Re: Free speech is under assault on North American campuses 

In response to a letter published in the Gazette containing such phrases as "crying social justice warriors" and the mocking of "trigger warnings," I would like to offer a public rebuttal and refute the disgusting rhetoric published in the pages of the Gazette.

Before I do so, I would like to make my intent with this letter very clear: I am disavowing the previous letter and its content, not advocating for the censorship of Jordan Peterson. I wish to debate with him as I fundamentally disagree with his perspective, but will not advocate to censor him nor do I believe that doing so would benefit my beliefs.

The Gazette is a place for student voice and student engagement, but it is also an official newspaper of an institution of higher education. It must be held to certain standards of journalism, regardless of the opinions highlighted in its pieces, lest it become nothing more than a YouTube comments section.

The piece penned by first-year student Dean Barlett is one such example of the degradation of this public medium in the pursuit of a personal agenda. This speech, while disgusting, has a place within public discourse — to be discussed and, if necessary, shamed and affirmed that it is wrong, but not to be censored.

Healthy, coherent debate is what is necessary in this public forum, especially regarding issues such as the ones raised by having Peterson speak. I disagree with Peterson’s message and ideology, but wish to respectfully refute his statements using logic and fact — not by calling him childish names and stomping my feet on the ground because others disagree with me.

When we legitimize such crude attacks in such a public forum without proper refutation, as the Gazette is on this campus, we embolden worse and worse hatred to occur on campus. An anti-Semitic letter was sent around campus earlier this year — I would argue that the rise of hatred, in that form anti-Semitism, is directly linked to the legitimization of hatred through giving it such a platform in public space without the proper notation that such speech is inherently hatful and emboldening of extremist views. This then delegitimizes the conversation, as such condescension and hate are abhorrent.  

I disagree immensely with the publishing of such a piece in the intent of journalistic integrity, however I understand the stance that the Gazette is taking with publishing it. And in such a spirit, I wish to disavow — not call for a censorship of — the aforementioned piece.

It is nothing more than bottom of the barrel hatred that, while still owning its unfortunately rightful place in public discourse, is disgusting in its own right.

— Alek Lumia-Garbin, English Language and Literature I

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