A soft and gentle fascism was on display at the University of Regina last week, when two social conservative activists were arrested, hand-cuffed, and removed from campus for peacefully expressing highly unpopular views. There can be no doubt that some people were offended, even hurt, when seeing and hearing the slogan “sodomy is a sin”. But the options of ignoring this slogan or refuting it did not occur to the assembled students on campus. Rather, they cheered and applauded when their ideological opponents were hand-cuffed and led away to the police paddy-wagon. Such is the state of free speech on campus in Canada in 2014: do not repudiate the ideas you disagree with, but instead silence those who express such ideas. The U of R administration pandered to the mob’s desire to silence unpopular speech, as though it were running a daycare centre rather than an institution of higher learning. The U of R obviously does not believe that bad ideas should be attacked, challenged and replaced by better ideas. Rather, bad ideas (or those who espouse them) should be kicked off campus in order to save adults from experiencing offence.
The fascists of the 1930s were violent thugs in Italy, Germany, and other countries, who beat up their opponents in the streets in order to silence them. Today’s university administrators silence their opponents with “anti-harassment” and “anti-discrimination” policies supposedly enacted to enhance and advance “human dignity” and “respect”. But modern Canadian universities and the old-fashioned fascists have this in common: they will not debate their opponents or ignore their opponents. Instead, they will silence their opponents. Whether this impulse to silence one’s opponents comes from arrogance or insecurity (or both), or from something else, might not be clear. What is clear, however, is that the modern and older versions of fascism do not appreciate freedom of expression, and do not understand that it forms the cornerstone of our free and democratic society.
John Carpay, B.A., LL.B.
President, Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms