First things first: I am neither pro-choice nor pro-life. I don’t fully understand both sides of the issue and therefore am choosing to reserve judgment. However, what I am is pro-decency.
I am sure many returning students have seen the giant posters put up by a pro-life organization from California that annually visits campus. Freshmen may have caught a glimpse of them outside Tuttleman earlier this month. They weren’t hard to miss.
The posters are several feet tall and depict decapitated heads of fetuses, aborted babies and similar images.
These pictures made me sick to my stomach. When I realized this group had returned to campus, I felt very angry at the attempt to again bombard us with these offensive images.
After speaking with several other Temple students, I found I’m not alone. I even heard stories of people arguing with the group’s members over the demonstration.
People should not be subjected to such images against their will. It is both offensive and obscene. There is an elementary school right next to the Student Center. Young children often walk through campus on their way to school. If I find the images offensive and nauseating as a college student, how will a child less than half my age react?
I understand there are First Amendment rights at work here. This group has the right to express its beliefs, and I support that.
There is an interesting quote from a Supreme Court case, Papish v. Board of Curators: “Mere dissemination of ideas – no matter how offensive to good taste – on a state university campus may not be shut off in the name alone of ‘conventions of decency.'”
Those words are extremely powerful. It doesn’t matter how offensive something is on a college campus, it still has First Amendment protection.
So where does Temple draw the line? If a gay rights group wants to put up huge pictures of men or women engaging in homosexual sex, is that protected? My guess is that the authorities would descend upon that display and shut it down without thinking twice. I would not agree with those pictures either, but at least they wouldn’t make me physically ill.
By resorting to these shock tactics, the group takes away all its credibility. Instead of turning me on to the pro-life cause, these images make me want to avoid the group entirely.
Just because this group has a socially acceptable agenda, it does not make it right to display these offensive posters. As an alternative, they could make the pictures available for those who might want to support their cause.
Temple needs to think about what can be considered “dissemination of ideas,” and what is merely disgusting and obscene.
Torin Sweeney can be reached at Foreverlong7283@yahoo.com.