Oct 062010
Authors: Sarah Millard

Did that title catch you?

Good. That’s trick number eight (“Catchy Headlines”) in the journalistic handbook for getting people to read your article. Trick number nine? Bribe them.

All jokes aside, you might have seen the demonstration that I vaguely alluded to. While leaving the Lory Student Center, a strawberry cream cheese bagel in hand, you might have noticed seemingly fifty-foot-tall signs in the middle of the Plaza. On these signs are pictures of aborted fetuses.

If you’re like me, you don’t like to start your morning by seeing billboard size illustrations of mangled embryos leading the way to the Clark Building. On the other hand, if you’re like me, you may choose to skip class, sit across the way from the presentation and watch the reactors challenge the legitimacy of the display, all while licking strawberry cream cheese off of the brown bagel wrapping paper.

On this particular day, I sit on the stone ledge across from the Associated Students of CSU office and glance over at the exhibit, all while trying to remain a silent bystander in the age-old argument of abortion.

As I squint toward the board (on another note, why is the picture of a severed hand so large, but the print so small?) I feel a body sit next to me. My eyes adjust to the sudden change in focal point and I smile. It is a stranger whom I had never seen before. She looks kind enough and asks me my name followed by, “What do you think of this exhibit?”

Now, I’ve been on campus for three years now, and I know exactly what it means when someone asks you to “answer a few questions” or wonders “if you have a few seconds to talk.” New students might stop to politely listen to their speech about joining a church or saving the environment, but I rush along, muttering wildly to myself so they assume that I’m borderline insane.

In this instance, I smile, proclaim my pro-choice stance and excuse myself before she has a chance to enlighten me about the beginning of life.

Prior to my sudden departure, I notice many students arguing with demonstrators about how this exhibit should not be shown on college campuses. They mention that they agree with the First Amendment, but conclude that this type of speech is out of line and should be barred from a public place.

Additionally, the same has gone on with the Westboro Baptist Church, which has sparked a recent U.S. Supreme Court hearing in which the court will decide whether or not protesting at military funerals is constitutional.

We support our rights to speak freely against the government, policies, celebrities and others. We mourn the loss of those in other countries who are not afforded the same rights that we are and proclaim our love for the U.S., which allow us to say what we will with no legal ramifications (well, there are some legal ramifications like libel and slander, but that would detract from my point.)

But when another voice rises in opposition towards ours, we pounce on it, declaring it unconstitutional and demand its immediate exit from the public sphere.

Plainly put, it is completely legal for Justice For All to place those signs on the Plaza, as long as they obtained permission from the university to occupy that space at that time, regardless of the message.

It is completely legal for the Westboro Baptist Church to protest funerals, as long as they don’t detract from the traffic flow and do not engage in any physical violence.

On the opposite hand, it is completely legal for you to counter-protest a protest, as long as you don’t engage in physical violence or any of the other rules that go along with free protest.

The First Amendment protects all of us, including those people that disagree with you. My advice is: If you don’t like this exhibit, just ignore it, walk past it and go buy a bagel.

Sarah Millard is senior political science major. Her column appears Thursdays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be reached letters@collegian.

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