Sunday, March 12, 2006

Freedom of speech in the classroom

Michael Kalo is a Jewish law student at the University of Manitoba and he is the victim of a racist attack due to comments he made during class. An article on this incident has been published by the Manitoban Online.

Mr. Kalo has Arab features and Iraqi roots. In a recent class of Constitutional Law, the discussion turned to the controversial printing of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed. Mr. Kalo compared publishing the cartoons to burning the Canadian flag. Subsequently, he received an anonymous threatening letter in his mailbox:


Why do you have to look and behave like that?

Do you want us to send you back where you came from?

You do not belong in our Faculty!

Don’t say we didn’t warn you . . .

The article states:

At the bottom of the letter is perhaps the most inflammatory cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed published in Jyllands-Posten: it depicts a man with a beard wearing a bomb for a turban.

Normally, I do not use this site to express my opinion on news but on this matter I will make an exception. From what I have read, I am outraged by this racist hatemail in a law school. I sincerely hope that the administration at the University of Manitoba takes this seriously. Mr. Kalo should be able to express his thoughts in class without fear of receiving threatening letters.


At 5:52 PM, Blogger Mike P. said...


It's unfortunate that such people are usually clever enough to disguise their bigotry. If its any consolation, this individual's racism would seem to confute any meaningful understanding of the foundational concepts of Constitutional Law.

A cat which I'm sure will escape the bag on his upcoming finals.

Plus, such douchebags usually expose themselves eventually. Support goes out to our friend in Manitoba from a friend in Halifax.

At 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's worth noting that the link between the note he received and the comments made in class is extremely superfluous. There was no shortage of vocal opinions in class that were the same as his, so it's unlikely that he was singled out. This is a link he has deliberately tried to make with purpose. There is a fair amount of suspicion as to whether or not that letter was even written by another student. To avoid being litigious I'll stop right there.
If you're curious about this guy go to the Manitoba Justice website and check out his cases, both those filed by him and against him.

At 3:42 PM, Blogger a blawger said...

Thanks for your comment. It is difficult to get a good sense of what actually transpired from the article. You raised some key points that were not apparent.

As pointed out by mike p., bigotry can be disguised. Individuals can make racist comments but then immediately afterwards deny that they are racist.

Bigotry, racism and other accusations can also be used as a tool. I have a friend in undergrad who had a woman threaten that she was going to charge him with sexual assault. He didn't touch her (I was there). In fact, she was angry at someone else. But if she had charged him, it would have been very serious. In the same way, if Mr. Kalo accuses a student of writing the letter, it could lead to serious consequences for that student.

I like to hope that people don't make dishonest claims but that's just not reality.

In this case, maybe Mr. Kalo's letter is genuine and maybe it's not. But it still stands that he should be able to speak freely in class.

At 1:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This guy Michael kalo is racism as its best. He has made several racist attacks on my heritage which is Jewish. I have heard the words of hate come out of his mouth. Hate towards the aboriginal peoples. He is no saint.


Post a Comment

<< Home