While everyone argues about Masuma Khan’s anti-Canada social media postings, Dalhousie University’s investigation of same and the implication for freedom of expression on campus, I think they’re overlooking the real lesson of this mess.
Which is: vote in your student council elections.
As a proud UNB alumnus I can’t speak for the home of Atlantic Canada’s second-best law school, but I’m sure the overwhelming majority of students do not agree with Khan. But she was elected fair and square, because most people simply couldn’t be bothered to vote. This is why most university student unions are politically somewhere to the left of the Symbionese Liberation Army.
Now that she is being investigated by the school for expressing her opinion, this is a good test case to determine who really believes freedom of expression is sacrosanct, and who just supports it for their own side. I was personally offended by much of what Khan wrote, but I believe this investigation is a travesty:
A Dalhousie University student is facing disciplinary action over a post she made to Facebook in the summer about Canada 150 celebrations.
Masuma Khan said she was given the option to undergo counselling and write a reflective essay after the Halifax-based school conducted an investigation into a complaint about her online comments, but she says she refused.
Earlier this year, Khan, who is a vice-president of the Dalhousie Student Union (DSU), put forward a motion that the group not participate in Canada 150 celebrations. The executive passed her motion, saying it wouldn’t hold or endorse Canada Day events on campus, describing this year’s events as an act of colonialism.
The student union faced a serious backlash over the decision and Khan took to social media in response, writing that “white fragility can kiss my ass. Your white tears aren’t sacred, this land is.”
Some libertarians have risen to Khan’s defence, and like Reason‘s excellent Robby Soave, note that this is the inevitable result of policing “offensive” speech:
…this is what happens when she hurt my feelings, burn the witch! becomes the dominant norm on campus. Of course such a regime would backfire on the left. It was only a matter of time before fed up conservatives, who are already outnumbered on campus, made use of the considerable administrative bureaucracy that exists for the sole purpose of making everybody comfortable. When the radicals gave up on free speech, they put themselves at greatest risk.
Many others who usually consider themselves free-speech activists have been notably silent, however. If Ezra Levant has tweeted about it, I must have missed it.
On the other hand, some law professors at Dalhousie have published an open letter backing Ms. Khan, but also implying that speech they agree with must be defended:
Someday a Dalhousie student will get in trouble for posting some political opinions the law professors deem offensive. Will they defend that speech as well?