The Battalion. (College Station, Tex.) 1893-current, February 09, 2001, Image 13

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mb sin em I : riday, February 9, 2001 -Affll A time to speak Aggies for Life billboards spark debate between conflicting student beliefs ijwkai ■«ct Arif | sthtbil tliittack ilaiPaled Opi NION Page 5B THE BATTALION B eginning Feb. 12 and running through Feb. 15, Aggies for Life, a itudent organization, will spon sor a graphically explicit dis play at Rudder Fountain illus- | rating the group’s opposition :o abortion. The exhibit, mea- >uring 17 feet 6 inches tall by lie opinion? Instead, the group should find a less offensive means of disseminating its opinions, therefore greatly broadening the scope of its audi ence. The billboards, are in poor taste and poor judgement, and they are likely to garner more ene mies than true followers. |k 1 ext week, a student organization |\| called Aggies for Life plans to 1 ll erect large displays nair Rudder Fountain to advocate its stance against abortion. Like many of the group’s smaller sandwich boards around cam- CHRIS CARTER Aggies for Life is not just labeling itself as an extremist group, its actions reflect negatively on the entire oro-life movement. This disolav. among pus, the displays will feature graphic images of aborted fetuses. The group’s plan has already drawn fire from a NICHOLAS ROZNOVSKY ||30 feet wide, contains large, full-color pictures of 1 tborted fetuses and women with mutilated breasts, re| imong other graphic images. The display, titled “Justice for All,” contains four sides, with one of the sides containing a ‘plasma screen” continually airing an em- ledPale-ftryostropy, or a video camera inserted into the womb of a woman to examine the fetus. The other I :hree sides contain pictures and captions of repro- jductive health issues, accompanied by gruesome graphic depictions of aborted fetuses, some of Jihem measuring more than six feet tall. The dis- Iplay will require approximately 5,500 square feet Jin the Rudder Fountain area, according to the con cessions permit filed by Aggies for Life with the exas A&M University. The Texas A&M Visitor’s Center, where any prospective students and guests of the niversity gain their first experience of A&M, aces Rudder Fountain only a few yards away. Aggies for Life has proven through its ac- ions over the past few years that it is an ex- lemist organization that will stop at nothing for ttention. The group routinely positions “sand- ich boards” displaying offensively graphic ictures of aborted fetuses around campus, and embers wear shirts with pride (as displayed n the Aggies for Life Website) containing iy the prev lumbers representing “babies” aborted at Bra- os Valley Planned Parenthood. Now Aggies for Life is sponsoring the “Jus- ice for All” display. The setup has visited 19 ther campuses and met with much protest. Though Aggies for Life has the right to this display and is protected by the Constitution, 'the only attention this display will attract is that of hostility and animosity toward the pro life movement. Two weeks ago, the display met a great deal f resistance at Louisiana State University, here some students stuck hundreds of coat angers in the ground in an attempt to depict he horrors of illegal abortions they think likely f abortion were banned. The debate about the display is not whether ibortion should be legal. It is not even if this isplay should be allowed by the University, he real debate is if Aggies for Life truly is ommitted to its mission of “opening the inds of fellow Aggies,” or if its real motiva tion is fueling the fire of animosity toward heir organization. , This display, along with the group’s sand- ilwich boards and T-shirts, may address an issue hodatJc" |hat Aggies for Life thinks is worth exposure, n Yisrffl ^However, w hy would any organization continu- four pi t itself against decency to illustrate its land, only reaping the negative effects of pub- Aggies for Life’s other actions, only further stig matizes admitted pro-life advocates and the wild activist stereotype. On one of the displays, a phrase reads, “Do you favor killing a child for the sins of her father?” Above this phrase is a 6-foot color picture of a dismembered fetus, aborted after 10 weeks of pregnancy. With this in mind. Aggies for Life must be asked the same question: “Do you favor killing a movement (through negative public relations and exposure) because of the sins of the ex treme few?” Chris Carter is a senior speech communications major. plays should not be allowed on campus. Even though it will become so for some, the issue of abortion is not the key element in this debate. Although the issue intensities the emotions that separate the two camps, the heart of the matter is the right of student organizations to freely advocate their views on campus. While the tactics used by Aggies for Life may seem distasteful or irresponsi ble by some, they fall well within the umbrella of protected free speech. The displays should be allowed to stand near Rudder Fountain as planned. As one of the designated “free speech areas” on campus, the walkway between Rudder Tower and the Memorial Stu dent Center (MSC) is a center of activity for various student groups. Students living in temporary shacks^^showing off their modified automobiles and preaching td the masses as they walk to class are all allowed to use the area on a regular bound: tredecesi leP :r, Zalrar dir,base: was sad,t is. does wernmem (he Palesti: demand i( two bad# I 5 r f run r di then * later, croud <eces of &ie air, any —ivn. » avid Leise: on witnev d. The bias frame ovet basis to espouse their beliefs and interests. The University cannot deny that same right to a particular group based on the disapproval of others. “I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it,” wrote Voltaire. The right to freely express one’s views is an integral part of American citizenship. Throughout its history, America has survived Nazi parades, Ku Klux Klan rallies, and protesters burning their flags and draft cards. Protect ing free speech has been painful at times for this nation, but it has been and continues to be the only acceptable 1 course of action. Neither Americans nor Aggies can decide which groups get to have their say and which do not. By infring ing upon the rights of some citizens, the rights of all are placed in jeopardy. Reasoning and free will are the tools 1 that should be used to counter opponents, not suppression- and censorship. , There is little doubt that the displays will offend many' students next week, but the right to express one’s views cannot be abridged to prevent offending others. By their - very nature, differing viewpoints confound, shock and sometimes anger those who are exposed to them. Like ideas and words, pictures cannot be excised from society - because they displease certain portions of the population. The images in question may be viewed as obscene by some, but they " are presented as factual representations’ of one consequence of a medical proce-, dure. As long as the photos are not doc tored or staged, it would be wrong to shelter the public from them. As adults, students can determine for themselves whether those facts lead to a logical conclusion or are just attempts to sensa tionalize the issue. By the same protection of free speech that enables Aggies for Life to display its materials, students will be free to form their own opinions about the group and its methods. Some stu dents will choose to simply look the otlrer way as they walk by the MSC. Others will no doubt choose to protest near the displays, also under the protec tive umbrella of the free speech area. Either way, they will be able to show - their opposition to the group and their ) displays in a manner they choose. Feedback is also an important part of free speech. As the group making a statement. Aggies for Life will bear full responsibility for the displays and be * subject to the full brunt of opposition ; toward them. Such are the costs of par-- ticipating in a truly public forum. Next week will pass, and the abor tion issue will continue to divide Ag gies. It is important that the right allow ing them to express their views openly- and freely is protected. No group, on ] any side of any issue, should ever be si lenced. In doing so, people are not pro tected from objectionable materials; they are prevented from reaching an in formed decision. started m ® If a mini Dlast. 1 sa* ne air, blijl Town,” 9 1 ! ospitaliz^ trine otheK J Jerusalem _ cky Lev)' 3 canistef i car, as of ountingto a age. _ ed respoi 1 g has als -ks in -aeli-Pi tenths. Arafat eaij i aide saii l ffirmedte he con® id the aide Mail Call School vouchers: bad idea, not realistic, workable for needy students In Response to Brieanne Porter's February 8 column. In your article you discuss the need for school vouchers in our educational system. In my opinion, school vouchers are not only a bad idea, but are detrimental to increasing the effectiveness of public ed ucation. The idea in itself is great: giv ing poor children the chance to attend private schools that offer better education. The problem lies in the logis tics. The government just does not have the resources to pro vide all children who meet the “voucher criteria” with money to attend private schooling. Some students would qualify, but most would not, meaning that a vast majority would be left out in the cold. Secondly, by allocating money for private schools, you take money from public schools, which is needed to equip all those students left out of the voucher system. With less money, how can these in stitutions improve? If our motto in America is tru ly going to be that “every stu dent can learn” then we need to equip our public schools with the ability to provide that educa tion. Should changes be made to schools that score low on standardized tests? Yes. But, should that change be in re moval of federal dollars from public education to private edu cation? Absolutely not. We need to focus our attention on im proving the entire public educa tion system, not on helping a few limited students. As a Congresswoman re marked to Michael Douglas in The American President, “The day we give in to school vouch ers is the day we give up on public education.” I don't think as a country we are ready to do that. Mark Merrell Class of '02 KATIE EASTERLING/The Battalion EDITORIAL Nicholas Roznovsky is a senior political science major. THE Editorials appearing in The Battalion reflect the ma jority view of the editorial board members. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions of other Battalion staff members, the Texas A&M student body, regents, administration, faculty or staff. Columns, guest columns, cartoons and letters express the opinions of the authors. JEFF KEMPF EDITOR IN CHIEF JEN BALES MANAGING EDITOR JESSICA CRUTCHER OPINION EDITOR BRADY CREEL NEWS EDITOR Paved with good intentions Effectiveness of Aggies for Life display questionable said at negoW Bsume,c as ruled on 1 _ nd said t> ! ^hing anil) -nt. iTd private iron tostaj liaron wil ' he fails it 2001 bud 31. Sha® er-left U' nd his go'- -.or were it Barak, wK arty lea($ — he would _g teaml? CARTOON OF THE DAY CLASS OF '01 REUNION EX' THE POVIE’R. O.'f THt RJrtfa-.. _ BUe r-F/sc>n/\<vF- The Battalion encourages letters to the editor. Letters must be 300 words or less and include the author’s name, class and phone number. The opinion editor reserves the right to edit letters for length, style, and accuracy. Let ters may be submitted in per son at 014 Reed McDonald with a valid student ID. Letters may also be mailed to: The Battalion - Mail Call 014 Reed McDonald Texas A&M University College Station, TX 77843-1111 Campus Mail: 1111 Fax: (409) 845-2647 E-mail: Next week, pro-life student group Aggies for Life plans to sponsor a display, supporting its be liefs. The planned display, which will feature full- color, enlarged photographs oUaborted fetuses, has already been the topic of much discussion. However, the question is nohAvtiether abortion is right or wrong, because everVpnens entitled to his or her own opinion. Instead, Aggies for Life should re-evaluate its method o| disseminating its argument against abortion. Aggies for Life is to be commended for the strength of its members’ beliefs. It is: admirable to see a group of students celebrate their right to free speech in such an obvious manner, especially on a campus with a history of apathy toward ma jor social issues. The members of Aggies for Life should not stop fighting for their beliefs — howev er, they should consider other ways of promoting their cause. The use of scare tactics seldom convinces those who prefer to be persuaded with logic and reason. Resorting to emotion, as opposed to log ic, often makes strong arguments look weak and ill conceived. Although the informational material on the displays should remain intact, graphic pho tographs will do little to sway observers who are not already pro-life. On the contrary, people often use the presence of brutal images as an excuse to ignore a poten tially offensive message. Students should not be given this opportunity to ignore information that could be relevant. For each pro-life student who already agrees with the message Aggies for Life promotes, there will be another borderline student who could be easily swayed either direction. Forcing these stu dents to look at offensive images will not neces sarily cause them to become pro-life — it could just as easily have the opposite effect. When dealing with an issue as emotional as abortion, the mind can be a more powerful tool than visual tools could ever be. Aggies for Life should respect the student body’s intelligence enough to present it with ratio nal, undramatized facts about abortion. Students are surely capable of making their decisions based on what they feel is right, without the help of mentally-disturbing graphics.