By: Jack Leila

We all know our rights and freedoms. We have the freedom of the press, freedom of religion and freedom to our own political ideologies based on section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Those few rights are just the beginning of what our rights and freedoms entail. So why are certain people silenced? Why are human rights groups at McMaster marginalized? Why do they have to be careful of who they offend when they should be worried about the people they are fighting for?

Protests at McMaster are rarely ever covered by the media. When they are, the articles are not about the positive effects of the protest, but rather police intervention and the different ways the groups were forced to leave campus.

This not only threatens the fundamental freedom of expression given to all Canadians by the Canadian government, but also what McMaster calls the freedom of expression it gives to its students.

Political correctness is important but only to a certain level. If someone is afraid to fight for a marginalized group, what kind of freedom is that?

McMaster University is made up of students with diverse voices and opinions. It is meant to support freedom of expression, but there can’t be expression without allowing students to speak out against the inequalities occurring at McMaster and around the world?

McMaster advocates equality and a good education for all students but when it comes down to it, lines blur between the school and organizations who just want to advocate equality.

This not only threatens the fundamental freedom of expression given to all Canadians by the Canadian government, but also what McMaster calls the freedom of expression it gives to its students.

Where freedom of speech is taken away from human rights groups, it is given somewhere else, perhaps in a place where it should never be.

Recently, McMaster put out freedom of expression guidelines saying, “there are very narrow grounds under which McMaster should restrict or stop a speaker or an event”.

This may have been a reuslt of the Jordan Peterson incident, where a controversial psychology professor for the University of Toronto was invited to speak at McMaster, who has claimed that he “does not recognize another person’s right to determine what pronouns he uses to address them.

For marginalized communities who have struggled to have their right to identifying themselves, allowing someone like Peterson to speak on campus is oppressive.

Given that choosing to identify yourself as you please is a legal right in Canada, it should definitely be supported on campus.

Though there are a number of student-run groups that do so, McMaster as a university should be more considerate of this in terms of indirect associations and possible interference.

I’m not in any way condoning violence. I am questioning why a person who violates the McMaster values was invited to speak at an event.

Nothing about Peterson emulates what McMaster is supposed to stand for. What he advocated for in his lecture at McMaster was despicable, rude and politically incorrect. There is a line between types of protest: protest for human rights and protests that do not support human rights activism. McMaster needs to decide where it stands and what it supports.

The protests surrounding Peterson’s visit would have never happened if he was not allowed to speak at our university.

I hope that McMaster changes the way it approaches student protests because we, the students, are those who should represent McMaster.

Does our university want to be known as the one who encourages the silencing of student voices?

McMaster needs to reconsider what it places importance on. What is more important, the press rights of someone who speaks of traditional, politically incorrect ways or the press rights of someone who wants to change our campus into a safe environment, where students can express themselves freely?

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