National Campus Life Network > Blog > Echoes of the Holocaust

Youth Protecting Youth: UVSS Takes Action against YPY

This post was written for Youth Protecting Youth by ypyinfoofficer. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

In October of 2010 we hosted Jose Ruba of CCBR, who gave the presentation, “Echoes of the Holocaust.” The UVic Students’ Society Board of Directors has now voted in favour of a motion that will censure YPY for hosting the event because they allege that our actions contravened the club harassment policy. YPY is specifically being reprimanded for advertising the event in such a way that it “misled” students, and allegedly harassed them as it compared abortion to the Holocaust. There seemed to be little consensus at the UVSS board meeting as to whether harassment had actually occurred: many board members seemed to think that since people had been upset, something needed to be done to deal with YPY, whether or not we had actually broken any rules.

 

The Motion:

Whereas a Complaints Committee was struck in response to complaints received regarding an event called “Echos of the Holocaust” hosted by the club Youth Protecting Youth; and

Whereas the complaints committee investigated several different complaints; and

Whereas by hosting an event “Echos of the Holocaust” Youth Protecting Youth allowed for people to be misled about the nature of the event and the Complaints Committee deems this to be in violation of the harassment policy, clubs policy part 2; and

Whereas significant concerns were raised by students about off the conduct of campus groups such as, “The Canadian Center for Bioethical Reform”; and

Whereas the UVSS would like to find long lasting, proactive solutions to reoccurring issues; therefore,

BIRT the UVSS investigate the possibility of mediating with Youth Protecting Youth to help prevent further issues; and

BIFRT Youth Protecting Youth be censured for violating the harassment policy found in clubs policy part 2; and

BIFRT the Political Action Committee hold a restorative justice event; and

BIFRT legal counsel be consulted to investigate if there can be changes to policy that would address concerns around the conduct of off campus groups or speakers.

We hosted the presentation because we believe we continue to experience “echoes of the Holocaust” today. Just as the Holocaust and past genocides are characterized by their unjust denial of personhood to a group of human beings and their systematic destruction of this group, so too do we see denial of personhood and systematic destruction with abortion in our society – the group targeted is the unborn. In two previous blog posts we addressed this comparison and the false accusations made about the event.

Yes, we knew that some people would be offended by the presentation. But what are we supposed to do? Stay quiet to avoid offending some people, while we silently watch 100,000 Canadians die every year because of abortion?

Let us remember that feeling offended and emotionally upset because one disagrees with a viewpoint does not mean one is being harassed. After all, no one has a legal right to be free from offense. Students who see and dislike our posters are not being subjected to a “hostile, intimidating, threatening or humiliating environment.[i]” The Clubs Harassment Policy states that harassment is defined as “treatment” of a person. If merely expressing our beliefs in advertising constituted “treating” people in a harassing manner, then no one would be able to express his or her views without fear of censure.

We are truly sorry that some people felt emotional or upset when they saw our posters. But abortion is emotionally upsetting. We do not want any woman or child to be hurt by abortion, and therefore want to provide students with as much information as possible so they can choose life-affirming options for themselves and their unborn children. This presentation was one way to express these beliefs.

The presentation did not pose a threat to anyone who attended; we are all adults capable of choosing for ourselves what we want to believe, and this presentation did not force anyone to do anything. We simply stated that genocide is horrible, the Holocaust was horrible, and we see that abortion is horrible because like the Holocaust and other widely recognized genocides, it involves the denial of personhood to and subsequent killing of innocent human beings. We wish none of these things ever happened, and we want to better uphold the dignity and value of every human being, born or unborn.

It is unfortunate that the UVSS Board of Directors has chosen to censure YPY and thinks it is necessary to mediate with us and host a restorative justice event. Although we welcome and encourage dialogue on the abortion issue, we have not harassed anyone, and so the actions taken by the board are based on a false “guilty” verdict. In addition, we worry that a policy made to govern who can and cannot speak on campus wouldn’t be applied equally to all clubs, and could be used to censor YPY.

The continued mistreatment of campus pro-life groups is still receiving much media attention, as can be seen in this recent MSN article. Nathalie Des Rosiers, general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, cautions student unions that attempt to silence pro-life groups, as doing so sets a precedent for future debates. “When they’re approaching this issue, they should not diminish their responsibility toward ensuring that university campuses are places where ideas can circulate freely.”


[i] UVSS Policy Manual: Clubs Policy. Part F: Harassment: Definition http://www.uvss.uvic.ca/upload/docs/Policy%20and%20Bylaws/2010-11%20Clubs%20Policy%20%28Amended%202010-06-21%29.pdf


Read the comments at the Youth Protecting Youth website.

Youth Protecting Youth: Echoes of a lecture

This post was written for Youth Protecting Youth by ypyvicepresident. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

Tonight I attended Jojo Ruba’s talk “Echoes of the Holocaust.” It has a plain message: the millions of abortions that are performed each year are echoes of the bloody atrocities which humanity has committed against her own kind. Throughout the centuries, societies have been collectively guilty of standing idly by as her members enacted terrible violence against the weak and marginalized. I do not need to name those atrocities of the past, but I will say that my society is guilty of being apathetic toward the hundreds of children that we are killing everyday within the walls of our hospitals and clinics. I share in that guilt.

Some may disagree with me on this point. Many do not believe that we are killing our own children. Many do not believe that any people are actually being harmed. That is the point of the question, though. I know that it is difficult to hear, and I don’t say this to capitalize on the pain of any past generations. Some did not believe that they were killing their own people as the Jews and Gypsies and gays were being gassed in the concentration camps. Those people were wrong.

But I do not want to dwell on that point. I do not like to speak with a tone of condemnation. Even as I write this, believing and accepting the guilt of my culture, I don’t condemn anyone. I believe that I can name the wrong that is being done, and work to put an end to it, but I do not wish to leave in this note the impression that there is only despair for those who have been active participants in the wrong. I accept the guilt of my own passive participation as well.

As I think upon tonight’s presentation, I recall a comment made by a young woman. She accused Jojo of basing his presentation on the fallacy of “false analogy” because she believes that a human being has to have a certain level of cognitive capacity in order to be a person. Frankly, the analogy can only be false if her belief is true and that is what is being contested. If Jojo’s belief is true, then the analogy is apt.

So, the crux of the question comes when we try to understand the reasoning behind the belief that we are justified in judging the value of others by their capabilities—cognitive or otherwise. What we know is that there is extensive pressure toward abortions for women who are carrying Down syndrome babies (trisomy 21) and other trisomy conditions. The judgement is passed on them is that their lives will be of little value and not worth living. What I know is that I cherish my life experiences with those people I have met who have Down syndrome. I have never met one who wishes that he or she never lived.

I have a friend who’s second child had trisomy 13. She was traumatized by the pressure that was put upon her by her doctor and the hospital staff who urged her to have an abortion. She was given little support when she refused. My friend entrusted her child to the care of those medical practitioners, but they considered the child of no account. But the child was accepted and loved by his family from the time he was conceived until the day he died. His little heart did not have the strength to keep him alive more than a few months after his birth, but his parents’ hearts had the strength to love him through his short life.

So it came to my mind that it is not possible for us to judge people according to their capabilities. Often, neither we nor they will have any control over what those capabilities are. We can only judge others according to our own capability to love them. That is all. Whether man or woman, black or brown, gay or straight, intelligent or simple, born or unborn: our judgments are nothing other than our own successes or failures at love.

The measure of our success can be seen in the world around. The homeless and addicted suffer because of our failure to love. The elderly and the sick suffer because of our failure to love. The imprisoned suffer because of our failure to love. Women suffer the choice between their futures and their children because of our failure to love. Children in the womb suffer because of our failure to love. We have judged them and told them their value by our own capabilities—by our own hearts.

We need a change of heart. We need to understand that we each live not only for ourselves, but for the people around us. We need to understand that we don’t love others because they are what we want. We love them because they are. That is the only reason. We owe them all the love that we are capable of giving.

I don’t know if these words mean anything to those who read them. I don’t know if anyone will believe them sincere. All I know is that they are the words that my heart is speaking after tonight’s presentation. I can only hope and pray that I will live by them from today forward.

Contributed by YPY member Del Myers


Read the comments at the Youth Protecting Youth website.

Tonight: Carleton Lifeline to host controversial talk

By Rebecca Richmond, Executive Director


Despite being arrested on October 4th for attempting to put up a pro-life display, the students of Carleton University’s pro-life campus group are continuing to be active as a club.  Working to engage their campus in dialogue on the issue of abortion, they will be hosting a controversial presentation called “Echoes of the Holocaust” tonight.

This presentation, given by Jose Ruba of the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, draws attention to the similarities between past atrocities and injustices, such as the Holocaust, and abortion.  It was shouted down last year at McGill University as well as St. Mary’s University.

Ruth Lobo, one of the students arrested, made the following invitation in an article by Patrick Craine of Lifesitenews.com,

“We’re inviting anyone who’s heard about the controversy over our arrest and who wants to know why we are so willing to speak up for the unborn, to hear the presentation…We know that we won’t be able to reach as many people from a closed room—which is why we’ve been fighting so hard to get the debate out in the open—but we want people to hear our side of the story.”

The talk will be held tonight, Monday October 18th, at 7 p.m. at Carleton University,  Tory building, room 360,

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Youth Protecting Youth: The Writing on the Wall

This post was written for Youth Protecting Youth by ypyvicepresident. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

On Tuesday October 12, students arrived on campus to find that YPY had started advertising an event we are hosting this fall: Jojo Ruba of the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform (CCBR) is coming to give a presentation called “Echoes of the Holocaust”, which compares abortion to genocide.  On Wednesday October 13, we arrived on campus to find that the outdoor chalking advertising the event had been surrounded with phrases including “anti-choice”, “false information”, and “hate speech”. I’d like to address the accusations made by these chalkers, and once again encourage anyone who disagrees with or questions the views of YPY and/or CCBR to come out to the presentation and bring their questions for the question period at the end. I feel like I’m once again responding to the same old ad hominem attacks that miss the point of the abortion issue almost entirely, and I’d like to put things back into perspective. We don’t need to talk about what kind of people pro-lifers are; we need to talk about whether the unborn are people.

 

Some of the chalk surrounding our event announcement

Original chalk announcement: "YPY Presents "Echoes of the Holocaust" w/ Jojo Ruba. Oct. 26, 5:30, SCI B150"

 

I’ll quote the chalk comments one by one and respond to them. If I miss any, feel free to add them in the comments.

“This presentation compares abortion to genocide.”/ “This presentation compares abortion to the Holocaust.”

This is true. The presentation compares abortion to genocide, and specifically to the Holocaust.

For a basic explanation as to why the comparison is made, check out “Is Abortion Genocide?” on CCBR’s website.

For a chart outlining parallels between abortion and other historical atrocities, check out “Is Abortion Comparable to Historical Atrocities?” on CCBR’s website.

“Anti-choice”

Choice to do what? I’m pro-choice when it comes to who to vote for, what kind of food to eat, and many, many other things. I’m against some choices, though. I’m anti-choice when it comes to things like assault and murder. We have a lot of choices in life, but when our choices involve killing or harming other human beings, it quickly becomes obvious that some choices are wrong. Killing or harming other human beings is wrong.

I’m against abortion. Why? Because every successful abortion ends the life of a human being. Images of tiny, bloodied hands and feet show us the results of this “choice”. They’re uncomfortable to look at because they show an unpleasant reality: a tiny human being who has been torn apart by a doctor using surgical instruments. In The Case for Life, Scott Klusendorf quotes U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy as he describes common dismemberment abortion techniques: “The fetus, in many cases, dies just as a human adult or child would: it bleeds to death as it is torn from limb to limb…. The fetus can be alive at the beginning of the dismemberment process and can survive for a time while its limbs are being torn off…. Dr. [Leroy] Carhart [the abortionist who challenged Nebraska’s partial-birth ban] has observed fetal heartbeat…. with ‘extensive parts of the fetus removed,’…. and testified that mere dismemberment of a limb does not always cause death because he knows of a physician who removed the arm of a fetus only to have the fetus go on to be born ‘as a living child with one arm.” …At the conclusion of a D&E abortion… the abortionist is left with ‘a tray full of pieces’.”

So yes, I’m against that “choice”.

For more on “choice” and other assumptions those arguing in favour of abortion may make (while ignoring the question “what are the unborn?”), see “Assumptions Abortion Advocates Make” on CCBR’s website.

“Anti-woman”/ “Compares women who have abortions to Nazis”

YPY believes in judging actions, not judging people. In comparing abortion to genocide, the actions and victims are compared. Rabbi Yehuda Levin, of New York, stated this very well when he said,

“Each form of genocide, whether Holocaust, lynching, or abortion, differs from all the others in the motives and methods of its perpetrators. But each form of genocide is identical to all the others in that it involves the systematic slaughter, as state-sanctioned ‘choice,’ of innocent, defenseless victims—while denying their ‘personhood.’”

For a detailed discussion of how comparing abortion to genocide is not equivalent to calling women Nazis, see this post by a member of YPY.

Or see CCBR’s response in their FAQ.

“Anti-Semitic”/ “Racist”

Merriam-Webster defines anti-Semitism as “hostility towards or discrimination against Jews as a religious, ethnic, or racial group.” Simply put, the presentation is none of those things. In comparing abortion to historical atrocities such as the Holocaust (and noting that the fact that two things are comparable does not mean they are identical – just as a sound and its echo are similar but not identical), pro-life advocates readily recognize that the Holocaust was a terrible tragedy, and that any instance of a group of humans being classified as non-persons and then subjected to horrible treatment or killed is a great injustice that should be recognized as such and stopped.

Again, we return to the fundamental in the abortion debate: “what are the unborn?” If the unborn are not human persons, then comparing them to the victims of past genocide is insensitive. If the unborn are human persons, however, then 42 million people are killed worldwide each year, often by being torn apart with surgical instruments. Comparison to past genocides is completely logical.

For more on this, check out the FAQ on CCBR’s website.

“False information”

I’d be interested to know what information the person who wrote this thinks is false. To my knowledge, the presentation contains no false information whatsoever. If in fact it does contain some, I’m sure it would be appreciated if someone would politely point it out during the question period.

“Hate speech”/ Jojo Ruba being a “hate speaker”

Hate speech is a criminal offense in Canada, so this is a serious allegation. If we look at the Criminal Code however, we see that the allegation is blatantly false. There are two main types of speech defined as hate speech in the Criminal Code: advocating genocide and public incitement of hatred.

A presentation that condemns all forms and instances of genocide obviously does not advocate or promote genocide. Making the case that abortion is comparable to historical instances of genocide is meant to illustrate that abortion is wrong, not that any form of genocide is good.

The presentation does not incite hatred against anyone. As stated above, we believe in judging actions, not judging people, and in recognizing the intrinsic value and dignity of all human beings.

While we’re looking at the Criminal Code, though, I’m pretty sure publicly making false accusations of hate-speech, anti-Semitism, and sexism falls under the definition of “defamatory libel.”

The real problem, though, is that all of these complaints about the presentation miss the point of the abortion debate entirely.

What if I was some horrible, racist, sexist person (I’m not), who knew the truth on a certain matter? Would it matter that I was horribly racist or sexist? The truth is the truth no matter who says it. The truth is what we are trying to find, in all things, especially moral debates. In the abortion debate, the most important question is “what are the unborn?”. As Greg Koukl points out, “If the unborn are not human, no justification for elective abortion is necessary. But if the unborn are human, no justification for elective abortion is adequate.”

We hope to see you at “Echoes of the Holocaust”.

(The presentation will take place at 5:30 pm on October 26 in the Wright Centre – SCI B150)


Read the comments at the Youth Protecting Youth website.

Youth Protecting Youth: Nazis?

This post was written for Youth Protecting Youth by ypyinfoofficer. It does not necessarily represent the views of NCLN.

On Tuesday, October 26th, Youth Protecting Youth (YPY) will host a speaker from the Canadian Centre for Bioethical Reform (CCBR) who will compare abortion to genocide.

YPY held a debate last October which also featured a member of CCBR. The debate included discussion surrounding abortion and graphic media showing it, and was difficult to watch. Outrage, conflict and controversy accompanied the event, and YPY’s club status was revoked (it has since been reinstated[1]). But subjecting oneself to such controversial views and unpleasant material is important because this inflammatory comparison is worthy of critical, reasoned academic consideration.

Exploring emotional responses to vocabulary is a good place to begin. The ability to talk about things constructively is affected by individual emotional responses to them. For example, words like “Nazi,” “genocide” and “abortion” appearing so closely after one another may elicit emotional responses that can blind people to the content of a message and prevent critical consideration. Different ideas about the words’ meanings can also prevent a reasoned exchange; the words “Nazi” and “genocide” are associated with universally deplored, horrible situations involving large loss of life, but we can’t immediately understand the subtleties of what is (or isn’t) implied by their use unless we continue listening. Looking beyond the words and the distress they cause enables deeper investigation of the ideas they attempt to describe.

When someone refers to genocide, it is often assumed that because the speaker is describing a terrible crime against humanity, he or she is implying that its perpetrators are pure evil. That isn’t always the case; genocide is simply a word, coined in 1944 by Raphael Lemkin as a tool of language to describe the Holocaust. It has undergone minor changes in meaning[2] but it is well-described as the intent to destroy an identifiable group systematically. The use of the term “genocide” doesn’t immediately imply that its perpetrators are extraordinarily terrible people. Indeed, those involved in it are usually normal people:

In the 1960s, researchers at the University of Yale carried out a now-famous set of experiments to test the effect of authority on people’s consciences and decision-making. The experimental psychologist, Stanley Milgram, explains:

In the basic experimental designs two people come to a psychology laboratory to take part in a study of memory and learning. One of them is designated a “teacher” and the other a “learner.” The experimenter explains that the study is concerned with the effects of punishment on learning. The learner is conducted into a room, seated in a kind of miniature electric chair, his arms are strapped to prevent excessive movement, and an electrode is attached to his wrist. He is told that he will be read lists of simple word pairs, and that he will then be tested on his ability to remember the second word of a pair when he hears the first one again. Whenever he makes an error, he will receive electric shocks of increasing intensity…

The teacher is a genuinely naive subject who has come to the laboratory for the experiment. The learner, or victim, is actually an actor who receives no shock at all. The point of the experiment is to see how far a person will proceed in a concrete and measurable situation in which he is ordered to inflict increasing pain on a protesting victim.

The results of the experiment are well-known. Contrary to the researchers’ expectations, the majority of subjects continued to administer shocks right up to the supposed maximum voltage, by which time the “learner” had ceased screaming in agony and was silent as if unconscious.

The ethics of doing this research were contested, but the results were even more controversial. The experiment, carried out shortly after WWII, was conducted with German citizens’ submission to Nazi authority (and American citizens’ susceptibility to similar coercion) specifically in mind. Milgram states:

Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.[3]

In conclusion, the perpetrators of genocide need not be evil incarnate – coercion and the reassurance of being in accord with authority alone are enough to suppress most consciences. When women are confronted with an unplanned pregnancy, they can be coerced into choosing abortion by society’s failure to support them. They can be reassured about its legality and safety by practitioners, who are medical authorities. Having been deceived and possesing no malignant intent, they fall prey to promptings to abort in the same way that the “teachers” of Milgrams experiment relinquished responsibility for their actions and cached in their consciences when put under pressure.[4]

Pointing this out isn’t meant to excuse genocide. Nor does YPY condone abortion. It is meant to show that comparing abortion to genocide doesn’t necessarily involve condemning the women who choose it.  Indeed, it shouldn’t; YPY doesn’t believe in condemning people. A crucial distinction must be made between condemning actions and condemning people, and recognizing this distinction is central to being pro-life.[5]

An echo resembles its origin but remains distinct. Many similarities exist between abortion and widely recognized instances of genocide, as do some differences. These can be brought forth and examined critically – in the spirit of inquiry that is so important at university – if there is room for compassion and careful understanding of language and ideas. At this year’s fall presentation, these similarities will be explained and their substance revealed. Take action to consider the urgent consequences for our society if such comparisons do have merit, and make an informed decision by attending “Echoes of the Holocaust” and preparing for the question period that will follow.

Presentation will take place Tuesday, October 26th at 5:30 pm in the Bob Wright Centre: SCI B150.


[1] http://youthprotectingyouth.com/2010/07/19/uvic-pro-life-students-settle-out-of-court/

[2] http://www.unmaskingchoice.ca/genocide.html

[3] Milgram, Stanley. (1974), “The Perils of Obedience.” Harper’s Magazine. Abridged and adapted from Obedience to Authority.

[4] It is worth pointing out that YPY believes men to be just as vulnerable to the destructive forces described above as women are. The pressures that society puts on women in such situations are immense, and attempting to sympathize about the anguish of these women doesn’t presume them to be weak or incapable of choosing life.

[5] http://youthprotectingyouth.com/help-for-crisis-pregnancy/


Read the comments at the Youth Protecting Youth website.