Saturday, March 27, 2010
Bill O'Reilly Nails It
It isn't often that Bill O'Reilly finds a surplus of praise at the Nexus, but viewing his interview with Now Magazine's Susan Cole, one can't help but avoid the conclusion that he managed to nail it.
If O'Reilly has one particular talent, it may be to use his reputation as a right-wing ideologue to flush out left-wing ideologues for precisely what they are.
In the case of Susan Cole, he accomplishes this with just one question: why can't Ann Coulter speak at a university campus?
The topic at hand, of course, was the recent cancellation of a Coulter speech scheduled for the University Ottawa under circumstances that seem to remain the matter of some dispute.
Cole insists that Coulter could speak at a right-wing think tank or at a lecture hall (although she doesn't elaborate on where one may find an off-campus lecture hall).
Cole's insistence that Coulter could speak anywhere but a university is very revelatory. It tells us precisely what Cole thinks the role of a university should be -- to disseminate views that she finds palatable, and lock any that she doesn't out.
For example, one would not that the University of Ottawa has no problem hosting a wide variety of anti-Israel speakers on its campus. One would even wonder if Francois Houle would send a letter like the one he sent to Ann Coulter to an individual like Syed Soharwardy, if he were to accept a speaking engagement at the University of Ottawa.
The public discourse on the topic of Coulter has always been a little peculiar. Rarely have the off-beat jokes and hyperbole of one individual been treated as such substantive fare for protest. In the case of Ann Coulter it can be difficult to tell what is offered sheerly in jest from what is truly objectionable -- there has certainly been some of both.
But when clear hyperbole is taken as cause for hate crime complaints it's become clear that Canada's human rights regimes have grown far beyond what should be considered tolerable by a free-thinking society.
It's time to start peeling back and reforming some of the "limits" on freedom of speech in Canada. That freedom shouldn't be one that can be practiced without consequence -- hate speech should still be prosecuted as a matter of criminal law -- but the use of human rights commissions as a method to freeze out speech that Francois Houle and Susan Cole don't like has to come to an end as quickly as possible.
When it does, many may look back on Bill O'Reilly's remarks on the difference between hyperbole and hate speech as the asteroid that led to the extinction of left-wing dinocaurs like Susan Cole.