Where do we draw the line on free speech?
It’s a question I found myself asking last month in the wake of the National Post’s coverage of Meghan Murphy, a self-professed feminist blogger with a definite anti-trans attitude that many feels dehumanizes trans people.
She attracted mainstream media attention in October and November when her plan to use a public library in Toronto to talk about trans people came under fire from supporters of trans people. In brief, they felt taxpayers should not be funding “hate speech” against trans people, just as they shouldn’t be funding anyone else who further marginalizes and dehumanizes other minority groups.
Most media outlets in Canada played it straight up; they covered the controversy as it developed from an unbiased news angle.
Some newspaper columnists wrote about it as well, and some supported Murphy’s “right to free speech” at taxpayers’ expense.
Among them was Jonathan Kay writing for the National Post in a piece with the headline The silencing campaign against Meghan Murphy is a disgrace. Kay claimed it was a freedom of speech issue, and he supported her right to speak about trans people.
Columnist Barbara Kay of the Post also came to Murphy’s defence in a piece headlined How feminist Meghan Murphy fell victim to progressives’ double standards.
And then there was Rex Murphy writing for the Post with Toronto’s public libraries hold the line on free speech.
There were others in the Post supporting Murphy’s “right” to voice her views about trans people on the taxpayers’ dime, including at least two articles by Chris Selley.
Full disclosure: I am an editor with a Postmedia newspaper (which owns the National Post), so there are obvious limitations on my personal opinions here (freedom of speech is not absolute, is it? It has limitations.).
So, I want to turn this over to readers for discussion.
Do you agree with the freedom of speech argument offered by the Post’s columnists?
Do you think those same columnists would support Murphy’s “right to free speech” at taxpayers’ expense if she were speaking out the same way against other minority groups?
Or do you feel they were supporting hate speech against transgender people?
Related link: Monitoring bigotry: Social media vs. mainstream media
— Jillian Page, Quebec