The Queen's University Talk: The Rising Tide of Compelled Speech
I was invited to Queen's University March 5 to give the inaugural lecture/discussion of the Liberty Lecture series, funded by Faculty of Law alumnus, Gregory Piasetzki (LLB 1980).
Dr. Bruce Pardy (law.queensu.ca/faculty-research/faculty-directory/pardy) and I discussed the increasingly frequent requirements for compelled speech that characterize the Canadian sociopolitical landscape.
The entire event was, in a word, surreal. Initial controversy over its acceptability rose to the point where the Dean of the Law School William Flanagan and Principal of Queen’s Daniel Woolf wrote missives in defence of free speech (the former: bit.ly/2EQJDm3; the latter: bit.ly/2tJB8VB). The Queen's University "Human Rights Office" posted a link to the Levana Gender Advocacy Centre and Education on Queer Issues Project "active support" efforts during this event at their “Trans-Positive and People of Colour Positive Chill-In” in Dunning Hall, room 11, where there was coloring pages, music, food, and discussion.
The 900 or so people who attended (who comported themselves admirably and thoughtfully throughout) were subject to a continual 90-minute barrage of noise generated by the protestors, who leaped up on the stained glass windows lining the hall and banged continually on them, breaking one. Inside, we could see shadowy figures dimly outlined through the colored glass. The outside doors were barricaded. One protestor was caught on film saying "Lock them in and burn it down." The din was substantial and ominous, although it is much attenuated in this video, due to the nature of the microphones used, which were designed to pick up speech close at hand.
The protestor who broke the window was arrested, but not before she bit a policeman, attempted to kick the back window out of a police cruiser, and was found to be in possession of a garrotte, a particularly brutal weapon with no defensive utility whatsoever (bit.ly/2HoTDAu). The man who cursed so profoundly and eloquently near the beginning of the lecture accosted me and my crew after the talk, and yelled and cursed and threatened at close quarters during our 200-yard walk from the venue to the parkade.
No one who was at this event will forget it.
Not good. Not good at all.
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