Mob rule at SMU

An anti-abortion speaker tried to give a presentation comparing legal abortion to the Holocaust – a gross trivialization of the Holocaust, in my opinion – at St. Mary’s University (a Catholic school) late last week. Since the purpose of a university is to ensure that no one has their deeply held beliefs challenged in any way, a mob of pro-choice activists shut him down:

A pro-life speaker is shocked that an aggressive protest shut down his lecture Thursday evening at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.
“If the university gives into this mob rule, then the mob gets to decide who gets to speak on campus,” Jojo Ruba said in an interview Sunday night.
Mr. Ruba is in the middle of a speaking tour in Atlantic Canada on behalf of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, a non-profit organization in Calgary that he helped to found.
His lecture is titled Echoes of the Holocaust. He draws similarities between abortion and the genocide of six million Jewish people during the Second World War.
[…]
Demonstrators from the Coalition for Choice arrived just as the lecture started and began chanting over Mr. Ruba’s words and eventually blocked his visual presentation on an overhead projector.
The protesters stayed for over 35 minutes until campus security and Halifax Regional Police arrived and the event was shut down.

Video here. With remarkable chutzpah, the people who got the demonstration canceled are considering – you guessed it! – a human-rights complaint against SMU:

Lesley-Anne Steeleworthy, who is chairwoman of the board at the women’s centre at the university, said the lecture topic was “anti-choice” and offensive on “a number of levels.”
“It is shocking,” Ms. Steeleworthy said Sunday. “It’s comparing women who want the right to choose to being as evil as Hitler.”
As a result, her group is considering a human rights complaint against the university chaplain for participating in the event. The chaplain is in his first year in the position.
“The chaplain is supposed to be there for all students on campus, and yet he’s advocating anti-choice,” Ms. Steeleworthy said.
“Organizing something so offensive, I think, is pretty rough coming from the chaplain’s office.”
Her group plans to hold an emergency meeting today to discuss the issue.
And there was more fallout from the lecture.
The head of the university’s pro-life society said he is also thinking about lodging a complaint against the school administrator who shut the lecture down.

Once, the fight was about ensuring that women had access to safe, legal abortion. Now, the fight is about making sure women attending university are protected from hearing any dissenting views.
Damian P.

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15 thoughts on “Mob rule at SMU

  1. i always am amazed at people who want to kill their unborn children. a society that allows the killing of the un born will not last very long. much like an all homosexual society. if you don’t reproduce you will cease to exist.

  2. I’m not an abortion supporter and a lot of the pro-choice rhetoric disturbs me, but c’mon, anybody who walks into a modern North American university to give a speech likening women who have had abortions to the SS isn’t there for a debate and knows exactly what is likely to happen. “Shocked” indeed..

  3. Update: From Mark Mercer St. Marys Professor who commented at my site.
    “My sources are for the most part second- and third-hand, but, subject to correction as I learn more, here’s what happened at the talk Thursday night (and not Friday night, as I first thought): The police arrived a little while after the video on YouTube ends. They ordered the protesters to stop disrupting the talk or face arrest. The protesters left the lecture hall. (They might have continued to mill around, maybe making noise outside the room, but I have no confirmation of this and it seems unlikely that the police would have left already.) After that, Saint Mary’s Conflict Resolution Advisor ordered the speaker off campus. Most of the audience followed the speaker to a nearby church where the session continued. So far neither the Conflict Resolution Advisor nor the university has explained why the speaker was ordered off campus. Nor has the university apologized to the speaker, the organizers, the audience, or the university community. In fact, the university has remained totally silent about the thing. Members of the Women’s Centre at Saint Mary’s think their disruption of the talk was a proper reaction to hateful speech. (They hold that comparing abortion to the Holocaust is to speak hatefully.) It is not clear whether the protesters intended to shut the talk down or just to disrupt it until they were ordered to stop; they are certainly happy, though, that it was shut down. As I said, this account is provisional; I’ll correct whatever in it turns out to be inaccurate. Perhaps our president, Colin Dodds, or our academic vice-president, Terry Murphy, will have something to say later. I have no account from anyone who was there, and I don’t know how to contact the speaker to get the story from him.”

  4. Old white guy said
    “i always am amazed at people who want to kill their unborn children. a society that allows the killing of the un born will not last very long. much like an all homosexual society. if you don’t reproduce you will cease to exist.”
    Dude, an “all homosexual society”? I’m pretty sure 2 gays and 2 lesbians could figure out how to have kids easy enough. Now if only we could figure out how to get rid of all the damned straights!
    Sheesh are all old white guys afraid of this crap?
    On the topic of abortion, as long as people like yourself don’t have abortions, then in several generations’ only people like you will be left. Problem solved, by your logic. Too bad some of those children born will be gay though, am I right?
    At any rate, an individual’s right to express his viewpoint severely trumps an individual’s right to not hear what other’s think. These people took away someone’s most fundamental right, and they had no right to do that at all, near as I can tell. Let the man speak, who cares what he says?

  5. I find abortion is horribly sad, but I saw a good post about dispelling any hyperbolic rhetoric on the “evil” of abortion.
    A simple question:
    “If abortion were to be outlawed, what punishment would you recommend for a woman who had one?”
    If it is indeed murder, then she should be jailed for 20 years or so, right?
    Now, if it’s a holocaust…

  6. “If abortion were to be outlawed, what punishment would you recommend for a woman who had one?”
    Seems to me it would be punishment enough to know you had killed your unborn baby. When its admittedly wrong, ie made illegal, I can’t say what I’d feel about the punishment. I’m personally against abortion myself, but I can’t blame women for doing it as it is legal.
    I sure as hell wish they had to pay for it themselves though.

  7. Another update from Mark Mercer – SMU issues statement:
    Media Release
    For Immediate Release
    February 9, 2009
    University statement regarding Jojo Ruba presentation
    The University remains committed to academic freedom, diversity of opinion, and supports open debate in a forum that does not put the personal safety and rights of our community at risk. There is a balance that must be maintained among all of these.
    Last Thursday, Feb. 5, protesters tried unsuccessfully to silence guest speaker, Jojo Ruba, who had been invited by Saint Mary’s University students to make a presentation.
    Protesters were asked to stop disrupting the event, but after more than an hour and a half, the presentation was relocated to a nearby location. Protesters were given the opportunity to ask questions and debate the speaker’s points, but they chose instead to shout slogans and prevented him from fully presenting.
    Relocating the event, though regrettable, allowed the speaker to complete his presentation.
    The University is currently reviewing the matter.
    http://www.smu.ca/newsreleases/2009/02-09-2009.html

  8. Peter nailed it.
    I’d only add that a university is a place for intellectuals, not morons who throw the word “Holocaust” around and whose level of analysis wouldn’t get him out of grade school.
    I’m also interested in the on-going inconsistency on the freedom of speech issue. Kinsella made a stupid throwaway comment about Chinese food and y’all wanted him fired. But freedom of speech suddenly looms again as a principle when one of the Right’s pet causes (the “right-to-life” movement) is involved.
    The principle, in fact, gets turned on and off like a tap. Not a word when WLU prevents a freethinkers club from being chartered. When a pro-Palestinian club is suppressed at UWO, not a peep. When Montreal wants to make insulting the police a crime, nary a mention. But when a sub-literate troll invades a university campus to bait pro-choicers and call them all Nazis, and that causes a certain reaction, suddenly you all appear, in lockstep.
    Some speech, it seems, is more equal than others.

  9. “Kinsella made a stupid throwaway comment about Chinese food and y’all wanted him fired.”
    Nice straw man, Dawg, but I actually wrote that I *didn’t* want him fired.

  10. “I’d only add that a university is a place for intellectuals, not morons who throw the word ‘Holocaust’ around”
    Except for when Israel is at the receiving end, huh Dawg?

  11. The lack of respect for anyone, not just the unborn, is the problem here. These protestors are so worried that someone might think the issue through and reach a conclusion they don’t like that they try to shut off discussion. This kind of activism is why stupid policy decisions get made, for example the anti nuclear crusaders of the 70’s were just like this, irrational bullies.
    They aren’t objecting to what he says they aren’t trying to argue the case on its merits this suggests they don’t feel they can win on the merits of a rational argument.
    If this was to happen at my school my annual donations would vanish, and my children would transfer or not enroll. Further, if this really is a Catholic school the conflict resolution person should be sacked; along with Ms Steelworthy who feels she has the right to enforce her moral judgements on all while the chaplain is not even allowed to suggest any, what a jerk. There is no excuse for this kind of childish bullying, expulsion of the studetns involved should be what is being considered.
    Chutzpah is a very good description as you said.
    An interesting related issue is President Obama’s promise to pass the very poorly titled “Freedom of Choice Act.” Which seeks to prevent Doctors and Hospitals from having any choice on whether or not to perform abortions.
    Apparently nut cases like these folks at St Mary’s actually believe that orders of 80 year old nuns are going to tell the Pope to take a hike and start performing abortions in hospitals they control(about 40% of all of them in the US). What they will of course do instead is not “sell to more reasonable owners” they will close the doors and go into retirement. In our area about half the pediatricians have already publicly said they will retire.

  12. “I’d only add that a university is a place for intellectuals, not morons who throw the word “Holocaust” around and whose level of analysis wouldn’t get him out of grade school.”
    I’d be intrigued to know the level of analysis this individual was using and precisely what Dawg thinks the problem with it is.
    If there were no pro-abortion activists who actively deny the humanity of the unborn child, that would be one thing. Unfortunately there are.
    The rhetorical dehumanization of not only Jews in Nazi Germany but in counless cases of genocide has revealled in full what can be justified when the humanity of a group which is clearly human is denied.
    I’d certainly never stand for the Nazi allegory being applied to the pro-abortion lobby as a whole. I’m well aware that there are countless people who support abortion based on principles that allow them to support it despite the evident destruction of human life.
    I personally believe abortion should remain legal because the alternative would bring far too much human misery to ever justify, although I do support an abortion law that would regulate late term abortions.
    If JoJo Ruba is trying to apply that argument to the pro-abortion lobby as a blanket argument, then I certainly oppose it.
    But if he simply wants to hold extremists (like Mike) accountable for their attempts to de-humanize the unborn child, I applaud him for that.

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