Ann Coulter and Freedom of Speech by Jason Setnyk
Cornwall ON – Right-wing Fox News pundit Ann Coulter visited Canada in March of 2010 on a spoken word tour visiting some Canadian Universities.
According to news reports at Western University Coulter expressed her views that Muslims should not be allowed to ride airplanes, and she told one Muslim student to ride a camel.
In the United States freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment, but even in America, there are limits to free speech including defamation, obscenity, and incitement to crime.
Here in Canada, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects free speech, but our charter has a reasonable limits clause. For example we have hate laws in Canada, and one University of Ottawa official politely emailed Coulter about these laws, so she would not violate these laws.
Some people believe there should be no limits to free speech, but even Fox News who has a host who tells people to shut-up all the time, does not drop the f-bomb on air.
In Canada and in the United States, anyone can express an opinion on a soapbox, or write an editorial. Some would be so brash as to say that the protesters at Ottawa University were hindering Ann Coulter’s freedom of speech. In Canada and in the United States, the First Amendment and Charter of Freedoms, protects citizens freedom of speech from its own government.
If the police stopped the protesters, they would have been hindering the protesters freedom of speech. People are allowed to disagree, and people are aloud to protest, that is key to our freedoms. Some might disagree with limits to our freedom of speech, and they have the freedom to disagree and debate this, for example limits on hate speech.
But at the end of the day Ann Coulter’s freedom of speech was in no way hindered by our government. If a protester committed a crime, like pulling a fire alarm, that is an issue of mischief for the police to investigate. At the end of the day, Ann Coulter has more media air time than 99.9% of us, to express her extreme views on society, economics, and politics all the time. She is in a privileged position to have her speech heard by millions every day, because despite the fact that she offers little to an intellectual debate, she is entertaining, and she gives Fox good ratings.
So don’t feel bad for Ann Coulter, and don’t deny Canadians their right to protest, because that would truly be a violation of our charter.
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