Sometimes it can seem like political correctness is on a constant rise, to the detriment of free speech. It is good, then, to see freedom of speech getting a lot of media attention lately. This freedom, to express one’s thoughts without fear of the repercussions, is enshrined in our constitution, but sometimes we take it too much for granted. Many individuals are shocked to find their freedom of speech is not nearly as free as they assumed.
Freedom of speech on campus
Freedom of speech seems to be uniquely threatened on university campuses. Universities may claim to be places for open dialogue, but reality shows this is far from true. The focus instead seems to be on not hurting anyone’s feelings or making anyone uncomfortable. “Trigger warnings” and “safe zones” are new buzzwords that conveniently limit free speech on the realities of abortion, among other things. We recently shared a story where a pro-life display at Wilfrid Laurier University was attacked by opponents. This was a peaceful, calm display without any graphic imagery. The reactions to it were anything but peaceful, or even rational.
On April 18, CBC news took on the issue of freedom of speech on campus. Then, Conservative leadership candidate Andrew Scheer announced that, if elected leader, he would insist on freedom of speech at universities if they want to be able to apply for government funding. It seems students, faculty, and the public have grown tired of universities telling them what they’re allowed to talk about.
Why should we allow free speech on campus?
Lawyer John Carpay, who is representing several students fighting for their right to free speech, says it well in this quote to CBC:
“University should provide a safe space from assault, from physical harm, but not a safe space from feeling upset about ideas you disagree with,” he said. “If you’re calling for any person or group of people to be murdered or to have their houses burned down or to be robbed or assaulted, that’s already illegal criminal speech. So there’s already a healthy boundary there.”
The Criminal Code covers speech that shouldn’t be spoken. The constitution protects the freedom of all other speech, but we should never take that freedom for granted. These attacks on freedom of speech go beyond the pro-life cause, but rarely exclude it. Continue to speak up boldly and truthfully, since exercising our freedom of speech is the best way to keep it strong.