Beattie has the rundown at Quill. PEN has sure had some dumbass moves the last few years, siding with predators and hate-mongers in the name of free speech, doubling down on the idea that anything flying out a mouth, with or without a brain behind it, is somehow sacred. We need to get some young people in there on their board to counteract the somnambulance that has to be going on in order to make some of these decisions.
The library argues that by allowing the third-party booking to go ahead, they are acting in defence of free speech. TPL’s room-rental policies stipulate that the library reserves the right to cancel a booking if it “reasonably believes” that “use by any individual or group will be for a purpose that is likely to promote, or would have the effect of promoting discrimination, contempt, or hatred for any group or person on the basis of … gender identity [or] gender expression.” However, city librarian Vickery Bowles states that since Murphy has never been found guilty of violating Canada’s hate speech laws, there are no grounds to prevent her from speaking.
Today, PEN Canada issued a statement of support for Bowles and TPL. “Ms. Meghan Murphy’s opinions do not meet a legal threshold for exclusion under the library’s rental policy, though they are clearly at odds with the inclusive spirit which should inform its enforcement,” the statement reads. “Recognizing that some views held by Ms. Murphy are repugnant to many, PEN nevertheless believes, as a matter of principle, that the Library cannot be forced to adjudicate which opinions – short of those which violate the Criminal Code – can be aired by a third party on its premises.”
And you know, I agree that they should be allowed to speak. Just not in a publicly funded venue, especially one that is revered by kids and adults as a place of great learning. To those not familiar with the stakes and issues at hand, not to mention the legal mechanisms at play, it appears to loan state approval/legitimacy to the speaker. Let them rent a private room across town.
tl;dr If it’s not hate speech, they can speak. Just not in a place I pay taxes to.