At the age of 20 — the same age that I am now, my father stood in Tiananmen Square unarmed with over a million other university students ready to face the gunfire of the Chinese army.
They risked everything fighting for the fundamental rights denied to them by the Communist government. I grew up with the pictures and stories of university students like ourselves rallying together behind one call to action. Their faces filled with hope as they stood in the joint symbolic shadows of the monument to the people’s heroes and the statue of democracy.
The stand they made on June 4, 1989 is forever engrained into history, they became global symbols of free speech and democracy because the threat they were fighting against was legitimate, it was powerful and above all else it was oppressive. The government they resisted had the intention of limiting the rights of everyone especially those of marginalized groups.
However, it seems today that the motives and symbols of the free speech movement have changed, and not for the better. We used to hold up the unknown protester as the symbol for the fight against tyranny, but instead today protesters are dismissed as SJWs, and those who hold power are praised as champions of freedom for attacking those who are most vulnerable.
The biggest threat to freedom of speech is not as some would claim the so called “policing of language,” but rather the denial of marginalized communities the platforms to practise the freedoms and protections that they should be guaranteed. Never in history, has an instance of social and political oppression arose because of protecting and uplifting a marginalized group.
For it seems today that those who cry the loudest about being oppressed are the very ones denying the legitimacy or even existence of the groups which they insult. There needs to be an understanding that to receive backlash and refutation from those who don’t agree with you is not the same as having your freedom of speech taken away.
Make no mistake, we do have an obligation to respect everyone’s right to have an opinion, but we hold no obligation to respect the opinion itself. To protest Jordan Peterson is not the same as silencing Jordan Peterson, you cannot draw a parallel between state sponsored policing of thought and the right for free citizens to protest ideologies they disagree with.
Jordan Peterson is not set to come for another week, but it’s evident that he has already caused fractions within the student body. We cannot separate his fight for freedom of speech from what he wants to use that freedom for; to hold up his so-called fight for freedom is to also hold up his blatant transphobia. It is important to fight to protect our freedoms, but no freedom is absolute if it is not enjoyed by everyone.
— Frank Ye, Medical Sciences II