As a staunch defender of free speech, I can’t say much when Temple University is visited by people whose views I find abhorrent. I am thrilled when I see student protestors of any stripe on campus holding up signs and chanting about something that they truly believe in. But I cannot stomach days of giant signs from a national organization comparing abortion to the Holocaust or lynchings.
If it were a Temple Against Abortion group, that would be one thing. As students at Temple University, it would be their right to hold a protest, teach-in or display on campus, just as it would be my right to hold a disagreeing one. But I cannot understand why a large group that has no affiliation with Temple is allowed to invade our campus with brutal, offensive pictures claiming that abortion is “genocide.” Genocide is defined by the United Nations as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such:
1.killing group members
2.causing serious bodily or mental harm to group members
3.deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part
4.imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group
5.forcibly transferring children of the group to another group”
Abortion does not fit any of these criteria. If women were being forced to abort their babies by members of another ethnic, religious or national group, that would be genocide.
According to The Temple News archives, in 2002, when the so-called Genocide Awareness Project arrived on campus, more than 400 students signed a petition calling on the campus to ban further visits. Temple supposedly enacted new rules limiting the height of such displays and requiring advance notification of any such events on campus.
I was unaware of the planned visit of GAP. It is not on the Temple Web site anywhere that I could find. No one I know was aware of the intended visit before being blindsided by gore on their way to classes.
As a public university, Temple may be required to allow demonstrations such as this one even with a large student outcry. If so, they should make a far better attempt to inform the community ahead of time than was made this time.
Department of Journalism