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Some students find the graphic GAP images offensive.
the Gauntlet

Campus Pro-Life returns

Administration warns more trespassing charges will be filed

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The University of Calgary Campus Pro-Life club may face more charges of trespassing after setting up their Genocide Awareness Project display again this week.

In November, the university asked the group to turn their signs depicting abortions, victims of the Holocaust and Rwandan genocide inwards. After they failed to comply, the university charged the students with trespassing February.

"The university has attempted for several years to find a reasonable compromise with CPL that would give members of the university community the choice to view or not view the Genocide Awareness Project display," said university administration in a statement released Wednesday. "These efforts, including requests that CPL turn its display signs inward, have been unsuccessful."

Six students pleaded not guilty to the trespassing charges on March 16 and will be heading to court in November.

"As of now I'm not very worried about it," said CPL treasurer Alanna Campbell. "We have a strong case for being students and on campus and being allowed to be here."

The statement released by the university said they will report the incident to the Calgary Police Service, but won't seek to remove the group or its signs.

"This action would elevate the risk of confrontation and give the organization the publicity it is seeking," it read. "The university is working to have this issue resolved in an appropriate manner-- through the court system."

CPL president Leah Hallman said campus security approached the group and asked them to leave, but they declined.

"We're innocent until proven guilty and it would follow that we should continue to act as we always have," she said.

Some students on campus are angry that the graphic images are back on campus. Feminist Initiative Recognizing Equality president Kat Lord is circulating a petition for CPL to turn their signs inwards. The pro-choice group gathered 200 signatures by mid-Wednesday.

"Its not a form of censorship," she said. "It's just an understanding of the fact that those images are very violent and offensive and people should have a choice to view them."

Lord explained that FIRE did not object to CPL's right to freedom of expression, only the method in which they display it. She asked for the university to publish information on where students and faculty feeling victimized can go for help.

"It's unfortunate because it's a case of two rights in opposition to each other," she said. "So which right prevails, the freedom of speech or the freedom to security of person? It's an issue that continues to go unresolved."

The Womens' Resource Centre declined to comment.

"This is not an issue about Freedom of Speech; the paramount issues for the university are the needs to uphold its legal right to manage activities on campus, and to ensure the safety and security for the thousands of students, staff, faculty and community members on campus each day," said administration.

The CPL is also going through an appeal process with the Students' Union to maintain its club status. The SU clubs committee ruled that CPL violated SU policy by violating university bylaws, but failed to specify which ones. The group will stay an SU club as the appeal progresses. A decision should be reached in two weeks.

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"This is not an issue about Freedom of Speech; the paramount issues for the university are the needs to uphold its legal right to manage activities on campus, and to ensure the safety and security for the thousands of students, staff, faculty and community members on campus each day," said administration.

It's not about Freedom of Speech; it's about our right as property owners to determine who can speak and who can say what, because subversive and offensive messages are unsafe for the public.

Typical Canadian bullshit.

I am a student from the University of Victoria, and our campus struggles as well with pro-life campus politics, despite our university mandate as a pro-choice campus. Our student newspaper has also been filled with responses to our student union's denial of funding for the pro-life club (Youth Protecting Youth) for the last year. While I've had a difficult time voicing my opinion on the matter, seeing the tactics used by CPL really illustrate the tactics that many pro-life campus groups use to intimidate all women without offering support for pregnant women. Their oppressive tactics are ineffective and only demonstrate the privileged status of CPL's membership in society.

In short, I commend the student union's decision at U of C to disband this club's membership, and I hope that in the future, displays that use historical atrocities as comparisons to a woman's right to choose cease to be legitimized through public exhibits. I also encourage CPL members to reflect on how atrocities like lynchings and genocide have historically been used to control women's choices and have reinforced power structures of whiteness/masculinity. If this was a display that equated expressions of white masculinities controling a woman's womb with 19th-20th century lynchings of black men that removed choice of potential partners and limited reproduction options for black women, then it would be much more accurate.

A couple of observations regarding the CPL demonstration this past week:
1) The U administration stated that "members of the university community [should have] the choice to view or not view the Genocide Awareness Project display."
While walking past to and from coffee I found that I could ignore the pictures if I so desired. I did have that choice.

2)Further, the administration stated that it needed "to ensure the safety and security [of the campus]." Both protesters and counter-protesters appeared to be acting in commendable quietness and mutual respect. One wonders where the "lack of safety" was in this.

LEL

Hi Bladek,
after reading your comment, I noticed that you contradicted yourself. You wrote "It's not about freedom of speech" but then you say it's about determining "who can speak and who can say what."

And while property owners can manage what happens on their property, the U of C is actually a publicly funded institution.

Also, I agree that the university has a mandate to ensure safety and security. The administration's excuse that that is the issue regarding GAP, however, is very weak at best, considering the fact that during the past eight occasions when GAP was displayed, not a sigle incident of violence occurred on the part of Campus Pro-Life.

And the freedom of expression, protected by section 2B of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, cannot be denied simply because some people believe that a message is subversive, offensive, unsafe or unpopular. Especially since these messages reached those who chose to view them.

The only reason that there is no violence around the GAP display is that the CPL goons threat anyone walking by. These hired gestapo goons are not students-
A typical CPL reaction - CPL
Jerry Falwell is their GOD

I travel through downtown without seeing a homeless person, therefore, there is no homelessness in this city.

I am not offended by 2G1C, therefore, 2G1C can not be offensive to anyone.

I am offended by 2G1C, therefore 2G1C is offensive to everyone.

I did not file a police report about the vandalism on the wall, therefore, the crime did not occur.

This policy does not harm me, therefore it does not harm anyone.

This policy harms me, therefore it harms everyone.

Charter rights permit complete autonomy to exercise freedoms arbitrarily.

Charter rights may be limited to protect the public interest.

Extremist positions on both sides can be equally silly. The argument that a particular person should be able to curtail another person's rights, for the purpose of advocating the curtailment of a third person's rights is aesthetically and morally deficient, but forms the basis of both CPL's and U of C's positions.

Fortunately for CPL, logical soundness of the speech in question is not required for it to be protected.

I seriously hope that this club falls of the face of the earth. No one cares about anything they have to say or about their graphic issues. They make it hard for anyone in the community to be supportive of pro-life groups. All members of CPL need to grow up and market their project in a suitable manner. Its ridiculous that your members behave like this. I have no problem with you voicing your concerns and beliefs, but make it optional. Setup in a classroom. Stay out of our courtyards. What a joke you all are. Do something more productive with your education that will actually look great on a resume in five years; besides end up in jail. Figure it out people.

I noticed that one of my posts and two others were deleted, even though they weren't slanderous or abusive. One person, for example, asked Fiona why she was distressed and hoped she was feeling better. And Bladek said that I missed his sarcasm. What happened to them?

Hi Ashley,
I can certainly understand that since you are pro-choice you dislike the GAP display, and you support the SU's decision to desanction CPL. Naturally you wouldn't want GAP's views to be expressed.

When it comes to whether or not a group of people should be able to express its views publicly, however, the question we should ask ourselves is not "Do I agree with this point of view?" The question is "Should we, as a society, censor views we disagree with, or should we tolerate the right of others' to express themselves, even when we disagree with them?"

You've probably heard the famous words of the 18th century French philosopher Voltaire who said "I may disagree with what you have to say, but I shall defend to the death your right to say it." This quote is still relevant today. If popular opinions are the only ones that can be expressed, then freedom of speech doesn't exist. If you believe that those who express pro-life convictions should be silenced, then how would you feel about pro-choice views also being silenced?


Regarding your other comments, you mentioned "intimidat[ing] all women without offering support for pregnant women." Since you are implying that GAP was used to "intimidate all women," perhaps you could offer some evidence to back up your claim. It is certainly regrettable that anyone would feel that way. The women I spoke to at GAP (both participants and passers-by), however, did not feel intimidated and many supported GAP. And there are many pregnancy care centres that already exist to offer support to pregnant women, and a help line was advertised as well. Also, if you believe that methods such as GAP are ineffective, then you should be happy, since it won't change anyone's mind.

You also mentioned that "atrocities...have historically been used to control women's choices and have reinforced power structures of whiteness/masculinity." That is indeed true of some atrocities, and the pro-lifers I know condemn them as well. Women were, for example, unjustly not considered persons under the law. Today, girls are sadly considered inferior by many and are aborted through sex-selection abortions (including in Canada), or abandoned after birth.

Hi Fiona,
I was at the GAP dispaly and did not hear anyone on either side of the debate threaten anyone. Who are these "hired gestapo goons"?? Are you maybe referring to campus security? Do you have any evidence to back up your claims?

reponding to post #6:
Ha ha, you certainly are good at playing selective attention games. Perhaps you can also provide references or evidence for what you say?

Raw,
I would suggest that you speak for yourself, since many do not agree with you.
Would you also suggest that the civil rights movement should have marketed its ideas in a "suitable manner"?
People's lives are at stake. Figure it out.

Some earlier comments were unfortunately lost during server testing yesterday. The removal was not intentional and every effort will be made to restore the comments.

The Gauntlet apologizes for any inconvenience.

Hi Fiona, I didn't know that goons were threatening any person walking by the GAP display. I was there and actually didn't hear anyone on either side of the debate threatening anyone. Who are these "hired gestapo goons" you speak of?? Are you referring to members of campus security? Can you back up your claims with any evidence?

Fiona, what was it that made you feel distressed? Hope you're feeling better now.

In re: Kamil@2009-04-01 21:26:45

1. The CPL display compares abortion with extremist acts to claim a valid analogy between killing Jews and aborting fetuses, incorporating the claims that a) the extremely dehumanizing and unitary view of some sets of diverse humans results in the extremely poor outcome of their deaths; and b) that such extremist views of humans are unjustified. The aforementioned CPL position is extremist by virtue of advocating the unitary outcome of prohibiting all abortions for a diversity of states of being pregnant without regard to the context of the pregnancy. Therefore, the CPL's position can be viewed as silly. As a person whose views appear to coincide with the CPL's, you should be able to successfully argue that the contrary extremist view can be viewed as silly.

Paras. 1-7 are examples of statements about observation, speech and offense, crime, harm, and rights that are not in logic or reality sustained in the general case, which are germane to some of the claims made pertaining to the CPL display.

Para. 8 describes the broad and sustained case in liberal democracies, and in Canada in particular, where individual freedoms may be limited in the public interest. As examples: a CPL display or XBox demonstration would clearly not be allowed to operate inside the chemistry preparation lab and attempts to operate such would be rightly sanctioned as such exercise of speech would needlessly endanger the speakers and others; you may not yell fire in a crowded theater when there is no fire as such exercise of speech could prospectively harm members of the public; you may not have sexual intercourse in the food court at noon as such exercise of speech could prospectively offend members of the community at large. Prospective harm and offense are well established bases on which limitations on freedom are acceptably legislated (as examples, see legislation in re: defamation, movie ratings, truth in advertising, and hate speech).

2. The right to abortions currently arises from the same legislation that provides CPL with the right to exercise its claimed speech freedom. To successfully argue against such the charter would have the effect of removing the free speech protections which CPL claims to rely on to express itself, and would allow the very censorship that it claims the university attempted to impose. Hence, that line of argument is aesthetically deficient because it is self-contradictory, and morally deficient because it threatens the rights of Canadians beyond the group being directly targeted by the campaign (prospective or currently pregnant women).

Speaking of hate speech, /Criminal Code (R.S., 1985, c. C-46)/ states in part:
"319. (1) Every one who, by communicating statements in any public place, incites hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace is guilty of
(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.
(2) Every one who, by communicating statements, other than in private conversation, wilfully promotes hatred against any identifiable group is guilty of
(a) an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction.

718.2 A court that imposes a sentence shall also take into consideration the following principles:

(a) a sentence should be increased or reduced to account for any relevant aggravating or mitigating circumstances relating to the offence or the offender, and, without limiting the generality of the foregoing,

(i) evidence that the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice or hate based on race, national or ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or any other similar factor,"

In much of the liberal democratic world (but explicitly not so in Canada and several other Commonwealth Realms), subsets of women with the physical condition of being pregnant would be an identifiable group which would be a valid (for the purposes of prosecution and sentencing) target of hate crimes.

3. The requested examples, evidence and citations thus produced, I would be interested to hear an argument that refutes the following if CPL persists in turning the current trespassing charges into an issue of speech:

P1: CPL claims relevant similarities between promoters, performers and instigators of genocide, and performers and instigators of abortions (Genocide Awareness Week display).
P2: Promoters, performers and instigators of genocide are prosecutable for hate crimes in Canada (R.S., 1985, c. C-46, para. 318) and are valid targets of social persecution and disapprobation.
P3: It is socially acceptable to hate promoters, performers and instigators of genocide such as Ernst Z¸ndel.
P4: One desirable outcome for CPL and/or GAP would be the legal and social prohibition promoters, performers and instigators of abortion in Canada, on the grounds that promoters, performers and instigators of abortion are engaging in the same kind of activity as Promoters, performers and instigators of genocide.
C1: CPL and GAP advocate hatred of the identifiable group of promoters, performers and instigators of abortions, including pregnant women who seek abortions.
C2: For some reasonable interpretations of "other similar factor" (R.S., 1985, c. C-46 para. 718.2 (a) (i)), CPL and GAP would be guilty of hate crimes for inciting hatred against pregnant women who seek abortions.

I look forward to reasoned and thoughtful replies pertaining to specific points of argumentation, but not to further general or dismissive claims which are themselves unsubstantiated.

Kamil, where is this censorship of which you speak? The kids and their display were not removed from campus, nor prevented from expressing their views, in either of their recent campaigns. Your claim of moral censorship requires you to produce evidence that communicative _materials_ were _removed_ for the reason that they were obscene or morally objectionable. Where are the photos or video of university officials removing the GAP display?

I don't think you have any such evidence.

It is more likely that CPL dislikes that it is facing a social sanction from its peers for reasons other than the moral objectionability of the substance of the material presented (trespass is social accusation and injunction, and not by default a criminal activity unlike circumvention of state censorship). If the university community objected to discussions of abortion in general, and if it practiced censorship of anti-abortion material, the university newspaper would be prevented from publishing stories about the topic, as it has at least thrice done in the last six months, and also, this forum would not be available for you to express your anti-abortion and pro-CPL views. Also, censorship of anti-abortion views would require the university to prevent access to the GAP website and related materials, which it clearly and evidently has not done. The university library would also be compelled to prevent access to literature opposing abortions, which again, it has not done. These facts are strong evidence of the absence of censorship of anti-abortion views at the U of C.

I submit, therefore, that if any restrictions on speech are in fact in use with respect to the CPL displays in Calgary, such restrictions are strictly social in nature and intended to coerce CPL into presenting its speech in a less antagonistic manner. The published and broadcast statements of CPL executive members who have shown no desire or willingness to work with university and SU officials (to provide the display in a way that mitigates previously demonstrated psychological harm from the display to particular women have made use of counseling services) shows complete disregard and disrespect of CPL to the expressed discomfort of the campus community with the display. (If the undergraduate student population even mildly supported CPL, they would have been able to gather 100 names to invoke the general meeting provisions of the SU constitution to have the general student population reverse the decision to remove CPL's status as a club. That multiple joke and non-viable candidates in the recent SU elections were easily and independently able to gather many times that number of names within one week suggests that the much better organized and resourced CPL does not face any technical barriers to calling a meeting in the several weeks it has had to do so.)

In short, the campus community does not object to CPL because of its position on abortion. All the evidence suggests that CPL is disliked because of its social immaturity and ineptitude.

Ha ha. Kamil's (il-)logic got owned. It would be amusing to see him/her dig out of this one.

Hello Let's play selective attention games and Anonymous Cow Herd,
thanks for explaining your views. I am considering your posts, and just wanted to let you know that I have a ton of schoolwork to get done, but I'll try to answer them by Sunday, if not tomorrow.

One of you wrote that you don't look forward to further dismissive claims. Although others may have made dismissive claims, I haven't done so thus far. I hope that although we may disagree, we will be able to discuss these issues with an open mind and in an atmosphere of mutual respect.


So regarding post #6, it's implied that Campus Pro-Life and the university administration have made statements such as the ones you provided. In my previous post, I was wondering if you could provide any references to show that this is in fact the case. Or a reference to show that both of these groups says that "a particular person should be able to curtail another person's rights, for the purpose of advocating the curtailment of a third person's rights."

Regarding post #17, you made reference to paragraphs 1-7, and paragraph 8. Where are they from?
In P4, your sentence is difficult to follow. Would I be correct to rewrite it this way?
One desirable outcome [from the point of view of] CPL and/or GAP would be [that] legal and social prohibition[s] [are placed on] promoters, performers and instigators of abortion in Canada, on the grounds that promoters, performers and instigators of abortion are engaging in the same kind of activity as Promoters, performers and instigators of genocide.

peace

PS. Is there a name or pseudonym I can call you two?

Anonymous Cow Herd,
you're right -I don't have evidence that university officials removed the GAP display, and CPL was not prevented from expressing its views. I didn't claim they were.

In fact, I reviewed every one of my posts and could not find my "claim of moral censorship" which you speak of and argue against. Can you point out where I made this claim? Or perhaps you confused me with someone else??

You said "the campus community does not object to CPL because of its position on abortion." The reality is that the U of C community is comprised of over 36000 students, not to mention instructors and other staff. Of those who object to CPL, I'm sure that not all have the same reason. While many may indeed object to CPL for other reasons, many also object to the club precisely because of its stand against abortion. The fact that pro-life views at the U of C are not currently being censored does not negate this. Many pro-choice students at other universities also object to their campuses' pro-life clubs even if they are not as vocal and do not use visual imagery to convey their message. If you still believe that CPL's position on abortion is not a reason why people object to it, however, that's fine. It's not something I'm going to argue about.

You also said that the "statements of CPL executive members who have shown no desire [to set up the GAP display in a particular way] show complete disregard and disrespect [for the] discomfort of the campus community." Your statement could arguably be true if members of the campus community were actually forced to look at the display. As some people have pointed out, no one was forced to observe the display --passers-by had the choice to look at it or at something else. In addition, there were also warning signs posted, so people knew ahead of time that there was graphic imagery ahead, and could choose to take a different route. If some people felt discomfort after choosing to view the images, it does not mean that no one else should have that choice, or that the signs should be "turned inwards" to conceal the images from view (during the short time that it was displayed). While it certainly is regrettable that some students would feel discomfort upon viewing the display, how can someone look at the injustice of a dismembered, disemboweled and decapitated baby and feel comfortable?

While Campus Pro-Life stands against killing people, it does not condemn anyone who has been involved in an abortion decision. CPL offered a message of hope and healing at GAP and at the talk afterwards where a woman shared her personal testimony of how abortion had affected her life.

It is also noteworthy that in setting up GAP, Campus Pro-Life did not violate the constitution, bylaws, procedures or policies of the Students' Union or the university, and did not violate any federal, provincial or municipal laws or legislation.

Regarding your statement about "gather[ing] 100 names to invoke the general meeting provisions of the SU constitution," I've never heard of these provisions, so I don't really know anything about this. If these provisions really exist, can you provide a reference for them?

thanks,

Let's play selective attention games,
just wanted to remind you that I'm waiting for clarification regarding post #17 (as I mentioned in post #20) before I reply to it.

regards,

Madamó

The issue at stake is not the right to free speech, but rather, the right to property. Just as one can set the terms by which a guest can use oneís living room, the University of Calgary, as an independent institution, can set the terms by which students use its facilities. Apparently, the university felt that the ìCampus Pro-Lifeî signs were disturbing enough to warrant limiting their visibility. Using the authority it has to govern the use of its own property, the university set particular terms for the display to be allowed on campus. These terms were then ignored. The ìpro-lifeî group operated with a false sense of entitlement, believing that being a student organization was license enough to disregard the rights of the university. Certainly, there is no question that ìCampus Pro-Lifeî members can hold their own opinions, however absurd these may be. Yet, this does not deny the fact that the University of Calgary has the right to decorate its campus as it sees fit. If the administration decides that smearing the campus with images comparing genocide with fetal-abortions is unacceptable, then such is their prerogativeóand hiding under the false vale of free speech isnít going to change matters. After allóis the universityís choice any different in principle to my own choice not to allow similar pictures in my living room?

Sorry, anti-abortion groupsónothing personalójust not my type of wallpaper.

Sincerely,
Brian Cassin
www.the-undercurrent.com