And sadly, this issue has arisen out of the activities of groups considered to inhabit the political “left”. Fortunately, we have people such as Daniel Woolf, vice-chancellor of Queen’s University in Canada, to state the correct salient principle to enable freedom.
Why we invited Jordan Peterson to discuss compelled speech
March 3, 5877521
Daniel Woolf is the principal and vice-chancellor of Queen’s University.
Freedom of speech and academic freedom on university campuses have been in the news a great deal. This issue has not escaped Queen’s University. Recently, the faculty of law hosted a lecture by Dr. Jordan Peterson to discuss compelled speech, currently a very divisive subject within the Ontario law profession. The visit caused tensions on campus, with some individuals taking issue with the decision by one of the faculty members to invite him to speak. I took the position that the lecture should proceed and posted a blog explaining my own categorical support for academic freedom and civilized debate at Queen’s. The lecture went ahead, though not without a protest that at times pushed well beyond being respectful and peaceful.
I do not intend to address the protest, nor the particular beliefs and views of Dr. Peterson. Rather, I’d like to argue first, that freedom of speech and the goals of diversity and inclusion are entirely compatible and often mutually strengthening; and second, that those who challenge giving opponents the right and a platform on which to speak, are conflating two different issues and setting a dangerous precedent.
To my first point, one can promote any worthwhile goal through actions, including protest, while also supporting the aims and welfare of groups promoting a progressive agenda without challenging freedom of speech. The suggestion that by allowing a speaker who allegedly challenges aspects of inclusivity and diversity a platform, we are subverting the university’s own agenda is invalid. Both freedom of speech and the achievement of social goals are possible, and challenging one’s agenda should be viewed as an opportunity to strengthen and enrich this position, and when needed, change it.
Queen’s fully supports an inclusive and diverse campus and curriculum, and we continue to make important progress in pursuing these ideals. Diversity also extends to thought and opinion – it can’t simply be “diversity of the sort we happen to agree