Monday, April 03, 2006

Another 'security risk assessment' stifles free speech

A spokesperson for Borders said the US bookstore chain decided to not carry Free Inquiry magazine because it contained the Danish Mohammed cartoons.
"For us, the safety and security of our customers and employees is a top priority, and we believe that carrying this issue could challenge that priority." Source
Concordia University made a similar decision a few years ago to block two Israeli prime ministers from speaking at the downtown and Loyola campus. It cited a "security risk assessment."

Then, like now, I think it is a grave error to give in to the threat of violence.

Where else but at a university and a bookstore can issues be discussed or debated? Indeed, the same week Borders made its decision to ban the magazine, it was the main sponsor of a book convention that published an ad stating: "Never met a banned author I didn't like".

Ad for Borders-sponsored book event published
same week as Borders bans magazine publishing
dreaded cartoons of infamy

Unless liberal democrats stand up for themselves, more violence is what they will get. The reason I don't shoplift is that I know with 100 percent certainty what will happen if I'm caught. And I don't like those consequences.

With every retreat by liberal democrats, violent protesters are more certain what will happen if they use violence -- they will get what they want.

Lesson learned from 2002 Concordia riot:
Violence works

Lesson learned from 2006 Danish embassy firebombing:
Violence works

Here's what George Jonas wrote at the time about Concordia's decision to cave into threats of violence. It applies to the Borders decision too.
Like all fascists, the protestors weren't interested in debate. They didn't want to tell their side of the story; they wanted to silence others. What the governors of Concordia did in September was to let fascism carry the day. This wasn't their intention; their intention was merely to preserve the peace. Like many who set too great a store on peace, order and good government, the officials assumed that concentrating on the first two -- peace and order -- would automatically assure the third.

But that's not how things work.

Peace and order may follow good government, but they don't assure it. Good government is assured by doing the right thing.

In a country based on such principles as freedom of inquiry and freedom of association, a university can't do the right thing by silencing both sides in a debate; it can only do the right thing by enabling both sides to speak.

Political sympathies for one side or another are neither here nor there. In a liberal democracy, the authorities must support the side that wishes to exercise its fundamental right to speak and assemble against the side that would prevent it by intimidation and force.

- George Jonas, National Post, November 28, 2002

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