Students for Life (S4L), you are welcomed on our campus. You have every right to express your voice here. The bias perpetrated against you recently was an act of injustice and should not have happened. However, you should know that you have as much responsibility to avoid attacking the students of this campus as they do for respecting your right to voice your opinion.
We love that you are attempting to promote messages of love on campus, but the way you’re going about it stands in direct opposition to that intention. You set up a table right in front of the main doors of Gallagher with an intense and triggering display when Gallagher is supposed to be an inclusive place. You petitioned to outlaw abortion entirely. You may think these actions are for the best, but they are harmful messages that will push people away from you.
There are people on this campus who have had an abortion at one point in their lives. Not just students, but faculty and staff too. Did you stop to think about that before you put up your display or wrote your slogans on the sidewalk? Did you consider what kind of stigma your display would perpetuate? Did you ever think about who you were hurting? If you want to promote a pro-life message on this campus, you need to start by approaching it in a way that doesn’t attack people. Your display attacked people whether you intended it or not. It’s hypocritical for you to believe in the so-called sanctity of human life and dignity for all people while disrespecting people’s privacy on such a personal matter and completely disregarding the potential harm you may have caused.
Your slogans “Love them both,” “Two hearts beat together, both matter” and “A person’s a person no matter how small” all insinuate that people who have had abortions are destroying or devaluing life. Yet in doing so, you erase the autonomy of people and the power they have to make choices about their own lives. You may not have meant that when you wrote your slogans, but that’s how they came across.
While we understand your frustration at having your chalk messages erased, the way you’ve responded has been far from appropriate. Specifically, your national organization’s blog post about the incident was inaccurate and irresponsible. To label the actions of a few students as the actions of “a mob” and to claim that these students perpetrated violence against people in the S4L group is a grossly inept misrepresentation of what actually happened. Your voice was not silenced. There is no need for insipid apologies and sententious statements. What we call for is an end to the hyperbolic narratives you have created and the climate of false fear you continue to instill in our student body.
No, they should not have erased your chalk messages, but they did not perpetrate violence. No one was physically harmed. No one’s property or belongings were destroyed. They poured water on your messages to erase them. It shouldn’t have happened, but it was not violent, and for the national organization to label our student base as a violent mob is atrocious. The claim that these people were motivated by “pro-choice politicians” who “incite violence” is completely unfounded. Not only is there no evidence that their actions were inspired by Eric Holder’s comments last month, but those comments were not an incitement of violence to begin with. His message — “when they go low, we kick them” — was entirely metaphorical. He himself even explained this moments after making the comment.
Holder said, “When I say we, you know, ‘We kick ‘em,’ I don’t mean we do anything inappropriate. We don’t do anything illegal. But we’ve got to be tough, and we have to fight for the very things that (civil rights leaders) John Lewis, Martin Luther King, Whitney Young — you know, all those folks gave to us.”
What’s even more outrageous is that you attempted to misrepresent this comment to fit a pro-choice versus pro-life debate. This comment had nothing to do with that specific debate. Rather, Holder was talking about how the Democratic Party needs to adopt tougher tactics when dealing with Republicans. He was not inciting violence or telling people on the left to attack pro-life people. You must stop obscuring the truth to fit your own narratives. We will not listen to your fabricated versions of reality.
For a group so dead set on revealing “the truth” about abortions, you seem willing to lie if it means perpetuating the false narrative that pro-life groups face any more unjust discrimination than pro-choice groups do, or that conservative voices are being silenced in this “politically correct” society. You silence others’ voices, and when they try to speak up, you call yourself a victim. At least you can put a display up. At least you can fundraise. You have your voice and people to support it. When are pro-choice groups on our campus going to get that?
If you want to prevent abortion — if that’s your true goal — then there are ways to go about it that don’t attack people in the way your slogans and your display did. Your goal to provide pregnancy resources for expecting mothers is absolutely on-track, and you’ll find that many pro-choice people support exactly that method of prevention. Pro-choice people don’t want abortion any more than pro-life people do. We should all agree that education on safe-sex practices and pregnancy resources is the way to reduce abortions. Let’s stick to that instead of attacking and traumatizing students that have gone through a difficult and painful experience. We will not entertain voices that justify denying others’ rights because of tradition or complacency. We will not entertain voices that refuse to acclimate themselves to the changing world, to the choices and rights of others and to the well-being of the nation we share.
This piece was written jointly by Trever McKenzie, Online Editor for the Newswire, and Sofia Ordoñez, a copy editor for the Newswire.