Is Informality Simply Too Dangerous?
SAFS Newsletter, #89, September 2021
- Handling problems informally is risky at universities that lack a culture of collegiality; but so also are attempts to handle them formally, for administrators at such institutions will not be committed to the academic mission of their institution.
The Unbearable Irreverence of Philosophy
Teach Philosophy With a Sense of Humor: Why (and How to) Be a Funnier and More Effective Philosophy Teacher and Laugh All the Way to Your Classroom, Kishor Vaidya, editor, 30 July 2021, Kindle eBooks
- The earnest have made our times hellish for the irreverent. For philosophy, which thrives on irreverence, that’s no laughing matter. Or is it?
Neither Top-Down nor Bottom-Up
Minding the Campus, 19 June 2021
- University administrators favour oversight and control. Conscientious academics propose instead that the virtues of civility be inculcated from the bottom up. All would be well, though, were university people simply to dedicate themselves to the academic mission for its own sake.
Self-Censorship and the Academic Mission
Academic Questions, Vol. 33, No. 2, Summer 2021
- Rules and exhortations to civility will only make the problem worse. To combat tendencies to self-censor, we need to strengthen our commitment to the academic endeavour.
Instructor's Statement on Freedom of Expression in the Classroom
Minding the Campus, 18 May 2021
- Students might naively think that because they are at a university, they are free from threat of official sanction to express their beliefs, ideas and emotions during classroom discussions.
Is it Wise to Be Committed to Honesty
The Civil Conversation, 13 May 2021
- Since no reason that takes honesty to be a means to something else is a good reason to be honest, one should be honest only if one loves honesty for its own sake.
Mount Allison University Signals Its Social Justice Commitments Loud and Clear in the Rima Azar Case
The Epoch Times, 9 May 2021
- By disciplining a professor for blog posts, Mount Allison has stifled debate on contentious topics (perhaps that was its purpose).
The Irrelevance of Lived Experience to Liberal Study
New English Review, May 2021
- The quality of a scholar’s work is to be discovered in the work itself, and not to be inferred from the scholar’s lived experience.
Social justice agenda stuffs Saint Mary’s University in intellectual straitjacket
Halifax Chronicle Herald, Friday 29 April 2021
- A university that uses non-academic criteria in making academic decisions and that understands “respect” as solicitude for feelings will not serve its academic mission.
Discipline and Punish
SAFS Newsletter, #88, April 2021
- It’s as though procedures of discipline at a university were designed to be abused.
Hands Off My Syllabus!
Minding the Campus, 6 April 2021
- When a university requires that course outlines contain learning outcomes, statements on plagiarism, etc., that university frustrates its academic mission.
Regrets, I've Had a Few
Minding the Campus, Friday 26 March 2021
- Formal protections for academic freedom do not mean much when universities are willing to use the threat of discipline to control discussion and to promote anti-academic ends.
Why Universities Should Not Be Anti-Racist
The James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal, 24 February 2021
- Universities abandon academic values and their academic mission when they use the means and attempt to serve the goals of contemporary anti-racism.
A Blithe Spirit
Minding the Campus, 19 February 2021
- Indigenization initiatives in hiring that welcome non-traditional paths of education risk bringing into universities people hostile to the academic culture of disputatious, irreverent, open and free inquiry.
Herodotus over Thucydides
The Civil Conversation, February 2021
- Curation and inquiry are both crucial academic projects, but a university loses itself when inquiry does not predominate.
Say What You Please, Even If You Don’t Back it with Reasons
Minding the Campus, 27 January 2021 https://www.mindingthecampus.org/2021/01/27/say-what-you-please-even-if-you-dont-back-it-with-reasons/
- For the sake of critical discussion itself, we must be free to refrain from giving reasons for what we say.
Respect the University
Minding the Campus, 11 January 2021
- Both a cause and a symptom of a university having lost its way is the tendency of administrators at that university to promote care for feelings over respecting people as intellectually and morally autonomous agents.
Constitutional Freedoms and the Universities
Newsletter of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, #87, January 2021
- There are at least three ways in which a good university serves democratic liberal societies of free and equal people: good university is a place of free expression, it helps people to think clearly and independently and it generates trustworthy understandings of the world. Organizations like SAFS are especially important these days, when universities are adopting anti-liberal values and ends.
Bad Words at Ottawa U
Minding the Campus, 9 November 2020, https://www.mindingthecampus.org/2020/11/09/bad-words-at-ottawa-u/
- Academic administrators at the University of Ottawa responded to complaints against a professor in ways contrary to academic values and the academic mission of their institution. Other universities, we can be sure, will respond no better.
Race-Based Restrictions from an Academic Perspective
Newsletter of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, # 86, September 2020, https://www.safs.ca/newsletters/article.php?article=1081
- Race-based policies in universities erode academic culture and intellectual autonomy.
Why a Critical Thinking course?
Halifax Chronicle Herald, 18 August 2020, under the headline “Becoming a truly independent thinker takes courage, commitment”
- Independent thinkers believe what they do on the basis of evidence and argument and not as a result of psychological or social pressure. One way in which Critical Thinking courses help students to become independent thinkers is by making the analysis and evaluation of arguments an exercise that leaves their own beliefs alone.
Hiring on wrong basis
Letter to the editor, Halifax Chronicle Herald, 25 June 2020, https://www.thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/local-perspectives/voice-of-the-people-june-25-2020-465508/
- Universities abandon their academic mission when they hire on the basis of race, ethnicity, or cultural affiliation
The Value of Study for Its Own Sake
Newsletter of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, #85, April 2020, https://www.safs.ca/newsletters/article.php?article=1063
- Only through example and through creating places in which it can thrive can we promote study for its own sake
Responding to arguments against freedom of expression on campus
THE CIVIL CONVERSATION: E-NEWSLETTER OF CIVITAS CANADA, January 2020 Edition, https://www.civitascanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/TCC-Jan-2020.pdf.
- Since restrictions on the content of expression are pressures on thinking and valuing independent of evidence and argument, they are inconsistent with the university’s mission to house and foster intellectual and moral autonomy.
Newsletter of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, #84, January 2020, http://safs.ca/newsletters/article.php?article=1053
- Universities that disassociate themselves from views expressed by professors or students seek to promote social ends at the expense of their academic mission.
In Defence of the Ivory Tower
Newsletter of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, #83, September 2019, http://www.safs.ca/newsletters/article.php?article=1038
- Cracks in the Ivory Tower, by Jason Brennan and Phillip Magness, is a good book, at least so far (I’m about half way through). But I was taken aback early on when Brennan and Magness glibly dismiss the idea that universities might function as places at which people gather to study for the sake of study. It seems to me that whatever else a university tries to do, it won’t do it well unless it takes its proper academic mission absolutely seriously.
Why LAC should not have rescinded its invitation to Harvey Mansfield
24 April 2019
- It's hard to imagine how the benefits of disinviting a speaker could ever exceed the costs
Hate-Speech and Universities
Newsletter of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, #82, April 2019, https://www.safs.ca/newsletters/article.php?article=1020
- University people will not complain to the police or human rights commissions about hate speech and universities themselves should studiously avoid referring in their policies to hate speech or to laws against the expression of hate
The academic irrelevance of lived experience
Newsletter of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, #81, January 2019, https://www.safs.ca/newsletters/article.php?article=1004
- For a scholar, lived experience is raw material to be examined critically and theorized about; it is irrelevant to the scholar’s task whether that lived experience is her own or someone else’s
Honest rudeness or insincere civility?
Newsletter of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship #80, September 2018 http://www.safs.ca/newsletters/article.php?article=969
- We do better both practically and in principle to tolerate incivility on campus than to try to prevent or stop it through rules and punishments
Professors and students should be deeply troubled by the firing of professor Rick Mehta
Halifax Chronicle Herald, Wednesday 12 September 2018, http://thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/1596858-opinion-professors-students-should-be-deeply-troubled-by-firing-of-rick-mehta.
- Acadia University’s firing of Rick Mehta marks another step in the retreat from campus of the culture of disputation and in the advance of safety culture
In censuring Dr Stevenson, Brock University puts academic values at risk
St. Catharines Standard (under the headline “Brock condemnation of professor ‘wrongheaded’”) 15 August 2018 https://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/opinion-story/8840715-brock-condemnation-of-professor- wrongheaded-/
- Brock's reaction to Garth Stevenson's postings 1) devalues emeritus professor status, 2) attacks candour on the Brock campus, and 3) encourages people to distrust Brock University research
University amalgamation from an academic point of view
Halifax Chronicle Herald, under the headline “University mergers could provide critical mass for intellectual pursuits,” Thursday 28 June 2018
- Courses in abstract and theoretical topics draw few students at each of the different Nova Scotia universities. How can academic study for its own sake be preserved in our present vocational climate? One way, perhaps, is to bring students and professors dedicated to liberal study together by amalgamating some universities.
Roseanne Conner is not Roseanne Barr: The former should be appreciated as entertainment, the second should enjoy freedom of expression
Halifax Chronicle Herald, 30 May 2018, Under the title “Pulling rug out from under Roseanne resolves nothing”
- Calling for Roseanne to be cancelled expresses both philistinism and disdain for freedom of expression.
University administrations should not entertain complaints about a professor’s race or ethnicity
Halifax Chronicle Herald (under the headline: MSVU prof challenged on colour of her skin, not content of her course), 14 May 2018. http://thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/1570503-opinion-msvu-prof-challenged-on-colour-of-her-skin-not-content-of-her-course
- Calling a meeting “to understand how to move forward” in face of complaints about the professor properly selected to teach a course 1) undercuts collegiality and department autonomy, 2) implies that universities should consider non-academic factors such as race or ethnicity in staffing courses, and 3) casts aspersions on the professor's research and teaching
The University of Waterloo should have picked up the security tab
Halifax Chronicle Herald, 3 May 2018
- Costs of preventing or dealing with thuggery should be assumed by the university or the police, not by the group that organized the campus event
Panel discussion cancelled at McMaster University
Newsletter of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, Number 79, April 2018
- Students at McMaster University gave in to calls to de-platform psychology professor Rick Mehta, perhaps because they thought the calls justified
A university that understands its mission will not vet campus events
2 April 2018
- For the sake of liberal study, universities should not vet campus events but leave professors and students free to program as they will
Investigations into outspoken professors smother intellectual inquiry
Halifax Chronicle Herald, Saturday 31 March 2018
- Accusing an outspoken professor of creating a hostile environment for learning will stifle discussion and render research untrustworthy
Dal’s skin-tone directive tramples individualism
Halifax Chronicle Herald, 24 February 2018
- Universities should not hire according to culture, ethnicity, sex, or race for two reasons: 1) academic decisions should be made on academic grounds only; 2) hiring according to group membership undercuts the ethos of individuality
Moderator’s introduction to the panel discussion “Academic Freedom for Students: How Free Should the Students Be?”
12 February 2018
- No compromise is possible between being an academic university and being a place of training and indoctrination. Proscriptions on expression immediately make an institution something other than a place of dispassionate inquiry and study for its own sake
What does President MacLatchy’s statement actually say?
20 December 2017
- The statement by Wilfrid Laurier University president Deborah MacLatchy seems to tell us that discussion group leaders will in the future enjoy less academic freedom and that expression on campus will be more tightly monitored
Why teaching assistants should enjoy robust academic freedom
29 November 2017
- Students who hold tutorials or lead discussion groups need academic freedom for the just the same reason professors do: to help their students to become competent and thoughtful interpreters and investigators of the ways of the world.
Dalhousie’s code of conduct violates university values
Halifax Chronicle Herald, 23 October 2017
- Investigating a student for an abusive Facebook post manifests disdain for freedom of expression, chills discussion on campus, and prevents members of the university community from aspiring to intellectual and moral autonomy
Reasons for pessimism
19 September 2017
- Over 800 academics signed an absurd and obnoxious open letter to the philosophy journal Hypatia requesting the retraction of "In Defense of Transracialism." That fact strongly suggests there's little fondness for dispassionate inquiry and discussion at universities these days
Accommodating cognitive and emotional disabilities at a university
23 August 2017
- Accommodations for students with cognitive or emotional disabilities are perfectly consistent with the mission of liberal study.
Letter to the Editor, Globe and Mail, 9 May 2017, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/opinion/may-9-notwithstanding-the-charter-plus-other-letters-to-the-editor/article34926560/
- The directors of the Canadian Research Chairs are encouraging universities to treat researchers unfairly and are threatening the quality of research in Canada
Knowledge and the university
The Newsletter of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, Number 76, April 2017, http://www.safs.ca/newsletters/2017/april/14%20Mark%20Mercer%20KNOWLEDGE%20AND%20THE%20UNIVERSITY.pdf
- One reason to reject the idea of the university as a knowledge factory is that no claim or theory can ever be certified as knowledge
McMaster president endorses heckler’s veto
Letter to the editors of the Silhouette, McMaster University’s student newspaper (unpublished), Monday 20 March 2017
- President Deane said in his message to the McMaster community following the disruption of Jordan Peterson’s talk that disruptive protest is protected by academic freedom
Stories from Canadian Campuses over the Last Few Months
The Newsletter of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship (SAFS), Number 75, January 2017, http://www.safs.ca/newsletters/2017/january/STORIES FROM CANADIAN CAMPUSES OVER THE LAST FEW MONTHS.pdf
- A list of cases from October to December 2016 in which academic freedom, freedom of expression, or another university value was put at risk or violated
The values that universities forgot
C2C Journal, 14 December 2016, http://www.c2cjournal.ca/2016/12/the-values-that-universities-forgot/
- My contribution to the C2C series on universities describes the involvement of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship in past and current cases of freedom of expression on campus
Abandoning one’s muse
Letter to the editor, Queen's Journal, 18 November 2016, http://www.queensjournal.ca/story/2016-11-18/opinions/letter-to-the-editors-november-18/
- Artists should apologize only for creating bad art or abandoning their muse
Students deserve better
Letter to the editor, London Free Press, 27 October 2016, http://www.lfpress.com/2016/10/26/letters-to-the-editor-oct-27-2
- Western should apologize to the students, state publicly that it erred in investigating them, and express regret that its actions may well have chilled freedom of expression on campus
Why universities should cherish the civil liberties
Prince Arthur Herald, 25 October 2016, http://princearthurherald.com/en/campus-news/universities-cherish-civil-liberties-232
- Civil liberties on campus are necessary for candour, openness, and sincerity
Pseudo-science and academic freedom
“How We Live Matters,” Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, 24 October 2016, http://www.ccepa.ca/blog/?p=477
- Robust academic freedom, the kind that enables professors to teach and advocate ideas mainstream science judges false and harmful, is necessary for universities to be places of intellectual community and intellectual engagement
Preferential hiring as a response to narrow academic tastes
The Newsletter of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship (SAFS), Number 74, September 2016, http://www.safs.ca/newsletters/2016/september/12.pdf
- Preferential hiring policies are incompatible with liberal education, for they deny professors the use of their academic judgement
Academic freedom and the civil liberties
The Newsletter of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship (SAFS), Number 73, April 2016, http://www.safs.ca/newsletters/2016/april/14.pdf
- Academic freedom should protect professors in the exercise of their civil liberties
UBC’s dangerous intention to create an academic freedom officer
The Newsletter of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship (SAFS), Number 72, January 2016, http://www.safs.ca/january%202015/11%20Mark%20Mercer.pdf
- Better that academic freedom is thought of as protecting and supporting unpopular opinions and critical discussion than as shielding professors from them
On what grounds should academic decisions be made?
University Affairs, Monday 20 April 2015, http://www.universityaffairs.ca/opinion/in-my-opinion/on-what-grounds-should-academic-decisions-be-made/
- Decisions regarding admission, hiring, and curricula should be made on academic grounds alone, and not also on grounds of equity or diversity
Censorship is a double-edged sword
Prince Arthur Herald, 7 April 2015, http://princearthurherald.com/en/politics-2/censorship-is-a-double-edged-sword-661
- Jerry Reddick, the Dawgfather, wanted to make a point about the uneven application of hate-speech laws, and the police investigated him for hate-speech
Academic freedom and incompetent teaching
Prince Arthur Herald, 18 February 2015, http://princearthurherald.com/en/politics-2/academic-freedom-and-incompetent-teaching-078
- The problem of incompetent teaching is to be addressed through collegial criticism, not administrative decree
Two ways of thinking about academic freedom
Newsletter of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, Number 69, January 2015, http://www.safs.ca/nl69.pdf
- On one way of thinking, academic freedom serves a collection of goals; on another way of thinking, it is a constitutive part of intellectual community
What should Canadians do in the wake of the attack on Charlie Hebdo?
Prince Arthur Herald, 9 January 2015 (under the headline “Hate speech laws—repeal them”), http://princearthurherald.com/en/politics-2/hate-speech-laws-repeal-them-773
- Laws against the expression of hate might encourage violence, for they affirm the idea that one can suffer injustice and be a victim because of the opinions of others
Why not abortion for good reasons only?
Prince Arthur Herald, 8 January 2015, http://princearthurherald.com/en/politics-2/why-not-abortion-for-good-reasons-only-552
- The current drive to restrict abortion to cases where there are good reasons to terminate the pregnancy fails not only because it would be hard to implement but also because it is based on a false conception of the moral status of the fetus
Morality and Church authority
Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, 31 December 2014, http://www.ccepa.ca/blog/?p=448
- There are no authorities on matters of value or living
Shouldn’t the dentistry Facebook posters be punished?
The Blog of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, Saturday 20 December 2014, http://www.ccepa.ca/blog/?p=443
- Responses to five popular arguments for punishing the students who posted misogynistic comments about classmates
Sanctions would conflict with university values
Letter to the Editor, under the title “Sanctions unjustified,” Halifax Chronicle Herald, 17 December 2014, http://thechronicleherald.ca/letters/1258329-voice-of-the-people-dec.-18-2014
- Dalhousie should not sanction the dentistry students posting misogynistic messages on Facebook
Suppressing Mein Kampf
Letter to the Editor, Halifax Chronicle Herald (unpublished), 14 October 2014
- The State of Bavaria abused its copyright on Mein Kampf when it allowed no new edition of the book to be published
Can Saint Mary’s survive the Action Team on sexualized violence?
Prince Arthur Herald, 1 September 2014, http://princearthurherald.com/en/politics-2/can-saint-marys-survive-the-action-team-on-sexualized-violence-775
- The initiatives meant to encourage respect will have the opposite effect, for they will erode academic freedom and the freedoms of expression and association on campus
Freedom of expression and academic freedom: A response to Indira Samarasekera
Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, 17 July 2014 (revised version), http://www.ccepa.ca/blog/?p=431; Prince Arthur Herald, 17 July 2014 (original version), http://princearthurherald.com/en/politics-2/freedom-of-expression-and-academic-freedom-a-response-to-indira-samarasekera-777
- Samarasekera thinks academic freedom is merely the freedom of academics to voice their expert opinions
Talking back to an ad on the street
Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, 15 July 2014, http://www.ccepa.ca/blog/?p=430
- Political or humorous messages scrawled on ads enliven the street; but these messages shouldn’t obliterate the ad itself
In defence of graffiti
Ottawa Citizen, 7 July 2014, http://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/in-defence-of-graffiti
- Municipalities and the owners of buildings should be more accepting of graffiti, though street artists need to make their work viewing
Boys who want to be girls
Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, 7 June 2014, http://www.ccepa.ca/blog/?p=427
- Some girls have penises, some boys vulvas. Why should we want temperament and preferences to align some particular way with anatomy?
Will deans now begin to speak candidly?
Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, 29 May 2014, http://www.ccepa.ca/blog/?p=425
- There’s plenty about their universities for deans to discuss openly and candidly, but few will take the opportunity afforded by their new-found freedom to do so.
Against school dress codes
Ottawa Citizen iPad edition tablet app, Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, 28 May 2014, http://www.ccepa.ca/blog/?p=424
- Dress codes impose standards on children, when schools should be helping children to fashion standards for themselves.
Academic freedom and office décor
Prince Arthur Herald, 27 May 2014, http://princearthurherald.com/en/politics-2/academic-freedom-and-office-decor-997
- Restrictions on freedom undercut the mission of the university to educate.
University administrators should not get to vote
Prince Arthur Herald, 20 May 2014, http://princearthurherald.com/en/politics-2/university-administrators-should-not-get-to-vote-665
- Since deans and other university administrators cannot exercise independent judgement, they should not be voting members of academic senates; they should, moreover, be hired by committees of professors, not by other academic administrators.
Tolerance expresses respect
Ottawa Citizen, 12 May 2014, http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/op-ed/Mark+Mercer+Tolerance+respect/9830329/story.html
- In a tolerant society, the law school at Trinity Western University would be severely criticized but no steps would be taken against its students.
Universities should not be funding defamation suits
Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, 7 May 2014, http://www.ccepa.ca/blog/?p=418
- Bad enough that a university administrator would bring a defamation suit in response to criticism; worse that her university would fund it
Against professionalism in the academy
Prince Arthur Herald, 5 May 2014 http://princearthurherald.com/en/campus-news/against-professionalism-in-the-academy
- Professionalism favours applying criteria over making judgements of quality and, thereby, is destructive of the mission of the university.
Abortion does not bring rights into conflict
Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, 1 May 2014, http://www.ccepa.ca/blog/?p=416
- Requiring pregnant women to get approval for abortion rests on the mistaken idea that fetuses have a right to life that can be set aside only for very strong reasons of ethics
Let them skip a grade
Halifax Chronicle Herald, 15 April 2014, under the headline “Grade-skipping a bright idea”, http://thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/1200712-grade-skipping-a-bright-idea
- Schools ought to get over their prejudice against allowing academically strong children to skip a grade
In praise of sanctuary for brutal dictators
Ottawa Citizen, 23 February 2014 http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/op-ed/Offer+sanctuary+dictators/9541437/story.html
- Even if international courts could dispense justice (they can’t; they lack democratic legitimacy), we shouldn’t use them, or threaten to use them, to prosecute brutal dictators (Kim Jong-un, for instance). Better to leave the dictators an exit strategy
The role of final grades in university education
Ottawa Citizen, 9 February 2014, http://www.ottawacitizen.com/opinion/op-ed/role+grades+university+education/9487037/story.html
- The contention that grades play a needed role in education appears nowhere in either of the two inconsistent accounts why the University of Ottawa acted well in dismissing Denis Rancourt.
Does Saint Mary’s University need a code of conduct?
Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, 8 February 2014, http://www.ccepa.ca/blog/?p=409
- The President’s Council wants Saint Mary’s to adopt a code of conduct, but the council gives no good reason for doing so, and adopting one will have bad effects on intellectual community at the university.
How to change a racist team name
Ottawa Citizen, 24 January 2014
- Human rights bodies should not have the power to interfere with what people choose to call things.
York University case is not about rights
Ottawa Citizen, 10 January 2014
- Professors should not make determinations about accommodating students’ requests on any grounds other than academic ones.
Saving the integrity of the university: A response to “Women’s rights or religious rights: which comes first?”
University Affairs (in a shortened version), 10 January 2014, http://www.universityaffairs.ca/saving-the-integrity-of-the-university.aspx
- Universities are not microcosms of our diverse society; they are mono-cultural institutions dedicated to the life of the mind.
Paying big to fix what isn’t broken
Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, 5 January 2014, http://www.ccepa.ca/blog/?p=403
- The recommendations made by the President’s Council will enforce an ideological orthodoxy that will undermine intellectual community and education at Saint Mary’s.
Universities should not investigate or adjudicate accusations of sexualized violence
Letter to the editor, Halifax Chronicle Herald, 26 December 2013, http://thechronicleherald.ca/letters/1175860-voice-of-the-people-dec-26-2013
- Universities have no warrant to investigate crimes.
Atheists are standing up for religion
Ottawa Citizen, 22 December 2013; Vancouver Province, 25 December 2013
- Religious atheists hold that the world is enchanted with objective value and mystery, and that belief in its enchantment is a matter of faith.
What children owe their parents
Ottawa Citizen, Wednesday 19 December 2013
- Children have no duties to their parents, for they could not have been part of any contractual agreement.
Threatening Rob Ford with a libel suit serves no one’s interests
Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, Tuesday 17 December 2013, http://www.ccepa.ca/blog/?p=399
- One would have thought that journalists and newspapers prize freedom of expression; one would have thought that at least they wouldn’t aim to shoot themselves in the foot.
A couple unfortunate union decisions
Member’s Corner, Saint Mary’s University Faculty Union Newsletter, December 2013, http://smufu.org/documents/volume%2019,%20number%202.pdf
- Our union should oppose regulations governing syllabi as infringements on freedom of teaching; our union should sponsor qualified researchers to attend conferences without regard to their race or ethnicity.
Keeping criticism honest and civil
Ottawa Citizen (in a slightly shortened version), 16 October 2013
- We should respond to falsehoods and insults not by going to court but by answering with truth and argument.
Halifax Chronicle Herald (under the title “At Thanksgiving, whom does atheist thank?), 11 October 2013, http://thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/1160081-at-thanksgiving-whom-does-atheist-thank
- Atheists cannot be thankful, for there is no one to receive their thanks; for atheists, Thanksgiving is a simple harvest festival.
A university convocation shouldn’t include a prayer
Ottawa Citizen, 4 October 2013
- Two arguments against a prayer of invocation at convocation: 1) it excludes all but traditional theists; 2) it’s irrelevant to the business of a university.
Thanking the bus driver
Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, 1 October 2013, http://www.ccepa.ca/blog/?p=383
- Sometimes we use words at home in one area of life to do work in another area of life.
The chant leaders should not be punished
The Ubyssey (the University of British Columbia newspaper), 22 September 2013, poorly edited and under the headline “Sanctions against CUS set a dangerous precedent,” http://ubyssey.ca/opinion/sanctions-against-cus-set-dagsanctions-against-cus-set-a-dangerous-precedent567/The Vancouver Province, 23 September 2013, under the headline “Rape-chant students should sue UBC over punishment, breach of free speech,” http://blogs.theprovince.com/2013/09/23/mark-mercer-rape-chant-students-should-sue-ubc-over-punishment-breach-of-free-speech/
- UBC President Toope is wrong to punish the rape-chant leaders, for nothing they did counts as coercive, disrupting, harassing, or discriminatory.
Repeal all laws against expression
Ottawa Citizen, 16 September 2013
- The arguments against human rights’ restrictions on speech apply equally well to criminal code restrictions; speech prosecutions in Canada have not contributed to the widening of equality and opportunity.
Are there any universities in Canada? Thoughts on punishing students who chant an ode to rape
University Affairs, 9 September 2013, http://www.universityaffairs.ca/are-there-any-universities-in-canada.aspx
- If a university is a place at which intellectual integrity is highly valued, perhaps there are no universities in Canada. Should there be any, or should intellectual integrity give place to other values?
Why professors and students at Saint Mary’s should be very, very worried
Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, 11 September 2013, http://www.ccepa.ca/blog/
- We should be worried that the President’s Council formed after the rape chant will recommend rules and regulations, thereby undermining further our ability to educate our students.
What would Socrates do?
Ottawa Citizen (under the headline “In responding to rape chant, Saint Mary’s betrayed its identity”), Monday 9 September 2013
- University administrators should have organized discussion groups, not sought to punish the organizers.
Treating misbehaving students badly
Letter to the editor, Halifax Chronicle Herald, 6 September 2013
- Students required to attend re-education camp should tell Saint Mary’s to go pound sand.
To maintain our moral purpose
Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, 9 July 2013, http://www.ccepa.ca/blog/?p=375
- Respect for others as autonomous agents is the reason we should avoid manipulating people even in service of good causes.
Is sex-selective abortion worse than sex-selective coitus?
IMPACT ETHICS: Making a Difference in Bioethics, 7 May 2013, http://impactethics.ca/2013/05/07/is-sex-selective-abortion-worse-than-sex-selective-coitus/
Hollaback! Ottawa: against incivility or against freedom of expression?
Ottawa Citizen, under the title “Harassment on the 95? Or a mere nuisance?”, Thursday 25 April 2013; expanded version on the website of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, http://www.ccepa.ca/blog/?p=345
- The group Hollaback! Ottawa confuses incivility with harassment and seeks to deal with what it then calls “harassment” by restricting expression after the manner of the safe campus.
Queen’s University acted badly in removing the free-speech wall
Kingston Whig-Standard, Saturday 13 April 2013, http://www.thewhig.com/2013/04/12/why-queens-was-wrong-to-tear-down-the-wall
- Interfering with the free-speech wall Students for Liberty erected is like shouting down a play or vandalizing a piece of art.
It’s not the abortion part of sex-selection that should concern us
Ottawa Citizen, Wednesday 3 April 2013
- Though the government should have no opinion on sex-selective abortions, we should all work to change the attitudes towards daughters expressed by that practice.
All about academic freedom
Letter to the Editor, Halifax Chronicle Herald, 14 March 2013
- The topic wasn’t child pornography but freedom to discuss child pornography.
Academic freedom for everyone
Letter to the editor, Globe and Mail, 6 March 2013, http://www.theglobeandmail.com/commentary/letters/march-6-the-flanagan-affair-and-other-letters-to-the-editor/article9324070/
- Yes, even Ernst Zundel should be free to express his views.
Tom Flanagan had no reason to apologize
Ottawa Citizen, Friday 1 March 2013; Halifax Chronicle Herald, Wednesday 6 March 2013, under the headline “Academic freedom is needed now more than ever,” http://thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/871538-academic-freedom-is-needed-now-more-than-ever
- Flanagan did what professors are supposed to do. He raised a controversial issue and stated his opinion.
The right to testify while dressed as Darth Vader
Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, 24 December 2012, http://www.ccepa.ca/blog/?p=322
- The reasons behind the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada to allow sincere Muslim women to testify while wearing the niqab reveal that the court endorses religious privilege rather than religious freedom and doesn’t much care for the civil liberties of freedom of dress and freedom of presentation.
Celebrating Christmas without religion
Presented at “Is There Room at the Inn? Religious Celebration in Secular Settings,” a panel discussion, The Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, 6 December 2012, Sobey Building, Saint Mary’s University; Ottawa Citizen, 7 December 2012
- Christmas is at its best when entirely detached from religion.
Liberal education requires freedom of expression
Halifax Chronicle Herald, Wednesday 17 October 2012, p. A11, on line at http://thechronicleherald.ca/opinion/149535-liberal-education-requires-freedom-of-expression
- Students’ associations should not have the power to ban posters, for their doing so undercuts the task of teaching students to engage what they don’t like thoughtfully.
Reasons for barring Jones go up in smoke
Ottawa Citizen, Saturday 13 October 2012
- I can think of no good reason why Terry Jones was prevented from entering Canada. Canadian Border Services shares the comtempt for freedom of expression wide spread among Canadians.
Letter to the Women’s Centre re boycotts
The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, May 2012, on-line edition
- Readers upset by an article should not organize boycotts or protests; they should instead write a critique of the article.
Most of what we believe is true
Posted on the facebook page of the Saint Mary’s University Writing Centre, 2 April 2012 http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=401782953168334
- Despite the fact that no one knows anything, we are in epistemic touch with (at least some of) those objects and events with which we are in sensory or causal touch.
Reasonable accommodation and academic freedom
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Issue 8, 28 March 2012
- Professors should try to accommodate disabled students in their classes and all others with special needs, but what counts as accommodation must be left up to them.
Letter to the editor (unpublished), Halifax Chronicle Herald, 25 March 2012
- The editorial was wrong to praise the report by the taskforce on cyber bullying.
Education or re-education?
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, 14 March 2012, Issue 7
- Queen’s university failed in its teaching mission when it punished students for distributing bawdy song lyrics; Queen’s administrators should have made the incident a topic of discussion.
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Issue 6, 29 February 2012
- No one knows anything, for no one can ever be well enough justified in believing something for their belief to be a piece of knowledge.
Liberal education and the over-justification effect
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, issue 5, 8 February 2012
- Issuing students transcripts recognizing extra-curricular activities devalues those activities and encourages mercenary attitudes.
The scary irony of prosecuting teens for child pornography
Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs blog, 16 December 2011, http://www.ccepa.ca/blog/?p=263
- The police are threatening to use a law meant to protect teens from coercion and assault against teens who have not coerced or assaulted any one.
Suspending a student for uttering slurs
Letter to the Editor, Windsor Star, 15 December 2011
- By suspending a student for posting ethnic slurs, school administrators failed in their mission as educators.
Letter to the Editor, Halifax Chronicle Herald, 14 December 2011
- When school boards fear controversy, bland will triumph.
University is for everyone
Ottawa Citizen, 1 November 2011; reprinted Vancouver Sun, 8 November 2011
- Universities are for learning for the sake of learning, and not for preparing students for work or careers.
Response to Peter MacKinnon
Letter to the Editor, University Affairs, Vol. 52, no. 10, December 2011, published under the title “Why we protect academic freedom”
- Because he values academic freedom on instrumental grounds only, Peter MacKinnon would limit the freedom academics enjoy.
Academic freedom for its own sake
University Affairs, on-line edition, 19 October 2011, http://www.universityaffairs.ca/academic-freedom-for-its-own-sake.aspx
- Academic freedom, and freedom of expression on campus generally, should be valued as a constitutive part of the scholar’s life.
No death penalty, not even for sadistic psychopaths
CCEPA Blog, Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, 16 October 2011, http://www.ccepa.ca/blog/?p=148
- The recent death of Clifford Olson provides an occasion to remember why not even the worst murderer should face execution.
Will the attack on cyberbullying threaten freedom of expression?
CCEPA Blog, Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, 16 October 2011, http://www.ccepa.ca/blog/?p=146
- Bullying would be best addressed by making kids less vulnerable, not by restricting expression, but the current provincial task force on cyberbullying is not staffed by people known for their support of civil liberties.
What Geert Wilders’s acquittal means
CCEPA Blog, Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, 16 October 2011, http://www.ccepa.ca/blog/?p=140
- That Wilders was acquitted on charges of hate speech does not amount to a victory for freedom of expression, for the laws under which he was charged remain on the books.
The “who knows?” argument for adoption over abortion
Letter to the Editor, Halifax Chronicle Herald, Saturday 15 October 2011
- That the child might grow up to benefit humanity is a terrible reason for preferring giving a child up for adoption to having an abortion.
The Union or the Academic Senate
Letter to the editor, CAUT Bulletin, submitted 7 October 2011 (unpublished)
- Academic senates would do a better job protecting freedom of expression on campus than would unions.
How social cues undermine learning process
Halifax Chronicle-Herald, Thursday 22 September 2011, p. 11A
- Students receive even from their universities the message that university is about gaining credentials, and not about learning for its own sake.
Dalhousie and cheating
Letter to Editor, Halifax Chronicle Herald, Saturday 3 September 2011, p. A11
- A mild irony: Dalhousie cancelled its contract with a cheater-catching service when it caught the service cheating.
The University of Regina bucks the trend and stands up for freedom of expression
Halifax Chronicle Herald, Wednesday 22 June 2011; reprinted in SAFS Newsletter, Number 59, September 2011, http://www.safs.ca/nl59.pdf
- The Faculty of Arts at the University of Regina, in a rare display of commitment to the integrity of its mission, withdrew from a partnership with a business group rather than have a professor change her scheduled talk.
Response to Colin Dodds on university and civil society
Letter to the editor, Saint John Telegraph Journal, Wednesday 1 June 2011
- Colin Dodds wrote falsely that universities are doing a good job promoting civil society.
Discussion versus political pressure
Ottawa Citizen, under the headline “Pressure doesn’t produce the best policy,” Friday 13 May 2011
- Politics and pressure have crowded out critical discussion.
Everybody draw Mohammed day
Blazing Catfur, 5 May 2011, http://blazingcatfur.blogspot.ca/2011/05/mark-mercer-on-2nd-annual-everybody.html
- Participating in Everyone Draw Mohammed Day is a great way to promote tolerance and freedom.
Making Saint Mary’s safe for expression and discussion
SAFS Newsletter (Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship), Number 58, April 2011, http://www.safs.ca/nl58.pdf
- Worse than our students’ association’s disdain for freedom of expression and for university culture is our administration’s unwillingness to set things right
Good teaching and academic freedom
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, 6 – 13 April 2011, p. 8
- University administrations should not attempt to influence teaching by organizing classrooms according to their own preferences; instead, they should help teachers to realize the ends that teachers set for themselves.
Evidence-based theories of good teaching
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, 30 March – 5 April 2011, p. 6
- Scientific research on university teaching is hard to find; and one cannot but worry that what science there is is informed by misguided conceptions of the ends of university education.
Three modes of pro-choice argument
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, 23 – 30 March 2011, p. 7
- Only because killing a human fetus is not in itself immoral can we begin to argue for abortion on demand; neither the argument from political need nor the argument that women have a right to control their bodies can be basic.
Rejuvenating our academic senate
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, 17 – 22 March 2011, p. 7
- Neither administrators nor the union typically place academic values ahead of other values or promote them for their own sake; let’s encourage professors on academic senate to take up the task.
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, 9 – 16 March 2011
- One defence of religion has it that since we all must have faith in something or other, atheists are just as superstitious as the religious.
Commitment without belief
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, 2 – 9 March 2011
- Our commitments (to our friends or family, to justice, to science) need not rest on beliefs we hold on faith; they need rest on no beliefs at all.
My meeting with David Gauthier
Prince Arthur Herald, under the headline “A failure of free speech at Saint Mary’s University,” 24 February 2011
- The vice-president academic and research reacted slowly and ineptly to student politicians who interfered with the free expression of opinion on campus.
Born this way
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, 16 – 23 February 2011
- The claim that sexual orientation is entirely innate is of dubious worth in the effort to bring homosexuality into the mainstream.
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, 9 – 15 February 2011
- Taking our students’ association (SMUSA) for granted has had bad effects on student life and Saint Mary’s itself, for SMUSA’s officers have been acting against intellectual community at the university.
The vices of denunciation
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, 2 – 8 February 2011
- If we want to live as people who don’t merely react to words but who respond to them on the basis of our evaluations of their worth, we won’t go in for mere denunciation.
Teaching political activism at a university
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, 26 January – 1 February 2011
- A course on political activism at a university should be a scholarly study of activism, and only incidentally, if at all, an encouragement to students to be politically active.
Memos we desperately need to receive (but probably won’t)
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, 19 – 25 January 2011
- The president of the students’ association should apologize both to the students he bullied and to the students he mollycoddled; the vice-president academic should assert clearly that he will defend freedom of expression on campus. (As it turned out, neither did what he should have done.)
Anti-Intellectualism on campus: When students’ associations go bad
University Affairs, 12 January 2011, http://www.universityaffairs.ca/anti-intellectualism-on-campus.aspx
- A university administration must take action when the students’ association does something to undercut or jeopardize intellectual community on campus.
In defence of the lecture
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, 12 – 18 January 2011
- The lecture is an irreplaceable tool in the teacher’s kit, for lectures help students to understand and appreciate extended or difficult trains of thought.
How to make your professor cringe
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, 5 - 11 January 2011
- We should resist changes in language that erase distinctions or force us to speak in idioms.
Religious freedom and deference to religion
Ottawa Citizen, under the headline “We don't need freedom of religion: If we properly respect more basic rights there is no need to grant special status to spiritual practices,” 20 December 2010
- That a practice is a religious practice should lend it no more respect or protection than that it’s a sporting practice or a sexual practice.
George Jonas on Canada’s university administrators
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, 8 – 14 December 2010
- George Jonas is right: administrators at Canadian universities are either cowards or have no idea what a university is for.
Advocacy in the university classroom
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, 1 – 7 December 2010
- That nothing that goes on in a classroom should take precedence over understanding the topic and becoming a competent researcher doesn’t imply that professors must keep their opinions to themselves.
Ottawa Citizen, Saturday 20 November 2010
- Disruptive protests and other forms of shutting people up are simply ways of declaring one’s sentiments to be admirable; they do nothing to advance discussion or otherwise to make our world better.
Hate-crime convictions set bad precedent
Halifax Chronicle Herald, Wednesday 17 November 2010
- Though the Rehberg brothers neither incited hatred nor intended to incite hatred, they were nonetheless convicted of inciting hatred. This conviction will corrupt the justice system by enabling prosecutors to use the courts to burnish their anti-racist credentials.
A lost opportunity
Letter to the Editor, Waterloo Record, 16 November 2010
- The public relations guy at the University of Waterloo was wrong to think images of disruptive protesters being carried off stage would be bad for Waterloo’s image; to the contrary.
Why Carleton should change its policy regarding demonstrations
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, 10 - 16 November 2010
- A university that doesn’t want students to be upset by political or cultural demonstrations is a university opposed to helping students to become intellectuals.
Carleton shouldn’t turn away demonstrators
The Charlatan, the campus paper at Carleton University, Friday 5 November 2010
- Carleton’s policy of denying space in the quad to tasteless or upsetting demonstrations undercuts Carleton’s mission as a university.
“Found in the Great Lakes to the Acadian forests...”
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, 3 November 2010
- The state of public writing on campus is dismal. We need to make our displeasure known to administrators.
Is racial prejudice the cause?
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus paper at Saint Mary’s, 20 October 2010
- A Saint Mary’s professor gave no good argument for her thesis that disparities between blacks and whites in Nova Scotia are effects of racist attitudes currently held by white Nova Scotians.
Public spaces and community standards
Ottawa Citizen, under the title “‘Community standards’ are the problem,” 14 October 2010
- The proposal to be sensitive to the tastes and feelings of those who use the streets and other public places threatens to drain public space of culture, politics, and life.
The principal taught her pupils a dismal lesson
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, 13 October 2010
- By shutting down a book reading because of inappropriate words, the principal of an elementary school failed to teach the pupils how one should react to profanity and bad manners.
Circumcision and other evils of religion
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, 6 October 2010
- Religious reasons for cutting off a piece of a child’s penis are the weakest reasons of all; they happen also to be the least popular among people who go in for it; this is evidence that not only religion can make good people do bad things.
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, 29 September 2010
- The first task for our new vice-president academic and research is to help to make Saint Mary’s a place hospitable to people seeking to live the life of the mind.
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, 22 September 2010
- Young people should come to university to be educated, and not to become credentialed; the public should support universities because universities educate young people, not because they produce credentialled workers.
Educating children to think for themselves
Ottawa Citizen, Monday 20 September 2010
- Though children who can think for themselves might come to reject religion, enabling children to think for themselves must be the primary goal of education in a liberal country.
Ask the politicians
Letter to the Editor, Halifax Chronicle Herald, sent 12 September 2010 (unpublished)
- Let us ask our politicians whether they would support investigations by human rights commissions or the police of incidents of Qur’an burning.
In defence of burning Korans
The website Blazing Cat Fur, 9 September 2010, http://blazingcatfur.blogspot.ca/2010/09/in-defence-of-burning-korans.html
- Koran burning is a perfectly fine way of expressing one’s views of Islam or religion.
Ottawa Citizen, under the title “Why belief in God doesn’t equate with religion,” Thursday 9 September 2010
- Worship is an unbecoming and debilitating attitude for a person to take toward anything, even toward God.
Stick to mandate
Letter to the Editor, Chronicle Herald, Sunday 5 September 2010
- The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission now wants a say regarding school funding. Nova Scotians should insist that the Commission sticks to its narrow mandate.
All sorts of non-religious nonsense
Letter to the Editor, Halifax Chronicle Herald, sent 19 August 2010 (unpublished)
- That non-religious reasons are the most popular reasons for circumcising boys shows that not only religion can make good people do bad things.
In defence of the world’s most dangerous idea
Ottawa Citizen, Tuesday 24 August 2010; reprinted in the Vancouver Sun, Friday 27 August 2010
- The property of being human is not an ethically relevant property; that a creature has or lacks this property is no reason for treating it one way or another.
Innocent children, racist parents: What to do?
Halifax Chronicle Herald, Tuesday 10 August 2010, p. A7
- The worst thing to do to children of racist parents is to shun them or to disparage their parents in front of them. The best thing to do is to treat them as children like all the other children.
Is one-size-fits-all school entry fair to all children?
Halifax Chronicle Herald, Sunday 4 July 2010
- Requiring academically strong children to wait until they are five years old to enter school prevents them from reaching their potential.
Letter to the Editor, Halifax Chronicle Herald, 30 May 2010
- Columnist Laurent Le Pierres defended a principal who manhandled a student, saying that teenagers have lost respect for authority. Of course, the best way to get kids to respect authority is to give them authorities they can respect.
In praise of dangerous universities
University Affairs, 3 May 2010, http://www.universityaffairs.ca/in-praise-of-dangerous-universities.aspx
- Intelligent and spirited high-school students throughout the nation now realize they have one overriding concern: to make sure that the university they choose is dangerous.
Abortion and the human foetus
Ottawa Citizen, under the headline “A fetus is not a person,” Monday 3 May 2010
- Abortion is not in any degree a morally fraught option. A woman considering whether to have an abortion or, instead, to raise a child is making a practical decision, not a moral one.
Two conceptions of university community
Ottawa Citizen, under the headline “Choose which kind of university you want,” Friday 2 April 2010
- On one conception, members of a university community are to respect each other’s values or beliefs or cultures or experiences—whatever it is that makes up a person’s identity; on a better conception, they are to respect each other as individuals.
Critical discussion versus taking offence
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 75, No. 24, 31 March 2010
- That people are concerned to denounce views as racist or arrogant or unprofessional or demeaning rather than to explain how they are either false or poorly supported by argument or research speaks to a widespread failure of universities and university professors to do what they should be doing.
Writing grammatically and writing well
Ottawa Citizen, under the headline “Good writing is about more than just grammar,” Monday 22 March 2010
- Good writing is writing that expresses difficult or interesting ideas clearly. We should value spelling and grammar only because they help us to express ourselves clearly.
Living happily without God
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 75, No. 23, 17 March 2010
- For an atheist, life has no meaning. That’s why an atheist can live happily, for an atheist can be attuned to the things of this world and their significance in this life.
A good place at which to learn
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 75, No. 22, 10 March 2010
- The best safeguard of student learning is a university’s own informal, day-to-day respect for intellectual community.
Against laws against the public incitement of hatred
Ottawa Citizen, under the headline “Fight racism without betraying justice”, 8 March 2010
- Using criminal law to make a statement is to corrupt the rule of law; it’s to push impartial justice aside in favour of social policy.
Honesty for the sake of living well
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 75, No. 21, 3 March 2010
- The only sound reason for adopting a commitment to honesty is that such a commitment is a necessary part of attaining the goods internal to certain complex activities.
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 75, No. 20, 17 February 2010
- Glaucon’s argument that no one values honesty for its own sake fails because of its false premise that love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.
Blight on Society
Letter to the Editor, Halifax Chronicle Herald, 17 February 2010
- Laws restricting speech are a blight on society.
Don’t let the students know!
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Volume 75, No. 18, 10 February 2010
- The students’ association at Saint Mary’s supports strong restrictions on campaign materials so that students won’t gain information the association doesn’t want them to have.
No one is honest just for the sake of honesty
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 75, No. 13, 3 February 2010
- Plato’s character Glaucon offers an argument that anyone committed to honesty is committed to it for its supposed effects, not for its own sake.
Advancing the homosexual agenda
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 75, No. 16, 27 January 2010
- Some people advocate restrictions on civil liberties as a means of fostering wide social acceptance for gays and lesbians. Much better is argument and example, as, for instance, through gay-straight alliance clubs in schools.
The case against honesty
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 75, No. 15, 20 January 2010
- For even a moderately intelligent or resourceful person, a commitment to honesty is seriously debilitating.
Mocking religion in the service of freedom and civility
Ottawa Citizen, under the headline “Go ahead and make fun of religion,” Saturday 16 January 2010; reprinted in the Vancouver Province, Sunday 17 January 2010, and the Windsor Star, Wednesday 27 January 2010
- Mocking religion publicly can help people to overcome religion; it can also serve to promote freedom of expression by hardening people to assaults on their beliefs.
A small battle won for freedom of expression
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 75, No. 15, 13 January 2010
- A judge in Alberta found that the provincial human rights tribunal overstepped its mandate by prosecuting a case of expression that didn’t involve either employment or housing.
Believing in Santa Claus
Ottawa Citizen, under the headline “The Case against Santa Claus,” 18 December 2009
- A child can enjoy a story without her parents lying to her that the story is true.
Letter to the Editor, Halifax Chronicle Herald, 14 December 2009
- The Chronicle Herald failed to report a significant case for freedom of expression in Canada, when a provincial court overturned a human rights tribunal’s ruling and the punishments it had imposed.
Multiculturalism: liberal or communitarian
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 75, No. 13, 2 December 2009
- The alternative to a communitarian society of sovereign separate cultures is a liberal society, a society in which people are respected as individuals, not as members of groups.
Letter to the Editor, Halifax Chronicle Herald, 25 November 2009
- The Chronicle Herald stands against blasphemy laws though it would rather fail to report the news that to risk engaging in blasphemy itself.
Burdening others disrespectfully
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 75, No. 12, 25 November 2009
- Not always when we impose a burden on another do we do so disrespectfully; indeed, on occasion people burden others disrespectfully by complaining about the burdens imposed on them.
Treating others disrespectfully
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 75, No. 11, 18 November 2009
- We express contempt for individual people when we manipulate them, humiliate them, or burden them disrespectfully.
Sex, sexuality, and religion in the classroom
Ottawa Citizen, under the title “Sex-ed is part of an equal education,” Friday 6 November 2009
- In allowing parents to remove their children from certain lessons, governments are violating the principle that each child is entitled to an equal opportunity to be educated.
Two conceptions of university teaching
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the student newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 75, Issue 9, 4 November 2009
- On one conception, professors help their students to believe the true and to value the good; on another conception, professors help their students to become competent intellectuals.
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the student newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 75, Issue 8, 28 October 2009
- The three areas in which professors must meet high standards (research, teaching, and service) and how a professor’s performance in these areas is evaluated
A professor’s career
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 75, Issue 7 (wrongly listed as 6 on the cover), 21 October 2009
- The stages of a professor’s career from being hired through tenure to promotion to full professor
Ending government censorship in Canada
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 75, Issue 6, 14 October 2009
- Government agencies are becoming a little less inclined to suppress and censor expression, but only because they are afraid to stir the pot. To end government censorship, we need concerted political action.
A report on a talk at Saint Mary’s University disrupted by protesters
Newsletter of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, Number 53, September 2009, http://www.safs.ca/nl53.pdf
- Administrators at Saint Mary’s are unwilling to recognize the mistakes they made first in letting an event be disrupted and second in their weak response to the disruption, let alone to try to correct them.
Bad arguments against a secular Saint Mary’s
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 15, Issue 5, 7 October 2009
- Severing our ties to organized religion would not be to disparage our history or the people who built Saint Mary’s; that it would put off many donors to the university is less important than that it would help to create a better Saint Mary’s.
A university hospitable to the faithful
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 75, Issue 4, 30 September 2009
- Official ties to religion at Saint Mary’s serve to make being religious natural, unexceptional, even respectable, and that makes students of faith comfortable here.
The nature and value of academic freedom
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 75, Issue 3, 23 September 2009
- A professor’s freedom in teaching, research, discussion, and the rest is necessary for professors and other members of a university to live as intellectuals in community with other intellectuals.
The critical attitude
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 75, Issue 2, 15 September 2009
- Rather than being concerned to apportion belief to evidence, we should be concerned to expose our beliefs to criticism.
The dark side of academic freedom, and why it’s not all that dark
Ottawa Citizen, Thursday 10 September 2009; reprinted Vancouver Sun, Friday 11 September 2009
- It’s better to live with the problems academic freedom brings than to try to solve them with rules and regulations, for doing so puts university culture at risk.
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 75, No. 1, 9 September 2009
- To refuse to believe against one’s epistemic standards is debilitating for all except those who value understanding.
Humanities profs aren’t really moral relativists
Ottawa Citizen, Thursday 13 August 2009, p. A15
- Most humanities professors don’t think right and wrong is relative to background values; rather, they hold the equally false view that two incommensurable values can both be objectively true values.
Why we atheists care about religion
Ottawa Citizen, Saturday, 8 August 2009, p. B7 and Halifax Chronicle Herald, Monday 17 August 2009; reprinted Corner Brook Western Star, Monday 17 August 2009
- Religion isn’t the problem, dogmatism is, though religion is a pretty good sign of dogmatism.
The threat of censorship in Nova Scotia
Halifax Chronicle-Herald, Saturday 20 June 2009, p. A15.
- The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission claims censorship powers, though nothing in the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act gives it such powers.
The fundamental incoherence of addressing hate through censorship
Ottawa Citizen, under the headline “Why censorship is impossible in a democracy,” Monday 15 June 2009
- Since evidence in a hearing must be available to the public and the evidence that a piece of writing expresses hate includes that piece of writing, expressions of hate cannot be censored.
Even academics spout nonsense
Letter to the Editor, CAUT Bulletin, Vol. 56, No. 5, May 2009, https://www.cautbulletin.ca/en_article.asp?ArticleID=2841
- Michael Boudreau thinks an individual’s right to free expression must give way to the need to protect minorities from hatred.
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 74, No. 24, 8 April 2009
- Grading has bad effects on education.
Making Saint Mary’s a safe place for discussion and debate
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 74, No. 22, 18 March 2009
- The administration at Saint Mary’s must take steps to prevent protesters from disrupting campus events.
Disrupting a talk
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 74, No. 21, 11 March 2009
- Those who disrupted Jose Ruba’s presentation expressed disdain for democracy and civility, while gaining nothing for their cause.
Scepticism as a route to happiness
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 74, No. 20, 4 March 2009
- Sceptics say that acknowledging that one knows nothing will ease one’s worries; dogmatists reply that unless one believes one knows this or that, one will be racked with worry.
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 74, No. 19, 25 February 2009
- In a liberal society, no one is exempt from a law or regulation by virtue of their cultural of religious affiliations, while no law or regulation derives its legitimacy from custom.
Freedom of expression at Saint Mary’s
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 74, No. 18, 11 February 2009
- Three years after administrators removed cartoons from a professor’s door, Saint Mary’s University continues to be inhospitable to freedom of expression.
Evolution in the classroom
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 74, No. 17, 4 February 2009
- Teaching ought not be indoctrination.
Al Jazeera, but not for the wrong reasons
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 74, No. 16, 28 January 2009
- Canadians should be free from CRTC interference when deciding what to watch on TV.
Syllabi are not contracts
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 74, No. 15, 21 January 2009
- Taking course syllabi to be contracts between professor and student robs professors of the ability to improve the course as it progresses.
Don’t summon the authorities
Letter to the Editor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 74, No. 15, 21 January 2009
- The student who complained about a poster wanted authorities to evaluate the poster against our university’s misguided and dangerous harassment policy.
After all, it’s only natural
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 74, No. 14, 14 January 2009
- That something is only natural (breast feeding, for instance) is no reason to tolerate it; that something is unnatural is no reason not to tolerate it.
Writing and reading
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 74, No. 13, 7 January 2009
- Perhaps so many students write poorly because so many students read poorly.
Does secularity put religion at risk?
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 74, No. 12, 26 November 2008
- Yes, it does, but not unfairly.
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 74, No. 11, 19 November 2008
- By putting words or phrases in scare quotes, a writer claims the right to use the word or phrase while ducking responsibility for having used it.
Votes for children, part 2
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 74, No. 10, 12 November 2008
- The social and political interests of children 16 and 17 years old are not being met by current governments.
Votes for children
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 74, No. 9, 5 November 2008
- Since children 16 and 17 years old are actors on the public stage, they should have a say regarding that stage.
Remarks on Canadian human rights commissions and freedom of expression
Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, Discussion on Human Rights Commissions and Freedom of Expression, Sobey Theatre, Saint Mary’s University, 30 October 2008
- Human rights commissions ought have no power to suppress or censor expression.
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 74, No. 9, 29 October 2008
- Objectors may be compelled by a democratic regime to violate their consciences, though citizens of such a regime should be loathe to compel them to do so.
The art of living
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 74, No. 7, 22 October 2008
- The life of fun, the quiet life, the life of service, and the life of accomplishment compared and contrasted.
Getting right the science of global warming
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 74, No. 6, 15 October 2008
- Global warming threatens disaster for us all, as do the measures required to reduce global warming.
Civil liberties and democracy in Canada
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 74, No. 5, 8 October 2008
- Civil liberties are in a bad state in Canada today, yet during the recent election that fact did not concern any of the major federal political parties.
Becoming the 51st state
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 74, No. 4, 1 October 2008
- The United States will invade Canada in the wake of ecological collapse as the Earth warms.
Letter to Senate
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 74, No. 3, 24 September 2008
- A letter I sent to members of the academic senate at Saint Mary’s urging that a religious objective be deleted from the Academic Calendar and that Saint Mary’s have no official course evaluation form.
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 74, No. 2, 16 September 2008
- Very few professors are bad teachers, though students sometimes wrongly think a professor is bad because they have a narrow or false view of university teaching.
Nothing wrong with abortion
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 74, No. 1, 10 September 2008
- From an ethical point of view, a pregnant woman who doesn’t want to be pregnant has no reason not to have an abortion.
The purpose of laws against the expression of hate
Halifax Chronicle Herald, under the headline “Hate-speech laws misused to put chill on ordinary views,” Sunday 10 August 2008, p. A12,
- The ultimate purpose of laws against the expression of hate is to engineer a society in which an open-ended number of views and topics are out of bounds.
Letter to the New York Review of Books
The website Blazing Cat Fur, 15 July 2008, http://blazingcatfur.blogspot.ca/2008/07/mark-mercer-takes-fight-for-free-speech.html
- A response to Jeremy Waldron’s claim that censorship laws in Canada have had no bad effect on open and candid public discussion of controversial issues.
Human rights commissions and their disdain for democracy
Halifax Chronicle Herald, Wednesday 9 July 2008, p. A9
- The Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission undermined local democracy when it got involved in the dispute in Truro over gay pride flags.
Where is the outrage?
The website Blazing Cat Fur, 7 July 2008, http://blazingcatfur.blogspot.ca/2008/07/guest-post-by-mark-mercer-of-st-marys.html
- Mainstream media have failed to report the outrageous penalties given Stephen Boission.
Repeal hate laws
Letter to the Editor, Waterloo Record, 2 July 2008
- We have no moral right to be free from hate propaganda, and any society that institutes a legal right to be free from it is an authoritarian society.
We need not fear words
Ottawa Citizen, 19 June 2008
- Censorship serves to rob the public square of candour, to patronize and enfeeble those it is meant to help, and to encourage the cult of the victim and the politics of identity.
An opportunity for mainstream media to redeem themselves
The website Blazing Cat Fur, 9 June 2008, http://blazingcatfur.blogspot.ca/2008/06/blazingcatfur-exclusive-dr-mark-mercer.html
- In covering the Ezra Levant case, mainstream media need to reprint the Jyllands-Posten cartoons.
To begin to warm this chilly climate
Halifax Chronicle Herald, under the title “Bad times for free speech,” Wednesday 21 May 2008, p. A11
- The existence of human rights commissions with the power to suppress or punish expression creates a chilly climate for the expression of opinion and emotion.
Make freedom of expression a political issue
Unpublished, May 2008
- Canadians should communicate to politicians their support for M-446, a private member’s motion introduced by Keith Martin to delete Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act; S. 13 gives the Canadian Human Rights Commission and the associated Tribunal the power to suppress and censor the peaceful expression of emotion and belief.
Selecting an editor in chief of The Journal
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 73, No. 23, 2 April 2008
- The editor of The Journal should be selected by the staff of The Journal, not by a board that answers to the Saint Mary’s University Students’ Association.
Against the Instructor/Course Evaluation form
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 73, No. 21, 19 March 2008
- The ICE form, approved by the Senate of Saint Mary’s, is a terrible course evaluation form.
Because it’s right
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 73, No. 20, 12 March 2008
- That it’s the right thing to do is not a reason for doing it.
Relativism and tolerance
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 73, No. 19, 5 March 2008
- The thesis that an action is right only if it honours values embedded in the practices or habits of a culture does not imply that we ought to tolerate practices or habits different than our own.
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 73, No. 18, 27 February 2008
- The director of the art gallery at Saint Mary’s did well to refuse requests to remove an offending sculpture from an exhibition.
The Chief Returning Officer’s power to subvert democracy
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 73, No. 17, 13 February 2008
- It’s anti-democratic to have an authority vet and approve campaign posters.
Close the human rights commissions
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 73, No. 16, 6 February 2008
- Human rights commissions in this country pose a grave threat to freedom of expression.
Art is supposed to make you think
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 73, No. 15, 30 January 2008
- Art is not supposed to make you think; art isn’t supposed to do anything.
Are petitions effective tools for change?
Letter to the Editor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 73, No. 15, 30 January 2008
- Reporter Kim Dares asked only about the effectiveness of petitions, not about whether their effects on discussion are corrosive.
Religion is like the music of Céline Dion
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 73, No. 14, 23 January 2008
- One cannot hold a religious belief except in bad faith, and, aesthetically, bad faith is ugly.
Why not seek an abortion?
Letter to the Editor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 73, No. 14, 23 January 2008
- The pregnant girl in the movie Juno had no good reason not to have an abortion.
Why I treasure Peter March
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 73, No. 13, 16 January 2008
- Peter March, a professor the virtues of whom the administration at Saint Mary’s never really understood, retired, making Saint Mary’s a much smaller place.
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 73, No. 12, 9 January 2008
- The point of being a university student lies in striving to meet the standards of excellence in the various practices that constitute the life of a university student.
Response to Kathleen Skerrett
Trust in Freedom of Religious Expression Panel Discussion, Canadian Centre for Ethics in Public Affairs, Saint Mary’s University, 4 December 2007
- Skerrett thinks that religious people are being shut out of the public square unfairly.
Christmas is a secular holiday
The Ottawa Citizen, Friday, 24 December 2008, p. A15; first published as The Cranky Professor in The Journal, the campus newspaper of Saint Mary’s, Vol. 73, No. 11, 28 November 2007
- Christmas is a multicultural celebration of peace, children, and good will, a celebration that only for some of us has religious significance.
The ethos of a university
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 73, No. 10, 21 November 2007
- Intellectuals are tough emotionally and concerned to avoid correcting others by force.
Suppose a professor posts a pornographic photo...
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 73, No. 9, 14 November 2007
- We ought not seek to have authorities at the university prevent members of the university community from posting even vile or disgusting images or opinions.
Values, social ideals, and science
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 73, No. 8, 7 November 2007
- Science is a tool that can be used to help us to realize our ideals; it cannot ever undermine our ideals.
Demonstrations, protests, petitions, boycotts—and universities
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 73, No. 7, 31 October 2007
- Intellectuals should engage in argument and debate and lead by example; they ought not try to change minds by applying pressure.
Sullied House dignity
Letter to the editor, Halifax Chronicle Herald, 25 October 2007
- Members of Parliament were proud to exercise prior restraint on speech.
Reply to Dr Bruce
Unpublished, 23 April 2008
- Beth McIsaac Bruce favours Saint Mary’s retaining its ties to organized religion.
The place of organized religion at Saint Mary’s
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 73, No. 6, 24 October 2007
- Saint Mary’s ought to sever its ties to organized religion.
No smoking at Saint Mary’s
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 73, No. 5, 17 October 2007
- Smokers will have only themselves to blame should Saint Mary’s decide to ban smoking on campus.
Against official course evaluation forms
Teaching & Learning, Centre for Academic and Instructional Development, Saint Mary’s University, Vol. 18, No. 1, Fall 2007, http://www.smu.ca/webfiles/TandL_NOV2008Final.pdf
- Saint Mary’s University ought not have an official teaching evaluation form.
The Chancellor of Saint Mary’s University
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 73, No. 4, 3 October 2007
- The Chancellor of our university ought to be free to renounce his religion without thereby ceasing to be our chancellor.
Multiculturalism and diversity
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 73, No. 3, 26 September 2007
- Don’t foster diversity for its own sake, but do take care, on liberal grounds, to protect and extend multiculturalism.
Where will you go
The Cranky Professor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 73, No. 2, 19 September 2007
- A complaint against the recruitment ad that tries to sell Saint Mary’s on the basis of what a degree gets you, rather than on the point of being a student.
Petitions and academic freedom
Newsletter of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, Number 47, September 2007, http://www.safs.ca/nl47.pdf
- Professors at St. Francis Xavier University showed their disdain for academic freedom by circulating a petition denouncing a professor for attending a conference in Tehran.
Not a minor incident
Letter to the editor, Halifax Chronicle Herald, 5 September 2007
- Four reasons police should not act as agents provocateurs
Poster controversy: Censorship would deny voters information
Letter to the Editor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 72, No. 24, 28 March 2007
- Some students at Saint Mary’s would like stricter rules governing campaign posters, but stricter rules would deny voters information about the candidates’ judgement.
In defence of suppressing racist speech
Panel discussion “Letting racists speak: what’s the problem?”, Saint Mary’s University Philosophy Society, 27 March 2007
- Those who would suppress racist speech have at least three arguments on their side that are worth considering.
What’s so bad about Jared Taylor?
Letter to the Editor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 72, No. 23, 14 March 2007
- What is so bad about Jared Taylor, the self-described race realist, isn’t his empirical views; it’s the fact that he sees individuals as representatives of groups.
Letting racists speak: what’s the worry?
Discussion paper, 2 March 2007
- We need not fear that what racists say will change things for the worse, for a culture of justice, equality, and decency is much more attractive than a racist culture.
A response to Steven Smith’s President’s Report
Faculty Union News, Vol. 13, No. 17, February 2007, http://www.smufu.org/documents/volume%2013,%20number%201.pdf
- Steven Smith has a very narrow view of the nature and value of academic freedom.
Banning Taylor promotes climate of fear
Letter to the Editor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 72, No. 17, 31 January 2007
- A letter writer defended thuggish behaviour as a sound technique in politics.
Response to Journal review of discussion on homosexuality
Letter to the Editor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 72, No. 15, 10 January 2007
- A student reporter who attended a discussion was troubled to hear the view that heterosexual sex is superior to homosexual sex.
Saint Mary’s students abandon their complaint against Peter March
Unpublished, 27 November 2006
- Rather than hear that March harassed no one, the complaining students had the inquiry stopped.
Reply to Zach Churchill
The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 72, no. 9, 25 October 2006; reprinted in the newsletter of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, Number 45, January 2007, http://www.safs.ca/nl45.pdf
- Zach Churchill, the president of the students’ association at Saint Mary’s, defended restrictions on academic freedom and freedom of expression.
Explain and argue, don’t just say you don’t like it
Letter to the Editor, The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 72, No. 7, 11 October 2006
- Olivier Jarda doesn’t like such features of campus life as politically incorrect cartoons on office doors, but he doesn’t bother to explain why things should be as he likes.
A comment on the formal proceedings against Peter March
The Journal, the campus newspaper at Saint Mary’s, Vol. 72, no. 4, 20 September 2006
- Some students complained about Professor March’s posting of the cartoons and Saint Mary’s took their silly complaint seriously, thereby putting us all at risk.
A report on the Peter March affair at Saint Mary’s University
Newsletter of the Society for Academic Freedom and Scholarship, Number 44, September 2006, http://www.safs.ca/nl44.pdf
- Professor March posted the Mohammed cartoons and Saint Mary’s ordered them removed.
Address on Academic Freedom
An address to the Saint Mary’s University Philosophy Society and the Saint Mary’s University Political Science Society, 3 April 2006
- A set of seven reasons for valuing academic freedom highly
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