The Free Speech movement at Berkeley in the 1960s is within the memory of many of us. In Canada as in Europe, the 60s saw lasting improvement in the way universities run themselves, along with important reforms in the whole society. There was a push for access, equality, and fairness, a campaign led as much from below (the growing popular sentiment for egalitarian policies in health care and education, for instance) as from above (Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society).
On March 23rd, Parliament passed a motion tabled by Liberal back-bencher Iqra Khalid. The motion differs from a bill in that it has no effect in law; it acts as a suggestion, recommendation, or opinion. It is important to read the actual words of the motion -- the full text of which is:
Systemic racism and religious discrimination
By Danielle S. McLaughlin / Posted Wednesday April 5, 2017
Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (“SLAPPs”) are when Big Resources (private or public sector) sue Little Resources (individuals, non-profit organizations) in order to silence them. If the person or organization being sued (often for defamation) can’t afford to fight the case, they are effectively prevented from speaking out on the subject that got them SLAPP’ed. The case may be weak or even ludicrous, but the merits of the case don’t matter if you can’t afford to defend yourself in court.
Disinformation, claims of competing economic imperatives and an inadequately informed public account for why governments have not acted effectively in response to the grave dangers posed by climate change.
March in Los Angeles is a sweet month full of sunny, windless, dry days. In 2016 just after Presidents’ Day, I was at UCLA to visit two museums. The weather was fine and the university was outdoors. To get from one museum to another, I passed through the central campus where students staffed busy kiosks flogging popular causes—complete with boom boxes and street dancing.
Soon I was nose to nose with four energetic students, two men and two women who wanted my signature on petitions.
Scholars in the United States and abroad have called for an academic boycott of international conferences in the United States in reaction to Donald Trump’s Executive Order banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Free expression may be the most important freedom in a democracy. It is the lifeblood of truth. Free expression rights are ostensibly a measure to protect minorities, especially oppressed minorities. Enabling a minority to speak truth to power is a beautiful thing. Nevertheless, free expression can pose difficult challenges for minorities.
In January, perhaps reacting to some of the more interesting “alternative facts” stories emerging from the United States, Canadian Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly tweeted the following:
Teaching a news “ethics” course in the fledgling journalism program at Jinan University in Guangzhou, China, proved to be a challenge, given the restraints on freedom of expression now occurring under the regime of President Xi Jinping.
It was only April, but I could feel the sweat trickling down my neck in the oppressive heat in Guangzhou - a city of 12 million about two hours north of Hong Kong on the coastal mainland. But the temperature wasn’t why I was sweating.