Thursday, February 05, 2009

Free Speech (?) vs. Reproductive Rights

Well, it's not really that simple. But Matttbastard has a post up at Shakesville about the "Genocide Awareness Project" visiting the University of Calgary.

I had my own run-in with these assholes at Temple last year. My first reaction was shock at the giant display (no, I'm not finding pictures to subject you to). My second response was to do some quick searching on Temple's Web site and the Temple News to find out exactly why I was stuck dealing with pictures of people dead in concentration camps or hanging from trees, next to the usual shots of the fetuses.

Apparently, since my university is publicly funded, it counts as a public forum for speech, and so even massively-funded outside groups like the "Genocide Awareness Project," whose plan appears to be to completely alienate Jews, African-Americans, and anyone with good taste by comparing abortion to, y'know, actual racialized violence and genocide.

That said, the people behind the displays at Temple were pretty quiet, staying behind their hideous images unless someone tried to engage. And the radical cheerleaders came out to protest, which is always awesome.

I defend their right to speech and expression for sure. I believe in free speech, and though I think Woodrow Wilson was often a wanker (and no friend to women's rights), I agree with him when he said:

I have always been among those who believed that the greatest freedom of speech was the greatest safety, because if a man is a fool, the best thing to do is to encourage him to advertise the fact by speaking.

But I believe that right stops when it becomes harassment, and I don't think that a time, place and manner restriction on these displays (for instance, do they really need to have ten-foot dead fetuses? Just sayin') would be too much of an infringement on their rights to be factually wrong and offensive to boot.

I would LOVE to know where these groups get their funding to take their traveling picture show on the road, apparently across the US/Canada border, too...