On-campus anti-abortion exhibit

Protesters employed thoughtless rhetorical strategies in the campus demonstration.

On Tuesday, the anti-abortion activists on the Coffman Union lawn crossed the line. Anyone who passed this fenced-off area this week was bombarded with belligerent slogans, billboard-sized gory images of aborted fetuses, vans displaying more graphic images, and even a video of an abortion. Some members of this group accosted and harassed students, particularly female students, speaking in very harsh terms. Equally disturbing was this groupâÄôs casual use of the word âÄògenocide,âÄô as they referred to their effort as a genocide awareness project in both their speech and printed material. In a world where we currently face several real genocides, such as the genocides in Sri Lanka and in the Sudan, this rhetorical manipulation is unacceptable. Such statements undermine the very real efforts of groups, both on and off campus, to fight hatred and genocide globally. While the university can and should promote free speech, hate speech and intimidating scare tactics are both inappropriate and even dangerous to the student body. This group was not even a campus group, but an outside organization paying for time and space to demonstrate at the university and verbally assault its students. In other words, the university profited by subjecting its own students to this disturbingly distasteful display. We would say âÄònever again,âÄô but we hesitate to revert to this anti-abortion groupâÄôs thoughtless rhetorical strategies. CSCL PhD candidates and students Tom Cannavino, Alicia Gibson, Courtney Gildersleeve, Courtney Helgoe, Jessie Mathiason, Djordje Popvic, Sara Saljoughi, Cory Stockwell, Raysh Weiss, History PhD student Nate Holdren and CSCL lecturer Eva Hudecova contributed to this column. Please send comments to [email protected]