Wednesday, November 17, 2010

University Censorship

Ottawa’s Carleton University (CU) announced that its student pro-life group now faces decertification unless it “renounces the pro-life beliefs expressed in the club’s constitution.” (November 16, 2010,

Now why would a university – and universities pride themselves on their open examination of ideas – demand that their student pro-life group renounce their ideology, especially one upon which Western Civilization rests? If they were advocating violent jihad or the forcible imposition of shariah law upon its unwilling university staff, its prohibition might be more easily appreciated. However, this isn’t the case:

“Khaldoon Bushnaq, Vice-President of Internal Affairs for the Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA), wrote the club by e-mail on Thursday saying they would not be recertified because their constitution violates CUSA’s Discrimination on Campus Policy, which purports to uphold ‘a woman’s right to choose.’”

Increasingly, universities, both in Canada and the USA, are adopting positions of intolerance – “If you don’t agree with us, we’ll shut you down!” This stance is problematic in many ways:

1. Recertifying its pro-life group doesn’t remove a woman’s right to choose. However, she might have to listen to speech she finds unpleasant, but that should be part of the university experience.

2. This stance contradicts the very purpose of the university – to demonstrate that reason and argumentation should prevail over brute force and suppression of unwanted ideas. Instead of opening the mind, it narrows the domain of acceptable thought and speech.

3. While CU bases its case on anti-discrimination, they are acting in a hypocritical manner by discriminating against its pro-life student group.

4. Every political or religious group – any group standing for a cause – necessarily takes a stance discriminating against other stances. They believe that they’re right and their opposition is wrong. Well, that’s just life, and you can’t legislate against life.

5. Recently, the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hastings Law School in their refusal to recertify a Christian Law student group. Hastings argued that this group had a religious test for membership and leadership and thereby violated the school’s policy against religious discrimination. However, the Court’s decision was based upon domain confussion. While the University of California Hastings Law school must act in a just and a non-discriminatory manner, the essence of student groups is one of discrimination. It is perfectly legitimate for students to form a women’s support group or the “Young Democrats” and discriminate against males and Republicans. Likewise, a judge must be impartial and just in the courtroom, but when he throws a party, he is free to invite whomever he wishes. While CU might not have the freedom to discriminate in certain matters, it shouldn’t deny this freedom to its student groups.

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