Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Spot the Phony

Here are two examples of "acceptable" (and unacceptable) speech at a Canadian University. See if you can tell which is real and with is fake. The first example:
Dear Guest Speaker:
...Here at (redacted) U., as a community of liberal scholars, we are committed to open debate and the free exchange of ideas and we want to ensure your visit with us is a pleasant, productive and inspiring one.

Therefore, I want to familiarize you with a few ground rules we have established to help ensure these goals are achieved to our satisfaction.

Here at (redacted) U. we support free speech, but not speech that gratuitously insults or offends … us. Let me give you some examples.

At (redacted) U., it is not offensive to suggest Israel is an apartheid state and that Jews treat Palestinians like the Nazis treated Jews in the Second World War.

In fact, we have an annual week on our campus devoted to exploring such themes, which all of our Jewish students just love and are completely comfortable with, because, seriously, what other responsible position could anyone have?

Of course, here at (redacted) U., it would be offensive to use such incendiary language to describe the domestic or foreign policies of, say, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria or Sudan.

Should you do this, we will not be able to guarantee your event will proceed, or even your personal safety...
And the second example:
Dear Guest Speaker,

...We are, of course, always delighted to welcome speakers on our campus and hope that they will contribute positively to the meaningful exchange of ideas that is the hallmark of a great university campus. We have a great respect for freedom of expression in Canada, as well as on our campus, and view it as a fundamental freedom, as recognized by our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
I would, however, like to inform you, or perhaps remind you, that our domestic laws, both provincial and federal, delineate freedom of expression (or “free speech”) in a manner that is somewhat different than the approach taken in the United States. I therefore encourage you to educate yourself, if need be, as to what is acceptable in Canada and to do so before your planned visit here. You will realize that Canadian law puts reasonable limits on the freedom of expression...
When the spoof (example #1, by the Toronto Sun's Lorrie Goldstein) and the reality (example #2, a portion of Provost Houle's threatening missive to Ann Coulter) are dead ringers, you know you're living in very dark times.


Kaffir_Kanuck said...


I was bored at worked today between paperwork and training that I actually Googled the TO Sun and read the first one. Then the second one spread like natural mental soma gas as I read it, even though I recognized the Houlistic content.

Someone should create a government agency to control such powerful words before everyone realizes what powerful weapons they can be, because without such controls, words like this could cause harm and disrupt our beautiful society.

Stop the HATE Scaramouche! People like you make me want to join the Dark Side and have reasonable debates.


How many bake sales have there been to raise awareness rather than charity?

scaramouche said...

How about a bake sale to raise awareness about free speech and how we no longer have it (at least not officialy)? I make a killer apple streusel pie.