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“freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression” June 20, 2006

Posted by dtenjo in Canada, News and politics, Politics, Society.


I was very surprised when I found out what happened yesterday at Ryerson, a Canadian University in the province of Ontario. It turns out that a person who was receiving an honorary degree, was shown signs of disrespect from other professors, and people in general. While Margeret Sommerville was receiving her degree, inside of the auditorium some professors turned their backs and held protest banners on stage, while in the stands and outside, other people showed all sorts of signs of protest.

The reason?.. It turns out that Dr. Somerville, has some views on the negative effects that same-sex marriage would bring to society. Does it make any sense that gay rights supporters, those who fight for freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and diversity in society are disrespecting a person in this way? To me this shows a double morale, in which they want rights for some people, but they fail to recognize the rights of others.

They say Dr. Sommerville is a homophobic, failing to recognize that the fact that someone points out the negative effects of same-sex marriage on society, and specifically on the children, does not make a person a homophobic. Homophobic people, as those who fail to accept gay people and discriminate them, should not be tolerated; however, people who find negative views on some of the concessions that gay supporters are demanding, should be listened and respected.

In a society that feels proud of its diversity and its freedom, all persons should be able to express their views on matters that affect everyone, as long as these views don't attack anyone's integrity, and are expressed in a respectful way. Just like gay supporters should be respected in their views, those who point out some potential negative effects on some of the gay issues, should also be respected at all times. Gay people have many rights, and so do all the other people in society. No signs of disrespect should be tolerated on someone's views, especially in the Canadian society.
If we want a society the has solid grounds, debate should be welcome. Otherwise society will be partitioned, conflict will be generated, and the values that govern society will never be clear. The Canadian charter of rights and freedoms regards the freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression as a fundamental freedom. A ceremony where a person is recognized for her academic achievements should not be sabbotaged, as this act of disrespect attacks the fundamental freedom in question.




1. thickslab - June 20, 2006

Nobody stopped her from speaking. Nobody is preventing Sommerville from advocating her views. She has not been censored. So what is all this about the people who are protesting her “fail[ing] to recognize the rights of others?” Since when is countering speech with other speech somehow oppressive, attacking “the fundamental freedom in question?”

If you say something someone doesn’t like and they respond back, tough luck. The Charter doesn’t say a single word about respect.

2. D - June 20, 2006

You are right, nobody censored sommerville, or prevented her from advocating her views… Thank God for that. I consider that the disrespect comes from trying to sabbotage a recognition that a university is granting on her. Respect is something we all desire, wether it is on The Charter or not.

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