Arguments and the webboard

By Mustafa Hirji

Editor, the Gauntlet,

Re: “Not quite censorship,” May 27, 2004,

The University of Alberta has a webboard as well. And it is much more vitriolic and antagonistic toward our Students’ Union executive. I know it was a constant pain for the executive and the insults and criticism thrown about on it were often unfair.

However, politics deals with important issues, and when important things are at stake, debate and criticism will be harsh. The challenge of politics is to deal with diverse and conflicting views in a way that allows everyone to understand why action was taken, and to agree things were decided in a fair way with a true attempt to find the best solution.

In the search for a position that is correct, all options must be given consideration. All viewpoints must be dealt with. And through consideration and debate of these ideas, the best one should emerge.

Stiffling debate will prevent this process from occurring. But moreover, it will show a lack of willingness by the executive to entertain different ideas and viewpoints. Once that happens, people will lose confidence that the system is operating fairly or democratically.

Political debates should be won by the force of arguments, not by the force of political office. Stifling free speech is an attempt to win debates by the latter.

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