After a significant rise in ‘safe spaces’ and ‘trigger warnings’ at Canadian Universities, it is becoming incredibly important to address the dangers of shunning free speech by using political correctness as an excuse.
Recently at Ryerson University, located in the heart of Toronto, a club called “Men’s Issues Awareness Society” is refusing to be recognized by the Ryerson Student Union because it is “anti-feminist,” “sexist,” and would make female students feel unsafe.
The club is founded by student Kevin Arriola in an attempt to talk about men’s mental health and other issues; ironically, it is being called anti-feminist even though the majority of the club members are female students. Club meetings are forced to be confined in a tiny cubicle because of not being recognized as a students’ group and is not giving the club the recognition it deserves.
According to the founder of the club himself, “I kind of came to the university thinking that it was a place where people could freely exchange ideas, push boundaries,” he said. “But really it’s just this padded room where everybody is trying to control a message under the guise of making everyone safe — which is BS, honestly.”
Similar to Ryerson, many students at other Canadian Universities are being shut down for stating their controversial opinions by the radical left because their opinions do not align with theirs.
At U of T, psychology professor Jordan Peterson is frequently the target of many rallies and protests because of his disagreement and refusal to abide with Bill C-16, which requires people to call others by their preferred pronoun. Although many people may not agree with Peterson’s views, it is not an excuse to physically and verbally assault people who do, which actually happened at U of T.
There are consequences to restricting free speech
Safe spaces are beneficial to students in the sense that it can allow marginalized groups or otherwise disadvantaged members of society to retreat to a place where they will not be subject to discrimination or harassment.
However, by allowing for more and more ‘safe-spaces’ and ‘trigger-warnings’ on campus, students are becoming isolated from intellectual discussion, and are showing them that it is okay to block out any criticism that doesn’t align with their views. This is not beneficial when they will graduate college or university, as the outside world will not take these precautionary measures for specific groups of individuals.
Free speech is an integral part of the development of Canada as we know it today, with it being a fundamental freedom. The law provides us with a reasonable margin that allows individuals to have the ability to freely express their opinions as long as it does not constitute as hate speech.
When people think they are allowed to restrict free speech under these conditions, they are discouraging the flow of ideas and intellectual conduct between individuals. In a place such as a University where discussion about ideas is extremely important, restricting free speech can hinder the development of students and entices fear in whoever wants to voice their opinion but are afraid that they will trigger or offend someone.
“University should provide a safe space from assault, from physical harm, but not a safe space from feeling upset about ideas you disagree with” – John Carpay (Lawyer)
If you want to live in a free and democratic society such as in Canada, there is a large possibility that you will be confronted with opinions that differ from your own, even if they are unpleasant. However, that is the mere point of free speech, and is what makes Canada, and is one of the laws that associates us with freedom.
Drawing the line between hate speech and free speech
In some cases, what someone may think is free speech is actually the hate speech and may cause significant harm and danger to one or more individuals. For example, someone saying that they want to kill a specific person for being transgender is a form of hate speech and is not tolerated by the law. Many radical lefts at Canadian Universities tend to use hate speech as a justification for restricting students’ opinions on controversial subjects. Nine out of ten times, their justification is bluntly wrong, and students are not committing a hate crime in any way.
In the case of Ryerson University, the “men’s issues awareness society” is neither sexist nor anti-feminist, as the student Union suggests. Under this logic, any club could be restricted from being recognized as an official for marginalizing a certain group of students.
Whether the Canadian constitution should have looser or tighter restrictions on our freedom of expression is not up to me, but I do recognize the fact that the law protects marginalized groups from harm and danger. While it can be sometimes difficult to tell whether a statement is hate speech or free speech, it is wrong for individuals to use this as an excuse to prevent one’s free discourse of ideas, even if it may be offensive or insulting to other individuals.