Sunday, March 21, 2010

What explains the bully (pulpit) at the University of Ottawa?

Is Francois Houle, the University of Ottawa Vice-President who feels compelled to warn Ann Coulter that she could be guilty of a crime, should she open her mouth on campus, just another academic barbarian who pretends to value free expression but really values asserting, from on high, who is in the right and wrong, or who is and isn't in the realm of acceptable discourse, so that we all know our place, preferably in relation to some black-hatted "extremist" devil?

Who knows? Who knows in this day when an academic is standing on principle, however poorly conceived, or is an aspiring player in the knowledge-sector academic leaders value most - getting money - an endeavour which has recently taken several Canadian schools to recruit in Saudi Arabia? It no longer matters, it seems, that this is a country famous for exporting its supremacist, antisemitic, Wahhabi ideology (infecting many North American campuses) and for demanding a new global approach to "hate" laws that will ban criticism of Islam or speech that encourages Muslims to question their faith. Who knows in an age when getting public universities to take foreign money seems to be a priority of the Premier of Ontario? All we know is that Ann Coulter is famous for professing, among other things, the desire to "invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity."

Is that a reasonable position? In any degree or circumstance? Who knows, if we don't have the freedom, or show a willingness, to discuss our global conflicts from all angles, and get to know each other's deep loves and resentments? Houle knows!

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