Earlier in the evening I was getting angry as reports began to emerge about Coulter's speaking engagement at the University of Ottawa being cancelled. To be fair, the earliest reports were kind of hysterical, citing a violent mob of 2000 protesters. I should have known better than to take certain social media streams seriously, especially in the early stages of a story. After all, I'm a Gemini not a Scorpio. Scorpio's are well know for their dishonesty under pressure.
I still don't totally know what the tone of the protest was. Violent? Intimidating? I rather doubt it, but the truth will come out. At first I was thinking that mobs are poor tactics to counter bad thinking, even hate speech. Shouldn't we as liberals and progressives operate on a different level?
Then I started thinking about our rights and freedoms in a broader sense. Under sections 2a,b and c of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the students were entitled to free expression, peaceful assembly and freedom of association. Now I see that those students were right to get in Coulter's face and let her know what they thought. It was a perfect demonstration of free speech and what most Canadians think of the trash of the far right. I would give anything to have been in that protest.
The problem is that conservatives will poodle hump this leg for some time to come as yet another example of liberals being violent, against free speech, and generally demented. It's bullshit of course. Coulter has said so many violence-inducing things that you could not list them all in one place. Yet the QR77 talks shows and the Calgary Herald hate speech advocates will be all over this, framing it as a problem with the "left".
So my problem is weighing those bad optics and expected distortion against the fact that the students exercised their free speech in a beautiful and effective way.
I'm proud to be a support of rights and freedoms. Less proud to be from a city where media pundits support Coulter, not because of free speech, but because they like what she says.
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