Ann Coulter, who deserves no further attention nor notoriety for her extreme right wing views, has backed out of a speaking engagement at the University of Ottawa. She had received a letter from the Vice-President of the University, apparently to advise her that we have stronger laws regarding the dissemination of hate messages, discriminatory speech against minorities, etc. and she puckered and ran away.
I think this was an error though. We ought not to doubt the ability of intellects of University students and their professors - the intended audience of her talk, to decide for themselves what ideas are valid.
Censorship in any form is abhorent. If bureaucrats are entitled to muzzle anyone, then they may well muzzle just anyone who doesn't meet their approval. That is one very slippery slope. And it doesn't always come in the form of a ban.
Undoubtedly, the university lecture hall is the one arena best equipped in this country to hear new ideas, new arguments. No harm will come to educated and enlightened people merely listening to radical ideas in that arena. Indeed it is the one arena where radical ideas are most welcome lest a society stagnate. Nothing is decided there, unlike say, parliament. Weak-minded folks, susceptible perhaps to unpleasant ideas, are unlikely to be in attendance.
Better to have an open airing of ideas where they may be scrutinized by the country's best minds, than to drive them underground where they may fester. Crazies, sociopaths and their ilk undoubtedly exist and will have their ideas, let's have them out in the open where they may be identified.
Then we can get help for them, or at least immunize ourselves against their poison.
Out in the open, in the sunshine of the enlightened minds we need not fear Ann Coulter, if indeed, she is even worthy of fear.
"Ann Coulter is to political thinking what Peanuts is to high literature."
- John Cruikshank, Publisher of the Toronto Star, March 25th, 2010.