Free Speech under attack at Carleton University

censorship-carleton

Rights for some, but not for you.

Here, a student government official tears down a free speech wall at Carleton. The wall was set up by the “Students for Liberty” club at the University.

I will update this post with information as it develops, but for now, here is the letter from Arun Smith. You can let him know what you think of his little stunt by tweeting him @arun_smith.

To the Carleton community:
 
This evening, acting alone, and in an act of forceful resistance, I removed the Carleton Students for Liberty’s “free speech wall” from the Unicentre Galleria. I take full and sole responsibility for this action, I understand that there will likely be consequences, and I am prepared for the imposition of those consequences, however unjust they might be.
 
In fact, it is in response to injustice that I have found myself with no recourse beyond this. We live in a world built on meaningless platitudes, one where abstract ideology seems to trump considerations for humanity; we rely on buzzwords like “free speech” to help us either ignore or perpetuate the gross suffering that our words and actions can cause. We forget, often deliberately, that the damage we do to individuals in marginalized communities, and to those communities themselves, is inhumane and unjust, and that responding to it with more meaningless platitudes about inclusion and equity is doing nothing to fundamentally alter the status quo. Given this, I consider this action both a moral imperative, and one entirely in line with the mandates of the positions that students on this campus have chosen for me to hold.
 
Actions and words can be used both to retrench and to challenge the cages, the boxes, the oppression, that we face, but something must be done in order that we might not suffer so much, so often. In organizing the “free speech wall,” the Students for Liberty have forgotten that liberty requires liberation, and this liberation is prevented by providing space for either more platitudes, or for the expression of hate. Further, to organize for this “wall” to be erected during our Pride Week, where our communities are supposed to be able to seek liberation and celebrate our diversity, is offensive, ill-considered, and dangerous. The theme of this year’s Pride Week is UNAPOLOGETIC, inviting us to refuse to apologize for who we are, and the erecting of this “wall” is but another in a series of acts of violence against we who are forced every day to try and justify who we are, to try and justify our humanity and our being deserving of respect, dignity, and consideration.
 
We are supposed to be creating safe(r) spaces for ourselves, and for other students, but there can be no safe(r) spaces where there is potential for triggering, the invalidation or questioning of the identities of others, and/or the expression of hatred. Prior to undertaking this action, I contacted Equity Services, who have decided to abandon a commitment to serving students; in fact, they referred me to CUSA, who abandoned a commitment to serving students themselves quite a while ago.
 
When one has little to no institutional support, and where those who are supposed to protect abrogate or abdicate their responsibilities, there is little recourse beyond acts of resistance. Some students with whom I spoke called the area around where the “wall” stood “a war zone,” which underlines the realities of our lives: we are at war, in a war for our own survival, where to exist, we resist, and to resist, we exist.
 
The time for platitudes is at its dusk, and the time for solidarity with our words and our actions is at its dawn. It is with this sentiment in mind that I take responsibility.
 
Remorselessly, and with the utmost sincerity,
 
Arun Smith
HBA Human Rights and Political Science: International Relations, minor in Sexuality Studies; expected 2013
 
Challenge Homophobia and Transphobia Campaign Coordinator – Carleton University
Human Rights Representative – Carleton Academic Student Government
Activist/Organizer

  • http://twitter.com/arun_smith Arün Smith

    It’s actually @arun_smith; @arunsmith is my old account which is no longer active.

    -Arun.

  • BrainDrainXP

    A War Zone at Carleton! Better send in the army! Holy shit!

  • lexicalscope

    A “say anything anonymously without consequences” wall was taken down because of its potential for abuse in the weeks before Pride, or…?

    Help me to twist my perspective to see a problem, here, because I don’t yet. Maybe I’m radical, or maybe I just don’t understand the need for people to have a forum in plain public sight to voice their backward ideologies about human sexuality, free of any reprimand.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=587785338 Lisa Roberts

    I have to say I agree with the gentleman who removed this. Freedom of speech has gone entirely too far.

  • http://twitter.com/ATesfaye Andreas Tesfaye

    Ohhhhhh Arun Arun Arun, its sad that people still fall for this bullshit. Actually, its astounding that the self-righteous people like you believe it is their right to act like fascists because you feel justified in your beliefs. I’m sure the Brown Shirts of the SA felt like they were protecting Germany when they painted Stars of David on the windows of Jews in the Wiemar Republic and after the election in ’33. Enjoy the 15 seconds and with that, be careful what you wish for, the spotlight shows everything and its usually not pretty.

  • BrainDrainXP

    Yes, lets start burning books next!

  • lexicalscope

    I am having a very difficult time equating the taking-down of a papered wall to the selling-out of neighbours and families to the Nazis. Perhaps you could help me make the connection, because I can’t actually emulate that level of degenerate thought on my own.

  • Guest

    Perhaps you can assist me. You see, I am having a very difficult time equating to the taking-down of a papered wall to the selling-out of neighbours, families and friends to the Nazis. It is very difficult for me to, on my own, emulate that level of degenerate thinking.

  • BrainDrainXP
  • lexicalscope

    As it happens, I have that book. Is there a specific page to which you’d like to make a reference? On what page exists the gruelling account of Nazis tearing down papered walls in universities across Germany to prevent abuse during Pride?

  • MarkinTO

    You seem to be having some difficulty posting as well. I believe you’re fully capable of degenerate level thinking.

  • lexicalscope

    Riposte!

  • http://twitter.com/reidjr reidjr

    There issues with free speech in Canada if you say anything about Islam or the middle east thats hate speech but people can bash the west left and right and thats fine.

  • BrainDrainXP

    You’re really quite thick aren’t you? But then again, Nazis usually are. You should really get yourself an armband. I hear they are quite fashionable this time of year.

  • lexicalscope

    Consider it a standing offer. I have the book on my desk, and I’m waiting eagerly.

  • http://twitter.com/reidjr reidjr

    We have fee speech or we don’t you can’t say its fine for one side but not the other.

  • BrainDrainXP

    This is to Arun and Lexicalscope, both who rank up there with the finest of the neo-fascists as far as I’m concerned. But first, a bit of my own back story.

    I’m in my mid forties, and remember the early 1980s with much sadness. A friend of the family, an Uncle to my English boat people immigrant family, was one of the finest flamboyantly gay Englishmen I have met. Part Noel Coward, part Kenneth Williams. Great man. Was part of every family gathering and his partner (usually of the month) was always invited. Gave my sister and I elocution lessons. But alas, I digress….

    Uncle became rather sicky one day. At first it was called Gay Man’s disease, but was later termed somewhat less hatefully, AIDS. He didn’t last long and it was devastating to watch his condition deteriorate. What was worse was the way society treated him and all gay men. My family supported him, marched with him and saw him through to his last days. What we weren’t expecting was the attack we faced, verbally, emotionally and physically for what we saw as merely supporting a friend. Often we were told, you don’t have the right to that opinion. You shouldn’t have the right to say such things. So I guess we’ve gone full circle.

    Arun, arbitrarily deciding to take down a Free Speech wall because it hurt your feelings? That sounds just like the crazy old bitches at the Anglican Church who tore down the AIDS awareness posters I put up on the community wall. Sadly, they were small minded and dare I say, uneducated beyond the pages of their Bibles. But what of you? What are they teaching you at University? While it has only been twenty years since I graduated, I would have thought they taught the fine art of rhetoric. Fight back with words and arguments. Homophobes are usually assholes with limited diction and thought process. It shouldn’t take much to single them out and make them the fools they are. However, tearing down a symbolic wall of free speech makes you the naughty little neo-fascist.

    And Lexicalscope, if you can’t see how Arun’s behavior is fascist, then perhaps you can tell me when it would become fascist? Limiting Speech is acceptable in this case, why? I don’t particularly care for people who like post-Smith’s Morrissey, Liverpool FC, the Toronto Maple Leafs, BMW and Honda drivers and those that put toilet paper rolls on backwards. May I demand they their opinions be squelched at my whim and fancy?

    Of course not. I’d be soundly told to fuck off. As you should too.

  • lexicalscope

    I thank you for the rampant and baseless political epithets, but I think that Arun’s taking the side of the oppressed is approximately antithetical to fascism. My sympathies go out to your late uncle. I’m sure he wouldn’t have appreciated the homophobic rhetoric that would have inevitably appeared on this board.

  • lexicalscope

    You dove into the belly of the beast this time. Kudos. Few are as brave.

  • http://dietwald.com dietwald

    The most disturbing aspect of the letter above is not that it betrays a complete inability to engage at an intellectual level with those the writer disagrees with – which it certainly does – but the bizarre combination of petulance, entitlement, delusions of grandeur, and sheer lack of coherence or logical consistency.
    The author evokes the image of a latter-day Raskolnikov – without the benefit of Dostoyevsky’s magnificent prose.

  • http://dietwald.com dietwald

    I know certain radical religious groups who fully agree with you. They don’t see the need for people to have a forum in plain public sight to voice their disgusting ideologies about human sexuality, free of any reprimand.
    I’m happy to see a harmony of minds regarding this between you, Arun, and Fred Phelps. If only you could agree on the content of your messages, how much more could you achieve!

  • http://dietwald.com dietwald

    Freedom only for the supporters of the government, only for
    the members of one party – however numerous they may be – is no freedom at all.
    Freedom is always and exclusively freedom for the one who thinks differently.
    Not because of any fanatical concept of “justice” but because all that is
    instructive, wholesome and purifying in political freedom depends on this
    essential characteristic, and its effectiveness vanishes when “freedom” becomes
    a special privilege.

    – Rosa Luxemburg

  • http://dietwald.com dietwald

    In what way has freedom of speech gone too far?

  • http://dietwald.com dietwald

    Also, you know what would have been gutsy? Taking it down in full sight of everybody else, while the event was going on. Doing so in the middle of the night is just pathetic, particularly since anonymity was clearly not a concern.

    Had Arun done that, I could at least have respected him for having guts, not a sufficient substitute for brains, but beggars can’t be choosers.

  • lexicalscope

    Ironically, it is your fanatical support of “free speech” (which you conflate with your privilege to mean “speech without consequences”) that allows men like Fred Phelps to attain a national spotlight.

    Arun is to this board what the Patriot Guard is to the Westboro Baptist Church.

  • lexicalscope

    The purpose of the board was to enable passers-by to voice opinions anonymously. If you imply that Arun is a coward, you implicate everyone who wrote on the board.

  • http://dietwald.com dietwald

    And it’s my fanatical support of free speech that allows opponents of Fred Phelps to speak out against him.

    Also, look up ‘irony’. It doesn’t mean what you think it means.

  • http://dietwald.com dietwald

    Everybody who wrote on that board did so in full sight of everybody else, hardly anonymously. You, on the other hand, post on this board anonymously – taking advantage of your right to free speech, which Stephen respects by not deleting your posts.

    Also, I don’t imply that Arun is a coward. I know he is a coward. And, clearly, desirous of attention.

  • salgaubogdan

    Idiote!

  • dogwonder

    I remember the 80s when gays were lying in hospices dying from aids, twast the academics and the anti-free speechers holding their hands no it was clergy men from all faiths. When I see what passes for gay rights “Activists” these days all I see is the same hatred but now that hatred is from the other side. Tearing down the poster out of fear of an opinion another “Might” have as opposed to did have is just another example of how tyrants become born and coddled in Academia. As for his reasoning, typical academic victimized bafflegab.

  • dogwonder

    Gone to far, yes dear Hitler felt the same way when he enacted “Hate speech laws”.

  • http://twitter.com/roofexxon Morris S.

    Coming out of the campus pub at closing time. Overserved, too much anger. “Gee, I’ll make a spectacle of myself!”

  • http://twitter.com/roofexxon Morris S.

    I’m with you on post-Smiths Morrissey. Especially his whole vegan-fascism. I love to listen to Meat is Murder while cooking steak.

  • http://twitter.com/roofexxon Morris S.

    Mind explaining this, Arun?

  • http://twitter.com/roofexxon Morris S.

    Oh look, he pulls the lawfare card…how cute!

    https://twitter.com/arun_smith/status/293996239144513537

    “You realize that defamation is a thing, yes?”

  • Guest

    Well, if you want to play hardball, here’s the screencap.

  • http://twitter.com/roofexxon Morris S.

    Somehow this didn’t work the first time. Here’s a photo of Arun from his Facebook page.

  • http://twitter.com/BCummings945 B Cummings

    Stephen Taylor: Champion for Freedom of Speech??

    You sir, are a case study for cognitive dissonance.

    It boggles the mind how you can preach (to the choir) free speech, while here in the forum you moderate it is plainly obvious to anyone making even the slightest observation that your comments here (and the ability to “support” them, or more accurately: the ability not to) are very carefully controlled and monitored to portray the impression of enthusiastic support.

    Through your Twitter feed lightest notion of a critical opinion guarantees being blocked, thereby shutting down discourse.

    Perhaps I’m wrong though. Cognitive dissonance is not the issue here, it is willful ignorance for the purpose of supporting an ideology; creating a website that gives the impression of rousing support for positions that, in reality, do not have such wide-ranging support.

    Sun News is your “canary in the mine” Stephen. Loud-mouthed propoganda that cannot generate the same support in reality that it has concocted for self-promotion and promotion of ideology. And like Sun News, you’ve lasted this long only because no one has paid enough attention to you to be suitably outraged by such blatent hypocrisy.

  • Confuscan

    The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Arun needs to spend a little more time studying history….

  • dogwonder

    In the real world, outside of the bubble of academic idiotcy, people will treat you with contempt and sometimes with hatred well guess what that’s real life.

  • harebell

    While this is a little grandiose and definitely suggestive of a martyr complex,

    “I take full and sole responsibility for this action, I understand that there will likely be consequences, and I am prepared for the imposition of those consequences, however unjust they might be.”

    It is somewhat refreshing that the leader of a political group should offer to take responsibility for their admitted anti-social and oppressive behaviour.

    Oh how we could hope for some equal shade of honesty from those for whom you carry water Stephen. Criminals in government get elevated to the Senate or lauded as martyrs on the alter of MSM machinations; it’s never their fault is it?

    I look forward to some consistency in the application of your horror at censorship equally and without bias and in a non-partisan manner at all its perpetrators.

  • Vancouverois

    It’s unfortunate that the emotionally and intellectually stunted spoiled child is getting so much attention for this cowardly action of censorship – attention is clearly what he craves.

    I only hope it ultimately results in his being expelled, as his act of vandalism deserves.

  • culdesachero

    Does Arun tear down bathroom stalls due to the inevitable homophobic rhetoric written on them?
    When the minority control thought and language, that is oppression.

  • culdesachero

    Why did they suspend your Twitter account?

  • DougM

    This twit is a zero – as one of the media reports pointed out he has been now going to Uni for 7 years. One disregards people like this, they have nothing to contribute. They are the facists which entreat people to rise up against an enemy they themselves create. His rant is not thought, it is hate. Hate of success, hate of everyone not brainwashed into his tiny sphere of delusion, and hate of the rational world of which he is not a part. Subsidizing Arun’s education is stealing from the homeless who actually need help. He is just a breath of wind with no substance, entertainment or intellect. Don’t rise to the bait…

  • Neo

    I would like to remind Mr. Smith of a nice quote from John Stewart Mill “The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is, that it
    is robbing the human race; posterity as well as the existing
    generation; those who dissent from the opinion, still more than those
    who hold it. If the opinion is right, they are deprived of the
    opportunity of exchanging error for truth: if wrong, they lose, what is
    almost as great a benefit, the clearer perception and livelier
    impression of truth, produced by its collision with error.”.

    Any political science undergrad show know this quote, as John Stewart Mill’s “On Liberty” is required reading for your typical second year intro to political theory courses. You also get to read it again when you take the core course in graduate studies for political theory, although slightly more critically at this level. Mr. Smith speaks about collectively deciding and taking action against what he refers to as oppressive language; but on his acting alone, I am left wondering where the expression of collective will is that produced such action.

  • Neo

    Some posts below are a little out of hand; let’s not make comparisons to the Nazis here. Taking down a sign is not at all like sending Jews to death camps. Making such a statement is offensive to those who died, and those who lived through the horrors…not to mention that it doesn’t even raise itself to a minimal level of idiocy.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brian.mouland.908 Brian Mouland

    About time Arun the Career Student gets out of his self-imposed cocoon and faces the real world. You cant hide forever parasite