Pro-life students charged with trespassing on their own campus

Normally, when one thinks of trespassing, you think of someone illegally being somewhere they have no right to be, or where they just don't belong.  You don't think of college students being in a public area on their own campus.

It turns out the you can get charged with trespassing at the University of Calgary if you set up a pro-life display - even if you're a student.  Six such students have been charged with trespassing after the University initially approved their display, then seemingly changed course after administrators didn't like the graphic nature of the display.  In other words, the difference between trespassing and not trespassing is the nature of your views.

From Lifenews:

Pro-life advocates at the school have feuded with UC officials for some time about a display that includes graphic pictures.

UC authorities don't want students, faculty and others exposed to the abortion pictures, so it has instructed members of Campus Pro-Life to turn the pictures inward, which makes them not visible to people walking along the college grounds. ...

"We have a right to freedom of speech in Canada, and the university has acknowledged that we have the right under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom in the past," she said, according to the CBC.

"I am not too sure why they changed their minds. I think it's because of the nature of the signs, because the signs show abortion for what abortion is," she added about what happened. ...

Again, it just seems to come down to the opinions being expressed...and the fact that the university administration doesn't approve of them...or want the public exposed to them.

The University of Calgary released a statement saying it "has attempted for several years to find a reasonable compromise with Campus Pro-Life that would give members of the university community the choice to view or not view" the pro-life display.

But Hallman tells Canadian Press that the university is changing its position.

"The university had previously displayed signs saying that our right to be there and to put up the display was protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. And then we watched them cover that sign up," she said. ...

And just in case you don't have a good idea of the university's point of view... 

Also last month, the University of Calgary Students' Union revoked the pro-life club's official status.

Tolerance.  Nice to see it doesn't work both ways.  






The college I attend has two free speech areas and you must register to demonstrate in both areas, but unless you are breaking the law no one will ever deny you your right to expression.  The only articles I could find on this were sponsored by prolife groups (bias) and I have to wonder if they were demonstrating in a non-free speech zone.  However, if the students were instructed on how to show the display, then I'm guessing that's not the case.  Freedom of expression is one of the cornerstones of this nation and I believe that it should never be taken away.  I don't believe anyone's voice should be silenced as long as they abide by the laws.

I would like to point out something many Christian bloggers and publications probably haven't considered.  Once a year, one of these groups comes to my school and errects a 30 foot by 50 foot (dimensions are only an estimation) display with some of the most graphic photographs I've ever seen.  It's so graphic, it makes the abu ghraib scandal photos look like child's play.  I took a picture one year and sent it to my parents who are staunch Southern Baptist prolife conservatives and they found it to be sickening, distasteful, and a massive step in the wrong direction.  The first words out of my mother's mouth were "I hope no children were able to see this" and unfortunately, there were children, because the display was located in the center of campus.  As I stated earlier, I am a supporter of free expression and I believe when protected it can change the world for the better.  But I would like to challenge this on an ethical level- should a Christian group participate in this type of protest? 

The point I was trying to make earlier is that most Christians would oppose such a display in the first place.  The FCC and the rating systems are an act of censorship, but they do so in order to protect the innocent.  The graphic nature of the piece incited a much needed conversation and debate.  People were forced out of their comfort zones and in the process, were forced to form opinions.  Through listening to the debate, those opinions may have been challenged.  However, I think it would have helped to have it in a more controlled environment where the innocent would have been less likely to be affected.  Maybe if this was any other group, it would have been fair game, but it's a little low for a Christian group, who is held accountable to a higher power.

As a last little side note, I've had three years worth of experience with this sort of thing and not one of my many Christian friends has ever expressed to me any type of support for such a protest.  In fact, it's quite the opposite.  Many feel as I do that for the majority of pro-choice individuals, it only makes them angry and more set in their convictions.  It sets the wrong tone and becomes a bad witness to the none Christian community.   On a more secular level, it doesn't help that many of the pictures are of illegal abortions (third trimester and partial birth) and basically, mute arguments.  A neural tube doesn't make for a very nice picture. "Ah, look at it's cute mesencephalon.  That's going to be one great brainstem one day".  See, it doesn't resonate quite like a full grown baby would. Shock and awe folks, shock and awe.

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