Ryerson Free Speech Event Shut Down
The cries of fascism are everywhere these days, much like the cries of Wolf! once uttered by a little shepherd boy in fables from long ago. The townspeople could almost be forgiven for buying into into the narrative, after all, fascism is deeply unpopular. It raises images of concentration camps and gulags. Of jackboots and forced tattoos. Of political violence, arbitrary starvation, and a culture so authoritarian that you neighbors will turn you in for criticizing the regime, or lending aide to those most victimized by it. Of being disappeared in the middle of the night, friends, family and all and never being heard from again.
The faces of fascism change over time. Stalin was one such face. Hitler, another. Mao. Mussolini. The Afrikaner Resistance Movement. Today, however, the face of fascism is a former reality TV star-turned Leader of the Free World, if his critics are to be believed.
The argument is that his policies reflect a fascist intent. And perhaps there is some merit to that argument. However, call me crazy, but I’m far more concerns about a decentralized, ambiguous and poorly-defined movement that are calling people Nazis and Fascists without any accountability or standards, and engaging in outright brownshirt-style tactics than I am of an organization that must, by its very existence, leave a paper trail. There is a large difference between anti-racist protesters and AntiFa, and the media should take the time to learn the difference.
As if that wasn’t enough, noting the influence that these nebulous groups have had on hacking the Overton Window, which describes the range of ideas the public will accept, is nothing short of jaw dropping.
Enter Jordan Peterson, Gad Saad, Faith Goldy and Oren Amitay.
The four Canadian speakers, three professors and a journalist from various places on the political spectrum, were slated to appear in a panel discussion at Ryerson University titled The Stifling of Free Speech on University Campuses. Subsequently, and without a hint of irony, campus activists fought to have the event shut down. They succeeded.
As if they were expecting it, a change of venue was quickly announced, along with the ability to seat hundreds more people. But that didn’t deter the activists as the group responsible for getting the Ryerson event shut down was soon at it again.
Enter now social media user Christeen Elizabeth (Not her real identity.) Ms. Elizabeth allegedly took it upon herself to organize much of the pushback against the event, citing Peterson’s refusal to use third-gender pronouns as a matter of principle, and Faith Goldy’s involvement with Rebel Media and her appearance at a Unite the Right rally in the United States. She seems to believe that despite their varied political positions, that they all seem to represent fascism. It’s a thought shared by others in the media, but perhaps they are just as misinformed and dogmatic.
In response to these actions, Dr. Oren Amitay reached out in an effort to communicate and discuss her concerns, and even encouraged her to reach out to the event organizer and request to be included in the talk itself.
Her response was to ignore the messages entirely, and when called out on it… accuse Dr. Amitay of photoshopping the messages. (To which Dr. Amitay then took video evidence as well, just to drive the point home.)
But apparently this isn’t Ms. Elizabeth’s first time shutting down events. As it appears she played a hand in shutting down comedian Danny Polishchuk’s comedy show. It didn’t seem to be pressure that caused the show to cave. But rather vandalism. In what appears to be a puerile cry of victory, the disappointed post from the comedian in question is pinned to the top of the event page encouraging the show to be shut down.
The reality is that there is a deep irony in shutting down an event on a university campus dedicated to discussing the shutting down of events on university campuses. Even those unassociated with the political mud-flinging taking place on both sides of the coin would think twice upon hear them. And those who prefer to look into things themselves might notice that the reasons these speakers are getting shut down are mostly hearsay, ancient history, or the result of two-dimensional evaluations of their talking points.
Keep in mind that this is no way defends true fascists. I have not the time nor sympathy nor patience to entertain fascism. But I do respect responsibility, truth and the discourse itself. It shouldn’t be controversial to support free speech just because idiots can also use free speech. That is the price, a necessary evil for being able to speak truth to power. Free speech does not create hate action. But the stifling of it may yet result in them, and that is where my concerns lay.
You can pre-order tickets for the Stifling of Free Speech on University Campuses event here beginning August 30th.