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Political correctness: enlightenment or tyranny?

The Story


Almost 30 years after the freedom of speech movement was launched by Mario Savio at a California university in 1964, the meaning of the phrase "freedom of speech" seems to have changed with the rise of what has become known as "political correctness." In 1990, after a University of Toronto anthropology professor faced charges of racism for curating an African exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum, producer Mary O'Connell of CBC Radio's Sunday Morning examines the current campus emphasis on the politically correct.Warning: contains some explicit language.

Medium: Radio
Program: Sunday Morning
Broadcast Date: Dec. 16, 1990
Host: Mary Lou Finlay
Reporter: Mary O'Connell
Duration: 42:02
Photo of Mary Lou Finlay: CBC Still Photo Collection

Did You know?


• Anthropologist Jeanne Cannizzo was the curator of an exhibit which first opened at the Royal Ontario Museum in the spring of 1990 and closed on Aug. 6. The exhibit, titled Into the Heart of Africa, was meant to illustrate the racism of the imperialist and missionary forays into Africa at the turn of the century. Students, with the group Coalition for the Truth about Africa, regularly held demonstrations at the ROM, protesting that the exhibit was racist. Cannizzo was personally harassed and accused of racism, and she resigned from the University of Toronto in October of the same year. Other museums, including the Vancouver Museum and the Museum of Civilization, cancelled the exhibit in the wake of the controversy.

• Mario Savio was a life-long political activist who has been credited with launching the Free Speech Movement. He was famous for his "bodies upon the gears" speech delivered at Berkeley in December 1964. Upon his death in 1996, a memorial lecture fund was established, and each fall there is a free public lecture on the Berkeley campus of the University of California. Canadian writer Naomi Klein delivered the lecture in 2009.


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