Debate rages at the U of Alabama, Part 2
In Part 1, FAB reported on a recent column in the University of Alabama student newspaper attacking the Bama Students for Life, apparently for hosting GAP in April. I responded, and now John Speer has answered:
Sir, you don’t present any reasoned arguments. You offer an emotional appeal which is heartfelt, but lacking in any substantive evidence. You want to shame me by reducing the discussion to absurdity-either I want to kill babies or I don’t. There is more substance to the argument than my feelings. I don’t like abortions, but I have no right to tell an individual what they can or cannot do with their body. Please research some facts on infant mortality, lack of access to prenatal care, and the dangers of pregnancy.
Moreover, I did not call for censorship, I said guidance, also known as teaching. In other words, we should lead by example and demonstrate to students what respectful debate should resemble. I cannot respect students who engage endorse BSFL tactics. I apologize, but that is the reality. There are pro-life groups I respect, BSFL is simply not one of them.
Mr. Speer, thank you for your reply. I’d like to address your points.
The most important objection you raise is that we offered no arguments nor evidence for our position, only an emotional appeal. But in fact, that objection is easily rebutted because the pictures of abortion are the very best evidence that abortion is a violent act that decapitates and dismembers a small human being. I’ll take for granted that we all agree killing human beings is wrong, so why is it OK to kill certain human beings that are smaller and more defenseless than ourselves? Call me crazy, but it seems to me that the burden of proof lies with those doing the killing. Pejoratives and ad hominems do not make your case.
You are right to object to telling an individual what she can do with her own body. We all agree to that. But when an individual intends to carry out an act of violence that kills another human being without justification, then a civilized society is compelled to intervene, to protect the weaker from the stronger. We have a whole host of laws that prevent one person from acting to kill another (laws against murder), harm another (e.g., laws against assault, fraud, etc.), or put another person at risk of harm (e.g., laws against speeding). All of these laws restrict the choices of people who would harm others.
People who advocate systematic injustice often couch their arguments in the language of choice. Even Stephen Douglas stated that he was opposed to slavery, but he believed that the Southern states should have the right to choose whether to be slave states or free states. At a personal level, people in those states were completely free to exercise choice in whether to own a slave or not. With systematic injustice, everyone gets a choice but the victim.
I know of no facts on infant mortality or lack of access to prenatal care that would justify killing an innocent human being. Regarding the dangers of pregnancy, we make a compelling case that abortion is justified when the life of the mother is in danger. In the case of ectopic pregnancy, for example, removing the baby to save the life of the mother is the only bio-ethically sound alternative.
You absolutely did call for censorship. You said that the BSFL should be “monitored” and given “strong guidance” because they are “uninformed.” Apparently, uninformed means “disagrees with Mr. Speer and his friends.” Of course, you wouldn’t submit to monitoring and “strong guidance” for your own column. In your mind, that wouldn’t be necessary because you are not “uninformed.” Let’s apply your rule both ways. If I claim your column offended me as much as our pictures offended you, and if I claim that your leftist views are a “high-profile disaster” for the entire country, shouldn’t you be subjected to special government monitoring and “strong guidance” as well?
Who is going to decide whose speech needs to be monitored and strongly guided and whose is not? You? Would you be for “strong guidance” if I (or somebody like me) were assigned by the government to monitor you and strongly guide you in the preparation of your column? Call me a simple country boy — which I am — but the line between “strong guidance” and censorship is impossible to discern, especially when it is applied only to certain people (i.e., those who disagree with Mr. Speer and his friends).
You say that you want respectful debate. Imbedded in that claim are two false assertions. First, you imply that the debate surrounding our GAP display was not respectful. On what do you base that claim? Despite enduring many ad hominem attacks throughout both days, we were able to have hundreds of respectful encounters with people who disagreed with us. Some resulted in changed minds. Some concluded with a handshake and a promise to respect each other despite our differing points of view. If you didn’t see that, you just were not looking. Second, your version of “respectful” is that you control the terms and conditions of the debate. You seem to be saying that showing pictures in public is not respectful and comparing the mass slaughter of preborn human beings to the mass slaughter of other people groups is not respectful. In other words, you want a debate in which we don’t present our evidence nor make our arguments. Or maybe you just want the debate to happen behind closed doors, where few people will see it. We don’t think it is disrespectful to show people pictures of reality.
Finally, regarding respect, we ask for none. Social reformers don’t expect to be popular, especially among defenders of injustice. We don’t care what people think of us, nearly as much as we care what people think of abortion. However, we do insist that our unalienable right of free speech be respected.
This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 11th, 2013 at 6:24 pm and is filed under Campus Debate (GAP). You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.