Freedom of speech must be upheld on campuses

Reading Time: 1 minute

In March of this year, Kitchener MP Stephen Woodworth gave a speech in support of Motion 312 which asks the Canadian Criminal Code to define a person as human from the moment of conception.  His lecture was met with protests and resulted in WLU student Ethan Jackson receiving a ban from UW campus with a $10,000 fine upon him breaching the ban. Jackson was dressed in a vagina costume and protested Woodworth’s support of Motion 312.

Woodworth returned again Thursday but the atmosphere was far different than on his previous visit. This time, there was a considerable security presence and questions were screened before being asked. Limiting the questions that could be asked directly infringes upon the freedom of speech and has little to do with combating protests.

Moreover, guests could only attend if they were on a list.  The general public had no opportunity to have their opinions heard.

Event organizers claim censorship was necessary because Woodworth was censored during his previous visit by protestors. However, banning Jackson from the campus and taking away the right of free speech for those opposed to Motion 312 is not a viable solution for a lecture. His punishment was too stiff and his protesting should not be used as a justification for introducing censorship measures on Thursday.

When speaking on a controversial and divisive issue, opposition should be expected and particularly on university campuses, encouraged. Hecklers and protestors may lead to increased security, however security is focused on the safety of all those involved and has nothing to do with censoring free speech

There should be no place for this type of censorship on university campuses, which are supposed to be places of discussion, debate and progress.

Leave a Reply