3 March 2008

Meanwhile, Back at My Alma Mater

h/t curt jester

The Student Union at my old Alma Mater, York U, shut down a scheduled debate on the subject of abortion just hours before it was to have taken place. Both the hosting parties had agreed to the debate, chose some speakers, were ready to have an academic debate in the old tradition- neither side seemed to have any problem with holding a debate, so why step in?

Because the topic itself is forbidden. The sides were told "there is freedom of speech to a limit, and that abortion is not an issue to debate." The student union "demanded that the event not take place." Debating abortion, said the student union, is like "debating whether a man should be allowed to beat his wife."

I wish I could say I was surprised at this. I had hoped that the students might rally against this encroachment on their free speech. If there is one way to get a topic discussed around here, it's to ban it. Usually.

And in a stunning coincidence, I just got a letter from the university asking me to donate some money. I am preparing a reply. I was thinking of borrowing a response from a Russian writer to a critic. (salty humour alert): "I am sitting in the smallest room of my house. Your letter is in front of me. Soon it will be behind me."

Ah, education. As one of the cartoons said recently, it's the wonderful process of taking an empty mind and replacing it with a closed one.

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