1st Amendment and Etiquette… Only in the U.SJules Hirst
Last week, conservative political commentator, Ann Coulter, had a speech cancelled at the University of Ottawa because of protestors and I couldnâ€™t stop thinking about it.Â Which side was right?Â Should the speech have been cancelled?
The job of a political commentator is to not only get your point across but also to make sure that point is remembered.Â Ann Coulter makes some outrageous comments.Â Does she believe them?Â Absolutely.Â Could she word them differently?Â Probably, but then you wouldnâ€™t be remembered and in commentary, controversy sells.
The University of Ottawa invited Coulter to speak on campus.Â By extending the invitation, the university should have been aware of Coulterâ€™s reputation for outrageous comments and been prepared for it.Â In fact, a member of the academic counsel sent Coulter a letter to remind her that Canada has laws regarding hate speech and she could face charges for her comments.Â So, obviously someone was aware what might be said.
When going to a foreign country, you need to be respectful of their laws and customs.Â Living in America, we take our freedoms and the first amendment for granted.Â When we leave the country, we must remember that these freedoms and protections do not go with us and we must abide by the rules and laws of the country we are visiting.Â Ann Coulter should have been aware of this when she accepted the invitation and realized that she should tone down her speech to be within the law.
Colleges and universities should encourage ideas and be places where different viewpoints and opinions can be expressed.Â By cancelling the speech, the University of Ottawa did just the opposite.Â They were guilty of censorship.Â They used the guise of safety â€“ because of the protestors it wouldnâ€™t be safe for Ann Coulter to speak â€“ and decided to censor her opinions.
So, who is right?Â The school should have known what they were getting when they booked Ann Coulter.Â Ann Coulter should have known about the Canadian laws and prepared accordingly.Â Did she?Â Probably not because if she were charged, it would add to her publicity.
Â In the end, I think the University of Ottawa and its students are the losers.Â The pro-Coulter students lost because they didnâ€™t get to hear her speech.Â The anti-Coulter students lost because they censored free speech and obviously have learned nothing in their studies â€“ unless theyâ€™re majoring in running dictatorships.Â Finally, the school lost because they tried to shut down Ann Coulter and have only made her stronger.Â After all this controversy, Ann Coulter keeps her name in the news and the requests for her appearances keep rolling in.Â Her books keep selling and her bank account keeps rising.Â Well played University of Ottawa.
What do you think?Â Would love to hear your thoughts.…