Members of the American Political Science Association, which is scheduled to have its annual meeting in Toronto next year, have drafted a petition that consideration be given to relocating the meeting on the grounds that Canada has shown hostility to the freedom of speech.
The petition cites four incidents where human rights commissions in Canada carried out proceedings against journalists and religious figures who criticized homosexuality or Islam. It quotes Canadian Human Rights Commission investigator Dean Steacy, who has said, “Freedom of speech is an American concept, so I don’t give it any value.”
APSA members, the petition says, “ought to be able at the 2009 annual meeting to present research and argument on controversial topics…without fear of fine, arrest, or other legal consequences.” They ask that the Council and staff of APSA relocate the meeting to a place “where the civil rights and liberties of members to free speech and academic freedom are secure”, unless Canadian authorities provide satisfactory guarantees that academic freedom and free speech won’t be threatened.
We think this undertaking addresses serious concerns that the NAS very much shares. American scholarly organizations, beset as they are to recognize a variety of often dubious civil rights claims, have no choice but to defend their members in the exercise of those liberties that really are fundamental.
The petition may be signed by APSA members and can be found here.