Free speech isn’t an excuse

We shouldn’t wait for free speech to perpetuate hate speech before we act

 

Our news section this week includes an article about a group called Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms. They gave UTSU and UTMSU an F grade because they disagreed with how free speech was being handled at this school.

I agree that these unions are far from perfect. This has even been stated by the executives within the unions. I myself have written editorials about what needs to change.

However, this grade given to UTMSU mainly due to their stance on UTMSFL is bizarre.

JCCF, an organization no older than six years, boasts about their accomplishments in court defending Evangelical student groups or, again, another pro-life group. Of course UTMSU received an F from this website, considering these are the kinds of cases they try to defend.

People are free to believe what they want. To fight for what they want. No one is stopping them, and I’m not calling for a closure of this group or an investigation into their interests. However, when UTMSU president Nour Alideeb stated that this site is motivated by the founder’s personal beliefs, maybe she wasn’t wrong.

In my eyes, it says enough that when me and a friend of mine shared my editorial last week, all those who liked and agreed with it were women. To me, this shows that the only person to have any kind of say over a woman’s body is the woman herself.

I don’t expect to ever agree with someone who advocates for pro-life. And I don’t ever expect them to agree with me. You say “pro-life” and I hear “anti-choice.” I say “pro-choice” and you hear “babies don’t have a right to life.” Whatever the case may actually be, each group will probably think the other ignorant and misinformed.

I’m also aware of how each side probably sounds hypocritical to the other. Pro-choice supporters question why pro-life should be allowed to advocate for something harmful, like destroying a woman’s rights. Pro-life supporters ask why pro-choice should be allowed to advocate for something harmful, like ending human life. There isn’t a definitive judge to decide which side has more of a right to be upset. The probable reason is because both sides contain some sort of hypocrisy. Either way, something is being taken and it all boils down to which life is valued more. There isn’t much else to do besides allow both sides to express their opinion through respectful debate. However, I think we said goodbye to respect that day in Davis.

I discussed this in some depth last week. Though what began as an editorial stating my opinion, of course, had the free speech argument hurled my way.  Alright. Let’s talk about that.

This argument of free speech never fails to ignore the negative impacts caused by freely saying whatever you want. So long as it doesn’t cross that line into hate speech, you can do and say whatever you want, right? And, technically UTMSFL isn’t spewing hate speech, so why are they trying to be silenced or denied club status?

Well, here’s the pickle. Being allowed to say something freely doesn’t give you license to hide behind that excuse when you say something hurtful or damaging to a community. It doesn’t mean you get to abandon all responsibility. It does if you have no other defence. But, if all you have to say about your opinions and the choices you make is, “Excuse me. Free speech,” then you should probably think out your argument a little better.

I know I’ve probably lost half the conservative or anti-union readers at this point, most of whom are probably too blinded by their own anger to listen to me. That or they’re probably thinking of some sort of return-fire comment. All I have to do is publish an editorial stating my opinion and immediately those who disagree charge social media in an attempt to make their case. This doesn’t surprise me. Harambe memes have the power to upset people. This generation is a pretty angry bunch armed with opinions and a keyboard.

I love when people use the argument of free speech to defend their viewpoint, without considering for a second how it might be damaging to others. How shameless plugs in support of an anti-choice agenda don’t qualify as hate speech, and therefore should just be accepted.

For some, if you don’t agree with this, then you’re branded a left-wing extremist. A hippie with your head too far up your ass to see the world for how it is. Too liberal for your own good.

So be it.

It’s worth asking to what degree free speech is actually helpful in a situation like this. There will be some bull-headed pro-life and free speech supporters who will see phrases like “left-wing extremist,” stop listening, and agree with themselves that I somehow solidified their opinion. Equally, I’m relatively sure that if a pro-life supporter were to call themselves ignorant, some on my side would probably agree without doing much else either.

However, it’s important to wonder when people will stop hiding behind the excuse of free speech to justify their harmful behaviour. When Peterson refused to use proper gender pronouns, nothing came of it at first. But soon, his free speech began to perpetuate hate speech from others, thereby completely dehumanizing an entire community.

I could be here for days reminding readers of how Trump’s “free speech” served as the catalyst for deplorable behaviour from those who support him. Instead, I just want to use one example that was literally reported just a few hours ago today. A mosque received a letter saying, “Donald Trump will do to you Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews.” According to The Independent, “The handwritten letter was addressed to ‘the children of Satan,’ and expressed support for President-elect Donald Trump. It also called Muslims ‘vile and filthy people.’ ‘Your day of reckoning has arrived. There’s a new sheriff in town, President Donald Trump. He’s going to cleanse America and make it shine again. And, he’s going to start with you Muslims,’ the letter stated. Signed only by ‘Americans for a Better Way […].’” Please tell me again how free speech doesn’t have the power to be harmful. Please tell me again that free speech should be used however and whenever without consequence.

Is this what we need to wait for before something is done to stop “free speech” like this in its tracks? Does UTMSFL need to be the cause for a woman’s breakdown? Why does the worst need to happen before groups take a step back and consider what toll their actions may be taking on a woman? And if the defence here is that she should feel bad, or that pro-lifers feel like they’ve done some good in educating a woman on her own choice, then all that proves is that the goal is to shame women.

For those unaware of the metaphor, “shouting fire in a crowded theatre,” the saying refers to speech or actions citing unnecessary panic. Something important to wonder is whether or not UTMSFL or pro-life supporters are using free speech reasonably or simply using it as a tool to incite fear and panic. That’s my problem with all of this. I see their actions accomplishing the latter.

Though, if UTMSFL wins in court and they’re allowed to keep doing what they’re doing, I won’t fight it. Should a judge see them as a club worthy of stating their message, then that’s how it is. However, that doesn’t mean I have to agree with a message I have believed for years to be misguided and intrusive.

I’m sure people will argue that standing by a decision to silence someone is the same as silencing them myself. It isn’t. Unless I walked up to UTMSFL in Davis and shouted, “Shame!” whenever they tried to talk or blasted white noise “music”, I didn’t strip free speech. Standing by the decision for someone to fight pro-life beliefs isn’t the same as physically stopping free speech. Is free speech only a problem when people think I’m being restricting while managing to completely forget the restrictions of those they stand up for?

As hard as this may be to digest for some, I’m allowed to stand on the side of UTMSU denying club status. I think, regardless of whether or not it’s intended, UTMSFL is currently doing more harm than good. That’s my opinion, and since everyone seems to be gung-ho about free speech, I’m allowed to express my opinion. I’m very aware of the problems within the union. Sure, they accomplish their own restrictions. That doesn’t mean they’re wrong here. Not to me.

UTMSFL has the right to preach their beliefs pretty much wherever else they like. It’s none of my business. They’re within their rights to do so here as well. But that doesn’t mean I have to stand for it as a student of this school. To traipse into a university, one that claims to be a safe space, and shove violent images in the face of young women as a bloody reminder of a decision that had nothing to do with them isn’t something I or other women have to stand for. As a paying student, I have the right to be angry.

Like I said last week, all that happened was the choice to shame women for the decisions that they make, as if these women didn’t already know the consequences. The pamphlet and overall belief system appeals to a much harsher opinion: “Look what you did.” How is that acceptable? Because it isn’t hate speech? They have no idea what the woman was going through. Why she made that choice. If it haunts her. They’re attempting to encourage women to carry a child to term without any consideration for her choice, yet UTMSFL are the ones who feel like their rights are being taken away.

Shout about free speech until you turn blue, it won’t sway my opinion. I’m sure plenty of people will label me and the union as people who don’t fight for free speech. That’s what Peterson said about those who stood against him too. Right before The Medium received emails from trans students asking to be taken off of mailing lists, because they wanted to lay low for a while. Right before Denio Lourenco started getting threats sent to his Facebook. Right before the trans community on campus didn’t feel safe anymore.

But, yeah. Free speech.

YOURS,
MARIA CRUZ

  • Katie

    Pro-choice feminist Naomi Wolf has this to say about the exact same methods you criticize UTMSFL for: “So what will it be: Wanted fetuses are charming, complex, REM-dreaming little beings whose profile on the sonogram looks just like Daddy, but unwanted ones are mere ‘uterine material’? How can we charge that it is vile and repulsive for pro-lifers to brandish vile and repulsive images if the images are real? To insist that the truth is in poor taste is the very height of hypocrisy. Besides, if these images are often the facts of the matter, and if we then claim that it is offensive for pro-choice women to be confronted by them, then we are making the judgment that women are inherently weak to face a truth about which they have to make a grave decision. This view of women is unworthy of feminism.”

    The group is not setting out to shame women, it is providing facts about what the “choice” in question actually is – the violent death of a developing human being. Along with this information, we provide resources for women in crisis pregnancies, and people who are having difficulty coping after abortion.

    Rather than presume what our goal is as a group, I extend the invitation to you to come and talk to us, we would be happy to engage in an open dialogue.

    • Iris Winger

      First, Wolf is far from a “feminist”. Her conspiracy theories have discredited any previous work she’s done before. She’s clearly gone off the rails. Also, why would you cite someone who said names of rape victims should be disclosed to the public merely because she thought the charges were loaded with political agendas? She didn’t stand up for those women. It was horrid.

      This is the same woman that pretends everything hurts women. She uses the argument in a bizarre method to convince people that if you don’t agree with her take on what feminism should be then you’re calling women weak. She did this in your comment.

      Why remind women of this? Why do you need to tell them that this is the choice they made when they obviously know? Women who use abortion as a form of birth control should be spoken to for obvious reasons. But, it’s still not your business. And not every woman who has an abortion did it as an “oh well take the baby” kind of thing. It was a hard choice that your bunch have done exactly what the author said, “look what you did”. They know. They don’t need you on campus with dead kids to show them. How dare you? If you can’t see how that’s a problem then that is the fucking problem. Open your eyes.

      And you offer support for women who have had abortions? Is that information in small print on your pamphlets? And crisis pregnancies? Ah, so if a woman is sexually assaulted and decides to abort then she should go to a bunch who tells her babies have a right to life. Who the hell would take advice from a group like yours? Don’t you see that you crossed a line? How on earth would a woman feel safe talking to you about options? You said the author shouldn’t presume what you did but it’s obvious what you did.

      Maybe it’s because a man runs your bunch that you all have veered off course. Who knows.

    • Jeremy A.

      Katie, that’s very well said, great comment. I totally agree. I hope you’ll forgive me for refuting a few of Iris’s arguments on your behalf, I can’t help but jump in.

      Iris:
      – Wolf is indeed a feminist. She has been called as such by the likes of Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan.

      – Arguing that Wolf is “not a real feminist” is a classic “not a real Scotsman fallacy”

      – Arguing that her opinions are wrong because of her unrelated “conspiracy theories” is a classic ad hominem fallacy.

      – “She uses the argument in a bizarre method to convince people that if you don’t agree with her take on what feminism should be then you’re calling women weak.”
      >> Otherwise known as the “soft bigotry of low expectations”

      – “Why do you need to tell them that this is the choice they made when they obviously know?”
      >> It’s not obvious that they know. It’s a highly emotional decision to make, and sometimes you need someone to remind you of the facts. It’s similar to why we do suicide prevention programs, to remind people that suicide is not a good option, even if that should be “obvious”.

      – “so if a woman is sexually assaulted and decides to abort then she should go to a bunch who tells her babies have a right to life.”
      >> Rape is a horrible crime and rapists should face far more severe punishments than they do currently. That fact aside, the child of the rapist isn’t culpable for the rape, and doesn’t deserve to be killed.

      • Iris Winger

        Believe what you want about Wolf and I’ll do the same. I think she’s insane and you can say that everything I state chalks up to fallacy if you want. She is driven by her own agenda and that’s the fact.

        Please don’t compare suicide to abortion. Where does that even come into play? Trying to talk someone from suicide is crucial. They’re suffering and need someone to talk to. But it’s their body. It’s their life. You’re not forcing someone into living or doing something they don’t want. You’re trying to show them that they’re valuable. If you want to pretend that a bunch of undeveloped cells is the same then clearly this argument won’t go anywhere. “It’s not obvious that they know” but you would know that they should have these reminders because clearly women need that right?

        Which leads me to my next point. Why is it impossible for you pro life supporters to understand making a woman carry a baby to term after rape is disgusting? Anyone who is willing to make someone go through the horrors of rape while putting them through the horrors of pregnancy you didn’t want to go through in addition to any emotional and mental trauma then you’re an asshole. I’m so sick of men like you acting like you’ve achieved something by admitting rape is horrible while supporting the idea that rape isn’t a good enough reason for abortion. Go ahead and force women into going through a pregnancy because the child didn’t deserve to die.

        “That fact aside…” NO. Not that fact aside. How cold hearted are you to say that women deserve that trauma? What would you know? What does this bunch know? You would do this to a woman and support the idea of forcing her into carrying this reminder to terms. What’s wrong with you? Shame on you. If you don’t think women should be allowed to make their own decisions with their own fucking bodies without your judgement then this conversation is no longer a debate; it’s merely you stating you’re okay with women carrying a child from something you will never understand. From such trauma some women want to commit suicide. But make them have a reminder in addition to the trauma of rape. Go to hell.

        • Luke

          “Go ahead and force women into going through a pregnancy because the child didn’t deserve to die.” — “But make them have a reminder in addition to the trauma of rape. Go to hell.”

          If the conversation is going to make sense, everyone needs to understand each other’s basic assumptions about the world, and if they don’t share them, then get to the heart of the matter.

          The assumption here is about whether or not a fetus is a person.

          Pro-choicers consider a fetus a very different thing from a one-year-old. When talking about a one-year-old girl, pro-lifers and pro-choicers would agree that her mother can’t kill her, even after being raped. The law is clear on this too, conservative or liberal in orientation. On the other hand, when talking about an inhuman ball of cells, everyone would agree that the mother’s rights win out, because choice and personal freedom are crucial and rape is among the most horrible crimes.

          So the heart of the matter is: Is that fetus a person with everyone else’s right to live, which we all agree you can’t kill? Or is it a ball of organic cells, which we all agree you can kill? That fundamental question is where the real disagreement lies.

          On a side note, I think trying to solve any real question about abortion here is going to be fruitless and vitriolic. The article is about how a group gets to talk about these issues, and how they should talk about them. Should you be allowed to show images of torn-apart fetuses to make your argument, or is it reasonable to shut that kind of thing down? Should a student union defund such clubs, or should everyone be allowed to share their opinion? Those are the questions the article asks (and comes down on the side of: no, it isn’t the right kind of free speech). If it were me and I were arguing pro-life or pro-choice, I’d discuss those questions rather than reproduce the entire abortion debate in a comment thread.

          • Iris Winger

            I’m honestly torn between trying to be civil here because initially I wanted to be and of course shit gets out of hand.

            I agree though that this is fruitless. I will NEVER agree with these people. Never. They are missing the damn point and only thinking of themselves which was made clear in Katie’s comment about how their rights were being taken. Wow.

            I also agree with the author that it’s not the right kind of free speech. You’re allowed to shut that down because it’s just a very bad choice to show this to people. I know they think it’s “just reality” so it’s ok but I can’t argue with people who are too stubborn to listen.

            I’m glad someone was so level headed about this. I’m done with this and I was done after Jeremy might as well have said rape is far from the point.

          • Luke

            In a way, I think most of the surface arguments aren’t the point, because if we all agreed about what a fetus is, we would agree about almost everything else.

            What I forgot to add was that that question doesn’t have an unambiguous answer everyone can accept. Unfortunately, science can’t really settle it. It can just point out the facts: obviously a fetus is not a person right now, but obviously it will be one eventually. Arguments about whether to focus on the present identity or possible future identity are going to be very philosophical and will never convince everyone. So a person’s perspective, and their whole worldview, is what really determines it. And unfortunately, you can’t usefully go any further, because then you’re arguing about whether you can kill something without knowing what it even is.

            For my part, I come down on the side of it being a person. But that depends on my whole worldview, which has developed over the course of my life. I can’t just pull that idea out on its own and expect everyone else to accept it, much less to accept laws based on it. I’m worn out by people getting riled up and seeing each other as evil only because everything appears extreme when you disagree about the basics.

            Of course, if people want to have much deeper conversations about the fundamental questions, like what a human is, I’m all for it, but it’s a long, personal process and I’ve yet to see a comment thread where meaningful things like that have happened!

          • Jeremy A.

            “I also agree with the author that it’s not the right kind of free speech. You’re allowed to shut that down because it’s just a very bad choice to show this to people.”

            >> But Iris, you’re making a personal value judgement here about what you deem to be a valid form of free speech. Not everyone agrees with your assessment. You believe it to be a “bad choice”, whereas others believe it to be a very good choice. Unless the pro-choice side can present empirical evidence to prove that the pro-life side’s tactics are harming people in a tangible way, they have no right to impose their worldview on others and deny free speech.

          • Katie

            You nailed the heart of the debate, Luke. I agree this is a discussion usually best left for dialogue in person, which is why I extended the offer to anyone to come and talk to any one of our group and we would be happy to have it.

            As far as the tactics, and free speech, people are obviously upset about the images we show. If abortion was just a question of preferences, there would be nothing upsetting about images of it. If I showed an image of a college or a university, obviously that’s an inoffensive depiction of two different choices. But how is it fair that if the very thing we are discussing when we talk about “choice” is abortion, we are supposed to never depict exactly what that choice is? To me, not showing it is not really getting at what the issue is about. (And if it only looked like a “ball of cells”, I’m sure we would have no issues).

            Surely if the depiction of the choice in question is so ugly and violent, that Ingrid and many others at U of T are furious that we show it at all, doesn’t it logically follow that the action is too?

            Ultimately, there is no debate over whether the images are upsetting. They are. The debate is over whether we should be prevented from exercising our freedom of speech in this way. Again, I refer to Wolf here, that to say the truth is in poor taste, is hypocritical.

            It is important to know the goal of showing the images. It is not to shame women, but rather to educate the public on the other side of the debate they seldom hear and never see.

          • EIC

            I’d like to comment quickly on my own behalf.

            From what I’m understanding, UTMSFL wants to make it clear that, even though the reality of it is harsh, a choice was made to end a life. It doesn’t matter who sees the cells as what (a child or not one just yet), a child was about to be born. Abortion is an invasive procedure that has the power to severely damage a woman’s body.

            UTMSFL made a bold choice to share these images as a reminder. People need to be aware of their choices and the consequences of them. Of course the bloody and graphic images reflect a bloody and graphic act. They’re one in the same. This also might stem back to the fact that how many people turn away when they see graphic images on the news? If women have a right to bear a child then they should have a right to know what aborting one means too. It can be seen as hypocritical and unfair for people to turn a blind eye to abortion and pretend that it doesn’t exist. That these images aren’t a reality.

            Here’s my problem, though. While I completely understand (and respect your offer to have an open discussion) I feel that women weren’t given that choice. I feel like these images were bluntly distributed to women in an attempt to raise awareness. And I’m sure it did. But, there are positive and negative ways to go about shock value. Some images are powerful. Others just offend. Much like how vegetarians will show images of an animal Western culture values being slaughtered in another country. Meat-eaters don’t take too well to those images because this content ultimately shames them into seeing the reality of the world. And of course it’s hypocritical. I understand that as a meat-eater it’s weird for me to have a dog that I love but eat cows and pigs like it’s nothing. They all have a life.

            This imagery has done more harm than good. I don’t think it’s appropriate to hand out these images because, like I’ve said time and time again, you don’t know the impact that could have on someone. You don’t know if someone will have a breakdown or if someone will suffer a panic attack or merely if they’ll be too scared to come to school because it’s like the decision haunts them. That’s not up for you, me, or anyone to decide. They make their own choices and while some might not be aware of the horrors of it, others very well are.

            Like I said, freedom of speech stretches only so far before it becomes something much more harmful than that. Should a more progressive way of talking about abortion be presented then that would be different. But these pamphlets being distributed, regardless of whether or not you agree with me, have shamed women for their choices. You may see it as showing them the facts (which it did) but it also makes them feel terrible for a choice that very well could have hurt them deeply (which it also did).

            Free speech should be used with discretion. You welcome an open conversation but in my eyes this conversation will be stunted by the decision to show these images. The message read, “Should babies have a right to life? They should.” In my eyes, this message only exacerbates the shame. How could it not? Again, I understand that these are facts you want presented but when free speech is used as a controversial tool, it’s time to talk about it.

            I’ve also agreed on the hypocrisy of both sides. I know you say that the goal of the group is to remind people that the facts are just as much a reality as anything else. But, women should still have a right to choose. Women should be allowed to come to school without being ashamed of the decision that they’ve made. The pamphlet opened with “Babies should have a right to life” and didn’t offer any support on the cover. If this is the first image that you see, the main message reads that babies should be born. There is no call for open discussion on the pamphlets. There is no reserve of judgement. (There could have have been, don’t get me wrong.) But, what I’m saying is that that first image will obviously turn off a lot of women who have made that choice. I don’t speak for anyone else but I wouldn’t want to speak to someone who tells me babies have a right to life and then show me a “fact” of my choice. Yes, they are facts. Yes, it’s the truth and should be known. But, this graphic imagery is very triggering and doesn’t seem to cater to the mother’s needs.

            That is my main concern with all of this. It would be much more beneficial if your group made it clearer that you were open for discussion without judgement. But all people saw that day were violent images. You don’t need to shield people from these images but you don’t need to show it to them unasked for either.

            I completely understand where this group is coming from. Babies never asked to be a part of the horrors of the world like sexual assault. They’re innocent. How could someone kill an innocent child? Especially if it’s their own? Women who use abortion as a form of birth control need thorough education on contraception as well. Babies never asked to be a part of this.

            But in cases like rape, neither did women. It’s unfair to ask them to make a decision others are comfortable with in order to preserve a life if the life of the mother is destroyed in the process. Her rights are taken from her. If abortion is ever made illegal or judged, women would feel like they have no say over their bodies. Additionally, women never asked to see those images. This university is meant to be a safe space and triggering images sully that.

            I hope this clears the air a bit. Having an open discussion would be much easier so things don’t get lost in translation via editorials or comments to a website.

          • Luke

            Even though I disagree with parts of this position, I really appreciate your thoughtful articulation of the problem, which has helped me understand where you’re coming from on the free speech side specifically.

      • Katie

        Excellent points, couldn’t have said it better myself.

  • Jeremy A.

    You are free to have your opinions, you are free to hold a pro-choice position, nobody is disputing that. The fact that you disagree with the pro-life position, though, is not an excuse to censor them. What you see as “inciting fear and panic”, others see as a compassionate effort to save the lives of innocent pre-born children. Just try to imagine if the shoe were on the other foot–would you be in support if the student union refused accreditation to an LGBT club, simply because the current executives were Christians who believe homosexuality was a sin, and felt that the LGBT club was perpetrating sin, damnation and panic by existing?
    I suspect not, and accreditation for the pro-life club is logically equivalent. The point is, in free speech, your political opinion is not supposed to be a qualifying factor for whether you have the right to speak or not.

    • Iris Winger

      This is a wonderful argument and leads back to what the author said about having a healthy debate.

      However, it’s not like an LGBTQ group is shoving pamphlets full of disturbing images to students while attempting to get their message across. It would be time to act if an LGBTQ group decided to use this tactic to tell people that homosexuality is the way, while making heterosexuals feel bad about their decisions.

      This passed the point of different political views when images of, as Katie puts it, “the violent death” of babies on pamphlets. What more would it have done other than be triggering? That’s not the way to go about this.

      I agree with the author that if clubs use methods like this they shouldn’t be on campus. There’s a difference here. There is no way to defend these choices. They have taken free speech and shit on the very idea in order to force women into remembering these decisions. That’s not okay.

      If it’s all or nothing with this group on campus, it should be nothing of this is what they do. That’s just my opinion. CFS has denied their material as well and CFS is terribly corrupt. There’s clearly a bigger issue.

      • Jeremy A.

        Let’s take another example then. Should a charity that raises money for starving people in Africa be banned from using imagery of starving children? Those charities do push pamphlets at people that frequently contain rather disturbing images, but they say they do it because it’s worth disturbing people if it means being able to help more starving children. Should they be banned from campuses?

        • Iris Winger

          How many of those tactics are ignored? Plenty. Obviously the way of going about it is completely wrong. You cannot make people feel bad for doing something you don’t want them to do and taking away their rights in the process.

          If these groups were to shame people to the point of taking their right away then they shouldn’t be allowed on campus. Therein lies the difference: only one group is denying women’s rights. Stop pretending they’re not.

          • Katie

            Let’s be clear about something: the only people whose rights are being taken away, are ours, by being denied club status. Our presence on campus and trying to expose the hideous reality of abortion in the hopes of changing people’s minds about it and ultimately saving lives, does not take anyone’s rights away.

            What I do not understand, is how you can claim to be pro-choice, and not respect that should someone see our images, and decide that is not something they could choose to do any longer, that that is still their choice. It is their business if they choose to come and talk to us, or receive support from us, or change their mind on abortion following a voluntary conversation with us.

          • Iris Winger

            Yup. Right-o, kiddo! Only your rights are being taken and of course you being a woman means you speak for us all.

            I physically and mentally cannot understand your idiocy. Cry your crocodile tears about pro-life rights while you claim to be on the side of women.

            And it should be a choice. It clearly wasn’t because no one gives a shit about your club and then you take it upon yourselves to make your message heard. Those women didn’t have a choice. They were made to see your propaganda because you couldn’t stand women doing what they wanted with their bodies. Women like you bring feminism back, which makes sense since you stand by someone like Naomi Wolf.

            Congratulations, you’ve managed to make yourself sound even more ignorant than before. Be clear about that.

          • Jeremy A.

            Iris, your latest comment appears to descend into total incoherence, so I’m not sure how to respond exactly.

            Just to re-iterate Katie’s point–the pro-life group is not in any way depriving someone of her rights. Nobody has a right to “not be offended” while out in public. Abortion is inherently offensive, and hiding the imagery away does not change that fact. The pro-lifers are running an awareness campaign in an attempt to influence women’s choices regarding abortion, but they are not taking away their freedom to make a choice.

            On the other hand, the student union, which enjoys a position of institutional power, would be infringing upon the pro-life group’s free speech rights by denying them a platform on campus.

            If some pro-choice group disagrees with the position taken by the pro-life group, the appropriate response would be to publicly express their disagreement and their reasons for disagreeing. If they feel the only way they can win the argument is by shutting down the debate, they’ve already lost in a way.

          • Iris Winger

            It’s pretty sad that you’re still using the excuse of saying that pro-life groups don’t take away rights. This appalling imagery will never be viewed as an impactful statement by me or many other pro-choice decision makers.

            I know you people think that you’re doing some good by cramming this information onto a woman but you’re really not. It’s none of your business what her decision is and it’s not up to you to sway her choice just because you want to do some good in the world.

            Leave women be. This isn’t your decision. Their life is not your business.

            And to comment on your last reply, if you honestly need women to march up to you or any pro-life supporter to tell them how triggering the material is then what you prove is that their feelings don’t matter until they are obviously shown, which is cruel. Women shouldn’t have to display their life story to strangers in order to shut up groups who think they know better or want to “show women the light.” But you’re right. You certainly know what women are thinking as does the bunch at campus. Yup, those images hold no tangible damage at all. Which is just translation for you can’t accept triggering material unless women either cry or scream at you for showing that shit.

            And is this group not doing what you claim pro-choice supporters are? They’re not walking to people and presenting ideas that they think is a very good choice? That’s exactly what they’ve done.

            Incidentally I can’t help but notice that you have no argument for women who are assaulted. If you and Katie want to agree with each other that it’s not a good enough reason and you should still make women have a baby then I can’t talk to you.

            You don’t get to hand triggering material to people and say free speech should exempt you from any backlash. It goes right over the head of pro-life supporters who will never be able to move past the idea that their rights are the only ones that matter.

            I’m pretty tired of going around in circles with you both. You should not be granted a get out of jail free card with your version of free speech just to show “facts”. This was a bad idea and the only people who think it was good were pro-life supporters. Go figure. No other organization resorts to these tactics and they’re not being denied club status are they?

            There are plenty of people who thought they were doing good before the worst happened. Jordan Peterson is a perfect example. Does every woman on campus have to refuse to come to school so this bunch dismantles? Will it be tangible then? Wake up. Nobody has a right to hand out images like that, claim free speech, and la dee da on their way. This bunch are strangers and they took it upon themselves to influence a decision that will never be theirs to make and bring attention to a decision that will never be theirs to make. Any triggering material like that should be shut down when all it’s doing is telling women that they’re killers. So fucking insensitive. Who the hell would want to speak to this bunch?

            Of course you don’t see that coming from a man who said, “that fact aside” regarding rape. Haha, yeah. Putting a trauma I’ve never been through aside, let me talk on what women should do with their bodies.