University of Toronto
In the usual modern discussion about universities and free speech, the common wisdom is that golly, they used to be the very places where freedom of expression really had its head and ran wild, but now, it's all changed.

And maybe that was their experience, or as they say on campuses now, their lived experience. It sure as hell wasn't mine.

I was a journalism student at Ryerson University (this was before it had aspirations and was just Ryerson Polytechnical Institute) in the early 1970s, when the Toronto Sun first rose from the ashes of the Toronto Telegram. It was only the first brand-new major newspaper in the country in decades, nothing to get excited about, and on the school's downtown campus, even in the journalism school, they surely didn't.

Off and on from its launch, the Sun was banned from that campus and others, or banned from classrooms, and usually talked about with an knowing sneer: In those days, the paper had its quasi-naked Page 3 Sunshine Girl, it was unabashedly conservative, and it was a cop-and-sports tabloid to boot.

Clearly, it wasn't to be taken seriously.

I later worked at the paper for about 15 glorious years (the Sun is now owned by Postmedia) and that view of it persisted, and probably still does among the right people, and by the right people, I mean the Brandon Dixon sort, Dixon being the actor who hectored the U.S. Vice-President Elect Mike Pence last weekend, begging him after a Broadway performance to defend "the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious."

I mention this only as an illustration of what was, even way back when, a profoundly constipated culture, at least on one campus. At Rye High, as we called it, you were most free to speak as long as you clung to the conventional left-wing cant.

Nothing has changed, as a quick survey of Canadian campuses shows.

In Saskatchewan this month, a University of Regina associate professor, Dr. Michelle Stewart, organized protests against Candis McLean and her controversial book about the 1990 freezing death of an aboriginal youth.

(I started the book, called When Police Become Prey: The Cold, Hard Facts of Neil Stonechild's Freezing Death, but was writing one of my own at the time and haven't finished it. But McLean's thesis is that the two Saskatoon police officers blamed for the boy's death couldn't have been involved.)

McLean had speaking/signing events booked at a bookstore and three hotels in Regina, but one by one, all cancelled under threat of a scene, which is all it takes.

As the professor wrote on Facebook on Nov. 4, "Hey folks, happy Friday night. We have ONE last hotel to contact to get rid of Candis McLean's garbage book. ... Join me in calling the Quality Inn ASAP... "

McLean complained to university president Dr. Vianne Timmons, and on Nov. 22, Timmons wrote back to say, alas, there was nothing to be done because academic staff have the freedom to speak on "issues not related to the performance of their duties."

(Stewart updates that Facebook page of hers sufficiently it must be part of her duties.)

Give Timmons some credit, in that she recognized the perplexing irony of her defending "the right of one of the university faculty members to impede your (McLean's) right to free speech and assembly."

At the University of Toronto, of course, there is the saga of Jordan Peterson, the psychology professor who has vowed not to use the genderless pronouns already mandated by provincial human rights codes and soon to be added to federal codes, and has been vilified for it — not by the public or students, but by his professorial colleagues.

They spring from the same old sort of cloth that swaddled some of my non-journalism professors at Ryerson, early social justice warriors in the eternal battle against the oppressors, whose guises change but are always oppressing someone.

One of the profs who engaged Peterson in purported debate last weekend, for instance, is Mary Bryson, a deeply respected and well-regarded administrator and teacher at the University of British Columbia.

Bryson's two areas of expertise, as she swore in an affidavit prepared for the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia against Trinity Western University, the evangelical Christian school that wants to open a law school (and was opposed by the law society in Nova Scotia), are 1) the critical studies of gender and sexuality and 2) the role of "education and educational contexts in the democratization of knowledge access and citizenship, and in the consideration of related human rights, for sexual and or gender-minority individuals and communities."

I went to a trade school. I barely know what all that means. I wouldn't have thought those studies a good career made. But they have.

Bryson is a senior associate dean at UBC's education faculty, happily in the midst of what's called Teacher Education for All!, or TEFA, which will see every faculty member, staff person and student trained at the same time and on every level in "LGBT-inclusive initiatives."

Comment: This sounds more like indoctrination programming. From this article:
Peterson told the National Post that he decided to make the video and go public with his views after receiving a memo from university HR outlining new mandatory anti-racist and anti-bias training. "That disturbs me because if someone asked me to take anti-bias training, I think I am agreeing that I am sufficiently racist or biased to need training," he said in an interview.

Peterson also said he doesn't believe there is sufficient research to show these kind of HR practices, which he said may constitute "psychological intervention," are effective.

He said he is concerned the university is consulting groups like the Black Liberation Collective on campus policy matters, noting he respects their right to exist and protest, but questioning their credentials to offer expert opinion. "I have no problem with them, people can organize themselves however they want, but I have an issue with U of T considering them a legitimate policy advisor," he said. "I don't think there is any evidence U of T is a racist university. I think we have done an extraordinary job of building a multi-racial and multi-ethnic university and
community, better so than almost all schools."
The aforementioned Black Liberation Collective and some of its founders have been known to make threats and against men and white people, as well as called for violence, if need be, in regards to their "movement." Yet they are in a position to advice a university on anti-oppression policy? This open letter from students to the university had this to say:
Perhaps the actions of Yusra Khogali {co-founder of the BLC} could be it. The fact that Khogali has not been censured by the University for her words and actions is perplexing and disturbing, to say the least. In her various media communications, she has claimed that white skin is "sub-humxn"; used racial slurs against individuals respectfully sharing their opinion; and expressed a desire to murder "white ppl and men". It is difficult to put into words just how alienating and terrifying it is to know that an open racist who advocates for the use of violence is advising the University on pertinent matters, claiming to hold the secrets to "anti-oppression" and being allowed to ruin peaceful demonstrations. What Khogali's actions amount to is bullying, at best [9].

Finally, where is the University's condemnation of the Black Liberation Collective - a racist activist group that openly embraces violence("We will strive for liberation by any means necessary, including but not limited to:armed self-defense. [...] We condone whatever methods Black people adopt to liberate themselves and their kin.")? We find the fact that the administration has not availed itself of this openly available information baffling and hard to believe. And if the University has been aware of the violent nature of the BLC, then why has the administration not only failed to denounce this organization, but also continues to take anti-oppression training advice from this group [10]?

Then there's Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., now actively involved in hunting down the white people perhaps affiliated with Queen's who dressed in inappropriate costumes (Viet Cong fighters, monks, etc.) at an off-campus party. And Friday, the University of Alberta law faculty announced it is investigating whether students who wrote a satirical article — meant as a funny piece, it depicted a fictional "desperate drunk girl" and was merely dopey — have breached the school's code of conduct by perpetuating, and worse normalizing, dangerous stereotypes about women.

The humourless are still firmly in charge of the university campus, as ever, but now they're the hated hegemony.