“Free Speech Wall” attack at Carleton U attracts worldwide attention

The story broke Tuesday, the 22nd. The destruction of a “Free Speech Wall” set up by a Carleton University student group named Carleton Students for Liberty by an outraged radical activist has gone global. What started out as a campus incident carried over onto Twitter and within days was being talked about across Canada, into the United States and Europe.

The “wall”, actually a homemade bulletin board with markers for students to inscribe their own thoughts, was torn Tuesday by Carleton University student Arun Smith. Smith, as reported by the National Post’s Tristin Hopper in his article ‘Not every opinion is valid:’ Carleton University free speech wall torn down within hours left little room for reason.

“Calling the area around the wall a “war zone,” he intimated that it was “but another in a series of acts of violence” against gay rights.” Tristin Hopper reporting on Arun Smith in the above-linked story.

At press time examples such as Huffington Post, National Review Online and Pink News, which bills itself as ‘Europe’s Largest Gay News Service’ were speaking to the story. Thankfully, the coverage and reactions are coming down decidedly pro-free speech. Macleans magazine also weighed in here.

Sun News also got this one, with this article by reporter Kris Sims Carleton Student tears down a free speech wall where among other things she quotes Smith stating the following


“Inclusive safe spaces are not places where you can have unregulated free speech, unregulated free speech is something that leads to hate speech every single time,” said Arun Smith who is in his seventh year studying human rights and sexuality.

The story also contains an embedded video of Sun’s The Source host Ezra Levant and his very revealing interview with Smith. Be sure to check it out if you’re wondering what’s happened to free expression in our country.

This isn’t the first case of violent behaviour being used by activists to intimidate students and universities and prevent free speech from being exercised in Canada. Here are a few examples;

  • 2002 – A riot prevents then former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from delivering an address to an audience at Concordia University in Montreal.
  • 2010 – Journalist and commentator Ann Coulter is prevented from speaking at University of Ottawa due to security reasons when an angry mob descends on the venue.
  • 2010 – Journalist and author Christie Blatchford, while on a speaking tour for her book ‘HELPLESS: Caledonia’s Nightmare of Fear & Anarchy, And How The Law Failed All of Us’ is prevented from speaking when two activists take the stage and chain themselves together.

Many more examples of this behaviour exist and will continue to occur each time that society stands by or bends its knee to these extremists, allowing mob rule while punishing lawful free expression. We’ve seen it in Caledonia, at the G20 where the violent protestors were ignored by the authorities in favour of arresting and abusing pedestrians and journalists who dared witness it. We saw it again with the Occupy movement where a handful of union sponsored activists and street people were allowed to essentially declare public parks as their own private property. Little was done but to threaten upset tax-paying Canadians and their families for ‘loitering’ or ‘causing a disturbance’ if they stopped to complain or attempt to use those properties.

Perhaps the most spirited exchange on behalf of free speech came from Twitter where CBC’s Kady O’Malley challenged Mr. Smith’s logic on what is and what isn’t ‘valid’ speech and who can decide what speech should be acceptable; i.e. not Mr. Smith.

Although the logic seemed lost on Smith and his activist social circle, it was well in keeping with the derision shown by many commentors on the the two gay-focused publications and the american conservative magazine and their audiences. Although, she was the only one to draw and quarter him without needing or bothering to resort to focussing on his being a ‘seventh-year human rights student’.

Broken-Record asked O’Malley on Twitter if CBC had actually covered the story. She wasn’t able to confirm if they had, but the Tweet exchange attracted this response from Arun Smith.

It seems that Arun may have underestimated his reach, even as he overestimated his depth, judging by how many far flung media voices and their followers rise in defence of free speech as the story proliferates.

He is half right though. It’s a shame there was so little, if any, prominence given to this story from CBC, CTV and Globe and Mail. It seems far too familiar an occurance as of late that key players in Canada’s media marketplace completely ignore or minimize certain stories in hopes they will go away. This is important, especially with its frequency around stories of violent and/or dubious behaviour when Canada’s nexus of big unions, foreign lobby money, political activists and NGO’s are involved and demanding the rest of us ‘pay up’, be it with our rights, our tax dollars or both.

Hats off to Carleton Students for Liberty and the best of luck with Free Speech Wall 2.0.

UPDATE: We’ve gotten back word from Carleton Students for Liberty’s Ian CoKehyeng and it’s great news.

“Free speech wall 2.0 was actually erected within 12 hours of the first one’s destruction with the help of concerned volunteers.

The event made me realize that there is a quiet yet significant number of down to earth, common sense individuals on campus. They simply want to get on with their studies and graduate. The busybodies are of course those arrogant and narcissistic individuals who seek to mold society in accordance to their ‘enlightened’ visions. The Free Speech Wall really did challenge their monopoly of opinions and for the first time they were not the ones speaking on behalf of students. I have high hopes for the future. I would like to see more free speech walls erected across Canada as well as more awareness to the authoritarian tendencies of today’s activists. Most importantly, I hope the quality and purposes of our educational institutions is re-examined.

Regardless of how much we desire a heaven on Earth, people will always have their differences, problems and disagreements with each other. The most important thing we can do is to recognize this and turn this fact into a learning process so we can discover for ourselves the greater truth in things.”

Those or the words of a wise person and a great Canadian folks. Hats off to Ian, CSfL and all of us toiling away in the silent majority, we owe you and your fellow free speech lovers at Carleton University our gratitude.

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