Last Wednesday night, a pro-life student club at the University of Waterloo invited a local MP to speak.
Within minutes, a small group of other students stormed the front of the room, screaming abuse at the guest speaker, taking over the podium and grinding the event to a halt.
All under the watchful eyes of campus police.
They just stood there.
Actually, that’s not quite right, they did intervene. They told the speaker — Stephen Woodworth — that for his own safety he’d better leave.
They didn’t take steps to protect his safety. They didn’t remove the screaming trespassers, or even just ask them politely and quietly to stop. They just stood there, as a campus club was physically barred from holding a peaceful event.
Welcome to free speech on Canadian campuses, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s abominable censorship ruling in the William Whatcott case.
The Waterloo spectacle of semi-coherent extremists — including one beta male, dressed in a giant vagina costume — is easily found on YouTube, and it’s quite something to behold.
Giant Vagina Man was screaming in Woodworth’s face, saying, “Who do you think you are, trying to impose your views, your bigotry?”
They teach sexual studies at Waterloo, but they obviously don’t teach irony anymore.
Giant Vagina Man was a screaming interrupter who refused to let a contrary view be heard — yet he said Woodworth was the one imposing his views.
An extra layer of irony is that Giant Vagina Man probably doesn’t even know what Woodworth’s ideas are, since he didn’t allow the MP to speak them. That’s pretty much the dictionary definition of bigotry — hating someone, abusing them, screaming at them, silencing them — based on an ignorant prejudice.
Hopefully there will be another level of irony: This rude freak will probably never again get that close to a vagina in the rest of his college career, if the gods of dating are just.
University of Waterloo is starting to earn a reputation for closed-mindedness.
Its student body evidently feels ill-equipped to handle ideas they don’t agree with, and prefers to physically silence opponents than to engage or even ignore them.
They did this to the great Christie Blatchford, a columnist and author of Helpless, a book about just this sort of bullying — and police cowardice — at Caledonia, Ont.
When Blatchford was invited to campus to talk about the book, screaming students — calling her a neo-Nazi — stormed the stage and stopped the speech.
Storming a speech and shutting it down, while calling a peaceful journalist a Nazi? They must not teach history at Waterloo, either.
Universities are supposed to be places where students can encounter a wide range of ideas, and challenge them, and be challenged in return. It’s not just about learning particular subjects.
It’s also about learning how to deal with people and ideas you disagree with in a civil manner.
Alas, the debate-silencers can claim their share of role models. Campus police didn’t stop them; the university administration didn’t stop them. And our own Supreme Court just ruled the government can silence someone if they say something “likely to expose a person to hatred or contempt.”
When all of polite, educated society says it’s OK to silence someone who hurts your feelings, don’t be surprised if students follow their example.
There is no counterfeit right not to be offended. A good university education does just that — offends, tests, expands, reforms.
When Blatchford was shouted down, the university claimed it was outraged, and apologized to her.
They obviously didn’t mean it, for their campus security simply replayed everything again last week.
Just a final thought: Do you think universities would accept a left-wing speaker, like David Suzuki, being shouted down by his opponents?
Don’t be silly — Tasers would be sparking, and police would be filling paddy wagons.