Freedom of expression

editorial

“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Evelyn Beatrice Hall

Shortly after the terrorist attack in Edmonton last month that left 5 people injured, a candidate for the Calgary Board of Education took to Facebook to blame the LGBTQ community for the crime. “LGBTQ R U 2 DUM 2 C THE TERRORIST ATTACK IN EDMONTON IS YOUR FAULT AS WELL (sic)”, wrote Karyn Draper.

The owner of a craft brewery in Kelowna has reported intense cyber-bullying to the RCMP after posting a video on the Boundary Brewery Facebook page showing an anti-fascism flag being hung in his place of business.

NFL players have been kneeling before and during the U.S. national anthem, protesting extrajudicial killings of blacks by police and inequity in the justice system. President Trump pushed back at a campaign rally shortly after the protests began by calling for team owners to “fire any SOB” who “disrespects our flag.”

As Remembrance Day approaches, we should reflect on what the young men and women in our armed forces continue to fight for. They fight against tyranny and for the freedoms to which we are all entitled – freedom to vote, freedom to travel, freedom to assemble and associate, freedom to use a language of our choosing, freedom to worship as we choose and, most importantly, the freedom to express ourselves provided that our communications do not deliberately cause harm.

For our citizens, the right to express oneself freely and to protest are inalienable provided no harm is intended. There are no situational exemptions, such as President Trump’s assertion that employees should be fired for disrespecting a symbol of the United States. In fact, the peaceful protest that some NFL players have engaged in can be seen as the ultimate expression of patriotism.

While some may rail against the opinions of people with whom they disagree, in Canada we have the right to express them as we have the right to respectfully disagree, for this is what true freedom is.

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