No sooner had a Liberal Party leadership candidate asked the ‘burning’ question demanding to be asked, than some kind of speech ‘blackout’ occurred. For the record, Here’s what Martha Hall Findlay said to 2.0 during one of the candidate debates:
“You keep referring to the middle-class; you yourself have admitted that you actually don’t belong to the middle-class. I find it a little challenging to understand how you would understand the real challenges facing Canadians.”
Pretty innocuous, for my money; yet, a day later we have Hall Findlay issuing a public apology to “Justin, his family and to those who were offended” for (maybe) having “crossed the line”.
Is she kidding? This amounts to ‘crossing the line’ in a political leadership campaign? Who in their right mind (i.e. not suffering from some kind of terminal sensitivity disorder) could be “offended” by such a puffball comment which is nothing much more than an observation of fact?
I care not a whit for either Hall Findlay or whether 2.0’s feelings could, would, should or might have been hurt by the remark. What I do care about is the signal this sends about where the boundaries of free speech are currently being cast. And where they’re being cast is getting dangerously close to Orwellian in my book.
We’ve come 180 degrees from the notion of “sticks and stones” and that’s probably not a bad thing overall. But to characterize the comments apologized for as anything more than campaign chatter, to be expected in such a contest, is nothing if not bizarre.
There’s already a sizable cult of those with delicate sensibilities howling about ‘hurtful’ speech, usually in relation to someone whose political inclinations they disagree with (case in point: Theresa Spence), but this episode is seriously farther down La-La Lane.
Stephan Harper might welcome the change, though; imagine how many apologies he’s owed for comments by Liberal Party members.