N-word scandal

François Legault and U of Ottawa student Hannan Mohamud

Quebec’s response to the N-word scandal doubles down on offensiveness

We should be listening to the students and academics (of colour).

As the scandal over the suspension of University of Ottawa professor Verushka Lieutenant-Duval for using the N-word in (Zoom) class continues to spark reactions across Canada, nowhere is the conversation more heated than in Quebec.

TVA’s La Joute featured one in a series of all-white panels about the N-word scandal on Quebec TV this week

As fellow professors and U of Ottawa students circulate petitions and letters defending their sides of the debate, Quebec Premier François Legault and a series of all-white panels on local evening news shows have defended the professor and slammed political correctness and cancel culture. Legault went so far as to vilify the students for the “violent words” used by some to criticize the professor on social media — while defending her use of a word with deeply injurious historical significance.

“I don’t think that certain words should be forbidden,” Legault said yesterday. “I understand that we don’t want to hurt people using certain words, but obviously we have to look at the context in which words are used. I really cannot understand the decision from the dean of the university to remove and blame the professor and to let some student groups utter violent words on social media. Universities must be places where we can debate freedom of speech. What happened is a huge slippery slope that’s quite concerning — it’s as if we would have a censorship police.”

In a rare case of a non-white politician defending the prof (not to mention a rare case of there being a non-white politician in Quebec), the part Haitian leader of Quebec’s Liberal party Dominique Anglade actually used the word (the French version) to underline her defence of freedom of speech.

More relevant and interesting than some of these hot takes from politicians and media pundits in Quebec is the stance of actual U of Ottawa students and academics (of colour), notably law student Hannan Mohamud:

Hannan Mohamud on the University of Ottawa n-word scandal

University of Ottawa assistant professor Philippe M. Frowd provided more context and commentary on the N-word scandal.

Philippe M. Frowd on the University of Ottawa n-word scandal

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