With all due respect to Twisted Sister (my sincere apologies for the hair band reference), 2010 International Pro-Life Activist of the year, Ruth Lobo, from Carleton College has decided that she’s not content with a memorable YouTube moment, she’s not going to tolerate further censorship of her pro-life views, and she is going to push back against a Canadian regime that pays lips service to free speech even as it arrests peaceful pro-life activists.
This week Ruth — along with fellow pro-life activist John McLeod — filed a Statement of Claim (the Canadian version of a lawsuit) against officials at Carleton College. Their claim is simple and compelling: that the university violated its own free speech promises when it had them handcuffed and arrested when they were merely holding signs in a public area. The university has repeatedly allowed other groups — like animal rights groups — to publicly display graphic images in the open spaces on campus. Yet it not only censored Ruth and John, it had them arrested.
It’s worth noting that Ruth and John are not your ordinary plaintiffs. In the U.S., if a student loses a lawsuit against their university, there’s virtually zero chance that they’ll have to pay the university’s legal costs. But if Ruth and John lose, Canadian rules could potentially compel them to pay the university’s lawyers. Yet these students are willing to take that risk because they understand that the cause of life is too important to be silenced.
And to think . . . here in the U.S. some students are afraid to defend the unborn because — maybe — they’ll have a harder time getting a reference letter from their favorite professor or — maybe — they’ll get a lower grade. We could learn a lot from Ruth and John.
This case will be a fascinating test for Canadian jurisprudence. Do the university’s policies extolling the value of free inquiry and debate actually mean what they say? Or is free speech in Canada on its final countdown?