I don’t pretend to be someone with a whole lot of political opinions or rigid beliefs on either side of the proverbial fence when it comes to the many issues facing our society, but if there’s one thing in which I’m a staunch advocate, it’s for freedom of speech and expression.
I believe in everyone’s right to say what they feel and to have their beliefs and views heard. I and anyone else don’t necessarily have to share those same beliefs and views, but they still deserve to be heard as long as they’re not too extreme and used to incite hate and violence.
To put it bluntly, I've always lived by the mindset of, "I may not agree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."
There’s a controversy swirling around in this country related to the release of a movie called ‘Unplanned’. The subject matter is indeed quite controversial, as the movie spotlights the generations-long debate on abortion. It’s based on a memoir by Abby Johnson, and the film adaptation follows Johnson's life as a clinic director for Planned Parenthood, as well as her subsequent conversion to anti-abortion activism.
The Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada has called the film "a dangerous piece of anti-abortion propaganda" that "could incite fanatics to commit acts of harassment or violence against clinics or doctors", according to a CBC article this week.
On top of that, movie theaters and their employees are even receiving threats over their decision to screen the film. Salmar Theatres in Salmon Arm, B.C., says they’ve cancelled a planned five-day screening of the film after staff received threats. And while it didn’t cancel any screenings, The Movie Mill in Lethbridge, Alberta is planning to beef up security for its screenings after "a vocal negative opposition, who have indicated on multiple occasions boycotts and protests."
Leonard Binning, president of The Movie Mill Inc., said in an email to The Canadian Press, “My young staff does not need to deal with any political fallout from showing movies — regardless of popular opinion."
North American movie theater giant Cineplex issued an open letter this past Monday from President & CEO Ellis Jacob, who revealed that the chain had decided to hold screenings of ‘Unplanned’ at 14 locations across Canada for one week starting this Friday.
"When I immigrated to Canada back in 1969, one of the things that I loved, and still love, the most about living here was that we didn't shy away from our differences — we embrace them," Jacob, who was born in India, said in his statement. "Canada is a country that believes in and rallies behind freedom of expression, but that isn't always an easy thing to do and it certainly doesn't always make you popular.”
Jacob also went on to say that while he understands and appreciates the concerns raised about the film, it’s ultimately up to the movie-going public to decide whether they’ll choose to see it or not.
I’m with Ellis all the way on his decision.
When it comes to abortion, I'm a pro-choice guy myself, I’ll get that out of the way right now. I don’t believe that I have the right to tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her reproductive system. I never really had a clear stance on the issue until a few years ago when I noticed the anti-abortion billboards dotting the landscape near Kenaston and Loreburn. To me, it just came off as being overly judgmental, and I guess from that day forward I simply said, “I don’t agree, but to each their own beliefs.”
That being said, even I can agree that this movie deserves to have a platform and a chance to be seen by its supporters on that side of the fence. It's an issue of having one’s freedom of expression silenced by threatening some movie theaters and their innocent employees. I mean, REALLY? We’re threatening the kids who serve up the popcorn and Cokes over decisions made by management?
Those who don't agree with this film's message have the freedom to not watch it, and that’s the glorious thing about the country we live in. Those who do agree with it should be allowed to have the choice to watch it or not. It’s that simple, folks.
You cannot shun out views, opinions and beliefs simply because you don't agree with them, and you cannot stamp out someone's freedom to choose what they want to support. That's not the country we live in, nor is it the country we want to live in.
It's entirely possible to just say, "I don't agree with this movie's message, but for those that do, you have the choice and freedom to see it" without taking it so ridiculously personal.
It never ceases to amaze and worry me how increasingly intolerant the supposed "tolerant left" can be these days.
For this week, that’s been the Ruttle Report.