Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Can Canadian Campuses Countenance Coulter?

Ann Coulter is scheduled to speak today at the University of Ottawa.

Last Friday she received a letter from François Houle, University of Ottawa Vice-President Academic & Provost, warning her that "promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges."

I wonder if Mr. Houle would write a similar letter to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad if he were to be invited to speak at the U of O campus.

Although I am a graduate of Carleton University, I can tell you that U of O has a splendid campus situated in Ottawa's Sandy Hill neighborhood. But I digress.

Last night, while speaking at the University of Western Ontario in London, Coulter sardonically replied she would file a grievance with the Human Rights Commission. "I'm sure the Human Rights Commission will get to the bottom of it. I think I'm the victim of a hate crime here," she said to applause.

If Coulter is serious about filing a grievance it is more likely she would do so with Ontario Human Rights Commission rather than the Canadian Human Rights Commission since U of O is a provincial institution. When Mark Steyn had grievances filed against him by the President of the Canadian Islamic Congress a couple of years back I argued that conservatives should use the federal and provincial human rights commissions to their advantage rather than call for their abolition. If she were to lodge a complaint it would make things very interesting as it would put the human rights commissions and its modus operandi under international scrutiny. But methinks she made the statement in jest.

In November 2004, shortly after George W. Bush was re-elected, I attended a talk given by Coulter at Boston College. I think most of what she says has to be taken with a grain of salt. She's goings for laughs. So if people genuinely disagree with Coulter the best way to deal with her is neither by fire nor banishment but with humor.

It's not like the entire student body is being forced to hear Coulter. If you don't want to hear her then fine but don't prevent other people from hearing what she has to say. Mr. Houle's heavy handedness succeeded only in drawing attention to her. If he had held his tongue then how many people would have bothered to notice Coulter wasn't on American soil this week?

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