The remainder of Thursday’s shoutdown at St. Mary’s U., of pro-life speaker Jojo Ruba, has been posted to YouTube for a few hours now. Part 1 (includes the first five minutes already posted):
“How many people want to hear his speech?” one audience member asks. Resounding applause nearly drowns out the resumed chorus of “Women’s bodies, women’s lives / We will not be terrorized.”
Thugette: “We’re actually expressing autonomy and the right to self-government right now.” Sure, if by “self-government” you mean governing the views others may hear in a public lecture. Thugette: “You’re challenging women’s fundamental right to freedom.” Last I checked, between the right to free association and expression, and the right to abortion, it was the former that the Charter of Rights and Freedoms defined as “fundamental.”
About five minutes in, Jojo gives up trying to talk, opens up a word processor, and starts typing his presentation on-screen. Brilliant.
Thugette accuses Jojo of “imposing hateful speech.” Jojo asks: “Is it wrong to impose hateful speech?” Yes, of course. “Are you imposing that on me? I haven’t been able to speak for half an hour, I’m sure that was being imposed.”
One woman asks a pertinent question: “How do we make a comparison between women who have abortions, and the holocaust which was an ideological murder of thousands of an identifiable group?” Good question – and as Jojo points out, that was the very subject under consideration that evening. But the rest of the sisters started up again with the “Pro-life men have got to go” chant, drowning out Jojo while he attempted to answer her question.
Notwithstanding the thugette-imposed din, Jojo ignores them and starts lecturing anyway, including his visual presentation on-screen. Mindless slogans get louder and louder and louder and louder. I guess when you only have three bumper stickers to shout, you have to make up for it with additional decibels.
At about 5:45, just as the sloganeering dies down, a male voice screams out something that sounded to me like “Racist fucker!” (That second word wasn’t clear to my ears, however – Jojo tells me it might have been “shame.” I don’t think so.) Awkward moment of silence: literally or figuratively, someone’s crossed a line. Apparently, the irony of a bunch of white protesters yelling “racist” at a Filipino giving a lecture on a topic having nothing to do with race, was wasted on the moment.
At about 1:20, one of the protesters disrupts the presentation further by blocking the window of the projection booth with a piece of paper. “I want pictures of that, please,” says Jojo. “So people can see how tolerant the other side of the debate is.” She seems incredulous that he hasn’t given in to her demand yet to turn off the computer. (Unfortunately, due to an apparent bandwidth issue, I have not been able to see more than the first two minutes of this episode.)
It is much to Jojo’s credit that he stayed on-message as much as was possible for him. I certainly couldn’t have continued to lecture for that many minutes with a gaggle of screeching women trying to drown me out. I said yesterday that in a confrontation with extremists, I prefer to give my opponents enough rope to hang themselves. Jojo’s manners are better than mine, but he still did just that: the pro-abortion crowd just gets louder, shriller, and more irrational with time. I’m sure they think they won a momentous victory. But really, they just made fools of themselves in front of the cameras.
Meanwhile, the story has begun to grow legs in the blogosphere and media. In Halifax, the Chronicle-Herald reported today:
A pro-life speaker is shocked that an aggressive protest shut down his lecture Thursday evening at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.
“If the university gives into this mob rule, then the mob gets to decide who gets to speak on campus,” Jojo Ruba said in an interview Sunday night.
Mr. Ruba is in the middle of a speaking tour in Atlantic Canada on behalf of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, a non-profit organization in Calgary that he helped to found.
His lecture is titled Echoes of the Holocaust. He draws similarities between abortion and the genocide of six million Jewish people during the Second World War.
Well, I don’t know how “shocked” Jojo really was, since he’s been circling the centre of controversy at two schools already in the last two years. But his point is valid nonetheless.
This is the part I nearly did a spit-take at:
Lesley-Anne Steeleworthy, who is chairwoman of the board at the women’s centre at the university, said the lecture topic was “anti-choice” and offensive on “a number of levels.”
“It is shocking,” Ms. Steeleworthy said Sunday. “It’s comparing women who want the right to choose to being as evil as Hitler.” [There, at least someone’s shocked. – Ransom]
As a result, her group is considering a human rights complaint against the university chaplain for participating in the event. The chaplain is in his first year in the position.
And this, Faithful Reader, is the very definition of chutzpah: disrupt a lawful gathering to the point that it is disbanded, then lodge a complaint that your rights were violated.
Why not just shoot Jojo now, then bill his family for inconveniencing the firing squad?
Incidentally, St. Mary’s is proud of its heritage as the oldest English speaking Roman Catholic university in Canada.” Hmmm. Wouldn’t you expect a Roman Catholic institution to be, er, somewhat “anti-choice”?
But back to that “Nazi” question. Damian defends Jojo on free-speech grounds, but takes exception to the Holocaust comparison: “a gross trivialization of the Holocaust, in [his] opinion.” Near the beginning of the protest, one woman asked whether Jojo was comparing her to Hitler. And then there was the aforementioned very good question posed by one of the protesters, who unfortunately was not allowed by her friends to hear the answer: how can you justifiably compare abortion with genocide?
Of course, Jojo never called anyone “Nazis,” “Hitler,” or anything like that. Not everyone who supports legalized abortion is a worse version of Hitler. The Final Solution was a conspiracy: moral responsibility for the atrocities of the Third Reich were largely centred on a relative few individuals who worked together to engineer them. On the other hand, moral culpability for abortion on demand is not centred on any individual, party, or government; it is diffused throughout millions of women who have had abortions, thousands of doctors who perform them, and the politicians that enable them.
The point is that when large swaths of humanity are deliberately dehumanized, it is easy to find a way to dispose of them and shroud the act in euphemisms and rhetoric. The Third Reich treated European Jews, Gypsies, and others as nonpersons, thereby justifying their efficient disposal in the gas chambers and ovens. Legal abortion on demand treats the unborn as nonpersons, thereby justifying their efficient disposal in the doctor’s office. There is a perfectly valid point of comparison here. Does it trivialize the Holocaust? By the numbers alone – approximately 45-50 million abortions in the United States since 1973 – legal abortion on demand certainly does make the Holocaust look trivial.
The issue, as always, comes back to the identity of the unborn. If they are not human persons, then 45 million abortions are merely the moral equivalent of 45 million tonsillectomies, and require no justification. If they are human persons, then 45 million abortions are the moral equivalent of 9 Holocausts, and there can be no justification.
But to the extent that an unruly gaggle of women successfully suppressed someone’s right to free speech, because they did not approve of the ideology of that speech, yes, some women can be compared to Nazis.