Student’s actions ignite national debate on free speech

Carleton student Arun Smith made national headlines after tearing down the Carleton Students for Liberty’s “free speech wall” in the Unicentre atrium Jan. 22.  The Charlatan put together a timeline of how it all unfolded:


Tuesday (Jan. 22, 2013, 1:15 AM)

Seventh-year human rights student Arun Smith posted a Facebook note claiming responsibility for tearing down a “free speech wall” put up by the Carleton Students for Liberty (CSFL) in the Atrium.

“… we are at war, in a war for our own survival, where to exist, we resist, and to resist, we exist,” he wrote.ün-séamus-surinder-smith/president-runte-i-tore-down-that-wall/10151407051872437

The comments show early signs of debate.

The Charlatan picks up the story, revealing:

– “Abortion is murder” and “traditional marriage is awesome” were written on the wall.
– The university will be investigating.
– Carleton Students For Liberty campus co-ordinator Ian CoKehyeng and Smith disagree on the purpose of the wall, but agree “free speech” needs defining.
– Responding to CoKehyeng’s intent to collect compensation for the money spent on the wall, Smith said that if another wall goes up, another wall comes down.

Comments are divided.

The issue gains national attention. CBC reporter Kady O’Malley (@kady) and National Post columnist Andrew Coyne (@acoyne) exchange with Smith.

O’Malley’s tweet to Smith:

Coyne’s tweet to Smith:


Tuesday (Jan. 22, 2013, 7:04 PM)

The National Post covered the incident:

“Only hours after students installed a “Free Speech Wall” at Carleton University to prove that campus free speech was alive and well, it was torn down by an activist who claimed the wall was an “act of violence,” against the gay community.”


A second “free speech” wall is put up in the Atrium.


Wednesday (Jan. 23, 2013, 10:48 AM)

The National Post follows its coverage with a comment from Jonathan Kay.

“While posturing as a champion of progressive values, he’s really just a symbol of academic sloth and a creepy totalitarian mindset that would censor opposing views rather than deal with them.”


Wednesday (Jan. 23, 2013, 5:00 PM)

Smith is interviewed on television by Ezra Levant on the Sun News Network’s ‘The Source.”

Leading up to the interview Levant calls Smith a “freaky fascist” and “self-appointed censor and hate-finder general.”



The second “free speech” wall in the atrium continues to stand.