inkling, of anything less than full Maoist denunciation of the obviously evil alt-right creeps, take that as an indication of support for Nazis. (Same applies to any less than full support for the antifa thugs confronting the alt-right creeps.)

Step 3: Where Step 2 has been successful, you are now able to call the person or organization “Nazi supporters” or “neo-Nazis” and then, and here is where the brilliance of the manoeuvre becomes apparent, you can then ask decent people – such as Norwegian Cruise Lines – if they want to be associated with Nazis, neo or otherwise.

It is a page right out of the Joe McCarthy playbook. Take a lie, turn it into a smear, spread it around.

Is Ez a Nazi? Hardly. Is RebelMedia “neo-Nazi” and is it correct to characterize any conference or cruise put on by RebelMedia as “neo-Nazi”. No and no. And is it correct to repeat the libel as Warren “Lying Jackal” Kinsella did this morning?  Frankly, calling a news organization “neo-Nazi”is libelous on its face. Ez has been known to be a bit trigger happy on the litigation front but filing in Ontario and in London might sober the smearers up a bit.

I suspect RebelMedia is going down in any event largely because it has been seduced into pushing right wing causes of the moment rather than building a solid reportorial reputation. Ez seems to think that, having got his name in the news with an epic rant what is required are epic rants on every topic which pops up on the right wing radar. Combine that with endless fundraising and you will begin to lose the audience you have worked hard to build.

But RebelMedia should not go down as the result of a nasty, fascistic, smear campaign.

Update: It may, however, go down if anything in this video is true.

Upper Date: Which, Ez says is not true and simply an attempt at extortion.

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Sheep from goats

The mayhem in Charlottesville was pretty much locked in when the Swastika was unfurled and neo-Nazi chants about Jews filled the air. The antifa people are usually exaggerating when they go on about how nationalist=white supremacist=Nazi, but in Charlottesville that reasoning was not wrong.

Here’s the thing: if Nazis, real live Jew hating Nazis, join your protest and you let them, their stench will infect everything you do. Over on the left people are at pains to distance themselves from BlackBloc whack jobs. The right needs to do the same thing with Nazis.

This is not a question of free speech or free association: the Nazis have a perfect right to both; rather it is a question of whether of not the resurgent right wants to accept Nazis tagging along for the ride. If the right and alt-right people are OK with Nazis in their midst then they will simply lose the vast majority of their supporters. However, if they make it very clear that Nazis are unwelcome they can carry on an build support. And by “making it clear” I mean to the point that Nazis at right wing gatherings are more likely to be punched by alt-right people than antifa.

If the Nazis want to organize their own demos they can go right ahead; but the serious right need to make sure that there is no place for Nazis on the right side of the aisle.

(And, just to avoid confusion, America’s own KKK needs to be bunged in the same barrel as Nazis.)

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Scalps

Hal Niedzviecki was forced out of his editorship of an obscure magazine published by the Writers’ Union of Canada for daring to suggest that writers should try to get out of their identity silos and use the voices of “others”. Apparently, this offended the Writers Union and its “Equity Task Force” and Niedzviecki was forced to resign.

A number of brave souls in Canadian media stepped up and said Neidzviecki had a point and was a victim of political correctness run wild. On Friday, the Walrus’s editor in chief, Jonathan Kay wrote an article for the National Post in which he said,

Personally, I land on the side of free speech: I’m fearful that, as at many points in history, small acts of well-intentioned censorship will expand into a full-fledged speech code that prohibits whole categories of art and discourse. national post 

He went on to conclude,

What I don’t find helpful is the reflexive instinct to shame those with whom we disagree—the kind on display at TWUC this week. Indeed, it is these mobbings that encourage the idea that free speech is under siege from a systematic program of left wing censorship. On both sides, it is fear and suspicion that is driving the social media rage. And as of this writing, there’s no sign it will dissipate soon. national post

Today Kay resigned as the editor in chief of The Walrus.

Niedzviecki was entirely right in his initial article. White people should be encouraged to write about non-white people, women about men, blacks about Asians and gays about straights; otherwise we’ll have a sterile, politically correct, literature in which the only characters in a novel will be from the “community” (however defined) of the author.

Kay was entirely right in standing up against lefty cultural pogroms.

Where both were wrong was in capitulating to the cultural fascists without a fight. The Twitter mobs are nasty but they are relatively powerless unless a target is willing to give them power. Niedzviecki was pushed out the door by his employer but, realistically, other than a craven apology for “glibness and insensitivity” Niedzviecki barely fought at all. Kay’s meager defences were apparently overwhelmed in less than twenty-four hours and he scuttled off to a baseball game with his phone off to escape the baying hordes.

Free speech and freedom of cultural expression in all its forms are won by people willing to fight back. People who actually believe in their positions and are willing to fight their corners. Niedzviecki was beginning to gain support for his liberal view of how writers should approach the world. Sure he was being howled down by lefty illiterates on Twitter. So what? The Twitter mobs of SJWs live to howl and denounce and yell about their sensitivities. The cultural cringers at the Writer’s Union would have fired Niedzviecki in any event, but rather than apologize, he should have published a really fierce piece defending his position and calling out the censors of the identity left.

Kay, having adopted a strong, liberal, free speech position should have stuck to his guns. If The Walrus wanted to fire him, fine. But surrendering before an actual shot had been fired is just sad.

The only way to stop the SJW barbarians is to shoot back. Make it tough, if not impossible, for them to impose cultural tyranny. Surrender only leads to more demands, more censorship, more badly grounded claims of moral superiority. Surrender narrows the discussion and the boundaries of what may be discussed.

The only silver lining to Niedzviecki and Kay’s failure to fight back is that their cowardice in the face of the viciousness of their detractors shows just what liberal, free speech, supporters are up against. Kay, in particular, has access to major media, friends in government and the academy (not to mention the PMO) and has demonstrated a willingness to suck up to the PC SJWs on issues like “climate change”. If these cultural fascists can “get” him it is a huge warning to the rest of us.

 

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Betrayed: Stephen Harper’s war on principled conservatism – A Review

51i7c9ikkIL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_Various people have asked me why I will not vote for Stephen Harper and the Conservatives in this election. While the Cons’ failure to seriously tackle the deficit, reduce the size of government and begin to dismantle the Liberal state are all good reasons, I probably would hold my nose one more time if it were not for one, fundamental fact: C-51. And I might have even given Harper a pass on C-51 if I didn’t know the Conservative record on free speech, the perversion of the Human Rights Commission and the legal thuggery which attended it.

Connie Fournier and her husband Mark are not going to be voting for the Harper Conservatives either: Connie has detailed her reasons in Betrayed: Stephen Harper’s war on principled conservatism.

Full disclosure: I’ve met Connie and Mark once and I provided an affidavit in their defence when Dr. Dawg sued them for libel (a case which they won at great personal expense). Connie and I chat on Google and, in so far as it is possible to have friends you only chat with on the internet, I’d like to think Connie is one of mine.

The Fourniers are ordinary, middle class Canadians – Mark drives long haul trucks, Connie was a homeschooling stay-at-home mum – who were politically involved as far back as the Canadian Alliance. They started a website called Free Dominion in 2001 where conservatives of various sorts could post topics and comments and have a good time arguing among themselves. Continue reading

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Academic Matters

Screen-Shot-2013-11-26-at-11.34.40-AMNotes Re Coming Academic Year
From: Dean of Arts
To: Faculty
Dear Colleagues,

I hope you are enjoying your well earned summer vacation. I know I am. However, a number of issues have arisen which I feel I must bring to your attention.

1. Marking: Many of you are still clinging to the outmoded idea that marks are designed to measure absolute progress in a subject. You are insisting upon received grammar and spelling in essays. You are setting exams and papers which, in themselves, are triggering events causing significant anxiety. Worse, you are not taking into account the often heart rending oppression narratives which many of your students bring to class. Stop it.
2. Subject matter: It is not enough to include writers and topics from outside the tragically exclusionary Western Cannon. The fact is that even a reference to Shakespeare will trigger feelings of anxiety, worthlessness, racial othering, religious persecution and, of course, sexual confusion. Just stop it. The same with references to the Bible, Plato, Milton, any so called Saint, Mark Twain or that Moby D*** fellow with the harpoon obsession. Each of these references will only serve to underscore the possible ignorance of your students which, rather obviously, will make them feel anxious, disrespected and unsafe. Best not to mention any of it.
3. Women: This is a minefield. First off, for those of you who are cis male and not queer, women should not be discussed in any context whatsoever. Just stop it. You have nothing to say about women’s experience. The same goes for “cis female not queer” instructors as the gender identification of women in the past is a contested subject and you have nothing to say about lesbian/bi or “just a little confused” womens’ experience. While the rules, perhaps, should be different for instructors coming to women from a queer perspective, there are too many potential triggers for this to be a truly safe topic. There really is no right answer as to why Vita was asked to take off her earings. (Or, for that matter, why queer men liked first Berlin and then Tangier.) So stop it. By the same token, POC instructors are advised to a) avoid discussions of non-POC women except in the context of oppression studies and there only for purposes of illustrating relative levels of oppression, b) wondering if Vita would have taken her earings off had her paramour been black and the marks wouldn’t have shown quite so much on those dusky thighs.
4. Islam: Are you joking? There are no circumstances whatsoever in which Islam is a proper topic for classroom discussion. The danger of unsafe speech from Zionist oppressors or even well meaning, but white privileged, students is far too great. This is particularly true where the instructor is Jewish, queer or female. Just stop it.
5. Science: As we know “science” is the socially constructed study of natural phenomena which has advanced from first principles all of which were created by cis male, usually straight, often Jewish, so called scientists. There is math. It has no place in a safe, inclusive ARTS faculty. However, by all means discuss global warming as it is well understood to be science free.

6. Race: Pretty much the live hand grenade of the Arts Faculty. Say anything and it explodes with unknowable consequences. Even a supportive statement such as “slavery is wrong” can lead to disastrous conversations about Black African complicity in the trade and the continuing Islamic acceptance of slavery. Plus, and this is an acute problem, Chinese and South Asian students, dealing with our university’s current admission policies, may take strong exception to remarks vis a vis affirmative action or diversity. Just don’t go there.
7. Logic/Argument/Reason: Mansplaining at its heteronormative worst. It is pretty clear that argument, both verbal and written privileges middle class, usually white, usually male, left brain dominant, testosterone charged, individuals. By prioritizing thinking over feeling, requiring reason means an instructor risks making women, minorities and queer students feel unsafe with the feelings they often use in discourse rather than accepting the oppressor’s terms of exchange. Stay away.
8. Economics: At one point it was safe within undergraduate Arts Faculties to discuss and even teach Economics. Between Marx and Keynes undergraduates (and there is a word which needs rethinking) could learn to structure arguments in favour of social justice. However, recent advances in correct thinking underscore the fact that even Marx and Keynes are rooted in a form of logic and Keynes, it turns out, had some math in several of his books. (Plus, Keynes was a queer traitor happily marrying a ballerina of all things.) While it is certainly acceptable, indeed practically obligatory, to teach inequality theory you are on safe ground there as, like global warming, it is theory untainted by actual economics.
9. History: Whose history? Here again what had been a safe, non-controversial subject in which white imperialists committing genocide in the name of Christ provided the oppression narrative for many of our Aboriginal and POC peoples. However, a huge new danger of anxiety and triggers (and possible in class beheadings) has arisen. Until very recently the understanding of the historical facts surrounding the spread of Islam was confined to a tiny, dry, silent, scorned, academic anti-elite. With the rise of ISIS, popular attention has been drawn to this area to the shock and, of course, anxiety of Islamic students and their allies. Don’t go there.
10. Political Science: Not at all safe. There are two big dangers – individual rights and democracy. Individual rights looked good in the 60s and 70’s but more up to date thinkers realize that the very idea of an individual right as opposed to collective rights will always privilege dominant, cis male, heteronormative, white people at the expense of “the Other”. Democracy, the idea of giving the already privileged the right to vote to keep their privilege is, of course, the ultimate tool of oppression. Rights talk and democracy cannot help but create anxiety and a sense of unsafeness for anyone not a member of the privileged group. Worse, any conversation about rights and democracy by definition is an insult to Islam and we know what can happen with that.
I am sure that I have left a few things out and I humbly beg your pardon if I have in any way offended you by my errors or omissions.
Now I know a few of you will be wondering, in light of the list above and its implications, what will be safe to teach in the coming semester? Well, there is always global warming. And you can can teach inequality theory provided you don’t use any math or those curvy things economics professors draw on blackboard. But mainly, no matter what the subject, it is best to listen to your co-learners. Make sure you structure any written work or class discussion to be inclusive. Avoid assigning readings as this will privilege the cis literate.
Remember, our Faculty is committed to respectful, safe and inclusive learning.
Have a great summer…see you in September.

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Law Marches On

Madame Justice Heidi Polowin has rendered her decision in Baglow v. Smith et al (Free Dominion) .

It is a long, closely argued, decision – 62 pages – ending in a win for Free Dominion on fair comment grounds. I suspect it will join Grant as one of the critical decisions advancing Canadian defamation law into the post Charter, internet age.

I want to read it at leisure but two things are striking: first, the judge has decided that each side shall bear its own costs – which mean Connie and Mark still need your donations. Second, and I have not seen this in a decision that I can recall, Polowin, J. ends her judgement with these words:

“Finally, I thank all involved for their assistance and thoughtful submissions.”

Connie, Mark, Roger Smith and Dr. Dawg should never have let this matter get to Court. But it did and as a result, and at great cost to all of the parties, we now have a roadmap for online conduct. The defence of fair comment has been slightly extended and the question of “context” driving the meaning of particular words considered.

I am delighted that Free Dominion won and the win was well deserved. But it was a damned close run thing.

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