Last week, the Carleton University Students’ Association decided to de-ratify Carleton Lifeline, a student pro-life club. Good on them — Western should be doing the same.
Don’t get me wrong – for all I care, they could have been a pro-choice club. My problem is with moral and political advocacy groups on campus in general.
These groups shouldn’t even be ratified in the first place. They do nothing but harass the general population until someone agrees with them.
Now I know you are thinking — and Jesse is arguing — that this is an affront to free speech. To you I would say free speech is merely a blanket to hide under to legitimize their opinions, whether or not they made sense.
Look, I am all for healthy debate on ethical topics. It is absolutely necessary for a society to thoroughly consider both sides of the coin on any topic, no matter how taboo.
This is particularly important on a university campus where we should be enlightening ourselves on the issues of the modern world. Even offensive topics need to be discussed.
But advocacy clubs completely miss that mark. I have personally had the displeasure of talking to several students from these advocacy clubs. The majority of them have no idea what message they are trying to get across, creating a huge disservice to their own group.
The few who have some semblance of an argument go about it in the wrong way. It is entirely unnecessary to badger and yell at people until they agree with you – or at least take whatever handout you might have.
The more you succeed in disruption, the less you will succeed in finding an audience willing to listen – and the less you will accomplish. After all, annoyance is not an actual substitute for intelligent thought and reason.
It’s not that hard to be respectful in debating a subject. But until the members of these advocacy groups can figure that out, they have no place on Earth, let alone campus.
—Daniel Da Silva
Free speech is an important right, and one that I think should be defended carefully. But, as Daniel is saying, I don’t believe every group should be able to hide behind the guise of free speech.
Some of these so-called advocacy groups don’t even pretend to have an intelligible defence to the arguments they shove in our faces. Groups like these, who use shock value and intimidation in place of facts or valid points, serve no purpose but to annoy and disturb.
Mine and Mr. Da Silva’s viewpoints do diverge, however, because I think an absolute ban on every club that advocates any kind of activism, or any club that takes a stance on moral or political controversies would be an extreme action, and one that would ultimately mar a university’s integrity.
Aside from perhaps spreading hate speech and propaganda — which is a topic too complex to fully address in the small strip of space I have on this page — clubs shouldn’t be silenced based on the words they say, or the views they support.
It’s unfortunate that some groups — if not the majority of groups — whose purpose is to make some sort of political point do so in such an idiotic and disruptive way. But banning the existence of such groups would be equally idiotic.
By banning these groups, you would also ban the potential for any kind of sane discussion about the medical, social and moral repercussions of, for example, allowing or disallowing abortion.
Free speech should not be a shield for obnoxious idiocy. But free speech should not be compromised because some students feel that their points can only be made by illegally posting graphic images, or using intimidation where education would be more appropriate.
It would be nice to do away with the types of groups being discussed, but when it would mean also eliminating any group with a valid point to make — well, let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.