Ryerson Made a Mistake in Cancelling Panel Discussion

Turk, James L
Date Written:  2017-08-18
Publisher:  Centre for Free Expression
Year Published:  2017
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX21323

Not only are censorship and suppression fatal to the purpose of the university, they undermine the foundation of democratic society. When individual rights to freedom of expression are diminished or taken away for an allegedly good cause, they are necessarily invested in some higher authority that is given the right to determine what is acceptable. The result is censorship from above – ultimately the state – with the likelihood that the champions of that censorship today are its vulnerable targets tomorrow.



In cancelling the event, Ryerson gave in to intimidation, prevented a panel discussion of difficult ideas and disagreement over deeply held views, and denied free speech rights to those with opposing views. The defence that it had to protect public safety is not acceptable. Just as paying ransom to kidnappers or pirates encourages more kidnapping and piracy, shutting down free speech in the face of threats of disruption only encourages more such threats in future as the way to deal with ideas one does not like.

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