No Interest in the Exchange of Ideas When It Comes to Abortion

January 20, 2020 Updated: January 20, 2020
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Commentary

“What do we want? Choice! When do we want it? Now!” chanted a band of abortion rights activists at King’s University College in London, Ontario, earlier this month.

What these brave demonstrators were protesting was a screening of the anti-abortion film “Unplanned,” which has been the subject of controversy due to its telling of the story of Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood employee turned pro-life activist who left the organization upon witnessing the abortion process firsthand.

The screening was hosted by the Catholic campus ministry at King’s, whose director, Reverend Michael Bechard, told the student newspaper: “It’s part of our values and our mission statement to support life in all its stages, from conception to natural death,” while noting that the goal wasn’t to persuade attendees to turn against abortion, but to have a conversation about it. Bechard said the university should preoccupy itself with “putting things out there that are going to generate ideas, powerful emotions, and divergent thoughts.”

Those who protested also could have come and engaged in a respectful discussion. In other words, they were free to participate in a pluralist environment that universities are supposed to cherish and facilitate. And in such an environment, participants might want to express views that are rooted in their religious belief—and do it in a public space to which they have the same rights as others at the Catholic college.

But hyperventilating activists tend to think that freedom of speech and conscience are fine ideas as long as one uses their speech to affirm the progressive orthodoxy while treating their conscience as private views that have to be subdued when in public.

The ministry states on its webpage, “Firmly rooted in the Roman Catholic tradition, Campus Ministry at King’s seeks to nurture and challenge students, staff, faculty, and the wider community in order to bring all into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.” But to actually act upon these principles is something that adherents of the faith of progressiveness will not tolerate, lest they allow these antiquated Catholics to invade the progressive campus so they can espouse their ostensibly theocratic ideals.

As usual, leftist activists catastrophize and attach a threat of imminent violence or malicious intent to a thought, no matter how cordially it’s expressed. Dissenting thought could give rise to curiosity in others whose search for knowledge might threaten the prevailing consensus. In their fantasy universe, they have a monopoly on reason and morals and all debates are settled. When such a sentiment collides with the reality of a free society, those with alternative visions of what constitutes a good, virtuous life must be coerced into conforming or be excluded from the public square.

Enter the more than 40 professors who, in response to the screening, issued a letter to principal David Malloy demanding that the college apologize for showing the film. The letter accused the campus ministry of underestimating the school’s commitment to “deep debate” and criticized its failure to seek “input” from experts on reproductive rights.

One need not be a connoisseur of academic newspeak to conclude that this is nonsense. It’s rather difficult to say with any confidence that these experts would see a pro-life advocate as a worthy participant in any debate, since in another part of the letter they claim: “Women who have exercised their rights to reproductive care risk being stigmatized and traumatized by the ideological position presented both in the film and in the Director’s Statement.”

The fact that there is no interest in the exchange of ideas is glaringly obvious. There is one invulnerable truth in these professors’ eyes, and it can never be challenged or subjected to further interrogation. The counterargument is something the “helpless” must be protected from, as it’s a reassertion of the dominant “white male Christian culture” in a space where, by any metric, those characteristics are becoming increasingly unpopular.

Herein lies the problem that so pervades our universities. Those whose ideas are already considered fashionable fancy themselves the ones “punching up” against the orthodoxy, thereby denying that they themselves are the Puritans who have established and enforced the progressive orthodoxy that currently reigns supreme.

Shane Miller is a political writer based in London, Ontario. Follow him at @Miller_Shane94.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.