Freedom Of Speech Will Win

Charles Moore, Daily News (Halifax), March 6, 2007

Jared Taylor is coming back to Halifax tomorrow. Taylor, you may recall, is the controversial American magazine publisher who in January was prevented from delivering a speech at the Lord Nelson Hotel by a mob of 20 or 30 masked and hooded leftist thugs—several of whom physically assaulted him, dragging him bodily from the room.

To recap: Taylor, a Yale-educated journalist who advocates racial separatism, was initially invited last November to debate David Divine, Dalhousie university’s chair of Black Canadian Studies, on Jan. 15 on whether racial diversity is a societal strength or a weakness.

However, Dalhousie got a case of political-correctness cold feet and cancelled the event, announcing that Divine would, instead, deliver a speech on the topic unilaterally.

As Taylor puts it: “Prof. Divine said that as part of his monologue, he would be kind enough to summarize my views for the audience—and then explain why they are wrong. How he proposed to summarize my views without hearing them is a mystery to me, but that makes his job a bit easier, doesn’t it? Rather than face a real opponent, he wanted to set up a straw man to knock down . . .”

Taylor came to Halifax anyway. He booked (at his own expense) a conference room at the Lord Nelson, where he intended to deliver his half of the aborted presentation in reply to Divine’s soliloquy. But the self-appointed speech militia intervened.

Ugly stain

By Taylor’s published account, the demonstrators “filed into the room, and began shouting and beating on pots and pans. This went on for perhaps 20 minutes until a group of perhaps six men surrounded Taylor at the podium and, linking arms, forced him from the room. Demonstrators also destroyed copies of American Renaissance (Taylor’s magazine) that Taylor had prepared for distribution.”

That incident put an ugly stain on Halifax’s reputation. It is not the sort of publicity Nova Scotia needs as we struggle to woo back declining U.S. tourism.

While people have the right to protest, with or without silly masks, that right only applies if it’s conducted in a peaceful and civilized manner—not with intent to chill or muzzle others’ freedom of speech and expression. Not only did Taylor’s free-speech rights get trampled underfoot in January, but also the right of others to hear and evaluate his contentions and draw their own conclusions.

This time, Taylor is scheduled to square off with Saint Mary’s University philosophy professor Peter March at Saint Mary’s University tomorrow. SMU’s brass, apparently almost as gutless as the wimps at Dal, has issued a statement disavowing sponsorship of the event. But back-handed credit is due for their permitting it to proceed, albeit as March’s show.

Reportedly, March and/or Taylor will pony up $1,200 to beef up security with four police officers, who will search attendees for weapons and not allow persons wearing masks to enter.

Several years ago, I participated in some friendly cross-column debates with March on the pages of this newspaper. Tomorrow, I will be rooting enthusiastically for March, who will argue that “racial diversity,” so-called, is a sham construct, since we human beings all belong to the human race. This concisely approximates my views on the matter.

I hope March kicks Taylor’s butt—figuratively speaking.

And, if the debate proceeds without interference by the wannabe totalitarian thought police, I will be especially cheering the victory for free speech and free expression of ideas.

Shame

Shame on Dalhousie and Divine for cancelling the original debate, and a big raspberry to their counterparts at SMU for so preciously washing their hands of the sequel.

What happened to the noble concept of the university as a forum for free discussion of ideas—including ones that some, or even most of us, find obnoxious? Shame, indeed.

Maybe lefty ideologues sincerely believe society would be better off if those who hold ideas they consider incorrect or hurtful could be silenced and punished. But even masquerading as humanitarianism, speech-censorship amounts to intellectual tyranny and the spirit of the Inquisition.

Are we to cede a gatekeeping role to left-wing political cleansing squads to decide who will, or will not, be heard?

Functional free speech encompasses the concept of “productive conflict”—freedom for politically correct lefties and racial separatists alike to advocate their respectively poisonous doctrines, and freedom for me to rebut them both.

Bravo to Peter March for standing up unilaterally to defend these principles on Halifax’s behalf.

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