Cold Spring Shops has long been on record against university free speech zones. Maybe when tolerant, compassionate university administrators consider the implications of students protesting tuition hikes being turned into criminals because all of Quebec is a prohibited speech zone, they might rethink whether free speech zones are means to provide respect for all points of view.
The passing of Law 78 is a direct attack on the freedom of assembly and the right to protest. It not only bans unpermitted marches or any unpermitted gathering of more than 50 people, but the vaguely worded “special law” also threatens to levy enormous fines against organizers, unions and potentially anyone who participates in an unpermitted assembly. The law comes in response to the growing popularity of the student movement and can be read as as symptom of the government’s inability to control the movement; it is a sign that in some ways the students are winning. In fact, since its passage last Friday, the nightly marches have only gotten larger as more people see the struggle expanding from the single issue of university tuition to a broader one that includes the right to protest and the suppression of dissent.Whether that dissent generalizes to California, where tolerant, compassionate administrators preach respect for diversity until they encounter some, remains to be seen.