By Logan Blakeslee
Much has been spoken and written about the clash between pro-life and pro-choice students at Binghamton University on September 18, 2023. It was the first big campus controversy of the semester and one that will be remembered for a terrible, disgusting reason. I will address that reason shortly. Before that, I will say that Binghamton University cannot claim that it is sending its best and brightest out into the world when its students condone illegal behavior in response to speech with which they disagree. Second, the Pyrrhic victory claimed by the Binghamton Abortion Advocacy Coalition has exposed everything that is wrong with political “activism” at colleges all over the United States.
I have reserved more verbal venom for the leading editors of Pipe Dream than I could ever inflict on the protesters who stole and swallowed silicone fetal development model(s) from Students for Life and College Republicans. I find it easier to forgive, or at least comprehend, radical action taken by people who have been conditioned to carry it out. Those who stand on the sidelines and cheer it on are more deserving of criticism, having neither the temerity to stand up for their convictions nor the empathy to recognize the plight of crime victims whose only flaw was their opinion.
The recent editorial article “Protest is a right, abortion should be too” which was published on October 5 is full of logical inconsistencies and it skirts around the core issue completely; Pipe Dream throws itself behind student demonstrations when they align with the greater interests of the Democratic Party, but never offer the same consideration to right-leaning students.
For example, let’s rewind the clock to another op-ed piece from October 25, 2022. “Hateful rhetoric has no place on college campuses,” reads the headline. It was all well and good to hold former B.U. College Republicans president Jon Lizak accountable for his actions on January 6, 2021, but the article described pro-gun signs and imagery as “inflammatory” and “offensive” and offered us this gem of a sentence: “Along with the College Republicans, TPUSA had held a joint tabling event in which the line between free speech and hate speech was brought into question.” In what world is pro-Second Amendment imagery considered hate speech?
In Pipe Dream’s world, the meaning of hate speech boils down to whatever ideological progressives find objectionable. This raises the question, can hate speech exist without attacking a demographic of people? The pro-gun posters and fliers that were referenced in the article never alluded to racial/ethnic groups, gender identities, sexual orientations, nor any other category to which a person can belong. Those with common sense are quick to recognize that people of all colors and creeds have their own respective gun ownership associations across the country. Our Bill of Rights is not a document of hatred.
The same article proves similarly thoughtless in its description of former B.U. Professor Ana Candela’s policy of “progressive stacking.” In it, students who were deemed “less marginalized” had an unequal ability to speak in class. The publication’s critique of Campus Reform for exposing political bias in academia serves as a smokescreen which protects the bad behavior of professors and TAs who enforce unlawful educational policies. It is hardly “unprofessional” to share the names and publicly-available information of university faculty when they violate rules that the rest of us are expected to follow, especially when it pertains to Title IX. Prof. Candela certainly had good intentions with her syllabus, more than enough to pave the way to perdition, yet benevolence does not excuse discrimination.
I actually agree in part with another old opinion piece from Pipe Dream, which is titled “Free speech should not be used to push a political agenda,” from October 15, 2020. There is a good snippet that, in principle, no conservative would find problematic. It reads: “We often overlook the reality that with freedom comes the responsibility of how we use our freedoms, and the associated consequences of our actions. Thus, whenever we express ourselves, particularly when expressing unpopular opinions, we must likewise be prepared to own up to the consequences of our actions.” This statement is wise and true, but it’s quickly subverted by the following sentence: “So when these student groups chose to continue displaying their signs, even after hearing there was a mass shooting and were well aware that these images may provoke a passionate reaction, they shouldn’t be surprised, or even complain, when other students respond to them — even in a group of 200.”
It should be briefly noted that College Republicans and TPUSA were completely unaware of the shooting which took place on the same day as their 2019 tabling event, nor did they realize it until hours afterwards. It was never a choice of continuing to display pro-gun materials in light of such tragic events, although knowledge of a tragic event does not justify stealing or destroying private property.
At no point did conservative students take issue with the mere presence of liberal protesters on campus. The issue is that liberal protesters on college campuses often find it acceptable to steal, obscure, or destroy advertising materials, prevent guest speakers from speaking (just take a look at Ann Coulter during her visit to Cornell University in 2022), blockade lecture halls, and, on rare occasions, physically attack other individuals. College Republicans lost its club charter in 2019 for tabling on the university spine without approval, but students and clubs that stifle free speech rarely face the consequences for more egregious actions.
Once again, I will give credit to the author of this article for acknowledging that the protesters from the 2019 tabling incident “went too far” and that the ensuing disruption at the Arthur Laffer lecture was “unacceptable.” This begrudging acceptance that what transpired against College Republicans and TPUSA was wrong is a case of Pipe Dream listening to its better angels. Lately, however, the student newspaper’s conscience has fallen silent.
That brings us back to “Protest is a right, abortion should be too”. Putting aside the blatant immorality of abortion itself, I will take the time to pick apart the most absurd claims in the op-ed, and nitpick the rest, starting with my annoyance that “anti-choice” is the frequent term used to describe students who adhere to the pro-life philosophy. Pipe Dream commended the protesters who shouted down College Republicans and Students for Life on September 18, 2023, without making any distinction against those who stole the silicone fetal models, harassed pro-life students online, and violated Binghamton University’s policy on student demonstrations.
As they would say, silence equals consent.
For those who may not be aware, a student demonstration requires pre-approval at least four days in advance. This rule originates from the student handbook. College Republicans, meanwhile, had a legitimate tabling reservation in the Bartle Library on Sept. 18. The Binghamton Abortion Advocacy Coalition, by contrast, never bothered to follow this rule… because they were sicced on pro-life students by a professor. Even worse, the noise levels in the library from the Coalition members distracted students in nearby classes. This puts the protesters and the professor directly in opposition to Bethel School District v. Fraser (1986), which prohibits disruptive speech in an educational setting.
The insane suggestion from Pipe Dream’s editors that speaking with a pro-life person “can feel as if they are directly violating your autonomy” is absurd upon remembering that New York is the most pro-choice state in the country. Those of us who believe in the sanctity of life in the womb are utterly powerless on the legislative level. Where is the direct violation? What power do we have in our words? I assume that these editors hold the notion that people are easy to persuade, and that the danger in sharing conservative opinions is that others might agree.
As for the suggestion that my statement given to the Students for Life blog was “hypocritical,” note the continued silence towards the theft of multiple fetal models from the table. When I said that the protesters acted in a way that was graphic and illegal, I was explicitly referring to this sort of behavior. The act of protesters inserting the models into their mouths was the more graphic part, a gesture that was both unnecessary and unsanitary. What did it accomplish besides property damage and potential health problems?
Furthermore, how can the editors of Pipe Dream argue with a straight face that human life beginning at conception is a misogynistic idea? This is the mainstream scientific opinion among biologists, with about 96% affirming it, according to the National Library of Medicine. The editors appear to have given preference to a minority scientific opinion, or at least one that obfuscates the reality of when life begins. An unborn child is just as alive in the womb as they are outside of it, and suggesting otherwise is essentially determining someone’s intrinsic value by their location. Pipe Dream claims that Students for Life spread misinformation, but had their own supply of it on hand and zero reluctance to share it.
While the divide between College Republicans, Students for Life, and BAAC will likely exist for the foreseeable future, the collaboration succeeded in its goal of changing the minds of a handful of students, which is a good start. The attempted stifling of pro-life viewpoints has only invigorated our side, and it won’t be very long until Students for Life becomes a chartered club at Binghamton University. The need for the organization to be present on campus has only grown because of this incident.
While the supporters of the protest claim that they were “forcing the hate out of our community” (according to the Pipe Dream article “Anti-abortion table draws backlash, student protest” from Oct. 1, 2023) they fail to recognize that force is the completely wrong method to express dissent in American society. They will likewise fail in their effort to “push them [Students for Life] right back out,” upon our return to campus. Our aim is to spread a new, more sincere appreciation of mothers and children, not hate. This guiding virtue is why we will ultimately succeed. Overturning Roe v. Wade was just the first step.