A gay rights activist wrecked a newly-installed “Free Speech Wall” at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario less than a day after it was installed.
The symbolic wall was the brainchild of Ian CoKehyeng and Carleton Students for Liberty. Members of the club installed it on Monday to demonstrate the vigor of free speech on campus.
“What we wanted to promote was competition of ideas, rather than ‘if I disagree with you I’ve got to censor you,’” CoKehyeng, the club’s founder, told told the Toronto-based National Post.
So much for that.
By Tuesday morning, seventh-year student Arun Smith had demolished the wall, which was really little more than a makeshift white board equipped with colored markers in a high-visibility area on campus.
Smith called the wall an “act of violence” against the gay community, according to the Post. As for his own deed, he has hailed it as an act of “forceful resistance.”
In a thick, 594-word Facebook screed, Smith explained that he tore down the wall because it provided space “for the expression of hate.”
“We rely on buzzwords like ‘free speech’ to help us either ignore or perpetuate the gross suffering that our words and actions can cause,” he wrote. “In organizing the ‘free speech wall,’ the Students for Liberty have forgotten that liberty requires liberation.”
At the end of the tirade, Smith identified himself as a campaigner against homophobia and transphobia.
In a Twitter exchange with a reporter from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on Tuesday afternoon, Smith described free speech as an “illusory concept.” He also proclaimed that “not every opinion is valid, nor deserving of expression,” relates the Post.
Lat year, Smith made a YouTube video advertising his candidacy in a Carleton student government election. In that video, the the LGBT activist expressed a seemingly contrary view concerning the free speech of other people in addition to himself.