THE CANADIAN PRESS/JUSTIN TANG
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Why do we need to protect people who want to upstage or interrupt our celebrations, or other public gatherings?
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For numbers of year now, there has been a movement that seeks to "indigenize" education in Canada. This means that our institutions will have to create an appropriate curriculum for non-indigenous and indigenous educators alike to deliver to a very diverse student body. Can this be done? If so, who will get to say what is appropriate and what is appropriation?
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Our society and our universities need a renewed ethic for how we are to navigate deep social divisions with one another, including how we advocate for the protection of rights, respond to the violation of rights and how we contest the terrains of rights and our responsibilities to one another in a pluralistic society.
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What is it about hair that ruffles so many feathers? Last week, despite having been told not to do so, an Ottawa teacher chopped the hair off a child, ostensibly because the child was chewing on it. The teacher appears to have believed that somehow, he was acting in the child's best interests. Had he decided the child's identity for him? Had he decided that a child with a disability cannot make his own choices as to his appearance?
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The RCMP feels that its voice and the voices of other law enforcement agencies aren't being heard in the government's public consultation on national security, which runs online until midnight PST December 15. Could something so weighted towards police powers have truly excluded the police?
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The reality is that every single person who wants to engage in free expression on university must deal with the campus thought police, first. The Canadian Taxpayer Federation's (CTF) student initiative, Generation Screwed, which deals with government debt and fiscal issues, has had its own share of challenges.
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Freedom of speech does not only protect one's right to be offensive, it also protects individual and communities' right to express their diversity. By staging the debate, focusing on anti-trans and anti-black freedom of speech, the University of Toronto is inflaming the toxic environment its trans and racialized students are facing.
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Badawi has been languishing in a Saudi prison since his first arrest in 2012, and his subsequent sentencing in 2014 to 10 years imprisonment and 1000 lashes, itself constitutive of torture and a standing violation of international human rights law. Raif Badawi's "crime"? Establishing an online forum and exercising his right to freedom of expression.
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The past week has brought a number of important issues to the forefront -- and many revolve around athletics. So, can we talk about freedom of expression in gym class?
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As the former director of education for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, I have had to stand up for the rights of people I don't like very much, people who say and write things that I had hoped never to hear or read. But I have also taken the opportunity to let them know that, just because I will fight for their right to free expression, I have no intention of respecting what it is they say or represent. I am going to use MY free speech to let the ugly, abusive, and racist people out there know that they are wrong.
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If I were a teacher starting my career, or even in a well-established position, I would be very concerned that any publicly unpopular view I might hold could affect my employment. Even if I never chose to let my students know my views, my public political participation would be deeply chilled.
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Like it or not, Canada is a country that celebrates freedom of expression. Section 2(b) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms states that "Everyone has freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication." That "Everyone" includes people who say objectionable, false, foolish, misguided, or even ugly things.
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Being an adult, a parent, grandparent, caregiver, teacher or other adult who interacts with children is very hard work. If we are doing our job, we must tread in dangerous waters. How can we do this in a diverse and multi-layered society? Can we nurture, protect and educate children, all at the same time?
More authority and less freedom can be an attractive answer. And that's the problem. Legislation of this variety forces us to sacrifice our right to freedom of expression for the chance that some good might come of it. It's a trade off, and it's too high a price to pay, especially when there are less costly options available.