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Tyler Lively

Free Speech on Campus Series: Queen’s University

As students in Ukraine and Venezuela take to the streets to protest against their tyrannical governments for their right to live as free and dignified individuals, we ought to reflect on how blessed we are to live in a country like Canada. But, at the same time, it is essential to realize that the liberties we cherish are not absolute. To continue to have them, we must do more than use buzzwords to pay freedom lip service - we must live freely. That starts with expressing yourself. Freedom of speech, the ability to express ourselves as we please, is the foundation of all other freedoms. It is our way of shaping society and  protecting our liberties. Here in Canada we are lucky to have this freedom, unlike students in countless other countries around the world. However, we are squandering that right and nowhere is this truer than in our universities. By free expression, I mean quite simply being able to say what one wants regardless of how much it offends someone else. Anything short of threats of violence and repeated harassment should be permitted. No, we should not as a community tolerate homophobia, racism, and the degradation of one's religion or lack thereof. We should allow these views to be expressed and challenge them in a calm, respectful manner. That is a safe speech, and that is how we can effectively create a more tolerant society - by being tolerant. Ostracizing and silencing those who disagree not only creates a hostile university environment, it is ineffective. Over the past couple of years, there have been a number of incidents that have made me question our universities’ commitment to being institutions of free and open discourse. Here at Queen’s, the most recent example of a failure to uphold the values of a… Read More