Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Oh, Ann. Say it ain't so.
Word is circulating that American conservative political commentator, Ann Coulter, is considering making a complaint to the Canada Human Rights Commission because she was “threatened” by a letter from the Provost of the University of Ottawa.
Coulter is on a three-University speaking tour. She spoke at the University of Western Ontario without a lot of fuss and she was supposed to speak at Ottawa yesterday, but her appearance was cancelled because about 2,000 protestors showed up to try to prevent her from speaking. They succeeded.
The Provost sent her a letter prior to her travels to Canada lecturing her on responsible speech and advising her to bone-up on Canadian free speech limitations and libel law before she opens her mouth. Some people think the disclosure of this letter in the media and blogosphere probably encouraged the protestors to go out and close her down.
Coulter is now claiming she is a victim of discrimination and abuse because of this letter.
My advice to Coulter is to nix the complaint.
I didn’t read the letter as threatening in any way. It was stupid, no doubt about that. And maybe the real complaint should be why the taxpayers are expected to fund Ontario universities when they employ people of the limited intellectual caliber of this Provost. But, that is not Ann’s issue.
The reason I would advise against proceeding in this manner is that she will just act to legitimize the HRCs. Mssrs. Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn have spent a lot of time “de-normalizing” (Levant’s conceit) these PC monsters and by submitting to their jurisdiction, Coulter gives them license to once more try to stifle free speech.
I think the Provost was perfectly entitled to express his opinions, just as Coulter was. She should not be an agent acting to prevent his right to free speech by resorting to the government to enshrine her “victimhood”.
The larger issue, which we need to consider, is how we prevent mobs from shutting down free speech on our campuses. Clearly, it is a problem the universities are unable to solve. We have to solve it for them. No longer should we view them as these private enclaves of entitlement governed solely by their own rules.
ADDENDUM: When I wrote the foregoing, I was unaware that Allan Rock was the President of the University of Ottawa. Now the scales have fallen from my eyes and I understand why this whole event got completely out of hand.