Earlier in the term, we reported on an event at Carleton University, in which 5 students were arrested for trespassing while attempting a peaceful pro-life display on campus. That post can be found here. Since then, a number of further events have occurred as a result. The club had it’s club status and funding revoked by the Carleton University Students Association (CUSA), resulting from a disagreement over statements in the club’s Constitution. A series of letters have been sent back and forth between the CUSA and Carleton Lifeline, which can be found at the Carleton Lifeline blog. Most recently, Carleton Lifeline has threatened to take legal action against the CUSA regarding the de-certification of Carleton Lifeline and the manner in which it was done. A press release regarding this matter can be found here. Youth Protecting Youth stands in solidarity with Carleton Lifeline and will continue to oppose discrimination based on political and ideological values.
As the date of the “Echoes of the Holocaust” presentation gets closer, and the controversy continues, I invite you to read an excellent piece about the comparison between abortion and the Holocaust (as well as other human rights abuses) written by Zuza Kurzawa, the president of the pro-life club at Queen’s university in Ontario. Zuza was the only non-Carleton student to be arrested October 4, and has written this in response to criticism she has received in regards to her involvement with pro-life outreach that compares abortion to genocide, particulary demands from students on her own campus that she make a formal apology for such comparisons. Definitely worth reading:
Also of interest, discussion of the arrests at Carleton and of free speech on university campuses in general on the Michael Coren show tonight.
On Tuesday October 12, students arrived on campus to find that YPY had started advertising an event we are hosting this fall: Jojo Ruba of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform (CCBR) is coming to give a presentation called “Echoes of the Holocaust”, which compares abortion to genocide. On Wednesday October 13, we arrived on campus to find that the outdoor chalking advertising the event had been surrounded with phrases including “anti-choice”, “false information”, and “hate speech”. I’d like to address the accusations made by these chalkers, and once again encourage anyone who disagrees with or questions the views of YPY and/or CCBR to come out to the presentation and bring their questions for the question period at the end. I feel like I’m once again responding to the same old ad hominem attacks that miss the point of the abortion issue almost entirely, and I’d like to put things back into perspective. We don’t need to talk about what kind of people pro-lifers are; we need to talk about whether the unborn are people.
I’ll quote the chalk comments one by one and respond to them. If I miss any, feel free to add them in the comments.
“This presentation compares abortion to genocide.”/ “This presentation compares abortion to the Holocaust.”
This is true. The presentation compares abortion to genocide, and specifically to the Holocaust.
For a basic explanation as to why the comparison is made, check out “Is Abortion Genocide?” on CCBR’s website.
For a chart outlining parallels between abortion and other historical atrocities, check out “Is Abortion Comparable to Historical Atrocities?” on CCBR’s website.
Choice to do what? I’m pro-choice when it comes to who to vote for, what kind of food to eat, and many, many other things. I’m against some choices, though. I’m anti-choice when it comes to things like assault and murder. We have a lot of choices in life, but when our choices involve killing or harming other human beings, it quickly becomes obvious that some choices are wrong. Killing or harming other human beings is wrong.
I’m against abortion. Why? Because every successful abortion ends the life of a human being. Images of tiny, bloodied hands and feet show us the results of this “choice”. They’re uncomfortable to look at because they show an unpleasant reality: a tiny human being who has been torn apart by a doctor using surgical instruments. In The Case for Life, Scott Klusendorf quotes U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy as he describes common dismemberment abortion techniques: “The fetus, in many cases, dies just as a human adult or child would: it bleeds to death as it is torn from limb to limb…. The fetus can be alive at the beginning of the dismemberment process and can survive for a time while its limbs are being torn off…. Dr. [Leroy] Carhart [the abortionist who challenged Nebraska’s partial-birth ban] has observed fetal heartbeat…. with ‘extensive parts of the fetus removed,’…. and testified that mere dismemberment of a limb does not always cause death because he knows of a physician who removed the arm of a fetus only to have the fetus go on to be born ‘as a living child with one arm.” …At the conclusion of a D&E abortion… the abortionist is left with ‘a tray full of pieces’.”
So yes, I’m against that “choice”.
For more on “choice” and other assumptions those arguing in favour of abortion may make (while ignoring the question “what are the unborn?”), see “Assumptions Abortion Advocates Make” on CCBR’s website.
“Anti-woman”/ “Compares women who have abortions to Nazis”
YPY believes in judging actions, not judging people. In comparing abortion to genocide, the actions and victims are compared. Rabbi Yehuda Levin, of New York, stated this very well when he said,
“Each form of genocide, whether Holocaust, lynching, or abortion, differs from all the others in the motives and methods of its perpetrators. But each form of genocide is identical to all the others in that it involves the systematic slaughter, as state-sanctioned ‘choice,’ of innocent, defenseless victims—while denying their ‘personhood.’”
For a detailed discussion of how comparing abortion to genocide is not equivalent to calling women Nazis, see this post by a member of YPY.
Or see CCBR’s response in their FAQ.
Merriam-Webster defines anti-Semitism as “hostility towards or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group.” Simply put, the presentation is none of those things. In comparing abortion to historical atrocities such as the Holocaust (and noting that the fact that two things are comparable does not mean they are identical – just as a sound and its echo are similar but not identical), pro-life advocates readily recognize that the Holocaust was a terrible tragedy, and that any instance of a group of humans being classified as non-persons and then subjected to horrible treatment or killed is a great injustice that should be recognized as such and stopped.
Again, we return to the fundamental in the abortion debate: “what are the unborn?” If the unborn are not human persons, then comparing them to the victims of past genocide is insensitive. If the unborn are human persons, however, then 42 million people are killed worldwide each year, often by being torn apart with surgical instruments. Comparison to past genocides is completely logical.
For more on this, check out the FAQ on CCBR’s website.
I’d be interested to know what information the person who wrote this thinks is false. To my knowledge, the presentation contains no false information whatsoever. If in fact it does contain some, I’m sure it would be appreciated if someone would politely point it out during the question period.
“Hate speech”/ Jojo Ruba being a “hate speaker”
Hate speech is a criminal offense in Canada, so this is a serious allegation. If we look at the Criminal Code however, we see that the allegation is blatantly false. There are two main types of speech defined as hate speech in the Criminal Code: advocating genocide and public incitement of hatred.
A presentation that condemns all forms and instances of genocide obviously does not advocate or promote genocide. Making the case that abortion is comparable to historical instances of genocide is meant to illustrate that abortion is wrong, not that any form of genocide is good.
The presentation does not incite hatred against anyone. As stated above, we believe in judging actions, not judging people, and in recognizing the intrinsic value and dignity of all human beings.
While we’re looking at the Criminal Code, though, I’m pretty sure publicly making false accusations of hate-speech, anti-Semitism, and sexism falls under the definition of “defamatory libel.”
The real problem, though, is that all of these complaints about the presentation miss the point of the abortion debate entirely.
What if I was some horrible, racist, sexist person (I’m not), who knew the truth on a certain matter? Would it matter that I was horribly racist or sexist? The truth is the truth no matter who says it. The truth is what we are trying to find, in all things, especially moral debates. In the abortion debate, the most important question is “what are the unborn?”. As Greg Koukl points out, “If the unborn are not human, no justification for elective abortion is necessary. But if the unborn are human, no justification for elective abortion is adequate.”
We hope to see you at “Echoes of the Holocaust”.
(The presentation will take place at 5:30 pm on October 26 in the Wright Centre – SCI B150)
Five students, four from Carleton University, and one from Queen’s University, were arrested this week and charged with trespassing after attempting to display a peaceful pro-life protest in a public area on the Carleton university campus. Once again, the truth of the pro-life message is being silenced, this time by the university administration. The press release below comes from the National Campus Life Network, and includes a link to video footage of the arrests. In the past, Youth Protecting Youth has also had issues with freedom of speech and the University of Victoria Students Society, though these issues were not with the university administration and the issues were dealt with this past summer through legal action. Although it is extremely upsetting that students can be arrested for a peaceful protest on a university campus, the greater tragedy is that preborn children are still being killed through the act of abortion everyday, and that this process is still legal in Canada through all 9 months of a pregnancy.
CARLETON UNIVERSITY CONTINUES TO BULLY STUDENTS
Carleton Communicates Misleading Statements to Public
October 6, 2010. Ottawa. One day after Carleton University had Ottawa police arrest 5 students for attempting to peacefully express their views on abortion, a flurry of reports raise questions about whether the students are demanding something not allowed of other students. Footage can be seen at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XeJkBQn1-r8
University representatives have been reported as stating that no students are allowed to set up displays in the Quad, the area that the pro-life students selected for their signs.
Ruth Lobo, President of Carleton Lifeline, and one of the students arrested, responded: “The university is misleading the public by making it seem as though we are demanding special treatment instead of equal treatment, but that’s not true.”
She explained that their booking request was made several months ago and at no point between then and now did the university communicate to the students, or their lawyer, that the Tory Quad is not bookable space for students.
“Why is the University now claiming the Quad is not bookable space?” asked James Shaw, club Vice President. “We have done extensive research on the policies of the university and see no evidence of their claims that the space isn’t bookable. In fact, we see the opposite. If, as they’re now claiming, the Quad is not bookable, we should have been told in the summer when we were filling out the application form. That would have been a very simple answer to give, and a much easier one.”
According to the Booking-Space-On-Campus Policy, Tory Quad is listed as bookable space for recognized student groups, which includes Carleton Lifeline. Further, the policy does not place restrictions on display size or content.
According to David Sterritt, who is the Head of Housing and Conference Services at Carleton, the reason for denying the use of the Quad was based on content. On August 9, 2010, Sterritt wrote the club,
“While we wish to provide your group with an opportunity to express itself freely on this matter, we are also aware that The Genocide Awareness Project uses promotional materials which are disturbing and offensive to some. To this end, we are prepared to offer your group the use of Porter Hall.”
Porter Hall is a closed room on campus that few students pass by and many are even unaware of its location.
“It’s clear by their direct communication to us,” said Lobo, “that this is content-based discrimination. This censorship should concern everyone, regardless of one’s views on abortion.”
Shaw added, “First the university has us arrested for peacefully exercising our academic freedom and free speech rights. And now they’re coming up with excuses for their bad behaviour that they never communicated to us. Shame on Carleton.”
Carleton Lifeline continues to stress that the right to free speech does not exist so much as to maintain mainstream views but more so to protect unpopular opinions like theirs, especially on a university campus.
Lobo said she finds it appalling the university would “mislead the public by making the arrest look like we violated university policy instead of what it really was: that Carleton censors opinions on campus thereby violating their own policy of academic freedom.”
Below is Carleton University’s Human Rights Policies and Procedures- relevant section is Part 1 General Article 4:
Below is Carleton University’s Booking-Space-On-Campus Policy- Relevant sections are Section 1 and Appedix A.:
VICTORIA, BC – After two and a half months of consultation, the legal conflict between the University of Victoria’s pro-life club, Youth Protecting Youth (YPY), and the University of Victoria Students’ Society (UVSS) has come to a conclusion.
The legal conflict was the result of two years of discrimination and censorship, during which YPY was repeatedly denied funding that other clubs received. The situation escalated in the spring of 2010, when the UVSS refused to recognize YPY as a club, and made policy modifications that specifically targeted pro-life advocacy. YPY responded by filing a petition in the BC Supreme Court.
The case has now been settled out of court: the UVSS has recognized YPY as a club, granted it funding for the summer semester, repaid all funds wrongly withheld since fall 2008, and eliminated policy additions that had targeted pro-life advocacy. Having watched other pro-life groups face discrimination and censorship, YPY welcomes these developments that recognize the right to free speech at UVic.
“This is a great victory for YPY,” says club president Anastasia Pearse. “We interpret the UVSS’ concessions as an admission of wrongdoing, and we’re happy with the new direction it’s taking.”
The UVSS has also agreed to an unusual condition that allows YPY to hold the petition in abeyance indefinitely, making the process required to reinitiate legal proceedings quicker and easier, should it become necessary – a circumstance that YPY would view as regrettable. It is hoped that holding the UVSS immediately accountable will curb censorial behaviour.
Despite the free speech challenges it has faced recently, YPY remains focused on advocating for the right to life of all human beings at all stages of life, and will continue to boldly exercise its freedom of speech in proclaiming this message.
The club sincerely thanks Joseph Arvay of Arvay Finlay Barristers – who represented YPY – for his exceptional legal representation.
YPY is pleased that the BC Civil Liberties Association, which has generously acted in support of the club’s free speech, has been granted intervener status in the lawsuit, and will be intervening should the lawsuit need to be revived under the abeyance agreement.
As of this writing, Youth Protecting Youth and the University of Victoria Students’ Society’s engaging in legal conflict has failed to reach a final conclusion. The UVSS Board of Directors has voted to remove new anti-pro-life clauses from its policy (changes to its Harassment Policy had discriminated against pro-life advocacy) and grant status, funding and retroactive monies to YPY. Although these measures address some of the requests made in the petition to the BC Supreme Court, two key points remain unresolved: The UVSS hasn’t declared the action it has taken against YPY in the past to be unlawful, and the UVSS hasn’t promised that YPY’s behaving as it has so far will prevent it from being silenced again.
The UVSS must take steps – in a spirit of true reparation – to ensure that it will act consistently and fairly in the future. At present, we fear that there are no guarantees that the students’ society won’t discriminate against pro-life students in semesters to come.
YPY remains in legal consultation at present, reasonably seeking to secure lasting protection from censorship and discrimination against its members and its message.
VICTORIA, B.C., May 3, 2010 ‑ Youth Protecting Youth (YPY), the University of Victoria pro‑life students’ club, today filed a petition in the BC Supreme Court initiating legal proceedings against the University of Victoria Students’ Society (UVSS).
The lawsuit seeks various court orders all to the effect that the UVSS has acted unlawfully in denying YPY club funding since September 2008, and recently upped the ante by refusing to ratify YPY as an official club for the Spring 2010 semester. In addition, the Clubs Policy has now been amended to specifically target pro‑life advocacy.
University of Victoria student, UVSS member, and YPY president, Anastasia Pearse commented:
“We have watched pro‑life student groups throughout the province, and across the country, face the stifling and discriminatory decisions of Student Societies that deny them funding or club status.
Our aims are to promote choices that protect unborn human beings and their mothers from the harm of abortion. We should be granted equal opportunity to share our message.”
The students involved with YPY are members of the University community, which is the very place where controversial topics should be discussed and various sides considered. They recognize that it is their duty to stand up to protect the core value of ideological diversity and the fundamental values at stake in this case including equality and freedom of expression.
The controversy that has sprung up in the media around Prime Minister Harper’s recent announcement that Canada will not fund abortions as part of its G8 child and maternal health‑care initiative for developing countries demonstrates that abortion is still a live issue for debate. Pearse highlights, “To debate is to engage with opposing ideas and in order to fully engage, we must be free to express opposing views respectfully without censure.”
Joseph Arvay of the Vancouver based firm Arvay Finlay is acting for Youth Protecting Youth.