From Monday, January 21st until Friday, January 25th the Carleton University chapter of Students for Liberty planned to follow the lead of Sam Houston State University students in erecting a blank wall for the purpose of expressing free speech and beginning a debate on censorship. The wall lasted not one full day until was torn down, destroyed, and disposed of by Arun Smith, a student acting alone, on Monday evening who promptly posted/boasted about his “act of forceful resistance” (in his own words) based on what he called a “moral imperative” to protect students on campus from “potential” hateful speech.  The student does not claim that any hateful speech had already been found on the canvas. The student went on to justify his actions by alluding to the gay pride week occurring subsequently. Given that the theme of pride week is “unapologetic,” one might assume that they would be dismissive of inconsiderate and ignorant attacks and have no reason to pay them any mind. The student claims:

“The erecting of this “wall” is but another in a series of acts of violence against we who are forced every day to try and justify who we are, to try and justify our humanity and our being deserving of respect, dignity, and consideration.”

The only violence in this situation occurred in the tearing down of a neutral platform because one micro-tyrant did not think people around him could be responsible to manage or capable of handling the content that could be potentially posted on this wall. He had to step in to enforce his “moral imperative.” His use of violence is troubling and his lack of faith in ideas and words to change minds says more about himself than the capabilities of other students. Prominent positive messages had already been printed on the paper, proving that the board had the potential to be a very positive experiment:

“Gay is ok! <3”
“Obama murders by drones!”

Some were slightly more controversial:

“Israel is an apartheid state” (countered by “Pro-Israel, Pro-Palestine, Pro-PEACE.)
“Education is NOT a right.” (Someone had scribbled out NOT leading another student to criticize the censorship and yet another to criticize the criticizer.)
“Stop killing babies!” and “Abortion is only killing a parasite! Let women control their bodies! PRO-CHOICE”

Most of the content accumulated on the board is positive, or at least respectful, some of it was jokes, some more contentious and reactionary. It’s always just words though, you could disagree right next to it or even over it and it’s still within decency. But tearing it down and destroying it is savage. It was the worst way to go about the situation. It was definitely not surprising. At the SHSU Free Speech experiment, a school staff member cut up the free-speech board with a box-cutter. Writing this on Tuesday, the students had erected a second board. Let’s see how long it lasts!