CUSA: You Can Have Your Freedom of Speech Somewhere Else

Freedom of Speech is under attack.  The place that it is most under attack is on university campuses.   The most recent example is at Carleton (CFS Local 1) where Council is about to ban completely any debate on the abortion issue.  This instead of promoting debate and letting people decide where they stand on issues.  This is becoming more and more common for students’ union in Canada to do; assume students are stupid and that the Students’ Union must treat them like children.  (No Ice Cream for You!)

There is the famous saying on the New England Holocaust Memorial:

They came first for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a [Protestant](
Then they came for me,
and by that time no one was left to speak up.

This poem laments the all too common, the government is not coming for me so I do not speak up for civil liberties.  To me, this issue is not about abortion, or any other issue for that matter.  It about freedoms, freedom of speech includes speech that I disagree with.  As a Pennsylvania state legislator, Rep. Mark B. Cohen of Philadelphia, once argued in a legislative debate, “Freedom of speech which is limited to freedom to say whatever a majority of the Pennsylvania legislature agrees with is not real freedom of speech”  That is how I feel about the limiting of speech by students’ union across Canada.

Carleton student council moves to halt abortion debate

Last Updated: Monday, November 27, 2006 | 5:46 PM ET
CBC News

An anti-abortion group at Carleton University is crying “discrimination” over a proposed change to the student society’s discrimination policy.

Katy McIntyre, vice-president of services for the Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA), tabled a motion last week to amend the policy, saying “no CUSA resources, space, recognition or funding be allocated for anti-choice purposes.”

Shawn Menard, president of the association, said the motion was a response to complaints from a women’s group on campus, who reacted after a student club called Carleton Lifeline organized a debate on campus on whether elective abortion should be legal.

“It’s discriminatory to not provide a female with a choice surrounding her body,” Menard said.

Elective abortion has been legal in Canada for more than a decade.

Menard added that it’s not the first time the association has taken a stand — it has also opposed tuition hikes and racism.

But Sarah Fletcher, the president of Lifeline Carleton, said the motion discriminates against her beliefs and threatens religious clubs on campus.

“There are students at Carleton who do have a pro-life point of view, and those students need to be represented,” she said. “We feel it’s an infringement on our basic rights.”

Debaters baffled

The student council’s move has baffled members the Carleton University Debate Society, said Garnett Genius, the society’s vice president external.

“We believe strongly in free speech. We think that good ideas win fair debates,” he said.

“And we don’t really understand why it would be in the student union’s or the student body’s interests to suppress debate, around particularly … an issue that is so important.”

Menard said Carleton students are free to have that debate, but not in CUSA space and not with CUSA money.

The council will vote on the proposal on Dec. 5

Source: CBC News: Carleton student council moves to halt abortion debate