Stretch your mind far back to the first week of March, and you’ll remember the vibrant demonstrations of nearly 100 protesters championing the safe-space initiative in response to graphic anti-abortion displays staged by Go Life.
Apparently, the disagreement between the two groups is far from over, as the pro-life group recently asked the school to discipline the students responsible for the protest. But what Go Life should be worried about are their posters being torn down in the lead-up to this display, not the respectful, excellent protest that ensued. Go Life should push for the punishment of the individuals responsible for tearing down more than 3,000 posters, putting to waste the value of more than 70 hours of volunteer labour.
This conduct of disruption and obstructing events is expressly prohibited by the Code of Student Behaviour. Go Life is rightfully concerned about what actions like this spells for their future endeavours, as they don’t want a situation where they get suppressed or overshadowed each time they try to put on a display.
It’s right of Go Life to address the obstruction to students that took place when their posters were torn down. In recent times, there’s been a great deal of mob censorship of the opinions of certain groups that don’t resonate with the “majority” of the population. A notable example of this trend was witnessed in the forceful shutdown of a presentation by Dr. Janice Fiamengo, whose radical views that are openly against feminism, was opposed by “activists.” Also, another situation in which this trend was exhibited was observed in the arrest of French comedian Dieudonne, who made a comment suggesting he sympathized with one of the Paris gunmen involved in the Charlie Hebdo shooting.
This is a dangerous trend which is becoming a normal practice in society today. Mob rule is condoned in order to censor controversial ideas. The exercise of freedom of expression is always cited when defending these actions, but the difference between censorship and peaceful expression of opinion is crystal clear. The actions carried out by these vandals were clearly the former. Freedom of expression doesn’t entail that you silence or suppress other opinions, but merely state yours, as carried out by the pro-choice protesters who held up banners and posters in front of CAB. Stealing and vandalizing the posters put up by Go Life crosses the line, and hindering people from knowing about the display crosses the line.
At this point, it’s no longer freedom of expression, but also the obstruction of expression and censorship. This is where the danger lies, because some of these individuals that engaged in the vandalizing and theft of Go Life’s property probably believe in the righteousness of their activities.
It isn’t until those students are reprimanded that they’ll realize the intensity of their actions. The physical theft and vandalizing of Go Life’s property must be looked at separate from the peaceful Pro-choice demonstrators who put on an excellent, respectful display.
Those responsible for vandalizing Go Life’s posters need to be disciplined according to the law. Ignoring their actions could foster a campus environment in which suppression of freedom of expression is viewed as the norm.