A for effort, F for foul play

If you were to ask any veteran member of the Brock University community – an upper-year student, faculty member or involved local resident – to describe the student population here, it wouldn’t be long until the adjective “apathetic” found its way into the discussion. In recent years, the idea of apathy has joined other buzzwords (or phrases, like “football team”) that are commonly associated with our school.

opedphotoThis is why it was particularly notable when students were ejected from an on-campus event two weeks ago due to their actions of protest. Not just notable, refreshing.

For once, outside the regular attendees at Badgers varsity events and bi-monthly BUSAC meetings, the Brock community saw people care about something on-campus. Not only did they care, they acted.

The on-campus event in question was a speaking event hosted by the club Brock Life-Line (BLL) which brought Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform (CCBR) member Stephanie Gray to the stage at Isaac’s Bar and Grill. The presentation was entitled, “Abortion: Human Right or Human Rights Violation?”.

As stated in their club blurb on busu.net, Brock Life-Line “strive[s] to educate our university community about the inherent value of each human life from conception to natural death.” With this in mind, BLL addresses abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, crisis pregnancy and reproductive tech.

The CCBR is focused specifically on promoting pro-life action and reform.

Part way through the presentation, after multiple interruptions by dissenting audience members, Gray asked for the protestors to be silent or otherwise be removed from the building. At this point, activists (supporting pro-choice) began protesting the event, holding banners emblazoned with coat hangers and the words “never again”. When Isaac’s Student Staff moved to quiet the protestors, another student moved to get around them towards the stage and other protestors, at which point Isaac’s staff removed them from the premises.

Student protestors who were not removed stayed in front of the stage, drowning out Gray when she would attempt to speak with bullhorn sirens and by yelling things such as “shame on you”.

It is at this point that the notable activism stops being refreshing.

This past summer I, like many other St. Catharines residents, received CCBR promotional fliers on my front porch. They featured graphic pictures of mutilated late-term fetuses and posed questions as to whether I, the reader, was offended by local MP’s actions to vote against pro-life activity. In reality, I was offended by the CCBR themselves.

I responded with an e-mail to the organization, explaining that regardless of their passion for the issue, this is not the way to promote a cause. Quite frankly, this kind of activism would never turn my opinion, just my stomach.

The issue with both the CCBR and the protestors at the Brock Life-Line event is not the level of passion, but rather the execution of it.

 In one case, the method was to be louder than the opposition, to drown them out childishly with bullhorns and slogans. In the other, it was to shock the public with visceral and misleading imagery (that is, when an abortion is done safely and properly, it’s unlikely the fetus is simply thrown on the floor to be photographed for pro-life propaganda, as their fliers so readily depict).

When the message you’re sharing becomes overshadowed or gets lost in the din of you promoting it, you’ll lose more than you ever gain. Passion and engagement like this is never wrong in its nature, but can get lost in execution. Give your beliefs the chance they deserve by getting out of their way.

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