Freedom comes with responsibility

Marchae Grair

Kent State students received a lesson about free speech this week during the demonstrations by The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform.

The anti-abortion group spent two days in Risman Plaza protesting against the legalization of abortion.

The group’s extreme methods left the campus in shock.

Posters the size of small billboards lined the walkway with grotesque images of abortions. The protest also used enlarged photographs of concentration camp victims to compare the legalization of abortion to the Holocaust.

There are no words to describe the tension the group brought to Kent State.

Pro-choice students rallied to protest against the anti-abortion stance and graphic images of the protest.

Before The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform arrived on campus, Undergraduate Student Senate executive director Katie Hale wrote a letter to students in the Daily Kent Stater.

She asked students to respect the free speech rights guaranteed to The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform.

After all, isn’t that the purpose of free speech? When a group has an extreme or unpopular opinion, shouldn’t they have the right to express it?

As a journalist, I know how important free speech is. I have plenty of unpopular opinions, and I do not want somebody telling me when or where I can express them.

I never take my freedom of speech for granted and believe it is necessary for the existence of a healthy democracy.

However, I cannot condone the irresponsible use of that freedom.

The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform demands respect for their beliefs but gives no respect to the public who is subjected to their protests.

It was both inappropriate to use swastikas and Holocaust victims to debate abortion. The Holocaust was a mass genocide based on the hatred of specific groups of people. It is a painful time in history that should not be used for irrelevant fear-mongering.

Freedom is not an excuse to lose consciousness about what is hurtful.

There are various groups, such as the Westboro Baptist Church, who protest at the funerals of soldiers because they do not believe in the armed forces.

While they have the right to assemble and say whatever they choose, I question the sanity of anyone who would intrude on a family’s grief in such a manner.

When people aim for shock value, the value of freedom of speech is loss. The power of informed debates and researched opinions take a backseat to heated exchanges and battles for press coverage.

I do not think the effort of The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform is commendable in the least.

There is a difference between aiming to offend and aiming to inform.

Marchae Grair is an electronic media productions major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].