Letters to the editor

Kent State must crack down on smoking ban

Dear Editor:

During the last big snowfall, I was walking into Tri-Towers and someone was actually smoking inside the breezeway. When I went to get a security person, the girl at the desk said, “Do you actually want me to get someone?” What a ridiculous question; why wouldn’t I want someone to stop smoking in the hallways?

Kent State posts signs on each door, “No smoking within twenty feet of the building.” RAs cannot write people up for not abiding by the rule but security can. However, security just goes and says, “Hey guys, just back away will ya?” Do you honestly think that is effective? How about the answer to that question is a big fat no. A warning does nothing. But to be written up would truly stop the problem. I do not deserve to have to walk by a cloud of smoke just to get into my dorm. Walking twenty feet away from the door is not hard to do. It is about time Kent State starts cracking down on the smoking. I think its getting just a little ridiculous.

Kathy Hiller

Junior education major

Pro-lifers need to act as they speak

Dear Editor:

As a pro-choice feminist, there are a number of complaints I could lodge against this week’s anti-abortion (I refuse to call the demonstration pro-life for reasons which will become clear momentarily) display in Risman Plaza.

I could, for example, make the standard and compelling argument that my body is mine to control, and mine about which to make decisions. As a teacher, I could criticize the use of gratuitously violent pictures — when I show images such as those used by the Genocide Awareness Project, I carefully consider the ramifications of my choice. I ask whether my use of these images further exploits those already exploited by various regimes and/or laws. I ask whether there is a way I can make my point without subjecting those individuals in the images to further degradation.

I could remind the anti-abortion protesters that the Nazi regime, and supporters of Jim Crow segregation, the very people whose crimes were depicted on poster-board as evidence about the inhumanity of abortion, also thought that women could not be trusted with reproductive rights, and undertook strenuous efforts to control women’s reproduction, even going so far as forcing them to be sterilized — an act I would consider a greater violation of human rights than abortion, which is, at least for a short time longer, still legal.

I could point out the racism of the panel with the words: “Ungentile, Unwhite, and Unborn.” If “born” is presented as the norm, that which is preferred, that which should be achieved at the expense of women’s individual rights, what does that say about the status of the “ungentile” and the “unwhite?” That they are not the norm — that gentile and white are the norm, and all else is inherently of a lesser value or is in some way objectionable.

I could criticize the appropriation of the suffering of others, specifically the victims of the Holocaust and Jim Crow segregation. If anti-abortionists cannot articulate their point except by usurping the suffering of others, if the use of such images not related to the issue at hand is the most compelling way to make the argument that abortion is wrong, then perhaps the argument has no merit in the first place.

These are all criticisms I could validly make of the anti-abortion demonstration. However, I want to make a point that I, as a genocide scholar, consider of the utmost importance, and that is the appropriation of the word genocide.

The word genocide has a very specific definition, written by a man who lost over 40 of his relatives to the Holocaust, and agreed upon in 1948 by the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the wake of the Nazi atrocities of the Second World War. The most important aspect of the definition for our purposes is:

” … acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group . “

Women who have abortions have no intent to destroy a definable, immutable group — there is no group. There is no group of unborn children, with a set of characteristics common to all, which would make them a group that could be destroyed through genocide.

Language is the most powerful tool we have as a society to make changes to that with which we disagree. However, along with that power is a responsibility to use our words correctly. To misuse a word, purposefully, to make a point that can be made in better, more articulate ways, is to sacrifice the integrity of one’s cause.

When we misuse the word genocide, people die. We must remember that words which define everything, and which are invoked randomly and erroneously, define nothing and lose their power. When the word genocide loses its power, people will die, because the invocation of the word no longer has power, and the world can safely and with no ethical repercussions, stand by and do nothing in the face of real genocidal violence occurring today.

Thus, despite the many criticisms I could make of the anti-abortion protest in Risman Plaza this week, I choose to remind those who label themselves as pro-life that perhaps they should try actually being pro-life.

Monika J. Flaschka

Doctoral candidate

Department of history