3.20.2008

Tolerance and Free Speech

The current ethos of moral relativism as the prevailing moral 'view' (although it does not qualify as a moral view because it makes no moral prescriptions) in our culture showed itself for what it really is in the last few weeks.

Many people have this mistaken idea that moral relativism is a tolerant viewpoint that allows everyone to make their own decisions about moral issues. But it is not. Moral relativism is radically intolerant of people who are moral objectivists. This was highlighted at York University recently when the York University group 'Students for Bioethical Awareness' organized a debate between Jose Ruba of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform (the CCBR website contains graphic images of aborted babies) and Michael Payton of the York group 'Freethinkers, Skeptics and Atheists' about abortion.

When Kelly Holloway, President of the York University Graduate Student's Association heard of the debate, she became instrumental in calling an emergency meeting of the student council executive which voted unanimously to cancel the event only 90 mins or so before the scheduled time.

According to Holloway, "Most people understand that every woman has the right to choose what she does with her own body and that moral considerations about abortion are a very personal matter for individuals to decide," and "every York student has the right to make up their own mind and there is no need for an event, organized by anti-choice campaigners, that is disguised as a debate."

In other words, nobody has the right to tell a woman that abortion is wrong. It is a personal decision. Notice that Holloway is saying that it is WRONG for people to tell people that abortion is wrong. According to her own view, Holloway cannot tell anyone that anything is wrong, because she views moral decisions as being personal matters for individuals to decide. But she decides for people who are pro-life that they cannot even debate the merits of their view, let alone tell someone that they might be wrong about abortion.

Moral relativism, especially the kind of relativism promoted by Holloway (that each person decides for themselves what is right or wrong) is almost always self-refuting in practice.

Fortunately the Administration at York U has responded to the outcry from newspapers and the general public about the stifling of free speech on campus and hosted the event on Tuesday, March 18.

It seems that Holloway's panicked reaction to speech that she did not agree with ended up backfiring on her as turnout to the re-scheduled event was boosted by the controversy over it being canceled in the first place.

According to Richard Fisher, a university spokesman, "Any debate that is legal and protected by free speech needs to occur...if it can't happen at a ... liberal arts university, where can it happen?"

Turns out also that Ruba was more successful in defending the pro-life position than Payton was in defending the pro-death position.

3 comments:

Mom C. said...

well-spoken!!

Anonymous said...

If you think Ruba came anywhere close to winning the debate then please listen to the audio on www.fishwithfeet.ca/

Not only did Ruba consistantly avoid any examination of fundamental questions around debate. He could not engage in arguements on the most fundamental questition of abortion "what is inside the whom?" which ironically was his own question.

Added to that, Ruba had 5 more minutes to speak, since the pro-life moderator cut time off of Payton's speech.

It looks like Pro-lifers can only win when they cheat... oh wait... that's right... Ruba lost and he lost HARD.

Vertigo said...

Anon,

I admittedly have not heard the audio, although I know Ruba's arguments from other venues and they are sound.

I got the idea that Ruba won the debate from the rabidly pro-death rag, The Toronto Star.

I will have a listen when I get some time.