Mar 22 2010
For the record, I’m not a fan of Ann Coulter. My contempt is not based primarily on her politics — I just think she’s an idiot, for saying stuff like this: “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.”
Context is everything. Ann seems to get off on a big technicality here in that there is no global Christian movement to subvert nations around the world in order to unite a Christian empire that aims to put all subjects under “Christian” law — whatever that would be. The Crusades have been over for centuries and there simply is no modern example of Christian nations going to war to spread their faith by the sword — mostly because outside of the Vatican, there are no countries left that one could identify as Christian. As such, Coulter’s words are pretty much meaningless.
As offensive as she is, she ought to be ignored as anyone would be if they said, “We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Zoroastrianism.” Or Keynesianism. Or collective-agrarianism.
Of course, if you had a speaker at a Canadian university that substituted “Islam” for “Christianity” in that quote, heads would have to roll in the university establishment. There undoubtedly is an active global jihadist movement that is killing people (mostly Muslims) every day. In this case, the quote has contextual meaning. But Coulter’s? Her jibber-jabber quotes are made solely for the purpose of boosting book and ticket sales by pubescent-minded Rush Limbaugh fans.
That said, I’m deeply embarrassed for my country thanks to this sad tale of Soviet-style shenanigans emanating from the University of Ottawa:
“Dear Ms. Coulter,
I understand that you have been invited by University of Ottawa Campus Conservatives to speak at the University of Ottawa this coming Tuesday. We are, of course, always delighted to welcome speakers on our campus and hope that they will contribute positively to the meaningful exchange of ideas that is the hallmark of a great university campus. We have a great respect for freedom of expression in Canada, as well as on our campus, and view it as a fundamental freedom, as recognized by our Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I would, however, like to inform you, or perhaps remind you, that our domestic laws, both provincial and federal, delineate freedom of expression (or “free speech”) in a manner that is somewhat different than the approach taken in the United States. I therefore encourage you to educate yourself, if need be, as to what is acceptable in Canada and to do so before your planned visit here. You will realize that Canadian law puts reasonable limits on the freedom of expression. For example, promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges. Outside of the criminal realm, Canadian defamation laws also limit freedom of expression and may differ somewhat from those to which you are accustomed. I therefore ask you, while you are a guest on our campus, to weigh your words with respect and civility in mind. There is a strong tradition in Canada, including at this University, of restraint, respect and consideration in expressing even provocative and controversial opinions and urge you to respect that Canadian tradition while on our campus. Hopefully, you will understand and agree that what may, at first glance, seem like unnecessary restrictions to freedom of expression do, in fact, lead not only to a more civilized discussion, but to a more meaningful, reasoned and intelligent one as well.
I hope you will enjoy your stay in our beautiful country, city and campus.
Vice-recteur aux études / Vice-President Academic and Provost
Université d’Ottawa / University of Ottawa
550, rue Cumberland Street
Ottawa (ON) K1N 6N5
téléphone / telephone : 613 562-5737
télécopieur / fax : 613 562-5103
H/T to Blazing Cat Fur
UPDATE: How embarrassing is it for us that we seem to require an American right-wing nutcase to defend Canadian freedom of speech? Good luck with the CHRC complaint, Coulter.
UPPERDATE: The humiliation just doesn’t stop. Canadian thugs stop angry Ann from speaking. Freedom of speech in the True North takes a hit along with our international reputation. Even Warren Kinsella’s embarrassed.