Toronto’s York University’s suspension of student Daniel Freeman-Maloy for his ‘crime of megaphone’ continues to provide comic relief for those who still believe in freedom of speech. The York University student paper provided some amusing graphics, since he was supposed to be their opinions editor, a position he will have difficulty accepting since he’s not allowed to set foot on campus. Graphics and letters of support can be found at the website established for this strange case. Naomi Klein wrote a very nice letter to York University’s Presidnt (most universities have a president, but york university has a presidnt — her email is email@example.com) about it, included below. The letters have actually been overwhelming — and coupled with the legal and political pressure being applied could result in York having to back off.
Below is the letter from Naomi.
Dear President Marsden (firstname.lastname@example.org),
I realize you are receiving many letters and calls about the outrageous summary suspension of respected student journalist and activist Daniel Freeman-Maloy. Let me add a slightly different perspective. As you may recall, my last dealings with your office were when you initiated legal proceedings against me and my publisher on the publication of my book, No Logo. You took exception to a passage that alleged that York University had banned students from protesting against the DuMaurier Tennis Open. You denied this and claimed that the idea that York would ban students from protesting on their own campus badly damaged the good reputation of York of University.
So it is with a particularly keen sense of outrage that I have followed the controversy surrounding Freeman-Maloy’s suspension: you are doing exactly what you then claimed York University would never do, banning students from peacefully expressing their political views on campus. Particularly alarming is the way this has been done: without giving the student the slightest opportunity to plead his case. You would never know that York University was once a hotbed of the campus democratization movement.
There is another reason why I am following this issue closely: the Israeli state is acting with greater and greater brutality and impunity with each passing day. The conflict in the Middle East poses a deep moral challenge to all of us: what are we willing to do when deep injustices are being committed and the world community fails to stop them? Will we watch silently, or will we act in our sphere- our workplace, our school? For many Jews, this moral challenge is particularly wrenching because the escalating attacks on Palestinians are being carried in our name. Many of us feel like we must act, we must speak out, or else we are silently complicit.
By suspending Daniel Freeman-Maloy and preventing him from taking his post at the Excalibur, you are punishing a student for peacefully acting on his conscience in the face of tremendous suffering. This is profoundly shameful and will damage not just York University, but the spirit of bold dissent that is so badly needed in this country and the world.
Activism is disruptive. We do it because we believe that there are times when disruption is necessary for needed change to occur. I hope that you will make a decision that is not based on fear of disruption, but on hope in the change that can happen when people are free to speak, and even yell, their minds.