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Online Only - Letter: CPL de-sanctioned

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Well, what to say ["Pro-lifers lose club status," Katy Anderson, Feb. 12, 2009]? This is exactly why I moved away from Canada to attend university in the United States 20 years ago and why I continue to live here today as a dual citizen.

I am saddened, but not surprised, that University of Calgary faces these problems. The bottom line is, Canada does not have freedom of speech. However you choose to wrap this situation up, dress it up, colour it up, try to frame it or attempt to focus on some meaningless technicality, whenever anyone is silenced because his/her viewpoint is not popular, not in the majority or unwelcomed it is speech restriction due to viewpoint discrimination. And Canada is notorious about it.

If this is a viewpoint that cannot win in the marketplace of ideas, then let it die its own death. Administrators and governing bodies don't abuse your power to promote your own personal preferences, you are a public university. If you want to promote/endorse particular views, then go private.

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Since when does freedom of SPEECH include freedom to show gross pictures, most of which have absolutely nothing to do with the issue at hand? If you are against abortion then SAY so, don't just try to shock and guilt people using pictures and extremely far-fetched comparisons to genocide. A civil conversation would still be welcome in the university setting.

What do you mean that most of the pictures have nothing to do with the issue at hand? Which of them had nothing to do with abortion?

To Sandra Braun:
The University of Calgary is not a public university, it is a private institution.
The US Patriot Act happens to be an incredible violation of freedom of speech, and it isn't alone. Your contention that the United States is somehow a bastion of free speech hardly holds water.

To K:
The pictures featuring lynchings of African Americans, Holocaust victims, victims of the Khmer Rouge killing fields, and of Rwandan genocide victims all have absolutely nothing to do with abortion.

Genocide: The deliberate and systematic destruction of a national, racial, religious, political, cultural, ethnic, or other group defined by the exterminators as undesirable. (Webster's New World Encyclopedia, Prentice Hall General Reference, 1992)

1)undesirable group: unwanted unborn children
2)deliberate and systematic destruction: we have clinics, instruments, procedures, and medical practitioners in Canada whose specific purpose is to take the lives of unwanted unborn children

It seems to me that the victims of abortion are indeed comparable to other victims of genocide, notably the victims of the Holocaust, Rwandan genocide, Khmer rouge killing fields and the lynching of African Americans. Abortion is not the same as the other genocides, just as each of the above examples are not the same as the others. However they are comparable. So I guess those pictures do have something to do with abortion after all.

Torture:
1 a: anguish of body or mind : agony
b: something that causes agony or pain
2: the infliction of intense pain (as from burning, crushing, or wounding) to punish, coerce, or afford sadistic pleasure
3: distortion or overrefinement of a meaning or an argument : straining

torture. (2009). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.

At least three different groups on campus have evidence that the CPL display has tortured students and bystanders in senses 1a and 1b. CPL admits that its goal is in part to coerce particular outcomes as in sense 2. These discussions provide ample evidence that the argument is tortured, as in sense 3.

If CPL's claim includes the argument that abortion is torturous, and that torture is a morally invalid activity, it must itself stop using torture as a method of advocacy for the movement to be acting with morality.

It seems to me that the victims of the CPL display are indeed comparable to other victims of torture, notably the victims of the Holocaust, Rwandan genocide, Gitmo, and the CIA's rendition adventures. CPL is not the same as the other torturers, just as each of the above examples are not the same as the others. However they are comparable. So I guess those pictures do have something to do with CPL after all.

I believe that CPL claims that abortion takes the life of an innocent, defenseless human being, which is why it is immoral. All the GAP does is present the evidence of what abortion does and point out that when the status of 'personhood' is taken from a group of human beings, great atrocities often result. If we can't handle the evidence of what is a common procedure in Canada, why do we allow it?
I think that GAP makes people uncomfortable because admitting that something so tragic and wrong is happening in our country means that we can't sit back and ignore it. No one wants to admit to genocide because then you have to deal with it. CPL is trying to remind us that we cannot allow ourselves to be comfortable and blissfully ignorant at the expense of other's lives.

> I believe that CPL claims that abortion takes the life of an innocent, defenseless human being, which is why it is immoral.

OK. So the CPL's argument wants to be approximately:
P1: Killing human (for some unspecified definition of human) beings is wrong.
P2: Fetuses are humans falling into that definition.
C: Killing fetuses is wrong.

> All the GAP does is present the evidence of what abortion does

OK. It does that fairly well. Debbie Does Dallas presents evidence of what the pornography industry does, and yet we find it customary to allow people to choose whether or not to see that work.

> and point out that when the status of 'personhood' is taken from a group of human beings, great atrocities often result.

True, but that's not germane to the argument about fetuses either being humans or not humans in the way that makes killing them an issue. Here's why: We commit atrocities against many living things without personhood (much of nature, our pets, livestock, etc.) that are clearly not human or persons. We can give as much personhood to non-human living things, or take away personhood from them, without making the act of killing such living things recognizably the same as the act of killing a farmer. Our actions or inactions respecting humans who indisputably have personhood and are alive neither support, nor refute the personhood status of an arbitrary organic mass.

Right now, the CPL argument as presented appears to be:
P1: Someone in the past perceived some humans to be non-persons and then killed them.
P2: Killing persons is wrong.
C: Killing fetuses is wrong

(Note that the premises do not logically change if you substitute all the nouns with 'invisible pink unicorn', but that the conclusion would still not follow.)

The correct form of the argument would be:
P1: We agree that humans with features X, Y and Z are persons (X, Y and Z might be things like having a functioning GI tract, brain activity, or something else we can objectively measure or test directly or statistically).
P2: Killing persons is wrong.
P3: Fetuses also have features X, Y and Z, and are therefore persons.
C: Killing fetuses is wrong

The missing part is what should be in features X, Y and Z such that it's morally and legally allowable to amputate a person's limb, but morally and legally prohibited to kill persons who require life support apparatus to remain alive.

> If we can't handle the evidence of what is a common procedure in Canada, why do we allow it?

Yes. That's why we don't allow atrocities to be committed on/by persons. Again, our prohibition of certain actions against natural persons does not argue for, or against, the categorization of any particular organic mass as a natural person. (At the root of this debate is the absence of an definition of natural personhood which clearly states the objective criteria for natural personhood.)

To extend your line of thought: I don't like knowing that many events at the university are put together at the last minute.It does not follow that the university should not allow events. Or, some people can't handle the sight of blood. It does not follow that we should not allow surgeries.

> I think that GAP makes people uncomfortable because admitting that something so tragic and wrong is happening in our country means that we can't sit back and ignore it.

GAP makes some people uncomfortable because we generally object to Nazi-related activities. GAP's implementors make some people feel comfortable because they are aggressive, argumentative, confrontational and sometimes abusive of those who do not share their views. GAP's presentation of its argument makes some people uncomfortable because it is not a logically sound argument. GAP's perpetual victim and persecution complex makes some people uncomfortable because GAP's expressed protestations contradict their observed status.

And we're not ignoring the various ways in which GAP makes us uncomfortable. We attack its flaws on discussions and forums like this.

> No one wants to admit to genocide because then you have to deal with it.

OK. But GAP doesn't successfully show that fetuses fall into the class of organic masses which we admit into the set of valid targets of genocide. See above.

> CPL is trying to remind us that we cannot allow ourselves to be comfortable and blissfully ignorant at the expense of other's lives.

Again, GAP does not demonstrate that fetuses are persons alive in any particular relevant sense, nor really anything else about fetuses other than they can be made to bleed. I can show that an amputated organ or a recently deceased corpse, or a parrot can be made to bleed, but that alone doesn't make any of those organic masses a person.