All Posts Tagged With: "Christie Blatchford"
The University of Waterloo is once again preparing for protesters who might try to shut down a speech, reports The Waterloo Record. The university says it will protect 80-year-old Charles Rice with extra police when the Catholic professor emeritus gives the annual Pascal Lecture on Christianity next Tuesday on the topic of morality, enlightenment and The Natural Law. The former professor is opposed to same-sex marriages and abortion, which has caused some students to oppose the lecture. Protesters successfully shut down a talk by writer Christie Blatchford when she first tried to speak to an audience of 27 people at the university about her book on the Six Nations occupation of Caledonia in November 2010. Her rescheduled speech drew a crowd of 300.
Christie Blatchford is returning to UWaterloo on December 7
Globe and Mail columnist Christie Blatchford is making a second attempt to speak at the University of Waterloo after her first go was thwarted by a few protesters with bike locks around their necks.
Blatchford was scheduled to speak about her new book, Helpless: Caledonia’s Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, and How the Law Failed All of Us, when some individuals decided that her “racist propaganda” was not to be given a public forum. The group of five successfully prevented Blatchford from taking the stage.
After the country became privy to the news that bike locks were suddenly sophisticated tools of political negotiation, the university released a statement apologizing for its embarrassing inaction:
The university considers Friday’s events as an attack on its presence as a place where issues are explored, discussed and at times debated. The freedom to speak and to learn is fundamental to the institution.
Protester Dan Kellar nevertheless remained committed to his heroic efforts to silence debate on campus. “[It's a] sad day when universities are used as a space to allow racists and nazi-apologizers to speak,” Kellar posted on his Twitter feed. “blatchford work is not academic”(sic).
Kellar, a maybe-PhD candidate at UW, appears to have failed to do some academic research of his own before unleashing his anti-Blatchford slander. In a reflective column about the charade, Blatchford responds to Kellar’s accusation that she is a “Nazi-apologist” for supposedly glorifying neo-Nazi Ernst Zundel by pointing out that she has mentioned Zundel’s name a mere five times in 35 years of daily journalism, and “mostly peripherally.” In the one piece she wrote about him, Blatchford simply defended his right to free speech. Maybe someone should send Kellar that column.
The other obvious qualm with Kellar’s position is that Blatchford’s hack-journalism, as he calls it, is inherently anti-native. Blatchford’s book, as anyone who has read just scantly beyond the title can attest, is sharply critical of the way the government has handled the Caledonia occupation. While she doesn’t come off as particularly sympathetic to the aboriginal position, her denunciation of government concessions is a far cry from being anti-native.
Still, even if Blatchford was a racist, ageist, neocolonial capitalist Nazi-sympathizer with misogynistic tendencies, Kellar and his clan shouldn’t be able to stop her from speaking simply by stomping their feet. Believe it or not, being a meanie is not illegal in this country! Nor is holding controversial opinions or expressing prejudice. You’re even allowed to be wrong! Fancy that, huh? These freedoms allow George Galloway, Ann Coulter, and Christie Blatchford to say what they want, even on university campuses, and even if we don’t like it. That is, as long as certain people leave the bike locks outside.
Protest shuts down Blatchford speech at UWaterloo
The Globe and Mail columnist was to talk about her new book, Helpless: Caledonia’s Nightmare of Fear and Anarchy, and How the Law Failed All of Us, when five students decided to play “activist;” three planted themselves onstage, one acted as “negotiator” and another as “media relations.” It’s just like how grown-ups do it, huh?
“We don’t want people who are really, really racist teaching [the people we love],” negotiator Tallula Marigold told the student press. “And we don’t want that person to have a public forum because it makes it dangerous for others in the public forum.”
Marigold was clearly alluding to the widely known, yet rarely remarked upon “public forum plague,” during which individuals present are subject to mental and physical peril (and possibly a nasty rash) when a meanie takes the podium. Dangerous, indeed.
“Our goal was to not let her speak, we accomplished that.”
Kudos, Marigold and crew, for finding a method of protest almost as dignified as holding one’s breath. And for such a worthy cause, too! Take that, free expression!
Blatchford’s new book examines the role of government during the 2006 occupation of the Douglas Creek Estates in Caledonia, Ontario, by members of the nearby Six Nations reserve. Blatchford argues that the occupation, now in its fifth year, was mishandled by a government that failed to treat all of its citizens equally. It’s our good fortune that those scholars at UW were able to recognize the dribble for what it is: vile, illegal hate speech. Surely too dangerous to be granted a public forum!
This incident is a poor copycat performance of the demonstration that took place at the University of Ottawa last March when an actual crowd of protesters gathered in anticipation of a lecture by right-wing pundit Ann Coulter. Coulter, known for her controversial opinions and inflammatory remarks, lived up to her reputation when she told a Muslim student at the University of Western Ontario to “take a camel” a few days before she was scheduled to speak at the U of O. The Ottawa protest achieved what it sought, and prevented Coulter from taking the stage at the university.
On Friday, the University of Waterloo protesters had the same goal. “Unfortunately there is a small minority that felt that they would win if they’d just sit on the stage and yell ‘racist, racist, racist’,” said UW assistant director of media relations Michael Strickland, obviously forgetting that they’d have to first pull their thumbs out of their mouths to do so. “We made a determination that since she wasn’t going to get a word in, in any sort of respectful fashion, there would be no point in bringing her out and having her subjected to that,” he said.
Now, what’s more embarrassing: these students ostentatiously patting themselves on the back for using bully tactics to censor debate on an important issue, or the fact that UW couldn’t handle a protest of three? (I mean, they did have a “negotiator,” after all.) In any case, Blatchford’s speech will be rescheduled and rumour has it protesters are already threatening to bang their heads against a wall and not eat their vegetables. Can’t wait.
- Photo by Nick Lachance of The Cord