Alberta’s Tory government is introducing new protections for free speech on campuses, and the NDP are losing their minds over it. What should be uncontroversial in the extreme has the NDP up in arms, declaring it all a ruse to make Alberta’s universities breeding grounds for white nationalists and fascists.
Post-Secondary Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides vowed to require institutions receiving public funding (all of them do) to abide by the ‘Chicago Model,’ effectively banning universities and colleges from blocking speakers and events just because they are controversial.
Free speech means allowing everyone to have their say, including the odious types that want to say things most of us find repellant. While defenders of free speech believe that bad ideas should be exposed to sunlight to defeat them in the view of reasoned debate, the NDP and their fellow travellers believe that any ideas they deem “hateful” should be banned outright.
It shouldn’t come as any great surprise then that the NDP have blown a gasket in decrying new protections for free speech as a secret ploy to support hate speech.
NDP MLA and former Education Minister David Eggen was convinced of the hate-plot narrative. “It’s a way to pander to these activists and some hate groups the UCP was associating with and really we don’t need that kind of politics in our colleges and universities.”
Far-left blogger and NDP propagandist David Climenhaga wrote “the Chicago Statement on Free Expression [is an] an ingenious manifesto that uses “free speech” as code for the right of the privileged and powerful to shout down everyone else.”
There was a time when Western leftists used to be champions of free speech. Mostly out of power in democratic countries, they were the underdogs fighting against institutions that sought to bridle them under state restrictions on expression.
Radical ‘intersectionalist’ ideology requires today’s left to suppress all voices that they view as privileged as inherently oppressive. For them, free speech itself is a bourgeois-capitalist concept that entrenches the domination of oppressive power structures.
This thinking was used by communist regimes to suppress dissent. “The dissenters hide behind free speech to oppress the people,” so went the idea.
Executive Director of the University of Alberta’s Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services, Glynnis Lieb parroted this dangerous trope. “Freedom of speech is not equally accessible for all people. Marginalized groups don’t have the same access to freedom of speech as those who already have a lot of privilege.”
“Therefore,” the thinking goes, “we need to silence those we deem to be privileged.”
‘Privileged’ used in this neo-Marxist sense includes: white people, males, straight people, Christians, non-transgendered people, business people, etc. You can add up the categories to see what your Privilege Score is. The list can be extended to include nearly everyone, if they hold views not congruent with intersectionalist ideology.
Human Rights Commissions, campus speech codes and overzealous hate speech laws are but a few of the tools by which they use the direct power of the state to silence dissent. More dangerous however are the softer, extra-legal tools: deplatforming, demonetizing, political correctness, “milk-shaking,” and violent ANTIFA mob attacks.
Even these extra-legal means are justified by the ends of fighting fascism. “Everyone I disagree with is Hitler,” was a funny internet meme just a few years ago, poking fun at Godwin’s Law, which states that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.”
To today’s intersectionalist left, everyone that does not toe the line is a fascist of some variety. They must regularly invent new terms and overbroadly apply them: neo-con, white nationalist, alt-right, etc. They apply these terms to even the most milktoast of conservatives.
Justin Trudeau regularly accuses Andrew Scheer of harbouring these fascist bugaboos.
And who’s against fighting Nazi’s? If everyone to the right of Trudeau is a crypto-fascist, aren’t we justified in silencing them? Even attacking them before the next Reichstag fire?
Once the bastion of the old-left’s fight for free-speech, campuses have now become some of the most restrictive and hostile environments to free thought in the Western world.
Controversial speakers are lucky to be merely shouted down and have the fire alarm pulled. Less fortunate are those physically attacked, while university administrations turn a blind eye.
When The Rebel’s Sheila Gunn Reid was physically attacked by a brave male feminist for filming the 2017 Women’s March, there wasn’t a peep from the NDP and their allies.
The left’s stranglehold over modern Western culture gives them the upper hand in being the self-appointed censors over expression, for now. If one day they find themselves on the outside looking in, it’s likely that they will have a change of heart.
The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.