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York University - not surprising

Reader comment on item: The Rot in Our [Canadian] Universities

Submitted by Adam (Canada), Feb 16, 2003 at 12:08

Daniel,

I have attended two Canadian Universities and what happened at York University is no surprise. The Benjamin Netanyahu incident at Concordia University is shameful and in my mind demonstrates the deterioration of academic freedom. Who is taking this academic freedom - the professors? I would suggest it is a minority of students (possibly with some faculty support) whose threats of violence, actions of intimidation, and tumultuous protests only demonstrate their fear of rational argument. This has been my experience throughout academia with both extreme right and left thinkers. People with extreme ideologies are often insecure because the flaws in their logic are open sores that are easy to debunk by any rational thinker.

I disagree with your accusation concerning professors: "Academics work more insidiously [...] restricting free speech [...] punishing dissenters with poor grades, rejecting them for faculty positions ..."

Throughout my experience in Canadian universities I was never punished for purporting ideas that were unpopular with a professor. I have written papers confronting Marxist ideologies and handed these into professors that were openly socialist; I have made arguments that the cause of World War 2 was not the harshness of the Treaty of Versailles but the failure to completely extinguish German culture after allied victory... these are the types of arguments detested by many academics, yet I was never received a punitive grade. Dissenters and people with extreme views often write poor papers because of their inability to admit the weaknesses in their own position or address the strengths in the opposing position. The result is a poorly written, one-sided paper, that is filled with emotional arguments rather than logic. Maybe your experience as a professor in the United States has been different?

I am not an avid police supporter, however, Detective Hogan's warning to you was fair because free speech in Canada is more constrained than in the the United States. Yes, Hogan's warning was made in an abundance of caution, but it is likely he had never read any of your commentary. For your interest and information, I refer you to the Supreme Court of Canada decision in R v. Zundel (see link below) which outlines the law in Canada on limits to free speech.

I am disappointed that your experience at York University has left such a bad taste in your mouth. I would expect, however, equal upset at York University if an anti-Israel/Jewish speaker were to attend and speak. The problem may be rooted more in North American society than in its institutions... we are not good listeners. Canadians and Americans appear to prefer listening to their own voices. It is much easier to protest than to learn something that might cause discomfort.


Best of Luck in your future endeavours,

Adam

http://www.lexum.umontreal.ca/csc-scc/en/pub/1992/vol2/html/1992scr2_0731.html
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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Daniel Pipes replies:

Detective Hogan made clear to me that he had visited danielpipes.org and was broadly familiar with my writings. Nonetheless, he went ahead with the warning that I wrote about in http://www.danielpipes.org/article/1013.

DP

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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