Letter in response: We should support Ono's bravery reinviting Furlong to campus

This letter is a response to the previously published letter, Ono's cowardice on Furlong should end his honeymoon on campus, which was published yesterday.

Ono’s cowardice? More like Ono’s bravery. For the first time in my three years as a student at UBC, I’ve witnessed the administration stand up to the unbridled advance of social justice warrior values on campus. 

Let’s start with the facts. The letter to which I’m responding left out several important details about Furlong’s allegations. Yes, John Furlong was accused in The Georgia Straight of abuse during his time working at a residential school. However, these claims were investigated by the RCMP and rejected by the courts. Following the article, Furlong and the writer of The Georgia Straight article became entangled in a libel lawsuit which Furlong won. Furthermore, one of the people who laid claims against Furlong was found not to have attended the school that he worked at during the alleged abuse.

It would seem that Arno Rosenfeld, writer of the letter, has forgotten something called innocent before proven guilty — a.k.a. Article 11 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. When someone is accused of something, it is most certainly not license to assume they are guilty simply because you feel strongly about the matter.

UBC’s administration is generally as spineless as a cephalopod and we all know it. Much like a scared cuttlefish, the first sign of controversy sends them hiding under a rock. President Ono’s decision to stand up for Furlong’s reputation should be regarded as a step in the right direction towards evidence-based policies and decision-making. 

Choosing to limit the free speech of others on a basis of conflicting opinion limits one’s ability to learn. The initial decision to cancel Furlong’s speech is reminiscent of another upsetting event on campus. During the pro-life demonstrations last November, UBC Lifeline members were obstructed by counter-protesters with cardboard blockers and megaphones. This discouraged meaningful discussion about abortion laws in Canada (this coming from someone who respects women’s right to choose). The same mentality was responsible for UBC’s initial decision to cancel Furlong’s speech. 

These days, the slightest hint that someone might get offended or upset appears to be cause to throw common sense out the window. Let’s all think twice before calling a man who organized one of the most successful Olympic Games in recent memory a “racist child abuser.”

Michael Stone is third- year student studying Integrated Science.