Yesterday, a group of feminists at the University of Toronto staged a protest against a speech by Warren Farrell, a prominent men’s rights activist. The speech is said to have been focussed on men’s issues (suicide, poor education, etc.), but the protesters believe the very presence of Warren promotes hate speech, rape culture, and sexism. So they called for it to be shut down and Warren to be removed.
I take issue with this protest.
First, the speech is about men’s issues, plain and simple. The whole idea that this speech should be halted simply because the speaker is a “sexist” is one large fallacious ad hominem attack. These are serious issues; 3x higher suicide rate, 1/3 likelihood of attending university, and 94% of workplace deaths are things we need to take seriously and it’s foolish to ignore them simply because the person telling us about them is someone you don’t like.
Jesus, it’s Movember, the month we’re supposed to focus on men’s issues. The guy behind the podium was even sporting a new moustache, I’ll assume in support of the month. Yet he’s leading the charge against the speech.
Next, I hate living in a country where people think it’s just to order someone to be silent. I’m all for people exercising their right to disagree, even loudly. But “off our campus” is nonsense. Let him speak! And in the meantime, say why he’s wrong. Gather in disagreement, not in censorship. This is not how the marketplace of ideas is fuelled.
What these protesters are basically saying is “Your right to speak, ends at my feelings” and it infuriates me.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t take issue with protesting. Like I said, I’m all for them gathering, shouting their disagreements, and waving signs around. It’s the fact that they think they’re right to order Warren off campus that cheeses me off. And while I think their protest was bogus, I don’t think the cops were justified in manhandling them (no pun intended). What I saw there was excessive.
Anyway, I think this is idiotic; it’s not how discussions are held and no one will ever listen to you when you’re the one telling everyone you don’t like to “shush!”. Our laws in Canada concerning speech basically say “You are free to be nice” and it’s infecting our culture. I wish protests would go back to being against injustice, instead of protests being unjust.