Hot debate on campus

I am a somewhat hoary UVic alumnus (BA ‘62) and, coincidentally, an erstwhile Martlet staffer. I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the ongoing hostilities between the pro-life and pro-choice factions on campus, which have now been brought to a head by the civil suit filed by Mr. Cameron Côté and the BCCLA. (Martlet; 10/10/13)

I entered UVic (then Victoria College) in 1957, and graduated in 1962 [. . .]. Dwight D. Eisenhower held the U.S. presidency throughout most of my undergraduate studies, and this period is today regarded (quite correctly) as one of the most conservative and culturally restrictive in recent memory; still bleeding from the wounds inflicted by McCarthyism, it fostered the groupthink, chauvinistic, and expansionist philosophies of both the U.S. and the Soviet Union, bringing the world to the brink of a nuclear Armageddon.

Nevertheless, among my classmates I could identify fascists, communists, anarchists, socialists, liberals, conservatives, Jews, Catholics, Protestants, Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists, secular humanists etc., etc., all of who enjoyed the unfettered right to argue their beliefs without fear of repression. We adhered to the doctrine expressed in the oft-cited quotation of Evelyn Beatrice Hall (invariably misattributed to Voltaire), “I disagree with what you say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it.”

In fairness, I must identify myself as a pro-lifer; still, were I on the other side of the argument I would insist just as strenuously that all voices be included in any debate. I find it highly distressing that “feeling uncomfortable” is now considered a legitimate reason to liquidate argument with which we disagree. UVic is a university, not some warm, fuzzy, feel-good sensitivity training seminar; surely, students and faculty must be sufficiently robust and intellectually and emotionally prepared to withstand the rough-and-tumble free exchange of ideas. To be quite blunt, I suggest that those who can’t take the heat stay out of the kitchen.

I am confounded by the illogic of those who are anxious to bully pro-lifers from the podium. When I was a young man, the only place on earth where the word “abortion” could be even whispered was the university campus. Whence do the pro-choicers believe our present-day abortion on demand society arose? Still, they now labour to deny those with conflicting beliefs the very pulpit which has enabled them to come to power.
It’s a very strange world we live in, Master Jack!

John C. Simpson

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