Where do we draw the line between a sensible demonstration and a disengaged display of propaganda?
Our campus has welcomed many abortion-rights and anti-abortion demonstrations for the past week, with some of the latter being much more graphically depictive than the former. But the issue runs apart from whether you are for abortion rights or anti-abortion. It’s about respectability, accuracy and due justice for your cause.
Images of an aborted fetus, bloodied bodies and the preaching of an ongoing genocide: These are the things that we have witnessed from the visiting antiabortion groups. These are the images they display and the images they choose to represent their cause.
But at a certain point, demonstrations like these become overly emotional and passionate. They become more focused on venting and ranting about one’s own views, indiscriminate as to whether the cause might bring recruits and uncaring as to the feelings of others. To show such images and preach the words we’ve heard shows a level of disrespect to the innocence of common space, to the very values being preached and to the overall message being sent.
Anti-abortion supporters do themselves a grave disservice to their cause when they employ such means to advertise their views. These are no longer demonstrations; they are outbursts: blunt, loud, veiled and clad in the very values antithetical to the Christian religion that anti-abortion supporters espouse. They may “oppose the violence of abortion,” but they do support the silent violence of distortion in their attempt to orchestrate an indictment of a culture.
A protest of what one group perceives to be a war has become a rally for unbounded, passionate hatred, boiled to the perfect temperature for both sides.
Even though those protesters have the proper permits and secondamendment rights to be there, you can still let VCU and the Richmond community at-large know that you reject both the narrative and the manner of presentation.
All of this to say, I do believe and encourage the exercise of free speech. In fact, I encourage every student that so believes to take part in a form of protest.
You need not be silent. You need not mutter and rant through the paradoxical silence that social media offers you. If you believe in a woman’s choice, the right to an abortion or peaceable demonstrations without the vulgarity of distorted words and misshapen images, do your own cause due diligence. If you are strongly opposed to a cause, show it. Go out and start your own demonstration. Protest a protest.
If a single good comes out of this ugliness, let it be the freedom of your own speech, the expression of yourself and the voice of a strong student body viscerally against what amounts to nothing more than a wanton, gaudy show.