The Shotgun Blog
Monday, March 31, 2008
Freedom of expression on campus
Calgary has been the epicentre of bold, in-your-face pro-life activism ever since Stephanie Gray of Chilliwack, B.C., moved there a few years ago. The head of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform, Gray is the driving force behind the controversial Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) that regularly springs up (and causes controversy) at Canadian universities. And she was also behind the launching last year in Calgary of a truck, bedecked with GAP-type graphic images.
I write the above to explain and give some background to what is shaping up to be a showdown today between the University of Calgary and the university's student pro-life group, Campus Pro-Life. CPL says it will defy a university edict today and will set up a GAP display. There's going to be some fireworks here, for sure.
Here's the full press release from Campus Pro-Life:
MARCH 31, 2008: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
STUDENTS DEFY UNIVERSITY CENSORSHIP
AND PLEAD FOR PEACEFUL FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
CALGARY, AB, March 31, 2008—The University of Calgary has threatened to censor one of its own student groups, Campus Pro-Life (CPL), from publicly displaying the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP), an educational exhibit that graphically compares abortion to the Holocaust. CPL members are going to defy the university today and tomorrow as they ignore the new restrictions being placed on their group, and march onto campus to erect the signs.—which is what the university has done," explained Wilson. He added, "The U of C administration could take a lesson from Russian university officials who didn’t attempt to suppress GAP on their campuses last fall." Footage of these Russian GAP displays can be viewedhttp://www.abortionno.org/World/russia.html
In a letter to Campus Pro-Life, which was copied to university’s vice-president of external affairs, Roman Cooney, the university’s legal counsel Charlene Anderson wrote, "We have received numerous complaints in the past about the graphic and often disturbing nature of the Genocide Awareness Program’s [sic] signs and placards… we require that the display of all GAP signs and photographs face inward…"
The university has not responded to CPL’s query as to whether other groups have ever been subjected to this form of censorship.
Since 2006, GAP has been displayed at the U of C peacefully with its signs facing outwards on four occasions. However, at the most recent GAP display in October 2007, some individuals attempted to physically block the GAP display and impede dialogue between CPL members and their fellow students.
In correspondence with CPL, the university has thus far condoned this practice of physical intervention to prevent dialogue. The university has thus far refused CPL’s request that opposing groups each be given their own space, in order to prevent the physical intimidation by pro-choice protestors which took place five months ago.
"The university is giving in to mob rule," stated CPL treasurer Leah Hallman. "Rather than hiding unpopular views, the university should facilitate the expression of all viewpoints and create a safe environment for dialogue," continued Hallman.
CPL president Matthew Wilson asked, "If a Muslim club were to set up a controversial exhibit on campus and a Christian club objected, would the university require the Muslim club to turn its display inward?"
Censorship is not foreign to the U of C. In March 2005, because of university restrictions, CPL displayed GAP off-campus. After a student violently attacked three GAP signs, generating a slew of negative media coverage for the university, CPL retained legal assistance and the U of C eventually changed its position and acknowledged the students’ rights to conduct the display. In March 2006, the university erected signs around GAP that read, "The exhibit is protected under the relevant sections of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms related to Freedom of Expression."
Since then, however, pro-choice protests have grown.
"If so-called pro-choice students don’t like what we have to say, they should be allotted space to express their views, not assisted in their attempts to block ours
This act of censorship at the U of C is the latest in a string of incidents at universities across the country. In February, the student union at York University in Toronto banned an abortion debate. At the University of Toronto, the administration requires pro-life students to configure their GAP signs in a horseshoe-shape, with the opening facing inward. And at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Lakehead University in Ontario, and Capilano College and UBC-Okanagan in British Columbia, pro-life students have been denied club status. Exhibit Details: *Monday, March 31 and Tuesday, April 1: U of C campus, between Science A & Science B, near MacEwan Hall Student Centre, 9:00am-2:30pm. For further information: Matthew Wilson: 403-619-8449 (c) or Leah Hallman: 403-808-3412 (c) -30-
This act of censorship at the U of C is the latest in a string of incidents at universities across the country. In February, the student union at York University in Toronto banned an abortion debate. At the University of Toronto, the administration requires pro-life students to configure their GAP signs in a horseshoe-shape, with the opening facing inward. And at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Lakehead University in Ontario, and Capilano College and UBC-Okanagan in British Columbia, pro-life students have been denied club status.
Exhibit Details: *Monday, March 31 and Tuesday, April 1: U of C campus, between Science A & Science B, near MacEwan Hall Student Centre, 9:00am-2:30pm.
For further information: Matthew Wilson: 403-619-8449 (c) or Leah Hallman:
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This post raised what I think are two interesting and general questions that need not have anything to do with abortion, per se.
First, at what point is it legitimate for the University or any public authority to restrict the method of expressing a political message? The idealist in me wants to say "never", but suppose the message is being delivered by amplifiers loud enough to drown out all lectures that are going on, loud enough to deafen people, and they go on 24/7. Surely we all can agree that THAT can be restricted. But if that is the case, then we do agree that sometimes the consequences of the method of transmitting a message are bad enough that they can be stopped.
Now what if the message is just being communicated through the use of very VERY graphic images? Suppose that in addition to the GAP posters, a group called "Dinos for Peace" want to show posters of twisted, bloody and broken corpses of civilians in Iraq who were killed by US troops. Suppose a group called "Dinos for a Free Iraq" wanted to do the same but with images of civilians in Iraq killed and mangled by terrorists. Then add in a UofC chapter of PETA wanting to show graphic images of slaughterhouses. Now how about a MADD display showing bloodied corpses in car accidents. Add in 20 other groups using similar imagery who want to be on cmpus such that no one can ever cross campus to get lunch without fear of losing their appetite. It would seem reasonable to say that such images are so graphic and disturbing regardless of what cause they support that in a public space they should not be forced upon the eyes of the viewer. Thus letting GAP have their signs, but turned inward so those who choose to look can see them and those who choose not to look can avoid them seems right.
Second, does your right of free speech mean the Univerisity or any public authority has the duty to prevent me from shouting you down?To take a more specific example, suppose a lone protester gets out a soap box, sets it up in the public square, and begins to make a speech advocating intervention to help the people of Darfur. Now suppose another person puts his soap box right next to the first guy, gets out a megaphone, and starts shouting loudly about how he wants Canada to boycott the Beijing Olympics for human rights reasons. The second guy is making it impossible for the first guy to be heard. Does the first guy have a legitimate complaint that some state authority should stop the second guy from interfering with his speech? It seems to me the answer sould be no, but then that would mean that if the GAP people are trying to talk in a public space about abortion and pro-choicers come and stand next to them and shout so loud that no conversation is possile that they, too are exercising protected free speech. So long as no signs are destroyed, no one is physically attacked, and no one's free movement is blocked it would seem the shouters are just exercising their free speech too.
Now I fall on the side of believing it better not to restrict speech than to restrict it, since error that way is less troubling in general, but at a first glance it seems to me that requiring signs face inward and allowing the shouters does not err on either side. But I'm open to being convinced I might be wrong. Terry? What say you?
Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-03-31 11:03:38 AM
As usual, Fact Check, you've written a very solid and thought-provoking comment to one of my items. Like you, I'm inclined to support maximum free expression, especially on the campuses of our country's universities, places that are supposed to be forums for free interchange of ideas.
Your main points can be summed up thusly: that the university has an obligation to protect students, staff and faculty from offensive material, and that the university has no obligation to protect the right of a group or person to deliver their message without interruption (shouting, etc.).
On the latter, I think it's always been clear that if one is committed to free speech, one lets one's opposition have its say, and then expresses the contrary position. Interrupting a meeting or harrassing one's opponent is no more a legitimate expression of free speech than is defacing a poster with which one does not agree.
On the former, I favour a free-market approach to these sorts of things. The GAP display is shocking, yes, and is aimed at grabbing the attention of passersby. It's an effective technique at a time when there is far too much complacency about the abortion issue. But, if a dozen or so groups were to mount displays of similar graphic nature, all such displays would soon lose their impact, and the various groups would quickly learn from experience that, because of this,their displays weren't working. They'd have to, then, find other ways to get their message across. So, the campus wouldn't be overrun with offensive material for very long. End of problem.
Posted by: Terry O'Neill | 2008-03-31 11:54:54 AM
Fact Check and Terry forget something.
This display is a two day display. It has been shown for the past 4 years I believe. There have been no incidents and the kids are ever so inviting of the other side to put up a counter display, and engage in discussion and debate of the issue.
All of Fact Check's scenarios are only hypothetical situations. What if this and what if that happens. Reality of the situation is that the PL students club is being threatened with sanction and even arrest this morning for not knuckling under to the University's restrictive orders.
Years ago APEC protestors were arrested at UBC for doing the same thing and there was universal condemnation of the administration's tactics. I hope for a similar reaction to these PL students should they end up in jail like the Vancouver students did way back when. There is still a memorial on UBC's campus today to mark that injustice. I hope one is not needed to mark today's demonstration.
Hypothetical situations obscure the facts and lead to bad decisions. Fact Check's concerns are real but they do nothing to help the students standing out in the cold and snow at U of C today trying to express an opinion and raise awareness on campus about the deaths of 100,000 Canadians every year.
Posted by: Servant | 2008-03-31 12:14:44 PM
"It would seem reasonable to say that such images are so graphic and disturbing regardless of what cause they support that in a public space they should not be forced upon the eyes of the viewer."
Kind of like hate speech. But who decides? You?
If a group protesting the death penalty decided to show corpses of those killed by electrocution or hanging, would you advocate the same way?
If a group advocating the death penalty decided to show corpses of those killed by death row inmates, would you advocate the same way?
Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-03-31 12:27:42 PM
"I think it's always been clear that if one is committed to free speech, one lets one's opposition have its say, and then expresses the contrary position."
I agree. Which is why I would say that in my example the Beijing Olympic protester either does not really believe in free speech or he does, but is just being obnoxious. In the case of the people who shout down GAP protests, the same would be true. But it is still yet another step to say that the University or some other state authority should do anything to prevent the Beijing protester or the anti-GAP protesters from doing what they are doing. Shouting down certainly goes against the spirit of free speech, but forcibly stopping the shouters goes against the letter of it. So CPL's request that each group get their own space is very free-speech minded, but if anti-free-speech minded pro-choicers decide not to abide by such partitioning, I would say that the University should not be able to force them to comply.
"I favour a free-market approach to these sorts of things. The GAP display is shocking, yes, and is aimed at grabbing the attention of passersby. It's an effective technique at a time when there is far too much complacency about the abortion issue. But, if a dozen or so groups were to mount displays of similar graphic nature, all such displays would soon lose their impact, and the various groups would quickly learn from experience that, because of this,their displays weren't working. They'd have to, then, find other ways to get their message across. So, the campus wouldn't be overrun with offensive material for very long. End of problem."
I have two problems with this. First, I don't think that the history of advertising shows us that this is how it would go. If anything, the push would be towards making things much MORE graphic and extreme. 'This is no longer shocking to you? Well how about THIS.' Second, to allow the free market to take care of it is to say that the public has no right of protection from public spaces being used in ways that impairs their ability to function. So if the problem were just how loud a protest was, letting the free market take care of volume control will not keep people from being exposed to noise at a level that keeps them from being able to work or hear traffic coming or whatever. Limiting the volume at which a person projects his speech is not to stop him from speeking. Limiting the ability of some to push images that are graphic and repulsive in the faces of others who choose not to want to look at them is not to stop them from speeking either. The distinction is subtle here, but I think it holds up and would allow GAP, MADD, PETA and others to have their say without unduely imposing on the freedoms of others.
Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-03-31 12:27:44 PM
"Kind of like hate speech."
No, it isn't. The issue of hate speech is objecting to the message itself. It is to object to the content of the speech, not the method of delivering the content. This is why I used the example of the loudness of the speech. Objecting that the speech is being delivered so loudly that it deafens people is not to say anything about what the person was saying. To object to bloody, graphic images is not to say anything about what cause those images serve, be it MADD, PETA, GAP, pro-Iraq war, anti-Iraq war, etc. There is a fundamental difference here.
"If a group protesting the death penalty decided to show corpses of those killed by electrocution or hanging, would you advocate the same way?"
"If a group advocating the death penalty decided to show corpses of those killed by death row inmates, would you advocate the same way?"
Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-03-31 12:33:19 PM
So you oppose those who throw pies in the faces of conservatives on campus. And the riots at Concordia when Bibi Netanyahu wanted to speak.
Yet, there was a lot of criticism from the left when the campus security tasered someone attempting to interrupt Kerry at a Florida U. It ranged from criticizing the tasering to criticizing the attempt to silence the protester.
Tell me. How does one consistently yet fairly point out the discrepancies and hyprocrisy of leftist disruptions on University campii...as it is mostly disruptions by the left?
Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-03-31 1:03:25 PM
"So you oppose those who throw pies in the faces of conservatives on campus."
"And the riots at Concordia when Bibi Netanyahu wanted to speak."
"Yet, there was a lot of criticism from the left when the campus security tasered someone attempting to interrupt Kerry at a Florida U."
This was different in two ways. One, the guy was not throwing pies or rioting. He was only using his voice, so the issue of whether he was doing anything wrong at all is a different one. Two, even if you think he was doing something wrong enough for it to be reasonable to stop (and I do, by the way) there is a good question of whether tasering him was an excessive way to do it (and I think it was, by the way).
"Tell me. How does one consistently yet fairly point out the discrepancies and hyprocrisy of leftist disruptions on University campii..."
First, I don't use words like "leftist" because it is a meaningless term of abuse. It is a catch-all for diverse people with diverse political ideas and only used by the intellectually lazy or dishonest, but back to you question:
"How does one consistently yet fairly point out the discrepancies and hyprocrisy of ... disruptions on University campii..."
Ummm. By being consistent and fair? Why is this such a mystery to you?
Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-03-31 4:14:06 PM
"First, I don't use words like "leftist" because it is a meaningless term of abuse."
Bwah ha ha!
""How does one consistently yet fairly point out the discrepancies and hyprocrisy of ... disruptions on University campii..."
Ummm. By being consistent and fair? Why is this such a mystery to you?"
Bwah ha ha.
Thanks for demonstrating my point.
Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-03-31 4:47:57 PM
Fact Check: Thank you for giving me faith that this site isn't full unthinking mindless people. If one skips over the "moralistic" simplistic and (dare I say) childish responses (h2o273kk9 )you are receiving, there is actually a stimulating debate happening. Thank you for the read!
Posted by: Xenomorph | 2008-03-31 9:35:40 PM
Hi! Welcome! Please join the debate rather than sitting on the side lines cheering on your favourite team otherwise you may appear bitter.
Posted by: h2o273kk9 | 2008-03-31 10:34:59 PM
Fact Check, I would like to comment on a couple of your points. First, your comparison of holding up offensive pictures to amplified sound blaring 24/7.
Yes, it is true that the government has the right to place time, place, and manner restrictions on free speech activities, but those restrictions must (1) be content-neutral, and (2) serve a significant government interest. Significant government interests relevant to this discussion are safety, traffic flow on streets and sidewalks, and the opportunity of students to obtain the education for which they have paid without substantial interference. You could also add the right to restrict noise in residential areas when people are sleeping.
You can easily see that it is a significant government interest to limit amplified sound near classrooms, sleeping rooms, etc. Such a restriction, however, would have to be implemented in a content-neutral fashion. On the other hand, telling some people to hold their signs backward, upside down, or whatever, meets no significant government interest whatsoever. It only serves to keep some people from being offended (while offending others, by the way). Further, in this case, the government (the University) has openly admitted that they are restricting pro-life signs because of content. In summary, the government’s action is content-based censorship that serves no legitimate government purpose and meets no legal standard.
Also, you and other commenters seem to be saying that free speech should be protected, but the government should be able to limit speech that is offensive. This is backward. Speech that is not offensive needs no protection, so any protection of inoffensive speech is superfluous. It’s the offensive speech that needs to be protected.
As a practical matter, the GAP project has been conducted all over the world, hundreds of times. In most every case, the project goes on without substantial (or any) government interference.
Posted by: Fletcher Armstrong | 2008-04-01 7:57:02 AM
"Yes, it is true that the government has the right to place time, place, and manner restrictions on free speech activities, but those restrictions must (1) be content-neutral, and (2) serve a significant government interest."
We are in agreement here. But where we disagree is whether the restriction I am talking about is "content neutral" or not. And that depends on what you consider the "content". If there was a policy that said "no pictures or abortions allowed" I would agree that this is NOT a content neutral restriction. But if the restriction were "no graphic images of bloody and broken bodies" then I would say that sounds content neutral, because such a restriction does not at all specify the cause or specific message that might use such images. It could be a MADD or a pro-war or an anti-war or a PETA or a GAP poster. It could be a commercial ad where they just decided to use such images (as Benetton once did). What I am suggesting is legitimate is more like saying "you cannot use the words 'fuck' or 'motherfucker' on your signs." Yes, this is a restriction that describes the specific content of a sign, but it is "content neutral" in the sense that it in no way targets the particular cause that might want to use such words.
Noise levels are a way of getting people's attention, but they can keep people awake who want to sleep. Graphic pictures are a way of getting people's attention, but they can ruin people's appetites who want to eat lunch. Is either of these any less legitimate a public interest? I don't see why. So it is not about limiting content because it is offensive. It is about limiting the mode of expression (be it the volume or the use of profanity or the graphic nature of images used) without preventing people from delivering their message.
It also is worth noting that since I am not supporting the complete removal of such signs from the campus, only that they be required to be turned inward, the only objection to this one could make is if one thinks that it is acceptable to FORCE other people to look at the signs who wish not to do so. The signs should be allowed in a manner that lets anyone who WANTS to see them see them, but also that allows anyone who wants to AVOID seeing them to avoid doing so. As such, it is the least restrictive restriction one could impose to respect the rights of all.
One final note: The objection I am raising here only applies at all because we are talking about a use of a PUBLIC facility (the University grounds) for the demonstration. If GAP were buying up advertising space on every PRIVATELY owned billboard in the city of Calgary and displaying their images on them, I would not like it, but I would not support any restriction imposed by the state on them doing so. Just as their should be no restriction on such billboards of using words like 'motherfucker'. Not, anyway, unless it could be shown that the posters increased traffic accidents, but I doubt that this would actually be the case.
Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-04-01 8:39:34 AM
For the information of all still watching things at U of C and not lost in a meanless debate with Fact Check, The Pro-life kids were told yesterday to vacate their own university under threat of arrest for petty Trespas. Today the young kids are holding a press conference and then marching back on to the U of C with their display. CTV is at the press conference and we will see who which side of the bars the kids are on at the end of the day. Stay Tuned as they say.
Posted by: Servant | 2008-04-01 11:04:08 AM
The Genocide Awareness Project incriminates feminists for "My body, my choice" hate speech.
Although I have not yet heard of his support for Campus Pro-life specifically, here is some general encouragement from a fellow activist, Darren Lund. Mr. Lund is an associate professor of education at the University of Calgary. The Globe and Mail published his article on March 10. The full article can be found at http://www.cjc.ca/template.php?action=ioi&item=160.
Recent swipes in The Globe and Mail at rulings by human-rights commissions have all made for entertaining reading. In their zeal to rein in the commissions, each writer has overlooked a key reason we need human-rights protection in the first place: There are some dangerous people out there.
Partial reporting of only the most inane details of rights rulings creates easy targets. In the case of hate speech, however, there is an important test that assists our judgment: When hateful words actually bring blows, people need the protection only provided by rights commissions...
They offer the only available remedy to people who face hatred...
A central task in a democracy is to protect cherished freedoms - of the press, of opinion and of religion, to name a few - while ensuring the safety of all people...
Freedom of expression must be limited when it calls for hatred and violence against vulnerable people.
We don't have to look too far to see who remains most vulnerable to hateful language...
Contrary to those who trivialize the work of rights commissions, this ruling [in the Red Deer Case] was not about addressing "hurt feelings" or catering to the thin skin of "cowerers and wimps." It was about life and death, about the kind of Canada we choose to create, and about safeguarding the personal safety of our kids.
Posted by: Jon | 2008-04-01 12:28:47 PM
In a symbolic gesture on March 31, the University of Calgary expressed solidarity with women everywhere. It served Campus Pro-life with a Notice to Vacate. The reasons were so obvious as not to be explicitly stated. A student has no more right to trespass on university grounds than a baby does on its mother's body. (Disclosure: concerns were also cited about breaking the confidentiality of the student-administration relationship.) (Full disclosure: the pertinent students had failed to obey a condition set by the administration, and they have only been barred from GAP. Likely also the pertinent babies are not totally innocent.)
Posted by: Jon | 2008-04-01 12:53:29 PM
h2o273kk9: All I really have to say is that abortion is a choice that needs to be available, and will for ever be available in this society. Until we are over run by Islam, as everyone on this site is so afraid of, abortion will be readily available. You can not change this.
The debate about when life starts is no longer interesting to me either because it comes down to hard medical facts which can be interpreted two ways... simple, cold, factual cell division or bleeding heart moralistic religious instantaneous humanness. I accept the cell division theory... no amount of moralistic fervor or religious zealousness or bleeding heart moaning or complaining will change my opinion on the FACT of cell division.
However, I find it increasing interesting to see how both sides of the issue handle themselves. The GAP ads did not change my mind about abortion anymore then Peta ads have changed my feeling about eating meat. Actually that’s not true… Peta videos have made me never want to wear fur or consume bear Biel (never did in the first place)… those Chinese people are pretty inventive in their levels of cruelty.
With all that in order, I find Fact Check’s reading of the situation quite interesting for a legal stand point. The ideas don’t go off on extreme “moralistic” tangents that most PL do with their “I bet you like Nazis pedophile Islamophacists” tired come back arguments. I usually don’t read those responses… which are of course is impossible to avoid on this site.
Regardless, GAP opinions need to be available to people... but it will never change the law. Their images will harden both the choir and opposition, win new members, and alienate people on the side lines even more. But, for better or for worse, there is a limit to public freedom of speech. In my humble opinion, GAP “adds” cross the line, I just can’t articulate it well.
Perhaps if GAP was for loving relationships and showed naked people making babies instead of being against abortion and showing gore they might win more supporters. I will forever wonder why in our society it is ok to show violence, blood, gore and conflict but not naked people making love. Probably has something to do with a little book we all know which is full of death, destruction, strife, and vengeance with a history of denying sexuality requiring a sifting through to pull out the gems of wisdom.
Posted by: Xenomorph | 2008-04-01 8:57:04 PM
Fact Check, it’s just silly for you to assert that a restriction against certain kinds of pictures (graphic ones) isn’t content-based. The fact that some pictures are restricted and others are not makes the restriction, by definition, content-based (i.e., based on the content of the picture). In order to justify such a content-based restriction, you would need to show that the government has some significant interest in suppressing these pictures. I see no significant government interest in suppressing information about one of the most common medical procedures performed in Canada.
And then you go on to say that people have some right to never be disturbed about anything that might disturb them, and that the government has the right to make sure people are never disturbed about something to the point that they lose their appetite. Who are these weak-stomached wussies you keep talking about? How do you measure their loss of appetite? How much loss of appetite is acceptable and how much is too much?
And yes, censoring pictures does prevent pro-lifers from delivering their message, because the pictures ARE the message. You really sound like the racists in the 1950s-60s who told Martin Luther King that it was OK for him to deliver a message about racism, but he should restrict his message to only those people who want to know about it. He should talk about racism in the Black church to people who want to hear it, but he shouldn’t bother White people about it, because they didn’t want to be bothered. The whole point of free speech is the ability to come out into the public square and make your case.
Finally, your statement that messages should be censored in PUBLIC spaces defies all logic. It is exactly the public spaces that should be most open to freedom of expression. The university is a public institution, not a private club. It is the marketplace of ideas. Public spaces belong to all of us, not just the ones who hold the political power. And nobody is being forced to look at anything. I have watched hundreds of people pass by GAP signs without looking at them, and nobody ever forced them to look. People who don’t want to look have the right and the responsibility to avert their gaze. They do not have the right to interfere with the delivery of a message to other people who wish to receive it.
Posted by: Fletcher Armstrong | 2008-04-01 9:57:04 PM
"People who don’t want to look ... do not have the right to interfere with the delivery of a message to other people who wish to receive it."
I agree. Which is why the requirement that the signs be turned inward is a good solution. Anyone who WANTS to see the signs will have no trouble looking at them. It is a requirement you could object to only if your REAL goal was to FORCE people who DON'T want to see the signs to also have to look at them.
You claim I said "that the government has the right to make sure people are never disturbed about something to the point that they lose their appetite." How do you reach that conclusion given that I clearly said that NO government imposed restriction on the right of GAP to put up their signs on every billboard in the city of Calgary would be acceptable? Did you even read my post?
"The fact that some pictures are restricted and others are not makes the restriction, by definition, content-based"
But if ANY limitation on the display of the images is an unacceptable form of content-based censorship, then the same would be true if there were a U of C club called "Dinos for Kinky Sex" who wanted to display large posters of the most graphic images of sex acts as a part of their campaign to encourage others to engage in them. And just as disallowing them from posters is unacceptable censorship, so would not allowing them on commercial television at all hours of the day be censorship, right?
Maybe "Dinos for Kinky Sex" also wants to specifically get their message out to kids, since they have not yet developed such prudish views of sexual expression. So they might want to buy advertising time during morning educational shows and weekend cartoons. I wonder if you really would support that, or if you would conveniently come up with some ad hoc basis for restriction that stops the "Dinos for Kinky Sex" but not you. I suspect the latter.
Speaking of kids ... there is a daycare centre on the campus of the U of C. Do you believe that your right of free expression means you should be ALLOWED to show your abortion pictures right beside the daycare centre where these kids can see them?
It seems clear that your position is not based on any general and well thought out position on freedom of expression. Your position is entirely reducible to saying what you need to say in order to get to the conclusion that you should be allowed to show your abortion pictures where and when you want to.
Posted by: Fact Check | 2008-04-01 11:53:24 PM
This is not a free speech issue. You don't have a right to set up large structures blocking access on someone else's property and disrupt campus life. That isn't speech, that's trespassing. The University of Calgary has a right (and an obligation) to manage who is and isn't allowed to come onto Campus because the campus is there to serve students, not as an outlet for whatever crazies want to set up shop.
To any defenders of Campus Pro-life: Would you let them set up the GAP in your backyard? The green space on campus is effectively a backyard for thousands of students.
Posted by: U of C Student | 2008-11-27 10:00:20 AM
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