Political scientists worried about 'legal jeopardy'
Kevin Libin, National Post Published: Saturday, August 23, 2008
A group of U. S. professors launched a campaign this week protesting plans by a prominent political science organization to hold its annual conference in Toronto next year, claiming that Canada's restrictions on certain forms of speech puts controversial academics at risk of being prosecuted.
Bradley Watson, professor of American and Western political thought at Pennsylvania's St. Vincent College, said he will present a petitioncalling for the American Political Science Association (APSA) to re-evaluate its selection of Toronto for its 2009 conference at this year's annual meeting, taking place over the Labour Day weekend in Boston.
His protest has garnered support from dozens of professors across the United States, including prominent scholars such as PrincetonUniversity legal philosopher Robert P. George and Harvard University's Harvey Mansfield.
"Our belief is that the APSA should choose its sites carefully, with particular regard for questions of freedom of speech and conscience," Mr. Watson told the National Post by e-mail. "We therefore believe Canada to be a problematic destination."
Mr. Watson said that professors signing the petition are concerned that recent human rights commission investigations into Maclean's and Western Standard magazines over articles concerning Islam, and the conviction of pastor Stephen Boisson, who was ordered by Alberta's human rights tribunal in May to cease publicizing criticisms of homosexuality, suggest that professors risk being chilled from discussing important academic subjects, or ending up in legal trouble. Mr. Watson said he plans to distribute hundreds of buttons to attendees at the Boston conference reading "Toronto 2009, Non!"
Several professors in the working group behind the protest "have written in areas that seem particularly disfavoured by the Canadian legal establishment," Mr. Watson said. "We are uncertain of the extent of the legal jeopardy that APSA members might place themselves in should they make public arguments in Canada, or post those arguments online, concerning hot-button issues like homosexuality, same-sex marriage, or the nature of the Islamist threat to Western civilization."
The American Political Science Association, whose members include both American and Canadian academics, is the oldest and largest organization of political science professors. Next month's annual meeting, expected to draw roughly 7,000 political scientists, will be its 104th. The program includes such discussions as Terrorism and Human Rights; Varying Perspectives on Same-Sex Marriage; and Missing Alliances and (Un)expected Transformations in the Politics of Islam.
Rest of article at: http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=743273
Do Political Scientists Believe in Free Speech?
US political scientists fear Canadian Human Rights Commission Western Standard
Hell no, we won't go [to Canada]