Monday, March 10, 2008

On Freedom of Speech

I post a lot on a University board known as ED Forum that is often under siege by Leftist naysayers.
The following is a reply I wrote to a fellow teacher who is concerned about the accusations of intolerance that are often used to strangle free debate.

Hi Mike

You raise pertinent issues. It seems as though there is a tendency amongst some to use the twin spears/barbs of racism and sexism to attack opinions that they disagree with (as opposed to logically dissect them – which of course is much more work). I have written about this before as I find the approach to be ultimately self-serving and counterproductive. Stifling dialogue helps nobody – which is why I am a strong opponent of hate speech legislation and other movements to curb freedom of expression.

Ed Forum is a wonderful resource in that it theoretically provides a backdrop whereby teachers, student et al. can discuss, debate, argue and exchange ideas and opinions with others. In such a sense it should further typify the open forum of old where experiences are shared and controversy analyzed.

Unfortunately like many outlets for debate in academia it is often at risk from the tyranny of censorship.
I do not wish to go into the nature of this censorship – as it is a topic for another thread – but suffice it to say its influence is pernicious.

One needs to ask the tough questions when dealing with all issues – let alone those of race, religion and sexual discrimination – if we are truly serious about addressing problems that influence the human condition.

In following this very notion – I have posted articles that some have not agreed with – not to create malice (that doesn’t achieve anything) but rather to illicit vital discussion (too often a rarity in mainstream academia). It is for this very reason that I will continue to post and I encourage you to do so as well - even if it means in your own words ‘airing dirty laundry’. Do not allow the voices of new wave McCarthyism to dent the spirit of a broader inquiry.


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