Hopkins’ Student Government Association has denied VFL status as a recognized student group, for two reasons: VFL’s website links to other organizations that display graphic images of aborted babies. And VFL plans to engage in peaceful, quiet “sidewalk counseling” outside a local abortion clinic, which the SGA considers “harassment.”
Hopkins’ student conduct code enjoins students “to protect the university as a forum for the free expression of ideas.” And although Hopkins has a stern policy against sexual harassment, it says the purpose of this policy is not “to inhibit free speech or the free communication of ideas by members of the academic community.” Presumably that also applies to other forms of “harassment.”
Suppose such SGA-recognized student groups as the Arab Students Organization, the Black Student Union, the Hopkins Feminists or the Diverse Sexuality and Gender Alliance were to link their websites to provocative outside organizations, or were to counsel persons not to patronize firms with policies those groups oppose. Would the SGA want to deny them recognition as student groups? Of course not. Obviously, the SGA has acted to express animus against the content of VFL’s speech, and to protect students from the discomfort of disagreement.
Persons who do not want to see the images to which VFL links need never see them. Nevertheless, an SGA member says pro-life demonstrations make her feel “personally violated, targeted and attacked at a place where we previously felt safe and free to live our lives.”
If encountering ideas she does not share makes her feel this way, she is unsuited to a proper academic setting. She may, however, be suited to Hopkins, which should be embarrassed, if it still can be.
Hopkins’ institutional intolerance would be boring were it simply redundant evidence of academia’s commitment to diversity in everything but thought. It is, however, indicative of the increasingly extreme ambitions and tactics of those operating under the anodyne rubric of “choice.” In Florida recently, a legislative debate that reverberated in the U.S. Senate in the 1990s was revived concerning the right to choose infanticide.
In 1996, the Senate debated outlawing partial-birth abortion, whereby a baby is delivered feet first until only the top of the skull remains in the birth canal, then the skull is punctured and its contents emptied.
Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., asked two pro-choice senators, Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., this: If the baby slips entirely out of the birth canal before it can be killed, should killing it still be a permissible choice? Neither senator would say no. In a 1999 debate, Santorum asked Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., whether she agreed that “once the child is born, is separated from the mother, that that child is protected by the Constitution and cannot be killed.” Boxer said: “I think that when you bring your baby home ... .”
Sort of like driving a new car away from the dealership. But, then, what principle forbids killing a baby at home if its crying interrupts the parents’ enjoyment of Jay Leno’s monologue?
Recently in Florida, Alisa LaPolt Snow, representing Florida Planned Parenthood organizations, testified against a bill that would require abortionists to provide medical care to babies who survive attempted abortions.
Snow was asked: “If a baby is born on a table as a result of a botched abortion, what would Planned Parenthood want to have happen to that child that is struggling for life?” Snow replied: “We believe that any decision that’s made should be left up to the woman, her family and the physician.” She added, “That decision should be between the patient and the health care provider.” To this, a Florida legislator responded: “I think that at that point the patient would be the child struggling on a table, wouldn’t you agree?”
Planned Parenthood, which receives more than $500 million in government subsidies, is branching out, expanding its mission beyond the provision of abortions to the defense of consumers’ rights: If you pay for an abortion, you are owed a dead baby.
George Will is a columnist for The Washington Post.