Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Free Speech in Canada

Canada's National Post prints a letter from the University of Ottawa to soon-to-visit Ann Coulter.

One can think about this in two ways:

The first is just that Canadians value politeness relatively much more than Americans do. This is absolutely true and has nothing in particular to do with politics. It applies to every area of life. Recall the (hilarious because it rings true) scene in the movie Canadian Bacon in which John Candy pushes through a crowd of Canadians, each of whom apologizes to him after being pushed.

More darkly, the soft left in Canada, when it has the power to do so, does sometimes use the speech rules as a tool of control over what passes for conservatism in Canada.

The letter to Ann Coulter combines both ways of thinking about Canadian speech restrictions. It would be interesting to get a student group at Ottawa to invite some relatively incendiary speaker from the left to campus and then observe whether he or she receives the same letter. I expect not, but you never know, as the siren calls of bureaucratic consistency and legal ass-covering typically resonate loudly in the minds of academic functionaries.

Hat tip: reason

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