The following reflects the majority opinion of the editorial board.
In the last few weeks, the abortion debate has come to a boiling point at Miami’s Hamilton campus as two groups, representing both sides of the debate, have had their displays vandalized and outright stolen.
Two weeks ago, Miami Hamilton’s chapter of Students for Life (a national nonprofit whose mission is to “abolish abortion”) set up what the organization calls the “Cemetery of the Innocents” on campus. The display featured rows of white, wooden crosses in the ground, each representing “10 babies that die by abortion each day,” according to an accompanying sign. By the next day, someone had vandalized and ripped the crosses out of the grass.
Then last week, the local College Students for Reproductive Justice chapter erected their own demonstration on Miami’s Hamilton campus, in response to Students for Life’s display — wire clothes hangers nailed into the ground papered with pro-choice rights. This display was stolen a day later.
Local media outlets are characterizing the conflict as a “battle” between the two groups, but that makes it sound as if the student organizations themselves are fighting one another. That’s not what’s happening here.
Both Hamilton’s Students for Life and Students for Reproductive Justice chapters know the pro-choice/anti-abortion debate is a hell of a lot broader than Miami, and one of the most contentious on a national level. Each organization also acknowledges that the other has a right to their own opinion, and they’ve been coexisting on Hamilton’s campus for years.
So, this back-and-forth vandalism, perpetrated not by the groups themselves but unknown (presumably uninvolved) individuals, feels less like a “battle” and more like a bad episode of “Parks and Recreation.”
If this were an episode of “Parks and Rec,” the vandalism of both pro-choice and anti-abortion displays on campus would probably continue until it sparked an ugly town hall brawl, after which Leslie Knope and the Parks Department gang would stake out the quad in question until they caught the people responsible.
But this is not a sitcom. In real life, issues like this are handled through healthy discussion and debate, not violence and vandalism.
We, obviously, don’t know exactly what the people who vandalized these displays hoped to accomplish, but we can assume they were trying to draw attention to their own side of the abortion rights debate.
Acting out like that, through, attracts the wrong kind of attention. That behavior doesn’t illuminate their argument, but discredits it by making the side they’re representing look bad.
If you disagree with a student organization’s message so much that you feel the need to point that out to them, do so in a civil way. Ask them questions, engage in conversations with them and acknowledge that, while you’re entitled to your own opinion, they are too.