Our View: Bama Students for Life should examine the language they useBy Our View | 04/09/2013 11:00pm
The editorial board of The Crimson White cannot, and may not ever, agree as a group on the issue of abortion. Our members have fundamentally different views on the issue.
But last night we had a discussion about it. It was civil, inclusive and calm, and we found common ground.
That is the value of free speech and civic discussion: creating, from admittedly irreconcilable points of view, agreement upon which we can act. For this reason, The Crimson White should always remain the strongest voice supporting the First Amendment in the University community, and we will.
Though no one’s views on abortion changed, we agreed that certain words and phrases being used right now on campus by the Bama Students for Life are offensive. We feel, as part of a community that enjoys free speech rights, we should participate in the marketplace of ideas and condemn the use of the phrases “womb lynching” and “genocide” in reference to abortion.
To be offensive in itself is not wrong – we feel strongly that offensive language, images, music or art deserve protection by law. Sometimes, new ideas are offensive to those who support the old, and without them we would be left without some of society’s most important revolutions. But in terms of speech, when whatever offends people is presented as true but is actually factually inaccurate, huge ethical and moral problems present themselves for the offender.
Abortion is not lynching, in any shape or form. A student in BSL told The Crimson White yesterday that the term was meant to conceptually link those who opposed civil and human rights for black citizens to those who support abortion rights. This is inaccurate.
“Lynching” refers to the hanging of a person by a mob for their actions, beliefs or simply who they are. Abortion, when done legally, is a medical procedure by a doctor. Lynching is carried out by many as an act of terrorism, a means of shaming members of a group; a single person chooses abortion for personal and private reasons.
Similarly, Bama Students for Life is affiliated with a national group called the Genocide Awareness Project. Abortion is not genocide, in any shape or form. Genocide, again, is an act of terrorism meant to coerce members of a racial, ethnic or national group; legal abortion is a medical procedure for a single individual not meant to terrorize or coerce anyone.
It is because these words are so inaccurate in their use that we find them so offensive. This fundamental lack of critical thinking has no place in our community’s civic discourse.
Strong civic discussion is crucial for a democracy, and we envision a University of Alabama that can incubate ideas and prepare them for an emergence in Montgomery as state policy. We feel that any legislation that emerges from inaccurate and offensive displays of speech, though, is fundamentally flawed.
For that reason, we think Bama Students for Life and its members have a responsibility to think more critically about the language they use and commit to accuracy in their rhetoric.
We invite the Bama Students for Life, and all other students, to join in truly civic discussion. Welcome to the marketplace of ideas, where you have just as much of a right to object to anything as we do.
Our View is the consensus of The Crimson White editorial board. Community Manager Alex Clark did not participate in this editorial. Production Editor Stephen Dethrage recused himself of this editorial.