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toronto star

Editorials all over the place today decrying Concordia’s decision:

From the Gazette:

“We were pleased to hear,” Lowy told us, “that it was Barak who was invited. Barak is quite different from Netanyahu. We were surprised to learn that there wasn’t a distinction made,” by some Muslim students and their allies.

Oh really? Then Concordia’s “risk-assessment team” is in for more surprises each time the extremists who won another round this week decide to escalate. How long will it be until some hapless professor who happens to be Jewish is deemed “a provocation” or “offensive” or “a supporter of war criminals”? When that happens will Concordia cave in again? No? Then why cave in this time?

From the Globe and Mail (subscription required):

Concordia University in Montreal has handed a stunning victory to the forces of violence and intimidation. By refusing to allow Ehud Barak, a former Israeli prime minister, to give a speech on campus, it has in effect handed a veto over free speech to those who would riot to make a point.

And from Monday’s Toronto Star:

But forced silence on controversial issues is a much greater threat to the university than protesters ever could be. By supplanting freedom of speech by forced silence, Concordia’s administrators have made a mockery of the university’s motto: “Real education for the real world.”

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Hillel:

“A small group of thugs are holding an entire university community hostage and deciding who is allowed to speak and who is not. All people who value democratic principles such as freedom of expression and speech should share our outrage with this intolerable situation.” – co-Presidents Jason Portnoy and Yacov Fruchter, in a press release.

“That peace that we all felt at Concordia was a Band-Aid. This was not resolved.” – Jason Portnoy, co-President, as reported by CTV news.

“I am truly embarrassed by such failures in a democracy in the 21st century. I am afraid to ask, but if my fellow students are not interested in free speech and inquiry for all of us on campus, regardless of a speaker’s political opinions, than what exactly are we learning at school?” – Tal Elharrar, in an opinion piece in today’s Link

Federation CJA:

“This is a day of great sadness for those who value freedom of expression in our universities and in Canadian society. Concordia University has allowed itself to be taken hostage by a small and violent group within its campus. With this decision, Concordia has demonstrated that the right to free speech is only as strong as the institutional will to protect it.” – Sylvain Abitbol, President, in a statement.

The university administration:

“It is unfortunate, but a reality nonetheless, that the safety of its community members and guests must occupy a central position in planning events at an institution dedicated to free speech.” – Concordia vice-president Michael Di Grappa, in a press release.

SPHR:

“It’s a matter of Canada respecting its own laws. You don’t allow someone into the country who’s an accused war criminal. [ . . . ] Bringing (Barak) to campus would have shown a general disregard for a very large number of people who don’t want him to speak.” – Erik Yingling, SPHR, in today’s Gazette

“He is a war criminal and he shouldn’t be allowed to speak at a public institution like Concordia. Free speech is not unlimited in Canada. I’m glad they learned from their first mistake and came to their senses.” – Chadi Marouf, SPHR, in today’s Globe and Mail.

“I want to make this clear, there would still be people who would not want him to come, he is after all an accused war criminal, but personally I would go to the speech and, if a question and answer period was guaranteed, I would call him out on the crimes he is accused of,” said Yingling. “That being said, I think the university exercised a good degree of common sense when rendering their final decision.” – Eric Yingling, SPHR, in today’s Link.

The Media:

“Freedom of speech is again under assault at Montreal’s Concordia University by administrators who seem to value tranquility on campus more than they do the rights of people to debate controversial ideas.”Toronto Star editorial.

“[The SPHR] is amazed at its own success… they don’t even have to break windows again. Their reputation precedes them. The mere threat of violence was enough to get the university to capitulate.” – Tommy Schnurmacher, on CJAD radio this morning.

At large:

The contention that a speech by a former Head of State of a democracy can be classified as “provocation” is absurd; rather, it should be seen as a welcome beginning to open dialogue. The stigma associated with a “controversial” speaker represents a disturbing delusion. If a controversial viewpoint is defined as one that many people will disagree with, then controversial speakers are the ones who will most likely advance the course of debate on contentious issues. I’d far prefer to listen to a “controversial” speaker than one who attracts no dissenting opinions. – Josh Fisher, Concordia student in a letter to the Link.

“This would no doubt please the anti-Israeli activists who prevented Benjamin Netanyahu from speaking in 2002. With one riot, they’ll have managed to prevent two Israeli statesmen from speaking at a Canadian university.”– Jonathan Kay, posting to the National Post blog.

“Congratulations, my leftie friends. Concordia is yours. You will no longer have to suffer the indignity of viewpoints you don’t like being represented on campus. It may be some time before the dictatorship of the proletariat takes over society as a whole, but dang it, this is a start.”Damian Penny.

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