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Mayor Naheed Nenshi's Calgary

UrbanWarrior

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^^^ Couldn't have possibly articulated it better myself.
 

darwink

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Social Justice, your sarcasm and hyperbole is just complicating matters. Just speak plainly and say what you mean.

Here's what I mean: Canadians are guaranteed freedom of expression; they are not entitled to hold rallies in the lobby of City Hall. I don't think this pastor should be arrested for his speech or his beliefs, but I do think that permitting him to hold an event in the lobby of City Hall is an implicit endorsement of his views by our Municipal government. I feel the same way about the Downtown Calgary BIA issuing a permit to the Billy Graham organization to set up a proselytization trailer on Stephen Ave during Pride Week.

Speech also has consequences. When we keep provide high-profile venues for bigoted speech, we are advertising a certain image to the rest of the world. We have a problem attracting and retaining young people in this city. I think its reasonable to reflect on how we are presenting our civic identity to the rest of the world and whether that contributes to this problem.
Well, if it wasn't inside, it would be in the plaza outside, equally high profile IMO.
 

Silence&Motion

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Well, if it wasn't inside, it would be in the plaza outside, equally high profile IMO.

I'm not sure what the rules are for the plaza outside City Hall. My main point is that the City is allowed to use discretion over what kind of events it officially allows within its facilities (inside or outside). If the City withdrew permission from this event, the pastor would probably just gather his followers in the plaza anyway, but at least then it wouldn't have the legitimacy of City of Calgary approval.
 

Social Justice

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I'm liking this discussion!

So far, everyone is being respectful, exchanging ideas and there haven't been any tantrums thrown yet.

Historically, freedom of speech has benefited oppressed people. In fact, I'm old enough to remember when 'the left' was in favour of free speech (How times have changed!). When you deny an individual from expressing themselves in the public space, you set a dangerous precedence.



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Always_Biking

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I think you and Urban Warrior are misunderstanding Social justice’s post. Unless I’m missing something he’s saying the same thing that you’re saying.
Social Justice, your sarcasm and hyperbole is just complicating matters. Just speak plainly and say what you mean.

Here's what I mean: Canadians are guaranteed freedom of expression; they are not entitled to hold rallies in the lobby of City Hall. I don't think this pastor should be arrested for his speech or his beliefs, but I do think that permitting him to hold an event in the lobby of City Hall is an implicit endorsement of his views by our municipal government. I feel the same way about the Downtown Calgary BIA issuing a permit to the Billy Graham organization to set up a proselytization trailer on Stephen Ave during Pride Week.

Speech also has consequences. When we keep providing high-profile venues for bigoted speech, we are advertising a certain image to the rest of the world. We have a problem attracting and retaining young people in this city. I think it's reasonable to reflect on how we are presenting our civic identity to the rest of the world and whether that contributes to this problem.
 
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Always_Biking

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Fair enough, the question is at what point does it become criminal hate speech? A pastor saying homosexuality is wrong or that they are sinners is what I call hate speech and enough to stop them from speaking.

Generally, agree with allowing all other types of speech even if the subject isn’t something that I agree with. At some point however, you have to decide that something is hateful enough that it needs to be stopped.


That is the thing though ... public space. It is either almost all (no criminal hate speech) or nothing. I'd rather live in a society where the rights of the opinioted bigots are protected, so that should the government swing the other way, similar protests are protected to advocate for the systemically oppressed. This is different from trying to de-platform someone from Twitter, or advocate for a private or quasi private space to not rent facilities to certain groups/people.
 

Surrealplaces

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It looks like some miscommunication happening. We are all on the same page about the Pastor and his views.

There's is a good debate about the level of freedom allowed in public speaking.
 

Silence&Motion

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I don't think we should take renting or giving space as endorsement or approval.
When the City grants permission to certain groups to hold events within City Hall it is choosing to give those groups a platform to express their views. I would say that that is implicit approval. I think the City has a responsibility to make certain judgments about what it considers to be appropriate and inappropriate expressions.

Historically, freedom of speech has benefited oppressed people. In fact, I'm old enough to remember when 'the left' was in favour of free speech (How times have changed!). When you deny an individual from expressing themselves in the public space, you set a dangerous precedence.
"The left" is not against free speech and no one on this thread has advocated against free speech. No one is suggesting that this pastor should be prevented from expressing himself in public space. I'm not talking about denying speech. I'm talking about denying someone a platform that elevates and legitimates their speech. You won't find a single mention in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms entitling us to take over the lobby of City Hall for a day.
 

darwink

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The city is the last organization I want making that determination. Either we let it all in - with a ban for the criminal line - or we do none. Some based on what is popular is a horrible road to go down. There are lots of horrible opinions that are hurtful that aren’t criminal.

Now I question why any group can use the atrium, but that isn’t here nor there. Perhaps a belief in access to provide balance compared to the various holiday celebrations?

The Charter doesn’t address most things directly, but this isn’t private property. Lots of government associated property is treated largely like private property for the purposes of access and protest, but central government administration buildings are most definitely not treated in that manner. Since the city is treating the atrium like an indoor town square, that is how the courts would judge efforts to control who has access.
 
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Silence&Motion

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The city is the last organization I want making that determination. Either we let it all in - with a ban for the criminal line - or we do none. Some based on what is popular is a horrible road to go down. There are lots of horrible opinions that are hurtful that aren’t criminal.

Now I question why any group can use the atrium, but that isn’t here nor there. Perhaps a belief in access to provide balance compared to the various holiday celebrations?

The Charter doesn’t address most things directly, but this isn’t private property. Lots of government associated property is treated largely like private property for the purposes of access and protest, but central government administration buildings are most definitely not treated in that manner. Since the city is treating the atrium like an indoor town square, that is how the courts would judge efforts to control who has access.

I'm not sure what your position is with regard to this particular event. Do you think the City was in the right to permit this pastor to hold an event in City Hall or not?

I'm not sure why you think the City should be "the last organization" to determine who gets to hold events in City-owned facilities. It makes no sense. They City has no choice about whether or not to exercise discretion. They are in that position whether they like it or not. At least they are a democratically-controlled and publicly-accountable organization. If they started to act with extreme bias, the public is in a position to intervene.

Governments, universities, media and tech companies, BIAs, etc. are all in a position to regulate the boundaries of civil discourse. As I've said many times already, they cannot arrest people for speech, but they also cannot avoid the responsibility of deciding who they give a platform to.

I believe the City should provide its atrium to highlight speech/expressions that are inclusive and promote a positive image of Calgary and the various communities that live here. By all means, allow religious expression within City Hall, but draw the line at people who have built their careers on being divisive and attacking other communities.

When it comes to free speech issues, I'm much less worried about organizations making decisions about who they platform than I am about legislating and enforcing certain "criminal" hate speech. Once you bring criminal law into the picture, then you're really playing with fire.
 

darwink

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I think the city is in the right - either let just about everything, or let nothing but city led events (this would mean no religious things, since the costs are mostly borne by the faith communities).

I don't think the atrium is any more of an issue than the square. And if our problem is permits being issued, people can show up without permits to the square too. And the news report will say 'out side city hall today'.

Private media, private technology providers are different from government, and governments are different from universities. The rights that protect you and I protect these people who I rather weren't promoting their views.

Where do we draw the line? Do we have a city committee to read sermons in advance? Do we ask people to not read directly from their holy books?

Public space is not platforming. Full stop.
 

Patrick.1980

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I'm in the same camp as @darwink. Although I am 100% against the views of the pastor or other extreme groups, I feel that freedom of speech needs to be allowed. If the pastor speaks and says something that can be considered hateful, a hate crime complaint can be launched and it'll be up to a judge to decide. Better a judge than the city of Calgary.
 

Silence&Motion

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I just find it weird that people are more comfortable with unelected judges making decisions about whether or not someone should be criminally charged based on their speech than they are with elected municipal governments reserving City-owned facilities for relatively uncontroversial and benign events.

As I've already said, the City cannot avoid using discretion in promoting certain expressions over others, even if it wanted to. The Calgary's motto "be part of the energy" promotes the oil and gas sector over other possible messages. Toronto's motto "diversity our strength" promotes multiculturalism. The City is not and cannot possibly be a neutral player in public speech. We should not expect it to be one. Rather, we should decide democratically the speech that the City should and should not provide a platform for.
 

Zoom

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I don't know that using elected officials is any better than using a non elected judge. Politics play into everything elected officials do. I suppose judges aren't exactly perfect either. I understand Darwink's point that city hall needs to be an almost all or nothing scenario. Maybe the city's best off being neutral not having any speech. People can still speak in parks or plazas or rent private spaces.
 

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