Stop ideological bullying on campus

Recently at Carleton University there was an attempt to make a “Free Speech Wall” which encouraged students to write down any statements or beliefs they wished to say.
Within hours, the wall was ripped down by a student named Arun Smith who saw this wall as an affront to gay rights, despite the fact that none of the statements written on it were actually homophobic.

While some would call Smith an isolated case, the truth is, I run into Arun Smith’s all the time, at university, in Facebook discussions and with fellow Laurier students.
Unfortunately, university creates an environment that allows people like Smith to flourish. When justifying his act, Smith defended it as empowering . Unfortnately, the truth is that his attitude is not an isolated one in university. What differentiates bullying from civil debate is that bullying involves name-calling and deliberately trying to hurt feelings. I’ve had all these happen to me, but the bullying took on a very political form.

Rather than merely debating in a civil fashion, I’ve been subjected to all forms of juvenile name-calling where it has been repeatedly suggested that I “get an education”, though ironically, the only way I know these people is through our shared experience of attending university. In both high school and at Laurier I’ve been bullied, but now instead of being called a “faggot” I am called “uneducated,” “ignorant” or “uninformed”. The one common thread is insulting the victim’s intelligence or perceived lack thereof.

Fact is, if you’re a university student with a non-left wing view and aren’t afraid to express this openly, you will be criticized for it.  If you don’t cower timidly and defer to the status quo by shutting up and saying nothing or passively going along with others’ ideological beliefs, you will be bullied for it.

The university social climate encourages all forms of diversity except those of political views. While university is supposed to encourage open-mindedness and free-thinking, it’s often a hostile environment that is harsh and uninviting to anyone wishing to explore views outside the socially acceptable left wing sphere.

Being called “ignorant” can be incredibly hurtful and condescending, especially when they are spoken to a person who has taken it upon themselves to research a certain issue.
Unfortunately, many people seem incapable of accepting that someone could be well researched on an issue and could come to a conclusion that disagrees with their own. The implication is that all who disagree with them are either stupid or uneducated. While in reality, some people just simply disagree. This must be accepted in any environment that is truly amenable to free thought.

I have been screamed at and called terrible names by fellow university students for taking positions that the Irish were victims of racism, and that women are capable of exploiting the power that society gives them just as men do. I have been bullied for making these statements simply because they do not conform to the latest liberal opinion du jour.

This attitude of ideological bullying needs to end and be opposed by other students who passively allow it to occur.  If they don’t, we’re only going to have more people like Smith creating hostile environments in what is supposed to be an oasis of free thinking and a centre for the exchange of differing ideas, ideologies and beliefs.
letters@thecord.ca

One Comment

  1. Thank you for this blog. I searched for 20 minutes before I found anything addressing adult bullying in our culture. I think that’s where we need to start our anti-bullying campaign!

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