Intelligent Debate not Difficult to Find
I found many misrepresentations in Tommy Juanso's editorial on Friday.
It is clear that the images the Genocide Awareness Project presented sparked many emotional feelings. Whenever such graphic images are shown to people, reactions representing a wide range of behaviour are to be expected. Juanso states, “When confronted with pictures of aborted children, we hear disgust and outrage...”. What did he expect? It is not just naïve that Juanso is complaining about the more extreme examples of outrage brought on by his display, it is hypocritical. One can not expect mild reactions to such provocative displays. As I personally walked around the area, I noticed that the most offended people were claiming to be pro-life. That should not surprise anyone. Not all the people who object to the display were on the other side ideologically.
I also most certainly disagree with Juanso's characterization of all dissenters as being offensive and responding in the most extreme fashion. Yes, there were people making rude gestures, shouting offensive words and phrases, and generally lowering the level of the debate. However I must make two points. First, the idiots (and there is truly no better word for those who would act that way) were on both sides. I personally was volunteering at the table sponsored by Students for Choice, and we experienced rude behaviour as well. However we made it our policy only to repsond to those who approached us. Second, there was plenty of intelligent discussion happening in both areas. I personally toured the display and had three very intelligent conversations. I commend the volunteers of both groups (Students for Choice and Students for Life) for being willing to maintain profesioanl composure and discuss the issue intelligently. While I'm sure neither of us walked away with a different opinion, I know I at least learned some things.
I wasn't the only one having good conversations. All around I saw students talking about the issue. Many of these conversations had nothing to do with either group, they were just concerned students who had many things to say. I had been told that this kind of discussion was the goal of the display. Juano's editorial seems to divert from that goal. He first complains about the few (and they truly are the minority) who were offensive to him and then goes on to repeat his anti-abortion message. That is a poor way to convince people. If Juanso believes there were no dissenters willing to have real debate, perhaps he did not travel very far from the barricades. I suggest that Juanso seek out good thoughtful conversation, it shouldn't be very hard to find.
--Vice President, UK College Democrats