Friday, December 8, 2006

Dead Solid Perfect in the National Post [Serge]

The National Post, who doesn't seem particularly pro-life, seems to understand this debate better than any mainstream press that I have encountered. Read the whole thing, but here is a good excerpt:

Pro-Choice, Pro-Censorship

Student governments and student activists (often indistinguishable) do not usually deserve the scrutiny of the national press, on the sensible grounds that imprudent decisions made by novice politicians in the hothouse campus environment are best left ignored. Moreover, as is well known, student governments are usually comprised of a rather small and often radical segment of the student body, the majority of which never bother to vote in campus elections, and pay no attention to what their alleged representatives are doing. Don't blame Carleton students for their government.

That said, CUSA's action is Orwellian, mean-spirited and more than a little weird.

CUSA's policy is aimed at what it calls the "anti-choice" agenda. Their anti-anti-choice solution is to do what they can to penalize students who argue for a different choice. The new policy at least clarifies that CUSA is not "pro-choice" at all, but flat-out pro-abortion. In CUSA's conception, choice means denying students the choice of forming clubs to reflect their interests. It is straight out of Orwell's 1984.

At Queen's University, for instance, the campus pro-life club was re-established recently after many years of inactivity. The issue arose at Carleton when a new club -- Carleton Lifeline -- held a debate on campus and increased its profile. Anecdotally, it appears that pro-life students are more confident of taking part in campus life today.

That makes CUSA's decision, frankly, mean-spirited. To the extent that pro-life students want to organize themselves, it is mark of civic engagement, a willingness to question campus orthodoxies, and of no little courage, given the hostile environment on campus. A vibrant campus should welcome such students. To set them aside for special, punitive treatment fails even the basic test of courtesy, to say nothing of fairness.

Moreover, the CUSA policy is oddly pointless. If the campus is as enthusiastically pro-abortion as CUSA claims, what added advantage is to be gained from this policy, at a serious cost in terms of the university's reputation as a place of debate and free speech?

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