Social Justice or Free Speech: Pick One

free-speech-hypocritesThe social justice movement has a long history of using bullying tactics to shut down dissenting voices. The problem with using authoritarian measures against your opponents is that it opens you up to having your tactics used against you. To then cry that your right to free speech is being trodden on, when you so willingly trod on the rights of others, is the purest hypocrisy.

In the summer, Masuma Khan, a vice-president of the Dalhousie Student Union, brought forward a motion for the DSU not to participate in Canada 150 celebrations. The motion passed and there was considerable backlash, which Khan responded to in a since-deleted Facebook post. With hashtags, she wrote “white fragility can kiss my ass. Your white tears aren’t sacred, this land is.”

She is both a fun sucker and a racist.

The university investigated following a complaint from a student and proceeded with a formal discipline process after Khan declined a proposed informal resolution — undergoing counselling and writing a reflective essay.

They offered her an easy out, but she told them to go f*ck themselves. What did she expect?

During a Dalhousie senate meeting Monday afternoon, Janice Graham, a professor in the pediatrics department, contrasted the school’s response to Khan to the 2014 dentistry scandal where male students who participated in a misogynistic Facebook page underwent restorative justice.

They accepted their punishment. I don’t recall anyone talking about their free speech rights at the time.

“It’s inexplicable for Masuma Khan to be facing the threat of double victimization by a Dalhousie disciplinary action committee, a punishment that was sidestepped by male dentistry students despite offences that made senator Khan’s excitable speech pale in comparison,” she told the meeting.

How is she a victim? She made racist comments. She had the chance to take counseling, and chose formal punishment. Claiming otherwise is virtue signalling.

Graham highlighted a double standard in the university’s approach to discipline, citing the community’s outrage in response to students, the majority of whom were white, who partied in the streets during homecoming celebrations.

No one is allowed to have fun at Dalhousie. Sad.

She said Dalhousie is failing to “respond appropriately and effectively to structural imbalances that continue to plague this university.” “We need to question an administration that seems more concerned with frat recruitment than scholarship,” she said.

How does making racist comments have anything to do with scholarship?

Graham says it is ‘inexplicable’ that Dalhousie is pursuing disciplinary action against Khan.

She asked for it by refusing to accept counseling. If a white male student had made racist tweets against Khan, would Graham condemn the university for punishing him? I doubt it.

Khan, who is a vice-president of the Dalhousie Student Union and in the school’s senate, said after her case became public last week she received death threats. Following the Canada 150 motion, she said, she received violent messages and brought them to the administration, but didn’t feel the school was taking the issue seriously enough or factoring it into the complaint against her.

Have the police investigated? If these are credible threats, then they should be. That said, they should not factor into the complaint against her. If a rapist were threatened while awaiting sentencing, you wouldn’t expect that to affect their sentence, would you?

The school has protected rape culture “over marginalized students who are here trying to decolonize this institution and to talk to each other about white supremacy and how that affects their daily lives,” she told CBC after the senate meeting.

She is hardly marginalized. She is the vice president of the student council, and had enough power to get the 150 celebration cancelled. Colonialism is in the past, and the fact that a muslim woman is a vice president of the student council makes it seem unlikely that there is any reason to be discussing white supremacy at Dalhousie.

In a statement issued Monday afternoon which she read during the meeting, Dalhousie’s vice-provost of student affairs, Arig al Shaibah, said the case is being considered due to the section of the school’s code of conduct related to “unwelcome or persistent conduct that the student knows, or ought to reasonably know, would cause another person to feel demeaned, intimidated or harassed.”

If I were at Dalhousie, I would have found her racial slur unwelcome and demeaning.

Khan’s case has prompted several letters of support from groups that say Dalhousie shouldn’t stifle or punish freedom of expression.

Did they support the dental students rights to free speech? Yet now they care about free speech and are against their own code of conduct? Hypocrits!

On Monday, a group of 25 professors from the Schulich School of Law signed a letter imploring that the university’s senate “not see its role as to police and censor the tone of our community’s political speech.

I hope the next time that a conservative is oppressed by the university, this is thrown back in their face.

“Expression which challenges majoritarian views, traditions, and practices that have caused harms to marginalized and oppressed minorities lies at the very core of Canada’s constitutional commitment to the protection of political speech,” a letter from the majority of Dalhousie’s full-time law faculty says.

Shame on them. Free speech is a universal right, not reserved for minorities. A law professor who even implies it is not should be fired. Free speech covers all speech, and is not constrained to speech which challenges the majority.

In a separate letter, the Society of Graduate Students at Western University said the “attack on academic and personal freedom at a Canadian university sets an unacceptable precedent.”

What a joke. As if this precedent had not already been set many times over as conservative students are systematically oppressed. You are fine punishing someone who says something you disagree with. Hypocrites!

The society’s executive sent a letter to students and Dalhousie president Richard Florizone saying Dalhousie’s actions were “an overreaction” and it was “shocking” that the university was taking such a different approach than it did to the dentistry scandal.

Except that they didn’t, because Khan was offered the choice of counseling and refused it.

The Ontario Civil Liberties Association asked Dalhousie to “refrain from using the blunt tool of student discipline for indoctrinating students in what to think and feel, and instead must allow open and public debate on controversial matters,” the group’s letter said.

The OCLA seems legit. I hope that they are true to their word and defend everyone’s rights.

The Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, an organization with board members from universities across Canada, wrote to Florizone asking that Dalhousie revise its code of conduct so that “no longer can be used to violate freedom of expression.”

I agree 100%, as long as it applies equally to all.

The most disturbing thing in all of this is that the majority of Dalhousie’s law department seem to believe that free speech only applies to minorities. Perhaps this wasn’t what they meant, but the quote speaks for itself. Let this be a lesson to everyone: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. As you sow, so shall you reap. I hope that the administration consistently and fairly applies their code of conduct.

About jimbelton

I'm a software developer, and a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, and I blog about movies, books, and philosophy. My interest in religious philosophy and the search for the truth inspires much of my writing.
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