"The world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it.”
We are UBC students and alumni who acknowledge that our university's main campus sits on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Musqueam people.
In addition, we value the world-class diversity of the UBC community — in terms of gender, sexuality, race, religion, ability, field of study, and otherwise — and seek to promote the empowerment and free expression of those who are threatened.
Through direct action, grassroots organizing, community outreach, and social solidarity, we strive to:
Our "Free Speech" Campaign
Among other things, we are currently working to address abuses of "free speech," which has come to be used by some as cover for hate speech and deliberate misinformation, trampling on the freedoms of others. Instead of being invoked to protect the vulnerable from censorship, it is sometimes used as a weapon against them by those who normalize and legitimize systematic discrimination and violence.
The right to free expression is fundamental to a functioning democracy, but it is never absolute, coming with responsibilities as well as with reasonable limits (for example, where it threatens the safety and dignity of traditionally marginalized groups). In a 1919 article titled "Freedom of Speech in War Time," Harvard law professor Zechariah Chafee, Jr. wrote, "Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man's [sic] nose begins."
No one has a duty to allow a platform to hateful, oppressive, or purposely misleading voices. Nor is it effective to either ignore or debate these voices, which are less concerned with "facts" or "reason" than with the power to recruit followers and mainstream harmful, long-disproven pseudo-ideas. As French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre warned in 1946, they are "acting in bad faith" and "know that their remarks are frivolous, open to challenge. But they are amusing themselves, for it is their adversary who is obliged to use words responsibly."
Students, who form the vast majority of the university community and often accept massive amounts of debt to be here, must have a say in who is invited onto our campus and who is not. And our desire to live together in a peaceful society specifically requires us to deny this space to those who do harm, and to instead raise up those promoting truth, justice, and love.