Blanchet’s defence of N-word used by professor condemned by NDP and Greens

Federal political parties are condemning the Bloc Québécois for defending the academic use of the N-word.

New Democrat Matthew Green said academic freedom cannot be used to justify a racial slur that still hurts many, including himself, a Black MP. 

“For someone who has had that word hurled against them from the time I was nine years old to now as a politician, that is a dehumanizing word,” Green said. “It is a form of racial violence against people. And for those that would choose to defend it, what they are really defending is the prerogative to uphold white supremacy.”

At a news conference on Thursday, Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet supported an academic’s right to use controversial words.

Blanchet’s comments came after the University of Ottawa suspended part-time professor Verushka Lieutenant-Duval in September. A student complained that Lieutenant-Duval had used the N-word during an art and gender class. The professor has apologized, but her suspension has caused a deep rift on and off-campus.

Blanchet said that sharing knowledge should not be considered a racial attack in the context of a classroom. Asked by CBC News if racial slurs should be repeated when alternatives that convey the same meaning exist, he disagreed.

“Words have been used for really bad purposes throughout history and even today. And the persons who are under the prejudice that this causes to them deserve all our compassion,” Blanchet said. 

“However, saying a word in the context of education — most of all university education — to transmit knowledge and science and the ability to criticize and analyze some issues is not a gesture that brings a prejudice against those persons.”

Watch | Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet defends use of the N-word:

University of Ottawa professor Verushka Lieutenant-Duval, who apologized for using the N-word during a class discussion, was suspended but has been reinstated. Bloc Québécois leader Yves-François Blanchet says Prime Minister Trudeau must act to protect “academic freedom.” 7:21

Asked by reporters to weigh into the debate, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole didn’t condemn the use of the N-word in academia. But he said universities need to find a balance when grappling with offensive content.

“The touchstone has to be respect, in any context, including the university context,” O’Toole told reporters Thursday. “There are works of literature that harken back to a time where there was terrible treatment of Black Canadians and Black people, and so we have to be conscious.” 

Bloc creating ‘false dilemma’

The NDP’s Green said people often use the guise of freedom of speech to defend slurs, but he said there must be a “reasonable limit.” Like the Bloc, political parties that create a “false dilemma” between academic freedom and offence should be focused on those traumatized by such words, he said. 

“When we have a community that is saying explicitly that this causes them harm in the environment that they are trying to access — their employment or they are trying to access their education — we should listen to them first,” Green said.

New Democrat MP Matthew Green says the Bloc Québécois has shown a consistent trend of blocking parliamentarians who have attempted to address systemic racism. Academic freedom cannot be used to justify a racial slur, he says. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

“It’s the same when we are talking about gender equality, when we are talking about sexual orientation. It’s the same when we are talking about any marginalized group. We should listen first and give primacy to the groups that are impacted in these environments that are public institutions.”

The Bloc, Green said, has shown a consistent trend of blocking parliamentarians who have attempted to address systemic racism, including voting down a recent motion brought by NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh. 

On Thursday, Singh, who has sparred with the Bloc and called one of its MPs racist, said the Quebec nationalist party’s comments were misguided. 

“In this context, it is very clear that that is not a word that should be used,” Singh said. “But the debate and academic discussion is a completely separate but very fair and vital point.

“But to conflate the two is very problematic.”

Blanchet ‘absolutely incorrect’

Newly elected Green Party leader Annamie Paul said she has been called the N-word several times during her leadership campaign. Paul told Power and Politics guest host David Cochrane that she’d be happy to educate Blanchet on the word’s painful historical roots.

“I find it extremely provocative that Monsieur Blanchet called a press conference with regard to this,” Paul said. “Respectfully again, I must tell him that he is incorrect, and I would be happy to explain all the reasons why to him.”

Paul also tweeted an invitation to Blanchet.

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Michael Jordan sacks John Focke over N-word slur mistake

Michael Jordan’s Hornets have fired first-season radio commentator John Focke for mistakenly tweeting the N-word when he thought he’d typed Nuggets into his cell phone.

Focke was typing on the fly, trying to keep Hornets fans on top of an NBA game.

Unless Jordan and company believe the preposterous — that out of the blue, for no contextual reason, Focke decided to share a racial slur and commit career suicide — this is another senselessly cruel decision that costs a man his career and reputation.

If only Focke had been in arrears to pay his DraftKings debt, they could have worked things out.

Help me on this one: How does losing your money to Michael Jordan make gambling on sports any more enjoyable?

Or as Howie Long — Fox’s new face and voice of network-attached and titled sports gambling, Fox Bet — claims, is gambling on sports both fun and educational? According to Long, “A way to entertain, educate and enhance the sports experience for fans.”

Jordan last week continued to remind all that he has a gambling predilection, signing on with DraftKings as an “adviser” though he is the majority owner of the NBA’s Hornets.

As we head down the road of sports degradation, legalised gambling — predicated on losing one’s dough — has become the latest desperate saviour. The route to sports’ financial salvation is now paved with vulnerable dopes targeted by greed-addicted managements and ownerships.

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Thus, if you don’t have a bet or bets on the games in front of you and those instantly updated on your cell phone, you’re not the target audience, not anymore. You’re a secondary sports fan, baggage.

Once upon a time not long ago, the NBA tried to keep a healthy distance from gambling. Gambling was the widely suspected reason that then NBA commissioner David Stern sentenced Jordan to a one-season time out. And it seems more than a few, including ESPN’s Dan Dakich, have a story about being stiffed by Jordan for losing bets.

Now Jordan is both an NBA team owner with a piece of The House, the latter a gambling enterprise that entices fans to bet — and lose — as much and as often as possible, even if they have to beg, borrow and steal to attain possible.

But, as we’re often reminded in a weak, half-explanation and rationalisation, times have changed.

It was the Great Capitulator, Roger Goodell, who once testified that gambling destroys families. Now his NFL is addicted to gambling operations because money makes a mockery of morality. Or is habitual gambling no longer considered a vice?

And heroic Michael Jordan allowed John Focke to be fired — to be ruined — for a typo.

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