Sometimes censorship comes from a different kind of authoritarianism …
Only hours after students installed a “Free Speech Wall” at Carleton University to prove that campus free speech was alive and well, it was torn down by an activist who claimed the wall was an “act of violence,” against the gay community.
“What we wanted to promote was competition of ideas, rather than ‘if I disagree with you I’ve got to censor you,’” said Ian CoKehyeng, founder of Carleton Students for Liberty, the creators of the wall.
Installed on Monday in the Unicentre Galleria, one of campus’ most high-traffic areas, the wall was really more of a 1.2 x 1.8 meter wooden plank wrapped in paper and equipped with felt markers.
In truth, the wall’s only overt references to sexual orientation were pro-gay, such as “QUEERS ARE AWESOME,” “Gay is OK” and “I [Heart] Queers.”
By Tuesday morning the wall was gone, destroyed in an act of “forceful resistance,” by seventh-year human rights student Arun Smith.
“In organizing the ‘free speech wall,’ the Students for Liberty have forgotten that liberty requires liberation, and this liberation is prevented by providing space … for the expression of hate,” he wrote in a 600-word Facebook post in which he identified himself as an anti-homophobia campaigner.
Calling the area around the wall a “war zone,” he intimated that it was “but another in a series of acts of violence” against gay rights.
In a Tuesday afternoon Twitter exchange with a CBC reporter, Mr. Smith dubbed free speech an “illusory concept” and declared that “not every opinion is valid, nor deserving of expression.”