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Free speech first 

Hate speech is not “somebody disagrees with me, therefore my discomfort with ideological conflict justifies aggressively depriving that person of her or his Charter rights.”

To Pam Stewart (and Saint Mary’s University Women’s Centre), regarding Stewart’s letter, “Abort anti-abortionists” (Feb. 19)---which is just a lovely sentiment, The shameful actions of SMU women’s centre in shutting down Jojo Ruba’s lecture, as well as follow-up comments by their peers and your letter, demonstrate an ignorance of Canadian law, democratic values and basic logic. Hate speech is not “somebody disagrees with me, therefore my discomfort with ideological conflict justifies aggressively depriving that person of her or his Charter rights.” Stewart calls disagreement an “attack.” Your choice of words minimizes the suffering of women facing violence. I support a woman’s right to choose and so does the law. She has the right to choose to have an abortion or to believe abortion is morally wrong. She has the right to choose to attend and listen to a lecture she is interested in and the right to choose not to if she finds the topic obnoxious. SMU’s Women’s Centre doesn’t share my respect for the ability of all women to make their own choices and would rather choose opinions and actions on female students’ behalf. Does the Saint Mary’s Women’s Centre (or Stewart) truly represent the entire female population of my alma mater? I don’t think so. Here’s an idea: The women’s centre can book a lecture hall and the protestors can stand around the podium chanting their incoherent nonsense (it worked once, you might as well repeat it) or give a well- reasoned argument supporting your group’s official position on abortion. It’s your choice. If a student group with a rival ideology crashes your party in the rude and disruptive manner your members did a few weeks ago, you can cry your human rights were violated. ---Melanie Grant, New Glasgow

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