The University of Toronto’s Student Union
In George Orwell’s “1984”, the Ministry of Truth was in charge of the government’s propaganda and the rewriting of history to suit the perspective of the powers that be. At the University of Toronto, it would appear that the University of Toronto’s Student Union (UTSU) is their equivalent to the Ministry of Truth. One needs to simply look at their response to the protest that occurred on their campus on November 16th, 2012 to see the similarities.
They state that a group (the Canadian Association For Equality (CAFE), though they don`t seem to want you to know that) hosted an event to “supposedly” address issues that men and boys face. “Supposedly.” I presume they hypothesize because they did not think to have a representative of the union actually attend the event in order to hear what they actually addressed. I was there, and I will let you in on the big secret; they discussed issues which men and boys face in today’s modern world.
According to the UTSU, CAFE’s keynote speaker was apparently Dr. Warren Farrall. I have recently informed Warren Farrell that the spelling of his name has now been changed and that he will have to replace all of his stationery. Mr. Farrell was understandably upset by the news.
The UTSU felt so sure of Dr. Farrell’s position that they had to rally and organize a protest, but they could not be bothered to know what his name really is. If you can’t trust the UTSU to even know his name, how can you believe anything they say about his views, theories, or public stances? How can you trust anything they tell you about what occurred that night?
The Student Union claims there were many complaints against having Mr. Farrell speak on campus. These complaints were on the basis that a lecture to a bunch of attentive and interested students would jeopardize the maintenance of their campus as a “safe space free from oppression and discrimination.” Despite this, they say Mr. Farrell was given space to “to spread his misogynistic, hateful theories at UofT.” Since they do not quote anything directly from the event that evening, despite his entire speech being available on youtube, I would invite any self-empowered individual who is capable of thinking critically, to watch the speech and decide for themself if what Dr. Farrell spoke about was indeed hateful and misogynistic.
Members of the UTSU chose to enforce their campus’ safe space, free from oppression and discrimination, by organizing a protest. They enforced their idea of a safe space by blocking doors, refusing to allow people to attend the event, accusing people who wanted to attend of being rapists, rape sympathizers, promoters of incest, or just plain old scum. The UTSU feels the best way to create a safe space is to scream and shout their perspective instead of hearing the perspective of others, verbally attack students and others trying to have a peaceful assembly, and to physically deter people from going where they please in order to educate themselves and formulate their own opinions. The UTSU’s verbally aggressive behaviour, physical prevention of people’s self-determination, and misconstruing of the details of both the event and the perspectives of the keynote speaker did anything but make their fellow students feel safe or allow them their own freedom of person. On the contrary, the actions of the protesters were the very definition of oppression, discrimination, and the creation of an unsafe environment.
The UTSU refers to the protest as an “information picket”. Apparently these self-proclaimed feminists are of the impression that being a feminist means spreading misinformation. Their actions of quote mining and screaming obscenities at people while blocking people from attending an event to hear information tells me that their idea of an “information picket” is picketing in opposition of information. These picketers feel that people attending a lecture by a man speaking about issues which boys face growing up in today’s world, and how we can prevent them from continuing to be problems of tomorrow’s world, is called “hateful and mysoginistic.” The UTSU feels that discussing issues which husbands, sons, uncles, and brothers face creates an unsafe, oppressive, and discriminatory world
They say that since the event, members of the UofT community have had to face harassment, slander, and public shaming. It would seem that they are trying to attribute this to Dr. Farrell’s speech rather than the altering of a safe space to one of intimidation and shaming by the UTSU protesters. They blame the speech of one man giving a peaceful lecture, not the oppressive actions of over 100 people trying to silence him and deafen those who wished to hear him.
The UTSU article cites “A Voice For Men” (AVFM), a website for Men’s Rights Activists (MRA’S). They mention an article in which one student in particular was singled out, and this is where the UTSU begins to truly embody the Orwellian Ministry of Truth. They state that AVFM refers to this student as “’the personification of Princess Cupcake’, ‘an utterly vile creature’, and ‘Hitler’s Barbie.’” These were not comments by AVFM. These quotes were pulled from the comments section of that article. If one thinks this adds any credibility to their stance, then people should discuss the huge amount of hatred spilling out of the CBC or any other news website with a comments section.
This quote mining is to be expected by protesters. After all, there is only so much that one can fit on a protest sign. However, when the UTSU publishes an official response in which they do the same, it is to be deplored and such quote mining merely undermines any claim they can have as an organization with even a modicum of critical thought.
The UTSU blatantly admits to doing this, as the three sources which they cite for their mined quotes are:
Two of these “sources” are pages of quotes taken out of context. The other source is an open forum thread discussing a single quote which is also on one of the other pages. This is an admission that all they did was search for quotes which they could pull out of context in order to suit their agenda. A truly academic mind would not pull random quotes from the internet, but would instead go to the direct source of the quotes, Dr. Farrell’s books, and look at them in context.
The UTSU article stated that they stand “united with this student and all others who face violence and harassment for working to protect basic human rights.” Where were they when the attendees were being harassed for trying to have a peaceful assembly? Where were they when those interested in listening to what Dr. Farrell had to say were being called “scum” “rapists” “rape sympathizer” and having other such venomous insults literally spat in their faces while they peacefully tried to enter the CAFE event? Where was the UTSU when these “information picketers” tried to chastise attendees for not accepting the protester’s political (I could make an argument for religious) view of feminism? How is this working to protect “basic human rights” of all?
What does Canada consider to be basic human rights? According to the “Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms”:
2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:
- (a) freedom of conscience and religion;
- (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
- (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
- (d) freedom of association.
28. Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.
Does this sound like the UTSU was upholding these basic human rights, or breaking them? As with the speech by Warren Farrell, I will leave it to you to consider and come to your own decision.
The University of Toronto’s Ministry of Truth
The three tenets of the Ministry of Truth were “war is peace”, “freedom is slavery”, and “ignorance is strength.” The UTSU showed that they believe in these three principles as well. They felt that fighting against people trying to attend a lecture was in fact them promoting a safe and peaceful campus. They felt that our freedom to have a peaceful assembly was promoting slavery for them. Finally, as they demonstrated with their “information picketers,” the UTSU feels their greatest strength is the dissemination of ignorance among their ranks as well as trying to promote their ignorance to others.
Given the last two sections in which I point out how the UTSU rewrites history and pens their own truths to best suit their own propaganda, I hope that you go and look up the Warren Farrell speech. Listen to the words the UTSU would rather you did not hear and make up your own mind on whether or not Dr. Farrell’s speech promoted misogyny, as the UofT student union claims, or if he discussed real issues which affect male children, as those of us who actually attended his speech know to be the truth.
I will close with my own bit of quote mining, from one of the UTSU’s own sources, to further illustrate how the UTSU and the “information picketers”, who would be better referred to as “information pickers,” pick and choose what best suits their agenda:
“I am a men’s liberationist (or “masculist”) when men’s liberation is defined as equal opportunity and equal responsibility for both sexes. I am a feminist when feminism favors equal opportunities and responsibilities for both sexes. I oppose both movements when either says our sex is THE oppressed sex, therefore, “we deserve rights.” That’s not gender liberation but gender entitlement. Ultimately, I am in favor of neither a women’s movement nor a men’s movement but a gender transition movement.”
― Warren Farrell, The Myth of Male Power
What a misogynist!
-This article originally written for the Canadian Association For Equality